Book Talk: Bhimayana

They have brushes for the buffalo and shears for the goat.

They won’t trim a Mahar’s [untouchable’s] hair—they’d rather cut his throat.

Bhimayana is a graphic novel about the experiences of untouchability in the life of Dr. B.R Ambedkar. It talks about how while accessing three needs-transportation, shelter, and water, the community had to face a lot of discrimination. Since most of it is told from the perspective of young Bhim and his friends, it manages to capture the curiosity of young people when they first start realizing that they are treated differently.

Drawn in Gond Art, the panels complement the narrative perfectly. The flow of the story is good and the language is simple yet powerful. Along with the text, short poems are used to convey the feelings of the characters. It relates the past events with contemporary news to show that even after so much ‘progress’, casteism is still thriving. Dr. B.R Ambedkar is known only for drafting the constitution. The fact that he was a staunch feminist and proposed property rights for women in 1950s is not well known. He is a crusader of affirmative action in India. Even though he wrote ‘Annihilation of Caste’ in 1936, it continues to be relevant today.

This book is perfect for anyone who wants to understand how the community faces discrimination in everyday life.

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