In India, Hinduism has become an easy target. Hinduism has always been open to interpretations-Ekam Satya, Vipra Bahudha Vadanti – Truth is One, often told differently by different scholars. This inherent openness of ideas, flexibility of faith, has kept Hinduism alive for Millenniums but unfortunately this has also damaged Hinduism in many ways.
The innocent acceptance of interpretation inherent in Hinduism has reduced its footprints from a global faith to now a partitioned land of one Country. Vested interests have used this very tolerance and openness to dishonestly invade the faith with much viler designs than the actual Islamic or Christian invasions of the history. People have misused their social status obtained through expertise and experience in unrelated areas to attack and malign Hinduism.
An article on Hinduism, critical of the faith, for most part based in unfounded assumptions, published in The Wire and written by one retired Judge Shri, PB Sawant, was too much for me, a day after the Indian secular state banned the firecrackers associated with Diwali since centuries, going back to Skanda Purana on the basis of, well, Zero data. They banned it because they could. They did not ban Vehicles in Delhi or Stubble Burning in Punjab, because they could not. Much as they forcefully made women enter Sabarimala because they could, and not get women to enter Haji Ali Dargah, because they could not.
When a judge, as in this article, wades into the area of unknown wisdom, the damage is more serious than a film Journalist turned political intellectual or a movie starlet writing similar stuff. The article is titled “The Manusmriti and A Divided Nation” and was published on the 16th of November, 2020. While most publications avoid writing against Christianity around Christmas and against Islam around Islamic festivals, for the fear of lash back, most Hinduphobic articles are timed to be published around Hindu festivals.
It gets them traction on account of outrage, and the outrage is usually mild and intellectual, therefore does not carry any serious threat. This article builds on the back of Communist propaganda which first creates a strawman argument that Hindus want to establish a rule run according to Manusmriti in India and then proceeds to demolish it. This has been the design of the Naxalists and Periyarists. Being indigenous religion and with its evolution inseparably linked with India, attacking Hindus is equivalent to attacking India and brings them closer to the idea of Balkanization of India which both Ambedkar and Nehru were wary about.
It is amazing that while most Hindus I speak to have almost never seen Manusmriti, let alone having read it or wanting it to be imposed on India as the Code. Most Hindus have been only asking for Uniform Civil Code, a modern progressive law which could apply uniformly across citizens irrespective of their religion and faith. What is funny is that the so-called secularists oppose a secular code.
Those who celebrate the America as a melting Pot of various Cultures, oppose it in India and instead want India to be Salad Bowl, without uniformity. While one Partition has shattered the heart of every Indian, to the leftists it presents a possibility. That is the reason their aim is to harp on the difference and hide the commonality across the faiths practiced in India. Such Hindu-maligning articles help them creating ill-will among the minority faiths against the Hindus of India.
The article begins with a fallacious pre-supposition of Aryan Invasion Theory. It was hypothetically proven that the theory was a dishonest attempt by European Historian to legitimize their colonization. After Rakhigarhi excavation, and the DNA analysis has scientifically debunked the Aryan Invasion theory, which established Hindus as invaders constantly engaged in a struggle of supremacy with the Mool Niwasis or the aborigines of India.
Sometimes South Indians and at other times, Tribal Hindus were positioned as the communities wronged by the invading Aryans. While Islamic invasions were whitewashed as secular empire-building exercises, fictitious Aryan invaders were established as slave-traders. The lead author and scientist of the Rakhigarhi research, Prof Vasant Shinde has been quoted to say,
“The paper indicates that there was no Aryan invasion and no Aryan migration and that all the developments right from the hunting-gathering stage to modern times in South Asia were done by indigenous people,”
Unlike the political scholar that elite intellectuals often are, the people behind this study included Archeologists and DNA Scientists from Harvard Medical School, whose findings were based on scientific facts and data. Their derivations are mostly in line with the literary interpretations starting from the Battle of Ten Kings as mentioned in the oldest literature in Human History, the Rigvedas, which speaks of Migration Westwards from India, and not the other way round.
In light of the scientific facts, the charges the author makes fall flat. I am not very surprised that the author did not bother to look at the report which came out in 2019 while writing an article towards the end of 2020, essentially to position the Aryans, and thus Hindus as a predatory race which enslaved a much advanced Indian civilization. In total ignorance of studies and facts, he boisterously claims in the beginning of the article-
“It is undisputed that at least for 2000 years before the invasion by the Aryans, this country was inhabited by people who were far more advanced, one may say, urbanized, peaceful and relatively prosperous.”
He then writes,
“However, almost all historians have written the history of this land as if there was no civilization before the Aryans.”
It is very amusing that the so-called communist fact that he presents as undisputed is not backed by any historian by his own admission. Surprising to see a judicial mind with scant respect of science or theoretical research. Having settled the criminality of the Aryans (loosely translated by the Communists as upper-caste Hindus or Savarnas), the author comes to the point for which this article, camouflaging as scholarly piece in social history, was written.
The second section of the piece deals with Caste and Prejudice, a favorite of the Leftists. He alludes to stupid interpretations of the leftist intellectuals from Alternate reading of Durga to Ravana as a victim of Brahminical Patriarchy, totally ignoring the Brahminic Background of the Demon King. For them, the emancipation of Dalits require the Brahmin teacher of Ambedkar who gave him his surname, the Kshatriya benefactor of his, the Maharaja of Vadodara, who sent him abroad on a scholarship, the Kayasth President who as a head of Constitution Committee brought him in as the head of drafting committee- are all to be maligned and vilified, as invading Aryans.
Then somehow researching into the history, he claims, no one wrote, he finds that invading Aryans imposed Sanskrit on the newly slaved society, pushing them to the shadows. Having established their supremacy over the natives by the imposition of a foreign language, the Aryans then set about the task of dividing the society, with Brahmins occupying the position of power, followed by Kshatriyas and Vaishyas.
The Aryans, outnumbered, thereby set themselves at the top of the food chain, by declaring themselves as the Brahmins. I am still trying to find out why this long-debunked theory, long-exposed conspiracy has been rekindled by so eminent a person. With the enthusiasm of a schoolboy, he then goes to the primary purpose with which the Varna System was converted to Caste and latter was juxtaposed on the communist theory of Class struggle, when he writes-
‘Just as the Aryan looted and plundered the locals when they came, those who came after them did exactly the same.’
He says, quoting no one (as no Historian, later he calls them Manuwadi historians, wrote about the period), leaning totally on his imagination, Castes were
-all birth-based, socially isolated from and inimical to each other.
Then he says, came Buddhism, which expanded under the benign leadership of Emperor Ashoka. As the author has already wiped out Historians, he reads no one and quotes no one on his claim that Ashoka’s kingdom was not actually so benign and Kalinga Massacre happened at least three years after Ashoka had converted to Buddism. In truth, Buddhism was a Hindu reform movement undertaken by Khshatriya King who studied for years in Ayodhya, the sacred land for Hindu learning. Both Buddhism and Jainism were –ism with basis in Hinduism only. Unlike the latter day politicians who want faiths to fight one another, Harshvardhana of Kannauj, from Seventh Century, was a Buddhist and Shaivite at the same time.
The writer then swiftly shifts to modern politics, which is the purpose of this article wrapped in a scholarly pretense, and when he, again without references, speaks of atrocities on Buddhists and Jains during the reign of Chandragupta Maurya and says –
The point seems to be conveniently forgotten by the Hindutvavadis of today, who claim to be descendants of Aryans, and never tire of talking about marauding acts of Muslim invaders.
Since the learned Judge believes that no historian has written about anything, he offers no reference. For instance when he speaks of Caste System, he very confidently says that the-
“..order of status and privileges were assigned, based on births, duties and obligations which were fixed for life, watertight, immutable. Marriage between them was not permitted, nor could they eat together.
He has tried to establish the Evangelical fantasy about Hinduism with the firmness of a fanatic. No references, just a judgement. While it is true that Varna Vyavastha was a part of Manusmriti which no one has seen in its originality. In most revered of Hindu books, Ramayana and Mahabharata, Dharma is referred to from the writings of the Vedas. In fact, Mahabharata goes further and asks the questions of Dharma to be based on Purana and Itihasa.
Ved Vyasa gave the responsibility of propagating the Vedas to four Rishis, and he taught Purana to Romharsha, who came from Suta a Shudra Varna. There is an episode in Mahabharata, when Balrama, kills him, on finding him sitting at a higher platform than other Brahmin scholars, in spite of his glorious parentage and being brother of Krishna, he is charged with Bramha Hatya.
The Varna system, assured safety to the scholars, and any scholar from whatever lineage was treated as a Brahmin safe from the violence of Martial class. People from older generation who have seen the world ruled by dictators like Indira Gandhi must know the significance of state-provided protection to the intellectual class.
About the immutability of caste system, while the author does not give any reference, only claims that ManuSmriti mentions it and that it was used in the Hindu world as some sort of IPC or Shariah, I quote here from Mahabharata. When Nahush as a Serpent ties around Bhima, and asks Yudhishthir to answer him on questions of social order, the Snake asks
“Who is a Brahmin, O Yudhishthira, the wise one, You tell me.”
Then Dharmaraj Yudhishthira responds-
“The one who has Truth, Benevolence, forgiveness, dignity, lack of cruelty and fortitude, such a man is a Brahmin, O King of Serpents.”
The great Snake then counters and says these are all features of good human beings and could be even found in a Vaishya or a Shudra. What about them, he asks. Yudhishthira than responds:
If these good characteristics like love for truth and kindness are present in a Shudra, he is a Brahmin and if they are absent in a Brahmin, he is not a Brahmin any longer.
The Snake, still in doubt, then asks – Would it mean that a man’s birth is of no consequence unless he is initiated into education.
And Yudhishthira responds- Unless a child is initiated into education of Vedas, he remains a Shudra, such is the direction of Manu himself.
And then, the Snake satisfied says- O King! Truth, fortitude, discipline, charity, non-violence and righteousness- these are the character traits which bring success to men in life, not their Varna or birth.
Varna was only about profession. Gita says about pursuing what God has made one for, and then that becomes the Varna. Also in old Rigvedic world, unlike the Western thought in which Author seems to have studied, there is no primacy granted to one body part over the other. Unlike the Victorian convention, in Hindu texts hips and breasts are mentioned with ease and without embarrassment.
Mentioning the four Varnas as Brahma’s part only proves that the intent is to have specialization of job but ensuring that no one looks down at other profession and hence the Shloka mentioning that all Varnas came from different parts of Brahma only. Nothing created from Satan like the Abrahamic faiths. All Varnas have the divine in them. The separation was to create specialization and maintain the sanctity of profession.
A Brahmin is supposed to teach and no one else, writes the author, quoting Manu Smriti. In itself, it makes sense. A Judge who is a politician or a political ideologue who has no time to study historians but poses as a historian is a dangerous proposition. Brahmins were supposed to pursue the knowledge, and be free of political affiliations.
The separation of Church and State is also ancient in Hindu culture unlike Empire-building Military religions where the followers double up as fighters. I have not seen this more pronounced than in Ramayana where a Rajrishi who is quite capable of fighting his battle goes to the King Dasharath and asks the State to intervene and ensure the security of the Scholars in his Ashram.
This is so different from the Communist ideology which treats the campuses as hiring ground for the cadres and the students as cannon fodder in the political battles. To fool the young, they clothe propaganda into scholarship and ignore written texts from Primary Sources brazenly claiming no one has written about it in order to further the agenda without worrying about the facts. In fact, talking about Ramayana, in Bal Kaand itself, Naarada says
“When Brahmin reads Ramayana, he becomes wiser, When Kshatriya reads it, he rules over the world, the Vaishya who reads it prospers in trade and Shudra who reads it is honored everywhere.”
I agree with the writer that the country is large. It is important that poisonous thoughts are not spread based in fictitious material, in the name of identity politics. This is something Dr Ambedkar warned us about in his famous speech “The Grammar of Anarchy”. Leftists appropriating Ambedkar must read him. You cannot get away by saying ‘it is settled’ and ‘no one has written about it’. I hope the leftist intellectuals instead of misusing their social status and position to peddle propaganda, become little bit of Brahmins themselves and do real search of the truth instead of putting poison on the platter for the unsuspecting minds.