A lot. Am reading I am Divine by Devdutt Pattanaik (edited by Jerry Johnson) and is a laudable work on the history of LGBTIQ within the Indian ‘Hindu’ society. To me, Hindu is a geographical identity whose one of the aspects is the legacy of Dharmic religions. But all that later. The book has sharp insights on the issue of ‘caste’, for which Hindus have been flogged over and over for centuries. It is particularly valuable in the current climate of creating divisions within our society (SC/ST Act issue, Lingayats, etc.)… all because Congress wants a few votes in order to remain relevant. Their cronies are helping them further their divisive agenda. And Shekhar Gupta is leading the pack, how? ‘I Am Divine’ offers a perspective. Before I present the relevant excerpt, here’s a background of the issue, taken from the same book: A hymn from the Rig Veda described society as an organism whose body parts are made up of 4 Varnas, Brahmins (learned ones, religious scholars) on top, Kshatriyas, ruling class and landowners come next, trading community or Vaishyas come third, and last come the Shudras, the service providers. This 4th group split later, with untouchables and tribals, who were pushed out of the social system. While many sages and philosophers spoke against this social structure, most rulers of the land respected Jati as it helped legitimise their rule, enabled them to collect taxes with relative ease from communities, rather than individuals, who controlled the lands and the markets. Many used Brahmins to establish new villages, and collect taxes on their behalf, thus making them God-kings. Muslim rulers too, in order to ensure stability, used Brahmins as bureaucrats and tax collectors, and so effectively let the 4-tiered social model persist. Here is the excerpt from ‘I am Divine’ that throws light on how this caste conundrum became so pervasive as to be thoroughly institutionalised: When the Portuguese came to India, they used the word ‘Caste’ for Jati. The British eventually documented castes for administrative convenience, and converted this rather fluid social system into a rigid and documented categorisation, even giving castes to people who really had no castes, and giving them social status in a standardised national hierarchy, ignoring the fact that the hierarchies of the Jati system functioned locally with numerous regional variations. Based on caste, the British assigned jobs in the military, they divided cities. Later, they switched from caste to religion, ignoring the caste divides in Indian Christians and Muslims, and amplifying the divide in Hindus, insisting that caste was an essential condition of all Hindus, based on books such as Manusmriti, which had originally only documented caste as social practice, not recommended or prescribed it. Hindus who moved to the Caribbean Islands as indentured labour in the 19th century, after slavery was abolished in Europe and America, retained their Hindu identity, but not any caste identity, as the socio-economic conditions there did not have NEED for caste. British administration did not bother to document the caste of labourers or classify them as such. But in India, where caste was strongly mapped to socio-economic realities, and where British administrators documented caste and made it essential category while recruiting for the army (only military castes were allowed) and for the bureaucracy (Brahmin and the landed gentry were preferred), caste not only thrived but was institutionalised. The documentation process also created the religion we now call Hinduism. So, when Shekhar Gupta propagates writings like: https://twitter.com/shekhargupta/status/976380884902338560?lang=en and makes comments like this: https://twitter.com/shekhargupta/status/944432538499530752?lang=en But, in no way has a response to this: https://twitter.com/rishibagree/status/985158383333392385 Because there are… https://twitter.com/OpIndia_com/status/985181379926331392 a body that he is now the President of, he is culpable of furthering the noxious legacy of the British Raj. He is no intellectual. His attitude is a vestige of the British system of divide and rule, which works very well in the present context as it did in those times. How long are we going to keep falling victim to this? Finally, for those who might have questions about Manusmriti, often blamed for all the major social ills in the Hindu society, please read this: Manusmriti & Caste System by Acharya Harikrushna Farashuram. Read, and liberate yourself from centuries-old burden of hate and disgust heaped upon our civilisation by people who pillaged, marauded, and oppressed entire civilisations around the world with complete lack of compunction and are now giving others certificates for human rights while fomenting violence in the Middle East. People like Mr. Gupta, instead of participating in the progress of our society by furthering a constructive agenda, happen to spread hatred because it helps them so. They have created a different class system of ‘intellectuals’ who act as if they walk on water, but won’t even acknowledge it. This should be our fight.
I’ve seen that women are raving about these books, which in their opinion reflect a precise understanding of friendships in the world of women. From the book, reflection on an age-old question: why men do what they do and the way they do it. “You know why the Solara brothers think they’re the masters of the neighbourhood?” “Because they are aggressive” “No, because they have money” “You think so?” “Of course. Have you noticed that they’ve never bothered Pinuccia Carracci?” “Yes.” “And you know why they acted the way they did with Ada?” “No.” “Because Ada doesn’t have a father, her brother Antonio counts for nothing, and she helps Melina clean the stairs of the building.” I wonder if the original Italian version is as simple.