Kancha Ilaiah Shepherd
I kept watching the funerals of people killed by the brutal coronavirus in the global pandemic of Covid-19 on TV channels and read about them in newspapers. Those dead bodies who are described as Hindu are being quickly burnt without anybody around. The usual presence of the Brahmin priest to recite slokas are nowhere to be seen. Only the rich upper castes seem to have the wherewithal to have Brahmin priests, but that was also not seen in the times of pandemic.
The Christians and Muslims dead are being buried at the same time with prayers offered by the normal religious priests and by practising physical safe disease distance, at least. Christians are not being taken to church during the pandemic due to the fear of Corona infection.
Covid has drastically changed the way the religious rituals around death are carried out. When a husband dies while the wife is alive a huge process of the wife getting transformed into a widow is a torturous course. The process involves a public activity in Hindu system. Even such such activity is forced to confine to just family with a fear of spreading the coronavirus.
But what comes out very clear is that the Brahmin priest is more careful about his long life here than other religious priests who are willing to risk life for the sake of dead person’s moksha. The death from Covid is not because of an individual’s crime, and that disease itself is believed to be allowed by god by other religious priests.
A Brahmin priest lives only for himself and not even for his caste people when pandemics like Covid-19 threaten his own life. His divine role disappears into thin air when his own life is in risk.
A friend of mine called Usaa Barber who declared himself Buddhist died of coronavirus suddenly on July 15, 2020. About two dozen of his young activist friends followed his body to a crematorium and electrocuted in the oven, after a brief condolence meeting by all those present. I could not attend his funeral as I am a 67-year old declared to the most at-risk age category. Series of condolence online meetings made his memory better publicized than would be the case of his normal death and some public meetings. Of course, if not for corona, he would have lived a longer life.
Buddhism did not define whether the human body should be buried or burnt. Dr BR Ambedkar who embraced Buddhism in 1956 in a gathering along with half a million Dalits, was burnt after his death, while Buddhist monks offered prayers in Pali language in Mumbai. The Dalit Buddhists around his Mahaparinirvana (funeral) body yatra might not have understood what they said in those prayers. However, Gautham Buddha said that human body consists of four elements –soil, water, heat and air– and after the death only when buried each part of human body mixes with the larger natural part of the soil, water, heat and air by enriching the nature. Its essence is that the human body should be buried but not burnt. Unfortunately, Ambedkar’s funeral left a legacy that is very near to Brahminism and hence the claim of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and the Brahmin pantheon that Buddhism is part of Brahminism.
The communists and atheists, the world over, think that the human body is material as much as any other material of nature. In death, human-machine becomes dysfunctional. Hence so long as it is functioning it should be happy with all necessary material comforts and be free from exploitation from another human. However, even when a communist in the particular religious family dies, they dispose off the body according to the family’s religious roots. If one’s family has Hindu roots, burning of the body is done, if it is Christian or Muslim, then burial is preferred. For them, it makes no difference whether it is buried or burnt, as that is the end of it. In my view, their materialist view of the human body is less scientific than that of Buddha. Buddhism thought that human body that comes from the soil should go back to soil in natural form, but communists have not offered any explanation about what happens to the human body after death.
However, Buddha and Marx had a similar understanding when it comes to materiality. Both did not believe in the existence of God. There is no notion of moksha or heaven or hell in their belief system.
However, The notion of heaven and hell after death were found to be a part of universal belief systems. The communist or rationalist ideologies had little inroads in challenging those masses who still believe in these notions of hell and heaven across religions. Majority of Shudras and Dalits believe in heaven and hell concepts without even realizing that the Brahmin who created a caste system did it to deny them equality in this life and entry into heaven permanently.
Once he denied them the right to directly engage with god as a priest, it is clear proof that their entry into swarga (the Brahminical notion of heaven) is also blocked permanently. The direct engagement with god in a language that one understands is a door to the philosophical realization of god. Without such a philosophical realization of human’s achievement of satisfaction of life here and fulfilment of the idea of attainment of moksha hereafter is not possible.
The right to priesthood is a core philosophical principle of any religion. Everybody should have a right to directly engage with God and to become a priest if one chooses within a given religion. Hinduism, which is a ruse for Brahminism, does not allow that. Due to the hierarchical world view of Brahminism, Hinduism still remains as a primitive cult without evolving into a religion.
The Brahmin denied the right to swarga to all Shudras and Dalits irrespective of their wealth and political power here on this earth, which has serious implication to the life hereafter. This is the final philosophical stroke that a Brahmin used against all food producers, housebuilders, cattle grazers and other artisans or total ecosystem makers, which even ensured the very Brahmin’s survival, who prospered without ever involving in production. It is a cruel, merciless spiritual ideology that the Brahmin evolved. But think of Christian or Muslim and Buddhist or Sikh or Jew or Confucian. They are not bound by a Brahmin spiritual fascist rule and control both on earth and heaven or equivalent of it in those spiritual structures as they are made available to all of their co-religionists
The individuals in those religions live their respective life here on this material world based on their individual actions, and that would decide whether they are going to heaven or hell. One destined for heaven or hell is based on their individual actions and ‘God’ in these religions directly deals with them. It is this belief system that sustained religions in the world.
But only Shudras and Dalits of the world do not have that choice. The communist, secular and rationalist ideologies refuse to engage with this huge philosophical problem because the same Brahmins captured both the older spiritual and newer secular domains. All over India, we can see how Brahmins remained head of these ideological schools also. The Shudras and Dalits missed the bus to wellbeing in this material world and heaven in the afterlife for four thousand years. What a human tragedy!
For the first time, caste and rituals disappeared in Indian funeral process in the Covid times. But in any death in normal times caste plays a critical role in India. Under the grip of Brahminism, caste decides who should go to heaven and who should go to hell. According to their spiritual theory only Brahmins and in certain degrees the other Dwija castes, are always sin-free. But the Shudras, Dalits and Adivasis are sinners whatever they do. They produce food for all; they make cloth for all; they build houses for all, yet they cannot get out of the Brahmin’s idea of sin. The theory of caste-based sin has become a permanent trap for Shudras/Dalits/Adivasis. The worst part is that very few are even aware of this spiritual trap.
For human beings who live as part of a religion the idea of Ihaloka (this world) good life and Paraloka (Heaven), permanent seat and sukha (pleasures) in heaven play a critical role. That heavenly pleasures are believed to be permanent. For the Shudra/Dalit/Adivasis neither there is sukha of equality and spiritual attainment with a right to become a priest in the temple in this life, nor there is a hope of permanent sukha in the heaven.
Caste and Swarga
What happens to those who died in the corona, and what happens to those who died for millennia within caste cultural discrimination in the afterlife? This question is critical as the Shudra/Dalit/Adivasis who are non-Muslim, non-Christian, non-Buddhist and non-Sikh, as they are defined as Hindu?
Shudras and Dalits are considered to be Hindus in general parlance, but in real terms, they cannot become a priest in the temple or attain full spiritual citizenship within the Hindu religion. If they cannot attain priesthood, they have no legitimate avenue to negotiate with the god who controls both this worldly life and the life after death. In this context, the question arises whether the Shudras and Dalits, could attain swarga (heaven) at all?
After I spoke about this truth in one of the Telugu TV (ABN) channel interviews that Shudras leave alone Dalits will not be allowed by the same Brahmin priest into heaven after death, there was a flutter. Particularly among the Shudra upper layer who has some political clout. But not so from the rulers in Delhi as they control both political and religious systems. Why?
In the two Telugu states Reddys, Kammas Velamas, and as they were/are not only agrarian communities but also regional rulers and have some regional political control. They have their own regional parties. Even then their control on civil society is limited and their control Hindu spiritual system is very partial because the whole Hindu (actually Brahmin) spiritual system that actually rules in day to day basis is not in their control. Similarly, Yadavs in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, Jats in Utter Pradesh, in Haryana, Marathas in Maharashtra, Shudra/OBCs in Tamilnadu, Vokkaliga in Karnataka (Deve Gowda family) control regional parties. Though in Kerala the Communist Party of India Marxist is like a regional party with main Shudra leadership but its central leadership is Brahminic. But all of them have not realized that they cannot rule Indian state as a whole nor can they control the civil society that they politically rule within a state unless they have spiritual equality in a religion that they belong to. One of the strong factors for regionalization of the Shudra power is due to the slavish life that Shudra leaders lead in the Hindu spiritual system.
They are not a national force as they did not learn Sanskrit in the past and English now. Only the Dwija castes rule them at the national level.The Dwija castes that consist Brahmin, Bania, Kayastha, Khatri and Ksatriya castes have aquired full control over the national political system, Hindu religious system and international networks-state and non-state. The Shudras remain only village, local and regional political rulers and productive force with an ability speak, read and write in regional languages.
The Shudras Status
How to understand the Shudra question in the spiritual domain is never discussed or written about? Even the Shudras all over India will have to engage with their own moksha question because 75 years of democratic constitution did not dismantle caste subordination to Brahmins in all fields of life and the Shudra hierarchies did not resolve the sub-subordinations.
The root cause of these caste hegemonies and controls for millennia are located in the Brahmin spiritual system that needs to be dug up. If this question is left to Brahmin intellectuals, the roots will never be dug up, and the spiritual fascism can never be challenged. Unfortunately, after independence the Shudra intellectuals because of their regional power base and land centred economic ambitions did not seriously study why at all India and global level they could not match Brahmin English educated intellectuality? Even in North India Jats, Yadavs, Gujjars, Kurmis, Patels, Marathas and so on have not produced serious intellectual minds that could examine every sphere of life. They even treat Brahmin as god. On their own they never established authority over Sanskrit which was is being claimed to be the only spiritual language by Brahmins ever since Rig Veda was written around 1500 BCE. Three thousand five hundred years spiritual of slavery of vast human beings without even having the right to know the spiritual language is a major loss for human knowledge system.
Secularism and the Issue of Moksha
The left and Congress Brahmin intellectuals under the roof of secularism have hidden where actually their Sanskrit and English educational power, that controlled all other forms of power–money and muscle, came from. They have not allowed any serious discourse on religious philosophy in civil society. They have not allowed any serious discussion on what caste has done not only to Hindu Brahminism but even to Islam, Christianity, Parsi religions in India, in which Dr.B.R.Ambedkar faced casteism and untouchability as he told us in his autobiography Waiting for a Visa. A Parsi throws him out of the hotel, rather violently as he was a Dalit. A Christian friend also refuses to give shelter him in Baroda as his wife was a Brahmin convert. Muslims tried to attack Dalit tourist party, which he was part of at Daulatabad fort for washing themselves in a water tank. The caste system that Brahmin created destroyed all religions in India. Even now the communist Dwijas have not come out of the caste controls.
The discourse of secularism diverted the Shudra intellectual and mass consciousness in a manner that they cannot locate the disease in the social body and in the spiritual inequality that led to all other complex inequalities. Secularism has become a shield inadvertently to hide spiritual inequalities and oppression under the rug.
The Shudra and Dalit masses who suffer mental and physical agonies in this life could never engage with spiritual and philosophical questions of multiple issues of human life and death, in ihaloka and paroloka. They could never think about their place in heaven under the present form of Brahmin religion. Secularism buried serious philosophy in its debris, and the loss is that of Shudras and Dalits.
Even brilliant Shudra communist intellectuals like Tarimela Nagi Reddy (See Can Brahmins Bring Revolution: An Assessment Through the Prism of Tarimela Nagi Reddy, Countercurrents.org) and popular mass leader like Puchalapally Sundarayya having worked among poor masses of Shudra/Dalit/Adivasis, did not see the control of Brahmins in all fields of life.
By the time they were working for the so called liberation of exploited masses their discourse never used the question of caste oppression as a tool of exploitation which continues to be a more brutal form of oppression than in other class societies in the world. But what the left-liberal intellectuals has inadvertently made possible is that the modern Brahmin spiritual system remain under the control of Bania, Kayastha, Kshatriya and Khatris at a larger level. This may be because of their false consciousness that they do not belong to any religion and caste, as they believe in atheism and materialism.
At this stage of human history, materialism cannot operate outside the control of spiritualism, as they both are very deeply interconnected. The Indian reality and social relations have shown this factor more concretely than that of other societies in the world.
Religion as the Soul of Society
The Shudra intellectuals never examined that human life by the end of the nineteenth century, despite the emergence of schools of Rationalism and Marxism, whether they were spiritually conditioned by religion. They did not examine the question of religion whether of idol worship or of book based prayer engagement controlled human mind much more strongly than legal system that the states made.
Religion has become the soul of Indian masses in the freedom struggle headed by M.K Gandhi, a Jain Bania without a janeu (sacred thread) on his body, but systematically projected himself as Vaishya Hindu with a theory of Rama Rajya. He wrote a book with the title Hind Swaraj. He strongly injected Brahminism in a Bania package (as he knows how to pack things and sell) as Hinduism into the Shudra psyche. By his 58th year he put together his autobiography (it was originally published in 1927) with a strategic title My Experiment with Truth, with Brahmin -Bania vegetarian religious values. Both these books with a backup of Birlas and Goenkas, the topmost business families of his time, exactly like Ambani and Adani’s support to Narendra Modi now, were taken into masses in all languages. They launched a publishing house itself to do that. It was a massive Bania capitalist project to widen Brahmin-Bania control with some accommodations under the new name–Hinduism. The Shudras believed that Gandhi is their leader and Gandhi has insisted ‘the Brahmin is the finest flower of Hinduism and humanity.’. Unfortunately, Shudras never realized that their inferiority and spiritual loss of the scope for moksha after death and eternal humiliation in this life could not be changed by Gandhian nationalism. The Gandhian nationalism was packed with Brahmin (Hindu) spiritualism and Banias were sure to reap enormous harvest by funding the sowing of Brahminical spiritualism amongst masses.
They systematically camouflaged the spiritual and social supremacy of Brahmins and other Dwijas and allowed a systemic cover-up of the Shudra slavery in this life and hereafter. Modern educational institutions in the English language that could have opened their eyes were kept out of their reach. The communist Shudras also did not realize that the Brahmins were learning English in private schools and were not allowing that language to reach rural Government schools, where the Shudra/Dalit children could learn that language.
Because of the anti-colonial wave in the Post-World War I and II, the Shudra masses including landlords who had serious antagonism with Brahminism went with Gandhi, as if they too were Hindus and supporters of Brahminism. All new spiritual controls on Shudras, with a layer under them-Dalits was passed off as Hinduism by Gandhi and RSS networks. They have a common spiritual ideology among them. Gandhi, as a clever strategist, avoided an open alliance with the RSS and worked with Motilal Nehru, who tactfully promoted his son within the Congress.
The Nehrus of Kashmiri Brahmin background, who had strong roots of Sanskrit, Persian and English education in each generation, saw the situation. They understood how Gandhi became the mass leader with Hindu brand and accepted Gandhi as the father of the nation once Motilal Nehru realized with a vision to promote his son as the first Prime Minister. This Brahmin-Bania combine which had its grip over Brahmin spiritual system and Bania emerging modern post-colonial capitalist economy started ruling India. The communist Brahmins not could also actualize the Marxist revolution due to their celebrated caste blindness, so they ended up giving further lease to Brahminical domination. In a complex caste and religious society, they covered everything under the class, which could not construct a grounded philosophical discourse that could uncover all forms of Brahmin domination and exploitation.
Jawaharlal Nehru at a young age wrote three books– The Discovery of India, Glimpses of World History and Autobiography (he published it when he was 47, as published it in 1936) with a deliberate move that he should be next to Gandhi with a written word on the record. Writing of an autobiography was not a Brahmin- Bania tradition by that time, but they moved out of that tradition with a view to capture the power and make history.
Nehru’s writing camouflaged Brahminism in the language of civilization, drawing heavily from written texts by Brahmins. He did not write about the production, cattle grazing house building and artisanal science through the Indian civilization that was built by Shudras, Dalits and Adivasis.
The Indian Shudras have built the civilization from the days of constructing Harappan civilization. They built villages; they built cities; they made animal economies to advance to a parallel level by the time the Aryan migration happened. In Nehru’s civilization Shudras and Dalits have never figured. And it worked. Gandhi became Mahatma and the father of nation and Nehru became the first Prime Minister, leaving his family stamp on the nation as a pandit. His family continues to be in the limelight of the national polity, though it evolved as multi-cultural and English educated.
As the Gandhi – Nehru campaign was going on Subhas Chandra Bose, a Kayastha from Bengal, who also came from Vivekananda’s (who owned Hinduism with his new definition) community, started Azad Hind Fauz, an army with a religious name with militancy weaved around it. The Brahmin, Bania and Kayastha combination evolved as modern Bhadralok with Katris and Ksatriyas joining them in due course. These five castes with Ksatriyas and Khatris evolved as a national bhadralok and now are allied force as against divided Shudras. Rajendra Prasad, another Kayastha was part of Gandhi, Nehru team. Only Shudra who got educated in London was Sardar Vallabai Patel. He too without betraying any Shudra consciousness became part of Gandhi team to advance Brahmin-Bania Hindu campaign with some peasant orientation but never had an agenda of spiritual liberation or material equality of his community. He was content to work as subordinate to Gandhi and Nehru, with an iron man tag.
The communist Brahmins and Kayasthas (mainly from Bengal), who were part of the early Congress socialist team were comfortable with Brahmin, Bania, Kayastha, (not many Ksatriya, Khatris in the communist movement) leaders using Brahminism in the name of generalized Hinduism. The only Shudra young leader who joined the communist ranks at that early age was Puchalapally Sundara Ramreddy (who later dropped his caste title Reddy adopted general Shudra name Sundarayya), who could not have grasped the spiritual trap in that whole period. Sundarayya was a school dropout from a Shudra landlord family from Nellore, near to the then Madras city. He was passionate enough to organize the poor for their rights and liberation. As against the Western-educated communist Brahmins, Sundarayya must have lived as an inferior activist, with his mass work, as the Brahmin leaders showing their text quotation based Marxism as real knowledge. Sundarayya always lived as inferior beings in the communist structures (there were many splits among the communists because of Brahminism and its divisive culture). Even though he was the general secretary of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) for some time, the highly English educated Brahmins with their spiritual, cultural hegemonic roots were driving the party structures. As a result at no point of time in the history of Indian communist movement a Shudra or Dalit leader could emerge who could challenge Brahminism of the communist variety.
Shudra Autonomy and Brahminism
The Shudras in the pre-Independence days mostly had their own Shudra deities. The interaction of the Brahmin priest with them was very minimal. The farmers, artisans and labour had no contact with Brahmin even in marriage and death ceremonies. Only landlords began to have a Brahmin priest at home on some occasions to acquire enhanced spiritual status to counter the British Christian identity. The Brahmins during the Gandhian mobilization of people into the freedom movement started reaching every Shudra house. They began to bring them under their spiritual control by performing rituals at their home. But they were maintaining their Brahmin untouchability even with the Shudra landlord families. They were never touching cooked food in the Shudra houses. Since the Shudras are meat eaters, the Brahmins were cooking their own vegetarian food wherever they go and show that vegetarian food was the mark of purity. Gandhi was also presenting pure vegetarianism as not only pure Hindu food but Indian nationalist food.
The Shudra landlords also started believing in this vegetarian superior narrative of Hindu-nationalism by treating their historical and more energetic multi-cuisine food culture as impure and even anti-national. Very few Shudras like Periyar Ramasamy in Tamilnadu and Tripuraneni Ramasamy Chowdary in Andhra grasped the danger of this renewed cultural hegemony of Brahminism. They started Shudra protest movements and anti-Brahmin struggles. Unfortunately, they did not connect the Shudra cultural superiority over Brahmin culture to the agrarian and artisanal production. They did not raise the question of moksha issue of Shudras in this unequal spiritual system.
Though within no time it was in Tamilnadu that the mass movement took Dravidian Shudra turn it moved in atheist direction. But the Tamil masses did not become atheist. The Shudra and brahminic spiritual systems continued to contest.In Nellore and other coastal regions, the anti-Brahmin movement, as an extension of Periyar’s Dravida Khazagam movement also started along with anti-Brahmin justice party. Only Kamma, Reddy and Kapu landed forces could start the anti-Brahmin movement in coastal Andhra. In north India there was no anti-Brahmin movement with any clear direction. The north Indian Shudra landlords embraced Brahminism without any semblance of protest even converted to vegetarianism not realizing that from the days of Harappan civilization their food culture was multi-cuisine. Pure vegetarianism was a Jain-Brahmin cultural issue that has no relationship to agrarian production. No Jain or Brahmin nation with pure vegetarianism can survive in the world. The pure vegetarian Jains and Brahmins survived with Shudra labour that could only survive with multi-cuisine food culture. When such clashing cultural difference how Hindu Brahmin-Bania vegetarians and Hindu Shudra/Dalit/Adivasis live one heaven, when they cannot sit one dining hall and eat? Does heaven have different dining halls? Impossible. The Shudra/Dalit/Adivasis have no place in Brahmin Hindu heaven.
Communist Shudra leaders like Sundarayya and Nagireddy got into communist party that has class ideology with caste blindness. They could not even understand a massive vegetarian nationalist campaign by Banias and Brahmins under Gandhi’s leadership. What has been proved with the example of Sundarayya and Nagi Reddy is that if the Shudra intellectuals do not understand the Brahmanical scheme in every field– spiritual, political, social and economic structures- they would be kept as inferior under the grip of Brahmin cunningness. When the Indian communist school remained indifferent to the Brahminic spiritual system the Shudra cultural heritage got weakened abd brahminism got strengthened. The Shudra/Dalit/Adivasi communist activists did not get English educational sophistication to understand this process and build a counter narrative.
As recently as 2018 Sitaram Yechury, (General Secratery of CPM) a completely English educated Telugu Brahmin, played an interesting game in Telangana. I was part of the Bahujan Left Front (BLF) and heading a mass organization called T-MASS (Telangana mass organizations collective), which came into existence with the support of the Communist Party of India (Marxist). Both BLF and T-MASS had an agenda of combining Marxism-Ambedkarism with English medium school education in Government schools as one of the key programmatic agendas. Yechury pretended to work with us. He gave Neel-Laal (Blue and Red) Zindabad slogan and also Jai Bheem Lal Salam slogan along with many Telangana people.
At the same time as head of that CPM Politburo, he conspired from Delhi along with Bengali Brahmins and Kayasthas, who denied English medium school education in Government schools to Shudras and Namashudras of that state,when they ruled the state for 34 years, broke the BLF structure from above. After that, T-MASS was unceremoniously closed down. Sitaram Yechuri, like Ram Madhav and GVL Narsimha Rao (both Brahmins like Yechuri from the same Andhra Pradesh) in the RSS/BJP, planned to stop the development of Shudra/Dalits in all fields in Telugu states. Three of them manage Rajya Sabha seats without winning election anywhere in the country. But they control their own party and other people’s parties and organization structures with their Brahminic nexus all over the country. Caste links are far deeper than political links. Three of them are known as English speaking intellectuals in their parties. There is spiritual connectivity between all Brahmins, in whichever party they work. They know that their philosophy of swarga and naraka and they have a common understanding about the attainment of heaven. The Shudras never understood that interconnectedness in the philosophical domain. All Dwija leaders are brought up with a childhood education in their shastras, puranas and epics. The Shudra upbringing is around tilling the land, harvesting crops, grazing cattle and so on. There was no struggle for education in the history of Shudras.
Some Brahmin English speaking intellectuals control right-wing parties, some control communist parties and many have controlled the Congress for a long time. Only PV Narsimha Rao, again an English speaking Telugu Brahmin managed to become the Prime Minister of the country in 1991, ruled for five years, apart from the Nehru family members. Now he has become their property in two Telugu states. If the Shudras, including Reddys, Kammas, Velamas, Kapus, Yadavs and so on do not understand this strategy their spiritual and social slavery will continue at all India level in all structures and they will not even attain moksha after their death, leave alone liberation here.
Failed Shudra Efforts
However, amongst Kammas Tripuraneni Ramaswamy Chowdary started an autonomous anti-Brahmin movement by writing anti-Brahmin books and organizing Kammas against Brahminism. He also trained Shudra priest to perform rituals and poojas. For some reason, Kammas later forgot him after NT Rama Rao became the Chief Minister in 1983. They surrendered to Brahminism. They hardly understood that political power in smaller regions does not allow change at the national level in any field of life. The Shudras have never aimed reforms at the national level and particularly in the spiritual structures which are completely under the control of Brahmins. Control on the spiritual system and control on national power structure is interrelated. The Kammas have not achieved both. They are visible in the Telugu region, but at Delhi they are under the grip of the five Dwija communities who control not only national structures but also international relations both in the domains of politics, economy and culture.
During the freedom movement theo Gandhi-Nehru -Subhash Chandra Bose was to project political Hinduism with a secualar language. The Hindu Mahasabha and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh headed by Brahmins themselves started organizing the whole Brahmins community to reposition from Sanathandharma classical understanding under the new name Hinduism. No Shudra ledership assrted its autnomy from the larger Hindu Brahmin-Bania project.
The Gandhi-Nehru strean constructed secular Hindu national India. The RSS/Hindu Mahasbha constructed an anti-Muslim and Chrisitan image and organized the Shudras under Dwija leadership. Menawhile the Shudra productive egalitarian Indian culture and civilization were completely undermined.
Actually the name Hinduism was not acceptable to many Brahmins in those days. These two stream made it acceptable to all Brahmins as that alone gives them spiritually organized power in all fields after independence across the country. Certain Brahmin sections were even averse to learning English along with Sanskrit. However, already there was a section of Brahmins who learnt Persian and got into Mughal bureaucracy. They have already tasted the power of bureaucracy from Mughal days. Hence they consciously moved into English education while retaining their grip on Sanskrit in Brahmin spiritual domain. The Shudras kept in the traditional agrarian sector by allowing regional language education so that they cannot produce intellectuals who aspire for national leadership with a grip on English language. Even the Shudra feudal forces did not understand the role of English language in future India and now they are far behind the Brahmin, Bania, Kayastha, Khatris not only in India in global markets.
However, those Brahmin sections that have already got exposed to British English education carefully guarding their sanathanness and vegetarianism entered into British administration. The Tamil and Kerala Brahmins led this anti-Shudra network from the south, apart from Bengali and Marathi Brahmins.
But many Brahmins in different regions have already adjusted with Muslim administration and Persian language education while retaining their divinity around Sanskrit. The Muslims rulers, Mullahs behaved like Brahmins with Shudras and Dalits because their prayer language was Arabic whereas people’s language was Urdu and administrative language was Persian. Both Brahmins and Muslim rulers and Mullahs were anti-Shudra and Dalit in the same manner. Ambedkar also testified about this aspect about the Muslim opposition to Dalits touching water tanks. The Brahmin convert Christians fully co-operated with Brahmins in every sphere. They gave high quality English education in private schools. It was an all-round conspiracy against Shudras, Dalits and Adivasis in India. Their equality and wellbeing here and their attainment of heaven after death was never discussed in any religion in India.
As all this was happening, the Shudras remained within regional languages without much exposure to Persian or English within their Shudra spiritual domain. Hardly any all India Shudra leadership with an ability to communicate with all castes/religions across the nation emerged. Gandhi and Nehru were only two leaders with such all India communication abilities with a following across the country in the political domain. Priests and peetadhipatis were in a position to communicate and connect to the all India Brahmin networks to continue their hegemony. The all-India Brahmin networks with Sanskrit as their communication language were established during Adi Shankara times. That continues even today.
As per the communist stream, CPI was constituted mainly by Brahmins with as the central committee and Politburo leadership only leaving provincial-level posts for Shudras and almost no power for Dalits within their organizational structure. Only in Andhra more visible Shudra leadership emerged, apart from some in Kerala (A.K.Gopalan for example) in the communist ranks. But they were never given equal position in the leadership because of lack of English speaking abilities among them. Tarimela Nagi Reddy, a brilliant economist and the author of India Mortgaged was always kept from central leadership, though he was a very good writer and speaker in English. The communist atheist ideology became a shield for protection of Brahminism in all fields, particularly in the spiritual field. Their theory of landlordism being more dangerous than Brahminism mainly attacked the Shudra landlords across the country.
Locked up Shudra Brains
The Brahmins and Gandhi locked up the Shudra brains and consciousness. They were made to accept Brahmins as their god or the representatives of god even now. A Brahmin in temple, in ritual activity at home, as head of a political party or head of Pittaa or Ashram is respected by Shudra leaders unquestioningly. Even after some Shudras came into English education, their inferiority remained. The relationship between Brahmin spiritualism, graded caste/class oppression, exploitation and inequalities, women’s oppression and control continue to have a huge bearing on economic control of small communities over larger communities while characterizing all of them as Hindu. The non-productive castes controlled all productive castes with the help of spiritual authority over them. The burden of food production, sustaining the cattle economy and performing industrial and urban labour work still completely rests on the shoulders of Shudras, Dalits and Adivasis. Bania, Brahmin Kshatriyas, Kayasthas and Khatris are still earning and living outside the production fields and slowly became the richest and most English educated castes in India. They seem to think that god loves them and blesses them. This is a deluded and destructive spiritual belief. But the Brahmin as the head of the temple makes all Shudras and Dalits whatever they do, they cannot become a priest in the temple and cannot enter heaven under his guidance. They wrote this theory in their own books, on the before heads of Shudras, which the Shudras themselves cannot read.
Over seventy years of political democracy, the so-called Hindu spiritual system, including temple system even though under the Government control–Endowments–the Shudras did not get the right to priesthood. Even in the states, the Shudras rule they could not challenge that spiritual law. They never demanded that position as their spiritual knowledge is very stunted. The notion of Ihaloka (this world) and Paraloka (the other world, swarga or heaven) are equally important in Shudra life. But they were never engaged in philosophical discourse as they live in an inferior status that they were condemned to be lead by Brahmin-Bania forces. Within in the religious life, one needs to be under the control of Brahmin here, and can never attain moksha as the Brahmin priest blocs it there in the heaven.
Shudra Status at Top Temples
For example, in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana Tirupati temple is known as the prime spiritual center around which the idea of moksha in heaven and wellbeing on this earth is the key belief systems. The Reddys, Kammas, Velamas and Kapus are the main high-end Shudra castes who contribute to the wealth of the temple, apart from other Shudra communities, who are part of the reservation system. From Karanataka, Lingayats and Vokkaligas and other OBCs contribute more than Brahmins and Banias. They give crores of rupees, tons of gold to Venkateswara. They appeal to god in their own languages from a distance, which is known as mokku. But when they come to temple the Brahmin priests recite slokas only in Sanskrit which they do not understand. They cannot become priests in the temple, and the god is understood to be knowing only Sanskrit, which Reddys, Kammas, Velamas and Kapus were not supposed to learn and lead the temples. Even now there are no such Shudra scholars who could get into the profession of the priesthood. Shudras including Reddys, Kammas, Velamas and Kapus and so on who have reasonably good financial resources are made to fear that they cannot engage with god in the temple.
Why a Sanskrit scholar and a priest in a Reddy, Kamma, Velama, Kapu–in other words Shudra– family is not needed in the profession of the priest which is considered to be a very noble occupation? Why can’t a Dalit or Shudra take up that noble profession? Why could Brahmin youth not take up other productive tasks? When nowhere in the world god assigned priestly duties only to a particular community which hates food production but wants to do all other tasks which give them intellectual leadership roles? They jump into leadership roles in all structures. Why? They become leaders of communist parties, Congress party, Bharatiya Janata Party, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, Vishwa Hindu Parshad, Hindu Maha Sabha and so on. They control and lead all writers’ organizations in the country. They also control industries, communications and so on. There is not a structure that a Brahmin cannot enter. But there are many structures that a Shudras cannot enter, leave alone Dalit.
In Kerala, all temples are spiritually run by Brahmin priestly intellectuals and the managements are done by Nairs and other Shudra castes. Management is not a spiritually critical job. A Shudra has to work as guided by Brahmin intellectuals. Otherwise, they condemn and curse. The fear of brahmin curse shakes a Shudra to the core. For various historical reasons, Nairs and other Shudras surrendered to Brahmins in all fields in Kerala state, and the educated Nairs defend Brahminism quite militantly.
The roots of intellectual superiority lie with the priesthood position in all religions. The Shudras suffered intellectual inferiority for three thousand and five hundred years in that front. The Brahmins derived their superiority from the very same position. The Shudras have not yet shed their inferiority complex and began the battle for spiritual equality.
What the Shudras and Dalits suffer in Brahminism is not an individual disqualification. They do not have the right to the priesthood because a Shudra or a Dalit is, by default, meritless or immoral being in the Brahminical common sense. Because once all the productive communities were denied access to priesthood, they lost historical control, authority as communities. They suffered because they belong to Shudra/Dalit social communities who were/are treated as spiritual slaves. Does spiritual slavery allow any space in Paraloka or heaven under the spiritual guidance of Brahmins? This question is never debated in Hindu spirituality that operates on caste lines.
The priestly Brahmins never touch Dalits and Shudras neither in the temple nor in the civil society in any public life. They never eat food cooked in any Shudra and Dalit house, nor do they allow any Dalit and Shudras to come to their house. This is not an ideal relationship between human beings who are said to be belonging to the same religion.
In what is now known as the Hindu religion there is no one god to talk about god’s equal creation. The main Rigvedic God Brahma is said to have created Shudras to be the slaves of Brahmins. This is a fixed position, but there is no dynamism involved in it. A Brahmin by birth is a Brahmin, whether one claims secular or communist or Hindu ideological position or social location. A Shudra remains a Shudra and a Dalit remains a Dalit. A secular or communist Brahmin should not be allowed to fool the Shudras and Dalits of this sociospiritual fact that governs our caste-oppressed lives even in the 21st century.
In Hinduism God and Goddess have their castes known to people. Parashurama and Vamana are known as Brahmin. Rama is known as Ksatriya only Srikrishna is known as Yadav but even in his temple also a Yadav cannot become a priest. But Yadavs never fought for such a spiritual position. Only Brahmin priests handle Srikrishna temple of Madhura, Uttar Pradesh, where Yadav leaders like Mulayam Singh Yadav and his son Akhilesh Yadav ruled that state politically for a long time. Yet the inferiority of Yadavs as Shudra is not diminished. Yadavs claim that Krishna himself is a Yadav and a cattle herder. Yet they cannot lead their own god’s temple. This is the irony of Hinduism.
Quite surprisingly, it is uncommon for the Shudra community demand for equal spiritual rights within the religion that they are said to belong to. Krishna’s portrait is shown with cattle around him yet a Brahmin condemns the community of cattle herders as spiritual untouchables. Even in contemporary times, most Yadavs are cattle herders, and they are treated as spiritual untouchable. This has implications for their life here and also life hereafter.
In the whole world, there is no human mass as massive as that of the Shudras who are denied of the basic human right of spiritual engagement with god directly. What surprises one is that how do they silently suffer such humiliation for millennia? Even in the post-Independence India the modern Shudras also remained scared of Brahmin treating him as god himself. The question is in such a spiritual system do the Shudras attain moksha or heaven in such a discriminated regime of Brahmin?
All religions centre around life here and more importantly, life hereafter. The question is without a direct relationship to Hindu God, how do Shudras get into Hindu heaven? How do all unequal Hindus live together in swarga? Brahmins made vegetarian, meatarian and beeferian “Hindus” as untouchables to each other? Do clashes regarding food cultures not occur in swarga? The Brahmin in the temple works as a gatekeeper in the swarga also. How does he allow any Shudra/Dalit/Adivasi into Swarga where he too lives? If Agamashastras come in the way of Shudras becoming priests, wouldn’t the same Agama Shastra come in shudra’s entry into swarga?
Brahmin decided that he should have initiation into Hindu religion through Upanayana or sacred thread ceremony. As per Brahmin dictum only Brahmins, Banias, Kshatriyas, Kayasthas and Khatris do have that right. No Shudra including Reddy, Kamma, Velama, Kapu, Nair, Jat, Gujjar, Patel, Maratha, Yadav and so on get spiritual equality and hence no right to Upanayana also. Any Shudra or Other Backward Caste, that thinks that caste system should not be abolished, as they cannot take caste certificate to get a reserved seat in a college/university or a job in Government office do not have any right to enter swargaloka after death. Even if they go round several number of temples offer huge amounts of money they cannot get moksha in such unequal spiritual system. These expenditures will only make their life less comfortable on this earth because they cannot spend that money for their family or personal advancement and comfort. Caste equality or abolition of caste is only the solution.
In this caste-centred religion which is being promoted as all caste-religion, how does divine power operate? An individual’s good deed or bad deed should be the qualification for priesthood and swarga seat in any normative religion. It is the birth of a person in a caste that decides one’s status here and also in heaven in Hinduism. As the Brahmin caste is constructed and accepted by all Shudra castes as only divine caste, it has caused massive harm to Shudra and Dalit life for millennia. Brahminism did not allow individualism to develop in India in any field.
Unless better off Shudra castes like Reddys, Kammas, Velamas, Kapus, Nairs, Nayaks, Lingayat, Vakkalinga, Maratha, Patel, Jat, Gujjar, Yadav and so on fight for spiritual equality and priesthood rights and change Brahminism into proper religion things will not change. God must judge the merits of a person based on one’s deeds and not based on the fixed scale of caste. So long as the upper Shudras worship Brahmin as god the other agrarian and artisanal castes will not gain the courage to challenge their subordinate status. They also keep worshipping Brahmin as god. Shudras should take inspiration from the spiritually, socially and politically dynamic Ambedkarite movement in order to shed off the slavish mentality to institutionalise individualism in a religion that they claim is theirs.
(Kancha Ilaiah Shepherd’s new book co-edited with an young Shudra scholar Karthik Raja Kuruppusamy The Shudras–Vision for a New Path, being published by Penguin will be out soon)