Early life and career
K Nath was born on 3 October 1945 in the village of Duari in Kanpur Dehat. The title of his autobiography, Tiraskar, literally means insult, the dominant experience of large parts of his social life. Chapter after chapter details what it is to grow up dalit in the shameless culture of unaccountability: the humiliation at the village well, going to school with upper-caste classmates, Holi in the dalit basti when processions would pass by hurling abuses at ‘untouchables’.
His Father, Shri Kallu worked for the village Zamindar, Rao Sardar Singh Chandel, as his revenue collector. His mother Smt. Jagrani was a housewife and looked after the family. The post Independence era was full of difficulties for him and his family due to the traumatic incidents taking place in the village. Holi, the festival of colours, always witnessed a bloodbath and the upper castes played with the blood of the lower castes in the village. The savarna community committed various atrocities on his family, which led to the killing of his younger brother. Fear of such acts in the future caused his family to migrate from the village.
K. Nath began his primary education in his village. There was no school building; the classes were held in open space under the sky, and that too a space where the village Zamindar used to keep his milch animals. Dalits of his village were prohibited from studying in schools, and he was the only exception to have done so, not due to mercy of the higher castes, but due to his father's high position in the village. At Gogomou village he attended a primary school, where he faced a severe form of discrimination. There were no instances where one could see the lower caste children intermingling with the children of the savarna community. The conduct of the savarana children forced the lower castes children to keep their food in school at far away places from that of the savaranas. The attitude of the savarana children shocked their emotions giving immense pain to these children and making them repeatedly realise their low caste identity. He completed his Junior High School from Savarnakhera and intermediate from Kanpur's Dosar Vaishya Inter College in 1965.
After he finished school, Nath moved to Kanpur where he worked at the district magistrate's office. It's not as if caste ceased to matter once he reached the city. Because of his caste, says Nath, he was falsely charged in a theft case, was suspended and harassed, and had his pension and other benefits restored only after much difficulty.
He got his first job on 11 February 1966 as a Clerk in Kanpur's District Collector's Office. After a month he was transferred to a village named Derapur. At this place he faced humiliation at a tea shop when the shopkeeper after asking him his caste washed the place where he sat. And declined to offer him tea henceforth. This process of painful experience continued move form or another. The mental harassment continued at the hands of various landlords, who refused to allow their house on rent to him. This forced him to spend his nights, for almost a month, outside a shop owned by a Muslim. He got some place to stay in, a dilapidated structure where he wrote his first novel named 'Pipasa'. But he could not continue for long in this job as his savarna colleagues conspired against him and got his services terminated. He, however, managed to get his job back due to the reservation of vacant posts. The Panwari incident of Agra, Uttar Pradesh, in 1990 gave him immense pain compelling him to convert to Buddhism along with 50,000 people at a function organised by him after selling his 2.5 acres of land. His low caste once again made him a victim and he was suspended from his job after being implicated in a false case on 12 August 2004. He did not sit back. He started various protest processions to get back his job. He succeeded in getting it back on 2 May 2005. With malicious intent he was denied posting for a long time. Finally, he got posted at Bellaur. But here too similar hate and similar conspiracy caused greater pain. He was convicted for embezzlement of Rs. 250,000, a crime committed by the Tehsildaar and the Treasurer. This happened when a few months were left for his retirement. At the end of one's tenure, nothing could have been more catastrophic. To protect his self-respect and retirement benefits, he had to pay this huge amount by mortgaging his house. This incident led to even greater victimisation. But as his job was the only source of subsistence for him and his family, he could not afford to leave it. At last on 31 October 2005, he superannuated from his service.
His life, full of pains and humiliation, inspired him to write. Literature, he believed, was the only medium that could guide the entire humankind. In 1976 he wrote a play under the name 'Aanchal' which was staged on 6 December 1976 in the Merchant Chamber Hall, and was inaugurated by the then District Collector S.N.Ansari. 'Amrai' was his second play. He wrote a novel 'Maati ka Dher'. He published a monthly journal by the name'Udhaarika', and popular booklets, Tirashkar (Autobiography), Arya Anarya Vansh Katha, Mere Gaon Ka Kuan, Dalit Jaatiyon Par Deviyon Ka Prakop, Aamrapali and Jati Apradh. His unpublished writings include Karwaan, Jago, Bharat Leela, Azadi Zindabad, Sindoor, Kranti ki Lakerein, Dharma Mimansa, and Palayan, etc. He published articles in various Dalit journals and newsletters like Majhi Janta. 'Hansa' and 'Apeksha', both of which are India's most famous Hindi journals, and in two Hindi newspapers e.g. 'Dainik Jagran' and 'Aaj' published reviews of his autobiography, 'Tiraskar', which has also been translated into Urdu. American Biographical Institute, USA, honoured him with the title of "Man of the Year 2003–04". His name appears in the world famous book 'Who's Who of Dalit Writers in India'. He received various rewards and certificates from different social and intellectual organisations.
Literature, he was of the view, was the greatest weapon for education of the future generations. It would be a guide for the children of the coming generation. It is literature that brings about the social transformation. The hope keeps him alive and encourages him to publish his books. This he continues to do even if he has to borrow money at the cost of the wishes and aspirations of his family. He has faith in future, when Dalits will be possessed of their rights and own land which will not be grabbed. Their mothers and sisters will not be sexually assaulted and they will not be tortured in form. They will be given respect and honour like everyone else in the society. This dream of future keeps him alive and active, and inspires him to produce more literature for a bright future.
- Dalit Jatiyon Par Deviyon Ka Prakop
- Arya–Anarya Vansh Katha
- Badri Narayan (2009). "Fascinating Hindutva: Saffron Politics and Dalit Mobilisation". SAGE Publications Ltd. ISBN 8178299062. Retrieved 6 August 2013.
- "A History of Humiliation". Tehelka – The People's Paper. 17 March 2007. Retrieved 6 August 2013.
- "List of Booklets". Dalit Resource Centre. Retrieved 6 August 2013.