Anna Bhau Sathe

(1 August 1920 – 18 July 1969)

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Tukaram Bhaurao alias Anna Bhau Sathe was famous not only as a shahir (folk poet) but also a writer who handled short story and novel forms efficiently and effectively. He brought honour and status to the folk art of tamasha. He used the forms of poetry like powada, lawani and song to propagate his social ideas among the population of common workers. He made people aware of political issues in Maharashtra before and after the Independence. His contribution made through his work as a shahir during the Samyukta Maharashtra Movement and Goa Mukti Sangram is particularly significant.

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We find Anna Bhau’s firsthand experience of the down trodden sections of rural, dalit and women folk reflected in his literature. While urban and upper class society was being portrayed in the dominant novels of N. S. Phadke and V.S. Khandekar, Anna Bhau brought in the reflection of poor, rural and suffering communities in Marathi literature. He has successfully dealt with the theme of adventure in his novels. In his most celebrated novel Fakira, he has presented the adventurous life story of his real life uncle Fakira Ranoji Maang. In Varanechya Khoryaat, however, he has dealt with the tale of a young man, who sacrificed his life in the freedom struggle, and his beloved.

Anna Bhau was called a ‘socialist author’ because he connected his writings to social movements. His social commitment to the problems of working class population is reflected particularly in all his writing. He has clarified his literary stand in the introduction to his novel Vaijayanta as follows:

Before beginning to write, I have learnt the principle that the artist who cares for the people is taken care of in return by them. I strongly believe in the conflicts of the people of my country. I dream everyday that my country should be happy, civilized, full of prosperity and equality and Maharashtra should become an earthly paradise. I write while I continue to see such dreams. You cannot see the truth in life just by using the eyes of imagination and ingenuity. Your heart has to catch it. Whatever a writer’s eyes see may not necessarily help the writer; on the contrary it may betray him. I strongly believe that this earth is not held in balance on the head of Vishnu’s Sheshnaag, it is held in balance on the palms of Dalits. I am trying to portray the lives of Dalit peoples with honesty and conviction.

Mumbaichi Lavani that Anna Bhau had written was quite famous in those days. He captured the paradox and absurdity between the poverty and affluence in the city along with its many other forms. For example,


There are divine looking high rise buildings on Malabar hills,
Rich people enjoy all material comforts there.
On the contrary, people living in Lower Parel work
Day and night, eating whatever they can lay their hands on. 1
There are all sorts of roads here: Grant Road, Gokhale Road,
Toilet Road and Vincent road. You won’t be able to count.
All lanes and gallis are hidden inside; corners have no ends.
The city is besieged by the Arabian Sea from all its sides. 2
Trains and cars move on roads as planes fly in the sky
While pulling buggies, horses stretch flat on roads.
Coolies pull their handcarts, as vehicles make great noise
All are running fast as traffic lines extend to no end. 3

Annabhau was born in a matang family at Vategaon in Sangli district. His original name was Tukaram. His family was uneducated and suffered all sorts of adversities. As the British had stamped theirs as a criminal caste, his childhood was spent as a nomad, moving from place to place. Anna’s father Bhau Sathe was a gardener and an expert farmer. But he went to Mumbai as he was fed up with nomadic life. When he watched the lives of the educated, higher middle class people there, he too felt that his children should be educated and lead materially prosperous lives. He told his son Anna to join school, and so at the age of fourteen, Anna stepped into the school at Vategaon. However, the cruel teacher who beat him severely shocked him. In a couple of days, he turned his back to school forever.

His basic talents had a great share in the formative years of his life. He liked wandering in hills, mountains, rivers and woods away from the crowd. Out of it, he developed hobbies of bird watching, hunting and collecting honey. He was fond of going to fairs and watching the activities there. Gradually, he grew fond of memorizing folk songs, povade and lavanis. He developed a liking for listening to different types of stories and telling them to others. This hobby attracted a crowd of youngsters around him. Inspired by sportsmanship in the family, he became an expert at using danpatta too.

Once, Anna Bhau heard Revolutionary leader Nana Patil’s inspiring speech at a fair which encouraged him to enter into the movement of freedom struggle. Afterwards, his father decided to shift his family to Mumbai. One can understand how poor their condition was from the fact that all the family members had to walk all the way from Sangli to Mumbai during the shifting.

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However, it was his early stay in Mumbai that shaped Anna Bhau’s thought process. He observed the city’s vast life, from films to political life. The man who had suffered dire poverty in his childhood days was naturally attracted to Communist ideology. Being a man who was given to working sincerely, Anna Bhau soon became one with other Communist workers. In order to survive in the vast metropolis, Anna worked as coolie, waiter, mine worker, household servant and did boot polishing, babysitting and looking after dogs. His world of experience got enriched through it. Another hobby he developed in the city was of watching films. He became literate while reading cinema posters and names of shops on boards. After his father’s death, he took the responsibility of the entire family. He worked for a while as a factory worker in Kohinoor Mill. However, he lost his job soon enough and the family returned to their village.

However, Anna Bhau, who was given to hard work, did not like the quiet village life. He joined the tamasha troupe of his cousin Bapu. He could grasp any role quickly and write dialogues easily. He played different musical instruments and his memorizing capacity was good. Such a multi-faceted personality blossomed in the world of tamasha. He transformed the art of tamasha into folk drama. The skits he wrote brought before people the reality of the political conditions of the times. He married an illiterate girl Kondubai at Vategaon. Though a son was born to them, he did not settle down in his married life with her.

Anna Bhau was active in the Chale Jaav movement of Satara district. A warrant was issued in his name and so he had to leave his home forever. He then wandered a lot, finally to reach Mumbai again. He soon became a full time worker of the Communist party. For the sake of propaganda of the party, with the help of his co workers like Shahir Amar Sheikh and Shahir Gavankar, he set up a drama group called “Lal Bavta” in 1944. During this period, he started writing independently. His Stalingrad’s Povada became every popular amongst workers. The drama troupe helped the artist in him come out.

While moving out for the Party work, he came to know a young married woman named Jaywantabai. She did not stay with her husband for some reasons. Later on Anna married her, settling down in a family life that supported his creative e urge.
During his last years, however, his life with the lady was adversely affected and she went away to stay with her daughter. That was too shocking for him; he started drinking heavily and died at an early age of forty nine.

Anna Bhau’s writings:

Fourteen folk dramas; Varnecha Waagh, Vijayanta, Fakira, Chitra were the famous novels from amongst the total number of thirty two novels and twenty two short story collections. His writing is translated into 27 languages: Amongst them are Indian languages like Hindi, Sindhi, Gujrati, Udiya, Begali, Tamil, Malyalam and foreign languages like Russian, English, French and Czech.

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His fiction provided basis for many films like Vaijayanta, Tila lavte Mi raktacha, Dongarchi Maina, Varnecha Waagh and Fakira.

His famous ‘Loknatyas’ are : Aklechi Gosht, kalantri, Bekaydeshir, Shetjiche Election, Pudhari Milala, Mook Miravnook, Deshbhakta Ghotale and Lokmantryacha Daura.

Anna tried hard to visit Russia. He failed twice. Later he succeeded with the financial help from many quarters. Later he wrote a travelogue based on his visit, Maza Russiacha Pravaas.

For Further Reading:

Lokshahir Anna Bhau Sathe: Nivdak Vangmay. (Maharshtra Rajya Sahitya ani Snaskriti Mandal)
Anna Bhau Sathe, Lekhak- Bajarang Korade (Sahitya Akademi Prakashan)
Anna Bhau Sathey: Samaj Vichar ani Sahitya Vivechan,
Lekhak, Dr. Baburao Gurav (Lokvangmay Griha)
AnnaBhau Sathey yanche Povade va Lavnya (Lokvangmay Griha)
Maza Bhau Anna Bhau – Lekhak: Shankar Bhau Sathe

***************************************
Translation- Dr. Vilas Salunke.

इतर साहित्यिक दस्तावेज

मराठीतल्या ज्येष्ठ आणि श्रेष्ठ साहित्यिकांविषयी इंटरनेटच्या व्यासपीठावर फारशी माहिती उपलब्ध नाही. विशेषतः इंग्रजीमधे अशी माहिती अतिशय तुरळक स्वरूपात उपलब्ध आहे. या कमतरतेवर उपाय म्हणून 'युनिक फीचर्स'ने या ई-संमेलनात निवडक दहा साहित्यिकांच्या कार्यासंबंधी टिपणास्वरूपात दस्तावेजीकरणाचा उपक्रम राबवला आहे. या दहा साहित्यिकांसंबंधीची ही टिपणं इंग्रजीमध्येही उपलब्ध आहेत व प्रत्येक टिपणासोबत संबंधित साहित्यिकाचं छायाचित्र किंवा रेखाचित्र देण्यात आलंय. हा उपक्रम आपल्या सर्व मराठी लोकांचा व्हावा, अशी आमची भावना आहे. त्यामुळे आपल्याकडे एखाद्या साहित्यिकाची माहिती, त्याच्या साहित्याविषयीची समीक्षात्मक नोंद, किंवा एखादं दुर्मिळ छायाचित्र, अशी माहिती उपलब्ध असेल तर ती uniquefeatures1@gmail.com या ई-मेल पत्त्यावर पाठवावी, असं आवाहन तिसऱ्या ई-साहित्य संमेलनाच्या निमित्ताने आम्ही करत आहोत. या संमेलनामधे ज्या दहा साहित्यिकांसंबंधीची टिपणं प्रसिद्ध केली आहेत, त्यांच्या संदर्भातही अशी माहिती वा अधिकची छायाचित्रं असल्यास पाठवावीत. हा दस्तावेजीकरणाचा सतत सुरू असलेला आणि सर्वांच्या सहभागातून घडणारा प्रकल्प ठरण्यासाठी आपल्या सर्वांचा सहभाग यात स्वागतार्ह आहे.

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ई-संमेलन कशासाठी? - भूमिका

'युनिक फीचर्स' आयोजित ई - साहित्य संमेलनाचं हे तिसरं वर्ष. 

पहिल्या आणि दुस-या ई-संमेलनाला मिळालेल्या उदंड प्रतिसादाच्या पार्श्वभूमीवर यंदा तिसरं - ई साहित्य संमेलन पार पडत आहे. ज्येष्ठ लेखक भालचंद्र नेमाडे यांना आम्ही तिस-या ई-संमेलनाचं अध्यक्षपद स्वीकारण्याची केलेली विनंती स्वीकारून त्यांनी आमच्या उपक्रमाला पाठिंबा दिला.
या वर्षीपासून मराठी साहित्यिकांचं इंटरनेटवर दस्तावेजीकरण करण्याच्या उपक्रमाची आम्ही सुरूवात करत आहोत.
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