Over the last century, Cokhāmelā’s place and prominence in the Modern Dalit Movement and Dalit Christian theology have waned significantly. As the liberating potential of his work failed to be actualized, and more recent Dalit figures like Dr. B.R. Ambedkar and movements like Dalit Sahitya began to examine his work and life more critically, Cokhāmelā and his abhangas were found inadequate. Cokhāmelā became identified as one whose conscientisation remained incomplete, primarily because he failed to convert from Hinduism and saw his caste through the lens of karma. This essay re-examines Cokhāmelā’s life, death, and legacy so as to reassess his potential contribution to revitalising Dalit movements, at a moment when the present generation of leaders acknowledge a stagnation. Because Cokhāmelā occupies a liminal space that maintains a tension between the Savarna and the Dalits, he is able to create a dissonance that disrupts any attempts to ignore the discontinuity between the spiritual and material, potential and actual dealings of caste. This article tries to find out if his liberating social vision be realised.
© 2017 The Apollonian
Conway, Christopher. “‘I am the Mahar of your Mahars:’ Cokhāmelā, the Modern Dalit Movement, and the Dalit Christian Theology”. The Apollonian 4: 1-2 (March-June 2017): 5-26.