Post-Hindu India: A Discourse on Dalit-Bahujan, Socio-Spiritual and Scientific Revolution

Books

Kancha Ilaiah

  • Citations
  • Add to My List
  • Text Size

  • Chapters
  • Front Matter
  • Back Matter
  • Copyright

    View Copyright Page

    Dedication

    For, The God who created all human beings–men and women–equal and in his likeness; prophets who taught and practised equality–Buddha, Jesus, Muhammad, Marx and Ambedkar; and my mother and father who were born unequal, lived unequal and illiterate, and, died unequal.

    Publisher's Note

    In this book the readers would come across many coinages such as meatarianism, orature, and so on. These words have been used by the author, given his unique methodology and subtleties of argument. The publishers have not interfered with the unconventional narrative structure of this book.

    Acknowledgements

    The social masses, who have lived as oppressed castes and communities, suffering for centuries at the hands of the culture of caste, superstition and exploitation—and whose very suffering became the source of this book—I thank them immensely for accepting me as one of them, and sharing their knowledge and experiences.

    And, of course, the Dalit–Bahujan movements that have sustained my interest in life and work. I thank all those who are involved in these enduring movements. I thank all my friends for their unsparing criticism of the draft of this book. I have always believed that a good friend is one who, while sharing my broad ideology, does not hesitate to rip apart the bad arguments I tend to develop in any of my writing. Many of my friends helped me in finessing my arguments. My students also gave significant inputs which helped me in writing this book. I thank them all.

    I would like to sincerely appreciate the assistance that I got from the SAGE team. Sugata Ghosh, Vice President, Commissioning persuaded me to give this book to SAGE and Rekha Natarajan and Sushmita Banerjee diligently worked on this book to bring it to its present form.

    Finally, I thank my family members, who shared the burden of day-to-day life while I was working on this book for more than a decade. Since I am not married, I stay with my brother's family in a small urban apartment. My brother underwent a heart valve replacement surgery 30 years ago, so he falls sick quite often. However, he is able to cope up with life because of the assistance from family members. I am thankful to God for having let me be born in this country, in this wonderful family and for assigning me the job of teaching, reading and writing–that too in English.

    Introduction

    Mapping the Suicidal Course of Hinduism

    This book was born out of a gut feeling that the Indian nation is on the course for a civil war; a civil war that has been simmering as an undercurrent of the caste-based cultural system that Hinduism has constructed and nurtured for centuries. The Hindu cultural system is slowly unveiling its self-destructive contradictions, creating tensions in every layer of the caste society. This book covers a wide range of Dalit–Bahujan cultural, scientific and economic knowledge systems, analyses their overall relationships with each other and also with the Hindu religion as a spiritual system. It establishes that Brahmanical Hinduism adopted an anti-production and anti-scientific ethic, compared to the scientific, technological and productive knowledge systems that the Dalit–Bahujan communities have developed and nurtured over the years.

    The social, spiritual, economic and educational deprivation imposed on the Dalit–Bahujan castes by the Hindu religious institutions have led, to the organization of different Dalit–Bahujan castes and an articulation of their ideological positions, thereby brewing up tensions. The tensions between the lower and the upper castes are leading to clashes on an everyday basis. On one hand, the spiritual and political aspirations of historically deprived castes and communities are increasing, leading to the expansion of spiritually democratic religions like Christianity, Buddhism and Islam. On the other hand, new political parties are shaping up to fight the hegemony of the upper castes. Thus, the hunger of Dalit–Bahujan castes for power—whether spiritual, political or social—has set the stage for a war of power, of nerves, and also of weapons. These multiple processes have created a degree of tension that might explode into civil war at the slightest provocation. This book aims to highlight the contradictions within the caste layers and map the future course of the Indian nation. It aims to show how the Hindu religion, which is one of the world's four major religions, is on the course of a slow but sure death because of these processes. It is a demise that would reposition the cultures of the world in a major way. It would be impossible to predict how the post-Hindu India would shape up. What this book does however, is dissect the body of the Hindu cultural system and expose the fatal nature of the caste cancer that it has created within itself, show how it is unwilling to undergo a modern medical surgery, leading, consequently, to its suicide. It is a self-constructed disease with a self-determined course.

    Four Spiritual Worlds

    This book essentially intends to show how Hinduism as a religion is on the course of its death as a result of its own failure to mediate between scientific thought and spiritual thought. In other words, it examines how Hinduism failed to mediate between reason and faith. It draws a particular conclusion about the looming demise of Hinduism, highlighting evidence of everyday clashes of caste cultures and conflict between the productive ethic of the Dalit–Bahujan castes and the anti-productive and anti-scientific ethic of Hindu Brahmanism. Concurrently, it also draws a general conclusion that if a religion does not have the inner strength to gradually move towards institutionalizing the spiritual democratic course of equality and transformation within its inner structures, it is bound to fade away, leaving the available space to other religions that position their relationship between science and spirituality on a positive and democratic route.

    The inner strength of each religion has to be examined in the light of the comparative energy of the four major religions that currently govern the cultural realms of the human universe. As of now, the human universe may be said to be divided into four spiritual worlds: (a) the Christian world; (b) the Buddhist world; (c) the Islamic world; and (d) the Hindu world. Though there are other small religions that exist in different parts of the human world, like Judaism, Sikhism, Zoroastrianism, and so on, they did not carve out a spiritual world of their own. Nor did they build nation-states based on a particular religious ethic. They survive as small spiritual cultures in small pockets of the world. They may either survive as small entities for some more time in human history, or they may slowly wither away. But what is important here is to understand that the four major religious worlds have been primarily based on the concepts of spiritual democracy, spiritual fascism and spiritual authoritarianism. This understanding calls for an in-depth study of the internal mechanisms of these religious worlds. This book attempts to undertake such an in-depth study of the Hindu religion from the perspectives of caste, culture and science.

    The Hindu World

    Of the four major religious worlds, the Hindu world is the smallest and poorest, with a spiritual base that has no transformative strength. All the so-called modern interpretations of the Hindu religious world, which have characterized it as a great religion, have, in fact, represented its underdeveloped mind. From Adi Shankara to Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, the Brahmanic interpreters of Hinduism were appreciative of Brahmanic primitivism and caste-cultural negativism. This negativism was dharma for them. It did not occur to them that the existence of caste and untouchability in this country, constructed by that very same religion, has nothing to do with the notion of spiritual justice that the universally positive religions have constructed. If their usage of the term dharma alluded to spiritual justice, then we must point out that Hinduism as a religion is fundamentally opposed to the spiritual justice that the other universal religions have developed within themselves through evolution over a period of time. If the Brahmanic thinkers believed the concept of Varnadharma—which, in my opinion, is going to be the source of the death of Hinduism—to be an equivalent of the universally valid concept of spiritual justice, then one can only pity their intellectual ignorance. It is this kind of intellectual deprivation, even of the modern thinkers like Vivekananda, Aurobindo, Radhakrishnan, and so on, that has pushed Hinduism towards its death. The Hindu thinkers never realized that in the course of human history, Hinduism would die much before the other religions exhaust their potential to influence the human masses. Now, of course, the largest human mass is available for the expansion of the existing spiritual democracies only in India. The Hindu scholars never realized that the Indian Dalit–Bahujan masses, who constitute a great majority of the national population, are slowly but surely moving away from Hindu spiritual fascism.

    The Hindu world mostly encompasses large sections of the population of India and Nepal. The people who identify the most with the religion are the Brahmans, Baniyas and Kshatriyas, constituting about 10 to 12 per cent of the population. The Shudras who fall ‘below’ these castes in the social hierarchy, have an ambiguous relationship with Hinduism, and—I believe—once they realize that the religion is dying, they will abandon it as one abandons a sinking ship. As I show in this book, the true reason behind the death of Hinduism is its anti-scientific and non-egalitarian ethical values. The Hindu world is the poorest in terms of scientific innovations, and even at the end of the twentieth century, its priestly castes are so primitive in their spiritual approach that there is no possibility of a revolutionary reform within Hinduism. So far, no Hindu scientist has discovered anything that is equivalent to the American or European scientists. Even the claims of Brahmanic pundits having discovered the zero and the Pushpaka Vimana (the ancient aeroplane) have no substantial evidence, and may in fact be termed false claims. I intend to point out in this book, with substantial evidence from Dalit–Bahujan life experience and history, the basic scientific knowledge known to several ‘lower’ castes—knowledges that were not allowed to become a part of modern science by Hinduism. The claims, that the Vedic texts are embodiments of all scientific knowledge, have led to the absence of a social base for modern scientific discoveries. It is because of Hindu casteism that India has remained a land barren of scientific discoveries throughout modern history. It has survived on modern science begged and borrowed from other countries, and the Brahmanic intellectuals are solely responsible for this status of the nation.

    It was the oppressed productive castes who were largely responsible for the scientific and mathematical discoveries attributed to India in the ancient period, as I shall show in this volume. Present-day advanced mathematics is borrowed from the Christian world. Various technologies, including leather processing, pot making, house construction technology and, more significantly, the technologies of food production, which the Dalit–Bahujan masses built over centuries based on trial and error in their struggle for survival, were forced to remain stagnant. The iron-handed intervention of Hindu Brahmanism stopped the hybridization of scientific knowledge all through known history. Thus, because of Hinduism, India and Nepal remained backward in modern innovative science and the realization of that fact by Dalit–Bahujan thinkers marked a new course of history in this region. The notion of enlightenment never took root in these two nations because of the negative influence; hence, a serious contestation of Hinduism began in the pre- and post-colonial period.

    Hindu Identity

    Though the so-called Hindu religious identity of India and Nepal is only a few centuries old, the Brahmanism that exists at the base of this religion is much older. The Hindu identity was given to the Brahmanic primitivist spiritual system by Muslim scholars—Alberuni, in particular. He wrote his famous book Al-Hind, thereby coining the name that the Hindu rulers and spiritual forces have accepted and made their own. The very name Hinduism did not emerge out of any prophet's life or spiritual work, as happened in the case of Christianity or Buddhism or Islam. Christianity and Buddhism took their name from the life of the great prophets, Jesus and Buddha. The name Islam means ‘God's world’. Muslims are also known as Muhammadans, emerging again from the name of Muhammad, the prophet. But the name ‘Hinduism’ was adopted by practitioners of the religion out of a lack of creativity among Brahman thinkers. It was a name given by the medieval Muslim scholars, who believed that the inhabitants of Sindh (Hind) are primitive barbarians and they did not have any socio-spiritual maturity and cohesion. As the Muslim scholars rightly visualized, the Brahman–Baniya social and market forces built the religion as a caste-ridden, primitivist, superstitious and barbaric religion, and hence they gave a negative name to that religion. Even though the Brahmanic thinkers adopted that name, believing that it is a positive name, they never changed the anti-scientific and anti-egalitarian essence of the Varnadharmic system that Brahminism built into it. Even in modern times, they wish to continue along the same path.

    Of course, had Hinduism not managed to become a part of the identity of the Dalit–Bahujan population of the Indian subcontinent, the region would have mostly gone over to Islam as the social masses in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh did. This would have happened even before the East India Company established itself in India, or at the latest, before the evangelical Christian missionaries arrived. The Dalit–Bahujan population would have found solace in Islam, as the religion offered them spiritual equality within the masjid and did not restrict access to the spiritual book. In a way, the arrival of William Carey in 1792 to India changed the course of the nation's Islamization.

    The second major intervening event in the religious history of India occurred over 150 years later, when B. R. Ambedkar established Navayana Buddhism in 1956. The largest social mass that remained trapped within the confines of Hinduism after the Islamization of Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh, and also William Carey's Christianization and Ambedkar's conversions to Buddhism, were the Shudras and Other Backward Castes.

    They are ‘backward’, because they have not moved on to any spiritual democratic religion. Thus, at the end of the second millennium, the Dalit–Bahujan population, which constitutes the majority in India in absolute numbers, stood at the crossroads of a religious competition as the new century began with the process of globalization of the world. This era even opens the spiritual gates through a process of globalization of the spiritual cultures, which has a truly liberative potential for the Dalit–Bahujans of India who were hitherto kept arrested within the caste cultures of the enclosed well of Hinduism. They were like frogs in smaller caste wells within the larger well of Hinduism, with its spiritual culture of not sharing the well water and not allowing ‘table fellowship’ within castes, even as it kept people confined in their respective caste wells. The cultural and spiritual process of globalization is beginning to bring these Dalit–Bahujan masses out of these wells. This can either lead to a slow, non-violent transformation of the society, or to a civil war over time. In the Indian civil war, castes and religion might play a role very different than what the human history has witnessed so far.

    A New Spiritual Intercourse

    The first interaction of the people of India with a powerful book-centred spiritual democratic religion was with Islam. During the colonial period, they began to interact with Western Christianity and the Bible in a mode considerably different than during the visit of St. Thomas and subsequent times in ancient and medieval India. The pre-William Carey Indian Christianity was Brahmanism of a Southern mode. Jesus was not seen as Baliraja (as the other name for sacrifice), but as Vamana by the Kerala and Tamil upper-caste Christians. Jesus was not seen as a prophet who died to liberate the rest of the world, but as a practitioner of untouchability and casteism. Thus the casteism that operated in South Indian institutions, including the church, kept Christianity a minority religion. This minority status suited the upper caste Christians because that granted them a lot of so-called minority rights. They therefore did not want Christianity to become a majority religion wherein the caste system could be abolished in all forms.

    William Carey, in Bengal, started an experiment to establish a ‘Kingdom of God’ in the tribal regions, following Jesus Christ's prophetic words: the first will be the last and the last will be the first in that kingdom. It was from this Christian ethic that the North-Eastern tribes started emerging as the rulers of their own nationalities/states. However, revolutionary conversion processes that challenged Hinduism started with Ambedkar and his Navayana Buddhism in 1956. Between Carey and Ambedkar there was Mahatma Jyotirao Phule, who had seen conversion to spiritual democracies as liberative but had failed to emphasize upon the truth behind this belief by embracing any one of the spiritual democratic religions himself. But what Phule could not do Ambedkar did, decisively and resolutely. By 1956, a spiritual revolution that had taken shape through Christian missionaries, initiated by William Carey, transformed into a Buddhist missionary revolution. The link between the Islamization of Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh, the Christianization of the northeastern states and parts of southern India, and the Buddhist agenda of Ambedkar is beyond the scope of this volume and needs to be examined separately.

    The Interaction of Prophets

    Following Ambedkar's modernist Navayana Buddhism, the untouchables, whom I have shown as subaltern scientists and productive soldiers in this book, came in contact with a liberative Buddha in an incarnation of Ambedkar. At the same time, a large section of them found Jesus Christ to be a much more powerful liberator than Buddha. Now the Shudras—the social mass that suffered the spiritual fascist onslaught of Brahmanism for 3,000 years—are standing at the crossroads of the spiritual democratic systems established by the Buddha, Jesus and Muhammad. Like Jesus, Ambedkar also believed in the Kingdom of a Positivist God (the Buddha) wherein the Dalits will be the first and the Brahmans will be the last—in other words, the most exploited social mass will become the socio-spiritual and political ruling class and the class that has historically been the exploiter class will become a part of the ruled social mass. Ambedkar, by virtue of such vision, has come to be seen as another incarnation of Jesus for the Dalit–Bahujan masses of India. This, of course, does not imply that the liberative forces of Jesus Christ's teaching do not operate independent of Buddha and Ambedkar in India—it would be blindness to deny the strength of the winds of his liberative passion, which are much stronger in India than anywhere else in the world now. But at the same time, it appears to me that Ambedkar—who worked resolutely to wash the sin of untouchability in human life—is slowly but surely becoming a part of the long line of liberative prophets of the world. He fought the Pharisees (Brahmans) of India with a determined will and with the same weapon of non-violence that Jesus used without any compromise.

    Towards the end of 2007, when this book was on the verge of completion, the caste-centred contradictions within Hinduism were deepening. With three religions—Christianity, Buddhism and Islam, in that order—competing to take as many people as possible into their fold, the demise of Hinduism seemed closer than ever. For a long time in the pre-colonial and early colonial period, the Dalit–Bahujan castes moved towards Islam, which was the only alternative readily available to them with a system of protection from above—the state. Sufi evangelism helped forward that process. Thus the tribal, Dalit and Other Backward Castes moved on to Islam, transforming three major regions into three Islamic nations—Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh. But once the British colonial state consolidated, the protestant evangelical forces began to work specifically among the tribals and untouchables. Because of the pro-tribal and pro-Dalit spiritual discourses and practices of the Protestants, a significant section of the population began to embrace Protestantism, without confronting the Hindu caste system at an ideological level. This process gave birth to three Christian majoritarian states in the northeastern part of India—Nagaland, Mizoram and Manipur. The expansion of Christianity in tribal regions is still on, and the hindutva opposition will not be able to stop that process. But there is a fundamental difference between that mode of expansion of Christianity and Islam and the post-Ambedkarite Navayana spiritual revolution that challenged Hinduism. Ambedkar's confrontation with the Hindu caste system, as a representative messiah of the untouchables, by evolving a conversionist Buddhism threatens the very existence of Hinduism. Quite interestingly, with the emergence and popularity of Ambedkar's brand of Buddhism, Christianity began to compete with the Navayana Buddhism and challenge the Hindu caste system quite openly. There is thus a possibility that in this atmosphere even Islam might revive its Sufi evangelical ethic and compete with Christianity and Buddhism. Therefore, a competitive ethic has clearly entered the spiritual realm. Only when the spiritual democracies compete does the pace of the death of spiritual fascism hasten. We have very positive examples of the quick destruction of political fascism in the World War II, owing to the competitive fight against it by the democratic and socialist states of the world. Similarly, the spiritual fascism of Hinduism must also die when the spiritual democracies compete to take the remaining Dalit–Bahujan masses into their fold and carve out their spaces. As I will show in this book, Hinduism cannot adopt such evangelical methods because of its self-destroying caste system.

    The Role of Navayana Buddhism

    Ambedkar's Navayana Buddhism became both a builder of a new system of Buddhism and an annihilator of the Hindu caste system and Hinduism itself. He brought back King Ashoka's mode of conversionist Buddhism, which has deeper implications upon the process of the death of Hinduism and also the change in the course of the religious ideologies of the world itself. Very few people in the world know that King Ashoka of India transformed a political army into Buddhist evangelical army in the third century BC. He initiated evangelism before the birth of Christianity. It was in his evangelical campaigns that the present Far Eastern world was converted into Buddhism. Hence, the present-day world must understand that evangelism as a mode of bringing people into a spiritual system that guarantees at least some form of spiritual justice is a positive and necessary course of human liberation and growth. Hinduism cannot become an evangelical religion because of the caste system. The principle of spiritual justice provides scope for spiritual equality amongst people only when a religion believes in equality of all human beings. Hinduism as a religion runs counter to this very principle.

    It is established beyond doubt that Hinduism and reason are antithetical to each other as it is based on a casteist and superstitious belief system. If the reason available among the Dalit–Bahujan communities begins to become conspicuous, Hinduism begins to die faster and faster. If William Carey injected an evangelist combination of reason and Christian faith into India, Ambedkar introduced a very powerfully designed intelligence and mass self-consciousness movement that started a different transformative course and made the demise of Hinduism a possibility. His establishment of the relationship between reason and faith in a land of superstition was revolutionary; a relationship that is becoming increasingly competitive between evangelical Christianity and Navayana Buddhism. In the process, even Islam, which took an anti-modernist and anti-evangelical posture is losing out in India as it remains out of the competitive reform, which alone can put spiritualism on competitive edge with capitalism. The Christian nations of the West adopted capitalism as the mainstay of their politico-economic systems and the Buddhist nations like China, South Korea and Vietnam adopted socialism. The reason why socialism survived in these countries is because of Buddhism which is based on a socialistic ethic. Once China realizes that there is a close relationship between Buddhist reason, liberal socialism and controlled capitalism, the world will be put on a different course of development. Even in China, evangelical Christianity is competing with Buddhism and Taoism in this era of cultural globalization. In this atmosphere, Islam, which is on a confrontation course with Christianity on a global plane, will have to evolve an evangelism of its own or find itself trapped by the deadly webs of terrorism that can destroy the moral strength of the religion.

    Given this backdrop, evangelical Christianity continues to learn from the Ambedkarite method of publicly challenging Hindu spiritual fascism. As the killing of pastors, raping of nuns and Christian women teachers and burning of churches increase, the process of the death of Hinduism also hastens. In the background of the Gujarat carnage and Hindu–Muslim conflicts, Indian Islam will have to be a friendly ally of Christianity despite the global hostility between the two.

    There is a close link between expanding English education and evangelical Christianity, as English kills the linguistic basis of the Sanskrit-centred Indian languages, a trend the Dalit–Bahujan masses are keen to continue. Brahmanic Hindus are powerless to stop the expansion of English because they themselves are mired in it. However, it would be impossible to speculate which spiritual democratic religion will take in the largest number of Dalit–Bahujans into its fold, even though India's development hinges on the direction they take. If English replaces the Indian languages of Sanskritic origin, the liberation of Dalit–Bahujans will take a multidimensional course. Thomas Macaulay, the son of an anti-slavery campaigner Zachary Macaulay, along with William Wilberforce in Britain, injected this tool of liberation, and it first influenced the very protectors and defenders of Hinduism. At the same time it also produced Dalit–Bahujan organic intellectuals who could frame their ideas in the form of globally understandable systematic socio-spiritual and political theories. That process began with Mahatma Jyotirao Phule and reached a certain level of maturity with Ambedkar. And it continues, with some capable thinkers and writers in English emerging from the fold of the Dalit–Bahujan communities. However, English in India still remains an elite language, still under the control of Brahmanic–Sanskritic forces. Once it becomes a mass language, it will take over the roots of linguistic Hinduism. The Sanskritic languages are responsible for maintaining the caste system, and consequently, all Indian languages have a built-in philosophy of casteist cultural essence. The language and grammar is highly Brahman-centred. If English replaces that, the roots of the caste system are shaken. As English continues its expansion, even the Hindutva forces are powerless to stem its course because their own social base, that of the Brahmans, has already moved towards it. The question is how soon the Dalit–Bahujan mass will move into that linguistic world. The English language is a window to scientific thinking. I realize this as I work on this book—if I were to think and write in Indian Sanskrit-centred languages, I would not have been able to see scientific thought in Dalit–Bahujan life at all. That is one of the reasons why the Brahmanic controllers of Indian English education do not want English to become a mass language. A relentless battle needs to be waged to make English a mass language, at least by the end of this century.

    How Religion Mediates with Science

    It is important to understand how Buddhism, Christianity and Islam mediated with scientific and technological developments. The early scientific discoveries took place in the Buddhist world—China and Japan. The compass, gunpowder, paper and the printing press were discovered by the Chinese Buddhists. Japanese Buddhists also went on contributing to small technologies, ever since the ancient days. By the time early Christianity was shaping its congregative church system, the Buddhist world was positively mediating between faith and science. The rational and anti-fatalist ideology of Buddhist spiritual thought helped the Chinese and Japanese in mediating between science and faith.

    The establishment of the Roman Catholic church, where a different discourse was deployed in establishing a nexus between reason and faith, created new conditions for scientific researches that put technological discoveries on a different footing. In the initial days the Church was not willing to accept the discoveries of Copernicus and Galileo; infact, it tried to suppress these scientists. But gradually the Church relinquished their control over the realm of scientific thought. The Newtonian revolution took place in that process. The Christian view of the flat world fell apart, but Christianity reworked its faith to suit the science of the earth being round and the theory of gravitation. In the eras that followed, the Christian world went on a spree of scientific discoveries. Electricity, radio, aeroplanes, television, computers, the microchip, all came from the Christian world, and the church played a very positive role in the course of those discoveries, including the funding of various geographical expeditions. This is not to claim that there were no tensions and struggles between the church and individuals, but in the process, the religious institutions learnt to transform and adjust with scientific discoveries. In this process, the Christian God and prophet became a close associate of science and scientific development.

    The Christian world has produced some of the most powerful thinkers in political, economic and sociological theory, and of course in scientific theory as well. From Machiavelli to Marx, it produced thinkers who challenged the church and put the socialist, secular and democratic state in a position of power greater than that of the church. The church reworked its relationship with all these developments. Thinkers who constructed alternative political and social systems were born in the spiritual womb of Christianity. They changed Christianity and Christianity changed them. It was not always smooth sailing, but the very process of reading and rereading the Bible and its new interpretations resolved those contradictions quite progressively. The Bible gave such a liberal scope for interpretation that it even produced a school of Liberation Theology. It produced great mediators like Immanuel Kant, David Hume, Paulo Freire, and so on, who constructed theories that sustained Christianity, modern science and political democracy as comrades in arms. Jesus himself became the synthesizer of all such processes. He became an integral part of every revolutionary theoretician born subsequent to his birth. This is how he remains the most popular prophet, even in the modern world. Unlike the Buddha and Mohammad, Jesus mediated with every situation with a humanitarian will.

    The Islamic world has added to that process of establishing a scientific relationship between faith and reason, but differently. For example, Muhammad debunked the myth that God desires the mediation between Him and the rest of humanity by an unmarried saint alone. He established a scientific relationship between sexual engagement between man and woman, as both of them, along with their sexual organs, were created by the same God, who created the universe. When Muhammad realized that both the sexual act and childbirth were not impure processes in God's realm, even the Buddhist and Catholic worlds were shocked. For Muhammad, sexual organs have their own necessary spiritually validated bodily functions. At the same time, he put human sexual relations within certain moral and ethical codes. He did not allow the Kamasutra brand of concubinage and free sex experiments in the spiritual and social realms. He allowed sexual relationships only between married couples, and only in exceptional circumstances was polygamy permitted, restricting it to four wives.

    Even Christianity and Buddhism, which were saintly and monkish religions, were uncomfortable with the formulations of Muhammad and the spiritual practice he established. His spiritual theory of man–woman relationships as positive and spiritually valid created a tension among the Catholic saintly forces that were living a diabolical life of enjoying clandestine sexual lives while condemning relationships of legally married couples as spiritually unethical and impure. On the one hand, extreme adherence to purity–pollution theory produced institutions such as child marriage and sati, on the other hand, the sexist life of some Hindu gods had moral implications on the civil society. Art centred on the Kamasutra was sculpted on the Hindu temples, so that all modes of abusing women became spiritually validated. On the other hand, the same religion projected the Brahman life as pure, and claimed to worship celibacy. In this cultural environment, Islam appeared as a liberative religion for the masses because of the absence of such diabolical sexual and moral values. Caste, untouchability and cunningness in everyday life within the spiritual realm of Hinduism pushed millions of Dalit–Bahujans into the fold of Islam. Even in Europe, the new marriage morals and their relationship to Islamic spirituality created a crisis within the Christian ethic. Martin Luther's late marriage and renunciation of his celibate life—with the declaration that he was a man of flesh and sex (but not wood or stone)—repositioned the Christian ethic of sexuality.

    Martin Luther's revolt against Papal celibacy and the traditional understanding of sexuality of men in the profession of priesthood came about in the context of expanding Islam and its liberated sexual morality. Taking a clue from the Islamic reasoned relationship between man and woman and their sexual engagement, for satisfying the human sexual need and to continue the procreation of human beings, Martin Luther thought that sexual impurity in Christianity was anti-divine and unethical. He fought for allowing marriage as a process of spiritual practice even for the priestly class. After Martin Luther, the father of reformative Christianity, Protestant Christianity adopted married life as spiritually valid for pastors and the Protestant ethic gave up nunnery and sainthood. Buddhism, however, remained stuck with sexual celibacy and monkish controls on Buddhist spirituality till the middle of the twentieth century. Later, Ambedkar broke that tradition and sanctified marriage in Buddhism. Unlike Gautam Buddha, Ambedkar converted to Buddhism along with his second wife—Savita Ambedkar; Gautam Buddha did not allow his wife Yashodara to join the sangha as a wife, but asked her to join as a bhikkhuni instead. The classical Buddhist sangha did not allow wife and husband to be a part of the sangha. Similarly, the views of classical Catholicism on human sexual life are well-known facts. Catholicism held marriage and celibacy as two oppositional modes of life, in the manner of the Buddhist sanghas. Muhammad broke all the Buddhist and Catholic myths about marriage, sexual morality and spiritual priesthood. The other religions had to make changes to suit the new spiritual environment created by Islam.

    Muhammad had also broken the unscientific attitude of the priestly class towards the dress code and its relationship to God. Muhammad adopted a fully covered dress code with stitched clothes from toe to nail, even for the mullahs who conduct the prayers in the mosques in order to scientifically protect the body of humans from heat and cold in the sandy lands of the Arabic world. The primitivist, naked and semi-naked Brahmanic and Buddhist spiritual mediation process resulted in the death of many people, who lived in the ancient Hindu and Buddhist spiritual realms, due to exposure. The civilizational dress difference between Hindu culture and Muslim culture was observed by William Carey when he reached India. His biographer said when Carey landed in Calcutta he found that Hindus wore clothing that was draped and the Muslims that were tailored. This difference also embodied their differing scientific knowledge. As Muslims struggled to develop the science of stitching, the necessary technology needed to be built up, as a result of which Islamic cultural science surged. Muhammad, thus, played a revolutionary role in the medieval spiritual universe.

    Christianity also evolved slowly in adopting changed dress codes for its pastors. Even though Christianity remains the most modern in adopting dress codes, it took a long time to overcome its primitive papal one. The Lutherian reformation helped adopt much more radical dress code than even the Islamic one. The modern Western suit and tie, which has influenced the global dress code, was also spiritually validated in the Christian spiritual world, having developed in the post-Lutherian revolution. Meanwhile, Hinduism remains primitivist with regard to dress and Buddhism has also not fully overcome its semi-naked monkishness.

    More than anything else, the Islamic world's contribution to science is in its discovery of oil. Following this development, the living conditions of human beings changed irrevocably. At the present moment, a so-called clash of civilization threatens to breakout between the Christian West and the Islamic East on the question of control of the oil economy. Islam's medieval expansion was based on this kind of strong relationship between reason and the Quranic faith, with a solid organization around the mosque and a spiritually committed army. The Hindu Brahmanic world lost out to the Islamic rulers because of a total disconnection between religion and science. The Christian world realized the possibility of expansion of Islam and it made adjustments with Lutherian Reformation and Copernicus and Newton's scientific revolutions. Since then the Christian world has marched forward by constantly negotiating between Christianity and science, leaving the other three worlds far behind. While the Buddhist world is trying to catch up with the Christian world by adopting a liberal socialist politics, the Islamic one stagnates in medieval kingships politically, and is limping with great difficulty to work out its ways in scientific discoveries. Quite tragically, the Hindu world has remained where it started, not having developed any independent scientific thinking. Economically it has remained a good beggar, and in the political form adopted the British model of parliamentary democracy without building a spiritual democratic base at the ground level. In the scientific realm, the Hindu world still remains a borrower of Western science without developing a criticality of its own.

    In case of health sciences, Islam adopted practices like circumcision without any compromise, which played a role in limiting the spread of HIV in the Islamic society. Early Christian society practised circumcision too, but over a period of time it was left to the family. While Islamic society had proceeded in the right path about many things, over a period of time it stopped carrying that relationship between religion and science to higher modernist levels. It refused to work out a transformative method in political science that religion should make several readjustments in modernizing the political systems. They also steadfastly stuck to concepts of political monarchy and dictatorship. Islamic societies refused to adopt democracy as a spiritually valid political system. They saw democracy as a Christian form of government, but failed to develop their own liberating system of political governance. The Hindu world on the other hand has become a good adapter, but not an innovator, even in the political realm.

    Christian society, on the other hand, starting with the Industrial Revolution, allowed an enormous amount of revolutionary thinking in socio-political, medical and educational realms. In many fields, the Christian world stood head and shoulders above Islamic medieval science. Today it remains the most powerful world because of its successful mediation between religion, science, liberalism and democracy. It is challenged perceptibly by the Buddhist world, which has developed enough mediating abilities of itself between religion, science, liberalism and socialism. The Islamic world in the recent past, particularly after 9/11, is trying to contest the domination of the Christian world with a combination of spiritual politics of repositioning itself and also by constructing terrorist groups that could attack the Western Christian powers in guerrilla modes. Where this conflict between Christian and the Islamic worlds will lead is impossible to predict. The question then is: where does Hinduism stand in this competitive spiritual politics?

    The Death Wish of Hinduism

    The Hindu spiritual world has kept its masses under an iron fist of superstitions. Its religious books, from the Rigveda to the Ramayana (considered to be the last book in the scheme of keeping the Dalit–Bahujans suppressed and oppressed) to the Bhagvad Gita, leave hardly any scope for creative interpretation to undo caste and superstition. These, if not abolished altogether, leave no way in which a scientific India could evolve. The science that India uses today is totally borrowed from the other three worlds—of course, mostly from the Christian world. Why did the Hindu world remain so poor in science and technological innovations? One of the main reasons, as this book details, is that the Hindu mind did not allow scientific enquiry into each caste's professional productive fields from the point of view of scientific methods that exist in their productive systems. Each caste had a methodology of its own to build productive science and technological systems, and the Hindu religious system kept them bound, akin to the way in which the Chinese used to bind the feet of women to stunt their natural growth. More fundamentally, the Hindu caste system by force stopped cross-breeding the productive knowledges that existed among different caste communities. This was the crucial death blow.

    As Hinduism considered production as pollution, and the productive people as polluted human beings, the productive human self suffered from lack of self-respect, dignity as well as initiative. Second, Hindu spirituality treated reading and writing—textualizing human practices and experience—as the divinely ordained work only of the dwija (twice-born) castes. Hence, the productive castes were not allowed to learn reading and writing. The ghettoization of education, of reading and writing of texts, of the synthesization and hybridization of knowledge became a defining feature of the Hindu society, thereby destroying the possibility of growth of science in India. This book shows how that happened in India, from the experiences of each caste. Indian sociological knowledge has failed us by not showing how much science and technological basic knowledge existed among the Dalit–Bahujan communities. And they have not examined how Hinduism as a religion did not allow a proper mediation between science and religion at any point in time in history.

    The anti-science Hindu system is mainly responsible for building caste barriers for scientific growth. Since it never worked out its theology properly, it did not build a knowledge system of interpreting any human practice or written text. It adopted a method of reading and reciting spiritual texts without any scope for reflection. It also did not develop a spiritual book of ethical values—all Hindu spiritual texts were constructed around war and sex. Most of the wars that Hindu spiritual texts conducted were either those of invaders against the natives (all Vedic wars show that process) or internal civil wars (Ramayana and Mahabharata). Of course, some texts were written around the sexual experiments of Hindu gods and heroes. Vatsayana's Kamasutra was the first major text of that sort. Unfortunately, in the global book market, it is this book that represents India. This only points to the weakness of Hinduism and not its strength. The book helped in making the caste system more rigid and promoting inequality of women. The Hindu world has not produced a great thinker at any point in time in history. If the Kamasutra is a true representative of Indian thought, then it tells a sad story of Hindu creativity.

    This book shows that the real strength of India is embedded in the day-to-day productive and innovative life of the Dalit–Bahujan castes and communities. But my aim is not to present the Dalit–Bahujan productive and creative life in imaginary nationalism, but in real nationalism that is rooted in its soil and daily working lives of the people.

    Hindu Nationalism and its Anti-Science Base

    During the anti-colonial struggle, Indian upper-caste leaders made Indian nationalism deliberately representative of Hindu nationalism. Quite naturally, they located that nationalism in Hindu books that constructed the Dalit–Bahujan masses as spiritually impure and historically stupid. Except Phule, Ambedkar and Periyar, no other nationalist leaders wanted to keep the nationalist discourse secular and allow the Hindu anti-science ethic to be critiqued. The mainstream discourse around Hinduism was that it was a saintly religion, but they never examined how it was anti-production and anti-science. This led to a disastrous course of underdevelopment. This book details how the Brahman and Baniya minds built an intellectual tradition of goondagiri, which has hampered the scientific and technological growth of the nation.

    This book also shows how the Hindu spiritual system created conditions of intellectual poverty and highlights the possible alternatives within the realm of spiritual, social and ethical systems of India. The transition of India from its spiritual fascist and superstitious social base to creative spiritual democracy is a process of struggle. As it involves the transformation of a major society from primitivist idol worship to book reading and book-based spirituality, the course will be a time-consuming one as well. In India, the cultures of reading suffered due to casteist superstition and historical backwardness. Nationalism should have removed the bottleneck of superstition, casteism and untouchability, but Hindu nationalism became even more superstitious and anti-science. One hopes that this book will help Indian intellectuals to relocate the roots of Indian science and technology. One also hopes that it will aid the Dalit–Bahujan masses to look for a suitable alternative spiritual, social and cultural life process that will bring their historical potential back into play.

    Each chapter in this book is written around the cultural and scientific knowledge that each caste possesses within the context of Andhra Pradesh, a south Indian state in India. But it draws general conclusions, as the religious experiences of all Indian productive castes is the same. It also shows how Hinduism at every stage has hindered growth and hybridization of the Indian science, and of historical development all over the country and over a period of centuries. I hope that this book will open a new methodological channel to initiate studies that lead to a spiritual, scientific and social revolution in India.

    My appeal to Brahmanic readers is that if they want to read this book they must read it without self-righteousness or self-pity. As they begin to read it, it may generate a warlike situation in their minds which are trained in Brahmanic thought. It may indeed result in a ‘war of nerves’ between Brahmanic and Dalit–Bahujan civil societies, the latter having just begun to produce its own organic intellectuals. At the moment there is no large-scale Dalit–Bahujan civil society that could take inspiration from a written text and lead a liberation struggle. The main aim of this book is to create the self-respecting Scheduled Caste (SC), Scheduled Tribe (ST) and Other Backward Castes (OBC) into an intellectual social force that can lead a socio-spiritual and scientific revolution. In spite of Phule's writings, my own book Why I am Not a Hindu and other writings, the OBCs of India have not realized how Hinduism has historically suppressed their scientific essence. They continue to struggle for political power, not realizing that as long as they are in an oppressed position in the spiritual realm, their intellectual potential cannot be fulfilled and their scientific temper cannot take on a modernist shape. The Dalits, on the other hand, are on a path of spiritual and social liberation, inspired by Ambedkar's writing and practice.

    This book is meant to play a positive role in empowering the Dalit–Bahujan forces of India in all spheres of life. It is also meant to show how spiritual democracy and spiritual fascism are opposite systems, and define what roles they play in our lives.

  • Glossary

    aadabokillawomanly
    aadatanamfemininity
    aarea needle used to stitch leather chappals, shoes and other commodities
    addaa place for discussion; gossip
    adharmicunjust people
    Advaita Brahminisma school of Brahmanical thought developed by Adi Shankara. Often it is interpreted as monistic system of thought. It put primacy on Shiva rather than Vishnu
    agnifire
    agraharathe land given to the priests and the temples by the ruling classes; the Indian Brahman priests came to own large tracts of land under this system, thereby becoming the first ever landlords in India
    ayacutan area of irrigated land in a particular village or town—in Andhra Pradesh, all the irrigated land under a particular tank, for instance, is known as the ayacut of that tank
    bandi girra pattabullock cart wheel belt made of iron
    bhikkhumale member of a Buddhist sangha
    bhikkhunifemale member of a Buddhist sangha
    bhoodevtaEarth God
    bhooshaktiEarth Goddess
    bhoomi dunnutaa process of tilling the land
    BrahmanatwamBrahmanism
    buddiTelugu word for wooden junction of a bullock cart wheel
    bunda heap of soil and stone meant to check the flow of water from a tank or canal
    Chakalatwamthe life and thinking process of the washermen's community. The Chakalis believed in the washing of clothes for human use, as it not only keeps the human body and environment clean but also increases the production of food and other commodities for the prolongation of human life. The human civilization has grown because of the contribution of washer men and women of India.
    ChakaliTelugu word for the caste that washes clothes; an individual member of the caste
    chakamukha rayeethe fire-producing stone, along with cotton and the iron pieces that are always kept with a cattle-grazing Yadava. The collective combination of this is called ‘fire producer’
    Chaki revudhobi ghat—site where the washing takes place
    chandala padarthaUntouchable material
    dakshinathe money given to a priest for conducting a ritual
    daridra narayanpoor, exploited people of India
    daruvuan activity that generates pleasure through laughter or through other forms
    deeksha bhoomithe place in Nagpur where Dr B.R. Ambedkar embraced Buddhism
    dhanawealth
    dhobithe North Indian word for a Chakali
    daddhojanama divine food item
    dandekottutadeceiving the buyers and sellers by manipulating the weighing machine
    dharmicjust people
    doralandlord
    dwijatwice born
    dolubig, roundish drum played while hanging it to the neck of the drum player with the help of a rope
    Ejavasame as Gouda in Andhra Pradesh or toddy tappers in Kerala
    EnakarraTelugu word for single elephant pole used in building houses
    erramattired soil
    gaddia raised platform where the landlord sits. It symbolizes feudal hierarchy
    gampabasket
    gelatender growth at the neck of the tree, from where toddy flows out
    ghatthe washing place at streams and tanks
    Gollasthe caste that reared cattle, sheep and goats
    goondaa specific Indian word denoting some individuals or a small group of people, who, through exercising their muscle power, control the rest of the civil society in localities and regions
    gopalakascattle grazers
    gotrapeople who share the same lineage
    goodaa leather belt stitched to the foot-sized leather base for holding the foot to the chappal
    GoudaTelugu name for a caste that specializes in toddy-tapping—same as Ejava (Kerala) and Nadar (Tamil Nadu); the individual member of the caste
    grihaprasthaBrahminical term for Samsaratwam
    guptadhanaan Indian form of black money; the money is often hidden at secret locations by the Baniyas
    gurukulascentres of education/schools in the ancient period
    gutamwooden or iron rod with a wide and strong bottom that is used to crush the leather and to soften it so that it can be moulded as necessary
    jaggusmall musical instrument that can be played by hand
    jihadliberation
    kale kambali walaProphet of the Black Blanket; referring to the Prophet Muhammad
    kaalu karrumeans that if there is a lack of coordination between the bull and the tiller, the iron blade (karru) would injure the bull's foot
    Kaputhe name of a agrarian caste in Telugu; the name of this caste emerges from the Telugu word meaning ‘watchers of the fields’.
    karma phalafruits of all labour and knowledge
    karruplough tip rod
    kolimiironsmith's forge
    kondrathe process of ploughing two furrows, leaving a two-and-half- to-three metre space in between
    kshanabhanguramsomething that only lives for a minute
    kumkumred powder used by Hindu women and men during religious functions
    Kummaristhe caste that made pots
    kummari kundapotter's pot
    Kurumasa caste community; same as the Gollas
    Lathangicreeper; a thin and frail woman
    Madia wet piece of cloth that the Brahman and the Baniya women wear while cooking in their houses. It is a torturous course that these women suffer in the name of religious purity
    Madiga Dandorais an organization started by the Madigas of Andhra Pradesh under the leadership of Krishna Madiga. This organization intends to ensure that the benefits of the reservation policy should be divided amongst the Madigas and the Malas of Andhra Pradesh on the basis of their population composition
    maistreesbrick-and-cement technicians
    mamsaharamthe practice of eating meat
    mangalithat which is good and positive
    mangala kathibarber's knife
    Mangalatwambarberhood
    magatanamMasculinity
    MangaliTelugu word for the barber caste
    martolea sharp and roundish iron needle, big in size, with which holes are made to the leather in a required size so that leather threads can pass through the whole
    mohallalocality
    mokshaspiritual liberation
    mokuinstrument used to climb toddy tree
    muhurthamthe time fixed for house warming ceremony or marriage by the priest
    muppadi muudu kotla devatalu33 millions gods of Hinduism
    muttais a place of worship for the followers of the Virashaiva cult
    mutthaduinstrument used to climb toddy tree
    Nadarsame as Gouda in Kannada or toddy tappers in Tamil Nadu
    niluvuthe initial form of the pot shaped by the pot maker
    paada vandana/paada puja padakollutouching the feet of a priest in a public place are wooden sandals that are worn by the Hindu saints
    palkia palanquin, generally used in marriage
    paluguraiTelugu word for a soft stone used by the barbers; constant rubbing against this stone, along with the leather sheet, leads to the semi-sterilization of the barber's knife
    paraloka praptientering heaven
    perugannama divine food item made of curd
    pilaka juttutuft of hair that the Brahman priest maintains in his clean shaven head
    punyamsacredness
    Purushprimordial man
    purushatwamsame as magatanam
    purushottamathe supreme being; one of the names of Lord Rama
    pulihoraa divine food item made of tamarind sauce
    Post-Hindu Nationalismis an alternative stream of nationalist thought which runs counter to all the nationalist discourses that the upper-caste Hindus working in all kinds of organizations and institutions—secular, communist, and so on—have constructed so far. Post-Hindu nationalism looks for its roots in Dalit–Bahujan class and it hopes to build this nation on productive, creative and scientific lines.
    rampewide-edged knife that is used to cut leather in different sizes
    rathachariot
    rishisaint
    saadhusame as rishi
    Samana Brahmansthey devoted themselves to a life of saintliness and self-renunciation. They disregarded rites and rituals inculcated by Brahmans
    sambhandalurelationships
    samsaria disciplined householder
    samsaramfamilyhood
    Samsaratwama philosophy that believes that God did not ordain bachelorhood for human beings. It does not associate sexual act with either purity or pollution. One can get married yet work as a priest in a temple or any other religious institution
    Sanghamonastic association of ordained Buddhist monks and nuns
    sanyasamsainthood
    Sanyasatwama philosophy that believes that celibacy is essential for attaining salvation
    satia custom prevalent amongst many upper-caste Hindus whereby the bride was forced to die on the funeral pyre of her husband
    shakaharamvegetarianism
    shapamcurse
    sheelaTelugu word for chastity
    shlokacouplets from scriptures
    somaa drink prepared from the nectar of toddy trees
    sudakama Hindu practice where the family members of the recently deceased are treated as untouchable to others for eleven days; they are also supposed to remain on the outer side of the house and sleep and eat there. Only close relatives are allowed to cook food for them. This practice emerges from the fact that the dead body itself is treated as untouchable
    Shudratwamthe philosophy of the Shudras that respects physical work as part of human productive life. It believes that soiling the hands is a part of human existence
    sukhapleasure
    suraintoxicants
    tapasyaa form of meditation practised by the Hindus
    tarajuweighing machine
    teedgalsoft stone used for sharpening the knife whenever its edge gets rough
    tilakis a mark of auspiciousness. It is put on the forehead with sandal paste, sacred ashes or kumkum
    upanayanaa sacred thread ceremony
    ungutama leather ring stitched to the chappal to grip the big finger of the feet
    vaamua specific place where the pot maker burns all dry pots, accommodating hundreds of pots
    varnavyavasthacaste system
    vasthuspiritual intervention in shaping a house
    Vishwarupathe universal form revealed by Lord Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita
    yagyaa ritual practice in which Brahman priests recite mantras and pour ghee in the fire altar to evoke blessings of the gods
    yagya mandapamthe special place built for the performance of the Brahmanic Hindu yagyas
    yagya kumbhamthe place where yagya fire burns—it is around this kumbham that the Brahman priests sit and pour the ghee into the fire; it is the heart of the yagya activity

    About the Author

    Kancha Ilaiah, a passionate social activist and author, is a Professor at the Department of Political Science, Osmania University. He is a major figure in the ideological movement against the Indian caste system and has been instrumental in internationalising Dalit–Bahujan issues. He was born into a Kuruma Golla (an ‘other backward caste’) family and grew up in a small South Indian village. A prolific writer, he has authored several books and regularly contributes articles to national newspapers and magazines. His book Why I am not a Hindu—A Sudra Critique of Hindutva Philosophy, Culture and Political Economy (1996) is a bestseller. He has also authored God as Political Philosopher: Buddha's Challenge to Brahminism, The State and Repressive Culture, Manatatwam (in Telugu), Buffalo Nationalism: A Critique of Spiritual Fascism, Turning the Pot, Tilling the land: Dignity of Labour in Our Times and The Weapon of the Other: Dalit Bahujan Writings and the Remaking of Indian Nationalist Thought.

Back to Top