The dalits are coming, step aside-

hand over the reins, let them rule.


Minds burning with countless dreams,

slogans like thunder and lightning,

in the language of earthquakes,

here comes the dalit procession,

writing [history] with their feet.


Into the dump go gods and gurus,

down the drain go the lawmakers.


On a path they struck for themselves

March the dalits in procession,

burning torches in their hands,

sparks of revolution in their eyes

exploding like balls of fire.


For the thorn bushes of caste and religion,

they were as thorns in the side.


They became the sky that looked down at

the seven seas that swallowed them.


Since Rama’s time and Krishna’s time

unto the time of the Gandhis,

they had bowed low with folded hands.

Now they have risen in struggle.


It grows, it breaks out of its shell

the  endless dalit procession.


Bullet for bullet, blood for blood,

shoulder to shoulder, lives bound together.


Under the flag of dalit India

stood the farmers and workers.


Flowers bloom in every forest,

Thousands of birds take flight,

the eastern sky turned red,

morning broke for the poor.


The dalits are coming, step aside!

The dalits have come, give it up!


(Translated from Kannada by M. Madhava Prasad; Siddalingaiah (1954-), a leading Kannada poet and public intellectual, is one of the founders of the Dalit Sangharsha Samiti and played a  significant role in the dalit movement in Karnataka in the 1970s and 1980s. Siddalingaiah participated in the boosa agitation of the mid-70s. lyrics from his first collection, Holemaadigara Haadu (Songs of the Holeya and Madiga, 1975), often sung at public meetings and demonstrations by the famous Janaradhan (Jenni), were heralded as path-breaking. He has since published several other collections of poetry and an autobiography, “Ooru Keri”, in two parts (rendered in English as A Work With You, World: The Autobiography of a Poet, 2013). He has been the head of Department of Kannada at Bangalore University and a member of the Legislative Council. He is currently chairman, Kannada Book Authority.

Top - Home