Narendra Jadhav’s Untouchables

The first time I heard about Narendra Jadhav was when my father told me about him. Coincidentally, Jadhav’s original book in Marathi is titled Amcha Baap ani Amhi (i.e. Our father and Us), and just like Jadhav’s father was responsible for his education, my father is a constant source of my interest in reading. Although it would have been a pleasure for me to read Jadhav’s original work in Marathi, I was just as happy to see his book at a friend’s place and remembered his name in spite of the gap in time that I first heard about him.

Initially I had a rough time reading the book because I was constantly reminded of the fact that it was translated from Marathi to English. The language seemed awkward and I wondered if that was because of translation difficulties or just a bad case of translating phrases. [1] I wondered if translating this book was a mistake. But as I kept going on, the story started to become more important than the language. When I got to the end and read Jadhav’s own writing from his perspective (rather than his father’s or mother’s, which is the case through most of the book), I realized that Jadhav’s own language was fluent and rich in its simplicity and intellect.

For a Marathi-speaking girl, this book was a fairly easy read, and I’m not sure how someone who is completely removed from the life that Jadhav describes will identify or empathize with him. But judging from the book’s success and wide-spread recognition, I don’t think that was a problem. And for precisely that reason, I hope that the book is read by more people. In Maharashtra caste-system is still a problem, and I’ve experienced it first hand, when an aunt refused to accept her daughter-in-law, who was supposedly from the “lower” or “backward” class. My grandmother, who was very advanced and educated for her years, was not open-minded about the caste-system and it was disappointing to have such beliefs within the family. Fortunately, my parents never made such distinctions. Jadhav’s book is a great reflection on the life of the people who come from the lower caste of the Hindu religious system. Can you tolerate being labeled “untouchable”? Can you imagine how it feels to have restrictions on moving about in society, with a broom attached to your waist, so you’re constantly wiping out your own existence? Jadhav talks about this, all the way up to Dr Ambedkar, who initiated the movement to discontinue the caste-system. Dr Ambedkar’s influence on Jadhav’s father and Jadhav himself is quite heavy and it is really useful to read about Ambedkar’s work.

Overall, although it started sort of strangely, I got engrossed in this book, and only hope that more such works get translated into English, so that the world is aware of the intricacies of India and its history.

[1] Most Marathi readers will tell you what a big tragedy it is that P.L. Deshpande cannot be translated into English and we’re robbing the English-reading public of one of Maharashtra’s greatest writers.

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27 Responses to Narendra Jadhav’s Untouchables

  1. Pingback: DesiPundit » Archives » Untouchables

  2. yogesh says:

    I have read Amcha baap ani amhi in Marathi. But didn’t like it. Narendra Jadhavanche yash spruhaniya ahech. Pan pustakat nehmi atmastuti kelyasarakhe vatat rahate. Well.. this is my personal opinion about the book.

    Anyways, you are very good at writing. Thanks to DesiPundit for providing the link. 🙂

  3. sampada says:

    Yogesh, kadachit tu bollas te khara aahe. Swatachich stuti koni karat rahila tar vachayla kantala yeto. Pan Untouchables Damu ani Sonu cha point of view madhun aahe, mhanun mala atmastuti janavli nahi. Ek goshta vichitra vatli, Damu and Sonu cha lagna jhalyavar tyancha physical attration Jadhav kasa detail madhe describe karatat. They are his parents after all. It was a little disconcerting.

    Ata English novel vachalay, tar mi kadachit Marathi novel vachayche shram ghenar nahi.

  4. zeya says:

    I cannt belive you guys are typing marathi here.. I mean I have objections with typing in marathi.. But atleast translate in english.. I cudnt understand..

  5. sampada says:

    Zeya, LOL! I can imagine. Hate it when people talk in their own language when there are others you cannot understand.

    Yogesh said that he didn’t like the book because Jadhav seemed to blow his own trumpet in the Marathi version of the book. Which is interesting because when I spoke with my dad today he said the same thing. But the English version does not come across like that. Most of the book is from the POV of his mother and father. That’s the rough translation of the above comments. Hope you don’t feel left out anymore 🙂

  6. yogesh says:

    Unfortunately I haven’t read Untouchables. I am under impression that it is a translation of Amcha baap ani amhi.

    Btw, If you find some time also read this by Laxman Gayakwad. It is on similar subject. (

    Agree with your point on P.L.D. It is really difficult to translate his work in other languages. Same holds true to G.A.Kulkarni and Khanolkar. It is almost impossible to translate their work.

  7. sampada says:

    Thanks for the recommendation, Yogesh. Will buy some more books when I go to India this summer. Also, Untouchables is a translation of Amcha Baap ani Amhi, but he might have made some modifications in the process.

  8. bhise ram says:

    i ram i am doing my project on narendra jadhav outcaste as translation study

  9. sudarshan says:

    i m now reading the Amcha Baap ani Amhi (i.e. Our father and Us)
    i suffer from great intrest in it.

  10. sampada says:

    sudarshan, I guess the “suffering” is good?

  11. Kishor Wadhe says:

    Yesterday I was going through my friend Pravin’s ‘Success Story’ and read about this book. This book when read by him after faiure in first year of engineering, indeed you won’t believe, take him to the glory of being University topper of which Jadhav is VC. Certainly there could have been other inspiring factors but this book, I understand diverted his lifestyle.

  12. VK says:

    *[1] Most Marathi readers will tell you what a big tragedy it is that P.L. Deshpande cannot be translated into English and we’re robbing the English-reading public of one of Maharashtra’s greatest writers.*

    Why do you say cannot? Is there some legal restriction? I am planning to start an independent publishing house and would like to translate works from Marathi to English. Shall appreciate a reply.

  13. sampada says:

    VK, as far as P. L. Deshpande is concerned, translating his works is difficult because the humor is based in the language and wouldn’t make sense if it were to be converted from Marathi to English. There is no legal restriction that I am aware of. Humorous writing aside, I am sure there are a lot of other works in Marathi that can be translated into English, and would work.

  14. vijaykumar m says:

    Donkey didnot know the taste of joggary in this way who didnot tolerate poority and strggle. narendra jadhavs autobiographi is one of finest atobiography. i think so.

  15. don says:

    This are very useful


  17. ROHIT GAIKWAD says:

    hi this rohit, i hv read Amcha Baap ani Amhi (i.e. Our father and Us). Im also from untouchable family background (Now Buddhist)

  18. chetan ahiwalay says:

    hi, can any one tell me which book ,of dr narendra jadhav should i read first, the marthi one or the english version

  19. parag borkar says:

    hey hi
    Your short review of the book “aamcha baap ani aamhi” ignited interest in me.
    Actually I found this book at at my friend’s home but never thought to read it.
    Now it seems that I just found something good to read.

  20. harshal geet says:

    it is very best that we should read it in english its a great task.

  21. Mahendra Ohal says:

    This is one of the good book which teaches you how even illiterate father (Dr. Narendra Jadhav’s Father) cultivate his kids by the thoughts of Dr. Ambedker and make them hero of that time inspite of all odds including they were from Untouchable family. This is small thought come in my mind but there are lot of thoughts, characters, situations in this book which keeps inspiring while reading this book, worth to read it.

  22. Ramesh Rathod says:

    a story of an enthusiastic man knows NOBLE importance of Education.Narendra Jadhao’s father was knowing importance of Education in everybodies life.

  23. siddhartha sitaram more (writer-director) says:

    jai bhim sir, aapale pustak vachun mala mazya bapachi athavan zali….. i want to meet you abaut film project…

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