King Chhatrapati Shahuji of Kolhapur decided to drink tea there when he opened his tea shop of his Downtrodden servant Gangaram Kamble, in the early years of the last century it was not a minor matter.
He asked Kamble, “Why have you not written your name on the board of your shop?” On this, Kamble said, “It is not necessary to write the name of the shopkeeper and caste outside the shop.”
king Shahuji kicked, “It seems that you have corrupted the religion of the whole city.”
Shahuji, born on 26th June 1874, was not a modest king, but the great emperor Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj was the Veshang.
The news of drinking tea of Maharaja at Kamble’s shop spread like wildfire in Kolhapur city. A large number of people gather to see this amazing phenomenon with their eyes.
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king enjoyed Kamble’s tea in the presence of a large crowd, many of them probably did not know that Shahuji had given money to Kamble to open a tea shop.
After drinking tea, the Maharaja told Gangaram Kamble that “buy not only tea but also soda making machine” Shahu, famously known as Rajarshi Maharaj, gave money to Kamble for the soda machine too.
The shop of Gangaram started on Bhausi Singhji Road, Kolhapur, 100 years ago, it was not a minor start.
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Racist discrimination was also at its peak in Kolhapur of Maharashtra, as in other parts of the country, Shahuji Maharaj adopted many constructive ways to deal with social evil, instead of giving a speech, he wanted to exemplify the work.
He was also in touch with Ambedkar and was thinking of working towards removing discrimination on the basis of caste.
In 1902, he enacted a reservation in his state which was a revolutionary step, he decided to give reservations to fifty percent of the people of the backward castes in government jobs.
It was a decision that would later go a long way in making constitutional arrangements of reservation. He had legalized any kind of tactics in public places in his governance area.
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His style was very different, sometimes he would fight straight on casteism, sometimes trying to explain lovingly, many times he used to speak in a joke.
Most people in that period seriously believed that their touch would be corrupted by touching a dalit, and the Dalits were prevented from going to temples and many public places.
In the 1920’s, two years before his death, Shahu Ji Maharaj took part in the meeting of ‘All India Exclusion Council’ in Nagpur. He made a Dalit tea and made it on several occasions.
In the society in which the touch was treated as religion and tradition, Chhatrapati Shivaji’s Vashanj could not be ignored by doing so, there was a lot of discussion on that, Shahu Ji Maharaj also wanted that awareness would only come after discussion.
In 1920, he laid the foundation for the construction of a hostel for the Dalit students.
The story of beating and tea shop
Gangaram lived in quarters for Shahuji Maharaj’s employees. Once a Maratha soldier Santaram and some upper caste people beat the Gangaram Kamble near the pond built inside the palace, they had said that Dalit Gangaram had polluted the water by touching the water of the pond.
At this time Shahuji Maharaj was not in Kolhapur, when he returned, Gangaram cried out to his whole story. Shahuji was very upset over this and he beat the Santarum with the horse’s whip and fired from the job.
After this he told Gangaram that I am sorry that such an incident happened within my palace. He told Gangaram Kamble that you should start your work. After this Shahuji Maharaj gave him money which started the tea shop. It was not a minor matter.
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Gangaram Kamble named his shop ‘Satyasugharak’, his shop cleanliness and taste of tea were excellent but people of high caste boycotted them, he was very angry that a dalit tea was being poured.
When Shahuji Maharaj came to know about this matter, he decided to challenge this perception by drinking tea. Shahuji understood well that society does not change orders, but converts with messages and concrete initiatives.
Shahuji Maharaj used to drink tea only on his own, and also to his upper caste staff, he would not say anything to the king of his junk.
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