“Annihilation of caste” by Dr. B.R. Ambedkar; Reflections & Understanding of the idea of Caste - in light of a Holistic Worldview

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  The context: An annotated critical edition of a book, “Annihilation of caste” by Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, has been recently brought out (Navayana Publishing; navayana.org) with an introductory essay, titled “The Doctor and the Saint” by Arundhati Roy, the
  “Annihilation of caste” by Dr. B.R. AmbedkarReections & Understanding of the idea of Caste - in light   of a HolisticWorldview (Sunil Kumar, B.Sc. Engg.; Member, Managing ommittee, !ama"rishna Mission, #ew $elhiand % enter for &overnance; 'ormerl) 'ounder *rustee + rofessor, SriSim (&$BM %nstt.-+ &M, *he E of %ndia td.- . !he conte"t#  % have /ust gone through the annotated critical edition of aboo", 01nnihilation of caste2 b $r. B.!. 1mbed"ar, which has been recentlbrought out (#avaana ublishing; navaana.org- with an introductor essa,titled 0*he $octor and the Saint2 b 1rundhati !o, the saint being Mahatma&andhi, who defended caste, and the $octor being 1mbed"ar; theircorres3ondence is also included in the boo". While it is true that there must have been man cases of e43loitation andatrocities, at the same time there must have been some satisfaction also, if not good, because of which the caste sstems still e4ists. *he 5uestion of caste is one of the ma/or of the numerous issues with which the world and itsmodern religions have critici6ed and condemned Hinduism for centuries; butwe should not forget that this was also a deliberate 3lan of the con5uerors tobrea" not onl our self7esteem, but our res3ect for the wisdom of ourforefathers. Moreover, while our social sstems have to acce3t res3onsibilitfor e43loitation, we can also loo" at it as a failure of administration andgovernance. Doctor and $aint#  aste is /ust one of the 3ieces in the 8ig7saw 3u66le of wor" and life and cannot be understood without a holistic vision and love for%ndian wisdom. *he $octor re3resented a great intellect, bred on Westernworldview of 9se3arateness: and their criticisms, but a33arentl ignorant of all the good and 3rofundit that %ndian culture stands for, and therefore fullof hatred towards its man faults, notwithstanding the fact the same casteridden societ could gleam his com3etenc and 3ro3el him to great heights.  *he Saint on the other hand re3resented a burning love for %ndia, its s3iritualheritage and worldview of 9oneness: of all creation and its 3eo3le, even thosewho vehementl o33osed him, li"e a mother loves all her children e5uall, ins3ite of all their goodness or dirt, faults and wic"edness, but strives to guidethem with love to be better, to march towards a universal ideal of 93erfection:. %t is a 3it that the $octor did not read ive"ananda; had hedone so, he would have understood the health worldview of %ndian wisdomand develo3ed love for %ndia, as did the Saint and also the man freedom<ghters= . %ndian ision and 'ork ideal#  *o a33reciate the idea of caste, it isnecessar to <rst understand the holistic %ndian vision and worldview incom3arison with the modern thin"ing. 1ccording to modern thin"ing, based  on Western ideas, our dail wor" and 3rofession is meant for earning a living,mone, 3romotions, status, etc. and it is believed that an im3ortant 3ur3oseof wor" and career is to get 3romoted to higher and higher status. *hus, awor"er at the lowest rung strives to reach the highest rung and as he riseshe gets more mone, 3ower and status; and societ also treats 3eo3le as lowor high de3ending u3on their status. %t must be understood that this mostcertainl is not the %ndian ideal. We have the conviction that our status, highor low is irrelevant; what matters, is) %n and through our wo" and life are weon the 3ath of 9 dharma : to the ultimate goal and 3ur3ose of human life> %f weare, then we are much nearer to the goal of life than a sel<sh 3erson of highstatus, indulging in corru3tion. %ndian wor"7ideal asserts that our dail wor" and living is our only  o33ortunit to wal" either towards or awa, from the goal of life. ?f course,most 3eo3le are not even aware of or interested in the higher dimensions of wor" and life. *herefore, the attem3t of the srestha  of societ was to tr andevolve a social sstem where 3eo3le could engage in wor" and duties wherethe could e4cel, based on their inherited tendencies and a3titudes, andlearn the necessar "nowledge and s"ills while growing, without undue e@ortand time. *he idea was to engage in wor", li"el to be most hel3ful in our3ath to 3erfection; whereas toda the tendenc is to go after wor", whichcan give more mone, 3ower and status. Whatever ma be our wor", high orlow, the 5uestion is) %n and through our dail wor" and living are wecontinuousl growing towards ma4imi6ing our unlimited 3otential for3erfection, 3eace and ha33iness> .( Are )eo)le e*+al,  %f we allow 3eo3le full of desires and 3rone towic"edness to emerge as leaders and 3rofessionals, will the ever wor" forthe good of 3eo3le> %ndian wisdom recogni6es that 3eo3le have di@erenttendencies; onl a ver few are men of wisdom <t to be teachers and rolemodels of societ, the srestha, who are b and large no longer han"eringafter artha  and kaama . %t becomes their dut to guide and mentor thesociet. *his the can best do b <rst training the administrators, who mustbe 3ersons who have greatl reduced their desires and are now striving tounderstand the nuances of 9 dharma : and are therefore read to govern andadminister fairl and /ustl. *he 1dministrators and the Srestha  have theres3onsibilit to wor" together to create conducive sstems within whichindividuals and grou3s can engage in wor" suitable to their tendencies.1mongst them will be entre3reneurs, with tendencies for creating wealth,and s"illed wor"force, whose tendencies will be towards ful<llment of kaama while giving their best at wor". 1ll these are to be educated and groomed inthe commitment to 9 dharma’  , i.e. to kartavya-palan , to striving for e4cellencein wor", care and concern for each other and wor"ing for good of societ. *hewise elders of societ are res3onsible to guide 3eo3le to ful<ll their duties,3unish those who do not do so, and sociall bocott, and give on the s3ot /udgments, without long lasting legal battles of wit, of toda.  %n contrast the modern worldview is based on the a33arentl false idea that3eo3le are born e5ual, whereas it is a33arent that from the ver birth 3eo3leare une5ual and have di@erent inherited tendencies and characteristics.Modern societ is still gra33ling with the 3roblem of how to identif, educate,select and 3lace right 3eo3le in the right 3ositions of res3onsibilit.Historicall all ancient societies, including %ndian caste idea, had a thumbrule to solve this 3er3le4ing issue, go b status and seniorit of birth. Was itsuch a bad rule, considering that it is time tested and is still followed andremains the most common ardstic"> *he 5uestion is) $oes the 3rinci3le of 9as we sow, so shall we rea3: sto3 functioning or does it continue>an sstems based on false 3remise that we are e5ual at birth ever besound> Should une5ual 3eo3le be treated e5uall> 1nd, should e5ual 3eo3lebe treated une5uall> *here is a law of falsi<abilit which states thatanthing which is false will soon be e43osed and cannot stand the test of time; the ver fact that in s3ite of all attem3ts to destro caste it stillremains, should ma"e us thin" and reAect and tr to a33reciate andunderstand the 3ur3ose, if an, in the idea of caste. 1 5uestion arises) %f 3eo3le are born e5ual wh do the get une5ual circumstances> %f 3eo3le areborn e5ual who is res3onsible to develo3 the wea"er and wh> . ygienic reasons,  erha3s se3aration of 3eo3le could have been amethod of 3reventing s3read of infection and diseases, through too much of mi4ing since at that time the idea of carring germs, soa3s and disinfectantswere not even "nown and can be considered reasonable in the light of modern "nowledge of contamination, etc. ./ Are 'e 0ictims of e"cessi0e criticisms,  1 5uote from the !eaders$igest) When the White man came to 1frica we had all the lands and thehad the Bible. *he taught us to 3ra with ees closed. When we o3ened ourees, the had all our land and we had the Bible. *his is true of %ndia as well=$uring thousand ears of foreign rule all our educational, social andgovernance sstems, values and ideals have been critici6ed and attem3tsmade to destro %ndian civili6ation, and et we still survive  kuch baat hai kihasti mitati naheen hamari = erha3s it is our caste structure and of course%ndian wisdom. We should note that even though %ndian sstems ma be fullof man faults, diversities, and social divisions and "ingdoms, %ndia wasalwas 3ros3erous and culturall united through the e3ics !amaana andMahabharat and the edic ideal of the worldview of 9oneness: and9sub/ective: focus. (. 1hy e"cl+de %deas of i0ekananda,  %t is a 3it that the $octor has5uoted onl Western thin"ers to build his case against caste, but has  ignored, 3erha3s deliberatel, the ideas of ive"ananda, who has also foundfault with caste sstem but with love for %ndian culture has also given soundsuggestions. ive"ananda sas) ?ne of the greatest causes of %ndia:s miserand downfall has been that she narrowed herself, neglected the masses,refused to give her treasures to others. #o amount of 3olitics would be of anavail until the masses are well educated, well fed, and well cared for.However, ive"ananda also warns) %mitation is not civili6ation. Being acon5uered race, we have brought ourselves to believe that we are wea", Sraddha  is lost; faith in ourselves must be reawa"ened. He critici6es the so7called educated  and sas) *he 3easant, shoema"er,swee3er, etc. have much greater ca3acit for wor" and self7reliance than theeducated= Silentl wor"ing the 3roduce the entire wealth, withoutcom3laint; uneducated but the are the bac"bone of the nation. 1nd we dareregard them as low7class and ourselves as cultured= 1 most sel<sh manbecomes a hero and shows unsel<shness when in the s3otlight, with 3eo3lecheering him; blessed indeed are the masses who, are the source of 3owerfor the rulers, and et show same unsel<shness and devotion to dut in thesmallest of wor", unnoticed b all. We the educated are res3onsible for theirmiseries. We are to blame. We have trod on the masses till the havebecome hel3less.  *houghtful 3eo3le now reali6e it, but the have blamed the Hindu religion forit and to them the onl wa of im3rovement is b crushing this grandestreligion= Religion is not at fault  . ?ur !eligion teaches that ever being isdivine, onl our Self multi3lied. But it was the want of 3ractical a33lication 7sm3ath, love, care and concern for others. Buddha taught us how to feel,how to sm3athise with the 3oor, the miserable, the sinner, but we heardhim not. ?ur educated do not care for the 3oor, and et it is the who hel3ma"e us rich. . Di0ided b+t United %ndian $ystems#  Even though %ndia is full of muchdiversit and has remained divided into man castes it was 3ros3erous.eo3le were free to carr out their trade and 3rofessions; the were highls"illful and devoted to their res3ective duties. *he rulers and e4ecutivesmust have created the environment, sstems, organi6ational and wor"culture where the entre3reneurs and the wor"ing classes could wor"together, ta"e care and have concern for each other and ma"e %ndia rich. %twas left to the men of wisdom, the srestha  of societ to educate, guide andins3ire the e4ecutives and through them, ever 3erson, whatever their caste,duties or trade, to strive for the higher goal of life, in and through his dailwor" and duties. . %ndian 1orld0ie' of 2neness#  *he %ndian ideal of 9oneness: wasunderstood as) identi<ed with bod7mind com3le4es we are di@erent; whenwe 3urif our minds through 9good thoughts and good actions:, ful<lling our  duties, we learn to identif more and more with our divine s3irit and grow infeelings of apanapan with more and more, till we feel 9one: with the wholecreation. *his ideal was e43ressed in dail life through the striving to develo3s3ontaneous feelings of love, care and concern for each other, e3itomi6ed inthe instruction, : atithi devo bhava :. *he 9sub/ective: focus was e43ressedthrough insistence on commitment to kartavya-palan  and to 5ualit ande4cellence in wor", and to 3erformance of all wor" and duties in a s3irit of  tyaga, seva  and worshi3, for the good of samaaja  and not merel for sel<shends. .( %ndian 1ork ideal#  E4cellence in wor" and ful<llment of duties wasinsisted because %ndian wisdom asserts that wor" does not mean /ust Cam toD3m; we are at 9wor":, F4G. Wor" means all our thoughts, choices, motives,goals, beliefs, value sstem, our words, our wor" and actions. We are doing9wor": all the time and each 9wor": has left and is continuousl leaving a9mar": on our mind and these 9sub/ective: im3ressions enslave us. ?ur 9wor":ma"es us what we are. ?ur wor" forms our worldview. Whatever % thin" or door desire now, is governed b these im3ressions alread stored in our mindb our own 3ast actions. ur3ose of wor" is therefore :sub/ective:, i.e. 9 chitta-suddhi :, 3urit of mind. We should constantl strive to awa"en our vivek   andas") will this choice or action 3urif or 3ollute m mind>  . 3+ndamental D+ties and olistic 1orld0ie'#  Swami ive"anandahas e43ressed this %ndian wisdom of 9oneness: and 9sub/ective: focus in a few3ith sentences) Each soul is 3otentiall divine. *he goal is to manifest thisdivinit within b controlling nature, e4ternal and internal. $o this throughwor", devotion, meditation, or "nowledge, and be free. 1nd this, in realit, isthe universal essence of all religions, even though the <ght and claim to be9se3arate: from each other. *he 9'undamental $uties: enshrined in 1rticleD1 of our onstitution now reAect this health worldview of realit whichever citi6en must imbibe to ma"e %ndia once again a world7leader. How dowe re7inculcate this health wor" ideal and commitment to 'undamental$uties and kartavya-palan > /. i0ekananda4 Caste and %deal of the $restha#  ive"ananda has alsocommented u3on our caste sstem and sas) aste is a social custom, andall our great 3reachers have tried to brea" it down; and et ever time it hasfailed and onl riveted the chain= aste is a ver good thing. aste is the3lan we want to follow. #ot one in million understands what caste is. *here isno countr without it. *he 3lan in %ndia is from caste to reach to the 3oint of no caste; to raise everbod to a 9Brahmin: who is the ideal of humanit. *hroughout histor attem3ts have alwas been made to raise the lowerclasses, man have been and man more will follow till all will become
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