Sunday, 11 September 2016

Gandhi and Caste


Gandhi repeatedly said in the 1920s that ' Hindus must follow their hereditary professions ' and that ' prohibition of intermarriage between people of different varnas was necessary for a rapid evolution of the soul '. In the 1930s he changed his tune and started saying that he was opposed to caste but supported varna and hereditary professions, as if there is a difference between the two.

This hypocrisy was typical of Gandhi. Whenever he found his stupid feudal ideas unacceptable he tried to obfuscate.

Thus in 1921 he said in his journal Young India " I am a sanatani Hindu. I believe in varnashram dharma ( caste system ). I believe in protection of the cow "

He also said " I believe that caste has saved Hinduism from disintegration. One of my correspondents suggests that we should abolish the caste system but adopt the class system of Europe, meaning that the idea of hereditary castes should be rejected. I am inclined to think that the law of heredity is an eternal law, and any attempt to alter it must lead to utter confusion. Hindus believe in transmigration of the soul, and Nature will adjust the balance by degrading a Brahmin if he misbehaves to a lower caste, and upgrading one who lives the life of a Brahmin to a Brahmin in his next life. "

He also wrote " The beauty of the caste system is that it does not base itself upon distinctions of wealth-possessions. Money, as history has proved, is the greatest disruptive force in the world C aste is but an extension of the principle of the family. Both are governed by blood and heredity. Western scientists are busy trying to prove that heredity is an illusion andthat milieu is everything. The.experience of many lands goes against the conclusions of these scientists; but even accepting their doctrine of milieu, it is easy to prove that milieu can be conserved and developed more through caste than through class. As we all know, change comes very slowly in social life, and thus, as a matter of fact, caste has allowed new groupings to suit the changes in lives. But these changes are quiet and easy, as a change in the shape of the clouds. It is difficultto imagine a better harmonious human adjustment.Caste does not connote superiority or inferiority. It simply recognizes different outlooks and corresponding modes of life.But it is no use denying the fact that a sort of hierarchy has been evolved in the caste system, but it cannot be called the cre-ation of the Brahmins. When all castes accept a common goal of life, a hierarchy is inevitable, because all castes cannot realize the ideal in equal degree."

Again in 1921 Gandhi said : “I believe that if Hindu society has been able to stand, it is because it is founded on the caste system. A community which can create the caste system must be said to possess unique power of organization.To destroy the caste system and adopt the Western European social system means that Hindus must give up the principle of hereditary occupation which is the soul of the caste system.The hereditary principle is an eternal principle.To change it is to create disorder. It will be a chaos if every day a Brahmin is to be changed into a Shudra, and a Shudra is to be changed into a Brahmin. The caste system is a natural order of society.... I am opposed to all those who are out to destroy the caste system.”

In 1926 Gandhi writes ": In accepting the fourfold division I am simply accepting the laws of Nature, taking for granted what is in-herent in human nature and the law of heredity.... It is not possible in one birth entirely to undo the results of our past doings."

Gandhi's hypocrisy can again be seen by the following statement in 1927 :
: " In my conception of the law of varna, no one is superior to any other.... A scavenger [.a rubbish-collector or a latrine- or street-sweeper] has the same status as a Brahmin "

Is this not ridiculous and farcical ? Do Brahmins regard shudras as their equals ?.It is like the devious doctrine of 'separate but equal ' propounded by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1896. Gandhi does not want abolition of the caste system, he says all castes have the same status, which is nonsense.

In 1925 Gandhi says: " There is no harm if a person belonging to one varna acquires the knowledge or science and art specialized in by persons belonging to other varnas. But as far as the way of earning his living is concerned, he must follow the occupationof the varna to which he belongs, which means he must follow the hereditary profession of his forefathers.The object of the varna system is to prevent competition and class struggle and class war. I believe in the varna system because it fixes the duties and occupations of persons.Varna means the determination of a man’s occupation before he is born. In the varna system no man has any liberty to choose his occupation."
This statement is again obfuscation. Why will anyone acquire a skill unless he can use it to earn his bread ?

In 1931 Gandhi said: " I do not believe in caste in the modern sense. It is an excrescence and a handicap on progress. Nor do I believe in inequalities between human beings. We are all absolutely equal. But equality is of souls and not bodies. We have to realize equality in the midst of this apparent inequality. Assumption of superiority by any person over any other is a sin against God and man. Thus caste, in so far as it connotes distinctions in status, is an evil

.I do however believe in varna which is based on hereditary occupations. Varnas are four to mark four universal occupations – imparting knowledge, defending the defenceless, carrying on agriculture and commerce, and performing service through physical labor. These occupations are common to all mankind, but Hinduism, having recognized them as the law of our being, has made use of it in regulating social relations and conduct. Gravitation affects us all whether one knows its exist or not "
The above statement really takes the cake. On the one hand Gandhi says he does not believe in caste, on the other hand he says that he believes in hereditary occupations, and says it is like the law of gravity. But hereditary occupations is the basis of caste ( see my blog on caste system on justicekatju.blogspot.in ). Does this contradictory statement require any comment, except to say that this man can wriggle around and say that 2+2=4 and 2+2=5 in the same breath ?

In 1932 Gandhi said: "My own opinion is that the varna system has just now broken down. There is no true Brahmin or true Kshatriya or Vaishya. We are all Shudras, i.e. one varna. If this position is accepted, then the thing becomes easy. If this does not satisfy our vanity, then we are all Brahmins. Removal of Untouchability does mean root-and-branch destruction of the idea of superiority and inferiority "

Does the above statement make any sense ? At least I cannot make any head or tail out of it.
In 1933 Dr. Ambedkar said "There will be outcastes as long as there are castes, and nothing can emancipate the outcaste except the destruction of the caste system.". This was a logical argument of Dr. Ambedkar.

But see how Gandhi replies. He said " Dr. Ambedkar is bitter. He has every reason to feel so. Yet I do not believe the caste system, even as distinguished from varnashrama [the scheme of duties traditionally linked to the caste system], to be an “odious and vicious dogma. It has its limitations and defects, but there is nothing sinful about it, as there is about Untouchability; and if Untouchability is a by-product of the system, it is only in the same sense that an ugly growth is of a body, or weeds of a crop ".

Thus Gandhi is not against the caste system but only against Untouchability.

Gandhi admitted that his ideal of a varna system with everyone enjoying equal economic and social status probably had no historical warrant:

: But when asked whether in ancient India there was much difference in economic status and social privileges between the four varnas Gandhi replied " That may be historically true. But misapplication or an imperfect understanding of the law must not lead to the ignoring of the law itself. By constant striving we have to enrich it ".

So Gandhi is not against the caste system but only its 'misapplication.' ( whatever that may mean )..

The contrast between Gandhi’s and Ambedkar’s views was heightened by their respective relations
to the Jat-Pat-Todak Mandal, a new organization which was dedicated to promoting a casteless Hinduism. Gandhi told its secretary:in1932: "If eradication of castes means the abolition of varna I do not approve of it. But I am with you if your aim is to end the innumerable caste distinctions ".

Dr Ambedkar corrrectly analysed the cause of Gandhi's contradictory statements and obfuscation regarding caste as " the double role which the Mahatma wants to play – of a Mahatma and a politician. As a Mahatma he may be trying to spiritualize politics. Whether he has succeeded in it or not, politics have certainly commercialized him. A politician must know that society cannot bear the whole truth. If he is speaking the whole truth, it is bad for his politics. The reason why the Mahatma is always supporting caste and varna is because he is afraid that if he opposes them he will lose his place in politics.... Whatever may be the source of this confusion, the Mahatma must be told that he is deceiving himself and also deceiving the people by preaching caste under the name of varna ".

This is the man who has been thrust down the throats of Indians as the ' Father of the Nation ', and cheerfully swallowed up by our gullible people, who are like children whom any Machiavellian Pied Piper of Hamelin can lead into a deep ditch

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