The pundit and the babu


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POLITICAL scientists rarely produce major flights of political theory. They teach from old texts or from current textbooks. Either way, they are more professors of political theory than philosophical innovators. Their works lack the humus of political struggles or the everydayness of political survival. Fortunately, theory springs from many compost heaps. Economics gave us Amartya Sen and Jean Dreze, psychology Ashis Nandy and the policy sciences M.S. Swaminathan and Arjun Sengupta. In an odd and unexpected way, the world of literature, linguistics and literary criticism produced Ganesh Devy. Devy is not a Noam Chomsky who keeps his science of linguistics separate from his theory of society. He uses linguistics to challenge both science and the theories of society. Devy is a strange kind of original. He is not a lonely thinker or even part of a department of lost causes, but one who grows in company of friends and peers.

To see Ganesh Devy as a noun is boring. This makes him sound like a conventional professor, a professional literary critic, a concerned activist. All this he was and is. But as a verb Ganesh Devy is much more interesting. He is a travelling fact, a collection of conversations and friendships. If Devy as a noun represents the official dictionary definition of Devy, as a verb Devy represents meaning in use. In a linguistic sense, he is the sum total of his conversations with Mahasweta Devi, Bhupen Kakkar, Karan Grover, Dilip Chitre, A.K. Ramanujan and U.R. Ananthamurthy. It is out of these conversations that emerges another Devy, the Devy of thought experiments, a Devy obsessed with deconstructing hegemony.

Hegemony is a strange term, both double-edged and Janus-faced, an ironic joke explaining why exploitation is so seductive. When Antonio Gramsci elaborated it, it must have triggered the occasional chuckle in the loneliness of prison life.

Hegemony creates symbolic wounds we need to understand. It is not as simple as oppression or as brutal as torture. It persuades, it convinces, it tricks like the witches in Macbeth, without the victim ever tracing the source of deceit. The irony about hegemony is that it deceives those who are supposed to see through it. It cons, in particular, the intellectual who practices the hermeneutics of suspicion.


An intellectual in India is not merely twice born but twice wounded. Symbolically, he suffers from colonialism and also the sins of development. The violence of these events summons the need for a Freud or an Adorno. Yet one bemoans the absence of an authentic local reading of colonialism. India lacks a Fanon or an Edward Said, someone who can rip apart the alleged inauthenticity of the falsely classical and yet question the hypocrisy of the contemporary. We can, of course, present an Ashis Nandy and celebrate his models of colonialism in terms of the sexuality of masculine and feminine and also adduce Gandhi as an answer. Gandhi fits the challenge to hegemony from such a frame. Later, Nandy created the opposition between myth and history arguing that symptoms of history are often a harbinger of violence in our society. One thinks of the demolition of the Babri Masjid or the violent rhetoric of Narendra Modi in this context. Nandy, while playful, is often incomplete, a more happy-go-lucky cuckoo, laying his hypothesis like eggs waiting for some dull social science crow to hatch them. At another level, for all their agility, Nandy’s essays still appear like a Freudian salad served up with local dressing.

Ganesh Devy realizes that such efforts are limited. One needs a different canvas and the colours of a different palette. One requires a site beyond political economy, the world of childhood, or even the body. Devy opts for language. It is more axiomatic, more primordial. It also demands a basic vulnerability, as the analyst becomes his own case study. In a ruthless way, the intellectual’s life becomes a lens and mirror to his own study, creating a vulnerability that leaves most attempts scarred and brittle. The intellectual appears like a cultural hunchback in his own notebooks and he is forced to ask, ‘I speak and write, therefore I wonder who I am.’


In setting up the problematic, Devy implies that the Indian intellectual is a creature haunted by two doubles, the past as memory and the present as development. By disfiguring and being disfigured by both, the intellectual stands as a peculiar and pathetic creature. Devy demands a double catharsis, insisting on creative therapies both for the past and the future for the present to become viable. It is like writing a drama twice, first, as a Greek tragedy with its sense of fate and second as a modern tragedy with its sense of choice.1 Colonialism has a sense of Greek inevitability possibly because of the past tense, while development smacks of the modern, the possibility of choices. For Devy, both operate within the logic of memory.

Devy’s work is a search for the mnemonic man. It is an attempt to redeem memory and the original culture of memory as part of intellectual life. The idea of memory has to be rescued from its present meaning, its restricted codes and its aborted ecology of mimicry and seen for what it once was, a cultural theory of creativity. To remember is to summon a universe and to invent more possibilities for it. Memory is not the Gutenberg memory of print where words are remembered by rote. Memory acquired the provinciality of print and became history or archive. With print memory became mechanical, acquiring the qualities of cliché. No act of reading is possible without an alternative availability of memory. Devy’s search for the mnemonic man begins with an attempt to look at amnesia and aphasia, as symptoms, as metaphors and as forms of life.


After Amnesia2 is an attempt to examine the collective memory of the intellectual in the colonial period. The intellectual during colonial life felt that he was impotent and celebrated this fate as a mimic man. He was condemned to the second rate because he constructed himself as secondary to the colonial mind. The colonial encounter was a hall of mirrors without laughter. The Indian intellectual had no real access to western thought and he adds to his impotence by severing access to his own context. He creates, in fact, a false imaginary fixing the great tradition of Sanskrit in amber and denying the everyday creativity of Bhasha.3 He created a false past by welding a fossilized notion of Sanskrit to a secondary notion of western literary criticism, freezing a society that was brimming with a million celebrations of change. In celebrating Sanskrit and fossilizing it, he denied himself access to the Bhakti Movement. His idea of criticism was secondary and second rate. He tied, as it were, an ironic tourniquet, throttling the flow of the most creative juices of his own society.

Colonialism as an intellectual tragicomedy begins with the fabrication of Sanskrit as an ideal past and the erasure of bhasha. Instead of engaging with a Tukaram, Nanak or Kabir, it created idiot encounters between Shakespeare and Tulsidas, ersatz engagements that never amounted to much. Colonialism hides its amnesia by creating a false encounter between the inauthenticity of an artificialized Sanskrit and the unavailability of the English imagination. It was a coupling without organicity that the everyday-ness of bhasha could have provided. The ancient past was isolated hermetically from the medieval and seen as repository of purist identity. Literary critics museumized themselves in order to feel classical. It was a strange kind of cultural virus which declared that what was genuinely ours was second rate and secondary but what others saw as ours was seen as genuine.


Second, what was once glorious was now read as decadent and signs of decadence were read through an English literary symptomology. Indology became a self-inflicted disease where what was Indian was replaced by what was considered ‘shiningly Indian’. It created false registers where western imperialism was seen as pernicious but western literature was considered as great, thus denying the connections between the two. It was a double iatrogeny, where the patient first misreads the symptoms and goes one further by misreading the prescription. It created decades of mimic men whose genius lay in pursuing the secondary. Devy is not offering a monolithic picture but showing how the power of dominant trends was lethal. Colonialism, which was an intellectual blight, was read as a therapeutic beginning. By lobotomizing a whole domain of time, Indian literary criticism lost the life-giving power of bhasha, and its sense of indigenous dynamics. It was like a river that was forced underground while a whole kingdom waited parched for the West.


A society condemned to mediocrity needs its own rituals of coping. It creates a vision of a great past which turned decadent. Decadence allows for spoilage even as it evokes the genes of excellence. It then seeks mimicry as a surrogate solace claiming access to the world of the conquered. It creates the rules of the second rate reducing the inventiveness of memory to rote. It thrives on little footnotes. Since it has denied itself originality, it creates new versions of it. The pursuit of the West as the Imperial, The Modern, and The Renaissance becomes the new triptych of culture. The rituals are simple. You erase your old self, imbibe a secondary other as a second-rate self and then decimate the margins with a fury, claiming they represent the domain of non-knowledge. The ‘other’ outside is God, the ‘other’ within is an idiot and between hagiography and demonology, mediocrity lives content with itself. The modern Indian university system was an ode to this consciousness, a ritual devoted oxymoronically to the production and reproduction of impotence.

The West was a spring that came in bottled containers. For the intellectual, the real and the creative were located in the West and the indigenous museumized as either folklore or primitive. But it was a museumization of real life that was unforgivable. The intellectual was consistently abject and apologetic, embarrassed that a Meera, Tukaram or Kabir appeared like little fancy tokens before the power of British or Russian literature. He possessed an inferiority that wished our past had a Shakespeare or a Dryden. It was an exorcism of the collective conscious where our symbols, memories were spring cleaned, to create a new discourse of the bhadrolok which relegated bhasha to the margins of folk or to irrationality or childhood. It was a destruction of a psyche where the culture of the pre-British past was relegated to the margins; a destruction of memory that haunts us even today. It created a false proximity to a limited West and a distancing to one’s own psychic roots. It also warped the Indian intellect which saw the West as fecund and India as secondary, such that colonialism inaugurated a new cultural ‘renaissance’, itself a borrowed plumage, as revivalism.

Devy shows how this amnesia, the psychic disorder of a self-inflicted colonialism moves across four stages of oppression, repression, depression and suppression. Cultural defeat makes us erase our own past and acquire a sense of inferiority which then repeats that same violence on our margins seen as dialects, nomads or tribes. Colonialism left behind the Trojan horse of development so that India could move from amnesia to aphasia, from erasure to speechlessness. If Devy were a Marxist he would say, history is invented twice, first as amnesia, then as aphasia.


Devy tells the story twice, first for the colony and then for the tribe. Here is a man, a literary critic obsessed with the fate of the tribe and the nomad. He realizes that the tribe and its oral culture have no place in literature considered as the domain of print. An oral literature is thought of as an oxymoron. Worse, the sociology of tribes is built either on a lack or a loss. Constructed in the language of progress, the tribe is under-developed, savage, deprived, desperately in need of development. The savage has to be brought into history, with its availability of print and development. The rhetoric of lack and its technocratic strategies is accompanied by the parallel sentimentalism of loss, a sense of the aesthetic power of primitivism as art, as cosmology, as a mode of being in nature. As a literary critic, Devy sees the tribe disappear between the ‘savage’ tribe and the ‘primitive’ tribe, lost as a past and unavailable to the future. Either way politics becomes a zero-sum game where the tribe is either assimilated or erased. The tribe confronts either the liturgies of development or the litany of mourning.


Devy realizes that politics cannot be reduced only to the politics of resistance. One cannot really fight the dominant world and its discourses directly. One has to change its definitions. Autobiographically, he moves from literary criticism to language. One needs both a new reading of science and an alternative set of creation myths. He locates his original strategy in the following set of moves.

He exposes the complicity between western linguistics and western anthropology, arguing that language plays a different role in India from that conceptualized in western linguistic theory. Anthropology and linguistics share stereotypes by claiming that all literature is written. There is a genocidal politics implicit in the assumptions. ‘The written word acquires a totemic impotence; the spoken word becomes taboo.’ Devy has to challenge the established notion of literature as that which is written.

As a first step, he seeks to create a revisionist ethnography which shows that the oral has its own forms of writing. He cites the experiments of the Bondhali community, the Pithora paintings which are read as a form of writing, the Mahanubhav prose of the Chakardharas of 13th century North Maharashtra. In fact, he argues that, ‘Whenever religious or social orthodoxy had to be challenged in India, new manuscript traditions and new scripts had to be invariably employed as a means of struggle.’ But he realizes that ethnography by itself would have quaintness, creating at best a tourist imprimatur, a Ripley’s Believe it or Not around such areas. One needed not just a new ethnography of territory but also new rules of mapping.


Devy realized that the western understandings of linguistics created terror as a self-fulfilling prophecy. The death sentence is implicit in the logic of assumptions. What linguistics and literary criticism in the West do is to separate orality from literature by separating script and speech. The consequences are culturally devastating. Consider a simple example. The linguistic survey and the government consider that there are only twenty-two languages in India. The rest are seen as dialects. Dialects are thus residually defined as all those languages without script. In an odd way, all the scriptless languages happen to be adivasi.4

Devy argues that such a classification and its official consequences violate the creative logic of Indian traditions. ‘Most of our linguistic creativity has been in the oral tradition. What developed in India as oral tradition was not just "writing" on walls and boards but also composition of texts, documents, or what one describes as "manuscripts". They follow the logic of speech not the logic of orthography.’5

Devy then confronts the official terror imposed on the dialects, the violence inflicted on them by linguistic theory and the state, as a suppressor of dialects. Devy realizes that a fraternity of bhasha as a cognitive domain, as a theory of survival places a different demand on cognitive politics. Neither Romanticism nor the pragmatic requirements of ethno-botany will suffice. To create a Rousseauian theory of education will appear too fragmented. The equation, the siblingship between primitive and child can be misleading, reinforcing current stereotypes. One recognizes that the idea of the wolf boy produced fruitful theories of education for Maria Montessori but one needs a more deeply axiomatic theory.6


He argues that one needs a meta narrative which is universal and a theory of culture that is playful. Devy locates in evolution the master text, the biological epic that one needs. Evolution is not a reductive biology but an unfolding, a primal myth. Evolution has two vehicles, two forms of expression. The first is the logic of body and the second centres around the fate of language.7

For Devy, the biological condition of having a spine is the primal act in this drama. Standing up vertically is an epic moment for ‘man is the only human animal that stands perpendicular to the earth. All other creatures crawl, fly or swim.’ The verticality of the spine has removed the brain far from the surface texture of the earth. Our direct experience of the earth is reduced in the process of evolution. It becomes predominantly a conceptual understanding. This alienation from the earth creates two reflexes. Man both keeps viewing the world at a distance and looking at himself.

The spine forces us to reinvent our relation to our world; language similarly creates a fundamental reinventing of our relationship to the world. It is language that permits a relationship to the outside. Language, for Devy, is an enigma wrapped in a mystery contained in a riddle. It is a fundamental movement of evolution.

Just as evolution provides for diversity at the biological level, language provides for plurality at the cultural level. This creates two fundamental forms of theatre. There is at one level an alienation from the earth and via a corresponding meditation the creation of the ‘other’ through the mirroring of the self. Evolution, as play, demands a playful relation to the ‘other’. Within such a view, the drama of evolution is the drama of diversity, not the reductivness of homogeneity. Monoculture is an illiterate interpretation of evolution. Once evolution is summoned as the new creation myth, its cosmicomics denies the arid scenario called the survival of the fittest.


Once evolution becomes the meta-text, the next move in cognitive politics opens. Devy’s tactics are unconsciously similar to his fellow professional, A.K. Ramanujan. Ramanujan touches Devy’s trajectory twice, once explicitly, once tacitly. Devy’s first book, After Amnesia, is triggered by the title of Ramanujan’s poems. As he confesses, the poignancy and poetry of the title outlasted the contents of the poem. But Ramanujan influences Devy in a more generalized way. Playing Ekalavya to a more beneficent Drona, Devy adopts a similar style of questioning. In 1989, Ramanujan produced a wonderfully argumentative essay, ‘Is There an Indian Way of Thinking?’8 Following the pattern of a Stanislavskian exercise, Ramanujan asks a set of questions to be read aloud and pondered on. He asks:

Is there an Indian way of thinking?

Is there an Indian way of thinking?

Is there an Indian way of thinking?

Is there an Indian way of thinking?

The answer to each becomes a playful collection of possibilities. Devy’s work is one such answer which sets out to create an alternative politics of cognition for adivasi society by asking:

Is there an adivasi way of thinking?

Is there an adivasi way of telling and speaking?

Is there an adivasi way of remembering?

Is there an adivasi way of improvising?

For him the Archimedian point is orality, speech and dialect. If Ramanujan is the master of textuality and translation, Devy seeks to create an equal poetics and politics for orality and speech.


His first moves are one of mimicry. He tries to create a political economy of language a la Marx. There are shades of a Communist Manifesto for language in some of his early efforts expressed in terms of the same rhetorical claims. Instead of the hand mill giving us feudalism, and the steam engine capitalism, Devy feels that script was the first sign of leisure and a device for the recognition and maintenance of surplus. He recognized that many of his early formulations were both McLuhan like and naïve. Talking to a seminar in Hyderabad he claimed, ‘There is a direct correspondence between the deforestation of a country and the decline of the languages.’9 In talking to his adivasi colleagues in 1997, Devy claimed that, ‘The imagination is a capitalist invention, while memory is a criterion developed by communities that have not lost the ability for realism.’10 Devy however realized that one needed more than rhetoric or the riposte of a hunch. One needed an architectonic of thought to create the possibility of a new cognitive commons. This demands a retelling of modes of relating to the world.


In a new preface to an adivasi what is called thinking, he differentiates four fundamental modes: Truth and Revelation, Memory and Imagination. Once language becomes the matrix, the amniotic, cognitive soup of cultural evolution, the human being has to locate himself in space and time. Devy adds that, ‘We control space through imagination and we control time through memory.’

Consciousness is essentially a fantasy world, and it comes to terms with space and time through memory and the imagination. Without language, memory and time, there can be no fiction. Devy locates the locus of fiction at the intersection of these three worlds.

But for fiction to emerge it must be told. For storytelling to begin, it needs an act of otherness, to create the self as fantasy. Telling needs a ‘not me’, an ‘otherness’ for the social contract called listening to be born. If fiction needs language, memory and imagination, telling needs the presence of the other, the alienation between self and other that allows storytelling.

The irony of memory is that it is a double-edged weapon. In an evolutionary sense, memory was used as a marker for transactions. Once transactions begin saving begins, capital formation begins. Memory allows both for a surplus of capital and a proliferation of stories.


The basic purpose of the script was an act of numeracy, for counting. Devy argues that scripts institutionalized greed and speech is threatened by scripts. The complicity between state and script is to control the story. This contract creates a form of suppression called aphasia.11 Aphasia is the condition of speechlessness imposed by a state and its scripts on speech, on dialects, on orality. Once one defies state and script, both story and storytelling are reborn.

If the first opposition was between memory and imagination, the second is between truth and revelation. Truth is a theology about what the consciousness fabricates. ‘Truth tries to get at the limit of facts; revelation lies at the limit of fantasy.’ There was no one version of the truth in India. For some it was a linguistic invention, for others it arose from living out a world, for some truth was impossible without love. The linguists, the bhakti poets, the Buddha and Gandhi, each opted for a different definition and the life of truth.

This sense of the varieties of truth got lost in post-independence India. With independence, truth was not something to be kept within the confines of language or the universe of silence; it became a spectacle. Its visuality demanded that it be shown. It had to be an image. The question of truth, of demonstrating truth in public, became a general problem.

Imagine one was a tribal from India watching the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) in South Africa. Here the spectacle of truth was more important then the telling. There was an implicit confrontation between telling lies and demonstrating the truth. The spectacle of the testimony became evidence of the truth, where truth value lay in its visibility.

Devy raises a profound point here. Many critics felt that the TRC was a great but flawed invention, and they located the flaw in the absence of restitution. The TRC examined a theory of truth and claimed it was unsatisfactory as a theory of justice. Devy tries to show that the TRC was incomplete even as a theory of truth. The idea of truth as spectacle vitiated the power of storytelling.


The TRC, when it began, was premised unconsciously on two ideas. It claimed that the idea of speaking the truth in public and being forgiven in public was a way to reconstitute the past as collective memory. Transparency in the visual sense became central. Truth had been told in public, and then documented. In the matrix of visuality and archive fever, the obsessiveness with the photograph and written document submerged the power of the story – speech as an act of telling. What one created was a homogenization of memory as a language rather than a diversity of the dialects of truth.

This power of orality and importance of truth telling emerged during the Bhopal gas disaster. For the victims, the memories of the disaster were seen as an oral commons of stories to be told and retold, lived and relived. For many of them, compensation was an act of print. In fact, compensation was an act of erasure where the dialects of remembrance were to be erased through print, through the numeracy of numbers. Justice in Bhopal was an attempt to restore the normalcy of bureaucracy, the equilibrium of contract and of print and property. It was the justice that literacy provides to a Gutenberg galaxy. Maybe this is why the victims invited the families working at the Union Carbide plant to visit them. They wanted to talk, listen and share stories. They wanted to build a commons of a memory through storytelling which could precede Gutenberg justice.

One must emphasize that Devy does not an attempt to mimic Marshall McLuhan. McLuhan displayed sensitivity to technology and the ecologies it created. His was more an emphasis on the acoustic and the auditory rather than the oral. For example, he took for granted script as a part of literacy. His analysis of the transformations of the Catholic Church focuses more on the role of the microphone. The microphone, he claimed, created a new auditory community which broke the old structure of the mass. What McLuhan did for technology, Devy attempts for language.


There is, however, reciprocity and a complementarity between the two. For example, one often feels that the failure of Holocaust museums lies in their visuality, in the need to reproduce the visual condition of the Holocaust.12 Memory becomes a museum of visuality and looses the art of telling along with its powers of silence.

In a different way, one understands the logic of Hindi cinema as a hybrid of telling and the spectacle. The rules of Hindi cinema are still located in the logic of oral cultures. The style of repeating a joke or story can be repetitive but it also invokes a style of orality still present in the modern Hindi movie.

There is playfulness to Devy which he underplays in his emphasis on the political. This is implicit in the way he constructs modern thinking as a dialogue of diseases of pathologies. A theory of knowledge is also a theory of the diseases that knowledge creates or suppresses. Implicit in the being of language is a theory of disease.13


The question one asks explicitly is: How do Devy’s theories of literature and language add to his notion of democracy. In fact, he explores the possibility of a democratic critique of democracy. His is a search for how language and the idea of bhasha can add to the imagination of democracy. Democracy in India is a bit like literary criticism. It claims the high ground and the Marg tradition. But sadly there is no desi, bhasha tradition. In fact, the official canonical definitions of democracy blind one to the way people imagine, retell, live and relive democracy as an everyday form of life. One never looks at bhakti traditions of democracy as created in the lives of a Sunderlal Bahuguna, Baba Amte, Ela Bhatt or Mahasweta Devi. There is a different discourse and it stems not from the Magna Carta or a theory of rights, but from the idea of democracy as a commons, as communities of sharing/speaking the dialects of the housewife, the tribe and the squatter. It is the latter who keep alive the bhasha theory of democracy, which sees democracy not as an import but a form of life indigenous to a people.

The bhasha theory, if I may dub it that, does not look for voice and participation. Voice which has no theory of speech is like a spectator who can never be a witness. He cannot tell a story. Democracy is a commons of memory; the vote is merely a marker of their memory. Memory needs retelling, reinvention, but the memory of the modern democracy reads more like the rote of print. As the result, democracy becomes merely a memorial, a monument, rather than a lived form, whereas memory reinvents it in an everyday fashion.

In that sense, the bhasha theory of democracy is based not on the Guttenberg rule of law which look at the fine print but an orality of dialects which to modify Whitman’s phrase sing ‘the body democratic’.


Devy hints that a technocratic theory of democracy is shortsighted. A linguistic model of democracy which sees innovation in terms of an innumerable number of little variations, that infinity of diversities that both language and democracy demand, is what makes democracy sustainable. Parallel to it is the idea of democracy as a sensorium. Modern democracy is often exceedingly visual, insisting on the spectacle and the spectacular. The visual gets entrapped in the gaze and the individual is often transformed into a specimen. Visuality, all too often, evokes the panopticon, the modes of surveillance that have kept a polity orderly. What one needs instead is democracy as memory. Memory demands voice, the constant need for storytelling, and the incessant buzz of speech which pollinates a democracy. A democracy that allows for aphasia silences the diversities within it. Between the aphasia of the margins and the amnesia of the elite, democracy becomes a failure of storytelling, something which can neither be relived nor retold. The availability of the senses allows a democracy to breathe, smell, hear and touch diversities as alternative possibilities.

In appealing for a bhasha theory of democracy, Devy sees democracy as a linguistic and literary sensibility, an oral passion. Frozen as a printed text, it becomes the monopoly of experts on development. Development is the internalization of inferiority where a culture inflicts violence on the other because it can no longer tolerate itself. As a result, the experts on development are a bit like the old ideologists. They erase or lobotomize huge sections of what they call ‘the third world’ in us. The millions of DNTs, the forced migration of squatters, the displacement of dam projects, the anonymous erasure of disaster victims, the thousands who disappear after a riot, the untold Africas within us, are all erased as non-people and non-knowledge.


There is something impersonal about the fury of these essays. It is like a storyteller speaking in a detached way about extinction. There is no sentimentality, none of the usual mushiness of primitivism or the market sentimentalism of lost opportunities, no appeal to Utopia or cornucopia. It is a work rooted in everydayness. This is no Cassandra cry, no Antigone living in the world of the dead. There is only a toast to life, the normalcy of the lifeworld. The tribe is you. Destroy it and you become a monster because cultural lobotomies are more frightening than the brutality of war. What genocide cannot cope with is the silence of the living. The silence of the adivasi is Devy’s constant obsession. Anthropology cannot render as a garden what is a forest of stories. No print can capture the flight of speech. Silence refuses to be museumized. Devy’s work is an attempt to create the poetics and politics out of the adivasi speech and silence. It needs to be listened to and sung all over again.


* All references to Devy’s work are to the G.N. Devy Reader: Ganesh Devy, The GN Devy Reader, Orient Blackswan, Delhi, 2009.


1. George Steiner, The Death of Tragedy, Faber and Faber, London, 1963.

2. Ganesh Devy, After Amnesia (in The GN Devy Reader), Orient Blackswan, Delhi, 2009.

3. Ibid., pp. 52-59.

4. Ganesh Devy, The Being of Bhasha (in The GN Devy Reader), ibid., p. 11.

5. Ibid., p. 10.

6. Harlan Lane, The Wild Boy of Aveyron, Granada Publishing, London, 1979.

7. Ganesh Devy, The Being of Bhasha, op cit., 2009, p. 3.

8. A.K. Ramanujan, ‘Is There an Indian Way of Thinking?’ Contributions to Indian Sociology (n.s.) 23(1), 1989, 41-58.

9. Ganesh Devy, The Being of Bhasha, op cit., 2009, p. 2.

10. Ibid.

11. Ganesh Devy, Of Many Heroes (in The GN Devy Reader), ibid.

12. Edward T. Linenthal, Preserving Memory, Viking Penguin, New York, 1995.

13. Ganesh Devy, The Being of Bhasha, op cit., 2009, pp. 14-15.