Thoughts on economics and liberty

Does the Hindutva philosophy really oppose the caste system?

My previous blog post/s on the issue of caste and liberty were in relation to pretend "Hindus" who believe in the caste system because they can exploit cheap labour.

Hitesh Rangra tells me that believers in Hindutva are not pretend Hindus and actually oppose the caste system. Here's a set of tweets on this subject. Read from the bottom up (this is listed with the most recent first)

sabhlok: @hiteshrangra The discussion is not about "Hindutva" but about pretend "Hindus". I'm glad we both oppose caste.

hiteshrangra: @sabhlok :Sanjeev Jee one fact most of RSS volunteer of RSS and leaders are not even on internet. They believe in working rather than media

hiteshrangra: @sabhlok :- Most of top leader of RSS are from so called lower caste(as we don't believe in caste system).

hiteshrangra: @sabhlok :- Because every time people talk about Hindutva movement they point finger towards RSS.There is nothing like caste exist there

sabhlok: @hiteshrangra Hindutva has a "high" mind (at times) and low, dirty tactics on the ground. I'm talking about all pretend "Hindus".

hiteshrangra: @sabhlok :- There is nothing like caste exist in Hindutva movement. Without knowing organization how can you say like this??

hiteshrangra: @sabhlok :- Hindutva fanatics who can't live without chamars, bhangis and other such slaves? Dear we are one who hate Caste system.

hiteshrangra: @sabhlok :- Please don't malign Hinduism for caste system.It was created by everyone knows whom.

hiteshrangra: @sabhlok :-"if untouchability is not wrong, nothing in the world is wrong"–Madhukar Dattatraya Deoras

hiteshrangra: @sabhlok :- It needs effort from each and everyone.

hiteshrangra: @sabhlok :- We don't believe in caste sir every human blood is red as common component in our blood is Fe(iron) nothing else.

sabhlok: @hiteshrangra Hitesh The caste system is evil regardless of who or when it was started. It is this evil that I invite you to destroy.

hiteshrangra: @sabhlok :-Dear it was Herbert Hope Risley who supported William Jones Aryan Race theory to create caste system.

On the other hand, I do have this extract from my compilation on RSS made a few years ago (see below). [In this context I must add that RSS is not necessarily representative of Hindutva, which is a philosophy with no organisational ownership. It is best associated with the famous Indian atheist, Vinayak Savarkar of the Hindu Mahasabha. Hindutva seems to be a very malleable philosophy, that can be moulded to suit the proponent's beliefs.]

Connivance and promotion of caste system
1. "Although 'hierarchy' and 'discrimination' are criticized by Golwalkar, for example, the idea that people are born into a particular occupation seems to be tacitly accepted: . .. [T]he distinctions in the social order did not imply any discrimination of big or small, high or low, among its constituents. On the other hand, the Gita tells us that the individual who does his assigned duties in life in a spirit of selfless service only worships Gods through such performance (Golwalkar 1966: I07, in Andersen and Damle 1987: 8i, emphasis added). … [T]he leadership of the organization remains distinctly Brahmin (Andersen and Damle 1987: 45)." [Joseph S. Alter, ‘Somatic Nationalism: Indian Wrestling and Militant Hinduism, Modern Asian Studies, Vol. 28, No. 3 (Jul., 1994), pp. 557-588]
2. "Following the elite, upper-caste base of anushilan, the initial RSS volunteers were Nagpur Brahmins." [Milind Wakankar, 'Body, Crowd, Identity: Genealogy of a Hindu Nationalist Ascetics, Social Text, No. 45 (Winter, 1995), pp. 45-73]  [Source]

Happy to hear from you. I must add this (from my previous notes, cited above):

One good news on the subject of casteism:
4. "NEW DELHI: Ideological chalk and cheese shared dais when firebrand Dalit poet Namdeo Dhasal and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh chief K Sudarshan came together at a book release function in the Capital on Wednesday.

The internationally renowned poet and Dalit leader is the founder president of Maharashtra's Dalit Panther that has traditionally been at odds with the RSS. The Dalit Panther has for long looked upon the RSS as representing the Brahmanical order. Ironically, Dhasal released a RSS book on Dalit pain at the function." [Dalit leader buries the hatchet with RSSThe Times of India(Sept 1, 2006)]

3. "NEW DELHI: Following up on its radical call last year to train and appoint Dalits as priests in Hindu temples, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) has severely condemned the barring of Dalits from a temple in Orissa recently.

An year-end editorial in the Sangh mouthpiece Panchjanya termed as unfortunate the discriminatory attitude of temple authorities at the Jagannath temple in Kerdagarh saying it was "shameful that even in 2006 there are temples where Dalits are disallowed Even God will desert the temple that Dalits cannot enter." [RSS rips into ban on Dalits entering temples. The Times of India (Jan 4, 2007)]

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Sanjeev Sabhlok

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25 thoughts on “Does the Hindutva philosophy really oppose the caste system?
  1. Hitesh Kumar

    Sanjeev Jee,

    Do you know why i am calling you Sanjeev Jee because we never bother to know about person last name. We always say Sajeev Jee. I am volunteer with Sangh from last 16 years at age of 9 when i listen to Prachark of Sangh about caste and their movement to abolish them it was best memory associated with me till today. Nothing like caste exist between us. We eat together ,work together. Nothing like caste exist.
    People needs something to write they write about organization nothing else.


  2. Anil

    Dear Sanjeevji,

    I believe that the caste system is Hindutva’s कलंक . This evil caste system has oppressed the majority of the native Indians for centuries and this oppression continues even today; the caste based discrimination kills the soul of the individual.

    Hitesh, how many in your family, relationships, friends (including RSS) have married outside their caste? This will tell you in clear terms how deeply the Hindu psyche is soaked in caste system.

    I have personally taken a vow that I will never attend an arranged marriage that’s within caste.

    For FTI, when we get into grass roots politics our stand on caste system will be the key issue.

    Jai Hind.

  3. Hitesh Kumar

    Hi Anil,

    Don’t want to say anything.
    One single line to you and people alike you.
    It’s not MIND but it’s MINDSET issue.

    Jai Ma Bharti

  4. Ramesh

    I was thrilled to know that Savarkar was Athiest. What a great Hindu! Only a qualified Hindu could understand the contradictions (if any apparant) involved.

    He opposed castism etc tooth and nail. RSS alone can explain whether it supports castism or not. Their opposition to Dalits to take over some temples need not SUFFICIENTLY be equated as support to castism. Their interpretation has to be taken into account of which I am yet to study.

    When it comes to marriage (personal things) [Anil may note!]; administration of temples (Temple being an object of Shastras they should be regulated as per the shastras and to be debated among Hindus who are thiest and Dalit Pandits) etc castism cannot be judged as to whether Hindu supports it or not (Personal things in above sense). However when it comes to the public things (to be shared among people) like education, politics, ownership rights, sharing of property, income etc the view of a Hindu may be taken whether he supports castism or not etc. Savarkar himself is witness to this either by way of his philosophy or his deeds. His associates like RSS, VHP, BJP either should mend themselves or stop interpreting themselves as Hidutva.

    Hindutva does oppose the caste system! It is the Governments which promote it in the name of reservations, minority politics just for votebanks! And when it is promoted by the age old practice, traditions etc Government can easily ensure that other than top castes are not affected by this by making suitable legislations.

    Anybody who talks of Hindu castism should first talk of the reservations, minoirity politics (how many are doing it who talk against castism?) so high in the past few decades! Then how much Hindu castism affects the other can be judged and measures can easily and tangibly be effected by the law. Otherwise it would be debate of only interpretations, shastras, politics, policies, grievances etc and above all a domain of ‘religion’ a PERSONAL thing.

    There are three categories. Hindu philosophy, what actually is practised and whether government at hand ensures equality. These are all different, not necessarily be mixed in the common sense. There is a democracy and no need to blame Hindutva etc. Let the Hindus debate it which will be personal for them. For this reason debating reservation, minority politics (in fact these itself are sustaning the castism in India) becomes the top priority than the castism.

    There is no liberty and freedom in the government policies and till that time castism should be personal for themselves. If someone suffers from it let him reject it. That much freedom Hindutva offers!. Let the people either reform Hindutva/ism or reject it (for their own interpretations and debate) but not blame it, I think.

  5. Anil

    Exactly, it’s MINDSET issue for a whole lot like yourself who do not see the writing on the wall. But try as you may one cannot hide behind the facts.

    The sooner you get out of this MINDSET the better. Wake up and smell the coffee, the world is changing.

    Jai Hind

  6. Anil

    Dear Ramesh,

    You are suggesting that it’s OK for one to be supporter of caste system in private but not in public affairs. You must be kidding yourself. This is appalling and delusional thinking. You can’t afford two thinking mindsets one for private and other for public. What you do in private reflects in public.

    Marriage, when it’s sanctioned by society, registered by government is not a private matter. A caste based marriage is the epitome of evil of caste system. Do you know how many couples are killed because they did not have the caste sanction for their relationship? Have you heard of Khap marriage issue? You call it private?

    “Hindutva does oppose the caste system!” – Please provide one example and I will provide 10 where it does support caste system.

    The problem is that most of you do not understand the discrimination that goes in the name of caste. Go live in a village for couple of years; for effect tell everyone that you are a Harijan or SC/ST and see for yourself the treatment you get.

    Jai Hind.

  7. Sureshan

    Orginal sanadan DHarma did not recognise caste system. it was came much later. some vested interested class done this after interpreting the meaning of Geeta, that interpretation is proved wrong as Upanishads speaks against caste system . Story of Maithreya is very important . Here explains what is the real meaning of Brahmin- a person of high thoughts and high knowledge can be Brahmin. Since Maithreya was born to a domestic servant he did not know who was his father. After attaining knowledge he was became Brahmin. So the basis for identification of four different sects was their duties and nothing more. By birth no body entitled to claim any caste. Geeta was summary of upanishads. real meaning of geeta can’t be contrary to Upanishads . Caste system has no basis in this country and thus should not be recognized any more.

  8. Anil

    1. Arjun’s dilemma in Geeta starts with conviction that if most of the ruling class gets killed then the future progenies will be of mixed caste (varna shankar).

    2. Story of Eklavya and Karna are well known.

    3. The most widely followed, read, referenced and preached scripture Ramcharitmanas is strewn with verses saying that a Brahmin even if bad must always be treated with high regard and a Shudra howsoever knowledgeable can never be treated at par with a Brahmin.

    These are just some references. For a moment let’s assume that Hindutva does not encourage caste system. But look at the ground reality in India. The evil of caste system is eating away India’s soul. Can anyone deny this?

    Jai Hind

  9. Ramesh

    Dear Anil,

    I wholly sympathize with your thinking about the plight of Dalits on grounds. By my comment I mean this reality cannot be corrected by the legislation but only with the religious ‘reform’ for those who wish it for others Ambedkar has shown the way (being just another religion). Legislative means like reservations etc just distort the system which need not guarantee their welfare in every sense.

    Married life has to be lived privately and it is personal in the sense that choice of partner is personal. When it comes to the relationship with other person it has to be governed by the ‘accountability and responsibility’ of liberty and freedom.

    So most of your comment deals with the action by the ‘reformers’ (it being altogether different topic) and I am unable to see what a role government can play in that.

  10. Sanjeev Sabhlok

    Agree, Ramesh. There is no role for the state in “fixing” the caste system. The state must be BLIND to the various groups to which an individual belongs. All must be treated exactly equally for legal purposes.

    Let social reformers (and ordinary people like us) debate and CHANGE society. But changing society is not the role of government. Its job is very limited: defence, police, justice.


  11. Anil

    Of course state can never fix the caste system. But state definitely has a role to fix the discrimination that is borne out of this caste system. In US and UK at least there are very strict laws against race and hate crimes; this has surely made a difference in these societies.

    This post is about “Hindutva supporting caste system”. And on that there is no question and Hindu marriages within caste system are the biggest proof of that. In most of these so called arranged marriages the boy and girl have no say. To do otherwise is too dangerous and costly. The point I am trying to make is that caste system is enforced through marriages; that’s the fountain-head.

    Again I agree that there is no role for state to fix the caste system but it must absolutely deal with the discrimination borne out of the practices of caste system.

    On discrimination, I would again repeat what I had said in my previous comment that most of us do not understand the discrimination that comes out of evil practices of caste system; and unless one understands this first hand I do not see them being able to succeed in Indian politics.

    Jai Hind.

  12. Anil

    Ah! Ramesh one more thing, Dalits and oppressed classes do not need our sympathetic feelings; that will be too patronising. That’s what Gandhi did by giving them the label of Harijan.

    All that they need is equality of opportunity and justice.

    Jai Hind.

  13. Sanjeev Sabhlok

    Sorry, Anil, have been v. busy.

    What do you mean by: “there is no role for state to fix the caste system but it must absolutely deal with the discrimination borne out of the practices of caste system”. How must the state deal with this issue?


  14. Ramesh

    Good Anil,

    Re: All that they need is equality of opportunity and justice.

    Just state how this a state is going to be ensured. Reservations? Minority politics?

    And we will understand your stand better I think.

    By sympathy I mean ‘Social Reform’, debate as to the real meanings of the Hindutva etc which places Dalits on par with the others etc which I think would be the means.

  15. MrIndianAtheist

    Why are we sticking ourselves to religious and ideological concepts like Hinduism, caste system that were introduced by people who were less evolved than us and had very primitive understanding of the world?

  16. MrIndianAtheist

    RE: “What do you mean by: “there is no role for state to fix the caste system but it must absolutely deal with the discrimination borne out of the practices of caste system”. How must the state deal with this issue?”

    1.State must deny opportunities and concessions to the people who are hell bent on practicing discrimination based on caste, religion, gender, language ,ethnicity or sexual preference.
    2.State must campaign against practice of discrimination.
    3.State must device laws that makes punishments more severe for the crimes those crimes were committed because of such prejudices.

  17. Sanjeev Sabhlok

    Dear MA

    The state must NOT discriminate on any ground, even on the ground of discrimination. All laws must apply uniformly to all.

    How does it matter if A is killed by B because of hatred,discrimination or other malicious intent? A is dead. B must be punished with capital punishment except where mitigating circumstances apply.

    In brief, punishment must be proportionate to the crime. Intent forms part of this analysis. No additional laws are needed.


  18. MrIndianAtheist

    @Hitesh Kumar: A statement here and there from RSS against caste practices is not sufficient for the organisation that claims to be the sole organisation working for all Hindus. Even ISI chief says that they don’t support proxy fighters. Does anyone believe them?
    RSS has to show that it is against Caste system and its evils by its actions. In Maharashtra there have been numerous incidents of caste based violence by people and by state machinery. I am yet to hear RSS doing anything about them.

  19. MrIndianAtheist

    @Sanjeev Sabhlok: In current laws pertaining to murder intentions decide whether the person will get death penalty or life imprisonment. If a man kills his wife the moment he catches her cheating on him is punished with life imprisonment because most probably he was provoked and out of his own control at that time. However if he kills her later with good planning behind it then , he is most likely to get death sentence.

  20. Hitesh Kumar

    @MrIndianAtheist:- What you have done till now? Isn’t it duty of all of us??
    Speaking and throwing garbage here and there is easy but working is not that easy. Dear come out if RSS doing you can also do. You people can speak only but can’t do anything.
    I am yet to hear , country yet to hear what you have done as common citizen? I proudly said in conversation with Sanjeev because this what we have done. What you have done? Will you look inside you and do on individual level.
    It’s not your duty?

  21. Sanjeev Sabhlok

    MA, precisely my point. Existing laws are sufficient to deal with the precise nature of intent in a particular crime. No additional laws are needed. They will merely confuse, by over-emphasising certain motivations (e.g. discrimination) at the expense of other equally or more problematic motivations.

  22. Sunil

    Question to MrIndianAtheist. Should the state enforce the actions you propose on every one or only on upper caste bias against lower caste. Just to let you know because of the policies of Indian state in the last 60 years the reverse also exists i.e lower caste discriminates the upper caste. For eg. OBC & dalits refer to Brahmins with a derogatory term “bapana” in AP, foist false cases of discrimination on upper caste officer etc. Indian state already has laws which you recommend, then why do you think the caste bias still exists?

  23. Sanjeev Sabhlok

    “Indian state already has laws which you recommend” What are you talking about? Can you specify?

  24. Bijan Mukhopadhyay

    I hail from a conservative Brahmin family. In childhood I have never noticed any discrimination towards lower class. I even taught not to call them by name or by caste if he is elder instead as grandfather, uncle or brother I also noticed Brahmins and lower caste people were equally dependent on other upper caste. It was responsibility of upper caste to look after needs of lower caste. A Brahmin doctor of Calcutta Medical College Dr. Hedgewar founded RSS to eradicate caste division. Except highly educated non-Brahmins upper caste never supported RSS as they do not like to sit and eat with other lower caste as per system of RSS.That’s why RSS never gained political and social power. Had it support of other upper caste it would have been at helm of country’s affair. There is no difference between life style and thinking of communists and RSS other that allegiance of RSS to India and social upliftment work and communist to Marx. Due to European and English effect now RSS is victim of untouchability.A fight for survival

  25. Sanjeev Sabhlok

    The fact that you think you have a caste proves you are part of the problem. Second, that you think Hedgewar had any intention to create social reform shows how little you’ve read of his work/ intent. Please do so.

    RSS is poison in every way. Let’s get rid of such bogus organisations.

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