It has been a while since Gabbilam went with the message to Kailasa. Our poor soul is waiting for her return. Because of this message to Kailasa, pleasant waves blew from four corners. Temple entry movement, Harijan upliftment, Gandhiji’s spinning wheel made sounds of auspiciousness. India started getting rid of British colonialism.

This untouchable (son of Arundhati) saw clouds carrying hopes that awakened him from despair. He forgot his timeless bonded slavery. Gabbilam came back to visit him. He welcomed her and asked whether her mission was a success or failure? From her mood, he understood it was a success. In these transcendent times, disputes among people of Andhra and India, selfishness, the dreadful disease of caste differences and religious hatred and indifference of the people added to the challenge of his liberation as counterproductive developments that anguished him.

He started sharing his worries with his favourite goddess and symbol of his community, Gabbilam.

She listened to him patiently. However, how can a bird, that does not have the strength or voice to speak, console him? She circumambulated with tears in her eyes and left to go to the temple of Shiva. His words without death continued to echo on the aerial route taken by Gabbilam and crystallised in the second part of the text. His efforts will be realised, if not today, tomorrow. One must wait to watch whether he is lucky enough to enjoy those fruits.
— Jashuva, 1946.

Meditation on Freedom

A son of our soil mesmerized everyone with his speech
At the World Parliament of Religions
By weaving a cotton thread
Won people of five continents
And Gandhi gained us independence
My fellow Telugu occupied the seat of a professorship
at a Western university
The world applauded our Bengali poet
For winning the Nobel Prize
One of our compatriots found that even plants
experience joy and sorrow
But they never counted me as one of them
Always considered me an outsider
despite being their brother

Not sure what the Bat told him
But the god Shiva had tears in his eyes
Stood up like a mountain
And vanished in seconds into dark clouds

When the doors of the Travancore temple
Opened its door for untouchables
Startled gods had to allow them to visit their temples
Offering untouchables solace for their miserable condition

The stain of untouchability
Made India lose its respectability in the comity of nations

There is no bigger weapon than forgiveness
To stop the war with Germany
Only a spinning wheel can win independence
Even if it takes three hundred years
Only the path of justice is the right way
The tears of untouchables crystallize into clouds
And burn the country like thunderstorms
Holding a stick and spinning wheel
The Gujarati Bania walked to the four corners of the country

That message awakened the country
Along with the soiled coarse cloth
Malas and Madigas who live outside the village
were recognized
And respected as human beings.

Brother Harijan! Do not be afraid
The chariot of independence is here

You will have a place in it
Come along to pull it forward
Mother India welcomes you to join in her songs.

One day the ascetic Bat entered the house

Wandering freely with joyous flights

With excitement, he offered his gratitude
And asked did you convey my message?

Did you visit all those holy lands I described to you?
Did the great God and his wife host you?
Did they hear my words?
Did you see the golden rays?
Did the diamond-shaped snowflakes pierce through
snowy caves and divine abodes?

Oh god, Shiva! Is it right to dance and entertain?
Sin in the world is spreading
Did you ask him to make one visit to our universe?

Oh, Bat! Did your message get praise like Kalidasa’s Meghaduta?
The people of high-rank worship clouds and mountain peaks

My exceptional talents will not win praises because of
my status as a slave

Did you come across the sages Vyasa and Valmiki?
Roaming in Kailasa, the heavenly abode
Once you notice their senectitude
You will understand the age of Mahabharata and Ramayana
Valmiki had profound compassion for animals and birds
This made him a great poet, and he wove a golden
story of Ramayana
No one knows who taught the sacred Sanskrit
to the thieving fisherman

On your way, did you come across the romantic
cloud messenger of Kalidasa?
Its sounds and rapid movements shower pearls
One should not consider the message it carries
Just as a mythical story of fifteen years of separation between lovers
That story arouses even an older man to feel like a youth

As you carried an emotionally burdensome message of mine
How did you escape the raucous and destructive sounds of
the airplanes on your way?
Alas, no peril can prevent the journey of a pilgrim by birth.

Gabbilam: A Dalit Epic

Excerpted with permission from Gabbilam: A Dalit Epic, Gurram Jashuva, translated from the Telugu by Chinnaiah Jangam.