Thoughts on India's Caste Disapproval Obsession

An old Mexican painting about 16 castas (Wikipedia)

Recently, I came across perhaps the nth thread on the issue of caste and its European origins. While I cannot disregard the seriousness and merit of the arguments often put forth, it's something that I feel rather jaded about.

Allow me to elaborate on some points that would perhaps clarify my position on the same.

First of all, this is a rather complicated issue because in all honesty the jati ossification can be traced back genetically. A lot of genetic studies have been done that came to this conclusion, dating it to 2,000 - 2,500 years ago. While it has its fair share of criticism DNA results can't be just wished away. Therefore to ignore this would be naiive at best.

European caste system certainly is a reality, and that same understanding was perpetuated to understand India. It was not an Iberian peninsula phenomenon; rather, it was widespread across Europe. A good indicator of the same would be the long standing presence of the feudal structures all the way into the 19th century. However, the application of the same lens to Indian jati varna system has now transformed from a sloppy attempt to a nefarious one. In fact, it was the seed for nazi political thought in many ways.

Having said that, varna is a nuance lost even today to most people within and outside India. I think it's a failure on our part because we try to monkey balance on the subject all the time. Jati was not necessarily a barrier to social status. If it were the case so many "shudra" royalties all the way up to the 20th century would not be a reality as social revolts would have been perpetual.

The thread is literally another example of addressing issues that the western and leftist academia has left far behind and is not going to entertain. We can keep harping things like this but all we achieve in the end is the tag of caste discrimination apologists which is grossly unfair. It is some what like the whole attempt to demonstrate "apaurusheyatva" of the Vedas, which often times looks outright silly.

The fact that status was not a barrier should instead be our focus when it comes to deconstructing the exaggerations on caste in India, because the real battle is to prove oppression. Contrasting examples should be celebrated to question thw discrimination narrative. As an example, Rani Durgavati had married into Gondis despite being a Rajput. Such examples need to be dug out, mainstreamed and used to fight the battle.

Casteism is not just restricted to Hinduism. Buddhism literally endorses the system as seen Madhura Sutta, Majjhima Nikaya and many texts. Similarly, Jain and Sikh literature also literally endorses "upper caste hegemony" given the context of the lineages. This pretty much punctures the myth that these religions were some kind of egalitarian revolutions. Racial supremacy of Islam and Christianity are also realities that cannot be cast away.

The best solution to this has been in the present socio-political context was given by thr Sadhu samaj in the 1980s and often reiterated by Yogi Adityanath - jati is not the problem, jativaad is. This distinction is necessary in public space to defang a lot of the propaganda.


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