Maintained by the State (VII: 133)

 

Anu Ramdas

This extract is from the book Dharmatheertha, No Freedom with Caste, The Menace of Hindu Imperialism, edited by G. Aloysius:

no freedom with caste

It is clear therefore that the motive of the priests in forming an exclusive caste was not any consideration of a religious or spiritual or racial nature but one of sheer greed for wealth, women and wine. The ridiculous extent to which they went on advocating their own unimpeachable divine greatness even so late as 100 A.D. may be seen in the Manu Smriti:-

"A brahman is born to fulfill dharma. Whatever exists in this world is the property of the brahman. On account of the excellence of his origin, he is entitled to all. The brahman eats but his own food, wears his own clothes. All mortals subsists through the benevolence of the brahman."

 " Let a brahman be ignorant or learned, still he is a great deity. To brahman, the three worlds and the gods owe their existence. Thus though brahmans employ themselves in all mean occupations they must be honored in everyway, for each of them is a great deity."

" Let the king after rising early in the morning worship brahmans who are well versed in the threefold sacred sciences and learned in policy and accept their advice." (Laws of Manu, VII 37).

"brahman is the root of scared law. By his origin alone he is deity even for the gods and his word is authoritative for men." (XI, 85) in (S.V. Ketkar, 1975:165).

"When a learned brahman has found treasure deposited in former times he may take even the whole of it, for he is the master of everything. When a king finds treasure of old concealed in the ground, let him give one-half to brahmans and place the other half in his treasury" (VIII:35,39).

"brahmans should not be taxed and should be maintained by the state" (VII: 133)

Reading these laws is making me want to commission a playwright to write a play. Wonder which actor will be able to deliver these lines with the same intent that Manu meant and ensured its enactment, that too, forever?

"brahmans should not be taxed and should be maintained by the state" (VII: 133)"

 ~

The most important lesson I have learned from anti-caste writings is that caste can only be dismantled by reason, which is a tough job, when you have Manu's Smriti deeply engraved in the Indian psyche.

Caste oppression has been resisted by millions of people, both in words and deeds, people whose names will remain unknown to history. Anti-caste radicals and thinkers like Phule and Ambedkar have used their fierce intellect to cause ruptures in this ancient, unreasonable social order. In this long struggle we have had little or no international help in our battle for equality, so far. And now, a male-brit-author comes along in 2011 with a book on India, and in an interview he has claimed:

"Caste can be substantiated through genetics," French said, citing a slice of genetic history that he gathered in course of researching his new book, "India: A Portrait", released at a packed British Council here Wednesday evening."

Where does one begin with this kind of nonsense? His subsequent statements indicate the opposite, as it should. Did he mean to say "caste can be unsubstantiated by genetics"? Anyway, if there is any research based evidence to this absurd announcement, I would only see it as an insidious reermergence of social darwinsim.

A friend assures me that the brahman who mans all the decision making bodies of academe will never use reason to substantiate caste, they will always appeal to and control the dharma-karma 'reasoning' to substantiate caste. I agree, but I am also worried. worried that people are going to aggravate me enough to make me stop working on my research grant and take time out to write a paper on caste and genes and stuff like that. What an absurd waste of time that would be, use the precious few hours I get for activism towards shooting down retrograde ideas such as brahmin genes! Wonder if the celebrated author would interview EMBL scientists and write an article titled 'A royal in your genes'? Or 'A mine worker in your genes'? If I wasn't plagued by the sensation that some Dalits are going to be playing ball with such retrogressive agents, I would laugh this off.

About the IGIB institute itself I have no worry, the enterprise of science is such that it cannot sell dharma-karma reasoning to the world, and modern science, whether one likes it or not, is global. These days even a high school graduate will not look for a biological basis in a social category like caste, so there is no question of such nonsense gracing science journals . It is the popular media that can be played around with, as there is zero capacity to handle science communication in India, and since the system of peer review is not applied there, it is back to dharma-karma along with a random mix of scientific verbiage being dished out. Before I forget to write the reason for combining a post on Dharmatheertha's incisive observations on caste and a white man's ridiculous observations on the same, please read his interaction with a scientist at IGIB:

"It seems like a lot of Bengalis work here," I said. Dr Mukhopadhyay smiled. "I am a native of Calcutta. If a job is advertised, seven out of ten applicants are Bengali. Some say, "Ah, Bengalis are more clever because they eat a lot of fish and get omega-acids." I tell them: it's not like that, clever Bengalis go to academia and clever north Indians go to commerce."

And where do the rest of the Indians go? They, will have to read manu's smritis for an explanation of their exclusion from such cerebral pursuits as figuring out imprints of cultural practices in the genome. We nod sagely that at IGIB like elsewhere " brahmans should not be taxed and should be maintained by the state" (VII: 133)"

~

Note: Dharmatheertha, was an anti-caste intellectual from Kerala. In the 1940s' he issued a call for the reconstruction of a casteless society. He wrote the The Menace of the Hindu Imperialism while residing at Edla Ramdas Ashram in Rajamundry in a span of seven months. About him, Aloysius writes:

"........finally the composition of the erudite but none-the-less highly impassioned text, all these seems to have compounded within him a deep sense of frustration and the near-impossibility of any significant Hindu reform, not to speak of abolition of caste."

I find Aloysius's own writings very erudite and if he is using that term, it must have been a tough text to edit.

~~~

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