Dalit literature is literature written by the Dalits about their lives. Dalit literature forms an important and distinct part of Indian literature. Dalit literature emerged in the 1960s, starting with the Marathi language, and soon appeared in Hindi, Kannada, Telugu, Bangla and Tamil languages, through narratives such as poems, short stories, and, most, 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 portrayal of life by the mainstream Marathi literature which lacked mention of the abject poverty-stricken lifestyle of the Dalits and the utter oppression the Dalits faced, at that time, from the higher castes.
The origins of Dalit writing can also be traced back to Buddhist literature; Dalit Bhakti poets like Gora, Raidas, Chokha Mela and Karmamela; and the Tamil Siddhas, or Chittars (6th to 13th centuries C.E.), many of whom must have been Dalits going by hagiographical accounts like Periyapuranam (12th century). But it was after the democratic and egalitarian thinkers such as Sree Narayana Guru, Jyotiba Phule, B.R. Ambedkar, Iyothee Thass, Sahodaran Ayyappan, Ayyankali, Poykayil Appachan and others cogently articulated the sources and modes of caste oppression that modern Dalit writing as a distinct genre began to emerge in Indian languages.
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