<SiteLock

A History of the Untouchables: The Buraku and the Dalit

 by Katelyn Coyle

The Buraku of Japan and the Dalit of India remain the lowest caste of their respective countries. Experiencing more than just poverty and low status, the Buraku and the Dalit have been described as being lower than human, filthy, and contaminated. Members of these castes are considered to be the untouchables. Highly discriminated against, the untouchables remain outcastes, even in modern society. Both the history of the caste systems in Japan and India, andmodern reformation movements must be discussed to fully grasp the current situation of the Dalits and the Buraku.

To understand the discrimination towards the Dalit of India, one must be knowledgeable of the caste system in India. A caste can be defined as a social class, made distinct from others by differences in rank, profession, or wealth. The caste system in India has been heavily influenced by the Hindu religion. In Hinduism, everyone is born into a caste (or jati). One cannot change his orher caste. Micheal D. Coogan writes,

Underlying the hierarchical social system is the fundamental Hindu idea that people are born into an existence that is the fruit of their past karma. One’s socialstatus in life is therefore traditionally considered predetermined and immutable, and the individual must adhere to the particular ritual practices and dietary rules ofhis or her jati.

Scholars studying the history of India point out that the caste system might have evolved due to race. It is believed, that along with sacrificial religions, the Aryans might have integrated a caste system into the country, dominating the darker skinned natives (Majumder). Four castes predominate in India. The Brahman, the priests and holy leaders, are the highest class, which is followed by the Kshatriya, the princes and warriors. The Vaishya are the farmers, merchants, and artisans of society, and the Shudra are servants and workers .

The lowest class is the Dalits, known as the untouchables. The Dalits are said to have no caste as they are not even viewed as being part of human society. As Emerson explains, in the Hindu religion, the three highest classes, the Brahamin, the Kshatriya, and the Vaisya, can be referred to as “twice born,” and in the past these three castes were the only people allowed to study the sacred texts and scriptures (298). Those designated as untouchables, or Dalits, often concerned themselves with work that was considered “impure.”  Work that involved killing, the disposal of waste, or the handling of corpses was reserved for this caste. Even in modern India, Dalits are still seen ascontaminated. An upper class person who is touched by a Dalit or who comes in contact with theshadow of a Dalit must go through elaborate cleansing rituals to undo the “damage” done. Dalits cannot wear shoes in the presence of those in higher castes and still encounter many barriers against practicing religion. Even to this day, untouchables are often chased out of many temples for fear of contamination.

 READ MORE ON AGORA JOURNAL

 

Other Related Articles

End Casteism in IITs
Wednesday, 05 May 2021
  The Ambedkar Periyar Phule Study Circle (APPSC), IIT Bombay It is amidst desolate cries and the numbing daily reports of the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic raging across the nation, that... Read More...
In a time of public crisis, how important are elections to a democracy?
Monday, 03 May 2021
  Niharika Singh With the eighth and final phase in Bengal only now concluded, India conducted another local election amidst a collapsing healthcare infrastructure, administrative... Read More...
Babasaheb and Labour
Saturday, 01 May 2021
  Gaurav Somwanshi Today, let us understand Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar's contribution to labour welfare in 10 examples. These are taken from a variety of sources, but primarily from BAWS volumes. The... Read More...
Understanding Cultural and Social Capital of Savarnas
Thursday, 29 April 2021
Pranav Jeevan P Why is the assertion of Bahujans branded as identity politics based on caste, but the savarna assertions are termed as “culture”, “tradition” and “merit”? The dominance of... Read More...
A Token Execution, Islamic Feminism and Toxic Masculinity
Wednesday, 28 April 2021
  Umar Nizar Grief manifested in ways that felt like anything but grief; grief obliterated all feelings but grief, grief made a twin wear the same shirt for days on end to preserve the morning... Read More...

Recent Popular Articles

The Ruling Caste's changing priorities and the Farmer Unrest
Tuesday, 08 December 2020
  Anshul Kumar “History shows that the Brahmin has always had other classes as his allies to whom he was ready to accord the status of a governing class provided they were prepared to work... Read More...
Constitutional provisions and legal rights for protection and well-being of women in India
Thursday, 10 December 2020
  Adv Soniya Gajbhiye Women in any society play a very important role. In Indian society's context her role kept changing and evolving with the enactment of the Constitution and especially since... Read More...
The Karnataka anti-cow slaughter bill is against the poor
Tuesday, 15 December 2020
Dr. Sylvia Karpagam "If India's politicians had any connect with land and farming, they would understand the organic relationship farmers have with livestock, milk, manure and killing of cows. It is... Read More...
Should the proponents of public (government) schools celebrate Global Teacher Prize 2020 to Mr. Ranjitsinh Disale?
Friday, 11 December 2020
Tanoj Meshram Last week, Ranjitsinh Disale, a teacher from rural government Zilla Parishad (ZP) school in Solapur district, received Global Teacher Prize from Varkey Foundation. The prize which... Read More...
Racist mainland Indians were more terrifying than Covid
Friday, 18 December 2020
  Chongtham Rameshwori  My phone records 9:21 pm with the first picture of my favourite but unfortunate black T-shirt splattered with the thick pungent tobacco remains over my neck and... Read More...