However significant DR Nagaraj's role role in the Dalit Movement in Karnataka and outside, his most lasting legacy will prove to be his utterly original reading of Gandhi, Ambedkar and the complex relationship between these two founders of modern India in the early part of the 20th century, especially as regards their—apparently— conflicting views on the caste system and on the problem of untouchability. DR’s seminal essay, ‘Self-Purification versus Self-Respect,’ first published in The Flaming Feet in 1993, cannot but alter any reader’s understanding of Gandhian and Ambedkarite positions on the untouchable and on the meanings of caste in Indian modernity. If DR had written nothing else besides this piece, it would not have lessened his intellectual and ethical contribution—I suspect that at some level, he knew this.
Vajpeyi, Ananya, "“Let Poetry Be a Sword!”: How DR Nagaraj changed the way we read Gandhi and Ambedkar" (2011). History Faculty Publication Series. 2.
First published in The Caravan, January 2011: http://www.caravanmagazine.in.