Opinion: Will the caste mind rise and smash Brahmanical Patriarchy?

Written by Vidya Bhushan Rawat | Published on: November 21, 2018

When the world can join hands and feel offended on anything that has racial connotations, then why do we in India, not feel offended by caste discrimination and violence? Why has India tolerated untouchability which is nothing but a hidden apartheid?



Photo courtesy: Twitter handle @wbf_canada
 
‘Smash Brahmanical Patriarchy’ has created a lot of hurt among the 'liberal' brahmins while the hardcore are threatening Twitter to extract an apology. A privileged brahmin journalist wrote that it has become a norm to 'blame' brahmins who are a 'minority' community. She compared attacking Brahmanism to the Nazi treatment of Jews during Hitler's regime. If I am not wrong, Hitler was never an idol for the Bahujan Samaj but I have heard stories of how Hitler has influenced India's powerful brahmins who 'hegemonised' everything about India, right from its culture to politics. Apart from Nagpur, another Hindu Hriday Samrat in Mumbai was known for speaking violently against Muslims as well as South Indians, and he too was fond of Hitler. It is not for unknown reasons that after 2014, Hitler's Mein Kampf became available everywhere.
 
I am not surprised by the Brahmanical backlash at the image of Twitter’s Founder Jack Dorsey holding the much talked about poster. They have thronged twitter claiming victimhood. Dorsey has come to India for the first time and has been welcomed with nothing but scorn on Twitter.
 
In the last one decade, we have seen that the powerful Savarna lobby which enjoys all the privileges of being a minority in the western world, actually hates to speak for the rights of minorities and marginalised in India. It is this group, which has been consistent in its approach to support the forces of rabid Hindutva in India. We all know how Twitter became a factory of Hindutva hatemongers, threatening and intimidating all those who disagreed. We know very well how everyone else who disagreed became anti-national and the level of debate in our media went to the gutters.
 
Smashing Brahmanical Patriarchy, White Supremacy, caste forces or racist forces amount to the same thing. It is important to know that when we speak of Brahmanical patriarchy, it should not just be about Brahmins but about the Varnashram Dharm which was founded by them. They are the torch bearers of this institution.  
 
A Thakur, a Bania, a Yadav or Kayastha, a Bhumihar or anyone else could be a person of Brahmanical patriarchy which carries hatred and contempt for women. What we termed Hinduism today was actually known as Brahman dharma or Varnashram dharma. When the hurt victims claim all the goodness of the set up that benefits them, they cannot turn their backs or deny the criticism of the same system.
 
Yesterday, there was a big story in The Hindu of how two lovers were killed. They were killed because the boy was a Dalit while the girl belonged to the Vanniyar community, an OBC. The Vanniyars have been at the forefront of demanding the scrapping of the SC/ST Act. Many of the OBC leaders in the past have demanded that because much of the violence unleashed on Dalits today are by OBCs and that is why Baba Saheb Ambedkar called them the gatekeepers of Brahmanism. All of this is Brahmanism. They abuse their powers given to them Brahmanism and take shelter in it. Baba Saheb Ambedkar gave us the path of Buddhist enlightenment which was essential for the annihilation of castes.
 
A friend wrote that why should the Dalit OBC's break the caste structure. It is the Brahmins who created and hence they should annihilate the caste. He meant that annihilation of caste slogan was not meant for the Dalits and OBCs but for the Brahmins. The problem with such jumlebaazi is that they take us nowhere. They ask all of us to continue behaving in a casteist way and ultimately take escape in blaming the Brahmins all the time. Brahmins created our structures of justifications of caste and caste-based discrimination but those have been exposed by our forefathers like Baba Saheb, Jyoti Ba Phule, EVR Periyar and others.
 
The fact is that the caste system has given the Savarnas, particularly the Brahmins, absolute privilege without being accountable. Despite the facts that most of the Kings and emperors did not hail from the Brahmin community, yet it was they who enjoyed all the patronage of power. The Brahmin power in India actually came after independence as they occupied all the major centres of power right from politics to the judiciary, academia, media and even sports, apart from unchallenged supreme social status.
 
I agree with those who say brahmins are a minority. Yes, all the Savaranas are a minority but got disproportionate power. Find out the castes of the officers in the Prime Minister's Office. Look at who are heading our academia, media and judiciary. Look out at our armed forces, our sports, our advertising world and the world of cinema in India. They all are a 'den' of Brahmanism and not merely brahmins. Caste system manifests in each of these institutions in different ways. All the powerful temples of India have one hundred per cent Brahmin and Savarna quota. All the gutters of India are left in the hands of 'sanitation workers' or Swachchkar samaj. There’s 100% quota for Dalits in the sanitation department.
 
With these privileges, I am sure, the annihilation of caste won’t be possible by those who are enjoying it. Baba Saheb knew it very well and that is why he gave a call to all those who believed that these power structures must go, to embrace Buddhism and work for Prabuddha Bharat. Yes, that Prabuddha Bharat call was not meant for the untouchables alone but for all Indians who wanted to make India stronger and a nation which can be proud of its cultural heritage.
 
We know that not everyone has heeded Baba Saheb's call. The Bahujan communities have yet to respond because as long as they are part of this structures, the caste system will flourish and Brahmanical supremacy would continue. The caste-based killings will continue. It is not merely brahmins but the Thakurs, Bhumihars, Yadavas, Reddy's, Thevars, Jats, Gujjars and others will kill innocent couples who are in love if it challenges their caste structure. The young couple marrying beyond their caste limits will continue to face it unless our families become enlightened or we leave them and create our own new world. The meaning of a Brahmanical system is those people who believe in supremacy and sanctity of caste and its hierarchies. Many of the enlightened intellectuals identified that their parents were Brahmins but smashed the patriarchy. We can’t ignore the great work of Rahul Sankrityayan as well as MN Roy in this regard, both born as brahmins yet exposed the Brahmanical systems.
 
The solution to these issues is not making everyone feel guilty. None can be harassed on the basis of their birth but it is a fact that in India, caste is based on birth and it gives you absolute privilege. We cannot decide our birth. We cannot choose our parents but we can decide on our present and future action. We can’t politely accept the dangers of hierarchical society as it is dangerous for all. It will destroy India. We need an enlightened India and it will not be possible without destroying birth-based hierarchies and privileges.
 
The problem is that the wider debate on these issues are polarised and every one only speaks in their 'confined' circles, thought bubbles or hubris. Youngsters are not groomed to accept diverse thoughts and hence any dissent of their popular belief is considered as sacrilege. No society can grow if they feel hurt on every small issue which challenges the popular notion. One thing which is clear is that we can’t stop the march of the communities who have been historically denied justice. Their assertion of their caste identities cannot be termed as 'casteism'. The Dalit assertion today and brahmin supremacy are two different terms and cannot be equated. But beyond these things, there should be a realisation that everyone needs a space and each person should be provided justice. It will not be possible unless historical injustices are not acknowledged and diversity is not placed in our academia, media, judiciary and bureaucracy.
 
The caste system is the biggest crime imposed on people of India. We know as the world becomes too small and accessible to all, these things will also get exposed. Those who claim victimhood from the 'colonial' masters actually have the biggest consolidation of power and have victimised communities in much worse ways than their colonial masters. We must admit that caste discrimination and untouchability are crimes equivalent to racial discrimination. When the world can join hands and feel offended by anything that has racial connotations, then why do we in India, not feel offended by caste discrimination and violence? Why has India tolerated untouchability which is nothing but a hidden apartheid?
 
These issues are serious but will only find resolutions when the Savarnas in India genuinely feel that certain communities have been historically wronged and denied justice. It will pave the way for reconciliation and nation building but that has a lot to do with voluntarily resigning from privileges which give the community enormous social and political power. Will the Indian Parliament ever discuss this and apologise to its Dalit Adivasi communities for the historical wrong done to them? A reconciliation is only possible if the powerful and those who enjoyed fruits of the system offer their hand, admit their collusion and proceed to build a new future.
 
There is no winner here except humanity. But will the caste mind rise and condemn the system of their privilege?