Has mainstream middle India really risen up now?

December 3, 2015

By Subrat Kumar Sahu

An important section of well-off caste-Hindu ‘mainstream India’ is mighty disturbed and in rage for sometime now. And, for all the right reasons! The recent beef ban, meat ban, dress ban, re-writing of history, regressive antics and activities by Hindutva hotheads, killing of rationalists, and lynching of Muslims have jolted them into some constructive debates on the mounting menace of ‘cultural colonization’ by Hindutva forces of late. The unprecedented protests by celebrated writers, filmmakers, scientists, historians, artists, and intellectuals especially make it mainstream middle India’s moment of resistance, which kindles tremendous hope. However, it would be a travesty of intellectual inquiry and political honesty if the debate just begins and ends around the issue of banning this or that or the utterances of fascist diktats or a killing here and a lynching there, attributing their cause only to the fact that the extreme Hindu Right is in power at the moment. One was always baffled not to witness similar protests all these decades, for cultural terrorism by Hinduism (read Brahmanism) has been at work in full force for quite a long long time, and every political order at the helm – before and after Independence – has promoted and even protected this radical Hinduization project. As fascist trends in India reaches new heights of late under Modi Sarkar, will it make us finally see the deeper and dangerous roots of Brahmanic imperialism at work within Hinduism!?

Brahmanic schemes at play

Ever since what is called the Vedic period, Brahmanism (passed off as Hinduism) is in constant pursuance of destroying local non-Brahmanic traditional cultures all over and implanting itself in the process. On the contrary, no indigenous or tribal culture ever – anywhere in the world – tries to force itself upon others; rather individual tribal groups would not even allow anyone from outside their milieu to join them as one. That is so because traditional faith systems are rooted in a sense of ‘identity’ essentially drawn from realities of their worlds and natural laws in force in their immediate surroundings and the hard-learned ‘materialist’ wisdom dealing with both the gifts and vagaries of nature for thousands of years. Their faith systems are a means for survival, sustenance, self-reliance, and self-governance; they are not meant to be tools of feudalism or imperialism, for such concepts do not even exist in their milieus.

Brahmanism, on the other hand, have historically relied on some ‘divine’ principles that shun the realities of the world and are ridiculously illusory and, therefore, have no option other than creating power centres and/or allying with the powers-that-be in order to not only survive but spread as well. So, the only way that works out for Brahmanism is to culturally colonize large numbers of non-Brahmanic communities and create a feudal order with a hierarchized society (the caste system) so as to stamp its feudal-imperialist schemes on the rest. Without the caste system, obviously, Brahmanism will collapse in seconds.

Therefore, like any form of imperialism, Brahmanism or Hinduism has always been in an existential crisis ever since it came about some 3000 years ago. And like any form of imperialism, Brahmanism too cannot survive without propaganda, coercion, violence, and political power.

It has been incisively documented by various scholars how Brahmanism has fabricated texts of ancient materialistic knowledge and wisdom and turned them Brahmanic by bringing in Hindu gods and rituals into them. N N Bhattacharyya, in particular, clubbing various schools of thoughts in ancient times as the ‘Tantric traditions’ have clearly explained how the inherent ‘empirical knowledge of the masses’ was destroyed and replaced by ‘pure knowledge’ (based on illusory divine principles) propagated by Vedic schools. The champions of Brahmanic ‘pure knowledge’ had to face severe challenges from many schools rooted in materialistic ‘empirical knowledge’, such as Lokayata, Sankhya, Nyaya-Vaisheshika, Mimansa, Jain, and many others. Most of these schools had ‘matter’ as the basis of their philosophical inquiry and had rejected any idea of existence of god. Obviously, later their texts were rewritten by the champions of ‘pure knowledge’ and turned into Hindu theism. Whatever are being passed off as ‘ancient Hindu philosophy and wisdom’, if they make sense and look rational, be sure that they are works by the great ancient materialists who Brahmanism loathed as its enemies and whose works it has stolen, fabricated, and given a Brahmanic religious makeover.

Brahmanism has survived and spread its base precisely by appropriating traditions rooted to the soil and, simultaneously, forcing its illusory and intimidating religious framework on non-Brahmanic, non-Vedic communities. Dussehra, for example, was never a festival of India’s adivasi, Dalit, and OBC (other backward caste) societies. The Brahmanic festival of dussehra, as the name suggests, lasts for ten days and observed by Brahmanic-Hindus differently in different parts. In North India, the festival culminates on the tenth day with the burning of Ravan’s effigy that symbolizes the victory of Ram over the asura (demon) king Ravan. Likewise, in East India, the tenth day marks the killing of Mahishasura (another demon king) by Durga.

Now consider the fact that the asuras whom Brahmanism has termed ‘demons’ have been part of India’s adivasi-Dalit communities since much before the Aryans arrived here. There is an adivasi community by the name of asura today in central India, and there are dozens of Asurgarhs in the tribal heartland of Odisha each with a similar local social history that they were all erstwhile kingdoms under Dalit rulers destroyed by Hindu ‘outsiders’. The Gonds in central India worship Ravan during the same time, as they believe Ravan was their ancestor who was killed by Hindu invaders. Likewise, for the Santhals of Jharkhand, Mahishasur was their king killed on the sly by Durga, sent by the ‘evil’ Hindus. So, in whatever way it is observed, what actually the Hindu festival dussehra signifies is the celebration of the victory of Brahmanism over the natives of the land.

And, why navaratri (nine nights) – that involves saatvik (strict vegetarianism) diet – is observed by Brahmanic-Hindus during dussehra is that this is precisely when most adivasi-Dalit-OBC communities propitiate their deities with the obligatory rites of animal sacrifice. In most places, Mother Earth, worshipped by traditional communities in various forms of deities, has virtually been turned into Hindu goddesses, with swanky temples built in concrete and their walls covered with Gayatri Mantras and Durga Strotras and statues of a pair of lions seated at the gate. Lions are strictly Brahmanic symbols and never part of any native faith system. Also, over the past few decades, most indigenous rituals have been turned Brahmanic through coercion by agents of Hinduism in forms of local traders, landlords, politicians, Brahmin priests, government officials, and even upper-caste schoolteachers posted in villages, besides Hindutva outfits.

Where Brahmanic propaganda does not work, coercion comes into play. And, when coercion does not work, the State gets into action. Sporadic communal riots may be the results of the need to achieve an urgent political goal, but ever since Brahmanism has tasted success in destroying the glorious era of Buddhism by employing unimaginably brutal methods of bloodsheds some two thousand years ago, violence – both organized and sporadic – has stayed with it as a trusted weapon. However, that weapon is very deceptively passed off as ‘non-violence’ and ‘tolerance’! The unthinkable and ever-growing atrocities – both in degrees and spread – committed on Dalit communities on a daily basis throws bare the very ugly foundation of Hinduism that it actually does not have any way other than resorting to violence in order to float itself on, for it is based on neither any tenable philosophical doctrine nor any rational and workable worldview so as to be able to hold together a society for good, unlike what has been proven by traditional faith systems.

Inspiring, but half-throated voices of resistance

Coming back to the question of recent meat ban, beef ban, lynching, killing, etc., and the section of caste-Hindu mainstream India so rightfully voicing in protest makes one wonder how come they do not acknowledge the much-larger agenda of Brahmanic colonization in force for so long and all around! Why is it that, for these middle-class voices, meat ban is undemocratic whereas ban on animal sacrifice is just!! Why is it that asking all sects to sing Vande Mataram is fascist but forcing Brahmanic rituals upon adivasis, Dalits, and OBCs is normal!! Why is it that if an urban, educated woman (‘someone like us’) is raped in Delhi unleashes a storm, rousing tremendous hope of course, and no leaf turns when adivasi women are routinely raped by India’s paramilitary forces in the forests of central India or when – as per government reports – at least five Dalit women on average are raped every day across the country!!

As I write in rage about the brutal lynching of a 50-year-old Muslim man, Mohammed Akhlaq, in Dadri near Delhi by a mob incited by Hindutva terror machines accusing him of eating beef (which in no way a crime in itself), I also gather strength and hope from the increasing voices of protest and condemnation from all around. Yes, the situation has gone bad to worse after the RSS-backed Modi Sarkar took over. But, the situation has been much worse in adivasi and rural India for a long time now, and even further worse for Dalits anywhere and everywhere, no matter what forces – Left, Right, Centre – are at the helm of powers. What then makes our voices fail when things happen outside a given boundary—a self-drawn boundary? How is it that the BJP brand of Brahmanism is dangerous (which it is) while the Congress and the CPM brands, or any other, are okay?

So, should we conclude here that Brahmanism up to certain point is fine, perfect, and desirable, that is, so long as it does not take away ‘our’ choices of food (not food security), our choices of clothes, our sense of holidaying (including the types of Amarnath and Vaishno Devi yatras), our idea of freedom of speech (since we speak of our space only), our notion of human rights (where the customary rights of adivasis and Dalits do not count), our religions (as opposed to the faith systems of the indigenous), our lifestyles (with heavy carbon footprints), our idea of India (far from the worldviews of traditional folks)? But then, yes… how could someone observing navaratri and is on a satvik diet gather the wherewithal to voice for the rights of adivasis and Dalits to animal sacrifice!!

Such baffling trends among the voices of resistance are witnessed in many democratic rights movements also where they may be fighting with all political sincerity against corporate land-grab, destruction of forests, and forced displacement but glaringly ignore intrusion of Brahmanism into the people whose rights and cultures they are supposed to be protecting. Issues involving Brahmanism do not include in their political agenda, vision, and action. For instance, they might have been successful in their resistance against construction of a conveyor belt for mining in some adivasi space, but they would not even question the coming-up of gigantic Hanuman idols or sprawling Hindu temples there, alien to local cultures! Even the Maoist movement is far from being any exception to this regard.

The fact that the organized murder of Akhlaq in Dadri incubated from a temple hints at temples becoming the power centres once again in the new political equation under the Hindutva-backed government. RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat’s ambitious ATMA (All Temple Management Association) project further exposes this no-so-hidden agenda. In central India, temples have played pivotal roles as power centres of feudal tyranny (like what churches did in Africa) since late medieval times, as gradual in-migration of non-adivasis began into the adivasi heartland. These non-adivasis later became powerful and ruthless landlords, besides helping spread Brahmanism among traditional non-Vedic communities, since such conversion served as a formidable tool to bring the natives into a single fold and thereby to control them and their resources. The same landlords are today representing a major part of post-Independent India’s legislative, executive, and the intelligentsia.

While during kingship, the rulers could force such power centres – Hindu temples – upon local traditional folks; post-Independence, almost all state agencies meant to implement welfare schemes in rural India play the role to perfection. In several forest villages in Odisha, forest and administrative officials have built Hindu temples, using state funds meant for welfare. In many instances, Hindu temples illegally built on forestland do not at all make any ripple in the Forest Department’s inane love for forests whereas if an adivasi or a Dalit legally files a claim form under the Forest Rights Act for the piece of land that his family has been tilling for generations infuriates them to end. So, it does not require much effort to see what in reality state agencies under any government are working towards—promoting people’s welfare or implanting Brahmanism!

There is little wonder, therefore, why the temple priest at Dadri was let off by police only after brief questioning whereas he should have been booked immediately; and, mind you, this could have happened without the Modi Sarkar too. This is not to undermine the fact that there has been a huge rise in fascist terror in the country after the RSS-backed government took over. However, along with the bounty of protesting voices against such cultural terrorism this time around, it will do good if we also ask ourselves: how could it go this far? How could Hindutva forces gather and display such audacity and strength? Well, that the Modi Sarkar coming to power could only be a tiny part of the answer. But, how could the Modi Sarkar come to power? The precise answer is that we have not asked enough questions as regards how Brahmanic imperialism is comfortably working within us so far for so long.

We did not bother a bit, for example, when Swami Laxmanananda was busy planting seeds of hatred and implementing the colonizing project of Hindutva in Kandhamal for decades. We woke up only when hundreds of people (mostly Dalits) were killed and thousands rendered homeless; and, to top it all, we put the blame for the pogrom on those who exterminated the dubious Swami as a classic ‘cause-and-effect case’ and conveniently stayed away from problematizing contexts that could have led to lay bare the larger Brahmanic agenda. By not doing so, we left open all possibilities for Hindutva terror machines to replicate such horrors elsewhere. To me, this, in itself, is a typical Brahmanic disposition on our part.

Of late, Hindutva outfits have accelerated their efforts manifold on war footing to induct adivasis in central India and elsewhere into the Brahmanic-Hindu fold. The growing numbers of RSS shakhas there at alarming rate points at a dangerous trend unfolding. South Odisha especially is practically sitting on a time bomb now and any moment a Kandhamal-type carnage could go rolling, targeting the large number of Dalit Christians there! Why do we then wait for a pogrom to happen before we go loud with our political views and protests? Now, as the Brahmanic plot thickens and Hindutva terror is at its peak, here at least comes the time to mend our ways, understanding, and actions.

The current flurry of protests from various quarters certainly has brought the debate on to a broader public space, which was long awaited. However, if the idea of being secular in practice and of being votary of free speech and freedom of choice limits one to voice only when one mainstream religion inflicts horror on another under one particular government, the voice sounds half-throated only. The practice of secularism and its fight against fascism in India have badly missed to question the gnawing cultural terrorism within Hinduism persisting for too long under a ‘system’ sitting pretty on a robust Brahmanic framework. While on matters of communalism we see inspiring resistance from Hindu mainstream middle India, its voices suddenly go fuzzy when it comes to questioning Brahmanic imperialism that has enslaved a large section of non-Brahmanic, non-Hindu populace whom the Indian State also has officially head-counted as Hindus

Thankfully, most adivasis and Dalits (some OBC groups too) today not only realize that they are not Hindus (Brahmanic) they have rather started to openly voice about it in revolutionary fervour. Will the mainstream protesting voices now join them too and broaden the scope of the debate and widen the space of the fight? For, what ails the country at the moment – and earlier too – is not merely ‘hatred’ of certain kind, it is rather the very tentacles of Brahmanic imperialism through cultural appropriation and organized violence, overtly or covertly sanctioned by the ‘secular’ Indian State irrespective of which party is in power, that are relentlessly destroying the very idea called India, its multitude cultural identities, its rich traditional and scientific knowledge bases, and its rightful and desirable historical progress.

In a nutshell, will mainstream middle India ever rise up to question and confront the very ‘system’ that is Brahmanic-imperialist to the core?

Well, I do have hope, this time around.

Independent Filmmaker and Journalist based in New Delhi

<subrat69@gmail.com>

1 Comment »

One Response to “Has mainstream middle India really risen up now?”

  1. Nityananda Dip Says:
    April 12th, 2019 at 05:47

    A very thought provoking article Sir. Grateful for such honest intellectual write up. Plz keep enlightening our fellow marginalised/backward people.

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