Brahminical (caste) Hinduism: a system of institutionalised oppression
Draft 19 August 2013
The effects of caste discrimination on India’s almost 200 million Dalits are strikingly similar to that of race discrimination: social stigmatization, physical segregation, lack of access to education and social advancement, under-representation at all levels in government, business and the organized labor market. [Source]
In Hinduism, ‘the type of birth you take in this world, and the conditions of your existence here are all determined by what you did in your earlier existences. You may even be born as an animal, says the Upanishad, if the karma is very bad’ (Vivekananda)
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I once met a Mahar, who, fearing that I was going near him and that my purity might then be defiled in case I touched him, and that he might incur the sin of defiling my purity, cried out at once and made his caste known to me. I got into conversation with him. I found that Mahar, though illiterate, could repeat many verses of Tukaram, Namdeo and Chokhamela. He appeared to be well acquainted with the theories of Karma and Bhakti, and of transmigration of soul. He believed that though he was a Mahar in that birth, by some misdoings in his past life, he was going to become a Brahmana in the next birth, as he felt the desire for learning Sanskrit, and reading Gita and Puranas. He conceived that these desires were clear indications of the better birth which he was going to get in his next life.
I do not know how far such sentiments exist in other members of the tribe. Bid it is not improbable that very many of the low castes believe, or are made to believe, that they justly suffer in this condition as a retribution for the sins which they did in the past life. [THE HISTORY OF CASTE IN INDIA by SHRIDHAR V. KETKAR (1909)]
1. We, the self-respecting humans, are born free. 1
1.1 Equal status in Charvaka Hinduism 3
1.2 Equal status in Islam and Christianity 3
1.3 Alleged equal consciousness in Vedanta 3
220.127.116.11 Shankara learnt Advaita from a “low caste” Chandala, but he never really got the point, did he? 3
1.4 Say no to caste 4
2. Caste is immoral from first principles 6
2.1 Violation of basic ethical principles 6
2.1.1 Denial of equal status 6
18.104.22.168 Lower castes called foul names 6
22.214.171.124 Sudras treated like children 6
2.1.2 Denial of equal liberty 6
126.96.36.199 Subtle model of race domination, not race extermination 7
12.1.3 Classical liberalism and caste are polar opposites 128
12.2 Scientific Hinduism the plausibility of Vedanta 129
12.2.1 The need to ask for proof: Vivekanda’s pre-vedanta days 129
12.2.2 But Vedanta still represents the best in Hinduism 129
13. References 130
Appendix: India’s official position regarding caste discrimination 133
GOI position regarding caste 133
In 1965 GOI agreed that caste groups were downtrodden 133
In 1996 GOI linked caste to class 133
In 2001 GOI said caste is not anyone else’s business to discuss 133
International position on caste 134
In 2002 CERD confirmed opposition to caste discrimination 134
In 2009 CERD re-confirmed opposition to caste discrimination 134
We, the self-respecting humans, are born free.
Classical liberalism rejects inequality of stautus and demands equal freedom for all humans (within their own nation, i.e. a place where they pay relevant tax). While much of Hinduism (particularly Advaita) is compatible with science, reason and liberty, and has been, on average, the most tolerant religion on this planet, it is fundamentally incompatible witih key aspects of equality of status and liberty.
The key problem with Hinduism is the caste system. This system of differentiation amongst Hindus (and others) on basis of their birth, without regard to their work in real life, is both immoral in itself, and leads to significant immorality among Hindus during their life.
That doesn’t mean Hinduism is particularly immoral. All religions have institutionalised immorality. None is free of this basic charge. All organised religion smacks of an attempt by priests and ‘intermediaries’ to control the rest of their ‘flock’.
This book is based on some research I’ve conducted over the past few weeks.
Why have I picked Hinduism for such detailed analysis?
First, India’s low ‘national’ IQ. Why would this be so? Because of low nutrition (which I’ve covered in Book 1) but also because of the caste system. India performs very poorly, with the lower castes performing far worse than even the national average. This can only be explained by the great harm caused by caste. I’ll discuss this in detail later.
Second, given my close association with Hinduism (being what I was born and brought up as, being what I’m married into, and being what many of my friends and colleagues belong to), I explore the immorality of Hinduism more sternly than I explore the immorality of other religions.
Third, being born as an Indian, I remain particularly keen that India revert to its ancient status as a sone ki chidiya, a great prosperous nation. I care for India’s largest religion more than I care for other religions.
In the end the world will be better off by getting rid of all religion, and escaping into reason. Only reason can save mankind from its own follies.
I don’t “belong” to anyone, to any religion or “civilisation”. I belong to me, and I’m an ordinary human being. That’s all I need to be. I ask questions, and recommend the best ways forward for India and for the world – based on answers derived from these questions. My contribution is to offer ideas and leave it to others to consider, on the test of reason.
Ambedkar’s summary of Brahminical Hinduism
Dr. Ambedkar came to the conclusion that, “A religion which glorifies ignorance and impudently preached inequality, hatred, divided human beings into multitudinous Castes and sub Castes, sanctioned poverty and adopted economic measures to keep the majority of its followers poor, illiterate, ignorant, disunited and divided was nothing short of infamy.”1
In this regard it will be invaluable to read Ambedkar’s essay Annihilation of Caste, before reading the rest of this book.
Regardless of how it started, the problem of the immorality of caste has became bigger over the centuries. No doubt there were attempts to fix it, such as through Brahmo Samaj and others. But Vedantic Hinduism – which in many way mimicks key elements of Buddhism managed to not only get back those who deserted Hinduism in favour of Buddhism, but imprisoned those who returned into the same caste hierarchies from which they had fled.
But the time the British arrived in India, caste was already a huge blot on mankind, on par with slavery. It took British scholars a century or more to even remotely understand the matter, but their understanding remained incomplete.
It needed an Indian scholar to understand the problem and realise that caste was entirely incompatible with liberty and equality of status – two revolutionary ideas introduced in Great Britain by the liberals in the 17th century.
And once he realised that caste was immoral, he had no option but to start a new religion, called Brahmo Samaj, a religion without caste.
But given the challenges of communication and hidebound attitudes within the Indian society, this religion didn’t go far. And I belive it did not stand as much for reason as it should have.
Abolishing caste is an urgent necessity
Regardless of the action people may choose to undertake after they personally reject their caste, the fact remains that caste must be abolished.
Just like slavery continued across the world till classical liberals challenged it repeatedly, for a century or more, so also caste must be challenged.
Caset is far more subtle than slavery, being a form of ‘self-slavery’ – in which the slave (victim/lower caste) accepts the FAKE rationalisation provided by higher castes, and believes he has to obey the higher castes lest his ‘next life’ be adversely affected.
Slavery was relatively easy to abolish. Caste will take much more effort and determination.
It must begin with an understanding of the problem and alternatives at hand. This booklet is a compilation of my initial research. It documents the harm caused by caste and how it can be brought to and end.
Like all my work, this draft will remain in the public domain and I will work on it as time permits. It should be treated as work in progress.
Equal status in Charvaka Hinduism
Charvaka was a revolutionary critical thinker and rejected the idea of soul and hence caste. Total equality of all humans was a mandatory requirem ent in this model.
Equal status in Islam and Christianity
Christians, Muslims, Sikhs, Jains are EQUAL within their religion. Why not Hindus?
Islam and Christianity are known for their insistence on equality. But only Christian takes this to the next level: of looking after the oppressed. In many ways, the idea of looking after the oppressed is missing from Hinduism.
NOTE: It is true that if an Indian converts from Hinduism to any other religion, he is likely to carry his ‘caste’ along with him. That is much to do with the deep inroads into the mind made by the caste system, not a requirement of these other religions.
Alleged equal consciousness in Vedanta
In some ways, Vedanta is close to Buddhism by considering the common consciousness in all humans. Through revival of Vedanta, Sankara was able to revive Hinduism. But he did not reject caste outright. And there lies the problem.
Shankara learnt Advaita from a “low caste” Chandala, but he never really got the point, did he?
I wasn't aware of this story but after I chanced upon it twice in a single day, I researched this further and found that is it is quite well known and widely discussed. Well, if there's ANYTHING useful we can get from this story, it is that caste is wrong. It is a FALSE idea and must be discarded.
VERSION OF STORY IN DALIT LITERATURE
The great Sankaracharya of Kaldi, famous for his ideologue Advaita once came across a Chandala who was on his way to Harighat. He, being aghast of the presence of an untouchable told the latter to stay away from his sight. To Shankara’s utter dismay, the Chandala raised some pertinent questions from the same Advaita. “Whom are you telling to keep away, Acharya the fountainhead of all knowledge of Vedas and Upanishads! This body or the atman which resides in this body? Your body and mine are made of the same substance, as pots of varying sizes and colours are made of the same clay. So one such body cannot ask the other of the same to stay away. Are they not part of the same illusion?”
Source: Swaminathan Venkat, The Dalit in Tamil Literature-Past and Present. Indian Literature Sahitya Akademi, Delhi P.17 (as cited in VOICE OF DALIT IN SOUTH ASIAN LITERATURE by Aswini Kumar Mishra)
HOW BRAHMINS APPROPRIATED THIS AND CONVERTED THE CHANDALA INTO SHIVA
Sankara, the great Hindu philosopher and reformer, was one day coming from his bath in the Ganges when a drunken outcast accidentally touched him. “How dare you touch me?” he exclaimed. The outcast replied that since the same Supreme Spirit is in all, how could his touch contaminate, and proceeded to expound the philosophy of Oneness. Sankara listened in wonderment and humbly acknowledged that he was right. Whereupon the outcast stood revealed as Shiva Himself, and Sankara fell at His feet.
Source: HINDUISM: The World-Ideal by Harendranath Maitra (1916)
Instead of Sankara REJECTING CASTE he continued to teach caste, so that his future disciple Vivekananda continued to teach caste, even though he was teaching advaita.
In my view ADVAITA AND CASTE ARE FUNDAMENTALLY INCOMPATIBLE.
I totally deny this nonsense about the Chandala being "Shiva". The ONLY evidence we have is that Shankara was caught out by his HUGE EGO and Brahminical arrogance. He didn't get the message of TOTAL EQUALITY which is the key message of advaita.
The ONLY way Advaita can make sense is through total equality of all humans, of all human consciousness. Anything less is utter nonsense.
Say no to caste
Caste is fundamentally EVIL. It might appear harmless on the surface but its approach must necessarily lead to evil consequences.
There is NO redeeming feature in the caste system. There were arguably some economic “advantages” of caste in an agricultural society but these came at great cost: of lowering the self-respect of the people. In the end, that has DESTROYED their potential.
I have no doubt that feudal serfs in Europe would have tested very poorly on intelligence (IQ), just like the Dalits do (on average). But the moment feudalism was abolished, others started marrying the erstwhile serfs, and through education and the industrial revolution EVERYONE got an equal chance to develop.
But I’m afraid the situation in India is so dire that even if the caste system were abolished tomorrow, there would be very few inter-caste marriages. And so the progeny of the Dalits and Sudras will remain handicapped as they don’t get the environment necessary for their children to develop.
Swami Ramdev runs the Bharat Swabhiman movement today, but that would not have been necessary if there was no caste system. The caste system is destroying the sense of self-worth of billions of people.
The best swabhiman movement in India will be to DESTROY the caste system, lock stock and barrel. I encourage you to SAY NO TO CASTE.
Anyway, that is the BASIC PRECEPT of Scientific Hinduism.