overview1 Liberating mind–space                                                       12 Our life and symbols             ...
Liberating mind—space   in which language do you think?Symbolism and imagery in language     anita cheria and edwin
Liberating mind–space: in which language do you think? Symbolism andimagery in language   anita cheria and edwin; 2001The ...
1                                 Liberating mind–space    The power of symbols is awesome. The human mind ismoved more by...
and Consequence; A study of the Upanishads, theBrahma–Sutras and the Gita, published by Vikas publishinghouse in 1979. Sho...
The system has four main classifications: the modal, theobjective, the practical and the realistic, and seven sub-classes:...
2                                    Our life and symbolsUnderstanding symbols    One of the basic assumptions about the h...
Physical symbols are idols and icons. The process by whichthese otherwise benign articles become potent totems, being thef...
This is a philosophical point of endless discussion, throughmillennia, and has not yet been resolved. The theory of relati...
divorce is definitely a traumatic event, even highly educatedpeople are traumatised by even its accidental breaking. Theyc...
the Tamil. During other times it is the Muslim, the Christian... Islanguage or the place of birth or the religion the only...
all the hype about ‘losing’ Hindus by conversion to otherreligions, more female Hindus are killed by their own relatives,a...
cloth and a scrap of metal, and justified on the basis of parochialidentity. A mosque becomes a ‘disputed structure.’ Eco–...
A language of liberation    By consciously changing our language we can change ourbehaviour. Calling our gardener with the...
‘holy’ languages. The dogmas of not using scriptures againstthemselves were invariably pronounced with the invention ofpri...
The Dalits are called landless agricultural labourers to denytheir millennia old indigenous knowledge and actualcontributi...
3                                         Symbols in religion    It is a very rare person who always remains within a reli...
The fear of the lord: The beginning of wisdom?   The most powerful symbol is ‘god.’ Ambedkar could provethat gods of the o...
become as one of us.’7 The woman, Eve, is then considered‘deceived’ by the devil.8 If one believes the story then, at thev...
to be turned into wine. Christian dogma has long held to theliteral truth of the ‘miracle of turning water into wine.’ In ...
time of ascending the throne—as in the story of David’s sonSolomon. Interpreting symbols out of context is absurd.A way of...
This seeming anomaly comes from the historical context,which the Brahminic supreme court cannot accept by its verynature, ...
The verbal vomit.13    Which he concludes rather rhetorically:             Is this revelation? Is it knowledge? Is it even...
society that is determined to make unthinking conformity the second    nature of its members.       But when it came to de...
Conversions by Dalits are for upward mobility. Those seeking toconvert Dalits are often fundamentalists.    The urge to co...
Religious symbols: A time and place    Many who scoff at astrology believe in god. The languageused to justify the ways of...
them untestable. Sean O’Casey, an Irish dramatist, has a pointwhen he says:      There is no reason to bring religion into...
to the father and a brother’s loyalty. The rest are embellishmentsto keep listener interest, and in some cases to justify ...
4  Untouchable, Harijan, scheduled caste, Dalit    The right to name is the right to define, and therefore tocontrol. The ...
After this comes a stage when it is attempted to turn thereference to a neutral term [Black, similar in usage to White orB...
This was a strategy to deny Dalits the spaces that wereopening up in the transition to a democratic state as evidenced int...
12:54 Those who commit major crimes spend a great many years in    terrible hells, and when that is over they experience t...
also. It is better to wipe out untouchability rather than createnew euphemisms.    Gandhi’s idea of calling Dalits as ‘Har...
who have changed to religions other than Hinduism are notincluded in the ‘scheduled caste’ census figures.   The hierarchi...
or Jews claiming that gentiles are Jewish and then imposingtheir rules of exclusion on the unfortunates. The success ofBra...
attribution of the positive is a factor of power relations andvisibility.    When ‘harijans’ and ‘SCs’ refuse to accept th...
5       ‘V’ is for vegetarian and victory of violence   One of the most vicious symbols in the propaganda againstthe Dalit...
Vegetarianism feeds more people   Not true. India, which claims to be herbivorous, has thelargest number of poor in the wo...
inflicted on the plants is equivalent to torture. Let us take the  case of eating greens. Modern technology tells us that ...
The meat of an animal killed by dogs or killed by carnivores or by aliens    such as ‘fierce untouchables’ is unpolluted. ...
have a disproportionate number of conservatives andreactionaries? Is it co–incidence or is it, like ‘merit,’ anotherlabel ...
Holy cow or bullshit?    Some supposedly revere the cow as a goddess. Ironically,though they enjoy her milk—the most refin...
Ritual purity   Ritual purity is directly proportional to the degree of violencerather than non–violence. The more non–vio...
6                              Violence, mitigation and peace    We have been conditioned to think of violence, peace andm...
bottom of the human waste absorption chain. They have been sofor millennia. Human consumption systems are constructed toma...
successfully internalised by the subject, there is no need to be overtly    intolerant. Indeed, then tolerance is not only...
democratic right and demand for equality thus becomes highlysubversive.    To mitigate this ‘violence’ thus means the crea...
peace and justice. Just as time needs to be factored in for solidwaste disposal, with rape becoming a tool of enforcing wa...
Liberating Mindspace
Liberating Mindspace
Liberating Mindspace
Liberating Mindspace
Liberating Mindspace
Liberating Mindspace
Liberating Mindspace
Liberating Mindspace
Liberating Mindspace
Liberating Mindspace
Liberating Mindspace
Liberating Mindspace
Liberating Mindspace
Liberating Mindspace
Liberating Mindspace
Liberating Mindspace
Liberating Mindspace
Liberating Mindspace
Liberating Mindspace
Liberating Mindspace
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Liberating mind–space: in which language do you think? Symbolism and
imagery in language

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Liberating Mindspace

  1. 1. overview1 Liberating mind–space 12 Our life and symbols 4 Understanding symbols, 4; A willing suspension of reason, 5; Marriage, 6; Identity politics and wars, internal and external, 7; Defining mindscapes, 9; A language of liberation, 11; The mother tongue argument, 11; Merit, 12;3 Symbols in religion 14 The fear of the lord: The beginning of wisdom?, 15; Water into wine, 16; A way of life: The law, the courts and the evidence, 18; Dalits in ‘Ram Rajya’, 21; Religious symbols: A time and place, 22;4 Untouchable, Harijan, scheduled caste, Dalit 26 The outcaste, 27; Harijan, 29; Dalit, 30; Branding Dalits, 32;5 ‘V’ is for vegetarian and victory of violence 34 Pure vegetarian myths, 34; The monkey argument, 37; Holy cow or bullshit?, 39; Ritual purity, 40;6 Violence, mitigation and peace 41 Manufacturing consent, 42; Violence, 43; Violence in language, 45; Of academic interest?, 45; ‘Violence’ by Dalits, 46; Mitigation and conflict resolution, 47; Peace, 50;7 A responsible use of symbols 52 Symbols and mobilisation, 52; Nation ‘building’?, 53; Responsibility, 55; The process of inclusion and liberative scriptures, 59; The Dalit response, 61;8 The future, in perspective 63 The Diaspora: Power without responsibility, 64; A life with dignity, and equality..., 65;
  2. 2. Liberating mind—space in which language do you think?Symbolism and imagery in language anita cheria and edwin
  3. 3. Liberating mind–space: in which language do you think? Symbolism andimagery in language anita cheria and edwin; 2001The responsibility for this paper rests with the authors. Weacknowledge the many ideas shared from discussions with anbu,asumpta, baskar, rameshnathan, shereen, swami and HRFDL,the human rights forum for Dalit liberation.It was originally written for two workshops: Culture, symbolsand mobilisation, and Violence, mitigation and peace. We thankdelegates for their feedback and enthusiastic response.
  4. 4. 1 Liberating mind–space The power of symbols is awesome. The human mind ismoved more by symbolism than by bread and butter issues.Symbols can be the spring board for concrete action, helping toconcretise and give a fillip to many important processes,especially when objectives are less tangible and the time–framefor their realisation is long drawn out. Symbols can lift thehuman race to a higher plane of existence or justify power andoppression—even to the extent of making the subjugated revelin their slavery, and celebrate their chains as liberation. Living life through symbols clouds thought, and preventsrational relationships. Appeals to ‘good’ symbols—of patriotismand religion—lead to the most horrendous of crimes—ofgenocide and mass rape, and are a part of identity politics.Holistic relationships are not possible while staying rigidlywithin identities. Culture and religion, language and symbols,are to help us in relationships. When they do not fulfill thatprimary task, then one should cast them off, step out of theirlimitations, and go beyond them to use more appropriate tools toattain the goal. Interest and belief in religion, religious history andspirituality are good only so long as they do not lead to dogma,bigotry and oppression in the present age. The past should notintrude on the present to subjugate. Casting away theinter–mediation of embedded symbols, deconstructing,demystifying them and recognising their limitations, are the firststeps to reason and to human relationships—of peace withjustice and a life with dignity. Working from roughly the same material, Arun Shourie andShakuntala Rao Shastri come to totally different conclusions.Arun Shourie studied all the 108 Upanishads, the Gita and theBrahma Sutras and presents his findings in Hinduism: Essenceliberating mind-spacepage [1]
  5. 5. and Consequence; A study of the Upanishads, theBrahma–Sutras and the Gita, published by Vikas publishinghouse in 1979. Shourie’s book is required reading for the richesof academic inquiry into the contradictions of ‘scriptures.’ It isalso a demonstration of the author’s own state of mind. He says: Much in these texts is profound. Much in them is sound practical advice. But much in them is just nonsense... a good thing being carried too far. Shakuntala Rao Shastri’s book is Women in the Sacred Laws;Dharma Sutras, Manu Samhita etc published by BharatiyaVidya Bhavan in 1953. It was written in the context of the HinduCode Bill where she makes an attempt, similar to Shourie’s, of arather extensive scan of the Hindu scriptures and concludes The laws of ancient India were so catholic in spirit and all embracing; if they are taken in their true spirit, they can cover the entire needs of humanity. At the time when these laws were framed, no country in the world produced better laws for womanhood nor gave a higher status to woman in society. Working from virtually the same material, they both createvery different ideological superstructures. Shourie’s assertion istrue, but normal reaction—including his later position!—is tocontest it. Rao makes us feel good, but is not nearly so effectivenor accurate in addressing and motivating for change. As animpetus to social reform, they fall short. Nothing, and certainlynot one system, can fullfill the entire needs of any onesociety—let alone ‘entire humanity.’ The usual reaction is to contest these versions of ‘truth’ and,at certain times, even go to war to ‘prove’ that one is better thanthe other. Another option elaborated in Jain philosophy, is thatthe different versions are all true. In Jain philosophy, reality is Naya, and the approaches to it isNayavada. It admits to different versions of reality and that allare true, within a context. Naya is a particular opinion from aparticular viewpoint, and does not rule out others. Itacknowledges therefore that one naya is a partial truth sincereality is complex. liberating mind-space page [2]
  6. 6. The system has four main classifications: the modal, theobjective, the practical and the realistic, and seven sub-classes:the universal–particular, the class point of view; the particular,the standpoint of momentariness, the verbal, the etymologicaland the ‘such like.’ The importance of this system is that it explictly mandatestolerance, understanding and respect for other views. It shows away of reconciling conflict. It appreciates the relativity of thedifferent aspects of reality. Reality being complex, oneproposition—no matter how divine, inspired, orprofound—cannot express the nature of reality fully. In this book we look at two of the most potent systems ofconstruction of the mindscape—language and religion. We givethe view of those affected adversely by these constructs, andequally valid explanations and viewpoints from science toreligion and mytholody. The objective is to prove how easy it isto create very potent symbols, and logical scientific reasons tosupport any position—even highly absurd and ridiculoussystems of thought such as ‘holy, spiritual, divine, and revealed’religion and seemingly ‘neutral’ ideology. We argue the case togo beyond such limiting mind–space constricting constructs.When such diverse systems can be created from the samematerial, why not make ones that will be liberating for all? It isnot the ‘voice of the voiceless’ by any stretch of imagination.But if you listen long enough, you might just hear echoes of it. Our assertions will be disturbing for many. So we have optedto give references as footnotes for easy cross–checking, ratherthan as end–notes. This book needs to be read in totality, and incontext, else the potential for misuse is great, specially byselectively quoting to reinforce and legitimise biases. It may bereproduced in full when required, without permission. Selectivequoting is expressly and explicitly forbidden.liberating mind-spacepage [3]
  7. 7. 2 Our life and symbolsUnderstanding symbols One of the basic assumptions about the human race––indeedone of the things we pride ourselves about, as a race—is that weare rational animals. While the second—being animals—is notin dispute, the first is certainly open to question. Anyone who has passed class eight chemistry knows thefundamentals of photography. It is formed by a series of dots, ofdifferent colours. This is a fact that is very widely known. Yet,an insult to the photograph of our loved or respected onesinevitably brings out the ‘irrational’ in us. Similarly, it is easy to buy a man’s honour—if we know how.People who will not kill for any amount of money can easily bepersuaded to kill large numbers for a piece of cloth—if it is anational flag—or a piece of metal: if it is given as a medal.There are many ‘vegetarians’ in the army. Those who will nottell lies, no matter how high the price, routinely do so for the‘honour of their country’ and are called ‘successful diplomats.’ For the defence of our flag or nation, demagogues routinelyinvoke symbols to make us do what we otherwise would nevereven contemplate. All these, while they certainly have a logic oftheir own, can be seen by an impartial observer to be irrational.These examples can be multiplied manifold. Positions defendedunto death such as one’s language, country, religion or ethnicgroup being better than another’s, all fall in this same mould. The height of irrationality is waging war for peace. Some saythat war is the only means available to secure peace in certaincircumstances. But these circumstances arise from aggressivepolicies in other spheres. An aggressive foreign policy leads tomilitary conflict. To prevent war we must forgo aggression inother spheres of life, including the use of violence in personalrelations. liberating mind-space page [4]
  8. 8. Physical symbols are idols and icons. The process by whichthese otherwise benign articles become potent totems, being thefocus of the aspirations and concentration of the emotions of themajority of people is something that all cultures have developedto an art—for without these totemic symbols, the indoctrinatedyearning for the ‘higher’ or spiritual in man remains unfulfilled.This yearning and unfulfillment is needed to create dependencyon the group and the person who controls it. The feeling ofinadequacy and incompleteness is indoctrinated so much, andfor so long, that they are valued social virtues under the labels of‘modesty,’ ‘humility’ and more. Any self–confident personbecomes a threat and, instead of being admired, is hated andostracised. Symbols and their meaning are ever evolving. Except for afew conservative organisations—the army for instance—the flaghas by and large lost its significance. The new symbols of powerare the cars and other personal belongings. Interestingly, one ofthe oldest symbols has retained its position, though many othershave diminished: the home. The right to defend the home,including by inflicting death, is still recognised by law. Symbols attain an almost mystical power over indoctrinatedbelievers since they become the focus and repositories of aconcentration of emotion, and psychological desire foridentification. Believers, in varying degrees, identify with andintegrate themselves with their symbols, or what the symbols areidentified with. The symbols come to embody the aspirations,the essence and at times, even the institution itself, in miniature.A willing suspension of reason Symbols are metaphorical interpretations of reality. To relateto life based on metaphors is to mistake the map for the territory.Unfortunately, most human experience falls under this category.It is very few who experience reality, and even then it is open toquestion which reality they experience. Reality is what isinterpreted, and is not necessarily an absolute.liberating mind-spacepage [5]
  9. 9. This is a philosophical point of endless discussion, throughmillennia, and has not yet been resolved. The theory of relativityhas almost decisively put it permanently into the metaphysicalrealm. Human beings, as Tagore put it, prefer to have symbolslead them to reality, rather than experience reality itself. Thesesymbols then take on a life of their own, and become stuffedwith many more meanings than the originator could ever havemeant. Those familiar with ‘literary appreciation’ or ‘artcritiquing’ know this phenomenon of ‘reading between the lineson a blank page.’ The symbol then gets many meanings attachedto it.Marriage In India, marriage is arguably the most sacred institution.Apart from fomenting religious wars and strife, no religionrecognises the marriages of another—effectively making theoverwhelming majority of the world illegitimate. People,fortunately, are more rational, and do accord that dignity.Leaving aside for the moment the symbolic nature of marriageitself, and its social significance, let us turn our attention to itsmost visible and potent symbol: the thali or the mangalsutra.Every educated Indian knows the origin of the custom. It was adevice to show possession. In the case of marriage, theownership of the man over the women. When buyinglivestock—cows and bulls—too, the mangalsutra was changed. Despite the somewhat lowly origins of the custom, it is onlythe very courageous who will do away with it, despite being‘liberated’ women and men. The symbol has gone much beyondits origins and has become the focus and concentration of theinstitution. The institution has sanctified its symbol. In this case,the institution has become so identified with its symbol, that theinstitution itself is considered incomplete without its symbol. Though a strong person can agree to a marriage without athali, most would feel their marriage incomplete without it. Thebreak up of a marriage or a divorce is symbolised by thebreaking or removal of the thali. Though breaking the thali in liberating mind-space page [6]
  10. 10. divorce is definitely a traumatic event, even highly educatedpeople are traumatised by even its accidental breaking. Theyconsider it to be an ominous omen of a break up of theirmarriage, perhaps by death. It is amazing that breaking a stringcan put a person through such emotional turmoil. Unlessconditioned to behave so, it will not have such a reaction. Inother cultures, who have different symbols, they would find itdifficult to really understand why it should be so—just as onewould wonder why people would want to die over the ‘disgrace’of a cloth falling to the ground, though it is called the ‘nationalflag.’ If the earth—or at least the motherland—is holy, whyshould falling on it be a disgrace? There are other ‘symbols’ of ‘progressive’ society, the mostnotable one being the ‘common civil code’ or ‘gender.’ They canbe deconstructed by the discerning reader. Is the legal positionof serial, short term sexual relationships—as in the numeroustrysts with prostitutes, some of them religiously sanctioned, and‘affairs’—better than polygamy? Does the devdasi system notcondone incest—yet it is justified in the name of culture,tradition and religion. Without getting blinded by labels, oneshould look into the content and address the causes of theproblem. At present, the proposed solutions are not for the statedproblem—though they use very progressive vocabulary. Ideas for better gender relations are better received when thesymbol of ‘daughter’ is invoked. Chauvinists who bitterlyoppose ‘women’s rights’ and want ‘wives to know their place’suddenly become vociferous defenders of the ‘human rights’ oftheir daughters. Same thing. Different symbols. Differentreactions.Identity politics and wars, internal and external In the many engineered riots, identities are freely invoked.The identities are to justify the crimes done by one section ‘us’against the other ‘them.’ In the language riots in Bangalore, ‘us’was the Kannadiga, and the Urdu speakers were ‘the other.’During the riots over the waters of the Cauvery, ‘the other’ wasliberating mind-spacepage [7]
  11. 11. the Tamil. During other times it is the Muslim, the Christian... Islanguage or the place of birth or the religion the only thing thatunites a person in solidarity from Kolar to Belgaum, but dividesKolar from Dharmapuri—less than a tenth of the distance? Is itstill valid today when nationality has become a sub–set of thefamily with one child a citizen of US, another of Australia,another of New Zealand? There is no difference in the brutality of the glorified ‘war’against the demonised enemy and the ‘police action’ againstone’s own citizens. Both are oppression and slaughter. Globalhegemonic states call wars against defenceless small nations‘police action’—implying rather arrogantly that it is an internalmatter. Is the mining of Nicaraguan ports during ‘peacetime’ aninternal matter of the United States of America? Is the oppression of Dalits an internal matter of only Hindus?Can Dalits not fight for their liberation? Interestingly,‘Mahatma’ Gandhi says that Dalits have no right to fight fortheir liberation, placing this gross human rights violation as aninternal matter of Hindus—knowing fully well that the Dalitsare not Hindus. If this position is carried to the Indian freedomstruggle from the British, then freedom could only be granted bythe British at their discretion, and Indians had no right to it sinceIndian independence was a internal matter of the British. AndIndia is British. This was the patriarchal position on domestic violencealso—it is an internal matter of the family and there should beno ‘interference.’ How many parents have sent back theirdaughters to be roasted alive due to this wrong perspective oninternal and external? Aren’t these ‘sacred’ marriages oftenbetween the closest of relatives, of the same caste, class, region,language... and how humanely do they behave towards eachother? Is it an internal affair... or, as some endlessly agonise, is ita foreign hand?! Yet we frown on choice marriages. It is astrange land where marriages based on love are considered bad. Identity politics uses external threats to consolidate oneidentity, but actually uses more violence against its own. Despite liberating mind-space page [8]
  12. 12. all the hype about ‘losing’ Hindus by conversion to otherreligions, more female Hindus are killed by their own relatives,as foetuses, infants or brides, and therefore are ‘lost’ to Hindusevery year than by conversions in a decade. So also for otherreligions. Appeals to identities are for solidarity, often during times ofguilt. This massacre of women is hidden by terming it a ‘family’issue. If it is brought out, it is suppressed by using any identitypossible—ranging from family to language, caste, religion ornationality—to enforce loyalty and silence on the victims,reinforce their powerlessness, disempower and isolate them. Atthe same time, the identity chosen is narrow enough to excludethe one’s who offer solidarity and will delegitimise externalsupport or justice. This book will be much more comfortable reading if we usedthe terms ‘Brahmin Social Order’ or Brahminism rather than‘Hindu.’ That allows us to comfortably define the problem asexternal to ‘us’ and a problem of ‘Brahmins’—as if targetingBrahmins, and Brahmin bashing is the solution. The issues arefor all—a human rights issue, as was aparthied—and for all toaddress.Defining mindscapes Language itself is a system of symbols, and it is here that themost distorted, deep–rooted archetypes are defined and invoked.Symbols without physical manifestations have a greaterstranglehold over mindspace. Language thus becomes thebuilding block and architect of mindspace. Language is theprism through which we perceive the world. Good becomes bad,and bad becomes good, right here. The literal meaning of a wordconveys only a part of the meaning. A word carries with it a lotmore social and cultural baggage, and has many nuances. The burning of innocents by the church during the inquisitionwas with the verdict: punish the sinner as gently as possible,without spilling blood. The ministry of war becomes theministry of defence, killing is sanctified if it is for a piece ofliberating mind-spacepage [9]
  13. 13. cloth and a scrap of metal, and justified on the basis of parochialidentity. A mosque becomes a ‘disputed structure.’ Eco–friendlylifestyles become primitive and savage. Displacement becomesdevelopment. Exploit is progress. Slaughtering innocent peoplebecomes ‘collateral damage.’ Rape becomes ‘patriotic duty’ and‘secular.’ Languages are idea systems, and should be holisticallyapproached. In many languages, the word for enemy andnon–tribe member is the same. Most pacifist peoples do nothave a word for war in their language. The terminology we use,the language we think in, all determine our action. It is nocoincidence that in the rigidly structured feudal era, languageshad to follow strict rules. Even poetry, meant to give expressionto our deepest and most sublime thoughts, had to follow metre,cadence, and rhyme! The invention of transformational generative grammar byNoam Chomsky during the age of the hippies is a logicaloutcome of this process. Transformational generative grammarbuilds the ‘rules’ of a language from the language itself, fromthe way it is spoken, and does not impose external rules on it.The purpose of these ‘rules’ is to describe a language rather thanimpose restrictions on it. A parallel from the development sector. In the feudal era,humans were made for the systems, not systems for humans.Banking had its sets of rules. If you did not fit in, tough luck.But that system soon collapsed due to internal contradictions.Though most of the money was lost to the big capitalists whodeliberately did not repay their money, that is called ‘nonperforming assets.’ When the poor do not repay, they are called‘defaulters’ and harassed. That is only because the system didnot fit their life. Development organisations have proveddecisively that when finance systems are made for the people,they have a 100% recovery rate. This also demonstrates theinjustice of language, unjust social relations and social ordering. liberating mind-space page [10]
  14. 14. A language of liberation By consciously changing our language we can change ourbehaviour. Calling our gardener with the prefix ‘Mister’ willimpel us to deal with him very differently. At least one personcanceled his subscription to the American magazine Time whenit referred to ‘Negroes’ with the prefix ‘Mister.’ The very usage‘upper’ and ‘lower’ caste conjures up an image of superior andinferior. Dalit on the other hand identifies who the ‘oppressed’are making identification of the ‘oppressor castes’ mandatory.For this reason, oppressor caste fundamentalist parties refuse touse the term Dalit, and Dalits use the term ‘oppressor’ casterather than ‘upper’ caste.The mother tongue argument No discussion on language will be complete without touchingon the ‘teaching–in–the–mother–tongue’ position. The mothertongue has become a symbol of assertion.1 The teaching–in–the–mother–tongue language position comes from a Brahminicposition, and in its modern incarnation comes from theimperialist Hindi—Hindu—Hindustan slogan. Language was and continues to be the major vehicle ofpower. All leaders in a democratic world need to be goodspeakers. Language determines the way ideas are formulatedand expressed, how persuasively and how powerfully. Thevictory of advaita over other equally valid philosophies is due tothe oratorical and literary skills of one person from southIndia—Shankara. Ambedkar is a national leader because hewrote in English. Mahatma Phule is less known because hewrote less in English. The dominant have tried to prevent others from learning anylanguage. The first step was to declare a language holy, andtherefore the preserve of the priestly caste only. Islam andBuddhism are exceptions, because they were explicitly protestsagainst the priesthood. The hollowness of the scripture—mythologies were exposed when common people learnt the1 This needs a longer discussion. S Anand’s paper Sanskrit, English and Dalits, EPW 24 July 1999, explains it in detail.liberating mind-spacepage [11]
  15. 15. ‘holy’ languages. The dogmas of not using scriptures againstthemselves were invariably pronounced with the invention ofprinting and the spread of education. The next step was toimpose the rules of the holy language on the language of thepeople—Latin on English, Sanskrit on all Indian languages,including the Dravidian. When even that has failed, the desperate action is to preventDalit access to the contemporary language of power, in this caseEnglish. Keep them in the regional language in a rapidlygrowing global village. Let the priesthood, which earlier werethe brokers between god and man using the holy language, nowbecome the brokers between Dalits and the world using thelanguage of power. The right to a language other than Sanskrit had to be foughtall the way to the roots of social structuring and powerrelationships. It included the self–respect movement, theanti–Brahmin, anti–Hindi, and the rationalist movements andeven a movement for a separate Dravidastan. To get away fromidentity politics and imperialism is no easy task! Globalisation is opening up new spaces. To move into thesepositions, English helps. The denial is to prevent Dalit entry intopositions of potential independence and power—at least longenough to ensure that the oppressor castes can move in first. Themother tongue is identified with loyalty and duty and is a test ofpatriotism. Should pseudo–values still bind? There areindications that Dalits are not being fooled.Merit ‘Merit’ is an instrument of denial. This is an argument thatevokes a great deal of passion. But beneath the label, lies acurious reality. ‘Merit’ is a criteria only for the Dalit. It is not sofor others. Granted for a moment that a narrowly interpreteddefinition of ‘merit’ would mean that there should not bereservations for Dalits in education, jobs or promotions, let usapply that criteria to all. liberating mind-space page [12]
  16. 16. The Dalits are called landless agricultural labourers to denytheir millennia old indigenous knowledge and actualcontribution to the production cycle. Most of the food is grownby Dalit landless farmers. Most of those who do not get enoughfood are Dalits. Surely they ‘merit’ getting the food they havegrown. But it is the elite, who do not and cannot grow food whohave the most food security. The mind control system created isso powerful that the Dalits, instead of meriting the food first,believe that the non-Dalits are doing them a favour by lettingthem have the leftovers! Through the ages ‘merit’ has taken various forms. True toform, ‘science’ has given ‘scientific’ justifications for it, andreligion has given divine sanction to it—all to make it the‘natural order of things.’ Now no one can claim merit based onbirth. But for a long time that was precisely the case. The divineright of kings is based solely on it. So is the ‘sacred merit’ of theBrahmin to be ritually pure. In each case, a complex ideologicalsuperstructure was built to justify it—including reincarnationand karma. Birth as ‘merit’ was accepted to maintain status quoor perpetrate hegemony. The moment it becomes a criteria for affirmative action, thereis a hue and cry. Then, and only then, does it lose its ‘rational’underpinnings. Then it is no longer a criteria for merit, but fordemerit! If the powerless get some ‘credit’ for instance money,then they are the ‘noveau rich.’ If they do not speak in the lingo,they are ‘uncouth’... But if they agree to be subordinates, and doour dirty work—work we will never do, and ensure our childrennever will—that is ‘dignity of labour.’ Literally damning withpraise. In their moments of lucidity people know that birth is anabsurd benchmark of merit. A few decades from now ourchildren will wonder how getting a few marks more inmathematics or biology can be ‘merit’ or having a few Rupeesmore can ‘merit’ better services or quality of life—merit enoughto make a difference between life and death.liberating mind-spacepage [13]
  17. 17. 3 Symbols in religion It is a very rare person who always remains within a religionall the time. If questioned they invariably reply, correctly, that allreligious dogma was only for a particular time, and is contextspecific. Yet when confronted with challenges to these samepractices in the form of religious symbols, the same sane peoplebecome an insane mob. Though religion does invoke thestrongest passions, most people function outside the boundariesdrawn by religion most of the time, and almost all of the timewhen it comes to relationships. We all redefine our religions to suit the present needs. Whenconfronted with uncomfortable facts we often defend our petbeliefs by saying that our religion ‘actually is not like that.’Shakuntala Rao Shastri does it all the time brilliantly—andcorrectly—in her book Women in the Sacred Laws; DharmaSutras, Manu Samhita etc. Love and justice are the core humanvalues. The burning of Staines and his two children... thegenocide of the Americans... conversion... terrorism...apartheid... dowry... no intercaste marriage but clandestinetrysts, rape and prostitution... we spring to the defence of ourrespective religions. The more enlightened spring to the defenceof all religions. But ask the perpetrators they will defendit—equally well—on the basis of religion. The danger of religion is that it appeals to archetypes that areso deep-rooted, that no matter how ‘secular’ a person, when thereligious puppet masters—the priests and moral police—invokethese symbols, all semblance of reason vanish. Religion andreligious symbols are the most potent ideological tools of Dalitsubjugation. Dalit religion is denied its own identity. It is fromHindu religion—from outside the Dalit identity—thatuntouchability gets its legitimacy. liberating mind-space page [14]
  18. 18. The fear of the lord: The beginning of wisdom? The most powerful symbol is ‘god.’ Ambedkar could provethat gods of the oppressor castes have feet of clay. Theoretically,of course, there cannot be a ‘god’ of one religion—all godsshould belong to all creation. God should be in the wholeworld—not only in the temples and mosques. But in reality, andpractice, gods are made by men and women for parochialmaterial reasons. The easiest way to encroach on land is to builda place of worship there— nevermind whether it is a footpath ora playground. Most of us believe that gods are good, always good and onlygood. A closer look reveals a different reality. They knowinglycommit incest with their mother, 2 premeditatedly abusehospitality to outrage the modesty of their hostess3 kill a personfrom ambush,4 have innumerable orgies and generally do mostof the immoral things possible. A classic example is Ram killingKing Vali—with whom he had no dispute. Ram conspired withSugriva—an usurper—to kill King Vali. Conspiring with Ram,Sugriva challenged Vali to a single combat. Ram then hid behinda tree and killed the unsuspecting Vali. A clear case of a ‘god’committing pre–meditated murder, in the most cowardlyfashion. Christianity calls as ‘god’ a being who is a proven liaraccording to its own mythology. ‘God’ tells Adam that if he eatsthe fruit of the tree of knowledge, ‘on that very day you [Adam]will surely die.’5 ‘Devil’ tells the truth to Eve, the woman, that‘you will be like god, knowing right from wrong.’6 On eating the fruit of knowledge, what the ‘devil’ tells isshown to be true—and acknowledged by ‘god’ saying ‘man is2 The Devi Bhagwat, quoted by Ambedkar, Riddles in Hinduism, p 89. This book is required reading to see how much our mind is conditioned to be blind to the peccadilloes of the ‘gods.’ True to patriarchy in shifting the blame, the proposal comes from the mother.3 By asking Anusuya to serve them food in the nude. Ibid., p167.4 Ibid., riddle of rama and krishna, p326.5 The Bible, Genesis 2:17.6 Ibid., 3:05.liberating mind-spacepage [15]
  19. 19. become as one of us.’7 The woman, Eve, is then considered‘deceived’ by the devil.8 If one believes the story then, at thevery least, telling ‘white’ lies is justified—so god does notalways tell the truth. Equally painful is the other option—whatthe scriptures tell is not true. Traditional Christian justification is that death was unknownbefore this and death came after eating the fruit of knowledge.Not true. Perhaps the awareness of death came with knowledge.Death was already present, for that is why the Tree of Life alsogrew in Eden. Even after eating the fruit of knowledge Adamcould still become immortal—which is why a frightened god,who wanted to keep man in subjugation, banished Adam ‘lest heput forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, andlive forever.’9 This story makes sense only if it is situated withinits Sumerian origins of the epic of gilamesh and the rivalrybetween Enki, the god of wisdom symbolised by a snake, andEnlil, a dictatorial conservative, who wanted to keep man as aslave. Another defence is that the myth of Enlil is not in the‘scripture.’ True, but then neither is the fact that death was notpreviously present. That is an extra scriptural interpretation noteven as valid as the interpretation of a god frightened of Adam’spotential immortality. In Christian belief, the honest ‘devil’ is,ironically, the ‘deceiver’ while the liar is the ‘good lord!’ In atelling display of the change, and acknowledging the truth inwhat the ‘devil’ said, god makes clothes for Adam and Eve. Theright to clothing is a privilege monopolised by the elite fromtime immemorial. Dalits still do not have the right to certainitems of clothing.Water into wine After a peg or two, many of us in the irreverent money scarcedays of youth would often wonder why Jesus Christ did not turnwater into whisky, and with some longing want even some water7 Ibid., 3:22.8 Ibid., I Timothy 2:14.9 ibid., Genesis 3:22. liberating mind-space page [16]
  20. 20. to be turned into wine. Christian dogma has long held to theliteral truth of the ‘miracle of turning water into wine.’ In thiscase the symbol has not only distorted, but has also hidden,reality. ‘Turning water into wine’ takes place regularly inChristian churches as a matter of course. The first initiation rite for every Christian is baptism, whenwater is sprinkled on the head. The next is the ‘first holycommunion.’ From that ritual onwards, Christians have the rightto partake of the ritual dinner i.e. break bread and haveconsecrated wine. That is the meaning of ‘turning water intowine.’ Simple when explained, but distorted in ourconsciousness. The power of symbols blinds us and does not letus make the connection. This blinding by symbols causes asuspension of all reason. The ‘miracle’ is that Jesus defied the entire priesthood andthe orthodoxy to let the non–priestly castes and gentiles[non–Jews], who were earlier ‘untouchables,’ becomepriests—and got away with it. The many ‘miracles’ in the Bibleregarding Jesus are the promotion of ‘untouchables’ from beinglet into the religion right up to being the supreme pontiff.Opposition to this is evident right from the time of Saul–Paul,who gives a subordinate position to women, and says10 explicitlythat ‘salvation comes to those who believe: to Jew first, and alsoto the Greek.’ The orthodoxy was trying to reimpose castehierarchy quickly. Of course, when they wanted more converts,they also said ‘neither Jew nor Greek, bonded nor free, male norfemale, all are one in Christ Jesus.’11 This validates the basicpoint of religion having nothing to do with the other world, andeverything to do with cornering resources of this one. Christians also justify Jesus as the ‘prince of peace’ sayingthat if he wanted to bring war, he would have ridden toJerusalem on a horse not an ass. The interpretation is withoutfactual basis. The kings of Israel were taken out on the ass at the10 The Bible, Romans 1:16.11 The Bible, Galatians 3:28.liberating mind-spacepage [17]
  21. 21. time of ascending the throne—as in the story of David’s sonSolomon. Interpreting symbols out of context is absurd.A way of life: The law, the courts and the evidence The law is an ass. Does that make the supreme court thesupreme ass? The courts that administer and interpret it are nobetter. The supreme court of India has held that Hinduism andHindutva is ‘a way of life’ as distinct from a religion. Allreligions, all ideologies, material or religious, are. Is ‘love yourenemy’ a way of life or a religion? Is a life system with its ownparticular science, maths, language, rituals, laws regardingpractically every stage of life and every minute of the day areligion or a way of life? Then would Islam not qualify? The supreme court has held that Hinduism is ‘sanatan’—unchanging. Why then is there so much conflict between themyths? Why the rise and fall of so many gods? How come sati isnot sanctioned today? How come widow remarriage ispromoted? Why has the concept of chastity changed so muchover the years? In the most telling demonstration of the supremecourt divorce from reality, it has held that ‘god’ can holdproperty, effectively keeping most of the common property awayfrom the Dalits and the traditionally oppressed communities. Some other parameters are also used. One is that Hinduismdoes not have a single book. Neither does Christianity, whichhas between 66 to 73. Hinduism has some more. So doesJudaism. Does that mean that neither are religions? Anothercriteria is that Hinduism does not have a single ‘holy’ day.Christians have Sunday—which, incidentally, is not true for allChristians—Moslems have Friday and Jews have Saturday. The weekly holy day is a feature of religions that follow thesolar calendar. Hinduism [as does Islam for its festivals] followsthe lunar. Therefore the ‘day of the week’ does not reallyapply—though different sects and castes have special rites... forSani [Saturn] on Saturday, others on Mondays, full–moon,new–moon, eighth day [ashtami], ninth day [navami]... liberating mind-space page [18]
  22. 22. This seeming anomaly comes from the historical context,which the Brahminic supreme court cannot accept by its verynature, structure and composition. Ambedkar makes aconvincing case of Dalits being Buddhists, and the Brahminreaction being the cause of the discrimination. Brahminism wasrecreated and repackaged as Hinduism when Buddhismthreatened to wipe out Brahminism as the people took to thesimple Buddhist rites and practices and turned away from theBrahmins who were notorious for beef–eating and rather loosemorals regarding sex, specially with the women—includingwives—of other communities. Then the Brahmins formed a coalition with other castes towipe out the Buddhists [the present day Dalits]. Hinduism is analliance of four castes, and sub–castes. Each caste is, in effect, anation and has its own ‘holy days’ often following the lunarcalendar. In each of these days, the other castes are scrupulouslykept out. This, and not the pseudo–reasons given by the supremecourt or the apologists, is the real reason why ‘Hinduism’ doesnot have any one weekly ‘holy’ day. Arun Shourie, a leading Hindu intellectual, a member ofparliament and a union cabinet member, has written onHinduism after studying the Upanishads, the Brahma–Sutras andthe Gita. The position has extra importance because this is notan ordinary member of parliament, but in the Rajya Sabha. Themembership of this house is not decided by the people, but bythe party leadership. The party that proclaims itself the saviourof Hindutva, Hindus and Hinduism feels that he is indispensableto represent its position.Arun Shourie on Hinduism____________________________________ The 74 page Chapter 8,12 is titled: Boxes: Empty and black He has an entire sub–section titled:12 Arun Shourie, Hinduism: Essence and Consequence; A study of the Upanishads, the Brahma–Sutras and the Gita, Vikas publishing house, 1979; p239 to 313.liberating mind-spacepage [19]
  23. 23. The verbal vomit.13 Which he concludes rather rhetorically: Is this revelation? Is it knowledge? Is it even reportage? Or is it just verbal vomit?14 In another place15 he calls it, again in a sub–section, A truth that is false.16 Having such sub–sections is an important indicator of theseriousness Shourie attaches to his position. These are nottucked away in obscure sentences within paragraphs, buthighlighted to pull the readers eye and attention to them. Theseare not casual statements, but deliberately thought out positions.He explains each in detail with a wealth of evidence, brilliantanalysis and synthesis drawing on various authorities.Arun Shourie on Hinduism____________________________________ The purposes of the Hindu tradition as well as its consequences are very much of this world.17 The ideological superstructure of ancient India represents one of the most highly articulated, one of the best worked out hegemonic systems.18 The society and the tradition were tolerant in matters that did not affect social order... the diversity of viewpoints and practices was itself useful—it gave the people the illusion of freedom... while tradition was very tolerant of such diverse practices, it was very intolerant in matters that might affect the social order. Indeed, it was the same society which encouraged or tolerated such diversity on superficials which also laid down minute rules to govern the most private aspects of the lives of individuals and couples and groups... the Upanishads themselves are not adverse to laying down rules ... about when they should bed each other and so on. Along with these prescriptions went a system of powerful sanctions... the rules and sanctions do not exemplify a tolerant society—rather they point to a13 Arun Shourie; p281.14 Arun Shourie; p285.15 Arun Shourie; Chapter 10, Consequences III: Cacophony, repressive tolerance and fideism; p360.16 Arun Shourie; p369.17 Arun Shourie; p1. Of course, so is every other religion.18 Arun Shourie; p2. Possibly one of the best, but other religions are not far behind! liberating mind-space page [20]
  24. 24. society that is determined to make unthinking conformity the second nature of its members. But when it came to dealing with a school that cut at the very roots of a system that had been built up for hypnotising the populace, when it came to dealing with the Charvakas, for instance, the device was not debate but condemnation, not argument but wholesale abuse, not persuasion but ostracism.19 What about the Shudra kings, saints and poets? Shourie, withhis usual brilliant academic mind, goes on to prove that What these exceptions testify to is not tolerance but cooption. 20 While this reality does seem to validate the rather convolutedlogic of the supreme court, the verdict was given without takinginto account the context nor contemporary reality. Over theyears, this rather unholy alliance has evolved into areligion—outside the realm of science and rational thought. Like other religions, it too uses pseudo–science, and partialscience, to justify its irrational positions. There is a concertedattempt to remake it into a monolithic religion with one god andone book. But the days of one god, one language, one king, andone country are over. Even talk of the ‘universal’ is passe.Multiverse is the accepted reality. Marxists and Nazis made desperate efforts in the twentiethcentury to turn a material ideology and alliance into a holyreligion complete with trinity, scriptures, Messiahs, high priests,and thought police, to take it out of the realm of scientificinquiry and rational thought, but failed.Dalits in ‘Ram Rajya’ The Dalit quest for mobility is not denied on the basis ofhuman rights, but on the irrational call to religion. Try takeshelter in another religion, then that is ‘conversion’—and theentire irrational weight of the state comes down on them.19 Arun Shourie; p362.20 Arun Shourie; p363liberating mind-spacepage [21]
  25. 25. Conversions by Dalits are for upward mobility. Those seeking toconvert Dalits are often fundamentalists. The urge to convert others comes from a desperate juvenilehangover of ‘my father is stronger than your father’—in thiscase: the more the converts, the less irrational my religion. Toprevent Dalits from liberating themselves there is a call to the‘Hindu’ identity. This conveniently shifts the issue from therational plane of addressing basic needs and human rights to theirrational plane of emotions and identity politics. If a Dalit tries some social or economic mobility, then it istermed adharmic, quoting Krishna’s words to Arjun in the Gita3:35 to enforce the unjust caste rule: better do your own casteduty poorly, than another’s well. How these ‘positive’ words trapand subjugate! And why this injunction? Is it to protect thelivelihoods of the weak—something like the protection given tosmall scale industries? Not at all. It is for protecting one’s casteposition. Krishna’s words are a paraphrase of Manusmriti 10:97.To quote the full verse: One’s own duty, (even) without any good qualities, is better than someone else’s well done; for a man who makes his living by someone else’s duty immediately falls from (his own) caste. How does this work in ‘Ram Rajya’ the mythical HinduUtopia? Ram killed Sambuka—an unarmed man, again withoutwarning—who was doing one of the most non–violent actspossible: meditating.21 Killing without warning even goesagainst the caste rules of a Kshatriya—the caste of Ram. So thisis a case of a god doing something adharmic, and very clearlyanti–Dalit. Yet by calling them ‘god’ their character and conductbecomes impeccable, and even to point out these ratherembarrassing acts of theirs—though mentioned in the ‘holyscriptures’—becomes emotionally charged, and becomes ‘thedevil quoting the scripture.’ Terming mythology as scripture isto keep them beyond the pale of rational enquiry.21 Ambedkar, Riddles in Hinduism, riddle of rama and krishna, p332. liberating mind-space page [22]
  26. 26. Religious symbols: A time and place Many who scoff at astrology believe in god. The languageused to justify the ways of god, and astrology, are the same: wedo not know the ways of god or astrology. We can always justifyboth after the event—astrology is brilliant at predicting thepast—but they have consistently proved useless in the publicsphere of the present or future. The many who claim to bereasonable and of scientific temper believe in god—finding nocontradiction. As god is a matter of faith, beyond and outsidereason, religion and priests also become so. The effects are notin heaven, but on earth. When everything was done by a few people, these people hadthe monopoly over knowledge, language, science, drama, poetry,literature... Most of these were closely linked to the places ofworship, because the ‘community centres’ became the market,the town hall and yes, the temple or church. The natural falloutwas that they were [literally] attached to religion, and thereforeabove question. Now that is no longer so. Many of these are taken out of the realm of religion. Rationalinquiry is possible. The opening of more and more fields torational inquiry is the true separation of the religious and thesecular. It is then that astronomy—where everything is open forquestioning—can grow and separate out from astrology—amixture of science and faith. Due to the rapid explosion ofknowledge, and the inherent irrationality of the human race,more and more of the secular is also getting pushed into therealm of mystery, mystification and ‘faith.’ Ironically, the newreligions with their own high priests, jargon, and mumbo jumbo,are science and the market. They invoke the same passions whentheir assumptions are questioned: witness the reaction to thequestions on the Sardar Sarovar Dam or nuclear energy. Everything becomes absurd in extremes. Equally absurd is toconsider everything absurd. Human experience in this world isso rich, that there will always be different equally valid truths.These competing ‘truths’ need to be tested and adapted for eachsituation. By pushing some into the realm of religion makesliberating mind-spacepage [23]
  27. 27. them untestable. Sean O’Casey, an Irish dramatist, has a pointwhen he says: There is no reason to bring religion into it. I think we ought to have as great a regard for religion as we can, so as to keep it out of as many things as possible. Now–a–days, no one believes in Thor or Isis or the ‘historicalreality’ of Juno’s exploits. Yet Vikings, Egyptians, Greeks andRomans took their religions and gods very seriously. All thepresent ‘gods’ will undergo the same transformation. That thereare some ‘good things’ in religion is incidental—rather likeastrology having some overlap with astronomy. However strongthe belief, it should not intrude into other social arenas to thedetriment of genuine human rights and values. There is no godwho is not partial or unjust—as revealed in the religion’s ownmythical–scripture itself. The greatest oppression—apartheid,slavery, untouchability, patriarchy—takes place due to religion.All religions—and gods—need to be taught that there is no needto create hell in this world to go to heaven in the next. Many Hindus protested the demolition of Babri Mosque. Oneeven went to the extent of saying that ‘I do not know if you willbuild a temple there, but one thing I do know: even if a templewas built there Ram would not be there.’ These werepeople—devout—who knew when to transcend the boundariesof religion and move to its true purpose. It just depends onwhich language we think. American poet Ella Wheeler Wilcoxput it succinctly when she wrote So many gods, so many creeds, So many paths that wind and wind, While just the art of being kind, Is all the sad world needs. The stories in the myths had just a single point to illustrate.The creation story in the Bible was written for a slave society,where the Jews kept even fellow Jews as slaves. The point wasto prove that everything had a time and place, and even god tookrest on the seventh day. So even the slaves were to be given aday off. The story of Ram is to illustrate the obedience of a son liberating mind-space page [24]
  28. 28. to the father and a brother’s loyalty. The rest are embellishmentsto keep listener interest, and in some cases to justify powerplays,hoping that the legitimacy of the original will rub off. When we talk of following the ‘true religion,’ what is beingsaid is to follow the core value and discard the rest. But theproblem is that this creative interpretation cannot be done for‘scriptures,’ It can only be done for myths. Symbols have a habitof becoming iron cast.liberating mind-spacepage [25]
  29. 29. 4 Untouchable, Harijan, scheduled caste, Dalit The right to name is the right to define, and therefore tocontrol. The dominant claim this right over all others. This isinstinctive—the ‘nicknames’ in school by children with noknowledge of the theory—and also deliberately manipulated.The oppressed on the other hand assert their right to namethemselves. Most nations rename themselves on becomingindependent states. As peoples grow in assertiveness andvisibility, the right of others to define them gets proportionatelyreduced. International covenants protect the right of people’s totheir own names. The name is an accurate discription of what apeople think of themselves—and also of what others think ofthem. Describing a politically or socially disadvantaged group isnot an easy task. The voiceless and the invisible in society havea similar position in language also. For a long time, due togender power relations, ‘man’ was said to ‘include’woman—though physically and linguistically woman includesman. Now women are no longer invisible. With the success ofthe women’s movement, gender specific and gender bias freeterms such as spokeswoman, spokesperson and chairperson, arecoined and used. [There is still an invisibility of children, andthat is evident in language also.]. Similarly, the right to a distinctidentity for Dalits needs to be gained through campaigns andfield action. At first the name used to describe the disadvantaged groupmay be neutral and even scientific [Negro]. But the negativeconnotations and bias get grafted onto it, and the term itselfbecomes derogatory [Nigger]. Then liberals, still from theoppressor class, seek to give some sugar coating to the linguisticrepresentation [coloureds]. This is faintly apologetic, like the‘unmentionables’ of the Victorian era. liberating mind-space page [26]
  30. 30. After this comes a stage when it is attempted to turn thereference to a neutral term [Black, similar in usage to White orBrown]. Up to this stage, the definition is done by theoppressors. In subsequent stages, the community names itself.Black was transformed into an identity for assertion. Now theyare no longer ashamed of their identity, proudly affirm it andreclaim their distinctiveness. ‘Untouchable’ is analogous to ‘Negro,’ and ‘coloured’ to‘Harijan.’ Dalit, first used by Mahatma Jyothirao Phule, ischosen for assertion. What the future holds must be left to them,and will evolve from ground reality. The periodic terminologychange is a reflection of the perception of the peoples’concerned, and social change. Society should recognise theaspirations of various marginalised and excluded sections, createthe socio–political space for them and accept their definitions ofthemselves.The outcaste The Dalits were earlier characterised as ‘untouchables,’‘unhearables’ and ‘unseeables’ by Hindu society. They areclassified as ‘Scheduled Castes’ by the Indian state to be eligiblefor the constitutionally mandated affirmative action provisions.In British times they were called ‘depressed class.’ Thisclassification is arbitrary, and is changed due to political andadministrative whims and fancies. Politically powerful groupsmanage to be included to the detriment of the genuinelyoppressed. Classification is heavily biased towards subsumingDalits into the Hindu fold, by excluding those who do notagreed to be classified as Hindus. The attempts at subsuming started in the mid–1800s. In theattempt to talk for all during the Indian independencemovement, there was an attempt to bring the ‘outcaste’ into theHindu fold. So they were called ‘panchama’ meaning ‘fifthcaste,’ though the Manusmriti, the Laws of Manu, is quitespecific in Chapter 10, verse 4 that ‘there is no fifth.’liberating mind-spacepage [27]
  31. 31. This was a strategy to deny Dalits the spaces that wereopening up in the transition to a democratic state as evidenced inthe Poona Pact, and Gandhi’s offer of ‘anything short offranchise and political representation’ to the Dalits. FortunatelyAmbedkar stood firm. Dalits got the right to vote, stand forelections and reserved constituencies. Symbols were used freelyduring this struggle. Fortunately, by then democracy had becomethe ‘natural order of things.’ The rallying power of ‘equality’ and‘democracy’ was more potent than the‘poor–man–willing–to–die–for–his–cause’ image of thefasting–unto–death Gandhi. How does Hinduism define the outcaste and what is theirposition there? This is the creator Brahma himself, quoted byShourie. The comments are Shourie’s, and the emphasis.Arun Shourie on Hinduism____________________________________ Chandogya, 5.10.7 ‘those who are of pleasant conduct here—the prospect is, indeed, they will enter a pleasant womb, either the womb of a Brahmin, or the womb of a Kshatriya, or the womb of a Vaishya. But those who are of stinking conduct here—the prospect is, indeed, that they will enter a stinking womb, either the womb of a dog, or the womb of a swine, or the womb of an outcaste.‘ Even the womb of an outcaste stinks, does it? It is the same, is it as the womb of a dog or a swine? And all this from the mouth of Brahman himself? And yet we pride ourselves on our tolerance!22 The Manusmriti, gives precise definitions of who the Dalitsare in chapter 10. 10.10 (Children) begotten by a priest (in women) in the three (lower) classes, or by a king (in women) in the two (lower) classes, or by a commoner (in women) in the one (lower) class—all six are traditionally regarded as outcastes. In case the meaning is not clear, verses 10.16 and 17helpfully explain that they are ‘born against the grain.’ It isfurther linked to reincarnation and ‘karma.’22 Arun Shourie; p298. liberating mind-space page [28]
  32. 32. 12:54 Those who commit major crimes spend a great many years in terrible hells, and when that is over they experience the following transmigrations: 12:55 A priest killer gets the womb of a dog, a pig, a donkey, a camel, a cow, a goat, a sheep, a wild animal, a bird, a ‘fierce’ untouchable, or a ‘tribal.’ Without beating about the bush or belabouring the point,according to Hinduism therefore, the Dalits are bastards,crossbreeds and criminals. Even the most charitable explanationis that they have doubtful legitimacy. Can anyone really faultDalits for their search for dignity outside the Hindu identity?When they do so, they are denied affirmative actionprovisions—proving that the more you are caught in the web ofpoverty, the less freedom there is, in this case not even thefreedom of religion. The others who want a distinct identity for themselvesoutside the Hindu religion are the Veerashaivas, the Kodavas,the Adivasi, and—hold your breath—the Ramakrishna Mission.Harijan The Dalits were called Harijan—’children of god’—by M KGandhi who tried to humanise references to them by changingthe terminology, and worked for the eradication ofuntouchability. Today, ‘Harijan’ is derogatory and is banned inofficial usage. This is in strange contrast to other religions,where being called children of god is a label worth workingtowards. It is one of the best indicators that the euphemism‘Harijan’ has a new level of meaning, gathered some culturalbaggage and is converted into a symbol—and not amuch–sought–out–for one either. Euphemisms remain euphemisms for a very short time. Neweuphemisms have to be invented as soon as, or even before, thepresent ones become too explicit, and therefore embarrassing. Itis natural that ‘Harijan’ becomes a derisive term, since itbecomes too explicit and the original stigma gets attached to itliberating mind-spacepage [29]
  33. 33. also. It is better to wipe out untouchability rather than createnew euphemisms. Gandhi’s idea of calling Dalits as ‘Harijans’ was certainly agreat leap forward in those days within his limited context. Tokeep on using it is to look backwards. It was a term clearlychosen as a part of his liberation process of humanising the castesystem. Yet a few decades later, those so designated ask if theyalone are the ‘children of god, and the rest the children of thedevil’—and revile the man. Dalits do not want to be called‘children of god’—a title they trace to the obnoxious devdasidays of forced ritual prostitution of their ancestors, theirillegitimacy of birth within it, and a conspiracy to keep themwithin the caste system. At the grassroots, Gandhi’s idea of assimilation is no longeraccepted by Dalits, who wish to carve out a distinct identity andseparate space for themselves. Gandhi was speaking for theDalits, though the term Harijan itself was suggested by one.Today Dalits want to speak for themselves. Just because it wasused before is no reason for it to be used in perpetuity.Dalit Dalit means ‘oppressed’ or ‘broken.’ It goes beyondeconomic poverty to include the poverty of social capital. Casteis both capital and infrastructure. It is not restricted to the socialsphere. Caste connections are analogous to the ‘old–boy’network. It is much more deep–rooted, embedded as it is inarchetypes, primordial fear, and sub–conscious indoctrinationright from birth. Now Dalit is a form of assertion analogous to‘black’ as in ‘black power.’ ‘Black,’ similarly had its voyagefrom ‘nigger’ to ‘people of colour’ through many others to‘African–American.’ Dalit has narrowed down to mean only caste oppression, andnow refers only to those administratively classified as‘scheduled castes,’ and sought to be subsumed into the Hindufold—which is why Dalit Christians, Dalit Moslems and Dalits liberating mind-space page [30]
  34. 34. who have changed to religions other than Hinduism are notincluded in the ‘scheduled caste’ census figures. The hierarchical caste system based on degrees of purity andexclusion is a Brahmin invention and concept. Like ‘Hindu,’Dalit is a created identity for majority formation, and includeswithin it many castes and sub–castes. Unlike ‘Hindu,’ ‘Dalit’ isan identity for social justice for all based on positive values.Ironically, Dalits are oppressed based on a larger externalidentity foisted on them—Hindu. The oppressor caste attempt toinclude Dalits within the dominant identity is to make Dalitsinvisible, and to define the oppression and human rightsviolations as an ‘internal’ matter. The Dalits as a community are struggling for existence. In theDalit struggle for survival, they have to admit they areHindus—bastards—to access affirmative action provisions ofthe Hindu state. How much more violence can one communityinflict on another? The violence of defining Dalits as bastardshas horrible implications for Hindu society too. Because if theChandalas are the product of illicit relationships betweenBrahmin women and Shudra men, then every Brahmin womanof Manu’s time has had an illicit relationship with a Shudraman.23 In a society that prides itself on caste purity that is moreof a stigma for Brahmin women than a Shudra man. And that isonly for one of the many ‘untouchable’ castes! What a price topay for assigning ignoble origins to others. The ongoing subsuming process is to deny the Dalits theirspecial identity, and include them into the Hindu fold, thoughHindu scriptures themselves admit to only four castes, and thatthe Dalits are ‘outcastes.’ This ‘inclusion’ into the identity is toexclude them in every other realm possible—social, economic,cultural...24 The idea that Dalits should follow Hindu rules ortake the Hindu identity is as absurd as Christianity claiming thatpagans are also ‘Christians,’ Islam claiming infidels are Moslem,23 Ambedkar, op cit., p225.24 For a detailed analysis of this process see our paper The political economy of self–rule.liberating mind-spacepage [31]
  35. 35. or Jews claiming that gentiles are Jewish and then imposingtheir rules of exclusion on the unfortunates. The success ofBrahminism is in indoctrinating many Dalits to believe that theyare Hindus. The examples no doubt arouse emotions and passions. Itshows how potent the symbolism of god and religion are inforcing a state of suspended reason. An example from anon–religious arena would allow more rational comparison.Would the rules and identity of hockey be imposed on chess?Would the rules of one school be imposed on another, or itsidentity on the students of another? Absurd? Yes it is. Minds arerelatively more open in the secular realm, and closed in thereligious.Branding Dalits When three people were passing a village, they saw somesheep. The poet exclaimed, Oh! there are black sheep here. Thescientist said, what we know is that there is at least one blacksheep here. The logician said, ‘to be exact, what we know forsure is that half of one sheep is black at this time.’ In humanrelationships we follow the first person. Differentiation in thepositive is for Dalits, and in the negative for the oppressors. Inthe negative, it is the reverse. Many have apprehensions on the quality of schools in theMadhya Pradesh school on demand scheme, because theteachers are selected by the village community, and most of thedemand came from the Dalits and the other socially excludedsections. In practice, the teachers are appointed by the MPgovernment. There is no relaxation in the criteria forrecruitment. Being blinded by stereotypes, anything for Dalitshas come to mean sub–standard. If a Dalit excels in anything, it is an exception. But if a Dalitis caught taking bribes, then ‘all Dalits are like that.’ But acorrupt Brahmin does not make all Brahmins ‘like that.’ Whenthe Brahmin excels then ‘Brahmins are like that.’ This liberating mind-space page [32]
  36. 36. attribution of the positive is a factor of power relations andvisibility. When ‘harijans’ and ‘SCs’ refuse to accept that they arebastards of Hindu society, they become Dalits—self–respectinghuman beings. For the Hindu nation they become troublemakers, terrorists and criminals. When Hindu symbols—lotus,tiger, peacock, saffron on the flag, the temple inTamilnadu...—are adopted as symbols of the state, that is‘secular.’ When the Dalits claim the blue Ashoka Chakra in themiddle, it is casteist and there are attempts to remove it from theflag. When a Dalit points out that the judiciary does not haverepresentation across the social spectrum that is castebias—never mind the Narmada judgment would be different ifthere was even one Adivasi or oustee on the bench. When a highcourt judge ‘purifies’ his chamber with the polluted Gangeswater because his predecessor was a Dalit, that is his religiousright. When the non–Dalits have government corporationsnamed after their leaders, those leaders become ‘nationalleaders.’ When the Dalits want government transportcorporations named after their leaders it is incitement toviolence. Who are we kidding?liberating mind-spacepage [33]
  37. 37. 5 ‘V’ is for vegetarian and victory of violence One of the most vicious symbols in the propaganda againstthe Dalits is the myth of ‘vegetarianism’ being ‘non–violent’and, as a ‘logical’ outcome, proportional to ritual purity. It issupported by the pseudo–scientific establishment with manyreasons—most, if not all, of them false—and naturally so sincemost of these scientists are products of Brahminism, and scienceis a handmaiden of the powerful. Not all science is scientific.Pure vegetarian myths Those who are herbivorous are considered to be more rituallypure than others. The hierarchy of ritual purity is determined bythe purity of one’s ‘vegetarianism.’ This ‘purity’ is flaunted bydefining others as ‘non–’ suggesting that ritual purity andviolence is the standard to be worked towards. Usage of theterms ‘non–Dalit’ and ‘non–Adivasi’ in this document is also tobring out the violence in this exclusionist definition. The most ritually pure are those who ingest only milk andmilk produce or only fruits. The less pure are those who eat floragrown above the ground. Third come those who have foodgrown below the ground. Fourth come those who eat smallanimals such as rabbits, chicken and goats. Finally come theleast pure, those who eat beef, often from a dead cow. Dalitsbelong to the last category, and need to do this as a ritual task ofHinduism.Vegetarianism is more healthy Not true. The people in the countries with the longest lifeexpectancy are overwhelmingly omnivores. Supposedlyherbivorous India has one of the lowest life expectancies—comparable with sub–Saharan Africa, which is omnivorous.Herbivorous diets, health and longevity are not inter–related. liberating mind-space page [34]
  38. 38. Vegetarianism feeds more people Not true. India, which claims to be herbivorous, has thelargest number of poor in the world. The fact is that mostIndians are omnivores. India has enough food to feed all itspeople. Adequate food for all is a matter of distribution andegalitarian, democratic societies—of relations of productionrather than a factor of production. Hunger is related to powerrather than production.Vegetarianism is non–violent Not true. Plants are living beings. If we should not eat the‘poor voiceless animals’ then how much more voiceless andhelpless are the plants? Animals at least can run and scream.Plants can do neither. Their contribution to the regeneration ofoxygen and environmental health is priceless. The myth ofvegetarianism not killing has been convincingly disproved bymodern science proving that plants live, and modern technologythat can measure the emotions and response to stimuli of flora.Let us apply this to the hierarchy of ritual purity.· The most ritually pure. In modern terminology, these people are guilty of foeticide. Seeds, whether of plants or of humans, are potential life. Embryos more so. Milk is the most refined form of blood. Those who drink milk—whether directly, or as butter, ghee [clarified butter], curds, in tea or coffee, in milk chocolate or biscuits...—deprive the calves of their mother’s milk. Transfer this characteristic to human beings. If a man prevents a child from drinking its mother’s milk, but takes it from the mother for himself for coffee or tea, what would his position in society be? Is that not what the milk drinkers do? Is it not child abuse, and breaking the sacred bond between mother and child, and of life itself? Is it not infanticide? We have not included people who eat sprouts. That is equivalent to eating animal foetuses or babies. Yet these people have the highest ritual purity!· Those who eat flora grown above the ground. Many of course, do not have an all milk or all fruit diet. They supplement it with flora grown above the ground. But the painliberating mind-spacepage [35]
  39. 39. inflicted on the plants is equivalent to torture. Let us take the case of eating greens. Modern technology tells us that the pain that a plant has when its leaves are broken off is equivalent to breaking the fingers of a human being. Many such fingers are broken for one meal of one ritually pure person, of the second grade. Let us not forget that these plants are captive, to have their hands broken off every single day of their lives. They suffer terrible torture, but are not allowed to die. How ‘non–violent’ is this? With our present technology we know the comparable pain: it is equivalent to cutting off pieces of an animal for our food—without anesthesia. Picture this non–violent treatment of flora on to fauna, and the violence becomes evident: cutting off a kilogram of flesh per day from a living cow, without anesthesia or after–care. Just because the trauma is not visible, it does not mean it is not there—it is the same technique we use to blind ourselves to the violence on the oppressed.· Those who eat food grown below the ground. Still Brahmin, and ritually pure, some consume flora such as ground–nuts, potatoes and carrots. These people are less ritually pure than the above two categories. The difference here is that they do not torture the plant. The killing is swift. But many plant lives are still needed for their every meal.· Those who eat small animals such as rabbits, chicken, sheep and goats. Ritual pollution starts here. But these are people who kill only one life for one meal of five to 20 people. This is the first time that we come to an inverse ratio of lives killed or maimed, to life sustained.· Those who eat beef, often that of a dead cow. Dalits belong to this category, and need to do this as a ritual task. This category of people take at most one life for a meal of about 500 or more people. People in this category are polluted. Some Dalits eat the meat of a dead cow. This means no life for one meal of 500 people. Yet this most non–violent diet is supposedly the cause for Dalits becoming untouchable, unseeable and unhearable though Manusmriti, 5:131 itself says liberating mind-space page [36]
  40. 40. The meat of an animal killed by dogs or killed by carnivores or by aliens such as ‘fierce untouchables’ is unpolluted. The ‘scriptures’ themselves are ambiguous—and tied up inknots. The Manusmriti contradicts itself twice in less than 25verses, in the same chapter. Manusmriti 5:32. Someone who eats meat, after honoring the gods and ancestors, when he has bought it, or killed it himself, or has been given it by someone else, does nothing bad. Manusmriti 5:48. You can never get meat without violence to creatures with the breath of life, and the killing of creatures with the breath of life does not get you to heaven; therefore you should not eat meat. Manusmriti 5:56. There is nothing wrong in eating meat, nor in drinking wine, nor in sexual union, for this is how living beings engage in life, but disengagement brings great fruit.The monkey argument For some time the argument was that humans were meant tobe herbivores since the intestine was long like a deers or acow’s. That pseudo–scientific argument vanished when it waspointed out that the comparison should be with monkeys—whoare canibalistic! Why dont these same people use the argumentfor polygamy or group marriages? After all monkeys and deerand cows—in fact most animals—are known for that. So that isthe ‘rule’ of ‘nature.’ Animals do not have bride burning, norsati, nor widow abuse.. why not use examples to liberate insteadof for control and subjugation? People take positions first andthen use science and other ‘neutral’ academic tools to justifythem. Dalits do not seek to make carnivores of all beings. Yet the‘vegetarians,’ true to their ingrained violence, are not satisfied infoisting a dehumanising identity on Dalits but are bent onforcing their diet on the Dalits and others as well. Is it to ensuretheir steady supply of milk? Why is it that those who campaignfor animal rights never express even solidarity with thoseworking for human rights, specially for the abolition ofuntouchability? Why is it that the ranks of animal rights activistsliberating mind-spacepage [37]
  41. 41. have a disproportionate number of conservatives andreactionaries? Is it co–incidence or is it, like ‘merit,’ anotherlabel to further oppress Dalits? Tigers, after all, are carnivores! We all love and protect wildlife—don’t we elect the samebunch to parliament and legislature every time? Non–Dalits andnon–Adivasis have superficial concern for animals since theanimals will always be totally dependent. Not a shred of thisconcern is for fellow humans because of the potential forequality. The point is not to make a case for a new ideology withDalits becoming ritually pure and Brahmins becoming theuntouchable. For survival, we drink our mother’s blood for ninemonths, and then her milk for many more—totally disregardingthe status of her health. For survival, we need to eat food. Wheneating is for living, it is fully justified. The unfortunate, totallyunnecessary, aspect is ascribing purity and ahimsa,non–violence, to it. What is criminal is ascribing violence andpollution to it inversely, and perversely. Those who know their religious mythology, sorry scriptures!,well enough will jump to assert that there are some verses or‘slokas’ that do take precisely this position. Manusmriti 10:104. A man who eats the food of anyone, no matter who, when he is on the brink of losing his life is not smeared with evil, just as the sky is not smeared with mud. Sorry about the gender bias! Presumably women are alsoincluded. Manusmriti 10:105—8 then goes on to give examplesof justified cannibalism, including eating one’s own son, dogsand beef. But then, why is untouchability scripturally sanctioned andreligiously practiced? It reinforces our basic point that religionand morals are elastic. In the public sphere, they are foroppression rather than liberation. With the present level ofknowledge available to use, the rational diet is different. Theneed, the cost of regeneration and carrying capacity should bethe principle of consumption. All other justifications aresuperfluous, unnecessary and bigoted. liberating mind-space page [38]
  42. 42. Holy cow or bullshit? Some supposedly revere the cow as a goddess. Ironically,though they enjoy her milk—the most refined form of blood aswe have pointed out—on her death it is the Dalit who grievesfor her and completes her last rites. The last rites are reservedfor the kith and kin. While the Hindu may revere the cow andworship her as a goddess, it is the Dalit who takes care of her asthe mother. There is an echo of this denial on the death of a Brahmin too.The touch, the sight, the noise and even the shadow of thenon–violent person is considered polluting. Distances have beendetermined for ‘pollution from afar.’ This ritual pollution hasgone to such an extent that all people are ritually impure at leastsome of the time. Prayers in at least two religions give thanks togod ‘for being born as a man,’ in addition to being born withinthe priestly caste. Women are polluted during theirmenstruation—up to a week a month—and kept in thecattle–shed in some places by ‘upper’ caste, ‘upper’ classsections of society. All widows are polluted. This absurd notionof ritual pollution has become so ridiculous and ingrained thatcertain parts of the human body, and the entire left half of everyhuman body, is impure! Sadly, the Brahmin is also the sufferer in this ‘competitivepurity.’ When a Dalit dies, she is kept in the house, and theentire family grieves. But a dead Brahmin is ritually pollutedand therefore untouchable. All the contribution made throughoutlife is forgotten, and the relatives are ritually bound to get rid ofthe carcass as soon as possible. The entire family is polluted.Even hearing of the death of a relative in a distant land ispolluting.25 Even the Brahmin clans that do the final rites forothers are ‘untouchable’ Brahmins. A high price to pay for ritualpurity. Others cannot do the last rites because nobody else wasallowed to learn Sanskrit, and the chants had to be in Sanskrit. Itis an indication of the remnants of humanity that the Brahminspay some respect now–a–days.25 Manusmriti, 5:75.liberating mind-spacepage [39]
  43. 43. Ritual purity Ritual purity is directly proportional to the degree of violencerather than non–violence. The more non–violent the diet, themore polluted the person. It is no coincidence that the worstforms of violence rate highest in ritual purity. Given thisblood–sucking diet, is it any wonder that most money lenders inIndia have a predominantly milk–based ‘vegetarian’ diet? Sowas Adolph Hitler. It is our ‘untouchability quotient’ that we project on others. Incertain parts of Keralam, the ‘untouchables’ are given food andwater in earthen plates and tumblers. They also eat separately.When some visitors came to see the director of a training centrein Bangalore, he took them for lunch to the dining hall. Therethey were served separately on earthenware. The guests werevery angry, believing that they the ‘upper castes’ were beingtreated as ‘untouchables.’ When keeping the plates back, all fiveof them ‘accidentally’ broke the plates and the tumblers. From the training centre’s perspective, these guests werebeing given the highest honour. They were served separatelybecause the others had to take their food from the counter in abuffet system. The institutional value of the earthenware ispriceless. Those plates were taken out only for very specialoccasions. They were made from the mud taken out of thefoundation of the centre, and made in the centre itself. The scripture—myths are context specific. The tradition ofRam and Sita being siblings is to accord them the greatesthonour and purity, and acknowledge them as gods, just like thepharaohs of Egypt. When projecting incest onto that, theignorant go berserk... and with it the craziness of ritual pollutionbeing ascribed to inter–dining and inter–marriages, but not torape and casual ‘ritual’ sex of the devdasi or jogin systems... The ‘insults’ are in the mind, a projection of their own‘untouchability quotient.’ liberating mind-space page [40]
  44. 44. 6 Violence, mitigation and peace We have been conditioned to think of violence, peace andmitigation with some very potent archetypes, subconscious fearsand primordial instincts being evoked and manipulated. Theselinks are not necessarily true. Now let us attempt to redefinethese much maligned terms, keeping in mind that language isused as much to conceal as to reveal, and is a tool fordomination. First let us see what this means in practice, for theDalits. To study the real impact of a system—in this caselanguage, the system of ideologically ordering symbols—onemust study its impact on the lives of those most adverselyaffected by it. Society is ordered so that in each system there is no waste.26A system becomes unsustainable the moment that it createswaste. So a community, as its consumption increases, increasesits area of control for production and waste disposal. The areaneeds to be large enough to support it [called the carryingcapacity], and for the waste to be fully degraded before the areaneeds to be accessed again for production. Till the nuclear age, there was the concept that ‘waste’ wouldbe biodegradable within a finite time, often a fraction of thehuman life–span. Therefore, only waste–disposal was the issue.The time factor could be ignored. In the nuclear age thingschanged. The life of waste extends over 20 or more millennia.Therefore, not only the area, but also time has to be factored in.Thus we have ‘waste management.’ The parallels in humanrelations are more than a few. In human relations, those in the less powerful strata areforced to absorb the waste of the powerful. They are the humanwaste absorbers. The more powerless the person or community,the more toxic the waste to be absorbed. The Dalits are at the26 We detail the process in our paper political economy of self–rule. See also Thorstein Veblen, Theory of the leisure class, 1896.liberating mind-spacepage [41]
  45. 45. bottom of the human waste absorption chain. They have been sofor millennia. Human consumption systems are constructed tomake a smooth pipeline for this expropriation, where thepowerful take the best and pass on the waste down the line.When people willingly accept this waste absorption role, thenthe systems function smoothly, and ‘all is in harmony.’Manufacturing consent People are made to willingly accept this role by many means,the most important being mind–control by religion. Otherinstruments of subjugation play a significant role with educationbeing the most used tool of indoctrination. The dominant needthe oppressed to internalise oppression, because status quo andsocial order relies more on mind–control rather than on bullets.Once this system of expropriation stabilises, then various formsof material or religious ideology—of mind control—are broughtin to ‘convincingly demonstrate’ that it is a ‘natural order ofthings’ and ‘divinely ordained.’ Both of this puts the exploitativesystem outside the pale of rational enquiry, sane response, orgradual social change. For the exploited and the excluded, theonly way to equality, liberty and fraternity is to become‘outlaws’ or ‘outcastes.’Arun Shourie on Hinduism____________________________________ ... one of the best articulated hegemonic systems.... if devices such as cooption were discovered and manipulated consciously in any system then our system has had a better chance of being this single instance than any other... Manu, Chanyakya and the lot would outdo a Machiavelli any day... it is in this system that elaborate, intricate and mutually reinforcing device—rituals, respect for authority, details of family life, social intercourse, an academic syllabus that emphasised rote memorisation and swallowing rather than critical examination—it is this very system which developed the devices that would be most effective in making individuals internalise the basic premises of the doctrine... and it is this very system which came to realise that once the notions have been liberating mind-space page [42]
  46. 46. successfully internalised by the subject, there is no need to be overtly intolerant. Indeed, then tolerance is not only just permissible, it is prudent. What is the need to overtly and continuously manipulate a man after you have conditioned his thought, after he has come to mouth your views as your own?27 Ideological systems depend on ignorance for the people toaccept their subordinate status. The Church was against thetranslation of the Bible and spread of literacy. The infamousManusmriti prohibited the spread of knowledge with harshpunishments. Awareness of slavery brings with it revolt.Ambedkar coined his slogan ‘educate, organise, agitate,’because, in his own words, ‘tell a slave he is a slave and he willrevolt’ and Adam became ‘ashamed’—for with wisdom he knewhis lowly status.28Violence Attempts by the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes to break away from this syndrome of deprivation and improve their lot and claim what is rightfully theirs, are often the principal cause of the atrocities that are perpetrated on them. There is a lack of sensitivity on the part of the police and the district administration ... The law enforcers themselves, in many cases, fail to act promptly or collude with the other side. Prime Minister P V Narasimha Rao; Inaugural, meeting of chief ministers, New Delhi, 4 October 1991. ‘Violence’ does not mean there was no conflict before. Whencosts become greater than benefits—when Dalits are pushed tothe wall and survival itself become a question—’violence erupts’and people refuse to absorb the waste. This disrupts the entiresystem. The ‘trouble makers’—the Dalits—are forcibly kept inthose functions by mind control and other forms of subjugation.Attempts by people—in this case Dalits, but also for women,Adivasis...—to climb out of their waste absorption roles is thecause for the violence let loose on them. The legitimate27 Arun Shourie; p364–365. This indoctrination is true for all ideological systems, material or ostensibly ‘spiritual.’28 Laurence Gardner, Genesis of the Grail Kings.liberating mind-spacepage [43]
  47. 47. democratic right and demand for equality thus becomes highlysubversive. To mitigate this ‘violence’ thus means the creation of anentirely new system of social relations that does not depend onwaste absorption, and where the dignity of a few does notdepend on degrading the many. It is tragic that anti–Dalitviolence is because Dalits want to wear slippers and uppergarments. The roles, oppression and violence have been sointernalised, that to hurt a Dalit woman—the Dalits amongDalits—violence has to be so intrusive as to be multiple rape bymany over time. In contrast, the oppressor caste women are soshielded, a similar intensity of degradation will be felt bysomeone spitting in their direction. A community on the edges of survival and on the verge ofextinction will need to be aggressive and highly conscious oftheir space and its defence. When the community moves fromsurvival to sustenance to surplus with self–esteem, rights andleisure, the more space for dissent and dignity it can accord itssubjects. The more removed a community is from the edge ofsurvival, the more tolerant it can be. People rebel when communities well into leisure economiesretain and perpetuate the defence of space as in a survivaleconomy and manipulate symbols to use people to retain theirleisure. For this, pseudo–crises are artfully invented so that thepeople continue in their waste absorption roles in the face of an‘external threat.’ This can be only for a short, emotive, high andreality soon catches up in a backlash of ‘depression.’ Violence against the Dalits is when they want to besustainable—in an agrarian economy that means land—topunish and discipline them from wanting to break out of wasteabsorption. In most cases, Dalit land owners are killed, speciallythose who have newly acquired land or have made their landproductive and capable of supporting them. Land is tied to identity and sustainability. Culture is as tied toland and as location specific as morals. Land restorationbecomes a prime objective and prerequisite for restoration of liberating mind-space page [44]
  48. 48. peace and justice. Just as time needs to be factored in for solidwaste disposal, with rape becoming a tool of enforcing wasteabsorption, the time for cleansing becomes generations. The Dalits have long tolerated the sexual exploitation of Dalitwomen. Now they realise they don’t have to, and have begun toresist. This explosion has to be contained. Therefore, just likewaste management, we have the new terms of ‘conflictmanagement.’ Social exclusion and economic marginalizationhas concretised into social and economic exclusion, with newterminology such as ‘two–track’ growth being commonplaceand gaining acceptance. As George Sorros warns, however,there comes a time when the pain of the periphery will affect thecentre.Violence in language The violence against the oppressed comes with even theircaste names becoming disparaging terms. The demeaning usageof the caste name to command even senior women and men byoppressor caste children adds to the violence. But it is deeperthan that. Even proverbs—supposedly repositories of a societieswisdom— disparage the Dalits. The symbols of the Indian state are explicitly Hindu andexclusivist—the lotus, tiger, peacock, saffron on the flag, thetemple in the official logo of Tamilnadu..—these ‘national’symbols clearly define the nation as a ‘Hindu’ nation. The Dalit in school is confronted with a syllabus thatdegrades their community and everything that is theirs. Ofmyths that are called scriptures that refers to them as monkeysand demons. Of being defined as untouchable, of others being‘upper’ caste... how much dignity is there in such a childhood?How much such violence can a young mind bear?Of academic interest? The violence inflicted by the ‘academic’ community as amatter of course can be seen by simple role reversal. There havebeen studies on the effect of rape during social conflict on Dalitwomen by Brahmin men. Let us change that around. Would theliberating mind-spacepage [45]

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