In defense of caste

May 4, 2007

Previously printed by the Pioneer as one side of a debate. Here is my side

http://www.dailypioneer.com/agenda1.asp?main_variable=sundaypioneer%2Fdialogue&file_name=dial2%2Etxt&counter_img=2

and here’s the other side of the debate:

 http://www.dailypioneer.com/agenda1.asp?main_variable=sundaypioneer%2Fdialogue&file_name=dial3%2Etxt&counter_img=3

Here’s the full text of what I wrote:

Nothing wrong with caste
Birth and berth — Rajeev Srinivasan | Public affairs commentator
It has become a conditioned, Pavlovian reflex for Indians to condemn the entire idea of caste unthinkingly. It has become a cliché to rail against caste, but jati and varnam are just a codification of the fact that all humans are not born equal in their endowments: Some are tall, some are fat, some are musically talented, and so on. We cannot escape the ruthless Bell Curve.
The very term ‘caste’ is not proper, because it is a European Christian distortion of the ideas of jati and varnam, which the colonialists condemned out of ignorance and prejudice. Yet, given the widespread notions about caste, I am forced to use the term.
 
What is deplorable is not caste per se, but casteism, or discrimination based on caste. This is similar to the rightly abhorred discrimination based on other inescapable biological facts: Race, gender, or age. Casteism must be condemned in the strongest possible terms, but that does not mean caste has to be thrown out, baby with bath-water.
 
Caste is a convenient organising principle. Being social animals, humans need to belong to groups. There is a tendency to manufacture in-group/out-group differences and mythologies. However, if groups are roughly equal, we end up with collective bargaining where a group member has a better chance than an unattached individual. This is the reality in India today: Caste as trade union, attempting to grab more than its fair share of the fairly small pie.
 
But caste is part of every human society, although they might call it by other names – ‘class’. For instance, European Christian societies are infamous for lack of social mobility – your accent, your hometown, etc, brand you for life, making it practically impossible to change to another ‘class’. Even in supposedly classless America, it is rare for the child of a wealthy investment banker to become, say, a janitor. Or for ersatz royalty like a Kennedy to marry an poor immigrant from, say, Lithuania. ‘Class’ persists.
 
Allegedly egalitarian Communist states, too, have their elites: Rulers’ offspring get the plum jobs. Not too many children of Polit Bureau members toil in the gulags of China, or have their organs harvested on demand. In Muslim societies, too, there are obvious hierarchies: Women are defined to be inferior. Among men, Arabs are top of the heap; among Arabs, Prophet Mohammed’s tribe is superior. In that tribe, Mohammed’s family members are more privileged.
 
The big problem with caste in India today is rigidity. Jati, as originally practiced, was a guild of people in particular trades. Jatis were fluid in nature: Entire castes moved up and down the hierarchy as their value to society changed. For instance, when land records became important, scribes became important; today, if there were a jati of venture capitalists, they would surely be at the top of the pile.
 
The rigidity of caste as we know it is yet another ‘contribution’ – as are very many of modern India’s ills, such as dowry – of Christian European imperialists. They capriciously decided that the Manusmrti was the rulebook of Indian society, and used their census to arbitrarily assign jatis to varnams.
 
The objective of the imperialists was simple: To divide and rule. Today, their lineal descendants, the Communists, have latched on to the same idea as a way of subverting India.
 
The truth of the matter is that jati is an entirely satisfactory construct for most members of a particular jati, so long as there is no overt discrimination against them. It is not as though people are just dying to get into a ‘higher’ jati. They are content with their existing in-group, even if they belong to a relatively ‘low’ jati. It is belonging that matters.
 
Finally, caste makes Indian society robust. It is a system theory axiom that a centralised, monolithic system is vulnerable to a single-point failure. But a distributed system, which has many smaller, independent, nodes, is far more difficult to destroy. Castes have functioned as these distributed nodes, and thus no attacker could overthrow the system. Caste, in a fundamental way, has been a reason for the longevity of Indian civilisation. Surely, the distortions in this perfectly sensible construct need to be removed, but it is not per se inappropriate.
 
 
 
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20 Responses to “In defense of caste”

  1. somegeek Says:

    Hey Rajeev
    You are another classical Brahmin caste defender. You and your cunning arguments are completely shallow and reeks of cunning and typical upper caste arrogance. Why the hell are you upholding caste, man? All your arguments are patently nonsense.

    I will attack you consistently, because your arguments are vain and defeatist.

    You are openly defending Varnashrama Dharma – the worst form of apartheid and you talk of ‘caste’ existing in Christianity, Islam, Communism. And you dare to say that people within Jatis do not want to go up the caste heirarchy. How dare you even get to write such nonsense, man?

    If the rest of the world is practicing some form of caste and casteism in your obviously distorted and confused mind, then what are you doing about eliminating caste, man?

    How dare you insinuate that all human beings are not created equal. How dare you, Rajiv? You are allowed to write on a supposedly respected site called rediff.com. I do not know how you Brahmins have such a stranglehold ( and you have a couple of French ‘Brahmins’ to boot) on everything.

    Am I a fool to accept your insane rantings about caste. I call on you to exercise your humane side of your casteist mind to stop writing such nonsense.

    How dare you try to confuse people by pretending that caste and casteism are different. So you and your Brahmin community will continue to perch at the top of the caste heirarchy and crow that the lower castes do not have what it takes to do what you guys do ( you insinuated that all Human beings are not created equal).

    How dare you, Brahmin even retain this illegal term called a Brahmin.,

    It is because of this evil caste that India was ravaged by Islam and Christianity so bad. Remember, when the Hindus of Kashmir were under threat from Aurangzeb to convert or die, the entire lot rushed to the Sikhs for help. Large sections of the Brahmin community,it must be reiterated have always been self-preserving, self-elevating and entirely selfish.

    Well, you are a Namboodiri Brahmin. I can tell that for sure. So what if you are one.

    Did you not insinuate that I a non-Brahmin was not born equal to you, a non-Brahmin. Your article has conveniently attracted charges of racism, man. Just because it is India, you are able to get away with it.

    Put an end to caste. You Brahmins want Hinduism to stay intact and at the same time, you will not dissolve caste. You will attack Islam, Christianity and the lower castes, but you will never do some introspection and accept that the Brahmins have done anything remotely wrong. This is pathetic, Rajiv. You paint the Brahmin community as peerless, pure, humane, sinless and entirely innocent. And you blame the world around you for all the ills plaguing this nation and your self-serving community.

    I will be back to lambast you again.

  2. justtwocents Says:

    I dont think so he is a Brahmin. He is a OBC.


  3. You might want to read this as well just to give you real perspective
    http://www.mutiny.in/2007/02/19/im-brahmin-by-birth-shudra-by-karma/

  4. chakrsc Says:

    I don’t think it is possible to ban caste.
    At the university where I work,
    I find that Nairs support Nairs and Ezhavas support Ezhavas. What difference would a ban make?

  5. surya76 Says:

    Nothing wrong with caste.
    If we are ready to forget human suffering that devastated millions of human life
    and go to sleep as if nothing changed in this world, then i think there is nothing wrong with caste.
    classification is always good if you stand on the top of the bell curve.
    For a change let us define brahmins are on the lowest side of the bell curve
    i can already see the frustration and cry that these clan of people
    exhibit when they actually fall on such lower side of bell curve when
    they move to a different country and suddenly find themselves on the
    lower side of the bell curve.
    The main point of this article nothing wrong with caste is in parallel with nothing wrong with
    raceism.If you would go to Jesse Jackson and explained him bell curve.. i am sure you
    will get good answers why it is wrong.
    I think the word caste ,jati,varna should be banned in India as word nigga in america.
    Descrimination based on caste should be banned but how are you going to do this, is it going to
    help by justifying caste as a oraganising principle? i differ on this view.
    I agree caste is part of every human society yes but some parts of human society have
    progressed by eliminating such a classification, the trouble is not when you look at caste
    at higher circles of human society, it gets dirty and worse when it is emulated by normal people.
    People of your clan (who justify caste and human classification) instead of helping in eliminating
    such an evil in India start justifying it.I dont see any difference between people of your clan
    and KKK. When people of your clan talk on web or elswhere it always reminds me of the people who broadcast
    on radio who talk to attack people of other caste as in Hotel Rawanda. I am sure if there were few more
    people of your clan who believe in classification then we will have Hotel pune, Hotel Mumbai and many more movies.
    I agree your clans men are really non-violent,yes you are really non- violent,But are exactly like those people on radio
    who give ideas to the rest of caste people to enslave or kill the lower caste people.
    Finally for this reason i think there is hell lot of wrong with caste or jati or varna in India.
    It is also a system theory axiom that a single centralised monolithic system is more strong and
    robust in defending itself instead of many smaller, independent,nodes as it happend in the
    History of India which fell down to Islamic , British empires but still we refuse to learn
    lessons from History. I think longevity of Indian civilisation is not in caste but
    the benevolence of the attackers who did not impose their way of life completely.

  6. rajeev2007 Says:

    First, it is a bad idea to go strictly by a person’s name to induce his/her caste. I am entertained by all of surya’s assumptions about “my clan”!

    On the contrary, I am a careful observer of the Indian political scene, and I see genocide and holocausts and Bamiyan-ization (cultural extermination) and cultural expropriation (eg. ‘Christist yoga’) on the agenda. Caste is being used as an excuse to destroy Hindu civilization.

    Second, read Rajaram’s long essay below (not sure where it was published) to get some insights into what really happened in Rwanda. A group (the Tutsis) was targeted and genocide arranged against them, basically by the missionaries. Though there is no real difference between Tutsis and Hutus, the missionaries manufactured hoax differences, as a way of creating genocide and bloodshed. Not very different from what was done to Jews and Gypsies elsewhere. In India the Brahmins are similarly being targeted for genocide by the missionaries, and fifth columnists like the ‘Dravidians’ give it enthusiastic support. The basis is the false theory of the Aryan Invasion, which has literally no basis in fact, and even its proponents like Romila Thapar (Communist) and Michael Witzel (white Christist fundamentalist) are backpedaling furiously about it these days. But a lot of idiots in India are convinced about the Aryan Invasion, and that of course is a major success for the Stalinist Indian education system.

    Although Rajaram writes about the Rama Setu, the background of the genocide in Rwanda is very relevant.

    RAMA SETU: THE REAL STORY

    N.S. Rajaram

    Looking beyond the controversy

    Beyond the Government’s fiasco over the Rama Sethu and in some ways the cause of it lies an unpleasant truth: Indian scholarship, especially in historiography has lost its roots. Since nature abhors a vacuum, the space has been occupied by politicians, religious figures and sundry activists. The result is that every contentious issue ends up in a cacophony instead of a sober debate. It is resolved, if at all by political expediency rather than as a result of research and scholarly debate. This was so with the Ayodhya dispute. The Ram Setu fiasco is only the latest example.

    First, here are some facts. It is incorrect to say that Rama Setu is entirely natural and Rama was not a historical person. A coral reef can grow around a long submerged man-made structure just as a beehive or even a mound can form over an old structure. Sea levels thousands of years ago were much lower than they are today. What is now a submerged structure in the shallow waters of the Palk Strait could have been above water or only partially under water in ancient times. (See photo.)

    Detailed marine archaeological work is necessary before we can say whether or not Rama Setu has any man-made structures. To date, neither the Archaeological Survey of India nor any other organization has done such work. All we have are satellite photos and some geophysical studies. These are inconclusive and subject to varying interpretations.

    It is a similar story with Rama’s historicity: without thorough research one cannot say that no such person existed simply because there are no physical remains like bones. By applying the same logic we could also dismiss Jesus Christ and Prophet Mohammed as mythical. Archaeology alone is of limited use in dealing with such ancient figures. It is necessary to correlate data from a wide range of sources including literature, ancient ecology, archaeo-astronomy and others.

    What I find particularly disturbing is that historians of post Independence India have not even bothered to look at these questions. When I was working on my book on the historicity of Krishna, I was able to build on a century of previous research going back to Bankima Chandra Chatterji and his Sri Krishna Charitra. No comparable research has been done on the Historical Rama or any related topic by Indian historians after Independence. As Walter Dalrymple observed in his Last Mogul, Indian historians are ignoring a treasure trove of primary data lying within reach.

    The problem is that Indian historians shy away from primary sources. They invariably take the results of Western scholarship as the starting point to build their own research. It is sign of things that the Indian history establishment made no contribution to refutation of the Aryan myth; it was mainly the work of scholars outside the establishment and in the West. On the other hand, some of the leading lights of Indian history jumped on the bandwagon when Michael Witzel and Steve Farmer tried to resurrect the defunct “No Harappan horse” argument in a last ditch effort to save their theories. Dravidian politicians slavishly follow Christian missionary propaganda.

    It is not surprising that the loudest voice today should belong to Mr. Karunanidhi. He is using the long discredited theory of Ramayana as the myth symbolizing Aryans of the north invading the Dravidian south. One can understand Mr. Karunanidhi’s compulsions: the Aryan-Dravidian conflict is central to his party’s ideology. He has to use the Aryan myth to support his claim that Rama is a myth. But why are the scholars silent? Why don’t they come out denounce his claims?

    History, myth and values

    When we travel across India and even beyond into Southeast Asia, we find literally thousands of places that bear names associated with the Ramayana characters. Some are purely for the sake of sanctity, while others like Kishkinda (near Hampi) and Rameshwaram are essential to the story. The Ramayana can hardly exist without them or without people like Hanuman and Sugriva and the events associated with these places. The same holds for Ayodhya, which has been associated with the Ramayana since time immemorial.

    In the face of these abundant references, it is absurd to argue that Rama never existed as a historical person. Only the Ramayana and the Mahabharata have been called Itihasa (historical) though there are literally hundreds of epics by such great poets as Kalidasa, Magha, Kshemendra and others. None of their works is called an Itihasa even though they often treat the same subjects.

    When I wrote the book Search for the Historical Krishna I was able to draw upon a century of research on the subject going back to before Bankima Chandra Chatterji and his famous Sri Krishna Charitra. No comparable research has been done about the historicity of Rama. We are unlikely to find evidence for proving the historicity of Rama unless we do the research. This being the case, to argue that Rama cannot be historical because we have no evidence is dogmatic and unscientific. We won’t find any evidence unless we look for it. But we have ample reasons to believe that such evidence can be found once we are prepared to do the research.

    Next, I would like to take you back a few years when the Archaeological Survey of India produced a report showing that a Rama temple existed at the site where the Babri Masjid was later built. Archaeologists also unearthed stone inscriptions that proved beyond all doubt both the existence of the temple and its destruction to build the Babri Masjid. But the same people who are now claiming that Rama lacks archaeological evidence refused to acknowledge these facts even when proved by archaeology. Can you convince such people with any amount of evidence?

    To understand the motives behind the attack on Rama and Rama Setu, we need to recognize that Rama is more than a personality. He is a symbol of values that all Hindus and many non-Hindus hold dear. He is also a symbol of unity. The Rama myth is not just a personality cult of the founder as is the case with Jesus Christ or Prophet Mohammad. Hinduism can exist without Rama, for he is not its founder. But Rama represents the highest values of the Hindu civilization. He is Adarsha Purushottama.

    In attacking Rama and everything associated with him, the real goal of anti-Hindu demagogues like Karunanidhi and the Communists is to destroy the unity and greatness of India as a civilization. It is part of the divisive politics of racial hatred that gave rise to Dravidian political parties. Karunanidhi cited the scientifically and historically discredited Aryan-Dravidian theory to justify his attack on Rama as an Aryan aggressor.

    The founders of this brand of politics of racial hatred were not Dravidian politicians but Christian missionaries of the colonial period. The foremost of them was Bishop Robert Caldwell. Caldwell is a revered figure in Tamil Nadu politics, especially among Dravidian politicians. He was a racist and his theories were unsound, but no one in Tamil Nadu would dare criticize him. Even today, Dravidian ‘scholarship’ is dominated by Christian missionaries like Kamil Zvelebil. Their ideas invariably lead to hostility and hatred as we shall next see. There lies the real danger.

    Invasion theory in Africa leads to genocide

    Race theories like the Aryan-Dravidian being propagated by some politicians may be unscientific, but can have catastrophic results when used to incite passions. The Nazi Holocaust is justly infamous, but not many are aware of their contribution to the more recent Hutu-Tutsi conflicts in Africa. While colonial scholars and missionaries have done serious damage in India with their Aryan-Dravidian theories, one has to go to Africa to grasp the full magnitude of the catastrophic consequences of their theories and propaganda. With the Tutsi invasion theory, the African version of the Aryan invasion, these ‘scholars’ managed to trigger genocide.

    When we look at the map of middle Africa, we see two little countries named Rwanda and Burundi, bordering on Zaire (or the Democratic Republic of Congo). As reported in the Western media, these countries are inhabited by two supposedly different groups of people, the so-called Hutus and the Tutsis. According to this theory, Hutus and Tutsis are really two completely separate races, with the ‘black’ Hutus forming the oppressed majority, and their relatively fair invaders, the Tutsi, forming the oppressors. This in essence is the Tutsi invasion theory, the African version of the Aryan invasion theory.

    Until the coming of the Europeans, the Tutsis and the Hutus never saw themselves as different. Nor were they engaged in any racial wars. This notion of the Tutsi-Hutu racial difference began to be drilled into the natives by colonial administrators, some academics (not unlike present day Indologists) and missionaries known as the Pere Blancs (White Fathers). They invented the Tutsi invasion theory and labeled the Hutus as the victims of Tutsi invasion and oppression.

    As with the Aryan theories and their various offshoots, this Tutsi-Hutu division has no factual basis. They speak the same language, have a long history of intermarriage and have many cultural characteristics in common. Differences are regional rather than racial, which they were not aware of until the Europeans made it part of their politics and propaganda. The Tutsi, like the Indian Aryans, were supposed to be tall, thin and fair, while the Hutu were described as short, black and squat— just as the Indian Dravidians are said to be. Since the Tutsi today don’t fit this description, scholars claimed that their invading ancestors did. In fact, it is impossible today to tell the two people apart. They are separate because government records carried over from colonial days say so.

    This fictional racial divide was created and made official by colonial bureaucrats during Belgian rule. The Belgian Government forced everyone to carry an identity card showing tribal ethnicity as Hutu or Tutsi. This was used in administration, in providing lands, positions, and otherwise playing power politics based on race. This divisive politics combined with the racial hatred sowed by the Tutsi invasion theory turned Rwanda-Burundi into a powder keg ready to explode.

    The explosion came following independence from colonial rule. Repeated violence after independence fueled this hatred driven by this supposed ethnic difference and the concocted history of the Tutsi invasion and oppression. Some 2.5 million people were massacred in this fratricidal horror of wars and genocides. Unscrupulous African leaders, like the self-styled Dravidian politicians of India, exploited this divisive colonial legacy to gain power at the cost of the people. This led ordinary Hutus to massacre the Tutsis en masse in a bid to annihilate them completely.

    So a peaceful, placid nation with a common populace, sharing a common language, culture and history was destroyed by colonialist, racist concoction called the Tutsi invasion theory. It was entirely the handiwork of colonial bureaucrats, missionaries and pseudo-scholars building careers on the discredited notion of race. It bears an uncanny resemblance to the Aryan-Dravidian theory created by missionaries and being used by politicians to incite hatred.

    History lesson: transplanting the poison tree

    Why should we learn all this? Because the Tutsi invasion theory has ominous parallels to the Aryan invasion theory and the Aryan myth, which scholars are trying desperately to save using linguistics or, Indo-European Studies or some similar fig-leaf. Sectarian tension and violence, thankfully not on the same horrific scale, was incited between North- and South Indians by self-styled Dravidian parties and their many offshoots and incarnations. These are the poisonous legacy of the colonial-missionary racist creation.

    Why did India not go the way of Rwanda-Burundi? Not for lack of trying but because the cultural foundation of Hinduism proved too strong. It defeated the designs of politicians and propagandists masquerading as scholars. It is no coincidence that Rwanda and Burundi had been converted to Christianity, preparing the ground for sectarian conflict. Several church figures, including priests and nuns have been found guilty of complicity in the Tutsi massacres. As in India, Christianity was a colonial tool and missionaries little more than imperial agents.

    Their failure in Hindu India is also what is behind the visceral anti-Hinduism of race-driven Dravidian politicians and the Christian missionaries who advise, inspire and instigate them. India, even Tamil Nadu, has not gone the way of Rwanda, but there is no room for complacency. The divisive politicians of India and their friends and colleagues in academia can come together to defame a national unifying symbol like Rama and destroy everything he stands for. The country will be on the way to becoming a fertile ground for demagogues to turn it into a powder keg of animosities.

    We may have gained some time with protests and debates, but it would be a serious error to assume that destructive forces have been fully uprooted. Bad ideas have a way of resurfacing especially when self interest is at stake. Writing about the persistence of superstitions like belief in witches and witchcraft in Europe, Charles Mackay, in his famous book Extraordinary Popular Delusions and Madness of Crowds observed (1841):

    So deeply rooted are some errors that ages cannot remove them. The poisonous tree that once overshadowed the land might be cut down by the sturdy efforts of sages and philosophers; the sun may shine clearly upon spots where venomous things once nestled in security and shade; but still the entangled roots are stretched beneath the surface, and may be found by those who dig. Another King like James I [a self professed expert on witches and witchcraft] might make them vegetate again; and more mischievous still, another Pope like Innocent VIII [who initiated the Inquisition against witches] might raise the decaying roots to strength and verdure.

    So let us understand what really is at stake: it is not whether Rama Setu was built strictly as described in the Ramayana or not, or even if we can prove that Rama was historical, but something far more important— Rama as a symbol of the values that we hold sacred. What this campaign represents is an attack on Rama as a value more than a personality, as a step towards destroying the civilization that he stands for.

    Acknowledgement: I am grateful to Sri Pankaj Saksena for valuable information relating to the Tutsi invasion theory and its legacy of horrors.

  7. rajeev2007 Says:

    And I love surya’s comment about the “benevolence” of the invaders. To disabuse yourself about this notion, kindly go to:

    a. Hampi to see the ‘benevolence’ of Mohammedans

    b. San Thome church in Chennai to see the ‘benevolence’ of the Christists. The church stands on the razed site of the Kapaleeswara temple. Similarly the Velankanni church stands on the razed remains of an Amman temple.

    surya is a good example of the products of the Stalinist education system in India which teaches children to never question what they are spoonfed.

  8. surya76 Says:

    Hi Rajeev,

    It’s good to see your response. I always find only a particular higher caste people
    defending the caste system, there may be some who among them do not do that.

    I don’t believe in Jesus as “REAL” g_d or Mohammad’s way, and i am absolutely against some section of current politicians defending AIT for their own cause,
    i see this frenzy ending in some worst riots or civil war
    in India and I am totally against that.

    My only and only problem is classification of humans done by higher priestly castes of India and the psychological and physical suffering met by millions and millions of poor human beings (lower caste Hindus) due to this insane caste classification, who were subjected to Hindu religious slavery for centuries.

    I always find amazing how two sides of people fighting for centuries miss the core issue
    why they were fighting and end up in something much more complicated issues like proving g_d.

    The problem of Dravidian section of people is caste classification of human beings and
    on the other side, priestly class who wants to defend this caste classification to keep their Hindu religious slaves. I fail to understand the rigidity of the caste classification group to accept fellow human, Hindu as his equal and treat with respect and dignity. Because of this rigidity the problem spiraled into conversions and eventually ending as a threat for existence for either of the groups. I also do not believe it is right for the Dravidian section to undermine Hindu religion for justifying their cause.

    I think it is justified when a human being is not offered equal status or dignity in
    the group which he belong. He is having every right to choose his own way where he can live a dignified life. There is no doubt about this. After all freedom and equality are universal to all human beings.

    I am amazed at how one group trying to undermine other by digging in history for their own cause.

    I still believe it is the benevolence of the invaders who did not impose their way of life
    completely(100%) and not caste for the longevity of Indian civilization. What can you expect from a invader? and mind you he is not an angel he is an invader and we have fallen prey to him, the invader had every right to do what ever he want at that point of time in History, he had the power and ability to impose their way of life completely(100%). We cannot expect invader to accept our way of life and build more temples. If you cannot drink in the fact that we were invaded in our history and been subjects of the invaders then nobody can help it, and there is not much that we can do today to change this in history except for crying that the invader destroyed our temples.
    I also believe caste based classification into jatis,varna and petty differences might have contributed to our fall to these invaders in history.

    Stalinist education system? I see why thousands of Hindus flocking around these educational institutes for a better education.
    On the contrary I question the inequality of Hindu religious slavery imposed by
    higher caste clan of Hindu society on lower helpless people of India for centuries.

    Kurma

  9. komale Says:

    Rajeev Sreenivasan’s article is well thought of. A good thinker is one who can distance himself from the analysis, to be truly unbiased. He has done just that.

    Having followed his writings off and on through the years, it can be said without a doubt , that Rajeev definitely reflects the high thinking calibre of his clan. He belongs to a very respectable clan which worships Saraswati………and is not backward by any stretch of imagination, whatsoever! Need I say more?

  10. surya76 Says:

    komale

    Thanks for confirming his clan.

  11. mjjmz Says:

    The statement that
    “Even today, Dravidian ‘scholarship’ is dominated by Christian missionaries like Kamil Zvelebil. Their ideas invariably lead to hostility and hatred as we shall next see. There lies the real danger.” is incorrect

    Professor Zvelebil was never a Christian missionary and in fact was an ordained Zen Buddhist.

    It is also always so easy to blame “others” for inequalities in a society…


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  13. srag4568 Says:

    I quite agree with the writer “mjjmz” says :

    “March 17, 2009 at 12:25 am It is also always so easy to blame “others” for inequalities in a society…”

    Going through the above article I have a few observations, which I thought I shall highlight :

    firstly the heading : “Nothing wrong with caste ” makes a aborrent beginning. The arguments for – caste also sounds weak. Any denomination be it caste / colour / creed that becomes a discriminating factor in a materialistic society is certainly not justifiable in anyway. But history materials from variuos sources – never mind even if they are of dubious sources, all point to a struggle in the society, show the attitude of the haves to suppress the have nots. By no stretch of imagination can we justify this.

    However, in teh arguments for and against to the topic of Mr Rajeev, I find vehemence, emphatic statements – for and against which use bombastic words no doubt, but I really fail to see how people countering one theory, take side with another equally debatable theory.

    For eg : AIT, and the anti AIT theory and so on. TO this extent, I support the view of Surya76, who is candid when he says :

    “My only and only problem is classification of humans done by higher priestly castes of India and the psychological and physical suffering met by millions and millions of poor human beings (lower caste Hindus) due to this insane caste classification, who were subjected to Hindu religious slavery for centuries.”

    But again, his words are emotional in the sense that it makes a sweeping statement in immediately blaming only the higher priestly classes for this whole mess. If we take teh higher priestly class to be even 20% of the population, how come 80% suffered without retaliation. Obviously, all the people in the chain were equally responsible for this mess. SEcondly, he ascribes the sufferings of the people to this insane caste system. Now for any system to gain acceptance socially and also be sustainable, needs a conviction from people and needs them to carry this through generation after generation. That we had this uncahllenged for ages and generations and still had golden periods of Gupta dynasty or so many otehrs suggests that probably the blame is not in the system, but in the people who misused them.

    For example, till recently, in India we had teh licence Raj. And then came glasnost adn we got liberated. But considering the period and state of economy, licencing was definitely required. Licence Raj was not bad as a system. But what was bad was the millions of money made through illegal means to get permit and the practice of corrupt politicians.

    I for one do not support the caste system in the present context. But I do not know the entire history of the past to blame past for the present turmoil.

    Post independence, after adopting a robust constitution, after being in relatively unshackled freedom, for nearly 60+ years where are we today. Is all that Dr AMbedkar espoused, brought relief to the common public. I have my doubts, Being men, it is so easy to exploit every circumstance to suit their own needs than care for the common wellbeing. In a country when millions are repressed and livign in ghory conditions, we can get fooled by promises such as free Televisions, promises such as free land, promises about money. etc. Where is our collective consciousness. Dear Surya, Rajeev, komale, et al. I do not care about our past lineage – neither mine nor yours. WE are in it together and come on now we share the same identity – that of Indian, nay, that of fellow human being. Can we start afresh and do something rather than spread hatred. SO be it if you feel the past was bad or good – how does it matter today?

  14. harishps Says:

    Hello Rajiv,

    The problem today in India is we have become extremely emotional of even discussions. Caste system is an evil today but there is no reason one cannot have a discussion on the same. Some of the people who object to your opinion have not even tried reading what you have to say- they dont realize that it is not about somebody feeling certain that something is wrong, it is to be able to understand why another thinks different and correct his opinion.

    This has come also with a baggage of hatred fed to people right from childhood but the same folks rise up in defense when something is specified about their own community’s action.

    Anyway I just wanted to add that what you are doing is the indefensible – defending caste system. Varna ashrama dharma is a different concept and unfortunately there is no one following any principles today, whether it is a self proclaimed brahmin or whether it is a ruler. In such a situation there is nothing really existing to demonstrate the concept of varna ashrama dharma because the priests themselves have become bad examples and it is not a recent phenomenon. It might have started with the gupta or cholas or even earlier. Brahmins should not own land and should live like beggars or eat food that grew in the forest. It was far more honourable for ancient brahmins to eat a deer’s meat in hunger than to own land and live life in luxury and comfort , forget about pursuing modern comforts . When there is no good living example we should not defend the system. The system is bred with evil .

    I however understand that your statement arose because of the continuous accusations of missionaries. I think we have a very simple reply to all that
    “Jesus said that people will not be saved if they do not come to him and have to face eternal damnation”- what kind of god will ever say something like that. Similarly we can quote Mohammed. And say that the religious leaders actively sanctioned plunder and torture and rape in order to spread their religion. Further it is easy to say that people like Dayanand Saraswati have conclusively proven that vedas are beyond superstition, caste and falsehood. Even the purusha shukta the so called contradictory verse has to be correctly translated to what it means – The four type of men are born from purusha fulfill the role of the brain, the hand , feet and the shoulders. Sanskrit is not a lengthy language like english and is easily mistranslated into english. The problem has come to place because Varna is mis translated to caste. a person can be a brahmin only if he has the nature of a brahmin. Even today if a dalit becomes the ruler, his son also becomes. But he does not necessarily have the same qualification as his father if his nature is different. The son of brahmin would prefer to learn vedas but he cannot become a vedic expert unless he becomes one. Unless he goes through basic education of a brahmin he will not be considered one. This is not heriditory which is what people think. Heriditory is a by product which happens everywhere. On the contrary it is in hinduism alone where it is said if a person does not have the traits of a brahmin he should not be one. That is if his gunas are not that of a brahmin he should not become one. In christianity anyone who has ability to read and write can become a priest, especially if belongs to a good christian family. In hinduism alone you can become a priest only if you have qualifications to become one. Just because you want to become one does not give you the right. You need to have not only the inclincation and the ability , your nature must be tuned to that job. What that means is that you can be capable of understanding and reciting vedas but if you lack the desire to recite vedas for its own sake and not in order to prove your intellectual superiority or to achieve a selfish goal, then you cannot be a brahmin even if you have everything which you should learn as a brahmin and even if you are born in a brahmin family and you are a brahmin if you have all these qualities and you are not born in a brahmin family6. These questions have been answered by scholars using quotes from different sections of hinduism. Finallly unlike people of other religion hindus are only exhorted to accept spiritual experiences and teachings which they can digest. We dont shove vedanta through someone’s throat if they are not interested and if they do, they have always found ways to learn the highest principles of vedanta. Finally Lords Shiva who is beyond caste, has a very high following among brahmins.

  15. harishps Says:

    sorry just noticed a lot of type errors , hope it still makes sense

  16. S Rajeev Says:

    thank you for the detailed comment. personally i don’t think caste is such a bad thing at all. caste creates a distributed system, and according to system theory, that is far more robust than a centralized monolithic system. in fact that is the reason that the mohammedans were easily able to destroy buddhism (a centralized system) and also the persian and egyptian civilizations.

    caste has survived because it is useful. it will continue to do so.

    caste exists in the west, among mohammedans, etc. they just call it something else. it is a fundamental organizational principle for mankind, recognizing that all men, in fact, are not created equal.

    caste is fine, but *casteism* is not. this is like race — it is a fact. racism is evil.

  17. tonyfran Says:

    Just like all vegetables are not all the same, all men are not the same. They vary in colour, size taste, and other properties. Thanks to inherited genes, the off-springs of all living beings generally tend to have the properties and qualities of their parents.
    While cooking certain dishes, we have to use the same vegetables as are mentioned in the recipe. Similarly, to accomplish certain tasks, certain types of people are more suitable. Some dogs are bred to be retrievers, some as sheep dog, and some as hounds. Dogs do efficiently the jobs they were specifically bred for.But one cannot say that retrievers are better than sheep dogs
    Extending the same argument, some men can do certain jobs better than others because of their specific characteristics. But we will not be able, or should not say that one breed is better than the other.
    It will be perfectly O.K to employ one type of man to do a job in preference to another type. We cannot call it as showing partiality.
    In fact it is advantageous for the society to classify people according to their skills, and physical / mental capabilities, and use them for appropriate jobs.
    Isn’t it better to breed a tall set of people to represent India in Olympics for Basket ball.
    Long live caste-ism!!.

  18. tonyfran Says:

    While I agree with Rajeev that caste-ism is good for India, I do not subscribe to the view that present occupiers of a house or property should vacate their premises for somebody else who claims that a great person / their God was born/ dead / pissed / defecated there many thousands of years ago. If I went to Rajeev’s house and claimed that my Great great great grandfather who I consider as God was born in the same location, as his house, and that I have to build a shrine in the same location to venerate him, what would be his reaction?
    Hindoos fighting for Ram Janama Bhoomi has the same sanctity as Sikhs fighting for permission to carry kirpans in flights, or Muslims fighting for preventing frisking of women for arms/ drugs at an airport


  19. >>jati and varnam are just a codification of the fact that all humans are not born equal in their endowments

    Rajeev, with due respect, I have to say the above statement is ill-formed. A better expression would have been, “jati and varnam are just a codification of the fact that all humans can obtain a skill based on their action (karma), not birth”. I do wholeheartedly agree that discrimination based on caste absolutely, unequivocally needs to be eradicated. No doubt external influences like Islamic barbarity and insidious colonial machinations played their part in creating the casteism cauldron that exists today, but it is up Hindu society to eschew it.

    Information on Tutsi invasion theory is appreciated.

  20. rajeev2007 Says:

    hi, i am not sure i agree with you: i do believe all are not born equal in endowment. some have it in them to become olympic athletes, some don’t.

    if you believe that you can be absolutely anything just based on their action, then you are saying it’s all nurture, and nature has nothing to do with it.

    i believe it is a combination of nature and nurture: what god endowed you with, and then what you do with it.

    the second part — nurture — is where casteism has played a part. it does not allow a person to reach their potential: as in gray’s elegy, “full many a flower is born to blush unseen”.

    Full many a gem of purest ray serene,
    The dark unfathom’d caves of ocean bear,
    Full many a flower is born to blush unseen,
    And waste its sweetness on the desert air.

    Some village Hampden, that with dauntless breast,
    The little tyrant of his fields withstood,
    Some mute inglorious Milton here may rest,
    Some Cromwell, guiltless of his country’s blood.

    i am all for equal opportunity; but let’s not gainsay the tyranny of the Bell Curve.

    as for the tutsi-hutu business, please scroll up in the comments: there is rajaram’s detailed essay on it that i posted some time ago.


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