Bheemayana

Started in July 2011

Bhimayana* is a documentation of pictures of Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar (1891–1956) which were taken across the streets of Bangalore most of them were found painted on the shops of cobblers, street sellers, tea shops etc which are generally funded by the welfare societies for Dalits.

Ambedkar one of India’s foremost revolutionaries, born into a poor Dalit family (people traditionally regarded as untouchable) grew up battling against the odds. He gained multiple doctorates, campaigned against social discrimination and the Indian caste system and went on to become India’s first law minister and draft the Constitution for his country. Throughout his life Ambedkar faced routine discrimination. The discrimination experienced by Ambedkar continues to haunt a majority of India’s millions of Dalits as many are still denied water, shelter and the basic dignities of life. He is the most respected leader amongst Dalits in India today, and is worshiped as their savior by many across the country.

These pictures are based on one single famous portrait of Ambedkar, drawn by various local painters, still each one looks different from one another. No one who pass by these portraits give it any attention or consider them as a work of art. But when put together, it certainly does make a difference. A simple portrait of Ambedkar thus becomes much more than a picture. It becomes a symbol of pride, hope, and inspiration for millions who still live a life at the bottom of the society.

*Title taken from the graphic book by artists Durgabai Vyam and Subhash Vyamon Amberkar’s life.