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Jotirao Phule: Shetkaryaca Asud (Part 6)

Translated by Gail Omvedt and Bharat Patankar

Chapter 3

How the Arya Brahmans arrived from Iran and the prior condition of the Shudra peasants; and how the current government constantly levies all kinds of new taxes on the farmers in order to provide whatever pay and pensions their employees want; and how the farmers have been forced into arrant indebtedness since their wealth is extracted with such great force.

In all this inaccessible, inconceivable, empty expanse of space, countless stars along with their planets are created and destroyed in the commingling of various kinds of substances. In the same way, as each planet revolves around its sun, from the mutual intercourse of one mother and father on those planets, one child may be born stupid and another intelligent. We can conclude from this that stupidity and intelligence are not hereditary. Similarly when a woman and man have intercourse, the fetus if formed according to the merits and defects of the two and from the dominance of truth and other meritorious qualities on their minds at the time. That is, various children of one mother and father are born with different qualities. Those who don't agree with this principle can't explain how the wisdom and courage of Thomas Paine of the eminent gentlemen of England and George Washington of the American farmers have shamed by their actions our merry and happy Rajas and Maharajas who say that wisdom and courage are hereditary. Besides, there are numerous examples before us of many ignorant black soldiers who show the manliness to fight like heroes in Egypt and Kabul only to fill their stomachs and because of the dread of a court martial, and similarly so many American educated men like Parker and Meriyam who were only farmers by birth have shown courage against enemies in battle for their country. From this it is proved that courage and cowardliness are not hereditary but are dependent on a person's nature and social environment. Because if this principle is held to be false, then how is it that some of those who are Rajas and Maharajas or Badshahs on the earth have ancestors who were hunters, some herders, some peasants, some mullas; some were rebels, some clerks, some valets, some bandits and some ancestors were like Romulas and Remus who were banned from their own country. None of them have original ancestors who were hereditary Badshahs or Rajas.

Now, if it can be said that, as according to Darwin's view, a fresh species of human beings must have evolved on the planets revolving around in an evolutionary process from species of monkeys, then this proves wrong the notion that all have arisen from the limbs of Brahmadev. Anyway, in whatever way a pair or pairs of human women and men were created or first emerged whether from one couple, as according to the views of the Buddhists or Jains; or from monkeys according to Darwin's opinion; or whether they were created from the dust by God according to the views of Christians, or whether the four castes have emerged from the limbs of Brahman as according to the views of the Arya Brahmans, then in any case they must have spent their nights in the cavity of huge trees or in the crevices of mountains, and began to satisfy their hunger from fruit and roots; and when they took rest under the shadow of some tree in the heat of the day to get relief from the burning sun, then here and there the tall tall craggy peaks and the expanse of mountain ranges with their pure white caps reaching to the skies must have fallen upon their view. And below them in vast fields in large and small valleys and dales were gigantic ancient expanding banyans, pipals and crowds of fruit trees hung with pineapple, mangos, coconut, figs, pistachios, cashews and other fruits and nuts. Over these various kinds of vines of grapes and other fruit provided a thicket of networked arches; and here and there bunches of ripe bananas and various kinds of brightly colored fruits were dangling. Where they sat various kinds of leafy flowered heaps had fallen on the ground, making a huge decorated carpet with here and there various types of profuse leafy fruited trees, all appearing as if newly planted that very day. Similarly, everywhere besides streams, brooks, creeks and rivers, big and small, were spread out muskmelons, watermelons, gourds, cucumbers, and here, there and everywhere the pure clean water flowed endlessly, muttering gurgling and melodious baBhat-Brahmansling words. Around in a water universe of lakes of all sizes, flocks of humming bees buzzed in brightly colored lotuses, and herons stood sanctimoniously on one leg to catch whatever fish they could spy in the bottom of the pools. In the nearby forests, wherever they looked, herds oftimid deer and sheep and other prey could be seen running panting to save their lives from wolves, tigers and other beasts of prey. And on the trees numerous birds, singing sweet songs that would put Tansen to shame, were engrossed in their own melodies, as in the skies falcons and hawks and other dangerous birds plunged to snatch their lives; and just then from the west came a cool and soft breeze bringing with its touch the scent of all kinds of flowers and occasionally letting loose a melodious song. Seeing all this, how joyful must have been the ancestors of all those human beings who today call themselves Buddhist, Christian, Mahar, Muslim or Brahman! However, since they didn't have the knowledge of how to make tools of various kinds or clothes for their bodies, they must have left their beards and hair long and let the nails on their hands and feet grow long and had to live naked. Since they didn't have the knowledge of making pots of earth or metal, wouldn't they have had to kneel near the water and put their mouths to drink like animals or drink it by taking it in their hands? Since they had no knowledge of frying pans or stoves, where would they have been able to taste bhakri or chapattis? Since they had no facilities or knowledge of skinning sheep or goats, didn't they have to walk barefoot? Where would those who couldn't count up to 100 without a mistake get the knowledge of how to roast cattle or animals for a yagna and eat them while chanting in the intoxication of some soma juice? In short, at that time they must have been so ignorant that we cannot imagine what they would have done if some buffoons or rogues had brought before them a book like the Vedas etched on palm leaves that provided no fragrance or juice when taken in hand. Since they themselves were fruit-eaters, how would they have followed the instruction of those demon-written Vedas and gotten intoxicated with Soma or eaten the meat of cows stolen from others in the name of honoring their ancestors? indeed, they had no need to do this. Being themselves so holy, how could they have liked to consider as their own lineage the writers of such self-interested scriptures? Would it have been possible for them to say to each other, "You are a Buddhist," "You are a Christian," "You are a Muslim," "You are a Mahar and so inferior," or "You are a Brahman and hence superior"?

In any case, after some time passed, after the offspring of our original ancestors had increased greatly, they must have raised up a framework of the branches of trees and laid sheets of coconut leaves on top of it for a house for separate families, and around it they made a fence of babhul or karandi branches; and on the path going inside they placed a matted door or a boundary of small stones to mark the gates. And in order to prevent dangerous wild animals from entering at night, they chose a boundary guardian to be a watchman; and now all the villagers inside, men, women and children, must have begun to sleep peacefully at night. And because of this all villagers to this day give a donation of bhakri morning and evening to the watchman of the walls in repayment for his labour. And in the same way, don't all of us rural people today give, not a piece of bhakri but a substantial contribution to the Police Fund in order to maintain the great employees of the Police Department along with the peons? What is the difference between the two? The Mahar has a stick and rope in his hand, and the policeman has a cudgel with a leather thong.

In any case, in the earlier villages if there was some trifling offence by the children or young people, the disputants were brought forward and all the adults of the village would sit in the shade of some tree and give judgement and punishment to the offenders. At that time, where did they have the knowledge to build some great town hall or assembly? However, some time later as all the families kept growing, various kinds of disputes about using the forests or about beautiful women also began to take place; and when these couldn't be settled amicably, then some modest, serene gentlemen among them must have taken their goods and small children on their backs and gone with all the women and men in procession far away to different places in the country and built new villages there. And since they began to live with great happiness and joy, those gentlemen with daring who went first to far lands and made new settlements were called "patils" and "deshmukhs" by those of all the other villages, and people began to act according to their advice. And even though the ignorant patils and deshmukhs of today are slavishly submissive to the Bhat-Kulkarnis and incite quarrels among the villagers following their wishes, still all the villagers behave in consultation with them. Another evidence is that when the need to have wedding relations comes, we have a practice of asking one another in this way: "Question – what is your village and what is your surname? Answer – our village is Pune and our surname is Jagtap. Question –Then how are you related to the Saswad Jagtaps? Answer – we are the same, seven or eight generations must have gone by; our original branch came from Saswad to Pune, and today we go to Saswad for the first haircutting ceremony of our children, because their and our chief goddess Satwai is the same and their gods and goddesses are the same as ours. Question – then we can very easily have marriage connections, because the Saswad Jagtaps are our relations; just tell us the exact connection from there and it's as good as done; the rest of the discussions can be finished in an instant and the wedding invitations can be brought out immediately." If things have really happened in this way, then if it should be asked, what is the authority for this in the Shastras? my answer is this – How would those victorious Arya people who came from Iran to this country in the lust for gold and destroyed all the original local protectors (rakshas) and let loose one campaign after another against the remaining Dasyu people [4], finally making them into (Das) [5] slaves and tormenting them in all ways, write the true history of the defeated whom they had made into Shudras in their shastras?

Later after much time had passed when all the villagers could not live on only fruit, they must have begun to hunt fish, animals and birds in order to survive; then when their subsistence could not be got from these either, they began to do a bit of agriculture and they must have got good harvests. Then, after some more period had passed as they started inventing various new tools and implements and ploughs, they must have planted province after province. As this went on and as population increased, battles must have started throughout the country over claims to forests and grazing land and over boundaries of the provinces, and with that great destruction and killing must have taken place. It must have been very difficult to suppress this by gathering together the people of the whole province to make decisions. In the end the resolution of the crisis came by starting the custom that the people of every village would choose some wise and informed person from their village and these would all gather in one place to consider the problem and give a decision by majority vote. From that time, the practice got fixed among our people of having an elected panches give a decision on the most serious disputes. Then after some time when cultivators began to go beyond the Atak river to make settlements and sow their crops, and everywhere due to the limitless increase in the population and migration, the crops got affected in so many places because of scanty rainfall, and since all the rivers, canals and streams started drying up, all the animals and birds of the forests began to leave for wherever water was available. Seeing human beings falling helpless everywhere due to starvation, some daring fellows made most of the innervated hungry people into their servants and, taking them along, first organized huge looting expeditions in nearby prosperous lands, fixing their grip on the people under their control, and schemed to become Rajas over others. (If we begin to research the antecedents of today's royal families, we will find most of their original men are from this background). In order to manage them, the villagers throughout the country selected intelligent representatives, and with their help organized an army sufficient to protect the whole country, and levied taxes sufficient to maintain it; and made an arrangement to choose tahsildars and chaprasis to collect them. Due to this the people throughout the country must have gotten some relief.

Later, after some time, since prosperity had spread everywhere, beyond Bali's place, that is beyond Baluchistan, many defiant and greedy representatives, seeing the splendor achieved by the bandits, decided to become Rajas of their own country and the hold of the previous democratic regime got weakened. The representatives of the 96 clans in the 56 countries on this side of Iran established their separate kingdoms and with each other's mutual help began to manage their affairs without disturbance. Because of this for hundreds of years there was no obstruction to their prosperity, and all the subjects in the kingdoms of the Dasyus, Astiks, Ahirs, Asurs, Ugras, Pishachas, Matangas [6] became happy there must have been "smoke of gold" everywhere. Not only this; since the Dasyus were extremely powerful among them, their weight was felt on all the Yavanas so much that most of the Yavanas behaved with friendship and a sincere heart towards the Dasyus. Because of this the Dasyus helped them in every way and would graciously inquire after them. From this some of the Yavanas must have started considering the Dasyus as friends; but the remaining Yavanas and Aryans and others began to behave deceitfully towards them and when the time came used to openly trouble them, and when the Dasyus must have confronted these bad habits to check them, the Yavanas and Aryas must have gotten the general habit of considering the Dasyus with antagonism as enemies and evil. Because the underlying common meaning in the words for "friend, enemy, and wicked" (dost, dushman and dushta) can be found in the term "Dasyu."

In the end all the Iranis (Aryas), Turks and other Yavanas could not easily endure the fame of the Dasyus, and among them the "people of eighteen turbaned castes" who wore eighteen types of turbans of eighteen different colors, began to attack the land of the Dasyus from time to time in the hope of looting the gold. However, the vigilance of heroes with King Bali like Kalabhairav and Khanderao on the border prevented them from making any impression.

At this point, when bows and arrows were newly invented by the Aryans in Iran, many daring marauders like Varaha appeared among the local Iranis [7], and after destroying wealthy Rajas and Rajwades of all sizes in the nearly 56 countries [8], the Aryan Narsinha beguiled the immature mind of the young prince Prahlad and with his help intrigued to murder his father. Later the Aryan Waman defeated the great heroic Dasyu Baliraja on the battlefield, looted the gold from all the bodies of all the women and the treasures of the palace on the third day. Because of this the Dasyus undertook many battles to throw the Aryan Brahmans out of the country. However, finally the Arya Parashuram [9], unleashing one after the other twenty-one campaigns against the Dasyus living throughout this country, brought them to such rack and ruin that in the end many heroes from among them had to flee along with their families on the trail which goes from China to the American forests (which was flooded by the ocean after some time, and which today is called the Bering Straits) on the other side of the world in "Patal".

This can be seen because so many of the indigenous people there have religious beliefs, customs and practices very similar in many respects to those of the Dasyus (Shudras). Among the Americans, clans like the Suryavanshis, Rakshasas and Astiks are found. They respect omens as do people here. Among those people, as among Shduras, the practice of dressing the dead and burying gold along with them is found. Though all Shudras have become propertiless today, still like the American Shudras they bury their dead with costly spices. Among them[10], as here, such names as "Topaji, Manku, Artil Yellapa, Artil Balappa" are found. There is a province called Kanada there. However, after some time the Chinese or Aryans, attacking people here, must have forced them to submit; because like the Aryans in Hindustan, they excluded the original people in America from access to knowledge, deprived them of all human rights and treated them as inferiors, while taking themselves as "gods on earth," and it seems that along with the planets in the sky they used to do puja to the five principles like Aryans.

In any case, in the violent confrontation with Parashuram, the sword-wielding caste ancestor of the Arya Nana Peshwe[11] all the children of the dispossessed widows of the main great enemies (maha-ari) who fell in the battlefield were slaughtered by Parashuram and many clans were destroyed, and all the remaining fighting Dasyus were made into the two categories of Shudras (Das) and Atishudras (Anudas), and the Aryan Brahmans, in order to give them all kinds of harassment, made many selfish and tyrannous "laws." Among them some written points can be found in pitiless and partisan books such as Manu's. These are:

"Arya Brahmans should never live in those cities where the Shudras rule; Brahmans should give no knowledge of any kind to the Shudras; not only that, but our Vedas should not even be heard by the Shudras' ears. Aryas should not make any trip along with a Shudra in the early night or early morning. A Shudra's corpse can have permission only to be carried out of the southern gate of the village. Shudras are forbidden to touch an Arya Brahman's corpse. Even if a Raja dies agonized with hunger, he should not take taxes or land revenue from a Brahman. However the Raja should give yearly grants to Brahman wise men. If a Brahman finds some treasure, he should enjoy it alone. Because a Brahman is master of all. However, if a Raja finds treasure, he should give half the wealth to the Brahmans. If an Arya Brahman commits any crime, he should be only banished, without any blow at all to his body. Brahmans should keep Shudras as their servants and bondsmen, since God has created Shudras in order to serve Brahmans. If a Brahman find that a certain Shudra has become useful for some delicate work of his and frees him from slavery, any Bhat-Brahman who wants can capture him and make him a slave. Because God has brought him to birth for this. If a Brahman begins to die of hunger he should take whatever he needs from his Shudra slave. A Raja should never take the wealth of a Brahman without heirs; this is an ancient law. However, if he requires the wealth of those of any other caste without heirs, the Raja should take it. Even if a Brahman gentleman consciously commits a crime, he should at most be banished along with his family. But if the same crime is done by anyone of another caste, he will have to bear physical punishment according to the nature of the crime. If a Shudra's children begin to starve because he does not get service in a Brahman's house, he should gain his subsistence through manual labour. Even an intelligent Shudra should not accumulate much wealth. Because if he does, he will become proud and begin to condemn the Brahman. A Brahman should never ask for any alms from a Shudra, because if a Brahman does a Homa ceremony from this alms, he will become a Chandala in his next birth. If a Brahman kills a dog, a cat, an owl or a crow, this will be considered the same as killing a Shudra and he will become purified by doing the Chandrayan penance. If a Brahman kills a boneless animal, or if he kills a thousand animals with bones, it will be sufficient for him to do the Chandrayan penance. If a Shudra hits an Arya Brahman with a stalk of grass, or if he pulls his dhoti around his throat, or if in speaking he obstructs him or if he speaks to him with scornful words, he should fall prone in front of the Brahman and beg his pardon."[12]

Besides this, various kinds of articles about the Shudras are found in the books of the Arya-Brahmans that are so tyrannous that I feel ashamed even to write them here. In any case, after that the Aryans, in order to manage undisturbed the cultivation of the land that they had conquered, appropriated many timid and pusillanimous people like Prahlad from among the Dasyus, who never sided with their own people in maintaining hatred for the Brahmans. They were appointed as Kulkarnis throughout the villages and brought into their religion. From that the habit of calling them Deshastha Brahmans was started, because the skin color and bodily form, customs and original ancestors venerated by the Deshastha Brahmans and the original Shudra people here are similar. There has also been no marriage exchange at all between the Deshastha Brahmans and the Konkanastha Brahmans. However, the prevous Peshwe government began to custom of exchange of food and daughters with the Deshastha Brahmans.

Bringing this system into implementation, as the Arya Brahmans became lords of the land here and their influence began to be felt over all the rest of the people of their varna, they began to be called the superior Brahman gurus of the 18 varnas. And they themselves, conscious that after "making heaven and hell one and departing," no duty remained for them, instead of dressing in palm leaves, rubbing copper-colored earth on their chests, forgetting to slap their upper arm (like wrestlers), taking every opportunity for bribes, applying sandalwood fragrance on their bodies and saffron on their foreheads, drawing a musk tilak, they began the days of sitting happily enjoying themselves. Some of them lost themselves in the intoxication of marijauna, and some in the addiction of writing various kinds of selfish books. Some fell into the meddlesome industry of searching out the ways of yoga, and the rest began to propagandize, each calling the other, "Brahman gurus are superior among the 18 varnas." Around that time, the Arya Brahmans began to harass the jungle-wandering paupers here to get them to accept their religion. As a result, these became angry and began to write various kinds of books against the Aryas and since they began the puja of their atmaling near them in order to deride the Arya religion, the Lingayat religion must have arisen as a separate religion.

~~~~

4. John Wilson's India Three Thousand Years Ago, page 196. "They appear also to have been a fair complexioned people, at least comparatively, and foreign invaders of India, as it is said that Indra (the God of the Ether or firmament) divided the fields among his white complexioned friends after destroying the indigenous Barbarian races, for such there can be little doubt. We are to understand by the expression Dasyu, which so often occurs and which is often defined to signify one who not only does not perform religious rites but attempts to harass their performers. The Dasyus, here mentioned, are doubtless the Dagyas of the Parsi sacred writings, and the Dakyas of the Behistian tablets, rendered by 'countries' or 'provinces' probably of an exterior position to be the Goim and Gentiles of the Hebrews. They were not altogether Barbarians, for they had distinctive cities and other establishments of at least a partial civilization, though the Aryas, lately from more bracing climes than those they inhabited, proved too strong for them."

5. John Wilson's India Three Thousand Years Ago, page 29. "Of the Dasyus mentioned often in the Vedas in contrast with the Aryans, no such traces can be found, though they are once or twice mentioned by Manu. The word Das, derived from dasyu, ultimately came to signify a bondman. In this sense it has its analogue in our word slave, derived from the Slavi people, so many of whom have become serfs in the modern regions of their abode. Some of the names of the Dasyus and other enemies of the Aryan race mentioned in the Vedas seem to have been of Aryan origin; but we see from the non-Sanskritic elements in the Indian languages that they must have belonged principally to various immigrations of the Slcythian or Turanian family of the human race."

6. Godbolyancya Maharashtra Deschachya Itihasatil Bhandarkaranci Sucna, page 1, column 2; John Wilson's India Three Thousand Years Ago, page 28

7. John Wilson's India Three Thousand Years Ago, pages 17-18.

8. John Wilson's India Three Thousand Years Ago, pages 20-21. Among peoples hostile to the Aryas we also find noticed the Ajasas, Yakshas, Shigravas, Kikatas and others. The enemies of the Aryas are sometimes expressly mentioned as having a black skin. "He (Indra) punished men for wanting religious rites tore off their skin. The Pishachas are said to have been tawny colored."

9. John Wilson's India Three Thousand Years Ago, page 49. Dr. John Muir, in his "Original Sanskrit Texts," pages 44-56, has given a series of passages sufficient to prove that according to the traditions received by the compilers of the ancient legendary history of India (traditions so general and undisputed as to prevail over even their strongly hierarchical predispositions), Brahmans and Ksatriyas were at least in very many cases, originally descended from one and the same stock. Some of the cases referred to by Dr. Muir are the same as those of the parties mentioned in the first paragraph of this note.

10. W.H,. Prescott's History of Peru and Brazil, Vol. 1, page 66; Volume 2, appendix no. 1, pages 157, 159 and 156.

11. A Sepoy Revolt, by Henry Mead, pages 135, 136 and 137.

12. The Laws of Manu, son of Brahman, by Sir William Jones, Vol VII, pages 398 and Vol VII, page 33, 42, 73, 79, 85, 105, 106 and 118.

Read Jotirao Phule: Shetkaryaca Asud (Part 5) here. And (Part 7) here

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