This is in response to this article (I know, free advertising for this guy…no problem)
The frustration and hate of the author are quite evident from this article. Apart from having no references and largely being repetitious slander there really is no indication of
-How Brahminism developed
-Evidence of oppression or exclusion of Shudras and Dalits from education (particularly religious) .
-What impact the humanist and rationalist movements have really had on lower caste emancipation.
While it is true that untouchability was practiced and Manu smriti does in fact promote casteism, the extent to which casteism was practised is questionable prior to codification of Manu smriti. Consider this dialog in the Mahabharat that denounces casteism
In addition, in his book “Identity and Genesis of Caste System in India”, Prof. Ramesh Chandra puts forth the idea that Sudras were not disallowed from Vedic study until the pre-Mauryan period (pg59), which we know is just before 322BCE. Remember that Gautama Buddha lived during the 6th and 5th centuries BCE. This also strongly suggests that Gautama Buddha did not oppose Brahmanism, which must have developed during the Mauryan period due to internal conflicts within the religion we now know as Buddhism and Vedic religion. In fact, again Professor Chandra’s book and early Buddhist texts support this notion. Prof. Chandra further argues that “Rhys Davis has shown the fallacy of complimenting Buddha with breaking caste barriers”
If anything, it appears from early Buddhist writings that Buddha wanted Kshatriyas and Brahmins to be revered. Besides, the reason Buddha became an ascetic was after looking at the condition of the sick, the old and the poor. It was not because of brahminical orthodoxy. This schism likely gave rise to what we know as ‘Brahmanism’ and hence codification of the Manu Smriti.
Apart from having dalit and shudra saints that were accepted into Vedic religion, some like Ramanuja appointed dalits to spear-head his mission. Let’s not forget the work of Brahmo Samaj, Arya Samaj and the Ramakrishna Mission. Dr. Ambedkar was no doubt the most influential contemporary on dalit rights and on several occasions pointed out the flaws of Gandhi’s rhetoric on varna. This doesn’t take away from the fact that the intentions to rid of varna and discrimination was not there among a fraction of Hindus.
Furthermore – “since there is no mention of Siva, Vishnu (or any other deity worshipped by backward castes, scheduled castes or scheduled tribes) in the Brahmanical Sanskrit scriptures such as Vedas”. This really is a reflection of the ignorance of the author.
Vishnu is mentioned no less than 93 times in the Vedas –
“Hymn 7.100 refers to the celebrated ‘three steps’ of Vishnu by which he strode over the universe and in three places planted his step. The ‘Vishnu Sukta’ (RV 1.154) says that the first and second of Vishnu’s strides (those encompassing the earth and air) are visible to men and the third is in the heights of heaven (sky). This last place is described as Vishnu’s supreme abode in RV 1.22.20:
The princes evermore behold / that loftiest place where Visnu is / Laid as it were an eye in heaven.” (translated by Griffith)
That severely compromises the assertions of the author that SC/ST/OBCs had their own religion.
Even so, what could that religion be and where is the evidence for it?
Now coming to what secularists and ‘rationalists’ did for lower caste emancipation – although the notions should be appreciated, lower-caste emancipation suffers from several flaws. The quota system may indeed offer benefits, but it also breeds contempt against upper-castes and an oppressive and at times violent Dravidian political ideology.
Also, this commenter has seen first-hand the appraisal of SC/ST/OBC employees in government jobs over Open category people for no merit whatsoever. In fact, sometimes open category employees wait for a longer time to get promotion for no reason but being open category. Essentially, we are coming eerily close to reversing discrimination; unfortunately it is worse than simply denying education rights. Upper-castes are engaging in the same type of jobs that dalits have traditionally complained about, such as manual scavenging
I am not at all denying casteism or absolving Hinduism of anything. But, the country is clearly divided into upper and lower caste. Mud-slinging will abound. The question is how to get out of this mess? Should we adopt the Ambedkarist view that the end of Hinduism will end social-ills? Or should Hindus take the examples of Vivekananda, Gandhi, Basava, Ramunaja, Ramananda and others and apply the upanishadic ‘sarvam kalvidam brahma’ to a more rigorous level than before and take the message of the referenced dialog in the mahabharat to heart? Either way, even if Hindus change, when exactly will India reach the stage when we no longer need caste based classification and appeasement?