Not Cast In Caste – An Important Work from a Sindhu Foundation

Editor’s Note:  As of today, we have given up the use of the word “Hindu” and reverted to the original name “Sindhu”. To understand why, please refer to our article If You Can Pronounce “Sonia”, Why Do You Call Us “Hindu”? We shall only use this banished term if it happens to be a chosen name of an entity. The Report we discuss in this article was brought to our attention by a reader. This reader does not approve of the Report. This reader feels the Report should be withdrawn by the authoring Foundation and condemned by others. We respectfully disagree. Below is our discussion of the Report and our rationale.

This week, the Hindu American Foundation released its report titled Hinduism: Not Cast in Caste .  As the title suggests, this report concludes what the vast majority of practicing Sindhus know – that the “Caste System” is NOT intrinsic to the Sindhu Dharma and that the practice of this heredity-based system has been consistently condemned by almost every major Sindhu Rushi, Sage, Saint and Philosopher.

Let us repeat. The central conclusion of this Report is that the concept of Caste is NOT intrinsic to the Sindhu Dharma. This conclusion is validated in Chapter 9 with direct quotes from Sindhu Religious Texts and in particular (in Section 9.2) with Teachings from Sindhu Religious Texts that specifically and categorically preach against concepts of heredity-based status. Chapter 8 includes statements from 13 Swami of various organizations against the concept of heredity-based discrimination.

Despite this, the Report has created a storm of protests from practitioners of Sindhu Dharma. The major complaints seem to be that this Report could create a wrong impression about Sindhu Dharma; that the Report demeans Sindhu Dharma and finally that it can be used by people of other religions to convert Sindhus. As one protester wrote, this is “washing our dirty linen in public”.

We are sympathetic to this point of view. After all, unlike other organized and aggressive religions, Sindhu Dharma is more personal and far more tolerant. It has eschewed converting people of other religions into Sindhu Dharma. It has never accepted any entity as the Central Authority. As a result, the followers of Sindhu Dharma feel powerless to protect their Dharma from others and frankly from the Government of India which tends to favor other religions above the majority religion of India.

The protestors point out that the Christian Church, for example, has never come clean about the heinous atrocities committed by Portuguese Christians in India. From what we have heard and read, these atrocities are almost as bad as the Christian atrocities against Jews in Nazi Germany. But Portuguese Christian Human Rights Crimes have never been accepted by the Christian Church in any forum, verbal or written. The atrocities committed by Muslim invaders are better known but no Muslim Religious Foundation, no Muslim Advocacy Group has ever accepted the responsibility of Muslim Human Rights Crimes in India.

So why should a Sindhu Advocacy Group produce a report that provides a means for Christians and Muslims in India to condemn Sindhu Dharma? That is a rationale of the protesters. We confess we are sympathetic to this posture.

But, despite our sympathy, we must disagree with basic premise of the protestors. The fact is that Sindhu Dharma followers are weak, disunited and rarely come together. This is why American Universities can keep professors that write defamatory books about Sindhu Dharma and this is why the Government of India can think of funding a Chair at one of these Universities. Tea might be Indian but there is no “Tea Party” in Sindhu majority India or in Sindhu Dharma.

But, because the Sindhu Dharma followers are weak and powerless, they need to follow the method laid out by the Greatest Human of the 20th Century, Mahaatmaa Gandhi. To follow his method, it is important to look into one’s own self and then with that moral courage begin the battle against your oppressors.

In our humble opinion, this Report by the Hindu (how we detest this word?) American Foundation is the first step of this struggle for justice for Sindhu Dharma. What is the first step? To demolish the canard spread by other religions that the Caste System is Central to the Sindhu Dharma. This Report, in our opinion, conclusively demolishes this canard.

The next steps are to directly confront organizations of other religions who pursue, to use a favorite term of the Indian Government, nefarious activities against Sindhus in India. We think the emotions and activities of the protestors are better directed against the organizations who damage Sindhu Dharma than against this Report.

Caste – What does it mean? Why is it a Portuguese & British Christian Concept and Not a Sindhu Concept?

Today’s Indians are generally dumb (sorry folks) in that they keep playing according to the game plan of others and fight on the battle ground picked by their enemies. Historically, such behavior is a sign of an inferiority complex and of mental weakness.

This happens to Indians today because they have forgotten the method of Gandhi. Go back and study the Mahaatmaa. He always created the concepts, chose the words and selected the battle ground for his struggle. He went back to the Sindhu Dharma roots and selected words like “Satya-Aagraha” or “Insistence on the Truth” and “Ahimsa” or “Non-Violence”.

People who keep fighting the battle on “caste” forget that this English word is derived from the Portuguese word “casta”. According to Section 2.1 of the Report, the word “casta” stands for lineage, breed, or race.

Think about it. This means the British Aristocracy is a “Caste System”. It is based entirely on Lineage and Breed. The “Royals” of England can get membership in this caste only via birth, in other words via lineage and breed. This is also a deeply discriminatory “Caste System”. Remember they threw out their own King because he married a Christian Catholic. Isn’t this a perfect example of a human rights violation based on “Caste System”?

Sindhu Dharma has NO such concept of “Caste”. The name of an early concept in Sindhu Dharma is “Varna”. This was a synonym for profession. At that time, there were four major professions; 1) Priests/Scholars/teachers; 2) Kings/Warriors; 3) Traders/ Businessmen/Farmers; 4)Laborers/Artisans. As late as 300 BCE, this profession-based fluid system was described by Megasthenes, the Greek Ambassador to Emperor Chandra-Gupt’s court.

Every Society has clans within it. Clans are by definition heredity based. You are born into a clan and you die in that clan. Europe is famous for its clans. Some time ago, we were told about a “clan” called “English Jews” in Manhattan. Apparently this “clan” considers itself to be higher than other Jews. The similar concept in Indian languages is “Jaati” which means a Clan or a tribe.

We have all seen shops named, like say “Sanford & Son”. Ownership of business is usually hereditary and often sons go into the same business or profession as their father. You don’t have to go far. Just look at the New York Stock Exchange and see how man
y floor traders followed their fathers or uncles into that profession.

When “Clans or Jaatis” follow the same “Profession or Varna” for a long time, they evolve into a caste. This is how the heredity-based concept of “Clan Profession” evolved. This is what the Portuguese and the British called “caste”.

By the way, haven’t you noticed a new “Caste” emerge before your very eyes in modern India?

It is the most powerful caste of them all, the “Political Caste”. Democracy in India is being corrupted before our very eyes by heredity-based political power. Look the most powerful position in India, the Prime Minister. This has been the preserve of the Nehru family since independence barring a couple of exceptions. Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi and soon to be Rahul Gandhi. Had Sonia Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi’s wife, not been an Italian Christian, she would have been the Prime Minister of India.

The example of the highest office in India has been followed at the state and local level. These days, the son or the daughter of almost every political leader becomes the next political leader. This “caste” is being formalized today. No one from outside this “caste” has any reasonable hope of getting in. Rather than battling this insidious new “caste” that is corrupting Indian Business & Government, Indians are going berserk fighting the battles of the past centuries.

But  you must admit that even this new Indian “Caste” is less rigid than the “British” caste. After all, Rajiv Gandhi was not dethroned or made an outcast because he married an Italian Christian Catholic. In contrast, Edward Windsor was dethroned and made an outcast because he wanted to marry a Christian Catholic.

The point that the Indian “Caste” System grew out of land ownership and economics is discussed in detail in Section 4.2 of the Report. Modern India features a new “caste” struggle, between other backward classes (OBCs) and Scheduled Classes (SCs). This is discussed in detail in Sections 4.3 – 4.6. The report also discusses how the British Government, the Indian Government and the political parties all conspired and do so today to encourage “vote-banks” based on the intra-caste struggles for government patronage.

Contents of the Report

Is it possible this Report is inaccurate in places? Yes. Is it probable that this Report is incomplete in many ways? Yes. But despite these and other problems many see, we think this is Seminal work indeed. It is a very well argued Report. We think every Sindhu should read this Report and think about its arguments.  

The 173 page Report consists of 9 sections and 3 Appendices. In Chapter 2, the Report summarizes the role of “caste” in Indian Society and argues that Sindhus cannot ignore the subject of “caste”. The 7 sections of Chapter 3 explain in detail why “caste” is NOT intrinsic to Sindhu Dharma.

Chapter 4 discusses the political and economic forces that both fuel and oppose caste-based discrimination. This is easy to understand once you substitute the correct term “profession-based clans” for castes. We must point out that this Report almost exclusively focuses on Uttar Pradesh, India’s largest and one of the most backward provinces. It is so because unlike many other Indian provinces and like Pakistan, Uttar Pradesh never implemented land reform. This is why Uttar Pradesh of today’s India is so similar to Pakistan in its problems. But this is a topic for another article on another day. 
Chapter 5 is very interesting indeed. It has two statements, one about “The Plight of Dalit Christians” by a Christian activist and the other “Why I am a Hindu?” by a Dalit leader. This Chapter contains the interesting snippet that the budget of the Christian Church in India is greater than that of the Indian Navy.

Chapter 6 explains the position of the authoring foundation on “Caste”.  Chapter 7 is perhaps the most controversial because it discusses Human Rights Violations against the Scheduled Castes.

The 42 pages of Chapter 8 contain statements from 13 Sindhu religious leaders and the 26 pages of Chapter 9 contain authorities that prove the rejection of heredity-based discrimination in Sindhu Dharma. The report also provides the social backgrounds of many of the ancient Sages that developed Sindhu Dharma. These sages came from some of the lowest clans or sections of Indian Society.

Read and Study this Report carefully. It discusses what is probably the most shameful aspect of Indian Society or the practice of Sindhu Dharma in Indian society. Now compare this shameful aspect with the human rights crimes committed in the name of Christianity and Islam, crimes like the German holocaust of Jews, the 2,000 year history of European Christian pogroms against Jews, the destruction of South American civilizations by Spanish Christians, the Spanish Inquisition, the Portuguese Human Rights Crimes in India, the massacres and mass conversions by Muslims in India and South East Asia, the Talebanism of Mughals in India… the list can go on and on. Then ask how today’s European Christians and Muslims can preach to Indians about tolerance, secularism and human rights.

Our View

The trouble with Sindhu Dharma and Sindhu history is the lack of detailed, informative, well-argued reports and texts. This Report by the Hindu American Foundation has provided one. For that we congratulate them and thank them.

To the protestors we say, continue your protests. An open debate benefits everyone. But we urge you to add a formal, rigorous element to your protests. Start your own foundation, raise some money and produce your own rebuttal. Then take the lead and begin a joint project on a detailed documentation of Human Rights Crimes by Portuguese Christians against Indians.

We would like to end with one request to both the Hindu American Foundation and the Protestors. Banish the word “caste” from your vocabulary. Replace it by “Jaati-Varna” or by “Profession-based Clans“. These are the correct words, words that enable rational discussion. Don’t fight on someone else’s terms.

Learn from Mahatmaa Gandhi and define your terms in words from your own heritage in your own language.

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