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Demystifying Brahminism and Re-Inventing Hinduism

Demystifying Brahminism and Re-Inventing Hinduism
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Item Code: NAQ529
Author: Satya Shri
Publisher: Notion Press
Language: English
Edition: 2017
ISBN: 9781946515537
Pages: 364
Other Details: 11.00 X 0.80 inch
weight of the book: 0.7 kg
It was a revelation of sorts when I started studying the social dynamics of Hindu society through sociology as an elective subject for my civil services examination way back in the early seventies. Soon, a deeper study of Hindu religion and its mandated social stratification turned into an obsession. Ramifications of hierarchical Hindu structure startle and bewilder a modern mind infused with values of individualism and egalitarianism, finding resonance in social equality, liberty and fraternity as the basis of any civil society. Social hierarchies have become, over the ages, integral to Hindus in a unique and unparalleled way that these no longer seem alien to them. It is some kind of magnetic or gravitational pull of the varna order which surreptitiously attracts or repels them from each other, cutting across all other barriers.

During my long service, I had occasions to meet multitudes of people of all hues throughout the country. A noteworthy observation in the entire career spanning over 40 years, was the virtual monopoly of brahmins with some fair sprinkling of other high castes in the upper echelons of bureaucracy at center as well as in the states. In a general survey of all elite positions in the government i.e. the university vice chancellors and professors, judges of the High Courts and the Supreme Court, foreign service and all India Service officers (IAS/IPS) and other central and state services, scientists, doctors, engineers, legislators and parliamentarians, constitutional heads, ambassadors, ministers, chief ministers and governors etc., apart from those allied to any scholarly branch of knowledge such as literature, law and religion, I found their virtual monopoly of the elite club where its political leadership too played a role. Though the brahmins comprise only about six percent of Hindu population, their hegemony over the religious, social, cultural and political apparatus continues to be palpable. In New Delhi bureaucracy, the scenario was revealing as it was shocking: through manipulative stratagems devised within the IAS to stay afloat, the brahmin oligarchy shunted every non-brahmin out of the national capital. It was a common currency in the bureaucratic circles that the IAS officers spent half a day working and the other half networking so as to manage remaining a part of the Delhi elite. These caste cartels run the government and the society, and they solely define, decide and represent the mainstream of religious, social, cultural and national life of India.

On the other hand, the middle and lower castes filled up supervisory and subordinate cadres respectively. Not surprisingly, all scavenging and manual jobs continue to be the bastions of the lowest social class, the ex- untouchables. It appeared as the microcosm of the ancient Hindu four-tiered caste structure transplanted in toto in as many layers of the government where you could spot who sits where. The varna system, as such, reserved 100% elite jobs for the brahmins; and likewise for other varnas in their respective layers, as the social spectrum was vividly defined and stable; exceptions apart. Though I believed we had come a long way from the kingly protection of the brahmins' exclusive privileges codified in the dharmashastras -which were designed to ensure no caste challenged the brahmins by making all steadfast to their respective caste duties as jatidharma; I was sadly mistaken. Some people feel things have changed by the 21st century: it has in a way, as brahmin representation in the present (Modi) cabinet has come down to 54% though their virtual control over vital departments of the government has not. Whereas there were 13 brahmin chief ministers (out of 17) states in 1952, we have only 3 (out of 29) today.

The new system of reservations, beginning with India becoming a sovereign democratic republic, gave a kind of breather to the most deprived segments. The backward castes gained a similar 'right' to enter the government services in the 90s through Mandal Commission recommendations though it has only marginally impinged the brahmin-kshatriya fiefdom. The brahmin, obviously, protests the most since it is his territorial prerogative being raided by the 'tell and tamoli castes. The scenario is transforming real fast now-with rising levels of education among the masses though the top echelons in the public sphere remains solidly the brahmin fortress. The emergence of new politicians from backward castes, owing to democratic process, playing the role of the protectors of 'their people' replacing the brahmin oligarchy, are now slowly making inroads, and may be, by 2050, we get the middle bureaucracy at least, reflecting the ground social complexion. Now, the mad rush of all 'forward' castes, desiring to be branded 'backward' is a new phenomenon we have to contend with. In all such struggles what must be sensed is the dogged determination of the subaltern groups to seek parity with those high and mighty-for a place under the sun.

It is for demystifying this brahminic preserve in the power structure in religion and society in the name of 'jatidharma' that I have undertaken to present my analysis. We often talk of creating an egalitarian Hindu society without realising that much of it means disempowering the brahmins of their virtual hegemony in the social and political power structure, to which they resist till the last. They are the vanguard of Hindu intellectualism who have been strutting the land as walking `gods-on-earth', held in awe and esteem by the disinherited masses for over 40 centuries. The immutability of varna system which solidified their priestly status and-power in the name of its 'purity and effulgence'-used as a camouflage-has become the summum bonum of Hindu life. If you remove the brahmin from the realm, what is left is hardly of any consequence. The intellectual class-irrespective of its composition-shall forever remain the most influential class.

This is not the first nor it will be the last study on the gamut of caste structures as thousands of books have been written on the subject. Several distinguished scholars have subjected the caste system to a microscopic, systematic and thorough dissection. Yet, the present analysis goes beyond as it makes a case for Hinduism to go through a surgical procedure with a view to remove, through social engineering, the malignant cells rotting its body; first recognising that castes are the product of a sinister game plan of 'divide and rule' by the hereditary dominant priestly class, meant to sub serve its vested interests.

The social reformers in India so far have been mostly brahmins who campaigned against evils affecting their caste alone: none has ever challenged the blighting institution of castes though it has-eaten the vitals of the whole society, sparing none. All brahmins sing the paeans of the virtues of 'ancient Hindu society, to which they often wish to return and find nothing obnoxious in the present 'God-ordained' social order. The freebooter brahmin class eulogises the iniquitous system as it keeps them in the insuperable hegemony of religion and governance commandeered by them all along. Notwithstanding, except religious, all Hindu ancient institutions had to be dumped in the modern times as a garbage since the modern framework, including the constitution, derives its inspiration from across the seas. The religion, beyond the pale of the State, is in tatters and in dire need of a complete overhaul since numerous interpolations in the scriptures have obfuscated the true character of this once great religion.

Invidious castes, as a fallout of the priestly gameplan, deserve to be treated as its intellectual disease as the institution draws sustenance from the interpolated scriptures. Swami Dayanand who founded Arya Samaj in 1875-the first true exponent and a great defender of the Vedas in modern times, brought around Hindus to the view that the worship of the formless monotheistic Brahm, and not of the numerous idols as deities, is the Vedic heritage. He denounced castes, nevertheless defended its progenitor varnas, and advocated admission of 'impure' Shudras as Aryas only after `shuddhi, though varna order is decidedly not a creation of the Vedas. Mahatma Gandhi fought untouchability no end, yet, wanted castes to be merged, on the same lines, in the respective varnas as he trumpeted the glory of varna system as the highest contribution of Hinduism to the humankind at large!

It is the priestly class which, in the name of God, segregated and divided people in hierarchical concrete rat-holes. This part is not religion: it is sheer politics of dominance. To date, no Hindu reformer from the priestly class has dared denounce castes as an obnoxious and invidious social structure since that would dismantle the brahmin supremacy. This also explains why casteism, though the most debilitating disease of Hinduism, never became the focus of any intellectual debate in this country. Unfortunately, the priestly class altogether refuses to countenance shudra and dalit issue as a problem in Hinduism despite the fact that 80% population of the Hindus is blighted by it. No brahmin has ever declared shudras and ex-untouchables as equal Hindu brothers as their dismal fate is explained away through the simplistic doctrine of their past impious karmas, and not due to the priestly machinations of building and sustaining a wicked social structure. That the seeping rot has corroded the roots of the society, has not rankled their conscience for over 40 centuries for the simple reason that they stand to gain by sustaining it.

Men are heterogeneous in nature; it is the culture of the religion which homogenises and binds them together: Hindu priestly class has indignantly declined, in its smugness, to make it the function of religion, by design, always emphasising the individual salvation as a human goal, through charity to them. The priestly class has to have the courage to squarely shoulder the blame for perpetrating this fiendish institution on the Hindu society.

Ambedkar expressed anguish at caste Hindus treating the dalits as scum of the earth with no civil rights in perpetuity. As a rebel, Ambedkar wanted reformation of Hinduism but would not proceed to do it: perhaps, it was beyond any one man. The only solution he recommended was to throw all the Vedas and other scriptures in the Bay of Bengal, least realising that caste-coloured blood flows through Hindus' veins. It was like what Mahatma Gandhi said 'throwing the baby along with the tub water. Yet, Ambedkar did what he could do the next best: he could not change the scriptures; he could not change the priestly mindset of self-righteousness; yet, he gave a window of the most-deprived segments in the form of a right of proportional representation in legislatures and government jobs which did benefit, though a slice of this blighted segment. He came up with an ultimate solution too: the 'annihilation of caste' which all enlightened Hindus ought to have welcomed but none did. Instead, he was branded as a leader of the untouchables alone. Yet, his solution recognized the imperativeness of integration of all Hindus for which social equality is a sine qua non. Nevertheless, the question remains: who would undertake to create the consciousness for the non-existing solidarity among the Hindus.

No doubt Ambedkar dissected the Hindu social system with the precision of a surgeon but he left it dying on the table. What he failed to appreciate was that it was not religion but the interpolations in the scriptures by the crafty priestly class which twisted it to sub serve its vested interests. The message of egalitarianism is inherent in Hindu scriptures which were clouded by design. Felling the partition walls by excoriating the excrescences which have polluted this once glorious religion, must, therefore, become the clarion call for all conscientious Hindus. We need to take the plunge ourselves: no one from the heavens has ever descended to resolve social issues. There is nothing more miserable than to feel that emancipation is in the air and yet suffer the slavery of a mistaken idea.

Today, Hindu society must take the bull by the horns: escapism has not taken it anywhere. Castes cannot be extinguished by dalits because it is a disease of the upper caste minds who gloat over an ephemeral sense of superiority over some of their own co-religionists and refuse to treat them as equal brothers whereas other proselytizing religions have no compunction in converting them to their faith and making them so. It only proves one thing: the Hindus have learnt nothing from history, and are condemned to repeat it, every day. Castes have not and would not wither by passing mere homilies.

Hindu faith is not just a congeries of endless rituals: it has pearls of incomparable wisdom and sagacity, capable of showing the path of enlightenment to the whole humankind through its richest philosophies embedded in the pristine Vedas, the lofty Upanishads and the venerated Bhagavad-Gita. The practical religion; ela the other hand, comprises the crude rituals and innumerable idols-manifestations of a kind of occultism-before whom every Hindu bows his head in reverence. Since nothing connects the two, Hindu religion remains a contradiction of sorts. It is a call of the times, therefore, that Hinduism is taken out of the clutches of the brahmin priesthood and its essentials established as the core of this pristine faith. We need to protect the essence of Hinduism by amalgamating all the pearls of wisdom of its scriptures as a single treatise. We have called it Thahmajnana' which is the first acknowledgment that an organized Hinduism can stand on the solid isolation of its basic tenets. It is a treasure of humankind over which any modern civilisation would be proud of. The essence of true Hinduism has now been embodied in the 11 principles of `Ek Samaj.

The glass ceiling of access to obscure scriptures, held close to its chest by the hereditary priestly class in Sprit since the ancient times, has to be broken by adopting 'Brahmajnana' in the vernacular as our sole scripture with a firm assertion that no intermediary is needed by any human wanting to be in communion God. Today, Hinduism needs to be redefined on the basis of its essential virtues alone.

It augurs well that the now evolving enlightened class underscores that castes have emasculated Hindu society all along and have given it nothing but the slavery of a thousand years. It is time that curtains are down on this despicable institution created by some fertile minds. It is an occasion to reiterate that we need the egalitarian character of the Hinduism and pledge to root out forever the social hierarchies which debilitated its vitality and prevented solidarity among its people. What is most reassuring is that the "ones of Hinduism are rock solid and its essentials embody the most virtuous philosophies of life on the

Recently I was invited to address a gathering of police officers and other ranks in a police academy on the `Impact of Religious Traditions on Hindu Society' where some of their top brass was also present. I asked them five questions to begin with. The first was: do you know the hierarchical caste system operates in India alone in the whole world? The audience did not believe it true as it insisted it must be a universal phenomenon. My second question was: when was the reservation system for jobs started in India? Most in the audience said it was 1947; others said it was in 1950. When I told them the system was designed by our priestly class more than 4000 years back, they jaw were ajar in wonderment as to this new discovery. The third question was: when was the first trade union born in India and the world? The audience had some hazy idea of some 100 years back but could not give a date. When I told them our brahmins formed the first trade union in the world, it was beyond what they could digest. My fourth question was: who started the 'divide and rule' policy in India? The unanimous answer was that the British did so in order to rule over India by dividing the Hindus and the Muslims. When I countered by saying that the brahmins had done it some 4000 years back by dividing the Hindu society into small hierarchical and mutually jealous social groups called castes, I could see their eyes blinking in amazement. Yet, it was my fifth and the last question which stumped them all when I asked: "what would you say if the constitution was amended to provide for inheriting of offices from father to son or daughter, which effectively means that the sons and daughters of the president, prime minister, chief ministers, ministers, supreme court and high court judges, Governors and Ambassadors, MPs, MLAs, IFS, IAS and IPS officers, University professors and all teachers, inspectors and constables, chowkidar and safaiwala included-all government employees-would compulsorily inherit their fathers' jobs on their retirement:' There was an immediate uproar against such an out-of-this-world proposition, questioning the very logic of such an absurd condescension. The officers kept their counsel to themselves but the staff members vociferously and vehemently contended that they would go to a court of law against such an order. When I countered saying that the Supreme Court and High Court judges and MPs also wanted their sons to take their place as the constitution had been amended to that effect, there was an eerie silence in the auditorium signifying that they were at a loss to realize what to do in that event.

While appreciating their concerns, I added: "Are we not living in a society which has been doing exactly the same thing by giving positions of fathers to their sons, as a matter of caste rights, for the last 4000 years? A priest's son alone had the right to become a priest and no one from any other caste still breaks the code; kshatriyas alone had the rights to take up arms. Similarly, a farmer's son was a farmer, a cobbler's son had to Iv a cobbler, a scavenger's son was a scavenger, as all of them were forbidden to aspire anything other than their caste duties, euphemistically called jatidharma. Yet, none protested it. It was the dharma (duty) of the king to enforce the tenets of varnashramadharma laid down in the sacred shastras like Manusmriti to which every Hindu bowed in awe and respect, as something dawned from the heavens. Manusmriti was, you can say, the constitution of the Hindu society in accordance with which all social, religious, political and economic relations were regulated till the British uprooted this 'ancient Hindu tradition' in 1861. There was differential treatment in regard to the quantum of rights and obligations of different varnas, according to this constitution. Nobody protested and if somebody did, he was taken care of by those who had the responsibility to regulate and control the society i.e. the brahmins and the kshatriyas, the ruling class comprising 10% of the population. The Brahmin occupation had framed this constitution and had reserved exclusively for themselves 100% reservation in the six elite intellectual occupationspf learning and teaching Vedas (this was the only education it those days), conducting for self and others the yajnas, and giving and taking donations. It was also the fist trade union in the world which acted in concert to protect its class interests against all other varnas and interpolated scriptures to provide for it. All priests would steadfastly protect their class interests against other castes but would wrap it in Sanskrit shlokas saying these were the God's commandments. The brahmin-kshatrya duo jointly regulated and controlled the society-one formulated and the other enforced. Jatidharma i. e. caste duties were fixed for all and none could change or challenge those prescriptions as these were proclaimed to be `God-ordained. No caste other than the brahmins could even attempt to become a priest because they would not be taught Vedas in Sanskrit by the brahmins. The whole exercise was aimed at ensuring that the brahmins and kshatriya duo would not be challenged by all others. There was a provision in this constitution that the shudras could be punished severely if anyone ever heard a Veda mantra: there are shlokas which pronounce the penalty of severing the shudra's tongue or pouring molten lead in his ears if he ever dared to learn Vedas. Why? Because brahmin-kshatriya duo-who were the joint rulers-ensured that they and their progeny were not threatened by any competition for the jobs they had earned for themselves. Therefore, shudras were physically prevented from gaining any kind of education or property so that they remained 'village servant castes' and served the brahmins and kshatriyas for all times to come as their sole `jatidharma'. They were assured they would be re-born in a higher caste if they served the savarnas ungrudgingly in the birth. This is the principal reason why there were no traditions of acquiring education among the shudra castes till recently when Sary Shiksha Abhiyan was started. The shudras were all landless as they herded animals or worked as artisans or as farm labour in the lands owned by the kshatriya landowners or carried dirt on their heads. If they too gained education, who will herd their animals or work as labour in their fields or do the scavenging jobs? No vaishya or shudra could ever dream of taking up arms and become a kshatriya, even in dire emergencies-when foreign barbarians attacked the land. You must have heard bow Eklavya was made to sever his thumb for the temerity of learning use of bow and arrow from the idol he had prepared of Guru Dronacharya; because any was anathema to a steady social order created by the brahmins. It was the duty cast upon all kings to ensure that the shudras could never own property or learn skills so as to become a threat to the brahmins and kshatriyas. This is the essence of the varna system. The brahmin-kshatriya duo feared that the shudras, if they gained education or learned martial arts or owned any property, could revolt against them. The reality was however camouflaged in terms of 'purity' of the brahmin, valour of the kshatriya; and the 'impurity' of the shudras' occupations into which they were bounded. This is why we find that all 'martial castes' in India are a kshatriya tradition, which continues in our army even today in the form of caste regiments. Nowhere in the world, there exists any martial or non-martial hereditary segments of population. This account should answer all the five questions raised in the beginning of the discourse.

When I told the audience, for their enlightenment, that according to 1931 census (the last time when caste census was undertaken by the government), the brahmins comprised 6.4% population among the Hindus but had 70 to 80% share in bureaucracy (in the top positions, it was close to 99%); the kshatriya castes comprised 3.7% and had 10 to 15% share whereas 2.7% vaishyas had about 10% share. The rest, the shudras though comprising 85% of the Hindu population had a mere 2% share of government jobs, most of these being the scavengers and manual labour. You can easily translate these percentages into literacy rates of the respective varnas in 1931. If you want to know the current percentages of reservation for brahmins, all you have to do is to look around and see the number of brahmins in elite positions in the bureaucracy and elsewhere in the country and how they select newcomers for the jobs, to understand the whole gameplan. It is only now that interviews have been barred from the selection process for insignificant jobs, to provide for transparency. Brahmins' current share in bureaucracy is about 60% though it would be close to 80% in the top layer in the central and state governments. If you see the composition of present central government cabinet, there are 42 brahmin occupation ministers out of a total of 78 which translates to 54% brahmin representation against their population of about 6%. If you see the functions they control among themselves, you will find they command almost all the vital departments, leaving servicing departments to others, exceptions apart (like the present prime minister). There are backward class, scheduled caste and scheduled tribe ministers too but they are there to serve as the face of the communities they hail from. As a matter of fact, they are the face of the government among their communities to explain the government policies to the people. It explains the brahmin grip over the society in general and the government in particular. It is easy to assess how much transformation has taken place in Hindu society over the past 4000 years.

When I asked the audience whether they still felt proud of their caste and the caste system, there was a strange kind of ambivalence and every one kept his counsel to himself without looking towards me. I was happy to have raised more questions in their mind than I had answered. That was also the intent of my addressing them.

It is with a similar purpose while I present this work to you: it should shake your mind from complacence, and compel you to ask questions as to why we have inherited such an abominable social structure, and its belief and practices.

Study of Ancient Civilizations

No human civilisation has ever prospered aloof in a remote corner of the world. If some people wanted to live undisturbed, their neighbours would not let it pass. It part of human nature to reach to other people and turn them to their side. In ancient times, there were trans-migrations of tribes in search of adequate food and shelter thereby impacting alien societies and affecting its demographic index. Study of ancient civilisations helps us understand common human history as well as their ancestry and recognize unique characteristics of those ancient peoples which separate them from others. Ancient civilisations have been found in China, India, Egypt, the Mediterranean, the Greece, Rome and West Asia. By acquiring basic knowledge of these fascinating cultures, we are able to compare some of their fundamental characteristics and review the remarkable innovations they contributed to the world's scientific and cultural heritage. We also examine reasons for their flourishing and decline, looking both at the archaeological record and scholarly thought in their treatises. The Perennial Human Questions

Preserved in their writings and sometimes coded into their artwork, we find the Egyptians and Indians asking the perennial questions which have always bugged humankind and answered the questions that all societies ask. What happens after death? How was the world created? Where does the sun go at night? Lacking any real scientific understanding they answered their own questions with a series of myths and legends designed to explain the otherwise inexplicable. Some of these myths passed from Egypt to Rome, and other parts of the world, and have had a direct impact on the development of their modern religious beliefs. Reading and understanding the ancient stories allows us to abandon our modern preconceptions, step outside our own cultural experiences and enter a very different, life-enhancing world. Believing that the dead could live beyond death, the Egyptians buried their dead as mummies in the Red Land, with all the goods they considered they would need in what they thought of as the 'afterlife. Ancient Egypt is important to the modern world: Egypt offers inspiration, stimulation, valuable knowledge and an insight into modern culture. Indian civilisation is equally remote, having begun in nature worship-like any primitive society-grew in a forest culture but flourished by giving to the humanity exquisite philosophical thoughts as its contribution through its scriptures. This civilisation gave immortal precepts on which humanity could be proud of, and is the sustenance of its modern people providing it continuity and vitality. It answered all these questions though some of the precepts are limited today to scriptures alone and have been buried under the weight of its excrescences, yet the effulgence of its pearls of wisdom is still a guidepost for the humanity at large and a source of inspiration for all Indic religions despite the passage of more than four to five millennia.

Indian Civilisation

We find India's populace becoming a microcosm of the whole world as diverse racial elements from different parts of the world exhibit their unique physical traits in different regions of the country. India becomes a very interesting field of study for several reasons. There is hardly any country in the world (except the present United States of America in the making) where almost every blood strain can be found almost unsullied to the present. We shall study diverse composition of Indian society through entry of several racial tribes into this vast sub-continent at different intervals with unique characteristic of social exclusivity which weakened its social fabric over a period and became recurring sufferers of foreign depredations. The physical features of the existing population in different regions still exhibit the regions these races hailed from. If it is asked what is the most important attribute that distinguishes Indian society from others-also a reason for its uniqueness is preserving its past-good or bad-is that the entire population still remains a sort of mechanical mixture of carious races which refuse to become a chemical compound like in Europe, even today.

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