What the Goud Saraswat Brahmin Anger Against Vishnu Wagh’s “Sudirsukta” Reveals About Caste And Culture In Goa

04 October 2017

In the titular poem of his anthology Sudirsukta—“Hymns of a Shudra”—Vishnu Surya Wagh writes as a Sudir, or a “Shudra”:

Being servants we were powerless
Slaves of your daily wage
We swept your verandas
And from our foreheads dripped a lifetime of diamonds
Yes, yes
We are those Shudras

Enough with this darkness
We aspire to bright dawns
Shambuk gave us our anthem
And Tukaram his pen
Jyoti is our light
And Bhim our voice
We’ve sharpened our weapons
Our war cries will seize the sky
We are the Shudras!

In Konkani and Marathi literary circles, Wagh is well known for his various roles—writer, poet, cartoonist, journalist, editor, orator and politician. (For me, this includes his role as my uncle.) His political stances, too, are known to many, and defy classification. Wagh has always been a vocal critic of right-wing politics and oppressive caste hierarchies. In 1998, his Marathi-language play, “Tuka Abhang Abhang,” about the life of the seventeenth-century Bhakti poet Tukaram, became the subject of much discussion in Goa and Maharashtra. In a crucial scene in the play, Wagh depicted Tukaram being murdered by a group of Brahmin priests.

Keywords: poetry caste literature Goa Dalit language Bahujan Vishnu Surya Wagh Sudirsukta Uday Bhembre Sanjay Verenkar Konkani Goud Saraswat Brahmin Nagari Konkani