Monday, April 14, 2014

On "The Annihilation of Caste"

In order to put into perspective my email comment which Sunilji published in the last post I am enlarging the dimensions somewhat by making this post.

First, let me give the relevant blogs in January. For our purpose, first there was the post On Caste and Lokavidya and then Social Interpretation of History? and then An Invitation to take part in this debate from Vidya Ashram to enlarge the reach and depth of this debate.

In February I was rather disappointed reading the response to what I thought was a new package in this area and was trying to search for any debate during independence struggle with the aim of the Disappearance of Caste in Indian society. After a while I came across the website of the document, with the title of this post, as written and published by Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar for reading. It was also available for download as a PDF file.  That is when I wrote the small email comment which was included by Sunilji in the third blog mentioned above and reading it is the reason for writing this post and bringing this document into the discussion. For, I remember vividly our discussions on the Gandhi-Ambedkar controversial dialogues during the temple entry satyagraha and on untouchability, but not this document. Perhaps some of the readers already know about it.

We need not deal with certain aspects of the text, and instead stay focussed on the title of the published text. Given below is small parts from Sec.20 [The real key to destroying Caste is rejection of the Shastras] which is relevant in the context of a knowledge perspective. Readers may note that the essay was written as  the Presidential Address ( not delivered) for Jat-Pat-Todak Mandal, Lahore in 1936.

Sec.20.5 Fusion of blood can alone create the feeling of being kith and kin, and unless this feeling of kinship, of being kindred, becomes paramount, the separatist feeling—the feeling of being aliens—created by Caste will not vanish....The real remedy for breaking Caste is inter-marriage. Nothing else will serve as the solvent of Caste.(italics in original) ...

Sec.20.7 But is your prescription the right prescription for the disease? Ask yourselves this question: why is it that a large majority of Hindus do not inter-dine and do not inter-marry?

Sec.20.10 Reformers working for the removal of untouchability, including Mahatma Gandhi, do not seem to realize that the acts of the people are merely the results of their beliefs inculcated in their minds by the Shastras, and that people will not change their conduct until they cease to believe in the sanctity of the Shastras on which their conduct is founded.

Sec.20.11 No wonder that such efforts have not produced any results. You also seem to be erring in the same way as the reformers working in the cause of removing untouchability. To agitate for and to organise inter-caste dinners and inter-caste marriages is like forced feeding brought about by artificial means. Make every man and woman free from the thraldom of the Shastras, cleanse their minds of the pernicious notions founded on the Shastras, and he or she will
inter-dine and inter-marry, without your telling him or her to do so.

Sec.20.12 It is no use seeking refuge in quibbles. It is no use telling people that the Shastras do not say what they are believed to say, if they are grammatically read or logically interpreted. What matters is how the Shastras have been understood by the people. You must take the stand that Buddha took. You must take the stand which Guru Nanak took. You must not only discard the Shastras, you must deny their authority, as did Buddha and Nanak. You must have courage to tell the Hindus that what is wrong with them is their religion—the religion which has produced in them this notion of the sacredness of Caste. Will you show that courage?

Coming back to LJA, it would seem that while the lokavidya formulation is a correct description of the existing state of affairs in knowledge terms, the process of the lokavidyadhar samaj assuming leadership in the great social changes that lie ahead appears highly unimaginable owing to the non-enabling nature of caste hierarchies we have seen playing themselves out in politically and economically independent India.

Surendran K.K.

No comments:

Post a Comment