Saturday, September 10, 2011




One of the most ancient structures which is dividing India into Mutually exclusive Groups is the structure of Caste.

Like any other such ancient structure, when it had started, it may have had its Justification. It is said – that division of work was the basis of division of people into castes. This Justification by itself seems sound. Possibly – our ancients could find no other better structure for the society.

Every Society, any way, is always divided into neat segments based on the Nature of work people do. It was so, thousands of years ago. It is so, even today. It is so, in every country.

But, the institution of caste has only made the structure hereditary. This hereditary nature of caste has acquired a lot of flab over a period of time, and has forgotten its original intent.

People have come to believe that this hereditary nature of caste invests unfair distribution of skills, intelligence and other properties even at genetic level – and therefore is unjust to people.

But we do not really find this genetic distribution of skills etc in reality today. People from all Castes are able to climb up the ladder in any skill – given proper encouragement and environment. There are thousands and lakhs of standing examples for this all over India. Indians – belonging to any caste – are in no way deficient in any learning skills.

But what the caste structure has really done is to alter the cultural environment in which people of different castes live.

Drunkenness is more widely prevalent among certain castes than in others.

Verbal Violence is more widely prevalent in certain castes than in others.

Physical violence – some may call it courage - is more widely prevalent in certain castes than in Others.

Certainly, in these 3 aspects, all people of these castes do not imbibe these qualities. Many do. Many feel, they do. People say – I belong to this caste. Therefore, I am very courageous.  More than courage, it is violence – physical and verbal – that prevails in them today.But, undoubtedly, these are prevalent to a lesser extent in other castes.

Cleanliness, or the lack of it,  can be seen a little more among certain castes and a little less in certain others. But, probably, poverty and the 3 factors mentioned above can be reasons for it.

But, in my view, these 4 qualities, more than any other, are acting as cultural barriers between various castes. Drunkenness must go from all castes if people need to come up culturally and economically – and integrate with all others who are not prone to drunkenness. Verbal violence must go from all, if others can become able to befriend them and integrate with them. Physical violence must be shunned by all people – even while encouraging Courage - if all others have to live in peace with them. Cleanliness is a factor that can be easily achieved.

These are not great dividing walls – if we choose to pull them down. Look at Anna Hazare’s movement against corruption. By and large, people of all castes, who are not drunk, who are not unclean, who are not verbally or physically violent united under Anna’s leadership for the limited purpose of fighting corruption. If they continue under such an umbrella for some time, they will all look like a homogeneous group – or one single caste.

There is another quality which also acts as a differentiator. That quality is vegetarianism. But, this should not be considered as a great differentiator. It is a great quality, though, the number of non-vegetarians is far larger. If non-vegetarians accommodate the needs of vegetarians ; see their need as essential and provide for the needs of the vegetarians, at every function, this problem is solved. What is required is – understanding the special needs of some sections in certain small matters. As simple as that.

All other differentiators are very minor – and their impact is not much.

Are good and bad behaviors -  differentiators based on CASTE? Definitely not. There are good and bad people in all castes. Good People are not well organized. But, bad people (of all castes) are well organized – especially for doing bad things. I think, historically, it was always so.

But, it is now the time that Good people of all castes come together – especially for abolishing caste – without pain for anybody.

We have all inherited CASTE. None of us existing today have created or added or modified or in any way added to the structure of Caste. Along with caste, some habits may have come. If they are good habits, fine. Else, we will just get rid of the bad habits. But, we must abolish the root cause of our division, namely, Caste.

Why should we abolish Caste structure today? What if it is allowed to continue further?

1.   Most of our children – do not want to be divided on the basis of caste. They are receiving the same type of education – and are making friendships across all castes without difference. Ask them. They would want the caste structure to disappear at the earliest.
2.   Many youngsters are falling in love beyond the caste barriers. It is now happening very widely. It would be unnatural and unnecessary cruelty to keep them divided or to fight with them for the sake of caste.
3.   People of different castes are in similar jobs. There are software Engineers from all castes. There are Government officers from all castes. There are Politicians from all castes. There are soldiers, Policemen, Doctors, Professors, teachers and judges from all castes. If work is the differentiating factor – the profession followed must determine caste. Not the Birth. So, this rationale has also disappeared almost totally - for differentiating people on the basis of caste.
4.   United we survive and thrive; divided we fall; There is every good reason to unite ourselves and pull down the barricades, barriers and walls that divide us. In all countries – we see that - the less the dividers, the greater the progress; the greater the unity; the greater their strength of survival and prosperity. The progress of USA, China, European Nations etc – are all pointers to it. The fighting nations are fighting on the basis of dividers like caste, religion, sect, race etc. Fortunately, almost all Indians belong to a similar racial origin – barring some small differences. Therefore, it is easy and necessary to pull down the caste structure and unite all the people within a time frame of say, 10-20 years.
5.   The ancient Vedas etc may have talked about caste structure. But, there are enough evidences in them – that people could change from one caste to another by changing their work. If all people come to ONE CASTE  or one Group – then, what Vedas say will remain largely in theory – as far as caste structure is concerned. It will no more affect us – in any aspect, especially emotionally. We will no more feel superior or inferior by virtue of birth.
6.   What are India’s needs today?
7.   We need a strong powerful, united youth – which can resist any aggressive plan of any external aggressor. Unfortunately – we are surrounded by great friendly neighbours on all sides – so Unity for this one reason itself is a necessity. An external aggressor is not going to spare you or me because of your caste or mine. For them – we are all one group – without any difference even today. As Vivekananda said, we must be physically fit and we must all be patriotic – before we can achieve any thing significant. Is there any question, which caste must be patriotic and which caste not? No. All of us must be.
8.   We must also, all be  highly educated, highly goal oriented, and must all be high achievers in our fields of endeavour. Is there a question – who must be and who must not be? No. All must be.
9.   We must also, all be a joyful society, happy with each other and happy with our own self. This is possible – very easily, if we unite as a single caste (or just as a homogeneous religion).This means – we must be physically strong, intellectually high achievers, and emotionally a joyful society.
10.                India is very rich in spiritual achievement. Our system of Yoga and Vedanta – do not at all differentiate any one on caste basis – even as they are. Our spirituality is one – which shows us a path – in which we don’t need blind belief or faith. But, they prove to us the spiritual truths at every step of our spiritual journey. Yoga is far ahead of the rest of the world – and gives us rare power on our own self. It makes us fine, well accomplished and healthy individuals –at the same time, taking us step by step towards the highest spiritual goals – without the need for any blind beliefs. Adi Sankara (& Ramanuja and many others) have said that one who seeks Brahma Jnana (or spiritual knowledge) does not and should not differentiate on the basis of caste. So – People must only become honest individuals to pursue this rare and most useful science. Our spirituality is not faith or belief. It is science all the way. Caste is not only not necessary but a great barrier to spiritual knowledge.
11.                Many spiritual teachers of India today – like Sri Sri Ravishankar, Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev, Swami RamDevji, Swami sukhabodhanada are spreading spirituality breaking all caste barriers. Their disciples come from all castes and even from all religions. Their good work is only to be carried forward by all of us. It takes only a decision by us – to break these barriers. No doubt, cultural equality may take some time – say 15-to 20 years. But, the march towards it can start in our minds with this definite purpose today -Now.

What are the other barriers to the abolition of CASTE.

Some Politicians would want to preserve it – for a divide and rule policy and for vote bank politics to which they are deeply accustomed. But, I do feel, many well meaning Politicians will support this – if an all-inclusive, “no-hatred-for-anyone” based movement for abolition of caste starts at social and Governmental level simultaneously.

Any such movement has to be on convincing basis and not on conflict basis. It is possible. It is desirable. It is necessary. And, it is urgent too. 20 years is not too long a time to complete the process.

We may have to dismantle not only caste but other structures based on caste. One of them naturally is caste based reservation. My feeling is – keeping the need for unity in view, those among the SCs/STs who have sufficient education and Income must now be given an option to come out of this scheme on their own. Likewise, other Hindus must also be given an option to disown their caste. Let there be an officially recognized and growing population of Casteless Hindus, which will provide a great incentive in itself for the caste system to dissolve and disappear very quickly.

To facilitate this – all writings and speeches denigrating this caste or that caste must be banned. When we want to unite, we must build bridges and not walls. In any ancient writings also,  if any denigrating writings about any caste is there – let us not teach that any where today. We can even modify them or erase them to that extent. Likewise, nobody today, must be allowed to write or publish any thing that denigrates this or that caste.

India needs this reform. Government must initiate this reform. Political leaders (with good intentions) must initiate this reform. Social leaders must initiate this reform. Spiritual leaders must initiate this reform.

Hinduism devoid of caste structure is never a threat to any one else. It is a friend of every one. It is the Best that India can offer to the world.

My request to readers is - kindly spread this idea to all of your friends - and let like minded people start coming together. Kindly give your ideas on the steps and methods by which we can achieve this goal quickly. Wherever possible - affirm your personal commitment to abolition of caste.

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