Against the Madness of Manu

B.R Ambedkar’s Writings on Brahmanical Patriarchy

Sharmila Rege, B.R. Ambedkar

Introduction by Sharmila Rege


Navayana, New Delhi, 2013

Language: English

266 pages

5.5 x 8.5

Price INR 399.00
Book Club Price INR 340.00
INR 399.00
In stock

A Brahman ‘mega convention’ in contemporary Pune reasserts faith in endogamy for ‘national interest’, and imposes new codes on Brahman women. A Brahman Congress leader suggests that a Dalit chief minister be raped and paid compensation. In his 1916 paper “Castes in India”, the 25-year-old Ambedkar offered the insight that the caste system thrives by its control of women, and that caste is a product of sustained endogamy. Since then, till the time he piloted the Hindu Code Bill, seeking to radicalise women’s rights in the 1950s, Ambedkar deployed a range of arguments to make his case against Brahmanism and its twin, patriarchy.

While Ambedkar’s original insights have been neglected by sociologists, political theorists and even feminists, they have been kept alive, celebrated and memorialised by Dalit musical troupes and booklets in Maharashtra. Sharmila Rege, in this compelling selection of Ambedkar’s writings on the theme of Brahmanical patriarchy, illuminates for us his unprecedented sociological observations. Rege demonstrates how and why Ambedkar laid the base for what was, properly speaking, a feminist take on caste.

B.R. Ambedkar

Born into an ‘untouchable’ family, Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar (1891-1956) was one of India’s most radical thinkers. A brilliant student, he earned doctorates in economics from both Columbia University, New York, and the London School of Economics. In 1936, the year he wrote Annihilation of Caste, Ambedkar founded the Independent Labour Party. The ILP contested the 1937 Bombay election to the Central Legislative Assembly for the 13 reserved and 4 general seats, and secured 11 and 3 seats respectively. He was India’s first Minister for Law and Justice, and oversaw the drafting of the Indian Constitution. Ambedkar eventually embraced Buddhism, a few months before his death in 1956.

Sharmila Rege

Sharmila Rege (1954–2013) was a sociologist who headed the Krantijyoti Savitribai Phule Women’s Studies Centre, University of Pune. She is the author of Writing Caste/Writing Gender: Narrating Dalit Women’s Testimonios.