On The Threshold:Songs of Chokhamela
By Rohini Mokashi-Punekar Translated from the Marathi by Rohini Mokkashi-Punekar. Foreword by Suguna Ramanathan
Past Continuous: Series Editor Meenakshi Mukherjee
Chokhamela was a fourteenth century untouchable saint poet who belonged to the varkari tradition of Maharashtra. This tradition was one of the many sects that questioned orthodox Hinduism in the great wave of the bhakti movement that swept over medieval India. The varkaris worship Vitthal, another form of Krishna who himself is an avatar of Vishnu in Hindu mythology. The temple for Vitthal is built on the banks of the river Chandrabhaga in Pandharpur. The varkari tradition is a tradition of belief and worship that is still a living part of the Marathi speaking culture. Chokhamela's importance lies not only in the fact that he is one of the first, if not the very first, dalit writers of India. It is because his poetry records a peculiar dichotomy: his poignant awareness and questioning of his outcaste marginality, simultaneously coupled with a realization of Vitthal's need and love for him, an untouchable, that it assumes significance.
2002, pp. 115, ISBN 81-88434-02-7 , Rs.200.00