Mainstream, VOL LIII No 1, December 27, 2014 - Annual Number
Imaging the Hindu Rashtra
Saturday 27 December 2014, by
Equality, Human Dignity victim of Hindu Rashtra
“Know that a Brahmana of ten years and Kshatriya of a hundred years stand to each other in the relation of father and son; but between those two the Brahmana is the father.”1
—Manu, Ch. II. 135
The spectre of a Hindu Rashtra is before Indians in full bloom. Its protagonists, active since long, have captured the public domain. India is likely to enter the ancient era when the 100-year-old Kshatriya kowtowed before a 10-year child perhaps begging mercy or blessings, a scene straight from a delusional film or television channel. Discourses on governance at the intellectual plane, however, have usually focused, with anguish, on the plight of Indian minorities in a Hindu Rashtra. In this context it is worth asking: “What would or could be the profile of the Hindu Rashtra, if ever it becomes an inescapable reality?” Is imaging the contours of the Hindu Rashtra feasible? In fact, far numerous Hindus than minorities are under threats of indignity, discrimination and deprivation in a Hindu Rashtra.
Every nation needs a Constitution. And the Hindu Rashtra will be no exception. The angst against the Constitution of India adopted by the Constituent Assembly erupted right on its eve.
In our Constitution there is no mention of the unique constitutional developments in ancient Bharat. Manu’s laws were written long before Lycurgus of Sparta or Solon of Persia. To this day laws as enunciated in the Manusmriti excite the admiration of the world and elicit spontaneous obedience and conformity. But to our constitutional pundits that means nothing.2
This was Madhav Sadasiva Golwalkar. We must ponder: what does Manu hold for India of the twentyfirst century? Why has a blind architect of the caste pyramid of the dark age to be retrieved and placed in the heart of a state in the modern era to commandeer the destiny of the nation? The danger stares in the face.
The Constituent Assembly of 299 members worked for a period comprising two years, 11 months and 17 days, spread over three years, to complete a historic task of drafting the Constitution for independent India. Eleven sessions covering a total of 165 days of which 114 days were devoted for the consideration of the Draft Constitution. It is the labour of love of some of the finest thinkers and scholars, selfless patriots including Jawaharlal Nehru, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Acharya J.B. Kripalani, Dr Rajendra Prasad, poetess Sarojini Naidu, Hare Krushna Mahatab, Govind Ballabh Pant, Dr B.R. Ambedkar, Sarat Chandra Bose, Shyama Prasad Mukherjee, C. Rajagopalachari, M. Asaf Ali, Dr Sachchidananda Sinha, Jaipal Singh Munda besides women members, for example, Ammu Swami-nathan, Hansa Mehta, Amrit Kaur, Dakshayani Velayudhan, G. Durgabai Kala Venkatarao, Sucheta Kripalani, Renuka Ray, Kamala Chaudhry, Purnima Banerjee, Malati Choudhuri, Leela Roy, Begum Qudsia Aizaz Rasul, Annie Mascarene etc., to mention some honorable few.3 The Hindutva fuhrer pooh-poohed even before its adoption in preference for Manu.
The Constitution,“the People of India” outlawed the grotesque whims and fancies of Manu. It repudiates the fundamental premises of a Hindu Rashtra which enshrines untouchability, inequality and discrimination along with exclusive privileges, safeguards and superiority of status enjoyed by a handful of people as inviolable rights. Equality, solidarity, brotherhood and humanitarianism are antithetical to Manu’s Shastra. The Constitution of India was adopted on November 26, 1949 and 284 members appended their signatures to it on January 24, 1950; it came into force on January 26, 1950. Three days before the adoption of the Constitution on November 26, 1949, Golwalkar’s fulmination exploded in the public domain.
Angst against Indian Constitution, Why?
Angst of the Hindu Rashtra proponents against the Indian Constitution are too evident to merit elaboration. The Constitution, without discrimi-nation, seeks to secure to all its citizens “JUSTICE, social, economic and political; LIBERTY of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship; EQUALITY of status and of opportunity; and to promote among them all FRATERNITY assuring the dignity of the individual”. If the extant history, mythology and scriptures of the Hindus are any guide, we, therefore, must be sure, the Hindu Raj’s first and highest priority will be to scrap this Constitution.
Do the Hindus form a solid and composite entity as a community? No, they do not. Hindus are divided, subdivided and fragmented, horizontally and vertically, into warring camps and groups in graded hierarchical order in obedience to the scriptural diktat. Many of them detest questions about its sanctity or objectives. According to the scriptures, only one group of the disparate conglomerate is privileged and the rest are placed under its humiliating tutelage marked by “graded inequality”. The privileged Hindus, therefore, are at loggerheads with the Constitution, guaranteeing a republican, democratic, socialist and secular polity. Hinduism neither comprehends social justice, social equality, solidarity nor believes in it within the asinine conglomerate. Liberty and fraternity are anathema to the Hindus. The Constitution that stands as a guarantee against discrimination and inequality for all in every sphere of national life is an abomination to the sanatan Hindus.
Hinduism without Untouchability is like Agra without the Taj Mahal
Article 17 underscores the abolition of untouc-hability—”Untouchability’’ is abolished and its practice in any form is forbidden. The enforcement of any disability arising out of “Untouchability’’ shall be an “offence punishable in accordance with law”. This Article slaps Manu and others teaching on his model. And this is not sonorous to those who clamour for a Hindu Raj. Abolition of untouchability is a sin—nay, a blasphemy against Hinduism. Hinduism without untoucha-bility sounds like Agra without the Taj Mahal or Rome without the Pope! That explains perhaps why not a single conviction can straightway be cited under the Protection of Civil Rights Act 1955. Neither do the records of implementation of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act 1989 over 25 years make the police and judiciary under any govern-ment proud. Even feeble efforts to end caste-based discrimination, inequality, atrocities etc. under these laws invite vicious attacks from the offenders and their well-wishers. So the Hindu Raj must nurse untouchability as its fundamental pillar to perpetuate discrimination in administration, social, political and economic. The Hindu Raj, if ever established on Indian soil, will disenfranchise and enslave 300 million ex-untouchables and tribals. Many more millions will also face the ire of the Hindus then.
Vilest Draftsman of Discrimination, Injustice, Inequality
The ancient lawgiver Manu is extolled as an evil genius. Those who have studied Manu’s codes in some, if not in great, detail with a free mind will regard him a veritable curse for India. Who benefited from Manu’s codes? A few of the discriminatory prescriptions disclose the danger in the offing:
“As the Brahmana sprang from (Brahman’s) mouth, as he was the first-born, and as he possesses the Veda, he is by right the lord of this whole creation.” Ch. I. 93.
“A Brahmana, coming into existence, is born as the highest on earth, the lord of all created beings, for the protection of the treasury of the law.”
Ch. I. 99.
“Whatever exists in the world is the property of the Brahmana; on account of the excellence of his origin the Brahmana is, indeed, entitled to all.”
Ch. I. 100.
If these and other verses identical in connotation and repugnance are dinned into a divine child since birth for sometime, he will decidedly metamorphose into a hydraheaded monster or despicable devil, bereft of noble thoughts or faculty. A brigade of men fed and trained on Manu’s ordinances would be a diabolical threat to a nation of 1.25 billion people. Golkalkar’s lofty admiration leaves none in any shadow of doubt that the ancient codes of Manu will be the anchor of the Hindu Raj. The bhu devata, ‘the lord of this whole creation’, would tread on the necks of the men and women of the nation as mercenaries.
Caste rigged British Colonial Law and Beneficiaries of Caste disgraced their Rule
In recent times, India is witness to spiteful attacks from the Hindutva quarters against Macaulay who had introduced the English language in 1834 as the court language, giving a tremendous boost to English education which went to benefit Indians enormously. But his contribution was the authorship of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) which outraged orthodox Hindus. The IPC provided the foundation of uniform criminal code placing, for the first time, Indians on equal footing in the eye of the law in a country that relished the cushions of inequality. Caste as a living force has devitalised every aspect of the society. Experience with native law officers and introduction of trial by jury, drafting manpower from the upper social strata left glaring illustrations of abuse of law. Epitome of immorality, dishonesty, deception and corruption, they ravished laws and frustrated its objective. Mostly drawn from the upper social ladder, native law officers or jurymen were shamelessly partial towards the accused of their respective castes, throwing justice, impartiality and fairness to the winds. A letter ( no. 1276 dated August 9-11, 1890) of the District Magistrate, Hooghly to the Commissioner, Burdwan Division in Bengali is revealing:
There is a reluctance on the part of the native juryman to convict where there is any possibility of a capital sentence; but I believe this reluctance is not extended uniformly in all cases; and it is not connected, save in rare cases, with any decency about taking human life as such. There is not one year, in the period under consideration, in which a Hooghly jury has not convicted under section 302 IPC; but I venture to say that in none of these cases was the accused a Brahman, or even a member of that ill-defined class who are styled as ‘bhadro’ or respectable. I feel confident that the fate of a Mussulman or low class Hindu exteris paribus would not be the same at the hands of a jury as that of a ‘bhadro’; and that notably the Brahman would enjoy a certainty of acquittal ....... I believe the same feeling would influence the jury in a case of rape, perjury, forgery or burglary in which a ‘bhadro’ was concerned.4
The institutional structures built up and put in place were rigged to squeeze privileges by some upper castes in Bengal without any qualms of conscience. No matter what they say or speak then or even now from public platforms, the system was molested for the advantages of a few.
A sex scandal surrounding the Tarakeswar Shiva temple in Hooghly district, that exploded in the public domain in 1873, is a case in point. Madhav Chandra Giri, the mohant of a “popular and prosperous” Hindu shrine, had seduced and raped an unsuspecting 16-year-old Elokeshi, wife of Nobin Chandra Banerjee, a government employee in the Military Press, Calcutta. Egged on by her stepmother and connived by her father, Elokeshi approached the mohant for medicine for childbirth. Nobin beheaded his adulterous wife with a fishcutter. The jury acquitted Nobin for the crime but the Sessions Court overturned it and referred its trial to the Calcutta High Court. There Nobin was sentenced for life and the mohant for three years’ rigorous imprisonment and a fine of Rs 2000. To frustrate the High Court sentence, three public petitions with 10,000 signatures to the government for mercy of Nobin Banerjee were submitted by “acknowledged leaders of the native society” of Calcutta; “some gentlemen from Mymensingh” district in East Bengal and Maharani Swarnamoyee of Cossim Bazar Raj family. As a result, Nobin was released from jail after two years in 1875.
Historian Tanika Sarkar pinpoints the reason of the public activism. “Nobin was the poor and helpless Brahman........ He was incidentally a purer Kulin Brahman more exalted in caste terms than the mohant whose precise caste status in his pre-ascetic life was in some doubt. Some thought that the unquestioned public sympathy for Nobin derived from this.”5 The Kulin status of the Brahman convict, even though a murderer, ultimately earned the mercy. There is little doubt if the leaders would launch such a campaign for a convict less than a Brahman.
Tarakeswar’s Madhav Chandra Giri was neither the first nor the only sexual predator. Mohanta Shrimanta Giri of the same shrine was executed in 1824. He had a mistress and she had a lover. Shrimanta murdered him. In 1912, Nagendrabala Devi filed an application accusing the then mohant of raping her daughter. In 1924 a satyagraha was organised against the mohant of Tarakeswar, Satish Giri, for his sexual and financial misconduct.6 The mohant, Madhav Chandra Giri, selected his victims from among young pilgrims and then his musclemen were used to procure them for him. “Afterwards these women could not return to their families: their only sanctuary lay in the growing brothels of Tarakeswar. Newspapers in 1873 were full of lurid description of the temple pandas of Puri and Tarakeswar......... Tarakeswar has been a place for illicit assignation.”7 What a damning historical account!
In 1871 with 3124 prostitutes, ironically, Hooghly district boasted of the second largest number of these unfortunate women, 24-Parganas district being in the top slot by returning 15,380 public women in the Lower Provinces of Bengal.8 Kautilya prescribes a “fine of 24 panas” for “sex with images of goddesses” though a blasphemy.9 Dignity of women inside the shrine has remained widely vulnerable in each era. The instances of their deviant and immoral behaviour in shrines at home and abroad are innumerable—too many to record.
At home and abroad the priests and godmen have been in the news for their misconduct with women. In England, a Crown Court convicted priest Ranganathan Somnathan of a temple in Thornton Heath, London. “He enticed his victim, a devotee, by telling her that she had been his wife in previous birth and that god has reunited them.”10 Swami Prakashanand Saraswati (born 1929) is a convicted felon from Ayodhya and founder of Radha Madhav Dham, a white marble temple occupying over 200 acres of land in Texas, USA. In 2011, a jury found the godman guilty on 20 counts of indecency with a child and sentenced him in absentia to 280 years of imprisonment and a $ 200,000 fine. The godman fled America to Mexico and then to India. The fugitive appears on the US’ “Most Wanted” list.11
A Supreme Court Judge, A. R. Dave, aired his desire to introduce Gita and Mahabharata in class one. Obviously the study of these works, he feels, would tone up their moral fabric. “Didn’t some or all of these men read the Gita and Mahabharata?”
Veda, no Science to Scientist
In a Bengali essay focusing on the Veda and its interpretations (Veda and Veda byakhya in Bengali) in 1878, the composer of ‘Vande mataram’ Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay mercilessly ridiculed many popular beliefs and perceptions. He says that the mere mention of the Veda drives the Hindus, irrespective of age, to torpor marked by an overwhelming sense of fear and devotion. They believe that anybody, conversant in the Veda, is prodigious; anyone who interprets it is an avatar like Shankar or Narayana, capable of performing miracles. There was torrential rain bringing an end to 12-year long droughts after Rishi Vishwamitra recited the Veda. If anybody recites the Veda at one place, his enemy drops dead instantly at another far-off place. Recitation of Vedic verses cures infertility and barrenness in women or incurable diseases; and the poor becomes rich. If the Veda is recited to a man on deathbed, he springs back to life. However, one can become well-versed in the Veda only by virtue of accumulated merits in previous births.
These are wild gossips to mislead and befool people. Bankim Chandra held that the Veda is a poetic work of a few ancient people, who had initially composed songs and sang them. Since everybody could not be a poet, people started viewing their works as a gift of supernatural abilities. In the end, these poetic songs were hailed as the sermons of gods.
Though “poems” of the ancient era, some people want us to believe them as “Vedic science, mathematics, liberal philosophies, literature, politics, economics, ethics, etc.” We are also told that some “foreign universities have full-fledged departments dedicated to these subjects; but most of them encapsulate a superficial understanding. Departments in India on these subjects are woefully understaffed and under-resourced.”12
Such claims may be true. But let us juxtapose a Veda-centric perception of a scientist alongside blind and sentimental blubbering. In a Bengali article, Dr Meghnad Saha, the outstanding astrophysicist whose best known work concerned the thermal ionisation of elements,13 highlighted the Himalayan superstition of Hindus for the Veda. In 1940, he published an essay in a Bengali monthly Bharatabarsa. The astrophysicist had studied the Vedas, Upanishads, Puranas, astrology and all other works of ancient Hindu sciences over two decades but did not find any grain of truth in the claims to substantiate that the theories of modern sciences are ingrained in ancient Hindu books. To illustrate the extent of deplorable ignorance even in educated men, the astrophysicist noted that once a very famous advocate met him at his native place, Dhaka, and expressed his desire to know the area of his researches in England. By then, he had earned considerable recognition in Europe as a scientist. During discussions, whenever Dr Saha talked about any findings of his research, the advocate unfailingly intervened to exclaim, “Oh! What’s new in that? It’s there in our Vedas.” Finally the exasperated scientist asked him to specify the chapters and/or verses of the Vedas that influenced, enriched, or contributed to modern science(s) or scientific thoughts, ideas, scholarship or inventions and discoveries. The veteran lawyer, so cornered, confessed his ignorance of the Veda which he had not even read and his tall claims were based on mere hearsay.14 Educated men, though ignorant, are not rare to speak in authoritative tone and animated tenor about the Veda and spread superstitious beliefs in the masses, rendering them vulnerable to exploitation in the name of divine powers. In the stated view, the mindless vanity and euphoria over the Veda in some corners are like oceanic bubbles without substance.
Modern India would do a world of good to the countrymen suffering from the yoke of social evils by attacking and dismantling that source of their miseries. Dr B. R. Ambedkar had diagnosed the evil. “The enemy, you must grapple with, is not the people who observe Caste, but the Shastras which teach them this religion of Caste. ... The real remedy is to destroy the belief in the sanctity of the Shastras. ... People will not change their conduct until they cease to believe in the sanctity of the Shastras on which their conduct is founded.”15 In the nineteenth century, German Sanskrit scholars proved that fourfold castes in the Purusha sukta of the Rig Veda were actually the result of ‘interpolation’, which, ipso facto, smears the sanctity some Hindus attach to the Vedas. The infallibility hyped in high pitch is plainly a figment of imagination. Sages and seers, for example, Parasar, Yajyavalka, Vishnu, Bashishtha, etc. joined Manu in his madness for proliferating mixed or sub-castes by means of incomprehensible cobwebs of indiscriminate sexual relations, vertically and horizontally, between men and women. According to them, the Sudra male was not the Brahman woman’s only partner to produce a mixed caste. In clandestine relations with Brahman women, for instance, Charmakar was fathered by Ayogava, Napit by Nishad, Rajak by Vaideha, Lohakar by Mahishya, Malakar and Ugra by the Kshatriya male.16 They did not realise the slur, indignity and shame they brought on women of their own order. Dr B.R. Ambedkar raised this point with characteristic force and insight.
What a reflection of the character of men and particularly of women. It is obvious that the unions of men and women must have been clandestine because, prohibited by the rule of Chaturvarna, such unions could have taken place only here and there. They could not have taken place on a wholesale scale. But unless one assumes a wholesale scale of promiscuity how can one justify the origin of the Chandalas or untouchables as given by Manu? The caste of Chandala is said by Manu to be the progeny of illegitimate intercourse between a Sudra male and a Brahman female. Can this be true? It means that Brahman women must have been very lax in their morality and must have had special sexual attraction for the Sudra. This is unbelievable. So vast is the Chandala population that even if every Brahman female was a mistress of a Sudra it could not account for the vast number of Chandala in the country.17
The whole strategy of caste by Manu maligns the Brahman woman the most. So an annoyed Dr Ambedkar has pushed the great lawgiver to an indefensible corner for the shake of dignity of the scriptural victims. It is pointless to demonstrate the aggregate strength of mixed castes across India. In Bengal, for instance, the strength of Chandalas alone aggregated at 15,66,545 persons who outnumbered Brahmans having 11,00,049 souls in 1871.18 Sages and seers did not portray the moral character and dignity of women of other castes—Kshatriya, Vaishya or Sudra—in so dark a hue. The Mahabharata holds mixed caste as sinful. Hindu scriptures invented untouchability. Their philosophy was the basis of discrimination and hatred against men held as inferior and unequal.
Burden of Faith
blighting Influence of Scripture
The Padma Purana (Puskarkhand) outlines the bumper offer of divine blessings coupled with blackmails. This Purana, of course, is not unique.
If a man presents land to a Brahman, he will obtain heaven; if a cow, he will after death ride on a cow cross the river Voitaranee, if water, after death he will find refreshing water in his journey to Yamalaya (the residence of Yama, the regent of death); if a house to a Brahman, he will obtain a palace in heaven; if an umbrella to a Brahman, he will not suffer in another world from the rays of sun; if shoes, in his way to heaven, he will not suffer from the heat of the ground; if perfumes to a Brahman, he will never after death receive offensive smell; if medicine to the blind, he will be delivered from darkness hereafter; if a daughter to a Brahman without a fee, he will gain as much as if he has given the world.19
This was designed to cheat and defraud ignorant Hindus. There are other similar sacred works with the same end in view. A Bengali landlord Raja Hameer of Bankura district “made large land grants to Brahmans, so much so that if a Brahman in the Raj had no rent free grants, it was open to question whether he was a true Brahman.”20 (Italicised by this writer) The beneficiaries alone considered the Puranic verses noble or sacred because it yields huge gains at others’ cost. The list of temptations offered here are ridiculous and obnoxious and fit for out and out condemnation. The recipients, a class of parasites, solely dependent on others for land, cow, shoes, perfumes, umbrella, etc., thrived thanks to the Puranas and similar works. These teachings, how-ever, caused incalculable havoc in social and economic life. According to our contemporary historian R.S. Sharma,
The most striking development was the practice of making land grants to the Brahmans, a custom which was sanctified by the injunctions laid down in the Dharmashastras, the didactic portion of the Epic, and the Puranas; the anusasana parva of the Mahabharata devotes a whole chapter to the praise of making gifts of land (bhumidana-prasamsa). Thus began the process of feudalisation of the state apparatus since post-Maurya and especially from the rulers of the Gupta dynasty.21
The damages to the masses and ranks was unbelievable. The total revenue of land grants by the Maharaja of Burdwan towards the Brahmans and Hindu temples amounted to Rs 15,00,000 to Rs 20,00,000. Another landlord, Maharaja Krishna Chandra Ray of adjoining Nadia, “not only made princely donations to distinguished pundits, but gave lakhiraj or rent-free lands for support of Chattuspatis, with several lakhs of rent-free bighas to learned Brahmans. There is a Bengali proverb still current in the country, that one who does not possess a gift from Krishna Chandra cannot be a genuine Brahman. The custom of inviting and giving pecuniary presents to learned Brahmans on occasions of shraddhas, marriage etc. received encouragement from him.”22 We have noted the above similar saying in the Bankura district already. In fact, such trends might have existed everywhere in Bengal.
Encouragement given to “the custom of inviting and giving pecuniary presents to learned Brahmans on occasions of shraddhas, marriage etc.” had a sinister angle. Krishna Chandra, the arbiter of Hindu communities in Bengal, who was orthodox and vengeful, had caused havoc to the Hindus. The Maharaja of Krishnagar and other landlords in Nadia district together donated a whopping 18,00,000 acres of land to Brahmans as debottar and brahmottar.23 A survey and settlement report of Orissa discloses 1,96,100 acres of deboottar and 87,000 acres of brahmottar land in Cuttack, Puri and Balasore districts.24 Rani Rashmoni donated the Salbari estate of 499 square miles in Dinajpur district (now in Bangladesh), as debottar to the Dakshines-war temple, Calcutta in the mid-nineteenth century25. The feudal class, it seems, had waged a competition for ascending to heaven by virtue of land grants to the Brahmans after death.
Ganga Gobinda Singh, a Kayasth and merchant banker of Lord Warren Hastings, the Governor-General of Bengal (1772 to 1785), is remembered for the most magnificent shraddh, or funeral obsequies, ever performed in Bengal in honour of his mother at a cost of Rs twenty lakhs. “The guests on that occasion included the Rajas and zamindars of half the Province, and were presided over by Siva Chandra, son of the revered Brahman Raja Krishna Chandra, of Krishnagar.”26 Innumerable similar instances can be cited.
A relation akin to bribery that benefits the donor and donee subsisted between them. Such men were hailed as religious—the larger the size of gifts, the louder went up the appreciation for the donors! These were not charities. Charity, which is universal in character, is not directed to grab religious merit. The cases in question benefited, always and invariably, only a particular section of the society. The intellectual class ignored the sordid pecuniary aspects in these actions out of fear of antagonising and incurring the displeasure or denunciation of the beneficiaries. These sound like bargaining in the open market. “To present gifts to Brahman at the hour of death and bequeath to them lands or cows or houses, is extolled in the Shastra as a work of merit destroying all sin, and followed (the donar) next world with imperishable happiness.”27 Benefits and threats, blackmails, intimidation, give and take mark the teachings of religion.
To the Hindu, the concept of heaven is an imaginary abode of endless happiness and bliss after his death. That ethereal abode is presented by scriptures to them as a package to provoke temptations, lust and craze. So everyone nurses a dream to get to that abode. Married women were targeted for getting easy access to paradise. If any man had died leaving his wife behind, scriptures ordained her to concommit death with his dead body on the funeral pyre. Rishi Angira, one of the authorities, declared:
There are 3,50,000,00 hairs on the human body. The woman who ascends the pile with her husband, will remain so many years in heaven. As the snake-catcher draws the serpent from its hole, so she, rescuing her husband (from hell), rejoins him. The woman who expires on the funeral pile with her husband purifies the family of her mother, her father and her husband. If the husband be a brahmanicide, an ungrateful person, or a murderer of his friend, the wife by burning with him, purges his sins.
This temptation must be termed as sinister, imaginary and immoral besides provocative for aiding, abetting or encouraging suicide. Women were consigned to fire on their husbands’ funeral pyre, expecting whopping 3,50, 000,00 years of conjugal life in heaven. She also “purifies the family of her mother, her father and her husband”. This is a pure bluff and planned murder. Rishi Angira gave three familial justification to murder the widow by pushing her into the fire on a grotesque allurement. Only in such a situation the widow performed the horrendous task. The trap was too huge either to ignore, evade or escape. All parties had pecuniary interests too.
The tragic death of Rup Kanwar, the wife of Maal Singh Sekhawat, a Rajput of village Deorala, Sikar district in Rajasthan, who was consigned to fire on September 4, 1987 is still fresh in public memory. A Hindu Rashtra may revive the diabolical practice of sati. The long course of the river Ganga from the Himalaya to Ganga Sagar (at the confluence of the Bay of Bengal) might, therefore, witness countless Hindu widows under the illusion of three-and-a-half crore years of happy conjugal life with their husbands in paradise consigned to fire every year.
‘Feeding Brahmans not religion, a grotesque misconception’: Bankim Chandra Chatterjee
In an iconoclastic statement, Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay wrote in 1892: “Squander all your hard earned money and wealth by donating to the priests who are your spiritual guide; to lazy, selfish, greedy, depraved and alms-seeking Brahmans. This is not religion; this is a delusional belief—a grotesque concept, which we have been taught to believe as religion since childhood.”28 People have been subjected to indoctrination to believe that appeasing, placating, greasing, assuaging and propitiating the priestly class were the only means to reach the gods and goddesses for journey to heaven and there was no other route open to them.
A Fascist Model
The Hindutva strategy is to perpetuate the existing social division, sub-division and fragmentation so that caste and privileges to the beneficiaries dictated by scriptures remain unscratched, unchanged or unchallenged. Untouchability, discrimination and hatred are ingrained in the caste system. Religion will symbolise slavery for a large segment of them. The overall cost, social, economic and political, will be huge.
A follower of Golwalkar a few years ago had declared: “The caste system used to be like a fence around the farm. Those who violated its rules were ostracised. It was not discriminatory. Rather, it provided for job reservation. Every caste was given reservation in a particular job. A mason cannot do the carpenter’s job and a carpenter could not do a a sweeper’s job.”29 Caged in the respective sty, the Hindus’ every segment will remain confined to and take up the pre-destined ancestral occupation. Mahatma M. K. Gandhi spoke long ago what the RSS chief said much later. “I believe that the division of verna is based on birth. Verna means the determination of man’s occupation before he is born. The objective of the verna system is to prevent competition, class struggle, and class war. I believe in verna system because it fixes the duties and occupation of persons.”30 Great thoughts and scholarship lucidly presented in the simplest language. Sonorous to future India’s devotees of fascism, he was indistinguishable from the RSS chief.
Denouncing the Constitution, M. S. Golwalkar went ecstatic over the Fuhrer of Germany. The infatuated Guruji says: “To keep up purity of the nation and its culture, Germany shocked the world by her purging the country of the Semitic races, the Jews. National pride at its highest has been manifested here. Germany has also shown how well-nigh impossible it is for races and cultures having differences going to the root, to be assimilated into a united whole, a good lesson for us in Hindustan to learn and profit by.”
Then he disclosed his ultimate goal “....... the non-Hindu people in Hindustan must either adopt the Hindu culture and language, must learn to respect and revere Hindu religion, must entertain no idea but the glorification of Hindu nation i.e. they must not only give up their attitude of intolerance and ingratitude towards this land and its age-long traditions, but must also cultivate the positive attitude of love and devotion instead; in one word, they must cease to be foreigners or may stay in the country wholly subordinated to the Hindu nation, claiming nothing, deserving no privileges, for less any preferential treatment, not even the citizen’s rights.”31
The vision seems threatening for millions and millions of Indians, irrespective of caste, creed or sex. Save and except a microscopic minority, none, even though Hindu, would be safe under the order, if it, at all, materialises. The fate and fortune of minorities along with the majority—including the untouchables and tribals—will be jeopardised under the Hindu Raj. The prospect of a Hindu Raj has started spreading terror and trauma in many people. The whole nation will be trampled by a handful of persons from the top of the caste pyramid. Be aware!
1. The Laws of Manu in this article cited from translation of Professor Johann Georg Bühler (1837— 1898), a reputed German Sanskrit scholar, published in 1886.
2. Organiser, the Rashriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) mouthpiece, November 23, 1949, p. 3.
4. A. K. Biswas, “The ‘Uncle Judge Syndrome’ shadow overLaxmanpur Bathe”, Mainstream, vol. LI, no. 49, November 23, 2013.
5. Tanika Sarkar in Hindu Wife, Hindu Nation: Community, Religion, and Cultural Nationalism, Indiana University Press, December 2002, p. 600. Her comments are based on Bengalee (English), July 22, 1873 and Bangalbidyaprakashika (Bengali), December 5, 1873.
6. Tanika Sarkar, ibid., p. 119.
7. Tanika Sarkar, ibid., p. 158.
8. Report on the Census of Bengal 1872, pp. Clviii-clxxxi. The first ever census returned the aggregate prostitute population in Bengal, Bihar, Orissa and Assam at 40,277—37,664 in Bengal; 1609 in Bihar; 775 in Orissa; and 229 in Assam.
9. Arthashastra, translated by L. N. Rangarajan, Penguin Books, 1987, p. 488. An IFS officer, Rangarajan served as India’s Ambassador to Greece, Sudan, Tunisia, Norway and Iceland. No religion treated blasphemy leniently. Death is the punishment for such crime in most populous religions. The leniency despite violation of dignity of goddesses is strikingly intriguing.
10. The Telegraph, Calcutta, January 30, 2005, p. 5.
12. Amish, ‘Vedic learning is no one’s preserve, everyone’s pride’, TheTimes of India, September 21, 2014.
13. “Meghnad Saha’s ionisation equation (c. 1920), which opened the door to stellar astrophysics,” says Jayant V. Narlikar, “was one of the top ten achievements of 20th century Indian science [and] could be considered in the Nobel Prize class.” Narlikar, Jayant (2003), The Scientific Edge, Penguin Books, p. 127.
14. Bharatabarsa, published from Calcutta, was established by another literary giant, Dwijendra Lal Roy, and was in existence from 1913 to 1953.
15. Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar: Writings and Speeches,Vol. 1, Government of Maharashtra, Bombay, p. 68.
16. The Institutes of Vishnu lays down that “the Chandâla, Vaidehaka, and Sûta are the sons of a Sûdra, Vaisya, and Kshatriya respectively with a Brahman woman”. Chapter XVI.6 translated by Julius Jolly, Oxford, the Clarendon Press, 1880.
17. Dr B. R. Ambedkar, Writings and Speeches, Vol. 4, Government of Maharashtra, Bombay, p. 225.
18. Report on the Census of Bengal, 1872, Calcutta, pp. Cxvi-cxvii.
19. William Ward, A View of the History, Literature and Mythology of the Hindoos, vol. II, Serampore, 1818, p. 284.
20. Quoted by novelist Sanjib Chattopadhyay in Puja Special Issue of Bartaman from Bankura District Gazeteer.
21. R.S. Sharma, Indian Feudalism, second edition, The Macmillan Company of India Limited, 1980, p. 1.
22. W. W. Hunter, A Statistical Account of Bengal, vol. II, Districts of Nadiya and Jessore, Trubner & Co., London, 1875, pp. 155-156.
23. Ward, op. cit.
24. The Survey & Settlement Report of Orissa, 1890-1900, Calcutta, 1901, p. 211.
25. W. W. Hunter, A Statistical Account of Bengal, vol. VII, London, 1876, pp. 451-452.
26. L.S.S. O’Malley, Gazetteer of Murshidabad District. pp. 201-202.
27. William Ward, op cit, vol. I, p. 51.
28. Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay, Dharma ebam Sahitya: Bibidh Hare Prabandha, Hare Press, Calcutta, 1892, pp. 719-720. The translation of his Bengali article has been attempted by this writer.
29. K S Sudarshan, RSS chief, “Every caste ensured job quota for every caste.” Quoted by PTI and in Outlook, January 27, 2006.
30. Quoted in Dr B. R. Ambedkar, Writings and Speeches, Vol. 9, Government of Maharashtra, pp. 227-228.
31. Organiser, the Rashriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) mouthpiece, November 23, 1949, 3.
The author is a retired IAS and former Vice-Chancellor, B. R. Ambedkar University, Muzaffarpur, Bihar. He can be contacted at email@example.com