Annabhau Sathe – Social Reformer
Annabhau Sathe was a social reformer and writer from Maharashtra, India.
Annabhau Sathe was born in the village of Wategaon near Sangli in a family belonging to the Matang community. (The community has been identified by the Indian government as a scheduled caste.)
Poverty had prevented Annabhau from obtaining formal education. His brother Shankarbhau recounts in his biography of Sathe, titled Majhe Bhau Annabhau (My brother Annabhau), that the family members worked as laborers at the site of Kalyan tunnel when it was being constructed.
Despite lack of formal education, Annabhau Sathe wrote in Marathi 35 novels, one among which was Fakira (1959). Fakira, which is currently in its 19th edition, received a state government award in 1961.Vaijanta is the remarkable one.
There are 15 collections of Annabhau Sathe’s short stories. A large number of his short stories have been translated into many Indian and as many as 27 non-Indian languages.
Besides novels and short stories, Annabhau Sathe wrote a play, a travelogue on Russia, 12 screenplays, and 10 ballads (powade in Marathi).
Annabhau Sathe wrote directly from his experiences in life, and his novels celebrate the fighting spirit in their characters who work against all odds in life.
Lok Rajya, a Maharashtra state government fortnightly, published on November 1, 1993, a special commemorative issue concerning Annabhau Sathe. The state government also issued in 1998 a collection of his works under the title Lokshahir Annabhau Sathe Nivadak Sahitya. (Selected works of Lokshahir Annabhau Sathe)
To generate social awareness, he organized stage performances of powade and tamasha, ethnic dances chiefly performed by women, which are popular in rural Maharashtra. He produced 14 tamasha shows. In the late 1940s, the then Home Minister of the Bombay state government Morarji Desai had banned tamasha shows, but Annabhau Sathe courageously defied the ban by renaming them as lokanatya. People in Maharashtra conferred the epithet lok shahir on Annabhau Sathe.
Sathe was an important mobilizer in the Samyukta Maharashtra movement. He used the medium of powade to great effect in that movement. Annabhu sathe was the member of Matang Samaj Community at Satara and Sangli districts of Maharashtra.
Annabhau Sathe lived a life of destitution. After spending 22 years in a Ghatkopar slum, Sathe moved to a modest house in Goregaon which the state government provided him in 1968, one year before he died.
Annabhau Sathe decided to bring awareness among the masses against Brahminism which imposed untouchability and virtually compelled the deprived lot to take recourse to criminal and filthy occupations against the British Government which imposed the Criminal Tribes Act and subjected his community to harassment and against the forces of feudalism and capitalism which exploited his community and made life unbearable. He used his art and poetic genius in educating the masses.