Sub-Castes Among Dalits
This is with ref. to editorial of DV of Jan 1-16, 97. I must congratulate to editor for welcoming a frank debate, and an assurance, that this debate is not for personality clash.
Inhuman qualities of Hinduism
Graded inequality, Ban on inter dining, forced endogamy, polluting touch, and restriction on occupation are enumerated as evils of Hindu caste system, and it is claimed that these are absent in castes of SCs, STs and BCs. Dr. Ambedkar's theory of "Genesis of Castes" is quoted to support this view. Bojja Tharakam has dealt with this at length. Let his 'tributes to DV' be construed as a courtesy and not as change of his views. In any case, I feel, to concentrate on genesis of caste, is to divert our attention to a wrong direction. The main question is whether the castes among avarnas and savarnas, today, belong to different categories. Unfortunately, the features mentioned above are seen also in avarna castes. Avarna castes are no less dangerous to society than savarna castes. And Ambedkar's Annihilation of Castes applies equally to both.
The rosy picture painted by the editor about chamars of UP is, I am afraid, not all that true. Whatever is achieved politically is not because of strengthening of chamar jati, but due to cooperation of all the various small castes. You only have to see the caste structure of seats of MPs contested by Kanshiram during last Loksabha elections, or for that matter even in recent Vidhansabha elections. Kanshiram and Mayavati have not tried to strengthen only chamar caste, as is presumed by our editor. They have asked to strengthen all bahujans to come together and work for common good of all bahujans including dalits. They never worked for "separate but equal" castes. Neither Dr. Ambedkar, nor Shahu, nor Phuley worked on the lines mentioned by our editor. They always worked to bring all together, demolishing walls among the castes, never ever, they advocated salvation of any individual caste or that of an individual person within a caste. A letter by Dr. Ambedkar to a mang youth is proof thereof.
What is Kanshiram's 'Jati todo samaj jodo'
Dr. Ambedkar confirmed in 'Annihilation of Castes', that the sanction behind the sastras must end. He had given special emphasis on the 'Manu' a smriti said to be written by a brahmin pundit Sumati Bhargava at the time of counter-revolution started by Pushyamitra Shunga about 185 BC. This is the main book, Dr. Ambedkar attacked. It must be understood that though it is said to be religious scripture, Dr. Ambedkar considered it to be a political book, rather a law book, or you may call it the Constitution of Ancient and Medieval slave India. Only in Ambedkar's India a new Constitution is provided to this country, and that too not entirely to the satisfaction of its maker.
So the fundamental way is to make the bahujan samaj understand that they are not Hindus and hence they must stop considering themselves as Hindus. They shall not follow the tenets of Manu smriti. This is happening gradually, You find that the Adivasis, though they are being coerced by the manuvadis into believing that they must follow Hindu gods and Hindu religious worship etc., are talking freely of Ambedkarism and are turning gradually away from BSO. This process is the process of 'Samaj jodo'. This can be attributed to the work of Kanshiram in post Ambedkar era. Again I have to make it clear that at this stage, without jeopardizing stand for religious and social unity, we can only strive for political unity; the religious and social unity will have to wait. I feel, our editor, also means to achieve only political unity at this time, when he says, "What we need is not the 'unity' that destroys any identity, but an understanding and harmony which would help maintain and foster such identities to fight the oppressor." (DV p.5)
Dalit Unity is not enough
Without in any way denigrating the efforts of those who are striving for Dalit Unity, I feel, even if all the Dalits of India, of all castes, shades and colours, unite, they cannot achieve any power without the help of other oppressed castes, as they are only about 16% or so. And if there is no power, caravan of Ambedkar will be on retrograde journey. Many non-dalit castes are realizing the mischief done by Caste system, they are having dialogue with Dalits and uniting with them, as is seen in North Indian states. To think that those who talk of 'Unity' belong to a 'dominant caste' and so have an unfair vested interest in 'unity', will rather be an injustice to their efforts. The dominance they achieved is not the cause of their 'Unity talks', but it is the result of it. Before Phuley, Shahu and Ambedkar thought of Unity, the condition of all dalit castes was more or less same, none was dominant and all were subservient to BSO.
Should we not destroy our identity?
Are various leaders ready to give up their identity on argument that Dalit liberation must get priority over all other demands? One does not have to give up ones identity, if we are talking at this stage of only political unity. But if we unite only politically at this stage, a time will come, when we have to unite religiously and socially also. At that time, I would like to ask these leaders, "Can they afford not to dissolve their identities?" If they did, their castes would be wiped out by the BSO. One has only to see the way these sub-castes are fighting among themselves just for crumbs, they have forgotten that their real enemy, BSO, is safe and secure in its own citadel. Even at this stage, infighting among the sub-castes is counter productive and injurious to the interest of their own caste. It is the leaders of BSO, who make them fight by showing a carrot to the stooges. It is a post Poona pact situation of proliferating chamachas, big and small. The members of Ambedkarite public have by now acquired enough knowledge and experience to identify these stooges and keep away from them. If some one likes to remind the people of this situation, let him not be labeled as selfish and his warnings condemned as being of "educated- meaning brain washed", person of a 'dominant' caste.
What is our ideal
The ideal of society, our editor wishes to base it on is:
1. Marxist's theory of "To each according to needs and from each according to his ability." and 2. Conversion of society akin to Muslim sects. He thinks such a state will appear when we strengthen each jati. Is it the ideal for which Ambedkarites are striving? "Why Marx failed in Hindu India", has already refuted the first point. The second point of muslim social order has been amply elaborated by Dr. Ambedkar in "Thoughts on Pakistan". Condition of Muslim sects is not very happy, certainly not so happy that we may strive for it. On the contrary, even these sects need to be annihilated and Muslim society converted to a homogeneous one. But that is a different problem.
Role of Jains
It is heartening to see that, "Some Marwadi youths have started a social movement to assert that Jains are not Hindus." We read that at one time Jainism was a revolutionary religion, and they had to suffer for it at the hands of BSO. K.A.N.Sastri tells us how eight thousand Jains were put to death by impalement by a Saiva King and how a festival is celebrated every year, even now, to commemorate this event in a temple at Madura. (See my book "Tirupati Balaji was a Buddhist Shrine" p.134). Whether same spirit will be revived again, is more than I can predict.
I only know of one Jain revolutionary in modern times. He is Osho Rajnish, who said about the glass of Orange juice given by Robindranath Tagore to break the fast of M. Gandhi at the conclusion of Poona Pact, "But this orange juice, this one glass of orange juice, contains millions of people's blood!" (see hindi book "Dr. Ambedkar aur Osho" by Sandesh Bhalekar p. 43 - Vision Publication, Nagpur). He had the courage to denounce Manu in no uncertain terms that if we could forget Manusmriti whole world would call us more liberal and broad minded; Manu is sitting on our chest like a big stone. (p.51) Some Ambedkarite scholars like Lokhande and Bhalekar project him as 'in lineage of Phuley, Shahu and Ambedkar'. Other equally prominent scholars like Manohar call such projections as pollution (pradushan) in Dalit literature. What role, if any, the followers of Osho, the world over, will play in opposing BSO in future, is a question better left alone for the future generations to work out.