Monday, May 22, 2006

13. HISTORY AND PLIGHT OF DALITS OF INDIA. - 1




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A 3- part article:
Post 1;   Post  2;  Post 3;

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Though there are so many things about India - like its prehistoric civilization, multicultural ethnicity, present day technocratic social milieu, its upcoming prestige as a global IT giant - that can make every Indian proud, there is one another aspect of our society that would make every Indian feel ashamed. That is the caste discrimination. Indians have been living with this shame for centuries now. Can anybody with a conscience accept the atrocities heaped by our society as a whole upon those who carry the night soil on their heads, those who toil in the lands of the rich as bonded labourers for generations, those who are kept more as inanimate things than as normal human beings. How long this sickly psyche blaming all these to ‘fate’ or ‘god’s will’ will go on? Sadly none can be sure when, if ever, this blotch would be cleansed once for all from the face of Indian society.

Origin of this caste system in the Indian society dates back to thousands of years. The fair skinned Aryans arrived in India around 1500 B,C. from South Europe and North Asia. When the fair-skinned Aryans invaded India, about two thousand years before Jesus Christ they defeated the dark-skinned indigenous people, Dravidians, who were the founder of the Indian Civilization. The Aryans subjugated them, learnt many things from them and built up another civilization, which came to be known as the Ganges Valley or Hindu Civilization. To perpetuate the enslavement of the original inhabitants of India, the Aryans created the caste system, and thereby excluded them from their own society with the name of Sudra (which means slave). And more than this, another group of people were left as ‘outcastes’ who were even denied of human status. In order to secure their status the Aryans resolved some social and religious rules, which allowed only them to be the priests, warriors and the businessmen of the society. History of the Aryan intrusion into India and their dominance over the original inhabitants, Dravidians and the prominence given to the scriptures of the former were the root cause for this caste discrimination. Vedas, smiruthis and manushastra, the scriptures of Aryans became the pillars of Hinduism. Caste system institutionalized by them had been made as Varnashram ordained by their gods. Varnashram, not only classified the society into four divisions, left out the fifth category, the untouchables and even unseeables. The fate of this lot had been remaining the same for all these past millennia. The Hindu caste system upholds with religious sanctions a hierarchical society. It does not even recognize this fifth class as human beings at all. The Brahmanic varna system (`varnashrama dharma') is basically a genocidal apartheid system designed to exterminate the `black varna'. The theory of Aryan invasion could be a matter of dispute and there is, of late, a counter theroy denying the 'invasion' ofAryans. But what cannot be denied is the place for varnashram in Hindu Vedas.
Following quotes from their manushastra will prove the level of cruelty they showed towards the low caste and outcaste people:

" Having killed a cat, an ichneumon, a blue jay, a frog, a dog, an iguana, an owl, or a crow, he shall perform the penance for the murder of a Sudra." -- [ Manu IX.132 ]

" Every act that is considered the privilege of the Brahman, such as saying prayers, the reciting of the Veda, and offering of sacrifices to the fire, is forbidden to him, to such a degree that when, a Sudra or a Vaisya is proved to have recited the Veda, he is accused by the Brahmans before the ruler, and the latter will order his tongue to be cut off. However, the meditation on God is not prohibited.-- [ al-B.ii.127 Ch.LXIV ] "

· " A once-born man (Sudra) who insults a twice-born man (Aryan) with gross invective, shall have his tongue cut out; for he is of low origin." -- [ Manu VIII.270 ]

· " If he mentions the names and castes (Jati) of the (twice-born) contumely, an iron nail, 10 fingers long, shall be thrust red-hot into his mouth." -- [ Manu VIII.271 ]

· " If he arrogantly teaches Brahmins their duty, the king shall cause hot oil to be poured into his mouth and into his ears. " -- [ Manu VIII.272

The great distinctions of caste are to be maintained not only in the earthly life, but also after death. According to Markandaya Purana, after death, the virtuous Brahman goes to the abode of Brahma, the good Kshatriya to that of Indra, the worthy Vashya to that of the Maruts, and the dutiful Sudra to that of the Gandharvas. Apparently, the Untouchable (Dalit) does not deserve any place in any heaven, may be because of his untouchability even by gods themselves!

During the British period the rulers had tried to implement some affirmative measures to the welfare of the outcastes. They were the ones who introduced the terms: scheduled castes and scheduled tribes. British Government provided the outcastes with free lands, known as Ipanchami lands. But by the dominance of the upper castes and the ignorance of the outcastes, all the lands thus given for outcastes are with the upper castes. The term ‘dalits’ meaning ‘broken people’ was first used by Jyotiraj Phule Maharashtra (1827-1890), a backward class social reformer, to describe the untouchables and outcastes of India as the oppressed and broken victims of the Hindu society. The term is a constant reminder of their age-old oppression and deprivation. It does not actually mean poor or outcast but it is a state to which a certain section of the people have been reduced through systemic and systematic religious process and are forced to live continually in that predicament. Dalits all over India are forced to undertake the filthy and the menial work of sweeping, manual scavenging, drum beating and cremating the dead bodies. Dalits are treated as slaves and still they are forced to bear the pains of “social boycotting” an illegal pronouncement by the dominant caste people.

Naked parading, forcing Dalit women to become maidens to God, - a ritulalistic prostitution and sexual harrassment of Dalit women by the dominant caste persons, which are still a common sight in some parts of the country.
to be continued.....

14 comments:

cinna said...

Sir, Excellent articles. Keep writing more in this vein.

தருமி said...

thanks a lot cinna. i really need this sort of encouragement. else it all becomes பாலை நிலவு !

திரு said...

A good one depicting the caste system of India. Please continue to write in English too; so that it can be reachable to wider readers.

தருமி said...

thiru,
//it would be reachable to wider readers. //
ha!!where are you, thiru? என்ன வச்சி காமெடி ஏதும் பண்ணலியே? :)

Roxanne said...

brillant! I am one of the few lucky one's whose never gad to deal with all of this but through this article I can feel the pain.

Roxanne said...

brillant! I am one of the few lucky one's whose never gad to deal with all of this but through this article I can feel the pain.

தருமி said...

thank you, Roxanne

Arif Rasheed said...

a very nice article presenting the past and the future realities of Dalits in India...

by Arif Rasheed

Arif Rasheed said...

a very nice article presenting the past and present realities of Dalits in India...


By Arif Rasheed

Arif Rasheed said...

a very nice article presenting the past and present realities of Dalits in India...


By Arif Rasheed

தருமி said...

thanks, rasheed

chinnu said...

brillant facts ,its time people know the real history of caste and hinduism.adi dravidians are ancient inhabitants of india who were pushed to the current state due to cunningness of invaders and rest of generations have been blindly following without knowing the truth .its time people awake up from their deep root ignorance and end this stupidity.when v can fight r indepence of india ?why do v follow caste system ?

Ajay Ram said...

I heard that untouchability started around 7th century ad in India irrespective of the caste. May i know the source please...

தருமி said...

ajay ram,

sorry i don't know the details of the history of untouchability. however i recently heard in one of the TV programmes, where a social activist gave the same statement like yours. - http://dharumi.blogspot.in/2013/04/650.html -

want to know the details.