On Equality

The idea of inherent equality in society is a gross misrepresentation of reality according to Indic traditions.

On Equality

Indian Civilization never understood Hierarchy, how can it understand Equality?

Time and again, Indians and especially Hindus are asked the fundamental question of Equality.

“Why is the caste system so hierarchical? Why is there no equality of gender (in respect to say, considering menstruation as polluting)?”

The answer and corresponding guilt has always been Brahmanism. In that sense, what is written here is essentially Brahmanist, should such a term exist. While some may find this act shameful, what should be construed more shameful is the errant imposition of Christian doctrines and norms on a society that has never really accepted the Christ as their savior.

The Christian myth that the Biblical God created us equal in seven days some 4,000 years BC must have bedazzled the first settlers of the Indus Valley cities. The yogic rishis composing the primary verses of the Vedas inside Indian forests might have been too busy to pay any attention to the circus.[1] One can only imagine their bewilderment should such an event have happened. It might seem odd but even Isaac Newton was a champion of Biblical time scales.[2]It rings a warning bell on the nature of Enlightenment the West may have achieved.

The Indian Perspective

India never really differentiated between Social Science and Natural Science because according to Indian philosophy, both had the same foundation. Yet, India looks weird and ripe for Oriental interventions because Western Social Science has hegemonized and normalized Christianity. Because something abnormal like Christianity has been made the norm, normal civilizations like ours seem weird and worthy of bullying.

In Indian traditions, equality was never the norm. It was because inequality was inherent in Nature. This nulled the very 1stphilosophical proof of “Pratyaksha” or direct sensory perception [3](by all observers).

Furthermore, establishing equality needs an establisher: a norm imposer which then leads to inequality.

So, Prophets might teach that everybody is equal but they themselves are excluded.

Jesus is the son of God and had a virgin birth. So, nobody can actually be Jesus in spite of the Bible telling us that he is “ideal” man. A Christian should always strive to be like him but cannot actually entirely be like him (‘because he cannot go back and have a virgin birth’).

Everybody knows the fate of Ahmmadiyas whose founder made the grave mistake of calling himself the Shadow of the Prophet. Every Caliph that has been there till date has been related to or descended from The Prophet himself.

Why this special status for Prophets? Because the entire philosophical foundations of these organizations (religions) get collapsed as soon as Prophets are made equal to man. Society could theoretically end up with as many Prophets (and as many Words of God) as there are men, which defeats the very purpose of making the religion and forcing people to be inside it. Religions themselves eschew Order (and thereby hierarchy) but want to use equality as a tool for conversion.

The deeper one goes with how these norms developed, the more one worries about the shaky premises of the champions of equality: The Western Civilization.

The Philosophical Foundations of the West

If Christianity is the core of the West, it should be well remembered that it was the marriage of Jewish theology and Greek Philosophy. The famous Greek Philosopher that comes to mind, Plato and his student Aristotle, were to play an important role in the making of Christianity through their ideas, even after death.

The New Testament was never written in the Holy Land of Israel but in Greece in Greek language as learned philosophers (probably residing in monasteries) tried to hijack the political upheaval brought out by Early Christianity to spread their messages throughout the world.

Moving back to the idea of Equality, the very idea that God has created us equal can never be directly found in the Old Testament but is clearer in the New Testament:

(All the verses are in ESV, or English Standard Version of the Bible)

Old Testament

1. Genesis 1:26 

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

2. Genesis 1:27

So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.

New Testament

3. Galatians 3:28 

 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Only an experienced eye can pick up the scam as Jesus Christ is introduced as the savior of all, making him superior or in other words, unequal to all the man created in Genesis of Old Testament.

The idea of ‘Equal’ or ‘Isos’ is but the gift of Greek philosophers whose interest in Mathematics was restricted to Geometry for they loved symmetry very dearly.

They found the Jewish Creationism very convenient to organize society through laws patterned on Geometry. Of course, certain convergences with the Jewish book helped greatly.

For them, Law must reflect geometrical similarity, which follows as:

Natural State: All are equal. (Man and Woman in the image of God).

The Crime: If somebody becomes unequal at the expense of other.

The Solution: Reverse this inequality and let everyone be equal again.

They wrote the entire New Testament entirely on this accord and it is little surprise that the primitive Christian faith that spread to Rome, Byzantine or Egypt was headed by a Papacy and supported by monastic hermits (probably just like the New Testament’s Greek Authors). Many scholars even point out that the life of Jesus as portrayed in the New Testament bears a striking resemblance to the Greek god Dionysus.

Religion aside, let’s look at how the Philosophy of Greece (very under-developed when compared to that of India) condemned the entire humanity to damnation in the process of spreading Christianity.

1. Plato’s idealism (or ideal form): Led the New Testament authors to make Jesus the ideal man and the goal of humanity to achieve the ideal society so that God may be satisfied  

2. Greek love for Geometry: Instilled equality as a geometric classification in the society, to be enjoyed by man only, not animals because,( wait for it..) they aren’t symmetrical to man.

3. Aristotle and Stoic concept of Tabula Rasa (or ‘Blank Slate’): Led to the notion of Earth being created rather than being there. This was the blank slate on which humans had free will to do anything, but the quicker they listened to and obeyed God’s word, the more faster their exile to this Earth would end.

The interbreeding of these three ideas led to emergence of key markers of all Western faiths in order to establish equality in society:

i) Creationism and Idealism: The Earth is like a blank slate on which humanity is exiled.

– All people thus start with the same circumstance and must try to emulate Jesus who lived the perfect life.

– An ideal society is possible if all people act like Jesus.

– Humanity’s exile from Eden would end when this ideal society is achieved.

– Time thus became a linear construct that started with Genesis and would end with Day of Judgement.

ii) Anthropocentrism: People are equal among themselves but superior to other animals.

– Thus, these low lives could be controlled and trampled upon with impunity.

– If not, these must be husbanded towards the ideal society.

These three things (or Original sins as I like to call them) become severe fault-lines in understanding Eastern faiths like Hinduism and Buddhism for the West.

The Philosophical foundations of India in contrast to the West

The Sociologist Ling talks of the Orientalist Weber’s view in this aspect:

‘According to Weber there is a fundamental contrast between oriental and occidental religion; the former he sees as being characterised by contemplative mysticism, and the latter by ascetic activism.’[4]

Weber himself talks of the Jewish tradition thus

“The world was conceived as neither eternal nor unchangeable but rather as having been created.”[5]

Back to India, one needs to get out of this Western Oriental framework and ask thus about what our traditions say about those questions.

Not only in Hinduism, all “religions” that have risen challenging and debating the superiority of Vedas but under its umbrella ultimately talk of Circular Time; the world here is not created but merely rearranged, preserved and again rearranged to its next station. For Buddhists and Jains, this is but Nature and reality of things and the solution lies in attaining Moksha (or ‘Kevalagnana’) being constantly in sync with change, even after death. For Hindus who believe in a supreme consciousness, all this is done by different manifestations of the Same God ‘Brahman.’ Nothing is created or destroyed, it just merely changes form one form to another.

Civilization in India starts with the mind born sons of the Brahma. For storytelling purposes, this may seem colourful but metaphysically, it probably meant the opposite of what is suggested. These learned men who were debating the source of creation, finally found that God is but one; and all took Him to be their common father in their mind.

The word “Brahma” has its roots in the Samskrit “bruh”, which means to exert or expand unto as in the Hindi word “Brihat” or even the English “breath”. Subsequently, when they realized creation was but only a front of the divinity and that God has other manifestations, the common notation was changed to “Brahman” (meaning that which is of Brahma).

The divine design could then be reached by all adherents in time. This process in what is called “embodied knowing” separates Hinduism from all other religions.[6] So unlike Prophets, everybody could in theory come to know God and the divine. Yet, nobody in India tried to enforce their view on non-believers. One could only transcend unto Him.

This has to do with Philosophy. Once again, Pratyaksha and Anumana (inference from multiple observations), the two proofs common to all Indian Philosophies could never be conclusively used to prove the existence of any God, forget the theory that God, at the end of the day, is One.

Adi Shankara used Upamana (comparison by analogy of something known to the unknown in question) when he supposedly referred to the blind men touching different sections of an elephant to different seekers understanding different facets of the same Brahman. Buddhists, Jains or even Charvakas would never have accepted this statement for a prior assumption needs to be made here that the unknown and the known are similar (God and the Elephant) which in its turn can never be proven by the first two proofs.

Finally, all Vedanta Schools that say the Brahman is but one use Shabda or testimony of a learned elder to arrive there. In Advaitavada, Dvaitavada and Vishishtadvaitavada, this is Brahma Sutra written by Ved Vyasa. As an outsider, one might have never heard of him. As an insider, one may always question the “reliable” part of the testimony. This is but taking someone’s word at face value, the same crime early Brahmans accused and despised Islam and Christianity for. So, the understanding that ‘God is One’ was never forced on any individual and the path was left open for everyone to figure it out.

So, there was no final goal for humanity in this tradition like fulfilling God’s Plan to the brink and making the Day of Judgement happen. There were individual goals which were Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha. The first three achievable were interwoven. If one were in the path of Dharma, one might understand the true value of wealth and strive for it, use wealth judiciously to better one’s life and rear the next generation and in turn follow Dharma further until one is fully ready to understand the ‘Brahman’. Moksha is achieved when the atman or individual conciousness is merged with this Ultimate consciousness.

Before we proceed further, let’s negate the Biblical quotations posted earlier using quotes from the Geeta. I used the Geeta from Gitablog.com[7] instead of the Vedas because the Geeta may be more familiar to an Indian audience.

1. Ch 18, verse 61:

“ishvarah sarva-bhutanam
hrd-dese ’rjuna tishthati
bhramayan sarva-bhutani
yantrarudhani mayaya”

“Sri Krishna said: O Arjuna, The Supreme God dwells/resides in the hearts of all beings, who are mounted on the automation of this body, causing them by His illusive power of material energy to revolve (according to their actions) and is directing the wanderings of all living entities.”

Humans aren’t any special; they are animals with just a notch higher intelligence. God himself takes animal forms to rescue humanity. Similar in Jainism and Buddhism where the Tirthankaras teach compassion towards all and Buddha is born as Boddhisattva (he who has ‘Bodh’ or understanding of ‘Sattva’ or the essence of life) among animals and guide them to better lives.

So, technically the knowledge that is imparted in the Vedas hold true even if super-conscious aliens take over the world or if humanity is destroyed and lesser intelligent being takes their place. The Vedas are rightly called “apurusheya” or that which can be used by allconscious beings regardless of context or ontological position.

2. Ch 5, verse 18:

brahmane gavi hastini
suni chaiva sva-pake cha
panditah sama-darsinah”

“Sri Krishna said: The humble sages, by virtue of true knowledge, see with equal vision, the God present in a learned and gentle Brahman, a cow, an elephant, a dog and a dog-eater (outcaste) even.”

Equality is talked of, but only in the vision of the beholder for such an equality can never materialize.

Philosophically, if this equality is materialized, the dog-eater has to go hungry and consequently be dead or must be killed as he had killed one of equal stature.

The dog-eater is dead either way but in the second case, which Greek philosophers may advocate if they assumed man and dog to be of equal stature, is worse off because killing the dog-eater would not bring back the dog. At least symmetry would be preserved in that both the organism would be dead. Such are the pitfalls of the legal system designed by the West.

This has huge implications for our legal system though. So, were Vedic authors advocating Rule of the Jungle? The ingenious ways of these rishis can be understood by how Dharma or rule is defined:

“Pravarthaya bhutanah dharma-pravachanah-kritam
yaha swat-pravabhsanyukt sa dharm iti nischay”

All the sayings of dharma are with a view to nurturing, cherishing, and providing more amply, endowing more richly, prospering, increasing, enhancing all living beings: securing their pravabha. Therefore, what has the characteristic of bringing that about is Dharma. This is certain. Further,

“Dharnad dharm-mityahurdharmen vidritha praja
yaha swad dharan-sanyukt sad harm iti nischay”

All the sayings of dharma are with a view to supporting, sustaining, bringing together, upholding, all living beings-in one word, dharana. Therefore, whatever has the characteristic of doing that is Dharma. This is certain.

(These definitions are from the Mahabharata and not the Geeta with the translations quoted from Chaturvedi (2007, p.419)[8])

Thus, Dharma does not entail reverting to an abstract preconceived symmetrical condition somewhere in the past (like being apologetic about Adam eating the forbidden apple) but embracing the new changed condition and trying to make use of time to better oneself.

This is because Indians do not believe that Earth is a Biblical motionless blank slate on which man can do as he wishes, but rather Earth as a part of dynamic “Prakriti” whose essence is “Shakti” that involuntarily forces every cognitive agency be it human, plant or animal to grow in time. Choices this agency makes earlier leaves a mark for everyone to see as time elapses. Dharma thus also includes violence and Danda-neeti if that makes the world a better place to live in.

Consequences of these Philosophical differences on Politics and Society

 The Philosophical differences lead the civilizations to two different directions.

The Catholic Church itself cannot hold political power because of its definition as a monastic institution which would lead to civil wars when a Pope died.

Yet, institutions were required to maintain law and order which fell upon kings. So, The Church tried “The Theory of Divine Right of Kings” making their rule hereditary and giving legitimacy. If you were born the eldest to a King, God put you there to rule and so you are unequal to the rest.

Of course, Biblical sanction was present. The Bible was a bag of tricks that could be interpreted in whichever way the Church wanted. David refuses to fight Saul because he was the King, anointed by the Prophet Samuel and hence, “had the Grace of God.”

1 Samuel 24:6 (ESV again)

He said to his men,

“The LORD forbid that I should do this thing to my lord, the LORD’s anointed, to put out my hand against him, seeing he is the LORD’s anointed.”

This circus continued until the dark ages when the failed crusades made the political structures weak and feudatories started asking for more powers.

The Reformation period saw a strengthening of parliaments across European countries as every King tried to gain legitimacy among his lower dominions. Franchisee would be restricted among barons though.

As trade with Asia and America developed, more money came from investing in trade and the elites who invested in businesses found representation in these Parliamentary institutions.

Common man acquiring the right to vote, happened first in France but was not followed up immediately by other countries.

Many Southern states in the US allowed erstwhile African slaves to vote after the civil war. Earlier, for purposes of census, a black man was considered 3/5th of a White man. So, if 500 slaves were present, it was inferred that 300 adult white males are present and seats in Congress would likewise increase for that territory, never mind that these 500 never got the vote until the end of the Civil war.

Women gained the right to vote and stand in elections for the first time in Finland, 1906.

The Church can do amazing somersaults. Those same verses of equality above nullified the Divine Right of Kings and yet christian apologetics and champions of equality talk about how democratic traditions were the gift of the Church based on the scriptures.

Point to ponder though is that if all men are created equal, why is there an age condition for franchisee? Not that I dislike it but it goes to show its shallowness when one tries to colour practices as a result of Truth revealed in scripture.

Even recent western movements of equality like Veganism seem annoying because first they restrict equality to a constituency, here, animals with a central nervous system and then preach their higher moral standing because they follow Veganism. That same higher morality that is associated with being a Christian over a rootless Pagan. (Vegetarian Indians will never impose their ‘morality’, if they consider their food habit linked to it, on other people. For most, it is a conscious choice for a better life.)

This is the fun part. Problem starts when race scientists like the English Census Commissioner, Lord Risley started using these models on Indians. Caste hierarchies are designed with Brahmans at the top and the rest are shown to be historically oppressed as we go down the ladder.[9] The lowest in that linear scale was the most Dravidian while the highest the most Aryan. The caste hierarchy is no doubt scandalous, but what is more scandalous here is the fact that they have been frozen in time. Couldn’t it be that some caste were higher earlier but have shifted down?

Indian sociologists like M.N.Srinivas will disagree with the freezing part because his work showed a remarkable phenomenon called “Sanskritization” where castes (or jati, because the other word is Western import) collectively try to uplift their social status and often succeed. This is often achieved by tapping the market dynamics and political vacuums.

M.N. Srinivas did his work on Lingayats of Mysore but the same holds true for all castes.

Vaidyanathan shows how Gounders of Kongu region and Nadars of Southern Tamil-Nadu uplifted themselves in status and became capitalists from agricultural labourers in one generation.[10]

Susan Bayly shows how Jats and Marathas became solidified as a caste and raised themselves when they started emulating Kshatriya varna filling the power vaccum created by Aurangazeb’s fiscal indiscipline and the consequent receding Mughal State.[11]

For example, the Pasi caste of Uttar Pradesh may be SC today but count Maharaj Suheldev as their ancestor. He was recognized as a Chakravartin by other lesser Rajas since he had killed Islamic invaders like Ghazni and halted their raids on Indian soil for the next 150 years.[12]

The perversion here which remains unsaid is that Risley considers castes frozen in time because we are a colonized heathen lot. Thus, we (as Indians) have fallen from the grace of that Biblical God. The Brahmans are at top because they are Aryans; who reached there because they had God’s blessing. God probably blessed them because their other off shoots in Europe accepted Christianity, the true faith. Time is but linear from Genesis till the day of judgement so the vanquished are now the lowest of the castes and would continue to be so until they rise by God’s grace.

Further, they themselves are an Enlightened lot because God was graceful and this is a reward for following the true faith. The English as a nation, thus, are Democrats in spite of a limited franchise (during Queen Victoria) because Christianity and Enlightenment made them so.

Democratic institutions like Panchayats, sabhas, samitis all too common in Indian villages do not qualify as democratic because Indians aren’t Christians, forget being Enlightenment beings. The tenants of Enlightenment are to be taught to Indians by the English masters as a teacher whose Christian “sadhana” has bore fruit to the older but uneducated students that are Indians.

The Indian Perspective

Coming to India, one can see the paradigm shift. God is present in all. So, no divine right can actually ever be established as a hierarchial phenomenon. So, Kingship wasn’t really monarchy in the Western sense. It was linked to ‘Artha’. Political power and economic wealth were made synonymous. Thus, King was no representative of God fulfilling his whims on a static earth but like a businessman who must abide by the tenant of Raj-dharma or see his enterprise, his kingdom ruined.

The translation of State was “Rajya” which is but a mistranslation. State means “Sthithi” in general sense; good for Christians who can conserve the progress humanity has made by following Christ; utterly bad for Indians whose statecraft ceremonies all start with Salutations to the divine feminine, Shakti: What of it?

Shakti Pushpanjali Mantra (Flower salutations to Shakti)[13]

Om Sarva Mangala Mangalye Shive Sarvartha Sadhike 
Sharanye Tryambake Gauri Narayani Namostu Te


Srishti Sthiti Vinashanam, Shaktibhute, Sanatani 
Gunashraye, Gunamaye, Narayani, Namostu Te

She is a destroyer of State or rather of any “status quo” that may come about. In essence, this is but the very “Prakriti” that is the basis of Samkhya and Yoga (addition of “Prakriti” and “Purusha”) philosophy which must be paid obedience to; should anything constructive need to take place. The same Samkhya Philosophy also teaches there is no start or end but that we live in a perpetually evolving universe. How is then being “created equal” even an Indian thing save for a zeal envisioned by the Constitution fathers as they were busy copying and aping Western Constitutions for passing the exam kept before these pour souls: The exam of “Nationhood”?

That exam probably had Christianity as a paper titled ‘Enlightenment 101’.

“Rajya” has but a complex meaning. In Samskrit, it means “that which is of Raja” formed by the root: “raj”: “to direct or rule”.

The European counterpart was “reg” from which stems “regime” but there is a fundamental difference between regime and state; the former has a notion of being temporary while the latter has a notion of being permanent. Understandably, until pre-Islamic India, Rajyas rose and fell like tidal flows and ebbs making little difference to the society. However, in the West, State even today is like the representative of God and pretending to be him; intruding into all spaces deemed necessary. Politics there begins and ends with the State and is the sole pillar on which the society stands.

The King invariably needed Brahmans to theorize what is Dharma in a given context and Brahmans thus achieved a higher status. They were called Brahmans in the first place because they could technically help the King get in sync with the divine. The King could then balance out the economic challenge presented by Nature like crop failure or over-production of commodities. Because time was circular, a Brahman and a Raja who could understand the pulse of how time rotated itself and what would be proper Dharma could save and expand their rajya and be termed “Chakravartin.” Ascetics who achieved this knowledge were called “Trikaldarshi”. They need not look back and forth to an infinite distant past and future. The concept of circular time and morose repetitions gave them that insight.  

Brahmans with their knowledge of Vedas were deemed founders of the society, knowing the pulse of the dynamic ‘Prakriti’ and help refine it and sustain culture or ‘Samskriti’ over it. As Time could not be controlled or stopped, World was known as “Samsara” or wandering, as in a journey. Vedic rituals were known as “Samskara” or making perfect.

This invariably gave rise to the cult of initiation. Brahmans became gurus to individuals and by extension to their family and sometimes the entire clan. The gotra of the Brahman became that of the clan and immigrants to India were absorbed into these Brahmanical traditions and became part of Indian Culture and thereby Indian. However, jatis had to give time for this absorption or “Sanskritization” to happen and for them to move up the social ladder.

Some explaination needs to be  on the Shukracharya traditions. Brahmans challenged each other to debates and often no superiority could be established. The way out? “Pratyaksha” or seeing their ideas bear fruit. Thus, that Brahman-King nexus would be challenged by another set of the same. The vanquished would lose their social status and the victor would gain it and also the “Artha” in terms of land and resources. “Shukra” itself refers to the morning and evening star “Venus”, birth and death and rebirth referring to the takeover of the reins of the Raj, in other words, regime change. Brahmans with their patron-client would scourge the Earth like vultures and any sign of weakness in their rajya or a neighbouring one was an opportunity to strike gold. Christianity’s limited vision of Good and Bad has made us believe that Asuras are bad and Suras are good. Such themes may have some favour in the Puranic literature meant for commoners. However, far from it, the term Asura meant powerful; somebody powerful who could challenge the Raj. Indra, Agni, Mitra and Rudra as dieties or faces of the Brahman in the Vedic religion were attributed as Asuras. Conversely, Suras meant order; those ruler who had understood how to direct their subordinates in the right way through circular time and the corresponding turbulence in Nature and society. Their rule was harmonized with “Prakriti” or “Shakti”. It is for this reason that the feminine divine was invoked and worshipped before waging a battle. The Suras thus could never be defeated so long as their raj was in sync with continuously evolving Nature making the most of the Artha that could be made without making the subordinate any less depressed.

If the Raj was ever changing, who did people look up to perform the functions of the State?

Village sabhas and samitis were central to making political decision that affected all in the village, which was the basic unit of country life. The person in-charge of a village or a group of villages collected the tax and placed it before the King. The same man or sometimes a group of 3-5 persons collectively as the Panchayat continued to serve a new King if the old one was defeated, died or replaced by intrigue. This is what was meant when India was called a conglomerate of village self-republics.

Famous English administrator Thomas Munro writes of it on his report on Anantpoor district[14]:

Every village, with its twelve Ayangadees as they are called, is a kind of little republic, with the Potail [Patel], at the head of it; and India is a mass of such republics. The inhabitants during war, look chiefly to their own Potail. They give themselves no trouble about the breaking up and division of Kingdoms; while the village remains entire, they care not to what power it is transferred: wherever it goes the internal management remains unaltered; the Potail is still the collector and magistrate, and head farmer. From the age of Menu [Manu] until this day settlements have been made either with or through the Potails.

This ingenuity made Kingship everything like entrepreneurship in India, whose similarity lay with perhaps only modern capitalism. Just like a consumer chooses the best thing at the lowest price, subjects chose public goods like defence and security at the lowest tax. Any lesser tax collection, the Raja was made weak in face of invaders and rebellions. Any greater coercion for tax collection, the Raja invited disgruntlement among his own ranks who would be willing to invite and side with another raja (“Asura”?) demanding a lesser amount of tax. The result was that taxation rate remained optimal save a few instances.

The point to be made here is that while Rajas were hereditary & in succession, the “Rajya” itself had to absorb and stay afloat sans all the shocks of a market in the form of Nature and its mood-swings. So, hierarchy in a Christian sense was never possible.

A peep into the East, India’s backyard

It should be clear by now that Indian Philosophy never advocated equality but wanted the society synced to the dynamic fluctuations we observe in markets and Nature. However, that same Samkhya Philosophy also inspired another Indian legend; Shakyamuni Buddha. And sp Buddhism spread out to many countries in the East. What of equality in these countries?

It should be noted with great caution that Untouchability existed even in Buddhist societies. The preservation of social hierarchy can be gauged in the Lalita Vistara where it is mentioned that only Brahmans had free access to Buddha. Chapter 3 of the text explicitly talks about how Buddha could have been born in the household of a Brahman or Kshatriya, never that of a Chandala or a charioteer (Pukkasa) or a basket weaver.[15]

Eastern philosophies had Indian roots. Yoga which tries to balance and make the most of the conscious Purusha and natural Prakriti, inspired Dao in China on balancing the masculine Yin and feminine Yang. The same Guru-Shishya, Brahman-yajman, Brahmanical initiation rites is espoused in Confucianism also which vividly describes a conservative social order through the essential five relations.

Just like meat, dead bodies, body fluids were considered polluting in India, so too in these societies. Ragyappa of Tibet, Eta Hinin in Japan, Paekchong of Korea, all had outcaste communities who faced ostracization.[16]

After Tibet fell to Mao’s evil machinations, it is but a liberated land, so people do not raise hue and cry about it. News from Tibet is scarce and censored. So, I talk of the other outcastes here.

Japan had its own restructuring in the Meiji Restoration, which formally abolished the feudal caste system in 1871. These outcastes became liberated although they could be identified by their ancestral house addresses (which were necessary for citizenship). Thus, estrangement in marriage and employment continued. They came to be associated with their local village cluster called Burakus.

In 1969, the government passed the Special Measures Law for Assimilation Projects to provide funding to these under-privileged communities. Communities deemed to be in need of funding were designated for various Assimilation Projects such as construction of new housing and community facilities such as health centers, libraries and swimming pools.

In 1976, a special law made it punishable to look up somebody’s else’s family history and lineage by going through ‘koseki’ or government family records. In fact, consultations to these records were restricted only to legal cases.

Soon Man Rhim traces the assimilation process in Korea.[17]Assimilation started with the Yi family rule itself. These men “were ordered to stop wandering, to settle down in regular communities, to begin farming and to give up their traditional occupations. In addition, they were required to intermarry with common people. By the standards of a caste society, no such drastic measure as intermarriage had been conceived.” Government proposes for society’s refuse.

Intermarriage with higher castes was not conducive to the higher castes because of status. Further reforms were made when the Japanese crushed a popular rebellion in Korea and also took over the reins of the government. The winds of Meiji restoration began to sweep even the Peninsula. Legal and institutional equality was guaranteed and discrimination on account of caste was made punishable.

However, the country had already entered the phase of turmoil leading to World War II. Social upliftment movements by these untouchables continued in parallel to political developments. Independence in 1945 further increased the pace of reforms. The author concludes thus,

“Many other democratic reform measures have also been adopted since the liberation from Japanese rule in 1945. After centuries of institutionalized immobility, they, the Paekchong, have vanished almost without trace into the main stream of Korean society…..This study shows that the Koreans have come a long way in recognizing their brothers and sisters as equals.”

Going forward

What went wrong in India? Why have other contemporary societies succeeded while India has failed is not discussed in the popular political narrative. Instead, it is impressed that Untouchability is but a solidly unique Hindu problem and converts to other religion follow it because Hinduism has “polluted” them.

No comparative figures could be found but it shouldn’t be a hard guess. If all untouchables are uplifted, what would happen to the jobless Sarkari Babus? Abolition of untouchability through government schemes and programme doubles as a solution to the Nehruvian State apparatus for it to exist and flourish. If the problem vanishes, so will the solution. Guilt tripping Indians into paying more taxes and then splurging on them would become passe.

Further, the narrative that India is a strange land that has nothing in common with the rest except the State apparatus wrapped in a Congress shawl and headed by a particular dynasty who alone can save India, would then have one less reason to be there.

Time is ripe for Indians irrespective of their caste to not only to hold their Government accountable of perverting their past but also their actual intentions about uplifting the victims of “historic oppression.”
References / Footnotes

[1] It should be noted that Vedic and Indus Valley Civilizations were contemporaries. See for example: B.B. Lal, The Sarasvatí Flows On: The Continuity of Indian Culture (New Delhi: Aryan Books International, 2002), p. 75; Michel Danino, The Lost River (New Delhi: Penguin Books India, 2010), Chapter 11.

[2] Barr, James (1987). “Biblical Chronology: Legend or Science?” . Ethel M. Wood lecture. Retrieved 04 May 2015. Accessed at: http://www.biblicalstudies.org.uk/pdf/chronology_barr.pdf

[3] “Pratyaksha” is the first proof in all schools of Philosophy in Indian traditions

[4] Ling, T. (1988) A History of Religion East and West, London and Basingstoke:

Macmillan, page 14.

[5] Weber, M. (1967) Ancient Judaism, New York: Free Press.

[6] Malhotra, Rajiv. Being Different: An Indian Challenge to Western Universalism (Kindle Location 168). Kindle Edition.

[7] http://www.gitablog.com/2015/12/god-is-seated-in-everyones-heart.html

[8] Chaturvedi, Badrinath.(2006) The Mahabharat: An inquiry in the Human Condition, Orient Longman, Delhi.

[9] Malhotra, Rajiv (2011-04-11T22:58:59). Breaking India: Western Interventions in Dravidian and Dalit Faultlines (Kindle Location 989). Infinity Foundation. Kindle Edition.

[10] VAIDYANATHAN, PROF. R.. INDIA UNINC. (Kindle Location 2763). Westland. Kindle Edition.

[11] Bayly Susan, The New Cambridge History of India_ Caste, Society and Politics in India from the Eighteenth Century to the Modern Age Volume 4, Part -3

[12] Benett, 1877,  Gazetteer of the province of Oudh accessed at : https://books.google.co.in/books?id=8KQIAAAAQAAJ&pg=PA111&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q&f=false

[13] https://www.drikpanchang.com/navratri/durga-puja/info/durga-puja-pushpanjali.html

[14] Jain, Meenakshi (eds) (2008), The India they Saw, Foreign Accounts: 18th-Mid 19th Century, Ocean Publishers, page 193

[15] Mukherjee, Radhakumud (2003), “ANCIENT INDIAN EDUCATION: Brahmin and Buddhist” page 389, accessed at https://books.google.co.in/books?id=mjFfqpq7HhkC&pg

[16] Passin, H. (1955). Untouchability in the Far East. Monumenta Nipponica, 11(3), 247-267. doi:10.2307/2382914

[17] Soon Man Rhim, “THE PAEKCHONG: “UNTOUCHABLES” OF KOREA. Accessed at : https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/1947/dd941a56dc9ed300da1a2a5412e6971cbbad.pdf

About Author: Debtanu Chakraborty

Debtanu grew up in a Bengali Brahman household listening to stories of the French Revolution and Europe from his maternal grandfather. One of the very first novels he read was Gorky's 'Mother' which romanticized the Russian Revolution. An avid Marxist in school, he became a free market radical in college because of disenchantment. He became interested in Indian thought having read the Classics after passing out. He not only believes that Indian Civilization should be preserved but that it can hold a mirror to the current Western Civilization where it has never been hit; its philosophy of materialism. His interest lies in Biology, Evolution, Economics, and Politics. You can follow him at @parshu_rama .

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