Dalit literature, or literature about the Dalits, an oppressed Indian class under the Indian caste system, forms an important and distinct part of Indian literature. Dalit literature emerged into the forefront and as a prominent voice after 1960, starting with the Marathi language, and soon appeared in languages like Hindi, Kannada, Telugu and Tamil languages, through narratives such as, poems, short stories, and most importantly autobiographies, which stood out due to their stark portrayal of reality and the Dalit political scene. Dalit literature denounced as petty and false the then prevailing rather bourgeois and romantic portrayal of life by the Sadashiv Pethi literature. The silence of the Sadashiv Pethi literature on Dalit issues was highly conspicuous by the absence of any mention of the abject poverty-stricken lifestyle of the Dalits, and the utter oppression the Dalits faced, at that time, from the higher castes. It is often compared with the African-American literature especially in its depiction of issues of racial segregation and injustice, as seen in Slave narratives
Ambedkari Sahitya (Literature)
In 1993, Ambedkari Sahitya Parishad, Wardha organized first "Akhil Bhartiya (All India) Ambedkari Sahitya Sammelan" in Wardha, Maharashtra to re-conceptualize and transform "Dalit Sahitya (Dalit literature) into "Ambedkari Sahitya" after the name of its modern age hero and inspiration Dr.B.R. Ambedkar, who had successfully campaigned against class discrimination and was a strong advocate of Dalit rights. Ambedkari Sahitya Parishad then successfully organized the Third Akhil Bhartiya Ambedkari Sahitya Sammelan in 1996 and became a strong voice of advocacy for awareness and transformation. Since then ten similar Sahitya Sammelans, or literary gatherings, were held in various places. The Ambedkari Sahitya Parishad was officially formed in 1992 with the goal to foster among people common ideals of humanity and to provide a platform to those who are inspired by Dr B R Ambedkar's thoughts and philosophy, to express their anguish through their literature against the oppression and bigotry, and to make their presence felt in the world.
One of the first Dalit writers was Madara Chennaiah, an 11th-century cobbler-saint who lived during the reign of Western Chalukyas and who is also regarded by some scholars as the "father of Vachana poetry". Another poet who finds mention is Dohara Kakkaiah, a Dalit by birth, whose six confessional poems survive, throwing light on those troubled times.
It was in the 20th century, in 1958, that the term "Dalit literature" was used for the first time, when the first conference of Maharashtra Dalit Sahitya Sangha (Maharashtra Dalit Literature Society) was held at Mumbai, a movement driven by thinkers like Jyotiba Phule and Bhimrao Ambedkar.
Baburao Bagul (1930–2008) was a pioneer of Dalit writings in Marathi. His first collection of stories, Jevha Mi Jat Chorali (जेव्हा मी जात चोरली) (When I had Concealed My Caste), published in 1963, created a stir in Marathi literature with its passionate depiction of a cruel society and thus brought in new momentum to Dalit literature in Marathi; today it is seen by many critics as an epic portraying lives of the Dalits, and was later made into a film by actor-director Vinay Apte. Gradually with other writers like, Namdeo Dhasal (who founded Dalit Panther), these Dalit writings paved way for the strengthening of Dalit movement.
A significant fact is that in the history of Dalit Literature and Bhakti Literature, the history of Mala Dasari/Mala Dasu/Mittala Ayyorlu was ignored.These are the priests, who perform rituals for all castes in this country, and themselves come from different castes. Unfortunately, they have been branded as untouchable priests. They have a long history in this country. The roots come from Tiruppani Alwar, one of the Alwars of twelve members Alwar tradition of Vaishnavism. They are practising priests even today. They wear sacred thread and perform pujas in temples, yet very few people know of them. (Read Dalit Hindu Narratives)
Kanwal Bharti, Prof Shatrughan Kumar, Anita Bharti, Mohandas Nemishray, Jasram Harnotia, Sheoraj Singh Bechain Om Prakash Valmiki, Chandra Bhan Prasad, Suraj Pal Chauhan, K. Nath, Dev Kumar, A.R. Akela, Dr.N.Singh, Mata Prasad, Kalicharan Sanehi, H. L. Dusadh, Dayanand Batohi, Dr.JaiPrakash Kardam, Pramod Ranjan etc.
Arun Kamble, Shantabai Kamble, Krushna Kamble, Raja Dhale, Namdev Dhasal, Daya Pawar, Annabhau Sathe, Bandhu Madhav, Laxman Mane, Laxman Gaikwad, Hari Narake, Sharankumar Limbale, Waman Nibalkar, Bhimsen Dethe, Bhau Panchbhai, Ambadas Shinde, Murlidhar Bansode, Kishor Shantabai Kale, Mayur Vhatkar. Heera Bansode, Joyti Lanjewar, Mallika Amershekhbhagvaan ingle, narendra jadhav, Urmila Pawar, Baburao Bagul, Gangadhar Pantawne, Yashwant Manohar, Rajendra Gonarkar, Pradyna Pawar
The first ever Dalit writer was from Karnataka. Madara Chennaiah (12th century), Dohara Kakkaiah were the earliest known. Later at the end of the 20th century (1970) Prof. B. Krishnappa, Dr. Siddalingiah, Devanooru Mahadeva, Deviah Harave, Prof. Aravinda Malagatti, Prof. M. N. Javaraiah, Prof. Govindaiah, Prof. Chenanna Valikar, Sathyaanada Patrota, V. Munivenkatappa, Mulluru Nagaraja and Mogalli Ganesha paved way for the enrichment of Kannada Dalith literature.
Prof. B. Krishnappa established 'Dalitha Sangharsha Committee' in Bhadravathi, which was the soul charter for the DSS (Dalith Sangharsh Samithi) branching out to various organisations and movements for the oppressed. The discrimination against the Daliths inspired narrative Poetic Literature, which reflected the appalling living conditions of this oppressed class in society.
'Saviraru Nadigalu', 'Mookanige Bayi Bandaga', 'Bandedda Dalithara Beedi Hadugalu' were in poem format. Novels being : 'Kusuma Baale', 'Vadalaala', 'Kaarya', 'Maagi'. Short stories are : 'Dyavanoorara Kathegalu', 'Mugiyada Kathegalu', 'Burudege Swarga', 'Atte'. Autobiographies being : 'Government Brahmana', 'Ooru Keri', 'Manegara', 'Manavilladavara Madhye', 'Sambholi'. Dr. Geeta Nagbhushan through her novels like "Baduku", "Dange" "Kaage Muttitu", "Chikkiya Hareyada Dinagalu", "Maapura Taayiya Makkalu", " Dhummasu" and collection of Short stories "Kyaadigi Banadaaga katheyaagi NIntavaru" Drama "Jogini" protested against the exploitation on Dalits in general, and Dalit women in particular
Tamil Nadu (Tamil)
Ka. Ayothi dass Pandithar is the pioneer of the Dalit literature, and philosopher, in south India.
Rev. John Ratnam (Editor, Dravida Pandian), Rettamalai Srinivasan (Editor,Parayan), k. Appadurai (Editor Tamilan), Periasamy Pulavar (Poet)and many more writers contributed to Dalit literature.
Anbu Ponnoviam, T.P. Kamalanathan, Arya Sangaaran, x-ray manikam, and some others were worked on Dalit history and Dalit political magazines.
Raj Gowthaman, Ravikumar, M.P. Ezhilarasu, Gowthama Sannah, Kudiarasan, Vadivel Ravanan, Yakkan, Stalin Rajangam, Aranga Mallika, Manivannan, Punitha Pandian, Meena mayil, these are all the major contributors to the Non fictional Dalit Literature and first few are ideologue of Dalit political ideology in contemporary Tamil Dalit politics. A. Vinoth (Editor, Athitamilan a dalit monthly magazine, he contributed dalit literature and dalit history, he wrote many histories of Dalit leaders e.g. Ayothi dasa Pandithar, Rettamalai Srinivasan, Pallikonda Krishnaswamy, Immanuel and Others.
P. Sivakamy wrote first modern Dalit fiction and Bhama, Artist Chandru, Abimaani, Azhagiya Periyavan, Poomani, Poet. Sukirtharani, Poet. Pratibha Jayachandran, Chanakya, Dharman, vizhi.Pa.Idhaya vendhan, Yazhan Adhi and some others are worked on Dalit modern fiction literature and poetry.
Senchattai Panjacharam, A. Marx, S.V. Rajadurai, V. Gheetha, MSS. Pandian, are non-Dalit writers for Dalit ideology and Dalit literature.
In early period, Sakya Mohan who edited "Dhamma" in English, and Tamil, authored the first book on Dalit History of Tamil Nadu titled "History of Dalit Struggle for Freedom (2001)". Sakya Mohan has introduced "KalaParayar Empire" (Buddhist Era) in the history of Tamil Nadu supported by a lot of primary sources negating the monotheist historians view that KalaParayar period is "the dark age" in Tamil Nadu.
Andhra Pradesh (Telugu)
Gurram Jashuva, Kusuma Dharmanna, Boyi Bhimanna, Kolakaluri Enoch, Siva Sagar (KG. Sathyamurthy), Gaddar, Boya Jangaiah, Chilukuri Devaputra, Kathi Padmarao, Bojja Tharakam, Endluri Sudhakar, Vemula Yellaiah, G. Kalyana Rao, Satish Chandar, GR. Kurme, Madduri Nageshbabu, Kalekuri Prasad, Gogu Shyamala, Jupaka Subhadra, Jajula Gowri, MM. Vinodini, Sujatha Gidla, Thullimalli wilson Sudhakar, challapalli Swarupa Rani, Sikhamani, Dr Darla venkateswara rao, ganumala gnaneswar, Ealy Vadapalli, vulli dhanaraj, DR GV Ratnaker, Kancha Ilaiah 
Malayalam Dalit literature can trace its roots to writers like Poykayil Sree Kumara Guru Devan popularly called Poykayil Appachan, who in the early twentieth century wrote of the discrimination faced by the Dalits from the then upper castes and the colonial Christians. He wrote many songs that were circulated among his followers. One of his famous verse was chosen by Susie Tharu and K. Satyanarayana as the title for their Dalit Anthology from South India called "No Alphabet in Sight".
Modern age writers include Paul Chirakkarode,Kallara Sukumaran,T.K.C. Vaduthala, Kaviyoor Murali,Vettiyar Premnath,K.K.S.Das,C.Ayyappan, S. Joseph,M.B.Manoj,M.R.Renukumar,Rekh Raj,Vijila Chirappadu etc.
It was on April 14, 1978, a first ever magazine of Gujarati Dalit Poetry was published and that historic event is considered as the formal launch of the Movement of Dalit Literature in Gujarat. Then president of the militant Organization who had a literary bent of mind and was also aware of the movement of Dalit literature in the neighboring state of Maharashtra, Mr Ramesh Chandra Parmar became its Managing Editor. Neerav Patel, Dalpat Chauhan, Pravin Gadhvi and Yogesh Dave worked as its contributing editors, and several other magazines started publishing Gujarati Dalit literature. But the progressive magazine published under the editorship of Mr Indukumar Jani gave it a big fillip by consistently devoting space to Gujarati Dalit literature. Manishi Jani and Ganpat Parmar came out with the first anthology of Gujarati Dalit poetry. Other anthologies by Chandu Maheriya, Balkrishna Anand, Nilesh Kathad, Yashvant Vaghela, Dalpat Chauhan, Harish Mangalam, PravIn Gadhvi, Neerav Patel and collections of individual poets and writers followed. A popular and mainstream magazine, published under the editorship of Mr Vishnu Pandya brought out its special number on Gujarati Dalit literature. A whole corpus of Gujarati Dalit literature in almost all genres— poetry, short story, novel, drama, and autobiography, is now available.
Some of the eminent Dalit writers in Gujarati include Neerav Patel, Dalpat Chauhan, Pravin Gadhvi, Raju Solanki, Sahil Parmar, Shankar Painter, Harish Mangalam, Bhi.Na.Vankar, Yashavant Vaghela, Pathik Parmar, Chandraben Shrimali, Mohan Parmar, Madhukant Kalpit, Jayant Parmar, B. Kesharshivam, Raghavji Madhad, B M parmar.
Important contemporary writers include Manohar Mouli Biswas, Manoranjan Byapari, Kalyani Thakur, Manju Bala, Smritikona Howlader, Jatin Bala, Sukanta Mondal, Amar Biswas and Sunil Kumar Das. There are so many good writers who engage readers like Lakhi Mandal, Dhurjoti Naskar, Sunil Kr. Das, Lily Halder, Shritikana Hawladar, S. Pramanick, Nakul Mallick, Debasish Mandal, Prasad Mandal and Pashupati Prasad Mahato. It is a longstanding corpus. Some scholars like Prof. Tutun Mukherjee, Dr Jaydeep Sarangi, Dr Sipra Mkherjee and Dr Sayantan Dasgupta have been working with contemporary Bengali Dalit writers extensively. Bangla Dalit Sahitya Sanstha, is an organisation of movement of Dalit literature and culture of Bengal. People who believe in cultural and literary identity of Dalits as one different from the mainstream are generally associated with this apolitical organization having been working throughout West Bengal for last one and a half decade. There are other organizations as well. Prof. Meenakshi Mukherjee's article in EPW is the 'Gangotri' of Dalit studies in Bengal as part of academic exercises.
- Dalit literature and African-American literature. Ed. N.M. Aston. Prestige Books, New Delhi. 2001. ISBN 81-7551-116-8.
- Towards an Aesthetic of Dalit Literature, by Sharankumar Limbale. 2004, Orient Longman. ISBN 81-250-2656-8.
- Journeys to Freedom: Dalit Narratives, by Fernando Franco, Jyotsna Macwan, Suguna Ramanathan. Popular Prakashan, 2004. ISBN 81-85604-65-7, ISBN 978-81-85604-65-7.
- Dalit Literature : A Critical Exploration, by Amar Nath Prasad & M.B. Gaijan. 2007. ISBN 81-7625-817-2.
- Dalits and Religion, Ed. D.Murali Manohar. New Delhi: Atlantic, 2010. (ISBN 978-81-269-1276-4)
- Dalits and Their Religion(s) by D.Murali Manohar. New Delhi: Serials, 2011. (ISBN 978-81-8387-359-8)
- Critical Essays on Dalit Literature, Ed. D.Murali Manohar. New Delhi: Atlantic, 2013. (ISBN 9788126917846.
- Dalit Hindu Narratives, Ed. D.Murali Manohar, New Delhi: Global, 2013. (ISBN 9788189630799)
English in the Dalit Context, Eds. Alladi Uma, K.Suneetha Rani and D.Murali Manohar. New Delhi: OrientBlackswan, 2014.
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- Gowthama Sannah: (39), M.A. (History), M.L is a writer and ideologue of Dalit politics and sociology. He has published over 80 articles in several Tamil magazines since 1995. He has also written several books on Dalit and social issues: // 1. Anti-Conversion Act – history, socio-political background and its impact published by Marutha Publication (2006). // 2. Ayothidass Pandithar, A brief monograph in Tamil, published by Sahitya Academy, a unit of Social and Cultural Ministry, Govt of India (2007) / 3. Pandithari Kodai (Gift of Pandithar Ayothidass) – on the leader who gave the Reservation concept to modern India from the south. Published by Kalkam Publications (2007) // 4. Edited the ‘Liberation of Menfolk’, an address delivered by Meenambal in 1930 at Tirunelveli. She was the first woman Dalit leader in South India. Published by Krisal Pathipagam (2009). // 5. Compiler and publisher of Tamil Uyir (Tamil Life, 2009) a collection of eminent artists’ paintings based on the suffering of the Sri Lankan Tamils. Forthcoming books // 1. Kalakathin Maraiporul – a collection of articles’ which have been published in various journals. 2. Tamilan Ozitha Sathi – (Tamilan who destroyed caste) //3. Mathavilasa Kandanam (A refutation of Matha Vilasa Prahanasam (the humour of the insane) which was written by King Mahenra Varma Pallavan, 630AD // 4. Kurathiaru – fiction; a mythical history and magical realistic account of the river Kotralai. // As well as writing about caste and politics in Tamil Nadu, Sannah has been heavily involved in campaigning both before and since joining the VCK. His activities include: // 1. Founder, SANGAM – a Dalit and Buddhist archive and a platform for propagating Ambedkar’s thoughts (1996) // 2. Founder, Dalit Student Federation- for uniting Dalit students all over the state. (1999) //3. Founder member of AKMK – All Colleges Student Federation (1999) // 4. Founder member and Treasurer of SIDWA – South Indian Dalit Writers Association (2003) // 5. One of the founder members of International Institute of Dalit Studies, Chennai (2004) // 6. Founder, Young Buddhist Association (YBA) (2005) // 7. Founder Member, Creators for Social Harmony (2012) – a coalition of writers, poets, artists and play-wrights who came together in the aftermath of the violence in Dharmapuri.
- Sakya J. Mohan, History of Dalit Struggle for Freedom (2001), Dhamma Publications, Pondicherry
- Sakya J. Mohan, Dalit Kudigalin Marukkappatta Varalaaru (2003), Dhamma Publications, Pondicherry
- Sarangi Jaydeep Writing as Resistance(2011),Authorspress,New Delhi
- Sarangi Jaydeep "Conversation with Bama Faustina", muse India
- dalit sahitay ke partiman:Dr.N.Singh - publishar- Vani Parkashn, New Delhi -110002 (2012)
- A Critical study of Dalit Literature in India. Dr. Jugal Kishore Mishra Swedish South Asian Studies Network, Lund University