Instead of just criticizing Indian Churches, the novel offers church to adopt
some reform measures to change the situation.
This is perhaps the first novel of its kind written on heated issue of
conversion and imperialistic thinking of church in north India. There
are scores of books, novels and stories on pathetic status of Dalits
within Brahminical framework but nobody has tried to gauze the status of
the class being discriminated and tortured inside the four walls of
This short novel is also the story of millions of converted Christians
who adopted Christianity and rejected their original faith in the hope
of better life and respect. But, as the novel describes, their
conditions have worsened and they, rather, fell into the exploitation by
The novel is based on the story of Budhiya, a Pandavani actor. As the
story goes, Budhiya reaches Padlikpur Mission station and comes in
contact with some priests who, in order to help the deprived souls, open
their doors. They offer oil, milk, powder, imported American soap,
paneer, butter, rice and wheat to Budhiya and their people. And,
precisely, from here in the novel starts the story of bad luck of
Pandavani actors as the priests convert them into Christianity and
settle them in Judpur-Jhansi, the agriculture farm village of Catholics
situated seven kilometers north-east of Jhansi. With this the
traditional Pandavani playing family becomes a family of slaves from
actors and their fall starts.
Pandavani was a local form of dance and music. With the rolling of time,
Tijanbai popularized this form of art at international level. Everybody
knows Tijanbai but hardly anyone is aware of Budhiya who is from same
land and is equally or more skilled in Pandavani art form than Tijanbai.
Had they not converted into Christianity their fate would have been
different. Author is also a character in the novel. He, himself, has
been tormented by the church system. His friends show cowardice and
don’t support him in his battle.
Church leaders always remain cautious to allegations of conversion and
especially when it involves fraud, deceit and greed. They out rightly
reject such allegations. People who make such allegations are told to
The author of the novel has tried to reveal the truth through
interesting plots and narrative of the story. Hardly hitting the class
discrimination in Church, he has not spared nuns and fathers who are
using every trick of the trade to have control over the system.
Religion never teaches to practice evil. But, both good and bad things
have entered even into religious system over the time and people have
put blind eyes to these evils. Budhiya-Ek Satyakatha tries to give an
insight to see and realize – they are evils in the system!
[Reviewer R L Francis is the President of Poor Christian Liberation