Sunday, June 1, 2014

Why Badayun is a Wake-Up Call for Greater Hindu Unity Within India

"Why am I asked about my caste when I go to the police? Am I not a citizen?"  

The recent horrific case coming out of Badayun has many layers to the problem. Caste oppression has been one aspect of it. Members of the Yadav community have been found guilty of misusing their status in society to commit such dastardly acts including murder and sexual assault on Dalit girls. Another has been the appalling state of sanitation in India and the subsequent harassment women face, which has implications on public health and, as the case shows, law and order as well. While the latter is no less troublesome for a nation that aspires to be a global superpower of this century, a major worry for me personally has been the perpetuity of the ills that the decaying caste system carries with them in the form that it is seen across many parts of the country even today.

Caste system existed in India in a certain time and context. It is not a racial profile as is often misconstrued by lazy arm chair academics and brainwashed left leaning ideologues. Rather, there were two aspects to it - the status at your birth, and the profession you should practise. Any moderately devout Hindu would have noted that their birth chart carries an epithet varna, which is the profession that the individual should particularly pursue. Jati is what one may be born in, but technically the system was supposed to be flexible to allow merit to rise the ranks. The Shalya Parva of the Mahabharata recalls a story whereby a rishi who was of a lower jati and was not invited for a mahayagna took away the river Saraswati with him, thus causing its disappearance. With time however, the system began to decay due to various influences,  including invasions by foreigners and ownership of property, leading to solidification of the barriers that existed. What made it worse however was the British rule in India.  The multiplicity of texts and the difference of relationships that existed in various regions of India amongst people of different castes were set in stone by the British, who conveniently used Manusmriti as the guiding text for 'governing the natives of India'. It was another disguise for dividing Indians, particularly Hindus, amongst themselves, so that they could never stand united and give an authoritative challenge to British rule and hegemony.

Many leading lights saw through this divisive plan of the British to rule India forever. Sri Aurobindo, a leading authority on Hindu thought and reformer, was a luminary even during his revolutionary days, and had a great impact on many future revolutionaries of Bengal, including Surjya Sen. Veer Savarkar was critical in casting light as he had long identified the dangers of the perpetual divisions Indians would face if they did not unite, and worked very hard to fight these ills, being amongst the few who supported Baba Saheb Ambedkar's struggles. Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) set up by Guru Golwalkar and others have always strived since their inception towards removing these social ills among others from Hindu society.

However, the problem of division of Hindu society has persisted. These carried over into independent India, with power shifting towards marginalized groupings of society. The acceptance of the fundamental faultlines that were responsible for dividing India and Hindus in particular has wrecked havoc on India even after the British left India. These fictional faultlines were introduced into India particularly by the British, and they were used as tools to divide Hindus to the extent that any talk of unity degenerates into a blame game. The damage it has caused in the region has been immense. Conflicts in Sri Lanka and Nepal have persisted because many of these falsehoods have been accepted as truths. Closer home, the oppression of the weakest sections of Hindu society has persisted, with a change in the perpetrators towards the marginalized but numerically dominant caste groupings in India. The RSS has been labelled a fascist organization, and its name is used for scaring sections of Hindu society. This grasp of power becomes necessary to maintain a distinct identity, since power corrupts people, and can be used to condone even the most horrific of crimes, like the case coming out of Badayun. The response to the case in Badayun by Hindus has been tepid at best. Armchair activists have been busy spinning stories that can only cause greater friction within Hindu society. Politicians whose role has only been to tear Hindus apart are being allowed to take advantage of the situation.

These divisions of Hindu society are responsible for the continuous cycle of violence that power play causes in India. As a result of this violence, people have been blinded to the damage being caused to the larger cause of Hindu unity for eradication of evils. A few people reap the benefit by whipping up emotions along caste lines, and can then get away with rank non-performance when it comes to governance. These people patronize other people who continue to undermine the integrity of India - physical and spiritual - with falsehoods and imagined conspiracies, and work hard to deepen faultlines within Hindu society using these half truths. A divided Hindu society has been the reason why crimes against the weak of society will persist, because if the debate will always be about 'us' and 'them' but not about 'we', no evil can ever be rooted out. Hindus will be immunized to horrific crimes against humanity, because they will not see themselves as Hindus but as someone of a particular caste who 'own' power in society not to do greater good for others but to fill their own pockets.

Hindu unity is the need of the hour.A vibrant united Hindu society today cannot have a decayed foundation which finds its acceptance in wild goose chase theories and imaginations of the erstwhile colonial masters. It will not allow India to retain its glory as the jagatguru as the spiritual and moral authority shall continue to be chipped away at by those for whom a divided Hindu society has financial and political benefits. We need to come together and condemn this incident not just as a particular caste man but as a Hindu. This will send out the signal that there is no space for such horrors in Hindu society. This in turn will teach a lesson to those  political and cultural forces whose sole aim is to divide India. 

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