Beyond the Fairy Tales of India

 

Braj Ranjan Mani

Braj R ManiThere is little awareness about a more or less institutionalised arrangement of normalising, if not glorifying, the oppressive past from which the privileged continue to derive profit and pleasure. Invented histories, myth-making, and armoury of stereotypes merge to create convenient narratives and myths which masquerade as the history of India. The suppressed stories fester the lies and keep the people away from the oppressive reality. That is why, history and culture should be debrahmanised—reconstructed—by the subjugated majority, with the understanding that 'the master's tools will not bring down the master's house'.

 It is no secret that there are intellectual weapons in the arsenal of the oppressors of the world—in theology, in philosophy, in social sciences. Their function is to conceal systemic violence or injustice in order to maintain the established power and cultural equilibrium. Even fair-minded intellectuals who come from the top of the social pyramid (in which the many are miserable at the bottom) take safety in academic subterfuge. A social psychology made worse by inherited traditions of classicism, cultural conservatism, and obfuscatory religiosity does not allow the pandits to see the obvious. For example, even a cursory familiarity with the ancient brahmanic texts leaves little doubt that the Itihasa–Purana and Dharmashastras were written by the enemies of dalit-bahujans who were stigmatised as shudras and atishudras. The shudra (the debased caste of servants) was so constructed by the historical power of brahmanism. But the scholars who spend a life-time in researching the past remain forever blind to this reality, and the historical truth of upper-caste violence, both social and ideological. Their scholarship somehow never comes to grasp the point that brahmanical forms of knowledge were critical in the establishment and maintenance of caste. The pattern does not change when we move forward to the history of modern India. A benign amnesia shrouds the conservative and anti-dalit-bahujan strands of Indian nationalism, which permits academic and popular projections of the essentially upper-caste leaders such as Gandhi, Nehru and Tilak-Savarkar as non-partisan leaders.

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Holi - A Festival To Commemorate Bahujan Burning

 

Dr. K. Jamanadas

Holi - What is it and how did it originate?

It is well known that Holi forms one of the important festivals among the Hindus. It is supposed to be festival of Shudras, and is one of the three most important ones in India, the others being Dasera and Diwali. The Dasera is in honour of killing of Ravana and Divali is in honour of killing of Narakasur and noted pesant king Bali. The purpose of Holi, indirectly, is concerned with killing of Hiranyakashyap. The important elements of the festival of Holi are as follows:-

1. A pyre is burnt.
2. Abuses are showered on people, and other obscenities are observed. Dirt, mud etc., is smeared.
3. Festivities are indulged in to celebrate the victory.

 Traditional Account

The puranas give an account of Holika burning. The traditional story is that a powerful King Hiranya Kashyapu sent his sister Holika to kill his ten year old only son Prahlad, as he was worshipping Barhmnic god Vishnu against his wishes. Holika had a cloth which could resist burning. She sits with Pralhad on a pyre. The wind blows wrapping Pralhad with the cloth and Holika is burnrd to death. Holi is supposed to be celebrated to commomorate this event.

Purpose of writing puranas

Dr. Ambedkar avers that "This literature arose during the period subsequent to the triumph of Brahmins under the leadership of Pushyamitra" (p.257 W&S vol.3) Original authors were non-brahmin sutas, but later they were ousted by brahmins who made monopoly of it. At that time they were finally edited and extra new subjects, apart from five traditional ones, were incorporated. [W&S vol 3, p.255]. But if you consider the fact that the majority of people were only allowed to know either by reading or hearing, and mostly by hearing, only these so called scriptures and nothing else, it becomes evident that the purpose of these books was rather more for false appeasement rather than information or enlightenment, let alone their progress and liberation, so that they don't aim and strive for any higher literature. The real purpose of Puranas was to misled the dalitbahujan masses regarding their aspirations to knowledge, to curb down their desire for more information and limit their desires to their paltry needs. BSO has always done that and even now, we see that. An example of Gandhi admonishing the savarna leaders for accepting Agnibhoj, an untouchable in the Congress ministry by saying that this will increase the aspirations of these lowly born harijans is well known.

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Saving Modi’s Image, BJP’s Way

 

Vivek Kumar

vivek kumarBJP is very, very weak in Delhi elections? This can be proved on the basis of the fact that it has inducted individuals who do not have any party experience and who have crossed over from other political parties. Kiran Bedi has no political experience. However she has been declared as CM candidate in place of seasoned BJP functionary Harsh Vardhan. Vinod Kumar Binny had contested elections of Delhi in 2013 from AAP and was thrown out from AAP has been given BJP ticket to contest again in this Vidhan Sabha election. Krishna Tirath, a former Congress Central Minister who lost MP election, is contesting on BJP ticket.

What is happening? Where is ideology of BJP - CHAL aur CHARITRA, both have changed. There is no ideology, there is no morality and there is no discipline in the party. This is the character of our leading national party. Your means also define your goals. What will happen to our nation?

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No ghar, so no ghar wapsi

 

Kancha Ilaiah

kancha ilaiahThe Sangh Parivar is conducting the so-called "ghar wapsi" programmes all over the country. According to a newspaper report, about 8,000 people have been brought back to "ghar" from Christianity in newly formed Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. The reconversion of some dalit Christians in Kerala is also widely reported. Nobody knows when did the dalits leave the Hindu "ghar". Where is this "ghar", which they left? And where is it that they are returning to now?

The Sangh Parivar launched the "ghar wapsi" campaign to create a fear psychosis among the evangelical Christians because they have been converting dalits and adivasis. Though the Sangh Parivar tried this programme with poor Muslims at Agra, they know that now Islam does not have an open conversion practice. But the moment one embraces Islam, his/her caste and cultural identity changes very quickly. Since Islam believes in one identity, after a generation or two, those who are converted into Islam would not know what their caste roots were.

On the contrary, in Christianity, the caste roots remain even after generations. For example, the most ancient Catholic Christians of Kerala, Mangalore and Goa would know their caste roots. But among Indian Muslims, such clear identities are non-existent.

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A case for caste census

 

Era Sezhiyan

As the Supreme Court has ruled that conducting a caste-based census is against the law, the people would like to know what steps the Prime Minister will take to sustain the policies of reservation. By Era Sezhiyan

 In its judgment of November 7, 2014, the Supreme Court set aside two orders of the Madras High Court that had directed the Centre to conduct a caste-based census. In the judgment of October 2008, the Madras High Court observed that a caste-based census would increase the percentage of reservation in favour of the weaker sections. In May 2010, the Madras High Court reiterated that decision. The Supreme Court held that such decisions of the High Court interfered in the government's domain of policymaking.

69 per cent karunanidhi

M. Karunanidhi, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam president, and other leaders of the party watching the procession taken out by the DMK on January 23, 1994, to press for the continuation of the existing scheme of 69 per cent reservation. Photo:The Hindu Archives

In 1951, there were two cases before the High Court of Madras involving reservation for backward classes in public services and in educational institutions: Champakam Dorairajan vs State of Madras and Venkataraman vs State of Madras. The Madras High Court had struck down the Communal Government Order passed by the Justice Party government in Madras Presidency in 1921 that had provided for caste-based reservation. In the appeal, the Supreme Court came to the conclusion that these two reservations were against the law. To validate the policy of reservation, the Government of India took steps to introduce a Bill in Parliament amending the Constitution. Speaking on May 29, 1951, in Parliament on the report of the Select Committee that was set up to look into the First Amendment, Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru said: "Now I don't for an instant challenge the right of the High Court of Madras, to give the decision.... Nevertheless, while it is quite valid and we bow before the decisions of the court, the fact remains that we are faced with a situation for which the present generation is not to blame. Therefore, some sort of special provisions must be made. We have to do something for the communities which are backward educationally, economically and in other respects, if we wish to encourage them in these matters. We come up against the difficulty that, on the one hand, in our Directive Principles of Policy we talk of removing inequalities, of raising the people in every way, socially, educationally and economically, of reducing the distances which separate the groups or classes of individuals from one another; on the other, we find ourselves handicapped in this task by certain provisions in the Constitution."

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Return to which home?

 

Gopal Guru

On October 14, 1956, Babasaheb Ambedkar, along with several hundred thousand "untouchables", embraced Buddhism. The moral and ethical strength of Ambedkar's embrace of Buddhism lies in its cultural and intellectual capacity to sustain among the ex-untouchables a growing association with it. Conversion as a cultural-intellectual movement that took off in October 1956 from Nagpur continues to gain strength. It would be fair to observe that Ambedkar's Buddhism has got a pan-Indian following among certain castes formerly deemed untouchable, such as the Jatava/Chamar from Uttar Pradesh and Punjab, the Malas from Andhra Pradesh, the Parayars from Tamil Nadu, the Adi Karnataka from Karnataka, and a tiny section of Pulayas from Kerala and of course the Mahars and a few Matangs from Maharashtra.

ghar wapsi frontline 1

Dalits worshipping the buffalo before participating in a conversion ceremony at Balmiki Ashram on the occasion of the 112th birth anniversary of Ambedkar, in Chandigarh in April 2003. The converts, mostly scavengers, vowed to worship the buffalo instead of the cow. Photo:PTI

However, scholars of Buddhism have perceived different meanings in Ambedkar's conversion. Some of them locate the primacy of nationalism in the act, while others see it as a decision emerging from Ambedkar's frustration with Hinduism. Still others see the conversion as a personal choice that Ambedkar imposed on millions of untouchables. Arguably, such multiple readings of Ambedkar's conversion, by default, treat Hinduism as the least important factor in Ambedkar's act of conversion to Buddhism. By Ambedkar's own admission, it is Brahmanical Hinduism that provided the major context for the emergence of Buddhist assertion starting from Iyothi Thass and Laxmi Narsu from Tamil Nadu, culminating in Ambedkar's 1956 conversion. Ambedkar held Brahminical Hinduism largely responsible for producing what could be called the withering down impact, particularly on untouchables.

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