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Hindutva And The Dalit-Bahujans: Dangerous Portents

By Yoginder Sikand
23 February, 2004

Hindutva, the unique Indian form of Indian fascism, is the modern incarnation of Brahminism. Although it projects itself as the defender of the 'Hindu' community against imagined 'enemies', such as Muslims and Christians, it is actually premised on an unrelenting hostility towards the vast majority of the so-called 'Hindus' themselves-Dalits, Shudras and tribals. The very basis of what is today called Hinduism is the caste system, which is specifically geared to preserving and promoting 'upper' caste hegemony that is based on the systematic exploitation and oppression of the so-called 'lower' castes. Hindutva, therefore, is not to be characterized as 'Hindu communalism' as such, as it does not represent the interests of all so-called 'Hindus' as such. As numerous writers have pointed out, a more apt description of Hindutva is that it is the contemporary form of Brahminism. In other words, Hindutva may be defined as Brahminical fascism.

This being the case, Hindutva cannot be countered simply through pious appeals to 'Hindu-Muslim unity'. The fatal mistake that secularists have consistently been making is to see Hindutva as simply 'Hindu communalism'. Consequently, they have been trying, ineffectively, to combat it simply by invoking a common ethical impulse that they argue underlies the different religions. Since Hindutva represents the contemporary agenda of Brahminism, it poses an immense threat not just to the Muslims of the country, but equally, or perhaps even more so, to the vast majority of the so-called 'Hindus' themselves-the Dalits, Shudras and tribals, who, taken together, form more than 70 per cent of the country's population as a whole-the Bahujan Samaj. Clearly, Hindutva aims at preserving and promoting 'upper' caste rule and 'lower' caste slavery, inspired by a vision that draws on the cruel laws that the Brahminical scriptures prescribe for the 'lower' castes. As Shamsul Islam rightly notes, the
Hindu Right aims at 'denying [.] Dalits of all human rights'[1], and the same applies for its implications for other members of the Bahujan Samaj. The most effective way of countering Hindutva is, therefore, to mobilize these marginalized groups against the Hindutva forces by exposing the grave threats that the Hindutva agenda poses for them. In other words, highlighting the menacing implications of Hindutva for the Dalit-Bahujans is the surest way to combat Hindutva, for it is they who are today being so assiduously used by 'upper' caste forces as foot-soldiers in their pogroms against Muslims and Christians, thus threatening to drive the country to the brink of civil war. The Dalit-Bahujans account for the vast majority of the Indian population, and if they are able to see through the Brahminical designs behind the Hindutva project, Hindutva would die a natural death.

This booklet is a critique of Hindutva from a Dalit-Bahujan perspective. It focuses on what Hindutva means for the Dalit-Bahujans, showing how it is essentially geared to preserving and promoting 'upper' caste Hindu rule and suppressing the stirrings of revolt that are now becoming increasingly visible among the 'low' caste majority.

The Historical Roots of Hindutva

The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) was established in 1925 by K.B.Hedgewar, a Maharashtrian Brahmin. Initially, almost all its members were Brahmins, and even today, its top level leaders are almost entirely from the 'upper' castes, particularly Brahmins. The RSS was founded at a time when Maharashtra was witnessing a powerful movement of revolt among the 'lower' castes against 'upper' caste tyranny led by such stalwarts as Mahatma Jotiba Phule and Dr. Ambedkar. The establishment of the RSS at this time was hardly coincidental. Rather, it is apparent that the rise of 'lower' caste consciousness and protest against 'upper' caste hegemony was a key factor in the setting up of the RSS. The spread of the RSS in other parts of the country can also be explained on similar lines. Feeling increasingly threatened by the growing awareness and militancy among the 'lower' castes, 'upper' caste leaders found in the ideology of Hindutva a convenient way to co-opt the 'lower' castes and to divert their wrath from their real oppressors (the 'upper' castes/classes) onto imagined enemies in the form of Muslims, Christians and communists. By appealing to the notion of an imagined 'Hindu nation' and 'Hindu community', Hindutva ideologues (almost all Brahmins) sought to deny the existence of internal caste and class contradictions among the so-called 'Hindus'. This denial aimed at drawing the 'lower' castes behind the 'upper' castes, and to destroy 'lower' caste movements of protest against 'upper' caste hegemony. Accordingly, the plight of the 'lower' castes was sought to be explained away as a result of alleged Muslim or Christian 'persecution', while the 'Hindu' period of history was glorified as a 'golden age'. In this rewriting of history, the oppression of the 'lower' castes that saw its genesis in the so-called 'golden age' was completely ignored. So, too, was the inconvenient fact that the oppression of the 'lower' castes is specifically mentioned and prescribed in all the Brahminical scriptures.

Yet, the projection of the notion of a united 'Hindu nation' was only at the level of rhetoric. In actual fact, the proponents of Hindutva sought to carefully preserve the exploitative caste-class system by conveniently remaining silent on it. And this continues to be the case till today. Not surprisingly, the Hindutvawadais have never taken up any militant struggles for the rights of the Dalits, for distribution of land to the poor, for the rights of workers and tribals and so on. Instead, they have consistently supported the interests of the capitalist-feudal-Brahminical elites. Not surprisingly, the core support-base of the Hindutva movement since its inception onwards has consisted of landlords, former rulers of princely states, industrialists, merchants, priests-'upper' castes in general, all of whose interests are diametrically opposed to the Dalit-Bahujans', and whose hegemony is based on their systematic subjugation.

That Hindutva fundamentally aims at the preservation of the Brahminical system, based as it is on the exploitation of the 'lower' caste majority, has been pointed out by numerous scholars. In his incisive study of the Hindutva phenomenon, titled Saffron Fascism, Shyam Chand, a Dalit scholar and activist who served for many years as member of the Haryana Legislative Assembly, quotes from a secret circular sent out by the RSS to its preachers. It clearly indicates the sinister Brahminical strategy of using the Dalit-Bahujans to attack the Muslims and Christians, while at the same time aiming to keep the Dalit-Bahujans under the permanent slavery of the 'upper' castes.

Excerpts from Secret Circular No.411 issued by the RSS:

[.] Scheduled Castes and Other Backward Classes are to be recruited to the party so as to increase the volunteers to fight against the Ambedkarites and Mussalmans.

Hindutva should be preached with a vengeance among physicians and pharmacists so that, with their help, time expired [sic.] and spurious medicines might be distributed amongst the Scheduled Castes, Mussalmans and Scheduled Tribes. The newborn infants of Shudras, Ati-Shudras, Mussalmans, Christians and the like should be crippled by administering injections to them. To this end, there should be a show of blood-donation camps.

Encouragement and instigation should be carried on [sic.] more vigorously so that the womenfolk of Scheduled Castes, Mussalmans and Christians live by prostitution.

Plans should be made more foolproof so that the people of the Scheduled Castes, Backward Classes, Musslamans and Christians, especially the Ambedkarites, become crippled by taking in [sic.] harmful eatables.

Special attention should be given to the students of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes so as to make them read the history written according to our dictates.

During riots the women of Mussalmans and Scheduled Castes should be gang-raped. Friends and acquaintances cannot be spared. The work should proceed on the Surat model.

Publication of writings against Mussalmans, Christians, Buddhists and Ambedkarites should be accelerated. Essays and writings should be published in such a way as to prove that Ashoka was opposed to the Aryans.

All literature opposed to Hindus and Brahmins are [sic.] to be destroyed. Dalits, Mussalmans, Christians and Ambedkarites should be searched out. Care should be taken to see that this literature do [sic.] not reach public places. Hindu literature is to apply [sic.] to the Backward Classes and Ambedkarites.

The demand by the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes for filling in the backlog vacancies in services shall by no means be met. Watch should be kept to see that their demands for entry and promotion in government, non-government or semi-government institutions are to be rejected and their service records are destroyed with damaging reports.

Measures should be taken to make the prejudices amongst Scheduled Castes and Backward people more deep-rooted. To this end, help must be taken from saints and ascetics.

Attacks should be started with vigour against equality, preaching communists [sic.], Ambedkarites, Islamic teachers, Christian missionaries and neighbours [?].

Assaults should be made on Ambedkar's statues with greater efforts.

Dalit and Muslim writers are to be recruited to the party and by them essays and literature opposed to the Dalits, Ambedkarites and Mussalmans written and preached [sic.]. Attention is to be paid to see that these writings are properly edited and preached [sic.].

Those opposed to Hindutva are to be murdered through false encounters. For this work the help of the police and semi-military [sic.] forces should always be taken."[2]


In the face of this circular, no more evidence is needed to show what Hindutva actually bodes for the Dalit-Bahujans. It circular very clearly indicates that Hindutva aims essentially at preserving the oppression of the Dalit-Bahujans, in addition to the Muslims and Christians, on which the entire edifice of Brahminism stands.

The Dalit-Bahujans and Contemporary Hindutva

Today, the Hindutva movement is actively engaged in wooing the Dalit-Bahujans, threatened as the 'upper caste/class elites are by the growing assertiveness of the 'lower' caste masses against 'upper' caste hegemony. In areas where the Dalit-Bahujan movement has not taken strong root Hindutva groups have been successful in bringing large numbers of Dalit-Bahujans into their fold. Copying the Christian missionaries, the RSS has set up a large number of schools in Dalit localities and tribal areas. The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) regularly sends out so-called sadhus and priests to preach among the Dalits and tribals in order to incorporate them into the 'Hindu' fold and prevent their conversion to other religions. Fed on Hindutva propaganda, the Dalit-Bahujans are instigated to attack, rape and loot Muslims, and now Christians, in the name of defending 'Hinduism'. This strategy was well exemplified in the case of the Babri Masjid affair, when, faced with the announcement of reservations in government services for the Backward Castes, the Hindutvawadis launched a murderous anti-Muslim campaign all over the country to scuttle the Mandal report by instigating Dalit-Bahujans to attack the Muslims, thus cleverly diverting their attention from the burning question of caste oppression and 'upper' caste hegemony. For the Hindutvawadis, the Dalit-Bahujans serve their classical role as servants of the 'upper' castes and foot soldiers to unleash murderous pogroms against Muslims. The most recent case is that of Gujarat, where Dalits and tribals were instigated by Hindutva forces to embark on a virtual genocide of Muslims in the state.

Through the process of Hinduisation that the Hindutvawadis are so carefully promoting among the Dalit-Bahujans, the Dalits and tribals achieve an illusory sense of upward social mobility (as 'valiant' Hindus), while the caste-class structure of oppression remains firmly intact. In fact, that is precisely the purpose behind the entire Hindutva project-to co-opt the Dalit-Bahujans, to destroy the movements for the assertion of their rights, and to quash their protest against the system of caste-class exploitation, by diverting their wrath from their actual oppressors (the 'upper' caste-class exploiters) onto carefully constructed 'enemies' in the form of Muslims, Christians, Naxalites, Communists and so on. At the same time as the Dalit-Bahujans are being actively recruited into the Hindutva movement, killings of Dalits and tribals by 'upper' castes continue to escalate, particularly in states where Hindutvawadis have acquired a strong hold. Many of those behind these killings are
known to be active Hindutvawadis themselves. This is no mere coincidence. Rather, it is a direct and logical outcome of the Hindutvawadi agenda itself. As Shamsul Islam perceptively notes, 'The Hindu Right which is ruling India presently is totally unconcerned about these mounting atrocities against the 'Untouchables' [.] It should surprise nobody that the states where the maximum cases of caste atrocities are taking place are states where either the RSS/BJP have a substantial social base or are being ruled by them'.[3]

In order to win the Dalit-Bahujans to their fold, the Hindutvawadis, who fiercely opposed Dr. Ambedkar during his own lifetime, are now seeking to turn him into a harmless icon, projecting him as a great servant of Hinduism and an enemy of Islam. In the Hindutva appropriation of Ambedkar, Ambedkar's radical critique of Hinduism is totally ignored. This sudden expression of love for Ambedkar is completely hypocritical and has, of course, nothing at all to do with any appreciation of Ambedkar's own sharp denunciation of Hinduism. It owes entirely to the awareness of the growing importance of Ambedkar and his message among the Dalit-Bahujan masses. Hindutva doublespeak on Ambedkar comes out sharp and clear in a leaflet said to have been issued by the VHP's Gujarat unit shortly after having used the Dalits to launch on a virtual genocide of Muslims in the state.


"Let the Ambedkarite Harijans who oppose the Hindutva ideology understand. We will not allow them [to] mix with even the soil of Hindustan. Today, time is in our hands. Hindutva is the ideology of true Hindus [and] it never accepts the Harijans who are the offspring of the untouchable Ambedkar. The Ambedkarite Harijans, Bhangis, Tribals and the untouchable Shudra castes who believe in Ambedkar do not have any right to give speeches or criticize the Hindutva ideology in Hindustan, because as a dog raises its leg and urinates whenever there is a question or discussion related to the Hindutva ideology these Ambedkarites, Harijans, Bhangis, Adivasis and other untouchable low castes sling their dirt on the Hindutva ideology or show their caste [their low birth] by speaking abusively about it.

Now Hindutva has become aware [sic.] and it is time to teach these Ambedkarite untouchable Harijans a lesson. Not even the Miyans [Muslims] can come to their aid now. Understanding the Hindutva ideology requires a large heart. What will these untouchable Ambedkarites, who raise their leg and urinate, understand of the Hindutva ideology?

The fact that the Honorable Narendra Modi has gained a large victory in Gujarat has been because of the Hindutva ideology, not because of the untouchable Harijans [or because of] the Ambedkarite ideology. Narendrabhai has gained victory single-handedly in Gujarat because he explained the true ideology of Hindutva [..]

Vishwa Hindu Parishad, 11 Mahalaxmi Society, Paldi, Karnavati-380007.[4]

Hindutva, the Manusmriti and the Constitution of India

Although this is rarely spoken about explicitly, from time to time Hindutva leaders issue statements that clearly indicate that their entire project is geared essentially to the preservation of 'upper' caste rule, and that the Dalit-Bahujans must be shown 'their place'. Top Hindutva leaders are on record as arguing that the Hindu Rashtra of their dreams would, in emulation of the classical Hindu state that they so ardently espouse, be ruled according to the draconian Bible of Brahminism, the Manusmriti, that consigned the 'lower' castes and even 'upper' caste women to the most cruel form of slavery that humankind has ever devised. The Manusmriti is the principle code of law of Hinduism, laying down the rules for the different castes and sanctifying the system of caste-based exploitation. As V. Raghavan, a noted Brahmin authority on Manu writes, 'Manu has determined Hindu conduct for all time'.[5]

The founding fathers of Hindutva, almost all of them Brahmins, regarded the Manusmriti as a sacred scripture that needed to be revived and imposed in the 'Hindu Rashtra' that they so tirelessly advocated. V.D.Savarkar, founder of the Hindu Mahasabha and inventor of the term 'Hindutva', argued that, 'Manusmiriti is that scripture which is most worship-able after the Vedas and which from ancient times has become the basis of our culture, customs, thought and practice. This book for centuries has codified the spiritual and divine march of our nation. Even today the rules which are followed by crores of Hindus in their lives and practice are based on the Manusmriti. Today Manusmriti is Hindu Law'.[6] Similarly, in his The RSS Story, K.R.Malkani, a top RSS ideologue, was honest enough to confess that Golwalkar, the second supreme of the RSS, 'saw no reason why Hindu law should break its ancient links with the Manusmriti'.[7] In his Bunch of Thoughts, Golwalkar, quoting from the Rig Veda
and echoing Manu, had in fact gone so far as to empathically declare, 'Brahmin is the head, Kshatriya the hands, Vaisya the thighs, and Shudras the feet. This means that the people who have this four-fold arrangement, the Hindu people, is (sic) our God'.[8]

Reflecting this dogged devotion to Manu, the RSS mouthpiece Organiser carried an editorial criticizing the Indian Constitution shortly after it was promulgated, complaining, 'In our Constitution there is no mention of the unique constitutional development in ancient Bharat. Manu's Laws were written long before Lycurgus of Sparta or Solon of Persia. To day his laws as enunciated in the Manusmriti excite the admiration of the world and elicit spontaneous obedience and authority. But to our constitutional pundits that means nothing' (Organiser, 30 November, 1949). Shortly after this, the Organiser carried a piece revealingly titled 'Manu Rules Our Hearts', written by a certain Sankar Subba Aiyar, a retired Brahmin high court judge. Aiyar frankly confessed that, 'Even though Dr. Ambedkar is reported to have recently stated in Bombay that the days of Manu are ended it is nevertheless a fact that the daily lives of Hindus are even at the present day affected by principles and injunctions contained in the Manusmriti and other Smritis. Even an unorthodox Hindu feels himself bound at least in some matters by the rules contained in the Smritis [.]'.[9]

In recent years, Hindutva leaders have issued shrill statements denouncing the present Constitution of India as 'anti-Hindu', and have called for a 'Hindu Constitution' to replace it. For them, it is the Mansumriti that should form the basis of the Indian Constitution. This is hardly surprising, given that the Manusmriti has traditionally been regarded as the normative Brahminical legal code. Golwalkar's and Savarkar's advocacy of the Manusmriti was by no means an exception or aberration. Recently, the RSS mouthpiece Organiser (10 May, 1992) carried an article titled 'Hindu Advocates Demand Rewriting of the Constitution to Remove Discrimination Against Hindus and Preserve Bharat as the Hindu Homeland'. Reporting the proceedings of this event organized by the VHP at Madurai it quoted a certain V.K.S Chandri, advocate-general of Uttar Pradesh, as declaring in his keynote address that 'the Manusmriti rendered justice for all'. 'Manu', he claimed, 'took the entire mankind and its needs for ages and evolved his Code. Manusmriti was for all times and ages, and for all mankind'.

Likewise, Chandra Shekarendra Saraswati, the Shankaracharya of Kanchi, one of the pontiffs of Brahminism and known for his ardent support of sundry 'Hindu' causes, passionately appeals for the Manusmriti as the legal code, which he rightly sees as integral to the classical 'Hindu' (read Brahminical) polity. Nostalgically recalling the days of unadulterated Brahminical rule, he writes:

What in this respect was unique in the olden days was that basic to all our administration there was the dharmashastra functioning, as it were, as the Constitution for the whole country. Of all the Dharmashastras, the Manu Dharmashastra is said to have provided clear, specific guidance to the kings of yore [.] None of the kings attempted to change the rules laid down in the Manu Dharmashastra-rules presenting the essence of Dharmashastras propounded by selfless rishis. There was no question of any amendment to such rules'.[10]

After glorifying the Manusmriti, he goes on to suggest that it still has continuing relevance today, and stridently opposes those who 'believe that our way of life according to the Shastra requires to be reformed to suit the times'.[11] Accordingly, he attacks the present system of universal adult franchise and democracy and indirectly advocates reviving the spirit of Manu by arguing:

It is better to have these [parliamentary] representatives elected by those who have had some education, some property and some sense of responsibility to understand the political currents and cross-currents and thus acquire a qualification to exercise their votes. The qualification for voting must not be confined to particular caste, religion and economic status, but must combine all these aspects.[12]

The last sentence probably suggests that only well-off, propertied and 'educated' 'upper' caste Hindus should possess the right to vote.

Likewise, in the Shankaracharya's proposed dharmic set-up not everybody would have the right to stand for election. He writes that candidates should have four qualifications-they should be revenue-paying owners of land, should own a house, should be between 30 and 60 years of age, and, most importantly, should be well-versed in the Dharmashastras. While the first two conditions effectively debar the poor (the vast majority of the Dalits, Tribals, Backward Castes, Muslims, Christians and Buddhists) to stand for election, the last qualification restricts that right solely to the Brahmins, who alone, according to the Dharmashastras, have the right to study them.[13]

When confronted with such irrefutable evidence that Hindutva essentially aims at revival of Manu's Code, Hindutva spokesmen usually vehemently deny any such intentions, arguing, instead, that these are the views of only certain individuals and that they cannot be said to represent the Hindutva movement as a whole. This clever face-saving device is simply a means to mislead the increasingly assertive Dalit-Bahujan masses. Actions speak louder than words, and although from time to time some Hindutva ideologues may issue statements decrying any intention to revive Manu's Code [while at the same time some of their colleagues insist that the Code be revived], the entire Hindutva project as such is geared to the preservation of the system of caste exploitation which is provided religious sanction by the Manusmriti and the Brahminical tradition as a whole. In response to Dalit opposition to Hindutva, some Hindutva leaders go so far as to dismiss the charge of reviving Manu Raj as completely fanciful, but this is done only to confuse their critics and to stamp out any opposition to their agenda. Some Hindutvawadis might even go so far as to verbally criticize or disown Manu, although this is entirely hypocritical and is actually intended to preserve the spirit of Manu's Code while appearing to oppose it. Although in this age of democracy it may not be possible for the Brahminical elites to revive every aspect of Manu's Code because the Dalit-Bahujans would stiffly resist such an attempt, it is clear that the Hindutva project is aims essentially at preserving and promoting the spirit of the Manusmriti, if not the letter of the law itself.

Manu's Code: What Does it Mean for the Dalit-Bahujans?

The Manusmriti forms the basis of Brahminical law, and lays down elaborate rules for the cruel subjugation, humiliation and oppression of the Dalit-Bahujans.

Extracts from the Manusmriti

The great sages approached Manu, who was seated with a collected mind, and, having duly worshipped him, spoke as follows:

Deign, divine one, to declare to us precisely and in due order the sacred laws of each of the [four] castes [varnas] and of the intermediate ones.

But for the sake of the prosperity of the worlds he caused the Brahmin, the Kshatriya, the Vaisya and the Shudra to proceed from his mouth, his arms, his thighs and his feet. But in order to protect this universe, He, the most resplendent one, assigned separate [duties and] occupations to those who sprang from his mouth, arms, thighs and feet.

To Brahmins he assigned teaching and studying [the Veda], sacrificing for their own benefit and for others, giving and accepting [of alms].

The Kshatriya he commanded to protect the people, to bestow gifts, to offer sacrifices, to study [the Veda], and to abstain from attaching himself to sensual pleasures.

The Vaisya to tend cattle, to bestow gifts, to offer sacrifices, to study [the Veda], to trade, to lend money, and to cultivate land.

One occupation only the lord prescribed to the Shudra, to serve meekly even these [other] three castes.

The Brahmin, Kshatriya and the Vaishya castes are the twice-born ones, but the fourth, the Shudra, has one birth only.

On account of his preeminence, on account of the superiority of his origin, on account of his observance of restrictive rules and on account of his particular sanctification, the Brahmin is the lord of [all] castes.

Let the three twice-born castes, discharging their [prescribed] duties, study [the Veda], but among them the Brahmin [alone] shall teach it, not the other two; that is an established rule.

As the Brahmin sprang from [Brahman's] mouth, as he was the first-born, and as he possesses the Veda, he is by right the lord of this whole creation [.] A Brahmin, coming into existence, is born the highest on earth, the lord of all created beings, for the protection of the treasury of the law. Whatever exists in the world is the property of the Brahmin. On account of the excellence of his origin the Brahmin is, indeed, entitled to all.

Whatever law has been ordained for any [person] by Manu, that has been fully declared in the Veda, for that [sage was] omniscient.

Knowledge is the austerity of the Brahmin, protecting is the austerity of the Kshatriya, his daily business is the austerity of the Vaisya, and service [of the 'upper' castes] the austerity of a Shudra.

Let [the first part of] a Brahmin's name [denote something] auspicious, a Kshatriya's be connected with power, and a Vaisya's with wealth, but a Shudra's [express something] contemptible. [The second part of] a Brahmin's [name] shall be [a word] implying happiness, of a Kshatriya's [a word] implying protection, of a Vaisya's [a term] expressive of thriving, and of a Shudra's [an expression] denoting service.

Kshatriyas prosper not without Brahmins [and] Brahmins prosper not without Kshatriyas. Brahmins and Kshatriyas, being closely united, prosper in this [world] and in the next. But to serve Brahmins [who are] learned in the Vedas, householders and famous [for virtue] is the highest duty of a Shudra, which leads to beatitude. [A Shudra who is] pure, the servant of his betters, gentle in speech and free from pride and always seeks refuge with Brahmins, attains [in his next life] a higher caste.

The whole world is kept in order by punishment [.] [So] let him [the king] act with justice in his own domains, chastise his enemies, behave without duplicity towards his friends, and be lenient towards the Brahmins. The king has been created [to be] the protector of the castes and orders, who, all according to their rank, discharge their several duties. Let the king, after rising early in the morning, worship the Brahmins who are well-versed in the three-fold sacred science and learned and follow their advice [.] Though dying [with want] a king must not levy a tax on Srotriyas (priests) and no Srotriya residing in his kingdom must perish from hunger.

A king, desirous of investigating law cases, must enter his court of justice, preserving a dignified demeanour, together with Brahmins and with experienced councilors [.] A Brahmin who subsists only by the name of his caste or one who merely calls himself a Brahmin may, at the king's pleasure, interpret the law to him, but never a Shudra. The kingdom of that monarch who looks on while a Shudra settles the law will sink [low] like a cow in a morass. That kingdom where Shudras are very numerous, which is infested by atheists and destitute of twice-born ('upper' caste) [inhabitants], soon entirely perishes, afflicted by famine and disease.

[The king] should carefully compel Vaisyas and Shudras to perform the work [prescribed] for them; for if these two [castes] swerved from their duties, they would throw this [whole] world into confusion.

A Kshatriya, having defamed a Brahmin, shall be fined one hundred [panas]; a Vaisya one hundred and fifty or two hundred; a Shudra shall suffer corporal punishment.

A once-born man (Shudra) who insults a twice-born ('upper' caste) man with gross invective, shall have his tongue cut out, for he is of low origin. If he mentions the names and castes of the ['twice-born'] with contumely, an iron nail, ten fingers long, shall be thrust red-hot into his mouth. If he [a Shudra] arrogantly teaches Brahmins their duty, the king shall cause hot oil to be poured into his mouth and into his ears.

A low-caste man who tries to place himself on the same seat with a man of high caste shall be branded on his hip and be banished, or [the king] shall cause his buttock to be gashed.

If out of arrogance he [a Shudra] spits [on a superior] the king shall cause both his lips to be cut off.

If he [a Shudra] lays hold of the hair [of a superior] let the [king] unhesitatingly cut off his hands.

He who strikes [a Brahmin] even with a blade of grass [.] shall appease him by a prostration. But he who, intending to hurt a Brahmin, threatens [him with a stick and the like] shall remain in hell for a hundred years; he who [actually] strikes him [shall remain in hell] for a thousand years.

A Chandala (the 'lowest' caste), a village pig, a cock, a dog, a menstruating women and a eunuch must not look at the Brahmins when they eat.

Let him [a Brahmin] not dwell in a country where the rulers are Shudras [.] nor in one swarming with men of the lowest caste [.] Let him not give advice to a Shudra [.] for he who explains the sacred law [to a Shudra] or dictates him to a penance will sink together with that [man] into the hell [called] Asamvrita. Let him not recite [the Vedas] indistinctly, nor in the presence of Shudras [.]

When he [a Brahmin] has touched a Chandala, a menstruating woman, an outcast, a woman in childbed, a corpse or one who has touched [a corpse], he becomes pure by bathing [.] Let him not allow a dead Brahmin to be carried out by a Shudra while men of the same caste are at hand, for that burnt offering which is defiled by a Shudra's touch is detrimental to [the deceased's passage to] heaven.

A Brahmin who unintentionally approaches a woman of the Chandala or of [any other] very low caste, who eats [the food of such persons] and accepts [gifts from them] becomes an outcast, but [if he does it] intentionally he becomes their equal.

The dwellings of Chandalas and Svapakas [people of very 'low' caste] shall be outside the village [.] and their wealth [shall be] dogs and donkeys. Their dress [shall be] the garments of the dead, [they shall eat] their food from broken dishes, black iron [shall be] their ornaments, and they must always wander from place to place [.] At night they shall not walk about in villages and in towns. By day they may go about for the purpose of their work, distinguished by marks at the king's command, and they shall carry out the corpses [of persons] who have no relatives-that is a settled rule.

A man of low caste, who, through covetousness, lives by the occupations of a higher one, the king shall deprive of his property and banish. It is better to [discharge] one's own [appointed caste] duty incompletely than to perform completely that of another; for he who lives according to the law of another [caste] is instantly excluded from his own [.] Let a [Shudra] serve Brahmins, either for the sake of heaven or with a view to both [this life and the next], for he who is called the servant of a Brahmin thereby gains all his ends. The service of Brahmins alone is declared [to be] an excellent occupation for a Shudra, for whatever else besides this he may perform will bear him no fruit.

No collection of wealth must be made a Shudra, even though he be able [to do it], for a Shudra who has acquired wealth gives pain to Brahmins.

He who has associated with outcasts, he who has approached the wives of other men and he who has stolen the property of a Brahmin becomes [after death] a brahmarakshas [fierce devil].

It is declared that a Shudra woman alone [can be] the wife of a Shudra, she and one of his own caste [the wives] of a Vaishya, those two and one of his own caste [the wives] of a Kshatriya, those three and one of his own caste [the wives] of a Brahmin [.] Twice-born ('upper' caste) men, who, in their folly, wed wives of the low [Shudra] caste soon degrade their families and their children to the state of Shudras. According to Atri and to [Gautama] the son of Uthaya, he who weds a Shudra woman becomes an outcast [.] A Brahmin who takes a Shudra wife to his bed will [after death] sink into hell; if he begets a child by her he will lose the rank of a Brahmin.

A [man of ] low [caste] who makes love to a maiden [of] the highest [caste] shall suffer corporal punishment.

The property of a Brahmin must never be taken by the king, that is a settled rule; but [the property of men] of other castes the king may take on failure of all [heirs].

Let the king corporally punish all those [persons] who either gamble and bet or afford [an opportunity for it], likewise Shudras who assume the distinctive marks of twice-born [men].

Never slay a Brahmin, though he [may] have committed all [possible] crimes [.] No greater crime is known on earth than slaying a Brahmin. A king, therefore, must not even conceive in his mind the thought of killing a Brahmin.

A Brahmin, be he ignorant or learned, is a great divinity, just as the fire, whether carried forth [for the performance of a sacrifice] or not carried forth, is a great divinity. Thus, though Brahmins employ themselves in all [sorts of] mean occupations they must be honoured in every way, for [each of] them is a very great deity.

[The king] should order a Vaisya to trade, to lend money, to cultivate the land or to tend cattle, and a Shudra to serve the twice-born castes [.] A Brahmin who, because he is powerful, out of greed makes initiated [men of the] twice-born [castes] against their will to do the work of slaves, shall be fined by the king six hundred [panas]. But a Shudra, whether bought or not bought, he may compel to do servile work, for he was created by the Self-Existent (swayambhu) to be the slave of a Brahmin. A Shudra, though emancipated by his master, is not released from servitude; since that is innate in him, who can set him free?

A Brahmin may confidently seize the goods of [his] Shudra [slave], for, as that [slave] can have no property, his master may take his possessions [.] That sinful man, who, through covetousness, seizes the property of the gods or the property of Brahmins feeds in another world on the leavings of vultures.

The Brahmin is declared [to be] the creator [of the world], the punisher, the teacher [and hence] a benefactor [of all created beings], to him let no man say anything unpropitious nor use any harsh worlds.[14]


This is the 'glorious' Manusmriti that Hindutvawadis so passionately praise and advocate as the basis of the 'Hindu Rashtra' of their dreams.

Constitution Review and the 'Hindu Constitution':
A Dalit-Bahujan Perspective

The present Constitution of India, framed by Dr. Ambedkar, himself a Dalit, clearly has its own limitations. It is, in essence, a liberal bourgeois document. Yet it also affords the Dalit-Bahujans vital spaces and opportunities closed to them by Brahminical law, including, particularly, the Manusmriti. The notions of equality, freedom, democracy and secularism contained in the present Indian Constitution, all of which are integral to the project of Dalit-Bahujan emancipation, are vehemently denied in Brahminical law. This explains why Dr. Ambedkar publicly burnt the Manusmriti in 1928 in a symbolic protest against the entire Brahminical tradition.

Dalit-Bahujan intellectuals have argued, and rightly so, that the long-standing Hindutva demand for scrapping the present Constitution and replacing it with a 'Hindu' Constitution, is aimed essentially at doing away with even the limited opportunities and spaces that the Indian Constitution provides the oppressed castes, and to re-impose the varnashrama dharma or the rule of caste.[15] For, as Sangeetha Rao, a leading Dalit ideologue, argues, Ambedkar's Constitution is, in spirit, vehemently opposed to the law of Manu, and that is the main reason why Hindutvawadis wish to scrap it. The 'Hindu Constitution' that they wish to replace the present Constitution, would, in Rao's words, provide legal sanction to 'Hindu fascism', 'Brahminical dictatorship' and the 'Manuvadi Vyavastha' (the Manu-ite social system)'. Rao writes that behind the Hindutva demand for a Presidential system of governance and for a 'Hindu Constitution' is the actual goal of establishing the 'Brahminvadi or Manuvadi
system', for the 'social, political and economic democracy' that Dr. Ambedkar championed is completely opposed to the 'system based on 'Manu-ism'. As Rao sees it, the 'Hindu' system of government that the Hindutvawadis are crusading for is nothing but the 'caste system', the rule of the 'upper' castes and the permanent slavery of the Bahujan Samaj. He writes that the 'Hindu Constitution' that the Hindutvawadis advocate aims at clamping down on democracy and further suppressing the Dalit-Bahujans, because, as he argues,

The Hindu social order does not recognize the necessity of representative government composed of the representatives chosen by the people [.] It is nothing short of Hindu fascism. It is reflected in the statement of Sangh Parivar mafia leader Ashok Singhal, 'A lasting government will be a Hindu government. If the people do not like it they can go to the country of their choice. Otherwise, they will be at the mercy of Hindus'.[16]

Rao sees the close collaboration between the 'upper' caste elites and western imperialists, the sharp curtailment of social welfare programmes, the Hinduisation of the education system, the non-implementation of anti-untouchability laws and the sharp increase in atrocities on Dalits in India under BJP rule as all part of the wider Hindutva agenda that aims at the firm suppression of the Dalit-Bahujans and the reinforcement of 'upper' caste hegemony, faithfully following the commandments and underlying spirit of the Manusmriti.[17]

Another leading Dalit spokesman who has subjected the Hindutva project to incisive critique is Ram Khobragade. In his Indian Constitution Under Communal Attack, Khobragade links the destruction of the Babri Masjid with the Brahminical Hindu and anti-Ambedkar agenda of Hindutva, and argues that the Hindutvawadis:

[In] the heart of their hearts bitterly hate Dr. Ambedkar, who made their religion thoroughly naked [.] Dr. Ambedkar was the architect of the modern social order of this country, and this very thing these Manuvadis, the protagonists of the Manuvadi social system could not digest. Consequently, on his 37th Mahaparivaran Day [6 December, 1992, when they destroyed the Babri Masjid and unleashed a wave of bloody attacks on Muslims all over the country] they showed to the entire world that henceforth India would be governed not by the Constitution of Dr. Ambedkar but by the social order created by Manu, and by other religious scriptures created by various rishis-the supporters of the varnashram caste system.[18]

Likewise, another Dalit spokesperson, R.D.Nimesh, argues, the Hindutvawadis' opposition to the Constitution stems from the fact that the Constitution allows some limited possibilities for Dalits to take to education and better employment, which in itself is a direct contradiction of the varnashrama dharma that the Hindutvawadis seek to revive.3 'In the name of establishing Hindu rule', he argues, the Hindutvawadis actually seek to impose the 'Brahminical law of caste exploitation'.[19] This view is echoed by Lalloo Prasad Yadav, former chief minister of Bihar, who argues that, 'There is the hand of Manuvadi, fascist and casteist forces behind the move to change the Indian Constitution'.[20]

Of course, this actual intention is not stated openly, for in the present political system, which the Hindutvawadis so despise, the Dalit-Bahujans, well over 80 per cent of the population, constitute such a vital force that cannot be ignored. Hence, the Hindutva opposition to the Constitution is camouflaged in different terms-as an effort to promote 'Hindu' 'cultural authenticity' or to do away with legal guarantees for religious minorities, such as their right to administer their own educational institutions, regulate their personal affairs in accordance with their own personal laws and so on.

While critiquing the present Constitution as 'anti-Hindu', the Hindutvawadis seek to replace it with an authoritarian set-up that would more effectively serve the interests of the 'upper' castes and western imperialist forces. Thus, the communist leader Harkishan Singh Surjeet argues that in calling for a review of the Constitution and suggesting a presidential system of government in place of the present parliamentary system, the Hindutvawadis seek 'the perpetuation of bourgeois-landlord rule'. Surjeet adds that, 'The RSS has always been in favour of a unitary authoritarian state structure in the image of its own organisational structure, based on the principle of one leader, all the rest working as followers'. The Hindutvawadi demand for a presidential system is a major step in this direction.[21] Similarly, Prabhat Patnaik, a noted Indian economist, writes that behind the Hindutva demand for the rewriting of the Constitution is the aim of 'abridg[ing] democracy in order to
consolidate the collaborationist bourgeois state. It is no accident that the need to amend the Constitution is being felt by the very government [the present BJP-led regime] whose pursuit of pro-imperialist policies is marked by unprecedented vigour'. Patnaik sees the Hindutva efforts to do away with parliamentary democracy and replace it with American-style presidential rule as a response to the growing participation of the lower caste/class masses in elections as a means for the assertion of their rights, which is now threatening the rule of the 'upper' caste/class minority who now find parliamentary democracy a major challenge to their entrenched hegemony. At the same time, Patnaik argues, the western imperialist-imposed 'globalisation' that the Indian ruling classes have so willingly embraced also demands the 'rolling back' of democracy to smoothen the way for multinational corporations to loot the country.[22]

Behind the Hindutva critique of the Constitution in the name of doing away with its allegedly 'anti-Hindu' elements one can discern a cleverly thought out Brahminical strategy of attacking the very spirit of the Constitution that lays down the principles of equality, democracy and social justice that are so stridently opposed to the Brahminical tradition. This explains how and why the entire Constitution, including its fundamental values of equality, democracy, social justice and freedom that are specifically mentioned in its preamble and later elaborated upon in the document, is branded as 'un-Hindu' by many Hindutva writers. One of these is a certain Bengali Brahmin, Abhas Chatterjee. In a booklet titled The Concept of Hindu Nation, published by a hardcore Hindutva publishing house Voice of India, Chatterjee goes so far as to claim that, 'Leave other things alone, even the preamble of the Indian Constitution does not contain any Hindu idea. It enumerates no principles based on Hindu ethos and ideals'.[23] Likewise, another Brahmin scholar, P.N. Joshi, president of the Rashtriya Hindu Manch, writes in a book tellingly titled Constitution: A Curse to the Hindus, that 'Pakistan is an Islamic country. It is governed according to Islamic law. India is a Hindu Rashtra. Here it ought to be Hindu law'.[24] Naturally, he does not elaborate on what misery Hindu law would bring to the vast majority of the Indians themselves-the 'lower' castes, whose cruel oppression was given religious sanction precisely by the Hindu law that he so passionately advocates.

Since the entire edifice of Brahminism and Brahminical law rests on the permanent subjugation of the Dalit-Bahujans as servants of the 'upper' castes, it is hardly surprising that Hindutva ideologues are vehemently opposed to reservations in jobs and in the state and national legislatures for the 'lower' castes that are provided for in the present Constitution. This is one of the major reasons for their demand that the present Constitution be scarpped or 'reviewed'. For electoral purposes the Hindutva brigade may not openly oppose reservations, but leading Hindutva spokesmen have repeatedly spoken out against them as allegedly 'dividing' the Hindus and promoting 'casteism', as if reservations were responsible in any way for creating the caste system in the first place.

According to the Brahminical scriptures the duty (dharma) of the 'lower' castes is simply to slave for the 'upper ' castes without any hope for recompense. For 'lower' castes to take to any other profession would be a violation of the iron law of dharma and would be a grave challenge to the Brahminical religion. That is why in the Ramayana Rama is said to have struck off the head of the Shudra Shambukh for having so much as dared to engage in tapasya and thereby threaten to ascend to heaven in his physical body. As an 'ideal' Hindu king, Ram, as Dr. Ambedkar notes, was an 'upholder of the varna vyavastha', or the caste system that spells out permanent servitude for the Shudras as their dharma.[25] Hence, for the 'upper' caste devotees of Rama today the 'lower' castes must not deviate from their jati dharma or caste duty of slaving for the 'upper' castes. The reservations in government jobs for the Dalit-Bahujans that the present Constitution provides is a flagrant violation of this
principle, and this explains, partly, the vehement demand of Hindutva forces to replace it with what they call a 'Hindu' Constitution, which would guarantee permanent 'upper' caste privilege and 'lower' caste slavery.

Reservations are only one aspect of the present Constitution that Hindutvawadis are vociferously opposed to and for which they label it as 'anti-Hindu'. In fact, the entire gamut of laws that flow out of the basic premises of the present Constitution that can be used in favour of the Dalit-Bahujans in their struggle against 'upper' caste/class hegemony is seen by Hindutva forces as 'un-Hindu', thus explaining their opposition to the Constitution itself. As Hindutva ideologues view it, the law is not what the Constitution says it is but, rather, what the pontiffs of Brahminical Hinduism, arch-defenders of the caste system and Brahminical privilege, say it should be. As Ashok Singhal, general-secretary of the VHP, declares in no uncertain terms, 'What the dharmacharyas pronounce as dharma, we will also accept as law' (The Pioneer, 4 December, 1992). Lest anyone labour under any doubt as far as what this would mean for the Dalit-Bahujans, we have it from authority of all the classical and defining texts of Brahminism that the caste system and the subjugation of the Dalit-Bahujans are an integral and inseparable component of dharma. As scholars of 'Hinduism' have pointed out, in the Brahminical texts, the sanatana dharma or 'eternal religion' is not defined as a single, universally applicable concept. Dharma, as reflected in the notion of varnashrama dharma, is caste and context specific, and depends on one's caste (varna) and stage of life (ashram). The dharma of the Brahmin is to study, teach the 'upper' castes and to receive donations. The dharma of the Shudra is simply to serve the 'upper' castes. It is this dharma that contemporary Hindutva aims to revive, despite its denials to the contrary. As Abhas Chatterjee writes, the state that the Hindutvawadis seek to construct would 'not only accord the highest place to sanatana dharma but [would] also protect its values, project its glory in the world, and make it its source of inspiration'. At the same time, Chatterjee calls for the scrapping of the present Constitution, arguing that, '[W]e have to change almost all laws and policies' and replace them by those rooted in the sanatana dharma.[26] Dalit-Bahujans must shudder at this menacing prospect.

The RSS-VHP's 'Hindu Constitution':
What it Means for the Dalit-Bahujans

Shortly before the demolition of the Babri Masjid in December 1992 and the ensuing massacre of Muslims all over the country engineered by the Hindutvawadi forces, the VHP issued a declaration calling for a so-called 'Hindu' Constitution for India. At a meeting in October 1992, the VHP's so-called Sant Samiti ('Committee of Saints') set up a four-member commission, headed by a certain 'Swami' Muktanand Saraswati, to rework the 'anti- Hindu' Constitution. Subsequently, Muktanand issued a detailed critique of the present Constitution, with the long, yet revealing, title of Bharat Ki Ekta Akhandata Bhaichare Evam Sampradayak Saddhbhav Ko Mitane Vala Tatha Bharat Mai Bhukhmari, Berozgari, Bhrashtachar Aur Adharm Ko Badhaney Vala Kaun? Vartaman Indian Samvidhan ('Who is Responsible for Destroying India's Unity and Integrity, Brotherhood and Communal Harmony and for Spreading Hunger, Unemployment, Corruption and Irreligiousness ? The present Indian Constitution').[27]

As the title of the book itself so clearly suggests, Muktanand sees all the ills of India as a product of the very Constitution of the country itself. Accordingly, he argues, 'the entire Constitution itself is anti-people (lok drohi)'.[28] He equates the Constitution with a pile of garbage ('yeh samvidhan kudey kachrey ka dher matra hai', he writes).[29] Presumably, this 'garbage' also includes the outlawing of untouchability and caste discrimination and the various, albeit limited, democratic provisions that the Constitution makes for women, backward castes and the poor to make amends for the centuries of oppression that they have had to suffer under Brahminical rule. This is clearly hinted at when Muktananda declares that the Dalits, Tribals and Backward Castes should not be granted any reservations in government services nor any other from of special treatment, on the flimsy ground that, 'this would breed the feeling of separatism'.[30] He also claims that it violates the
principle of secularism or what he calls in Hindutva jargon as panth nirpekshita.[31] Referring to the tribals, he asserts: 'Only those rights of the tribals should be protected which nature has granted them'. Apparently, he wishes to see the tribals lost forever in the dense, wild jungles, never to be allowed to participate in the governance of the country.

A true Hindutvawadi, Muktanand sees democracy as dangerous and vehemently opposes it. Thus, he writes, 'Rule by representatives is a very expensive and backbreaking system for a poor country like India'.[32] He argues that, 'The chapters on the legislature, parliament, the president's powers, the union judiciary, and comptroller and auditor general of India in section 5 of the Constitution (Articles 52-151) have absolutely no relationship whatsoever with the Indian context'.[33] He does not, however, explain why this is so and nor does he offer any alternative. Echoing a pet theme in Hindutva discourse, Muktanand castigates the Constitution for not having made a Uniform Civil Code mandatory.[34] Thus, in an interview to the fortnightly Frontline (January 29, 1993), he asserts: 'There should be uniform laws for everybody'. Yet, in the same breath, he contradicts himself by declaring: 'The state should not interfere in religious and personal matters. There should be no laws regarding marriage'.[35] If the state should not lay down laws regarding marriage and other personal matters, promulgating a Uniform Civil Code is inconceivable since civil codes deal essentially with personal, family matters, but the contradiction escapes Muktanand. If the state were to be ruled by the likes of Muktanand and were, therefore, not to interfere in religious and personal matters, obnoxious practices like untouchability, sati and child marriage would not be outlawed. The present Constitution has banned these customs, and perhaps this is one of the reasons why Muktanand has branded it as adharmik (irreligious).

In late 1993, the Delhi-based weekly Mainstream carried a lengthy three-part interview with Muktanand Saraswati (16 October, 23 October, and 30 October, 1993). The interview covered a range of issues, focusing particularly on Muktanand's views on Dalits, Shudras, Tribals, Muslims and women. It clearly reveals Muktanad (and the Hindutvawadis more generally) to be a fierce defender of the caste system, Brahminical privilege and the oppression of the Dalit-Bahujans and women. The interview provides a chilling view of the Brahminical fascist order that the Hindutva camp seeks to impose on the country in the name of 'Hindu' unity. It very clearly indicates that in the 'Hindu Rashtra' of Hindutva dreams, not just Muslims and Christians, but the vast majority of the so-called 'Hindu' population, too, would be subjected to horrendous oppression.

Excerpts from the Interview with Muktanand Saraswati

On Dalits

Q: Do you think the caste system is scientific?

A: The caste system is scientific if it is based on an 'occupational society'. It is scientific because of specialization and the division of labour. If a person is a teli (oil-presser) by caste (birth) but he does not follow his caste occupation, then the caste system will break.

Q: So, would that be adharmik (irreligious)?

A: If the caste system breaks that would certainly be adharmik (emphatically). Take the case of this fool (kambakht) Jagjivan Ram. Despite having been a Minister he called himself a Harijan. This is bad. You were the Deputy Prime Minister and still saale [a term of abuse] you are a Harijan! Still you want to benefit from reservations for Harijans! Those who want reservations say 'Let us remain Chamars'. So, if you are a Chamar, how can you get the facilities of a Brahmin? You will get the facilities of a Chamar. You want facilities in the name of Chamars, but you want to become a Shankaracharya. How is this possible? [.] Saale, you want facilities in the name of Chamars, but want to sit besides a Brahmin. We won't let you sit (emphatically).

Q: Is it possible to revive the caste system today?

A: By the caste system I mean that the individual should be the centre of the mode of production. For instance, a carpenter is an expert at this work, and his son receives training in this craft from childhood itself and also becomes an expert. So this occupational division of labour is what we desire. Some people ask if it is possible to revive the caste system in this age of industrialization and we say yes, it is possible.

Q: You say you are opposed to consumerism and to wealth as the criterion for measuring one's status. If we take the criterion as dharma, what should the social structure be in a dharmic state.

A: In a dharmic state, everyone should know his duties. Each should follow his own dharma.

Q: What is the dharma of a Chamar?

A: His dharma is to make shoes.

Q: The Manusmriti certainly does not give equal status to Shudras. It advocates pouring molten lead in their ears.

A: Have you read the Manusmriti? There is no such thing written in the Manusmriti. If somebody advocates this today won't you say it is wrong? Today, in some Delhi schools children of parents who do not know English are not allowed admission. Is this better than Manu's law? You are not bothered about the law that is existing today but without any reason you are concerned about the law that was there in the past. If something happened in the past, it may have happened.

Q: The Sant Samaj wants to establish a dharmik society.

A: According to the place (desh), time (kal) and person (patr) we shall decide what should be done.

Q: Will you impose the Manusmriti?

A: We can implement many provisions of the Manusmriti, and we can leave out many other provisions.

Q: Will you impose Manu's laws regarding the Shudras?

A: There are no such laws. You are wrongly informed.

Q: What do you feel about untouchability?

A: The Muslim and Christian invaders killed our intellectuals, burnt our literature and libraries. Thereafter, these customs came into being and the illiterate people started following them. Then the intellectuals came to the fore once again and began interpreting the traditions in a different way so as to project their real essence.

Q: Can caste Hindus take food from 'untouchables'?

A: There is nothing which stops sadhus and Sikhs from taking food even from Bhangis (sweepers).

Q: But can Sanatani Hindus who are not sadhus do the same?

A: Those Sanatanis who lead a family-life (grihasta), they are not allowed to do so. On the other hand, the sadhus are allowed because they are alone and their actions do not affect others. But a person who lives with his family, he lives with 25 people, he cannot force them to do what he thinks is right. Similarly, if 24 of them think that eating with Bhangis is fine, they cannot force the person who does not share their views to do the same. If they want [to eat with Bhangis] they can go and live elsewhere. There is no law on sati, child marriage and untouchability in Hindu society. It is a question of personal choice, and we have given them a loophole, a safety valve-if you want [to practice these customs], you can. There's no harm.

Q: You mean to say that those who want to practice untouchability should be allowed to do so?

A: Yes, they should be allowed.

Q: And those who don't want to?

A: They should not be forced to practice untouchability.

Q: If a Brahmin priest says he doesn't want 'Untouchables' to enter his temple, should they be allowed to go in?

A: They should not. It is his temple so why do you want to enter it?

Q: Is this rule valid for all temples?

A: Temple is something which is private and not a social-affair in Hindu society, unlike tirtha and melas. In the operation theatre of the hospital not everybody is allowed because it has to remain pure. Similarly, our temples are places of meditation for which you require the same sort of vibrations within a limit. In such temples even Brahmins cannot go near the idols. Only the priests can go there to keep the vibrations intact.

Q: [T]he Puri Shankaracharya has said that Untouchables cannot enter temples?

A: It is not true. The Puri Shankaracharya has said nothing like this. To enter temples you should be clean and have a pure mind, but as for the Shankaracharya, even though he is no more, if he did not want everybody to enter his temple why should he have been forced to allow that? He did not forbid this for other temples.

Q: Is there any harm if a lower caste man becomes the priest of the proposed Ayodhya temple?

A: Is there any harm if a totally ignorant person is made an engine driver of a train? I shall appoint the priest of my temple according to my own wishes, not yours. Priests are appointed on the basis of their abilities. Reservations cannot be extended to all spheres. If this is done there will be a deluge of incapable people.

Q: But Brahmins have hundred per cent reservations in the priesthood.

A: In all electrical projects why are all the engineers only electricians? Why not economists? A person who is trained in a specific field, he alone can work in that field.

Q: So, Lalloo Yadav's plan of making Dalits as Shakaracharyas is wrong?

A: It is the height of stupidity (maha murkhta hai).

Q: Why?

A: Is making someone a Shankaracharya the same as making a clay toy? A Shankaracharya requires technical expertise. Laloo Yadav has no right to depute anybody as a Shankaracharya because there is a system for that. If Laloo declares that your father should not remain the head of your family and in his place appoints somebody else, is it correct? How is it possible?

Q: What are you views on reservations for the SCs, STs and OBCs?

A: This is a question solely of votes. No one wants to give them reservations, nor can they get them. Never can they get them [emphatically].

Q: But should they get reservations?

A: There is no question of it. Why should they get reservations? Why should they remain as SCs and STs? Why do you want to make them a reserved category for eternity? On the one hand you say that a carpenter (Badhai) should be made a Brahmin, and on the other hand you put him in the reserved category. The result of this will be that children of the Brahmins will go to the scheduled communities to be adopted by them. There is a village called Pasna in Allahabad district where V. P. Singh made some good houses for the Harijans on his own land. Ten Brahman families live there. Who are they? They are the adopted sons of the Chamars. To get houses they claim to have been adopted by Kallu Singh [a Chamar].

Q: So, there should be no reservations?

A: Whether or not there should be reservations is not a question at all.

Q: How will the lower castes progress?

A: There are no low castes. Why will there be any progress when the criterion is that he who consumes more is considered higher than he who consumes less? You devise a new criterion.

Q: You say that the caste-system is scientific and dharmik and you also say that caste-based reservations would strengthen the caste-system, so you should actually support reservations!

A: No my support or opposition does not make a difference but yours will. If the caste-system should not exist, there should be no reservations.

Q: But, if the caste system should exist?

A: Then reservations may have some relevance but reservations should be only on economic and not caste basis.

Q: You say that you are opposed to money or consumption as a criterion for measuring one's status because this is adharmik. So why are you advocating economic basis for reservation? Is this not adharmik?

A: No, nothing is adharmik. Everything is dharmik if it is scientific.

Q: What do you say about the killing of Dalits by caste Hindus?

A: This is not because of a Savarna-Harijan conflict, only newspapers say this. In reality this is not so because if the Savarnas were to do this they would not remain alive because all their work is done by the Harijans. If they were to persecute the Harijans then who will make their ploughs, take out their oil, make their cloth and work in their fields? The killing of Harijans is because of vote-bank politics.

Q: What do you feel about Ambedkar, especially since he wrote what you call the anti-Hindu Constitution?

A: Ambedkar did not make the Constitution, he merely borrowed from the Constitutions of other countries. [He reads something aloud]. You people do not study anything at all. If you ask any question about Ambedkar you must first study everything about him. Why do I seem like an intellectual to you? It is because I have proof, quotations and references of everything I talk about. You took Ambedkar's name and I told you everything about him.

Q: What do you think about what Ambedkar has written about Hindu society and religion?

A: What he has written may be right in its own context. But, it is not necessary that everybody should agree with his views.

Q: What good and bad points do you find in his writings?

A: I have not read all his writings, that's why I don't know what he has written. But whatever he has written, he has written according to his own understanding.

Q: Which books of Ambedkar have you read?

A: I have not read any book written by Ambedkar.

Q: So you are not familiar with Ambedkar's views?

A: His views were his own. In our country we have freedom of thought.

Q: What do you think about Ambedkar's denunciation of Hinduism and adoption of Buddhism?

A: He did not leave the Hindu religion and adopt the Buddhist religion because there is no such thing as Hindu dharma. There is only a Hindu society. Ambedkar adopted only a different system of prayer and not a different religion.

On Women

Q: You have been quoted in Frontline (January 29, 1993) as having said that if Muslims can marry four wives then Hindus should be allowed to marry 25.

A: No, I did not say anything like this. You have read wrong. Show me the proof. Rithambhara says that the policy for Hindus is 'We two and our two' [a couple with two children] , while for Muslims it is 'We five and our 25, or our 75' [a man with four wives and with 25 or 75 children], and so she says that why shouldn't Hindus be allowed to marry 75 women?

Q: What should be the status of women in Hindu Rajya?

A: It should be what it should be. In Islam there's no place for women. A woman should be a woman, she should be a mother. In our scriptures it is written that women and sanyasis have been exempted from earning their livelihood because if a woman stays at home she can give proper guidance to her children. Our scriptures say that in childhood her father would look after her, when married her husband, and when old her son. And people will look after the sanyasis. But this tradition cannot work today because no longer are good values cultivated, and people are obsessed with accumulating wealth.

Q: What do you feel about the practice of sati (sati pratha)?

A: There was no sati pratha. The word pratha means something which is continuous. If a woman, after her husband's death, does not want to live and wants to commit sati, let her. What is wrong in dying?

Q: Is sati a dharmik act?

A: Dharma means what you feel your duty is and you should do precisely that. Everybody has his own dharma, which is different from that of the others. Society cannot decide whether or not one should commit sati. Only the woman can. If she decides to commit sati she does so because she thinks it to be her dharma. It cannot be a rule for everyone. Today there are women prostitutes and models but prostitution and modelling is not a role for all women. If a girl is a cabaret dancer it is because of her choice and not because of a rule. Similarly, sati is not a rule and a woman can decide about it herself.

Q: Isn't it against humanity?

A: Is not prostitution against humanity? Yet, it still carries on. Society deteriorates because of prostitution but sati does not lead to social degeneration. Sati leads to the expression of a person's good qualities, determination and her inner feelings for her husband. She feels oneness with her husband and this should be appreciated. Nobody will appreciate a woman marrying 25 husbands. But, if a woman loves her husband and he dies and she does not want to live anymore then we should respect her feelings. Her inner feelings do not destroy our social system. No one can be forced to commit sati and incidents of sati are very rare. To make an issue out of it is stupidity. It is not an issue of a social evil.

Q: What are your views on widow remarriage?

A: Why should she [remarry]? Those who want to can and those who do not want to need not.

Q: But is it a crime if a widow remarries?

A: It is a crime. It is a very big crime. If a woman has intercourse with more than one man serious disorders would result. AIDS is a result of this, with a woman having intercourse with 27 men and vice versa. If you have the right to advocate eating mutton, I should also have the right to denounce it. You may have the right to say that sati pratha should not be allowed, but I should also have the right to say that sati pratha should be allowed.

Q: Is this what democracy is meant to be?

A: No, views should be free. When I don't agree with you why should you agree with me? I say that no one else but I can enter my temple and you say that everybody can enter your temple. You people are getting after those who have passively tolerated [your domination] for centuries and now having reached the saturation point we say that we won't tolerate this any longer and now you exclaim that we have become intolerant and violent! All these years you have advocated peaceful coexistence to legitimise your oppression. This intellectual war in the clouds is very dangerous and. we must save ourselves from this and seek positive solutions.

Q: According to Hinduism should women be allowed to work outside the house?

A: This is not right because as a result of this the structure of the family gets destroyed. The whole world has realized this.

Q: Frontline has quoted you as saying that the state should not pass any laws concerning marriage and the family...

A: Why should there be a law for these things?

Q: But, should not the state interfere if a man wants to marry 25 women?

A: Why should you form a law for this? The man will bear the consequences of his actions, why only 25, you can marry 2000 women if you want.

Q: Should there be no law against this?

A: Either the law should be universally applicable or there should be no law at all. And, there should be no such laws as a result of which people feel restricted in personal matters. If you want to marry 25 wives and this has no impact on the economy you should be free to do so.

Q: Should there be no law against child marriage?

A: In the Hindu system there is no law about the age of marriage.

Q: What about the Sharda Act [that forbids child marriage]?

A: Bhai Saheb, you keep making these Acts but they don't affect us. If we have to practice child marriage, we shall do so.

Q: Do you think child marriage is a good thing?

A: It is relative, not absolute.

Q: If a girl who has had a child marriage later wants to leave her husband?

A: It is the problem of those who have had child marriages. Why should we bother about that? Hindu society is free.

Q: Does not the Hindu religion say anything about it?

A: No, it does not say anything about it. It only says that if a man is unjust to his wife, the neighbours should correct him.

Q: If society believes that child marriages are not wrong then is there no need to oppose them?

A: There is no need. If the parents get their children married off in childhood, then let them do it. What is the harm in it? If they face some problem after that it is their own concern. Society will also be concerned about that but the law has nothing to do with it. Society shall never accept anything which is wrong.

Q: Should a woman be allowed to divorce her husband?

A: According to the Hindu Dharmashastras marriage is a sacred bond and it cannot be broken. The woman is not only a wife but also a steerer of the family.

Q: In the past when you say dharma ruled did women have inheritance rights?

A: There was no question of that. This issue has arisen only now.

Q: According to dharma should women be granted these rights in today's context?

A: The present system is 100 per cent adharmik and is one which destroys society instead of unifying it. By giving inheritance rights to women the unity of society gets broken.

Q: What do you feel about inter-caste marriages?

A: It makes no sense to say that marriages should be inter-caste or intra-caste. There are two kinds of societies-open and controlled. A shopkeeper's daughter in a controlled society has been brought up in a particular cultural environment but if she gets married to a farmer she will be able to adjust only if she gets married at the age of five or six [before her mind is moulded in a particular way].

Q: Do you mean to say that child marriage is good?

A: There is nothing good or bad about it. I am just analyzing with an open mind. For me there is nothing good or bad. If there has to be inter-caste marriage it has to be performed at a very young age. If a 20-year old daughter of a shopkeeper gets married to a farmer, her in-laws would tell her to milk the buffaloes. She will not only break her own hands and feel and injure the buffalo but also break the pot! So go ahead and perform inter-caste marriages! (sarcasm) In India there are 16 kinds of marriages. One of them is arranged marriage which people adopted because they found it appropriate for society. Another kind is love marriage (swayamvar). But who performs swayamvar? Only the haramkhor (crooks), the unemployed, robbers, etc.. This is because they have no cultural traditions and they have to grab from others and eat. Those who have to work to survive do not practice swayamvar.

Q: What do you feel about inter-caste marriages?

A: A girl should get married to a person who belongs to a family having the same traditions as hers otherwise she won't be able to adjust. She can get married to a person of any caste she wants or she can divorce 27 times a day if she wants but you cannot make a law prohibiting or enforcing inter-caste marriages for everybody. If a person gets married outside his caste he cannot force his caste to accept this when he is not willing to listen to his caste. You can resort to inter-caste marriages but you will have to face the consequences. If a Brahmin marries a Chamar woman and dumps her on his parents then naturally there will be conflict because the Chamarin will live like a Chamar in a Brahmin's house. He can take his Chamarin and go wherever he wants to. No one will stop him. But if he wants to live in society he should consider the society's emotions also. If he cannot surrender before society how will society do the same?

Q: But don't you think that inter-caste marriages can increase social unity?

A: No, in fact inter-caste marriages are a great hurdle to social unity because each caste has its own tradition.

On Muslims

Q: The VHP has spoken about 30,000 masjids and mazars which were allegedly Hindu shrines. Does the Sant Samiti [of the VHP] want only three mosques or 30,000 shrines back?

A: These demands have arisen because India was divided on a religious basis by the fundamentalist Muslims (mazhabi musalman) but all Muslims should have gone to Pakistan. In India Muslims should not be allowed to maintain their separate religious identity. Here they should live as Indian nationals and not as Muslims [...] The government has made a law that Muslims and Christians can teach communal books in their schools, but not others. Muslims say that the monuments built by Babur and Aurangzeb should remain intact-this is anti-Indian. Hindus are not a single community, but there are several castes, and Muslims and Christians can become such castes. They should be given a place in the caste system.

Q: But what about the 30,000 masjids and mazars?

A: They are built on the Hindu shrines which were destroyed. They need to be remodelled in the same way as after independence we removed the statues of George V, Queen Victoria and renamed roads and parks which had been named after British rulers. Similarly, we must do away with every remnant of Mughal imperialism. We must explain to the Muslims that this has nothing to do with them. And, the Hindu or Muslim who does not understand this is a traitor. It is a not a question only of 30,000 mosques, all vestiges of Mughal imperialism-whether the name of a city, village, road, building, anything, whatever represents the barbarism of Mughal imperialism-should be removed from this country.

Q: The Lal Qila and Taj Mahal also?

A: You think about it. Like we removed the vestiges or British imperialism we must do the same with Mughal imperialism.

Q: Do you support destroying mosques and mazaars as a matter of policy?

A: Their destruction happens only as a reaction to the Muslims' destruction of temples. Hindus never attack mosques in an organised way. A few boys break mosques just for the fun of it.

Q: Hooliganism?

A: Not hooliganism. Just for fun sake (aise hi mauj masti mein).

Q: What about the Buddhist and Jain temples that the Hindu kings destroyed?

A: We have not seen any such instances in history. If a Hindu King did this we call him a devil.

Q: If Buddhists and Jains start demanding that their temples which the Hindus destroyed be returned to them?

A: Do not ask me such hypothetical questions.

Q: The Jains have started demanding that the Udaygiri caves which were converted into Vishnu temples be returns to them.

A: Who snatched the caves from them?

Q: The Gupta Kings.

A: But now who stops them from going there?

Q: But they want to control it themselves.

A: Who should give it to them?

Q: The Hindus.

A: But, Jains are part of Hindus.

Q: You attack the Muslim rulers for having destroyed Hindu shrines but ignore similar crimes committed by Hindu kings as in the case of the Mahabodhi temple. Did not the Hindu kings destroy Buddhist and Jain temples?

A: They might have demolished. How are we bothered? As for the Mahabodhi temple, it is a political creation. The only dispute is who will collect the offerings. The offerings have been collected by the Brahmins from the very beginning, and now the Buddhist bhikshus want to collect them. It is not a dispute between Shiva and Buddha.

Q: People are apprehensive that the Hindu- Muslim conflict will intensify.

A: This won't happen because the BJP has caught our line completely, and Muslims in large numbers are flocking to the BJP. They now say that those who hesitate to sing Vande Mataram and those who call the Ganga a witch are our enemies, and that they have distanced themselves from Mughal imperialism.

Q: Is this the Hinduisation of the Muslims?

A: It is the nationalization of the Muslims

Q: But you say that only Hindus are true nationalists.

A: What is the meaning of Hindu Rashtra? Muslim Rashtra has some meaning. Hindu Rashtra has no meaning at all.

Q: But then the RSS will be without any programme since its main aim is to establish a Hindu Rashtra.

A: No, Hindu Rashtra has no meaning.

Q: What do you mean by this?

A: Hindu Rashtra means what is written in this book. [He offers us a book written by him in highly Sanskritised Hindi and asks us to read it out aloud].

Q: What you have written is in highly Sankritised Hindi so how will ordinary people understand it?

A: It has not been written for ordinary people but for people like you to read. We do not say all these things to common people.

Q: What do you say to the common people?

A: We'll tell the common man when he comes to us. You are not a commoner [...] I feel happy that my views are neither without foundation, nor with any vested motives nor backward.

Q: Should everybody have the right to vote?

A: I feel that everyone should get equal rights which means that hathi ko man bhar aur chinti ko kan bhar (an elephant should get a maund of food and an ant should get a mere grain). A person should be satisfied according to his capability, need and status.

Q: Big industrialists, whom you term as exploiters, are big contributors to Hindu organizations.

A: It is their own business because they get income tax concessions if they contribute for welfare activities.

Q: You claim that Muslims are appeased but then why are they so poor?

A: Muslim society is not based on progressive ideas. They send their children to madrasas to study the Qur'an. They have many children whom they can't educate so naturally they are poor. This is despite the fact that the government has given them many facilities, they don't have to pay fees, they get free books.

Q: Don't you feel bad that many innocent Muslims have been brutally killed?

A: No innocent people have died. They died because they were ignorant. All those who died were guilty.

Q: But what about the innocent victims in Bombay?

A: They were all innocent and they were all guilty.

Q: But what about the innocent?

A: None of them was innocent and none of them was guilty. They were all ignorant.

Q: Don't you feel bad about the killings?

A: Why should I feel bad? People keep dying (log to marte jate hi rehtein hain).

Q: How do you react to the charge that you people are indulging in vote-bank politics?

A: We are engaged in reawakening society but our opponents will never recognise this because of vote-bank politics. Today I met Rajju Bhaiyya (Rajendra Singh, at the time general-secretary of the RSS) and the last thing I told him was that all this talk for the sake of vote-banks, this is good because everybody wants to build his own vote-bank. I said to him that everybody has conjured up his own plank to build up his own vote-bank. So, if you have also done so, what is wrong? It is fine.


Muktanand's views on the Dalit-Bahujans, women and Muslims provide ample evidence of the authoritarian, fascist Brahminical regime that the Hindutva project seeks to impose on the people of this country. Clearly, as his views suggest, Hindutva aims at the continued and permanent suppression and subjugation of not just the Muslims and Christians alone, but the Dalit-Bahujan masses as well. And Mukatanad is not alone in this, echoing as he does the views on numerous leading spokesmen of the Hindutva cause. This being the case, the struggle against Hindutva must not be restricted to simply preaching Hindu-Muslim unity (although that might have its strategic uses). Rather, the battle is really for the minds and hearts of the Dalit-Bahujan masses, who form the vast majority of the Indian population. They must be warned of the grave consequences that Hindutva poses to them, for only then can Hindutva be actually countered.

Hindutva today poses a major threat to the all the marginalized communities in the country-Muslims, Christians, Buddhists and Sikhs, as well as the Dalit-Bahujans and women, that is, the vast majority of the people of India other than the 'upper' caste/class exploiters, defenders of the system of caste, class and patriarchal oppression. Only a sustained campaign to build a broad-based platform of unity between these oppressed groups can effectively stop the bloody juggernaut of Hindutva from hurtling the country into the throes of interminable civil war.


[1] Shamsul Islam, Untouchables in Manu's India, New Delhi: Media House, 2002, p.17.

[2] Quoted in Shyam Chand, Saffron Fascism, New Delhi: Unity Publishers, 2002, pp.143-44.

[3] Shamsul Islam, op.cit., , p.10.

[4] 'VHP's Derogatory Language Against Ambedkar' (for the full text of the leaflet see

[5] Quoted in Shamsul Islam, op.cit., p.13.

[6] V.D. Savarkar, Savarkar Samagar, quoted in Shamsul Islam.op.cit., p.13.

[7] K.R.Malkani, The RSS Story, New Delhi: Impex India, 1980, p.73.

[8] This quote appears in the first edition of the book, published in 1966, but curiously disappears in subsequent editions.

[9] Quoted in Shamsul Islam, op.cit., pp.13-14.

[10] Chandra Shekarendra Saraswati, 'The Unique Election Method in Uthiramerur', Bhavan's Journal, 30 November, 1989, p.26.

[11] Ibid., p.33.

[12] Ibid., p.22.

[13] For a detailed dicussion of Chandra Shekaendra Saraswati's views on democracy, see Yoginder Sikand, 'Manusmriti versus Constitution of India', Mainstream, 17 April, 1993, pp.16-17.

[14] Taken from Shamsul Islam, op.cit..

[15] See, for instance, Bojja Thakaram, Constitution and the Coup d'Etat, Hyderabad: Janapada Prachanuranalu, 2000, p.17.

[16] Sangeetha Rao, 'Why To Review the Constitution', in Constitution's Review: A Conspiracy, New Delhi: SCEWATSTAMB, n.d., p.25.

[17] Ibid., p.x.

[18] Ram Khobragade, Indian Constitution Under Communal Attack, New Delhi: Gyan Publishing House, 2002, p.9.

[19] R.D.Nimesh, 'Desh Ko Vartman Bharatiya Samvidhan Ki Avashyakta Kyon?', in Constitution's Review: A Conspiracy, New Delhi: SCEWATSTAMB, n.d., p.45.

[20] Quoted in P.D.Mathew, Do We Need a Constitutional Review?, New Delhi: Indian Social Institute, 2000, p.25.

[21] Harkishan Singh Surjeet, 'Golden Jubilee of Indian Republic', in Review of the Constitution: Real Issues and Hidden Agendas, Hyderabad: Prajasakti Book House, n.d., pp.20-21.

[22] Prabhat Patnaik, 'Significance of the Move to Amend the Constitution', in Review of the Constitution: Real Issues and Hidden Agendas, Hyderabad: Prajasakti Book House, n.d., pp.23-25.

[23] Abhas Chatterjee, The Concept of Hindu Nation, New Delhi: Voice of India, 1995, p.35.

[24] P.N.Joshi, Constitution: A Curse to the Hindus, New Delhi: Rashtriya Hindu Manch, New Delhi, 1990, p.26.

[25] B.R.Ambedkar, 'The Riddle of Ram and Krishna', quoted in Ramendra, Why I Am Not a Hindu and Why I Do Not Want Ram Rajya, Patna: Bihar Rationalist Society, 1995, pp.46-47.

[26] Chatterjee, op.cit., p.47.

[27] Mukatanad Saraswati, Bharat Ki Ekta Akhandata Bhaichare Evam Sampradayak Saddhbhav Ko Mitane Vala Tatha Bharat Mai Bhukhmari, Berozgari, Bhrashtachar Aur Adharm Ko Badhaney Vala Kaun? Vartaman Indian Samvidhan, Vrindavan: Akhil Bharatiya Sant Samiti, Haridwar: Sarvodaya Satsang Ashram, n.d.

[28] Ibid., p.7.

[29] Ibid., p.61.

[30] Ibid., p.33.

[31] Ibid., p.6.

[32] Ibid., p.14.

[33] Ibid., pp.51-52.

[34] The commitment of the Hindutvawadis to a common civil code is obviously suspect. Their vehement opposition to the Hindu Code Bill that sought to introduce limited reforms in Hindu law is well known. In his The RSS Story (op.cit., pp.70-71), K. R. Malkani confesses that:

Shri Guruji [Golwalkar, the RSS supremo] went so far as to say that Muslim Law could continue separately, without being replaced by a Uniform Civil Law, as laid down in the Directive Principles of State Policy. When subsequently asked whether uniformity of law would not promote national integration, he said, 'Not necessarily'.

[35] Quoted in Sikand, op.cit., p.16.