This book is the result of more than three decades' worth of experience working with Dalits, belonging to multi-faith communities (Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Sikhs and Buddhists). It came to be written as response to Dalit oppressive historical context as well as to the newly added factor of globalization. This is the first complete work on Dalit theology, which is rooted in the multi-faith approaches and responses to the WI\ole Dalit issue. It is a combination of the most important ingredients any liberation theology, viz., history, context, text and person. this work indeed presents a 'whole vision' of 'whole salvation' for which Dalit theology comes as an enabling force.
Rev. James Massey is currently the Director of the Center for Dalit/Subaltern Studies and Community Contextual Communication Centre, New Delhi and Chairperson, Navjyoti Post-Graduate & Research Centre, Delhi. for his work in Sikh religion he has awarded Doctor of Philosophy by Johann Wolfgang Geothe University, Frankfurt, Germany, and again Post-Doctoral Academic Degree (Habilitation) in the field of 'Religious Studies' by the same University. Dr. Massey is the translator of the Punjabi Bible and has authored and edited more than 20 Books.
Dalits were forced to adopt the 'culture of silence' for centuries by the so-called upper caste people, but today they have broken their silence. Behind this breaking-up of the culture of silence, there have been many liberative forces working for a long time. It visibly began with the revolts of Lord Mahavira (540 BC-468 BC) and Lord Buddha (563 BC-483 BC) against the supremacy of the Brahmins who were the creators of the caste system in India. The efforts continued all through the history since then, and was upheld and sustained by many including various Hindu Bhakti movements, Christian and missionary movements, Muslim Sufi movement and teachings of Sikh Gurus till it reached the present times under the leadership of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, himself a Dalit. Dr. Ambedkar (1891-1956) was indeed the first representative voice of the Dalits and helped in giving a positive shape to the movement. Today thousands of Dalits and non-Dalits are keenly involved in this movement. This book on 'Dalit theology' is part of the same liberative process.
Inspite of all these efforts the Dalits till date do not have a common 'ideology' or a 'theology' from their perspective ('Dalit theology'), which can become a basis of the struggle for their total liberation. The common ideology or Dalit theology can be the binding force and can bring about a solidarity among various groups of Dalits, which certainly they need for their improvement to carry on their struggle for liberation. This book is part of the effort to fill this gap.
The book itself in the present form is result of, almost three decades of the reflective experience of the author. He entered into the process of doing theology from the Dalit perspective from the mid 1980s onwards. He had the privilege to be part of the first generation theologians and even their collective experience is also in spirit as part of this book. Beside working with the Dalit Christians at different levels, the author took active part in the multi-faith struggle of the Dalits which include: Dalit Hindus, Dalit Muslims, Dalit Christians, Dalit Sikhs and Dalit Buddhists.
Therefore this book is rooted in the historical experience of all Dalits including Dalit Christians (see for history in general chapters 1-3) and Dalit Christians (chapters 4 and 5). The same way this book in depth deals with the past context of Dalits in general (see chapter 6), and has discussions on the existing caste based social order as well on the added contextual factor globalization and its impact on the Dalits (see chapter 6). Besides the general context, the specific context of Dalit Christians and their civil rights are also part of the discussion in this work (see chapter 7). The text includes multi- religious approaches (see chapter 8) to the whole issue of Dalits. In depth reflection is included in the discussion of this book on the issues of 'peace, reconciliation and justice' from the perspective of the Dalits (see chapter 9), which is the core of Dalit theology.
The 'text' which is the third key foundation of Dalit theology, not only offers models (see chapters 10, 11, 12 and 13), but also offers tests for any authentic expression of theology including 'Dalit theology' is dealt equally in this book (see for tests chapter 10.7).
In the last section, this book deals with the 'vision, nature and role' of' Dalit theology' (see chapter 14) and also calls for a paradigm shift in the whole theological education system (see chapter 15). The last chapter deals with the most important aspect of' Dalit theology', which is not only the end goal of it, but also the very essence. It is the 'Dalit combat spirituality' which enables the Dalits to achieve 'whole salvation' for which they are waiting for the last 3500 years. This whole salvation includes personal transformation as well as the societal, which. leads to the establishment of 'just society' in which every human being enjoys a full redeemed humanity. This is what this book is about.
This book is the result of the encouragement and help from many individuals and organizations to whom I would like to express my gratitude. I am specially thankful to the Centre for Dalit/Subaltern Studies, New Delhi for sponsoring this project on 'Dalit theology' as part of its programme. I am specially thankful to Deepak Seth, a close friend whose immense knowledge and sound judgment I highly regard. I am grateful to my colleagues Nungsang Jamir and Imti Jamir, who have helped in putting and arranging the material very carefully through its many stages. I am indebted to my publisher Ramesh Jain, his son Ajay Jain, their editor Siddharth Chowdhury for their valuable suggestions and keen interest in this publication.
I am also grateful to my family members, specially my wife Kala, for patiently bearing up with my pre-occupations while working on this volume.
Above all I am thankful to God Almighty for giving me the strength to complete this work, which I believe will provide the necessary support to people of different faiths and ideologies.
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