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Hinduism, “Caste System” and discrimination – Join the debate

Dear Readers,

I am moving several comments on the Turkey and Secularism post here due to the fact that they are more to do with Hinduism and discrimination and less with the subject of the original post.

Please continue this discussion on this thread.

Thanks

*** COMMENTS BEGIN ***

1. Patriot, on October 8th, 2007

There is this whole positioning about Hinduism (excuse me, VCK) being such a tolerant religion, which has not imposed its faith on others.

I really, really want to question this:

Hinduism or Sanatana Dharma is a drawdown from the polytheistic faith of our ancestors who settled in the indus valley region (wherever they came from, that is another debate!). They settled and grew in what was probably the most fertile, productive and habitable region of the civilised world then (ex the Nile region). As a result, they never needed to go out of this region to ensure survival. All they needed to ensure is that any invaders did not wipe out their gene pool. Moreover, as invaders came and settled here, the original inhabitants accepted them into their gene pool, because the Invaders were militarily MORE POWERFUL.

Thus grew the myth of peace loving, non-geographical extending hindus. But, have you considered the following: While the Hindus did not harrass any external faith, they more than made up for it by what they did to people of their own faith!!!

1. The caste system – the longest running discrimination system in the world, both in terms of number of years and volume of people discriminated against
2. The treatment of women – child marriage, Sati, widows sent off to Benares to become prostitutes, temple prostitutes, no chance of owning property, I could go on and on
3. Education – Large scale deprivation of education for 85% of the population. All prayers said in Sanskrit (not understood by 95% of the people, equivalent to Latin masses of the Roman church) – this still goes on, no local languages are used.

I can go on and on, but I think this should be a good starting point for all those who believe Hinduism to be a peaceful religion to respond? And, my point is that a lot of the above practices are STILL going on … hinduism is like a cancer that feeds on its own people.

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2. v.c.krishnan, on October 8th, 2007

Dear Sir,

It is always hinduism and Caste! What about the caste system in the “Enlightened Educated Society”.
I am always surprised that the modern “Educated Individual” (EI for short) keeps harping on Rituals and Caste in the religion.

The EI considers it abhorring and “Feels” so much for the deprived. But suppose the same EI goes to a give a lecture at a place where only a three peice/coat is made compulsory to enter the hallowed precints. What does he do, he goes to the extent of even investing in one for a single night to be a part of this “Society”
The same EI feels it very comfortable where some places known as “Exclusive Clubs” and inside that a place known as a “Bar” , where people most times find it difficult to hold their physical needs under control, and what are they expected to wear A Collared shirt, Pants, ( maybe the dhothi does not sufficiently cover the parts covered by a pant) and feet should be appropraitely covered.  This means a Jibba/Kurta, a Dhoti, and a Chappal are not wears but something else!!

No EI would like to avoid such a place as he has to be part of the crowd and the �in society�.
For the EI this is not a casteless society but subscribing to certain norms.

Why single out a way of life and state that it has these flaws and leaves out people from this activity or that activity.
Just as a club has its norms and its bye laws every society carves out a way of life for it.
When one is not anathema why is the other considered so. Is it because the underlying feeling is that it is related to the next world where one catches up with the greatest person one wishes to meet�GOD! or is it anything else?

Caste in what ever form you may call it exists in every human being. So let us get down from our high horses and feel the earth for what it is.

Regards,
vck

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3. B Shantanu, on October 9th, 2007

@ Patriot: Thanks for contributing to the discussion with your thought-provoking remarks (as always!).

Hurried response (due to time pressure):

1. I believe it would be wrong to consider Hinduism as an organised religion

2. Re. the various �ills� of Hinduism that you mention, none of them find religious sanction in the Vedas – which I believe come closest to being an authoritative treatise(s) on Hinduism.

I certainly do not think that there is any religious basis for any kind of discrimination within Hindusim – either gender-based or �caste� based. I know such practices exist – but it is wrong to say that religion demands that we discriminate against women and others.

More on this hopefully later.

Thanks for joining the discussion.

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@ Vidhya: Welcome to the blog and look forward to more comments from you in the future.

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@ Nandan, Sanjeev and vck: Thanks for sharing your views.

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4. Patriot, on October 9th, 2007

@ Vck,

Are you really, really equating the caste system with dress codes???? And, are you justifying the caste system because �clubs� have dress codes? WOW!!!!!! That is really amazing and really, really scary. To hear such views even today.

@ Shantanu,

Thanks for your comments. I accept that Hinduism is not an organised religion like say, christianity, but its upper layers exhibit the same kind of organisational behaviour as any other organised religion.

RE: sanction of holy texts for discrimination – I do not think any �holy� text ever directy sanctions any discrimination, but the holy men of the day do their bit to twist the texts to support discrimination. This has been true of all religions (and it continues to be so in varying degree in all religions). In the case of Hinduism, though, you have had the added �inspiration� of Manusmriti, which probably started most of the regressive practices and sanctified it.

Look forward to hearing your usual balanaced thoughts on the issue!!

Cheers

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5. Patriot, on October 9th, 2007

Shantanu,

I just read this post of yours: http://satyameva-jayate.org/2007/07/02/is-this-too-much-to-ask/

Very interesting post and also the link to Nava Shastra �.. Good to find at least one reforming religious organisation these days. If all the �Shankracharyas� start listening to what Nava Shastra is saying, we may yet make progress socially.

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6. Nandan, on October 9th, 2007

Dear Shantanu:

Many of us consider Manu Smriti as the villain of Hindu Society. I have never read it. Yet, I can quote a couple of stanzas from it. Esp. the one relating to women � na stree svatatyam arhati� is widely known to all and sundry. Even a lack of familiarity with Sanskrit language is not an impediment in understanding the meaning of the dictum.

I have always felt that Sanskrit impedes our understanding when it is used as the language for prayer. The quotes with such words as �satyam vada� , �dharmam chara� remain by far the most difficult ones for the modern non-Sanskrit scholars. However, they overcome the problem of language by reading the Ten Commandments which have been rendered in simple and easy to understand English.

I came across these two articles while browsing the internet. I think they are very informative.

http://www.india-forum.com/articles/5386/1/New-light-on-Manu-Smriti

http://www.geocities.com/lamberdar/manu_smriti.html

Regards,

Nandan

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7. v.c.krishnan, on October 9th, 2007

Dear Sir,

That is precisely the point. Dress codes are not castist but a way of life is not accepted! Why because it is acceptable to the majority who think on the lines today. So if somebody thinks that dress codes are Castist it is ooph! scary.

That is the point I am trying to drive in. Each society creates its own self sufficiency and way of life, it may start with the dress code and may end up with Talibanism!
That is more scary than this ridiculous thought as of not accepting a way of life structured to the requirements of a society and riducling it.

I will rather live with the scare of the way of life rather than the Talibanistic dress code!
Regrds,
vck

***

8. Patriot, on October 9th, 2007

Dear VCK,

Based on your posts, I have to ask you this – have you ever faced or seen the discrimination that our caste system foists on people, who just happen to be unfortunate in birth??? Or, are you part of the elite that created this structure and said that this is great for our society and we should all accept this as a gift from our forefathers??

If you want to wear a dhoti, you can CHOOSE not to go to “westernised” clubs that discriminate on attire and it is no big deal.

But, if you are BORN a Chamar, then what DO YOU DO? Wait for rebirth?

(PS: I have deliberately used that harsh word in the previous sentence)

Upanayan

Image courtesy: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Iyer_Upanayanam.jpg

***

9. Patriot, on October 9th, 2007

Apartheid in South Africa – about 100 years
Slavery in America – about 150 years
Feudalism in England/Europe – about 500-700 years
Caste System in India – over 2,000 years, and still going strong

Yeah, we sure are the leaders of the world .. in world-class discrimination.

And, also give credit to those who set up and perpetuated the caste system – they created the longest running power system in the world, which survived emperors, kings, feudal chieftains, internal wars, the mongols, the mughals AND the english. WOW!!!

***

10. v.c.krishnan, on October 9th, 2007

Dear Sir,

A nose ring cost a job in London. Is it a dress code or is it a casteism? This inert thinking of caste is in prime need of extinguishment as the talibanistic and christian evangilical mentality of the Educated Intellecutal (EI) is being primed up frequently.

The traditions on which this society has grown has never looked at it as �caste�. It has looked at it only from the point view of a job and a way of life. The concept of caste �is mainly a foreign import as it exists only in the minds of the EI brought up in the talibanistic and christian evangilical educative method. The concept of divide and rule has replaced the wholesome concept of being together as a family.

Even in the Mahabharatha, Karna, the warrior is eugolised. Karna was called a �Charioteer�s son� and hence incompetent to fight with the warrior like Arjuna. There was no �caste involved here�. It was a way of life. Assuming Karna was truely a Charioteer and truly incapable and if Arjuna had fought with him it would have been one sided conflict and Arjuna would have been despiced as a Warrior as he fought with �only a Charioteer and not a true warrior�.

(I am only wondering what would have happened if Karna only had been only a charioteer�s son and Arjuna had fought with him, was there a human rights commission existing at that time – pity Arjuna).

That was not caste, it was a way of life.

Again, where Lord Rama is in search of Sita he meets Sabari, a tribal. She had tasted every fruit and kept the sweetest for him and Lord Rama ate the fruits. Here, Lord Rama is a Kshatriya / Warrior / Prince and according to the doubters of �Sanatana Dharma� an Aryan invader. (Was Sabari a part of invading race I do not know – the EI�s have to answer the question).

Coming back to the subject Lord Rama ate everything given to him was there any �caste� involved.

What are the EI�s talking: let them read the true history of India, not some history written by some guy from Cambridge or Oxford or other X,Y,Z foreign unviersity. Let him visit the Archives of BHU, Thanjavur palace, the Royal Archives of Rajasthan, Gwalior / Jodhpur / Jaisalmer and other royal families. Let the EI�s also read what is avaiable with the royal families of the Kerala.

The question is �caste� a desi or pardesi concept.

Even coming to the aspect of Buddhism, Prince Siddhartha did not leave because he was an upper caste and he found the lower caste being illiterate and downtrodden or illtreated. It was because he found the truth was not as it is seen but there was a greater truth to the way of life and he wanted to seek and attained nirvana. Even here the EI loses his protection of focusing on caste.

Buddhism is from India, I hope the EI�s do not dispute atleast this. So is caste desi or pardesi.

Unless the EI gets educated the problem will continue in fester in his mind.
Regards,
vck

*** END COMMENTS ***

Please continue the discussion below and use comment #s to refer to something said before. Hope this helps. Please also note that several comments are being caught in the “spam queue” but I am clearing it several times a day. Thanks.

Related Posts:

Is this too much to ask?

Utterly shameful and “inexcusable”

Caste, Varna and Jatis: The need for clarity in intellectual debate

Please follow the comments to Part II here.

October 9th, 2007 Posted by | Debates & Discussions, Distortions, Misrepresentation about Hinduism, Distortions, Misrepresentations about India, Featured, Hindu Dharma, Hindu Social System, Sanatana Dharma, Women in Hinduism & India | 128 comments

128 Comments

  1. I was not bashing brahmins either, only the “birth-based varna” thing. Most anti-Brahminism I think comes from what the missionaries have taught Indians. Once India was divided, their work became easier. The made-up “AIT” has already divided North from South. Plus anti-Brahminism by “Dalitistan” and such Xtian-run organizations.

    Comment by Ashish | November 17, 2007

  2. Good to see some posters here pondering on the question of finding the root cause of how to get rid of caste based discrimination. It is the right thing to ponder. However, how we see it is really important.

    Let me share some thoughts on this . . .

    First of all, we must bear in mind that, there had been many movements against caste by many political, non-political, reform, human rights, and foreign funded (Christian missionaries, Western media etc.) movements in India since independence. Yet can anyone today say that Indian society is becoming more and more casteless (jathi less) or can we say that there is no more caste based discriminations?

    Well what we see today is more and more discriminative caste based politics, state sanctioned caste based reservations, and discrimination towards Brahmins that keeps caste based discriminations alive. If you see the reality today, the so called anti-caste groups are the ones that make sure that these issues are kept alive and at the same time blame Hinduism. This we must realize first.
    Second, why no effective solution is found until today to end caste based discrimination? Fundamentally something must be wrong isnt it?

    According to columnist Sandhya Jain:

    “The determined bid by Christian evangelists to take caste-based discrimination in India to the UN World Conference against Racism (WCAR) has inspired leftists, liberals and human rights activists into a frenzy of verbiage and sanctimoniousness. Yet, for all the anti-caste rhetoric we have been subjected to these past few months, nothing substantial has emerged to assuage bruised Dalit consciousness and offer a way out of the vicious cycle of caste-based violence that has undeniably increased in recent times. Hence, while the run up to Durban has put the international spotlight on the Dalit issue, there has been no internal soul-searching on the question.”

    What do we observe when a caste based discrimination is discussed today?

    1) The issue is centered on ANTI-CASTE (ANTI-JATHI) propaganda. (1st introduced by the Christian missionary based education and later picked up by Communists, and Western or English educated Indians who had internalized this concept and the parroting Indian media)

    2) It is portrayed as synonymous to anti-Brahmanism.

    3) Attributing caste system as intrinsic part of Hinduism.

    4) Convinced themselves that the real problem is between the lowest and the highest jathis, and about how the former want to be just like the latter.

    5) The standard explanations of India’s caste system are based on the now discredited “Aryan Invasion” theory of ancient India.

    Can anyone find the caste issues discussed by todays English educated elite and the politics without the above three?

    The Christian missionaries first took advantage of the caste problem in the Indian society and attributing caste system is an intrinsic part of Hinduism with the mischievous intent of proselytizing. The early Indologists also created the concept called Brahmanism which does not exist in the Indian vocabulary, thus painting a picture of Brahmin supremacy on non-Brahmins. It was aimed at deconstructing the goodwill people have on Brahmins who is trusted in the affairs of Hindu conduct.

    But the truth is entirely different.

    1) A Brahmin is not a ruler to control or repress the masses.

    2) A Brahmin does not control the Hindu dharma similar to a Pope or Imam in Christianity or Islam respectively.

    CASTE is not an Indian word but a derogatory epithet introduced in India by Portuguese missionaries in the 16th century to describe the Hindu society. They assumed that the Brahmins commanded the same authority and power as the Christian clergy did in their own time in Europe. The reality is that the Brahmins in India never commanded the authority and power of the Christian clergy. They controlled neither the economy nor the army, both of which the clergy did in Medieval Europe.

    3) A Brahmin in this contemporary period signifies a priestly job that requires a form of rigorous training to run a temple and ceremonies.

    4) A larger form of caste based discrimination exists among the non-Brahmins.

    5) Were there Brahmins at the gate checking the pilgrims status in case they belonged to lower caste and were untouchables? Look at the evidence. (i) Maha Kumbh happens every 144 years. (ii) It is the holiest of holy occasion in the Hindu religion; there cant be, and is not, a more holy occasion. (iii) Dipping at Sangam during this period is therefore the holiest of holy ceremonies. (iv) 100 million people performed these ceremonies including dalits, so-called low caste and untouchables Hindus. (v) Entry to this ceremony was not restricted to any one. Hindus, even Muslim women from Pakistan were welcomed to participate in these ceremonies.”

    Comment by Vishnu | November 17, 2007

  3. According to columnist, Meenakshi Jain . . .

    “The British were not wrong in their distrust of educated Brahmins in whom they saw a potential threat to their supremacy in India. For instance, in 1879 the Collector of Tanjore in a communication to Sir James Caird, member of the Famine Commission, stated that “there was no class (except Brahmins ) which was so hostile to the English.” The predominance of the Brahmins in the freedom movement confirmed the worst British suspicions of the community. Innumerable CID reports of the period commented on Brahmin participation at all levels of the nationalist movement. In the words of an observer,
    “If any community could claim credit for driving the British out of the country, it was the Brahmin community. Seventy per cent of those who were felled by British bullets were Brahmins”.

    To counter what they perceived, a Brahmanical challenge, the British launched on the one hand a major ideological attack on the Brahmins and, on the other incited non-Brahmin caste Hindus to press for preferential treatment, a ploy that was to prove equally successful vis--vis the Muslims.

    In the attempt to rewrite Indian history, Brahmins began to be portrayed as oppressors and tyrants who willfully kept down the rest of the populace. Their role in the development of Indian society was deliberately slighted. In ancient times, for example, Brahmins played a major part in the spread of new methods of cultivation (especially the use of the plough and manure) in backward and aboriginal areas. The Krsi-parasara, compiled during this period, is testimony to their contribution in this field. Apart from misrepresenting the Indian past, the British actively encouraged anti-Brahmin sentiments.

    A number of scholars have commented on their involvement in the anti-Brahmin movement in South India. As a result of their machinations non-Brahmins turned on the Brahmins with a ferocity that has few parallels in Indian history. This was all the more surprising in that for centuries Brahmins and non-Brahmins had been active partners and collaborators in the task of political and social management.

    This attack was born out of the inability of Christianity to gain a serious foothold in the Indian society.

    The communist being anti-Hindu in their very nature, later high jacked the concept of Brahmanism to realize their own interest as a tool to bash Hinduism. Thus the obsession of Christian and Communist media on these issues. They are not really interests in resolving the caste based discrimination, but rather to keep it alive so that it can be used to bash Hinduism to further their respective agendas.

    What we see today is an entirely a bizarre perception about caste system that did not reflect the true jathi practice, its social problems or discriminations that comes from it.
    Today it is unfortunate that, it has become a conditioned reflex for Indians to believe that caste is unremittingly evil.
    But the truth is, caste or jathi is inescapable as race. It is neither good nor bad, it just is (casteism, however, is reprehensible, just as racism is.)

    The modern term caste is derived from the Portuguese casta, alluding to family, tribe or race, and was introduced into Indian society in the late 16th century.

    The reality of today is we have thousands of jathis, segregated according to occupational, sectarian, regional and linguistic distinctions. Beyond these superficial differences what makes a caste group dissimilar from the other? If one sees it clearly, it is the different habits, ethics, social life and traditional job that make the difference. It is not just names or tag associated to a jathi. I believe some of the posters here belong to one of the jathis or live amongst other jathis and they should know. Even in matrimony we see many jathis prefers to marry from the same jathi. Isnt it true? What is the reason? Is it really based on discrimination or based on the sence of belonging to the same jathi?

    Let look at it in a different angle. If an Indian prefers to marry an Indian, is it because he or she is racist? Or when a White prefers to marry a White, does that mean they are racist? The fact is, it is NOT. It is simply because one feels that if one marries within the same race, ethnic groups or jathi, they will face less resistance, have more sense of belonging, shares similar habits, ethics, social life and needs less adaptation.

    If there really a homogeneous group called a Brahmin caste? If you belive so, then you are illusionized, the fact is that a Tamilian brahmin would rarely have a marriage alliance with a Punjabi Brahmin. Why? Caste based discrimination? Not at all! The real reason is different habits; ethics, and social life even though belongs to the same traditional job.

    They are as far apart from each other culturally as could possibly be. It’s really not the operative and, yet, we have the whole notion of brahmin domination, brahmins as a caste, whereas the regional differences matter much more!

    Comment by Vishnu | November 17, 2007

  4. Now lets keep aside casteism (caste based discrimination) and look at caste or jathi in it own light as what it is contrary to the conditioned make believe by the Christianized media.

    In reality . . .

    1. There is not real Caste as a System or Caste System. There are no regulations or central body administering a caste system.

    2. There is no monopoly or concentration of power by any jathis.

    3. There is no such thing as privileged jathi. All jathis feels discriminated in one way or the other. (For instance traditionally Brahmins were not supposed to seek regal power. Their duty was to seek knowledge and preserve the Vedas and carry on the vedic tradition. They were not supposed to amass wealth and had to depend on other jathis for their sustenance.)

    4. There was no unanimity about which jathi is above which jathi, because each considered itself superior to the other.

    5. People of any jathi are generally not looking to go up and down in the hierarchy of jathis. They are content with their existing in-group, even if they belong to a relatively ‘low’ jathi. It is the belonging that matters (this is one of the signal differences between the atomised and unhappy citizens of Western countries and the relatively better-adjusted Indians.)

    6. It is also a fact that hardly any members of ‘low’ jathis are looking to become priests, although this is a war-cry raised by the usual suspects. (In Kerala, there are seminaries where anybody can train to be a temple priest, but nobody is queuing up for the opportunity. Most people have a healthy attitude towards priest-hood: it’s like any other skilled occupation where you hire someone trained in it, if you are not capable of or not interested in doing it — much like you hire a lawyer, an architect, or a doctor.)

    7. Though there was significant social mobility initially, jathis became gradually hereditary due to collapse of traditional educational system and mobility among people (due to many reason such as a long period of invasions, colonization and destruction of traditional education and social system added with fear and intimidation that resulted in distrust with each others). As a result, it evolved with increasing division of labour and specialization as it was easier for skills and knowledge to be imparted within family from father to children as there were no trade schools or polytechnics as such.

    8. Initially the notion of purity vs pollution may have been based on the need to maintain cleanliness, but it soon developed into an rigid form where pollution was associated with birth.

    9. During the period of colonization when the interests of local people were neglected the jathis developed their own jathi panchayats to decide their own affairs, reducing their dependence

    on the ruler. The jathi panchayats settled disputes within the jathi in an inexpensive and prompt way. They also imparted tremendous social stability. Rulers came and went, but the society remained stable in spite of all invasions, wars and political instability. The panchayats looked after the welfare of the members of their jathis in a decentralised way.

    10. The jathis also performed an important function of reducing competition for and avoiding overexploitation of natural resources. Only fishermen jathi could go for fishing, and their jathi panchayats evolved rules for sustainable exploitation of fisheries. Only chamar or cobbler caste had the right to the dead animals and their skin and etc.

    11. Jathi also plays as a localized system of production based on jatiwise division of labour for meeting local needs, rather than the needs of the larger market.

    12. Jathi is also used as a mechanism for collective bargaining, wherein a group member has a better chance than an unattached individual. At times, Jathi acts as a trade union, with members attempting to grab more than its fair share of the pie that hasn’t grown, because of the dirigiste and suffocating nature of the Indian State.

    I would like to quote Kishwar on jathi . . .

    “It allows even the most disadvantaged and impoverished groups to identify themselves and a political assertion based on their numerical strength. It has kept democracy not just alive, but has given it very deep roots. I think all these modernists attacking caste can’t understand the survival strategy of the subcontinent. For example, it has provided social security for a rural migrant when he or she comes to the city as an impoverished economic refugee.”

    Comment by Vishnu | November 17, 2007

  5. Coming back to the true reform towards caste based discriminations, what we see today is, it is the Hindus, Hindu Seers and Hindu based groups and organizations are the one sincerely voicing out and working towards elimination the caste differences and barriers. Of cause they do not decry anti-caste, anti-brahmin or anti-Hindu slogans as been anticipated by Marxists and other anti-Hindu intellectuals calling themselves Secularists.

    Some good examples of reforms taken and voiced by Hindus includes . . .

    1) There took place several movements against caste, starting from Bhakti movements continuing

    to more modern movements. The Bhakti movement, both in the south and north of India, saw many saint poets coming from the so-called lower castes. They were more prominent than brahmin and upper castes in the movement.

    2) The Hindu culture created legends to impress the popular mind that the caste system is immoral and invalid.

    3) The Hindu Mahasabha resolved:

    Whereas the caste system based on birth as at present existing is manifestly contrary to universal truth and morals: whereas it is the very antithesis of the fundamental spirit of the Hindu religion: whereas it flouts the elementary rights of human equalitythis all India Hindu Mahasabha declares its uncompromising opposition to the system and calls upon the Hindu society to put a speedy end to it.

    4) Sri Aurobindo, while praising the original caste system, does not spare it in its later stages:

    “it is the nature of human institutions to degenerate; there is no doubt that the institution of caste degenerated. It ceased to be determined by spiritual qualifications which, once essential, have now come to be subordinate and even immaterial and is determined by the purely material tests of occupation and birth… By this change it has set itself against the fundamental tendency of Hinduism which is to insist on the spiritual and subordinate the material and thus lost most of its meaning. the spirit of caste arrogance, exclusiveness and superiority came to dominate it instead of the spirit of duty, and the change weakened the nation and helped to reduce us to our present condition…”

    5) The promotion of Sanskrit was one of the main attempts to bring the Indian people, ethnic, linguistic, and jathis together. Sanskrit is the only language common to all languages including Tamil (which the atheist or communist deny).

    The report of the Sanskrit Commission (set up by the Government of India) which was submitted in 1957 speaks eloquently about the importance of Sanskrit. At page 71 of the report has been mentioned that…

    “Sanskrit is one of the greatest languages of the world and it is a classical language par excellence not only of India but of a good part of Asia too.

    At page 73 the report states that . . .

    The Indian people and the Indian civilization were born, so as to say, in the lap of Sanskrit and it went hand in hand with the historical development of the Indian people, and gave the noblest expression to their mind & culture which has come down to our day as an inheritance of priceless order for India for the entire world” — (Supreme Court judgment of 4/10/1994).

    In the process of colonization, the Indian language got more and more de-sanskritized and in the long run resulted in more linguistic difference that alienate the Indian people based on ethnic and jathis. The typical difference between Tamil, Malayalam and Telugu languages are naturally variation in terms of Sanskrit. Same goes to Hindi or Urdu etc. It is not only true in India, but many languages in Asia such as the Thai language, Malay, and the Indonesian language have a heavy influence of Sanskrit.

    However what we see today is blunt opposition to Sanskrit as though as it is some sort of alien language and a lot of attempt is done to de-sanskritize the Indian language. Some good example is de-sanskritization of Urdu as done by the Muslims. De-sanskritization of the Tamil language by the communist in Tamil Nadu etc. Even in countries like Malaysia, after independence, the Malaysian government has set up a body to de-sanskritize the Malay language by incorporating more and more Arabic words as the process of Islamization is increasing.

    Thus the noble attempt by Hindus to reduce the barriers in terms of ethnic, linguistic and jathis are always prevented by vested groups who are against Indian interest and unity.
    Well there is more to all this and it is going to be a very long post if I am to mention everything here. What we fail to note is, many Hindus are truly doing a great job by creating awareness among the Indians who are long colonized in their way of thinking and fail to see the Indian reality.
    Lastly I would like to quote ..

    N. S. Rajaram in A Hindu View of the World . . .

    While Marxists and other anti-Hindu intellectuals calling themselves Secularists never miss an opportunity to denounce it, the fact of the matter is that the Indian civilization survived nearly a thousand year onslaught of Islam. Several other ancient civilizations like those of Iran (Zorastrian), the Byzantine Empire (Christian) and Central Asia (Buddhist) broke down under the same force over a much shortest period. This shows that they must have lacked a social order capable of protecting their societies.

    The so called egalitarian Buddhist society lacked the social organization which enabled the Hindu society to survive. It was the same story in Egypt, Syria, and Turkey which were part of the Christian Byzamtine Empire. They lacked the strength and resilience of the Hindu society and succumbed to the Islamic invasion.

    Prof Koenraad Elst in hinduismtoday.com . . .

    “The caste system is often portrayed as the ultimate horror. Inborn inequality is indeed unacceptable to us moderns, but this does not preclude that the system has also had its merits.

    Caste is perceived as an “exclusion-from,” but first of all it is a form of “belonging-to,” a natural structure of solidarity. For this reason, Christian and Muslim missionaries found it very difficult to lure Hindus away from their communities.

    Sometimes castes were collectively converted to Islam, and Pope Gregory XV (1621-23) decreed that the missionaries could tolerate caste distinction among Christian converts; but by and large, caste remained an effective hurdle to the destruction of Hinduism through conversion. That is why the missionaries started attacking the institution of caste and in particular the Brahmin caste. This propaganda has bloomed into a full-fledged anti-brahminism, the Indian equivalent of anti-Semitism.”

    Koenraad Elst in Voice of India . . .

    “Increasingly, Hinduism is identified by the international public with the caste system and nothing but the caste system. The caste system, in turn, is painted in the ugliest colors: as a racist Apartheid system designed to oppress the native population. These notions are eagerly welcomed and amplified by outside forces such as Christian missionary centers, followed by their Islamic counterparts. Till recently, American foreign policy agencies made no secret of their designs on India’s unity. When she was US ambassador to the UN, Mrs. Jean Kirkpatrick once said that “the break-up of India is one of the goals of the American foreign policy.” Patrick Moynihan, who had held the same job, said more recently, “After the break-up of the Soviet Union, the artificial state India is also bound to break up.”

    Madhu Kishwar . . .

    “It would lead to a greater respect for Indias culture, and indeed a better understanding of it, if it were recognized that the caste system has never been totally static, that it is adapting itself to todays changing circumstances and that it has positive as well as negative aspects. The caste system provides security and a community for millions of Indians. It gives them an identity that neither Western Science nor Western thought has yet provided, because caste is not just a matter of being a Brahmin or a Harijan: it is also a kinship system. The system provides a wider support group than a family: a group which has a social life in which all its members participate.”

    Anti-Brahminism has a long history in India, being a dominant theme of the long period of foreign rule. In the last thousand years India was primarily governed by non-Hindus – Muslims and Christians – who certainly cannot be called pro-Brahmin in their policies. When India was invaded by foreign powers, the Brahmins proved to be a great obstacle, particularly against religious conversion.
    Muslim rulers made special efforts to convert or even kill Brahmins. They destroyed Hindu temples in order to deprive the Brahmins, who were mainly temple priests, of their influence and their income. The British rulers of colonial India targeted the Brahmins and dismantled the traditional educational system that the Brahmins upheld.

    However, the same groups which attacked the Brahmins found that they had to use the Brahmins at times, who represented the intelligentsia of the country, to help administer the country. So occasionally they compromised with the Brahmins and allowed them certain privileges. But the Brahmins had little power under their rule, and were officially discredited as heathens.

    Hence the Brahmins were the main oppressed community in India over the last thousand years and the main target of Muslims and Christians trying to control and convert the country. This historical oppression of the Brahmins has been lost on modern Indians, primarily because of anti-Brahmin propaganda of various types. Somehow this oppressed group has been stereotyped as the ruling oppressors!

    It is a serious mistake to view caste from the European Christian and imperialistic viewpoints. These were hostile to Hindu civilisation and society which they were trying to undermine to serve their own interests. They also lacked the historical perspective necessary to understand it.

    Sorry for the long post as it is no shortcut to clear the prevailing myth about caste.

    Comment by Vishnu | November 17, 2007

  6. @ Vidhya: Thanks for your thoughtful comment. That is a novel suggestion and I think deserves some serious thought.

    Perhaps dont ask dont say policy is the solution? But will our government, politicians and our intellectuals allow it?

    Might a radical (impractical) solution be to remove all policies that are caste-based? But what do you replace them with?

    ***

    @ Bharat: You make some good points but I feel that the points made in 5-7 may be a bit off-tangent.

    I have written on reservations before (see e.g. A fresh look at Reservations and Quotas – PART II, A fresh look at Reservations and Quotas, This, not reservations, is the answer – II)

    Please have alook at those posts, in particular, Part – II and let me have your thoughts.

    I am not sure if “Reservation for lower-class/caste Hindus at every levels/systems (politics, justice, health, economic (public, private), social-religious etc) proportionate to their population” is the answer.

    Some of you may also find this post interesting: Periyar was against Brahminism, not Brahmins (excerpts)

    ***

    @ Vishnu: That is an amazing series of comments. I will read and respond in some more detail later. Thanks

    Comment by B Shantanu | November 17, 2007

  7. Sandhya Jain’s “The Brahmin and the Hindu” for the Pioneer newspaper (14 Dec 2004) discusses some of historian Dharampal’s findings (a copy at http://www.hvk.org/articles/1204/59.html ):
    — Indeed, given the desperate manner in which the British vilified the Brahmin, it is worth examining what so annoyed them. As early as 1871-72, Sir John Campbell objected to Brahmins facilitating upward mobility: “.the Brahmans are always ready to receive all who will submit to them. The process of manufacturing Rajputs from ambitious aborigines (tribals) goes on before our eyes.”

    Sir Alfred Lyall was unhappy that “.more persons in India become every year Brahmanists than all the converts to all the other religions in India put together… these teachers address themselves to every one without distinction of caste or of creed; they preach to low-caste men and to the aboriginal tribes. in fact, they succeed largely in those ranks of the population which would lean towards Christianity and Mohammedanism if they were not drawn into Brahmanism.” So much for the British public denunciation of the exclusion practiced by Brahmins!

    Before that paragraph, Sandhya Jain goes over the numerical data concerning Hindu education -destroyed by christians, from Britain. (The relevant section starts with: “Dharampal (The Beautiful Tree) has effectively debunked the myth that Dalits had no place in the indigenous system of education.”)

    Meanwhile, more of the grand christian (British) contribution comes to light. She writes:
    — Even Dalit intellectuals have questioned what the British meant when they spoke of ‘education’ and ‘learning’. Dr. D.R. Nagaraj, a leading Dalit leader of Karnataka, wrote that it was the British, particularly Lord Wellesley, who declared the Vedantic Hinduism of the Brahmins of Benares and Navadweep as “the standard Hinduism,” because they realized that the vitality of the Hindu dharma of the lower castes was a threat to the empire. Fort William College, founded by Wellesley in 1800, played a major role in investing Vedantic learning with a prominence it probably hadn’t had for centuries. In the process, the cultural heritage of the lower castes was successfully marginalized, and this remains an enduring legacy of colonialism.

    Examining Dharampal’s “Indian science and technology in the eighteenth century,” Nagaraj observed that most of the native skills and technologies that perished as a result of British policies were those of the Dalit and artisan castes. This effectively debunks the fiction of Hindu-hating secularists that the so-called lower castes made no contribution to India’s cultural heritage and needed deliverance from wily Brahmins.

    http://www.arcamax.com/morereligions/s-254108-139142?review=5#rating
    (which, besides covering the same essentials as above) contains some more information on Dharampal and his work.

    Comment by More material on this topic | December 19, 2007

  8. Thanks so much. I will certainly have a look at the links.

    Comment by B Shantanu | December 28, 2007

  9. Another great piece by Tavleen Singh in the Indian Express:

    A casteist remark and a Dalit woman CM
    http://www.indianexpress.com/story/293085.html

    Well done Mayawati, for making that boorish old fossil Mahendra Singh Tikait apologise for his casteist abuse. How sad, though, that he apologised so readily. We missed a chance to lock him up and throw away the key. Caste is not a subject we like to talk about because it means admitting that in every village in India there is still untouchability in some form. As a frequent traveller in the squalid depths of rural India I have not come across a single village in which Dalits live in an upper-caste vicinity. It is a shameful Indian truth.

    Do read the entire article I can not agree more with Ms Singh when she writes the state of Uttar Pradesh has a Dalit woman as chief minister and even if Mayawati fails to deliver on the promise that idea contains, just by being there she has done enough. It is my humble opinion that the reason why we hear so much about her corruption is also a matter of caste. How many Dalit journalists do you know?

    Comment by Patriot | April 7, 2008

  10. Pl. have a look: TTD goes for new mantra to protect flock

    Comment by Ven | April 8, 2008

  11. “Well done Mayawati, for making that boorish old fossil Mahendra Singh Tikait apologise for his casteist abuse. How sad, though, that he apologised so readily. We missed a chance to lock him up and throw away the key.” ~Tavleen Singh in IE

    1. It is like thief shouting ‘thief thief’ after running away. Tavleen Singh’s abusive and hateful language to a senior citizen, as can be seen from above para, is worst than Sri Tikaits castist remarks. Castists remarks are daily occurances at every levels, even found inside mandirs. There is no hue and cry, as Hindus are used to it and due to high degree of tolerance. I am not defending it as I myself detaste/condemn castism. Social problems like castism need to be cured by social reforms, social-spiritual education. It can never be cured by scolding, abuse, insults, and by law.

    2. There is respect for elders, senior citizens in our society. Tavleen Singh need to realise this. Except few urban educated people, no Bharatiya will accept such abusive language to a old person, a leader of lakhs of farmers. By hate we can’t conquire hate, but by love, forgiveness.

    3. Even an honest apology has brought sadness to Tavleen Singh, as she thought Taikait would have get death penalty or prison for life long without the apology. India is not Europe, where merely saying ‘no holocaust’ will land one into prison. In that case, Taikait can also sue Tavleen for insulting him. Tikait is a respected farmers leader.

    4. Verbal bombardments has become instruments of intimidation for media and politicians. It shows the cultural and spiritual de-generations in Bharatiya society.

    5. Castism must go for the good of Hindu samaj and Bharat. As Dr Ambedkar said, ‘Castism is untouchability. Unless castism goes, untouchability will not go.’ This can’t be achieved by playing castist vote-banks. A single castist remark is not so harmful to siciety as practicing castist vote-banks.

    Bharat
    =====

    Comment by Bharat | April 9, 2008

  12. I don’t really understand how can people term this article by Tavleen Singh(mentioned above) as great

    wonder whether she carries a modern xxx system along with her whenever she ventures to a place where she cannot find it.

    Isn’t it disgusting to see how she mixes all sort of thing in the following lines in her article.

    “With the greatest respect, may I say here that Gandhiji was on the wrong track when he tried to address the caste question? In his time, there were villages in India which forced those of the Shudra caste to scream as they walked so that their shadow may not pollute a Brahmin, and yet, all he did was change the name from Shudra to Harijan and start cleaning toilets himself to show that it was not a despicable task. It is a despicable task.

    Nobody should have to do it. He would have done India a much greater service if he had started a movement for modern sanitation instead. In Indian cities, flush toilets and public transport have sort of solved the problem but there are still no famous Dalit lawyers, teachers, doctors, cricketers, movie stars or businessmen.”

    Modern sanitation goes side by side with the fame in professions.

    Comment by Praada Verna | April 9, 2008

  13. Dear Bharat,

    Couple of points:

    1. When Tikait abused Mayawati, he lost any right to respect that he might have otherwise received due to his age. If you are an Elder, behave like one. If you don’t, you are fair game for even the dog on the street, no exceptions. Respect has to be earned, not demanded or generated in proportion to your years.

    2. Honest apology???? He had to be threatened with arrest and NBWs before he apologised! Even if we assume for a moment that the apology was indeed honest, I think Tavleen was making a broader point – that we need to have zero tolerance for casteist abuse and exemplary punishment. Only then will you be on the way to eliminating casteism. I think it is a valid point and in any case, Tavleen has every right to her opinion, as do you.

    Cheers

    Comment by Patriot | April 9, 2008

  14. Cateism is Endangering HINDUISM
    Every where there is cry that the reason of down fall of hindus in India is caste-ism but I want to know from all of you that who has made this caste system we are those who have made this system & now we had to come up to end this system .I want to know one thing that what we are we are Pandits /Rajputs etc first or we are Hindus First .

    If we are Hindus first then we have to work for our ism as we can see in India those so called politician have divided us in the name of caste for their vested interests those politicians who become politicians with money or muscle have no public likings .
    We are casting vote to those people because we dont have any alternative and the youth of today is not ready to be politician as those have made the politics such smutty we can see the youth politicians which are coming up are the sons and daughters of all those so called politicians no one new from masses is there ready to join the politics
    There is example of Kashmir why Hindus have been forced to live life of refugee in their own country is there any body who can answer No there is no one
    We should take lesson from this that a biggest un happening thing happened in last millennium and No investigation is ordered for the Exodus of hundreds of thousands of Hindu people forced to exile .But when few people killed in Gujrat lot of hue and cry is made why? The reason is vote bank but if they are minority then which vote bank this is astonishing that the minority is vote bank

    This is the most appropriate time Now if we will not came up leaving this all behind the caste-ism we will have to pay a lot .We have experience of this from Kashmir .
    This is not the blog this is the voice of my heart the voice of hindus .We have to make this voice loud the voice that reaches ever where no one is over Hinduism.
    Every one has to do his work on work if one is Pundit he has to look after Temples if one is Rajput he has to defend the religion/country etc- But when the time of religion is there
    All voice should be one
    One thing moer i have noted when Pravin Bhai marchs with Trishul its an offence but when in Public rally Imam bukhari says I am Pakistani agent this is not offence why ?
    To show the glimpses of Dharam is crime
    and to utter any thing against The country .What is this ? This is award winning act
    Remember politicians nothing is over country dont pursue for own interest.
    That was amazing being hindu when we see some of our politicians challenges the presence of Ram .
    I just want to ask them one question that how the start their daily proceedings ?
    If they are married had they taken satapadi against scared fire
    How their Crimination will be done ?

    Manish A youth avenging kashmir

    Comment by Manish zijoo | May 4, 2008

  15. Manish: Thanks for your comment. You may find this post interesting:

    Redefining Hinduism – Need of the Hour

    Separately, I would be very interested in your views/opinions on what is happening in Kashmir. Do you have more information or can you point me in the direction of some other sources/references?

    Thanks.

    Comment by B Shantanu | May 5, 2008

  16. Dear Sir,
    Once again the dreaded word of Caste has found a place in the realms of written media.
    The discussions on this blog and the views of all here would lean towards the matter that Caste should be made non existent in the annals of Hinduism.
    I am goung to set the Cat among the pigeons by saying and reiterating again and again the the Caste system did not exist in the true vedic way of life and this matter of Caste has been highlighted, discussed and made a part of life to destroy that way of life.
    Today all true Bharatiyas want to go back to that way of life and hence they are able to discuss without rancour the existence of the caste system and its destructive act on the true Bharat.
    I would like to point out here that many of the true HIGH CASTES are so proud of saying. “You know haw difficult it is to survive in the US, the Eldorado for all, and how they survived on washing dishes, cleaning toilets and how they made it big there.
    Today I know of a very high caste who is proud to say that he is a “High Caste” but does the lowest or supposed to be lowest of the work, MAINTAINING TOILETS”.
    I think Shulabh Souchalys has been a idea of a “HIGH CASTE”.
    So where does it all lead to?
    Just as I have mentioned in the MARATHI MANUS matter, it is neccessary that we recogonise what WORK is and then we will understand the value of human beings.
    I am willing to have a nice exchange of ideas, as I am sure my mail is going to create a lot of controversies.
    I would like to have all the strong thoughts directed as only through discussion and questioning will one understand and get to the truth, as our ancient seers have said.
    That means acceptance of ancient truths, for a healthy discussion.
    Regards,
    vck

    Comment by v.c.krishnan | May 5, 2008

  17. Let us say welcome to our friend Manish from Kashmir. Thanks God, at last we have come across an angry Kashmiri Hindu ! Things are looking up…

    Comment by Jagmohan Singh Khurmi | May 5, 2008

  18. We indians should refrain from talking about caste.Long before the aryan’s settle down in Sindhu we were of one community,that is the Dravidian community and our spirituality is towards nature and neither do we practice any caste system.All this problem was created by the settlers to divide and rule and also to have supremacy of the people of origin.So analyse and TQ

    Comment by Kumar | November 15, 2008

  19. (Yeah, yeah, I know they were the pinnacle of our lost civlisation.*sigh*)
    ====

    Well, if India during those times was not at its pinnacle, why do you think it attracted Muslims and British, as well as various scholars? Nalanda University was world-renowned. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nalanda#Description_of_Nalanda_University)

    Indulgence in a bit of self-hatred going on in the original comment by ‘Patriot’ perhaps?

    Comment by Kaffir | November 16, 2008

  20. kumar , who were these aryan invaders ?? where did they all come from ? their true history is very important and relevent to understand even today .

    Comment by tarique | November 16, 2008

  21. vck , i totally agree with u that the concept of caste system does not exist at all in the vedic religion .i m glad u have brought it out at a time when i recieved brickbats here for suggesting the same .caste politics is not sanctioned by true hindu religious teachings and let that be very clear to all . caste politics was born when a section of human population gained exclusive financial and military strenghts .we are cheering the americans for democracy and human values , but let us not forget that a man called ‘barrack hussain obama ‘ was growing up in the early 80’s in an american nation where because of his skin color he had to let ‘whites first ‘ in public transport buses . he had to drink water from ‘fountain taps’ meant only the ‘coloured’.so what is so great about obama’s success ? our great indian nation achieved its ‘yes we can’ way back in 1952 , when b.r.ambedkar wrote the constitution of india.later zakir hussain ,a muslim assumed the highest office as the 1st prez of india .we were way ahead of the americans in our search for equality and social justice .

    Comment by tarique | November 16, 2008

  22. when obama’s parents got married ,do u know that their marriage was legal according to the american laws of the time in only 19 out of the 50 states.here too indians had beaten the americans in ‘human equality’ .

    Comment by tarique | November 16, 2008

  23. @ Kumar, Tarique: The “Aryan Invasion Theory” has been thouroughly debunked.

    Pl. have a look at the following links:

    http://satyameva-jayate.org/2005/10/08/revising-the-aryan-invasion-of-india-theory/

    http://satyameva-jayate.org/2007/05/24/ait-and-sneak-attack/

    Also have a look at http://satyameva-jayate.org/2005/11/25/caste-varna-and-jatis/

    re. the caste system etc.

    Comment by B Shantanu | November 16, 2008

  24. *** COMMENT MOVED HERE ***

    Comment by Incognito | March 23, 2009

  25. *** COMMENT MOVED HERE ***

    Please continue the discussion on the new thread.

    Comment by Jayadevan | March 23, 2009

  26. *** COMMENT MOVED HERE ***

    Please continue the discussion on the new thread.

    .

    Comment by Incognito | March 24, 2009

  27. i want to say that if we talk practically about these bullet topics and curb essential steps rather pushing and pulling

    Comment by sahil jain | April 9, 2009

  28. REQUEST to all readers: Please continue the discussion on the new thread:

    http://satyameva-jayate.org/2009/03/24/caste-system-discrimination-2/

    Comment by B Shantanu | April 9, 2009

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