What Is “Hinduism” ?
By Dr. Iniyan Elango, M.B.B.S., LLM.
03 February, 2013
Dr. Iniyan Elango argues that "Hinduism" is a colonial and post colonial contruct which was institutionalised in the 'modern' India against the wishes of the lower castes , and therefore the religious labels of “Hindu and Hinduism” should not be imposed on backward castes (Shudras), scheduled castes (Dalits) and scheduled tribes (aboriginal Adivasis)
Religion is man-made. Even the men who made it cannot agree on what their prophets or redeemers or gurus actually said or did. -Antitheist activist and writer Christopher Hitchens
All religion, my friend, is simply evolved out of fraud, fear, greed, imagination, and poetry. - American writer Edgar Allan Poe
The ancient Persians invented the term “Hindu” to describe all peoples who lived in the Indian sub-continent beyond the Indus River. The word “Hindu” cannot be found anywhere in any of the Brahmanical Sanskrit scriptures which form the theological basis of Hinduism nor was the term “Hindu” ever used to denote members of a singular religion until the British and post-British Indian laws legally instituted the term “Hindu” to classify and lump together all inhabitants of India (except Jews, Muslims, Christians and Zoroastrians) as “Hindu” by disregarding and negating the diverse and varied religions of the Indian peoples, particularly those of Dalits (untouchables or scheduled castes), Adivasis (aboriginal scheduled tribes) and backward castes (Shudras) which have nothing to do with the Hindu religion as codified by Hindu law based on Brahmanical Sanskrit scriptures such as the Vedas, Upanishads, Shruthis and Smrithis which is followed only by the “twice born” (Dwija) supremacist upper caste trio of Brahmins, Kshatriyas and Vysyas (Baniyas). Thus, Hinduism as a singular religious identity and terminology - is solely a colonial and post-colonial socio-legal construct that never existed in the past history of India. And in particular, backward castes (Shudras), Dalits and aboriginal Adivasis were neither considered as co-religionists by the “twice born” supremacist upper caste trio led by the Brahmins nor did the peoples oppressed as Shudras or untouchables and Adivasis call themselves as “Hindus” at any time, until the British and post-British Indian legal statutes legally instituted the term “Hindu” as a blanket religious identity that is mandatorily and legally applied on “all” Indian peoples who are not following Zoroastrianism or the three Semitic religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
Various Hindu civil legal statutory regimes make a blanket legal imposition of the Hindu religious identity on “any” person domiciled in India who is not a Muslim, Christian, Parsi (Zoroastrian) or Jew by religion. The Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act 1956, The Hindu Marriage Act 1955, Hindu succession Act, 30 of 1956 and The Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act 1956 are some of the Hindu civil legal statutory legislations that summarily forces the “Hindu” religious identity on everybody domiciled in India except for Jews, Muslims, Christians and Parsis (Zoroastrians) in the aforementioned manner. A provision of the Hindu Marriage Act further states that the expression “Hindu” is to be construed as if it included a person who, “though not a Hindu by religion” is nevertheless a person to whom this legislation considers as “Hindu” in blatant violation of an individual’s right and freedom to choose his or her religion (or lack of it as atheists or antitheists) without being forced with a religious identity by law.
In addition, article 25 (2) (b) Explanation II of the Indian constitution states as follows: In sub-clause (b) of clause (2), the reference to Hindus shall be construed as including a reference to persons professing the Sikh, Jaina or Buddhist religion, and the reference to Hindu religious institutions shall be construed accordingly. Thus, Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists have also been constitutionally deemed to be “Hindus”.
In the case titled “Surajmani Stella Kujur Vs Durga Charan Hansdah” (AIR 2001 SC 938: (2001) 3 SCC 13), while determining “who is a “Hindu” for the purposes of the applicability of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 (“the Act”), the members of scheduled tribes were deemed to be Hindus by the Supreme Court of India. In this case, the Supreme Court further noted that in the absence of a notification or order under Article 342 of the Constitution members of various Scheduled Tribes are deemed to be Hindus. The Supreme Court judgment in this case further observed that even if a notification is issued under the Constitution, the Hindu Marriage Act can be applied to Scheduled Tribes and the latter deemed to be Hindus under the Act by a further notification in terms of sub-section (2) of Section 2 of the Act.
Therefore, by way of the various aforementioned Hindu civil law statutes, related court judgments and constitutional provisions, the Hindu religious identity is summarily imposed on all people domiciled in India who are not Muslims, Christians, Jews and Zoroastrians (Parsis), thus legally imposing the Hindu religious identity on Buddhists, Jains, Sikhs, atheists and followers of other non-Hindu religions, thus creating a legally fabricated Hindu majority in violation of the freedom of thought, conscience and religion of an individual to freely choose his or her religion without religious imposition by law, thus negating a fundamental human right of thought, conscience and religion guaranteed by International human rights law.
Due to the aforementioned Hindu law statutes, related court judgments and constitutional provisions, all people belonging to backward castes, scheduled castes, scheduled tribes, and even atheists, Buddhists, Jains, Sikhs, and any other people asserting a non-Hindu religious denomination are legally forced with the Hindu religious identity under law, except for Muslims, Christians, Jews and Zoroastrians. Thus under the present Hindu law statues and related court judgments and constitutional provisions, it can be reasonably concluded that any kind of census (whether caste based or not) will demographically conclude and record the religion of backward castes, scheduled castes and scheduled tribes only as Hindu, even if any of them follow atheism or any non-Hindu religious denomination (except for Islam, Christianity, Judaism and Zoroastrianism). Even scheduled castes and scheduled tribes are legally imposed with the Hindu religious identity by the aforesaid Hindu civil law statutes and related court judgments, and hence are demographically labelled only as Hindu under law in order to reinforce the delusional and false Hindu majority fabricated by law. Hence, it is wrong for some to say that the census of backward castes alone will contribute to a (fabricated) Hindu demographic majoritarianism, since scheduled castes and scheduled tribes are also legally forced with the Hindu religious identity just as backward castes are, even if they are atheists, Buddhists, Jains, Sikhs or any other non-Hindu religionists (except for those professing Islam, Christianity, Judaism and Zoroastrianism).
The establishment of a mythical, fabricated and false demographic Hindu majority lies in the various aforementioned Hindu civil law statutes and related court judgments and constitutional provisions that constitute the legal status quo which legally and summarily imposes the Hindu religious identity on all people domiciled in India who are not Muslims, Christians, Jews and Zoroastrians, thus legally forcing the Hindu religious identity on all backward castes, scheduled castes and scheduled tribes even if they assert non-Hindu religious identities or atheism (except for Judaism, Christianity, Islam and Zoroastrianism), while also legally imposing the Hindu religious identity on atheists, Buddhists, Jains, Sikhs, and any other people asserting a non-Hindu religious denomination except for Muslims, Christians, Jews and Zoroastrians. This is a blatant violation of the individual human right and freedom of thought, conscience and religion accorded under international human rights law.
In the Supreme Court judgment delivered in the case called “Shastri Yagnapurushdasji and Others Vs Muldas Bhundardas Vaishya and Another” (AIR 1996 SC 1119), the Supreme Court ruled as follows in paragraphs 40 and 43 with regards to the definition and distinguishing features of the Hindu religion and Hindus: "Acceptance of the Vedas with reverence; recognition of the fact that the means or ways to salvation are diverse; and realisation of the truth that the number of gods to be worshipped is large”. The Supreme Court further ruled that this aforementioned definition brings out succinctly the broad distinctive features of Hindu religion.
But a vast majority of Indian peoples who do not subscribe (in part or fully) to this aforementioned legal and judicial definition (of the Hindu religion and “Hindus”) laid down by the Supreme Court have nevertheless been contradictorily and forcibly imposed with the Hindu religious identity by the Hindu civil law statutes and related judicial case law regimes and constitutional provisions described above. This is a legally contradictory situation where the individual freedom to choose one’s thought, conscience and religion is violated. Adivasis (indigenous peoples), Dalits (scheduled castes) and OBCs (backward castes) do not generally subscribe to any reverential acceptance of the “Vedas” and are all scripturally and theologically banned by the Hindu religious law (based on Brahmanical Sanskrit Hindu scriptures) from any priesthood training or religious study of the Brahmanical Sanskrit Hindu scriptures (such as the Vedas, Upanishads, Shruthis and Smrithis) in Hindu seminaries monopolized by Brahmins and are also summarily banned from Hindu religious priesthood, but despite this situation, scheduled castes, scheduled tribes and backward castes are contradictorily laden with the Hindu religious identity by the aforesaid Hindu law regimes thus violating their human right to freedom of religion and contravening the definition of Hindus and the Hindu religion as outlined in the aforementioned Supreme Court judgment (AIR 1996 SC 1119) which lays down the “acceptance of the Vedas with reverence” as one of the cardinal features of a “Hindu”. How can those who are banned from religious study and religious training for priesthood in the seminaries of a religion be called as members of the same religion and forced with the label of the same religion? But, backward castes, scheduled castes and scheduled tribes have suffered this indignation and oppression under the current Hindu law regimes which summarily forces the Hindu religious identity on them while banning them all from Hindu religious priesthood and Hindu temple priesthood. In addition Adivasis, Dalits and OBCs (backward castes) are all proscribed from being “scriptural and sacramental membership of Hinduism” by Hindu Law, and this “scriptural and sacramental” membership of Hindu religion is exclusively reserved “only” for the so called “twice born” supremacist trio of upper castes [Brahmins, Vysyas (Baniyas) and Kshatriyas] by Hindu religious law (Hindu law based on Brahmanical Sanskrit scriptures such as Vedas, Upanishads, Shruthis and Smrithis), and thus Adivasis, Dalits and OBCs (backward castes) are also theologically banned from Hindu priesthood, but nevertheless - the Hindu religious identity is contradictorily imposed on Dalits, OBCs and Adivasis by the aforesaid Hindu civil legal statutes when they are all theologically excluded from “scriptural and sacramental” membership of Hinduism and banned from Hindu priesthood by the Hindu law based on Brahmanical Sanskrit Hindu scriptures.
The religious school of thought followed by Lingayats, Jains, Buddhists, indigenous tribal people, Sikhs, atheists and followers of various other non-Hindu Indian religions of Dalits and backward castes (which either negate Brahmanical scriptures such as the “Vedas” or preach monotheism, atheism or rural folk deity worship), do not subscribe to the aforementioned legal and judicial definition of “Hindu religion” as laid down by the Supreme Court, but still these various non-Hindu religions of Indian origin and atheism (and antitheists) have been legally clumped under the Hindu religious identity by the various Hindu civil legal statutes in violation of their human right for thought, conscience and religion.
Thus, due to Hindu civil legal statutes and constitutional provisions that summarily impose the Hindu religious identity on one and all (except Muslims, Christians, Jews and Parsis), various religions and schools of thought which are not Hindu and which do not satisfy the aforementioned Supreme Court definition of “Hinduism” have all been forced to come under the blanket imposition of Hindu religious identity. Some of the religions or schools of thought which have been thus brought under the blanket Hindu religious identity are Lingayatism, Jainism, Buddhism, indigenous aboriginal religions (of scheduled tribes), Sikhism, atheism, rural indigenous religions of Dalits and backward castes, etc. This is in violation of the fundamental human right to freely choose one’s thought, conscience and religion, and is also in violation of the aforementioned Supreme Court Judgment that propounds the legal definition of Hindu religion.
One especially wonders how the followers of Buddhism, a religion that negates any belief in God and irreligious rationalist atheists and antitheists professing atheism can be brought under the legal label of the “Hindu” religion by the aforementioned constitutional provisions and various other Hindu civil legal statutes, thus contradicting the aforementioned Supreme Court Judgmental definition of “Hinduism” that deems belief in Vedas and many Gods as one of the fundamental legal markers of being a Hindu.
Most Adivasi indigenous peoples (scheduled tribes) are animists whose spiritual traditions and religious forms of animist and indigenous worship have nothing to do with the Hinduism religion of “Sanathan Dharma” as codified by Hindu law based on Brahmanical Sanskrit scriptures such as Vedas, Upanishads, Smrithis and Shruthis. Similarly, people of scheduled castes’ descent (Dalits) were long considered as outcasts and segregated as untouchables and were also traditionally banned from Hindu temple entry by Orthodox Hinduism. The cow slaughtering, beef eating and rural folk deity worshipping life style of rural Dalits has nothing to with the Sanathan Dharma (Hinduism) as codified by the Brahmanical Sanskrit scriptures of Hindu law which proscribe beef eating and cow slaughtering. Most of the other backward castes (OBCs) (in the vertically graded bigotry of the caste system) are also animal sacrificing worshippers of indigenous and rural folk deities whose rural and indigenous forms of worshipping folk deities has no scriptural and theological relationship with the vegan emphasizing Sanathan Dharma (Hinduism) of “twice born” supremacist trio of upper castes as codified by the Brahmanical Sanskrit scriptures of Hindu law. It is also obvious that the rural and indigenous religious traditions of Scheduled Tribes (Adivasi aborigines), Scheduled Castes (Dalits) and Other Backward Castes (OBCs) have nothing to do with the “Vedas”, and it is also obvious that Dalits, Backward Castes and Scheduled Tribes neither follow the “Vedas” nor are they allowed to study the Vedas and other Hindu religious scriptures in Hindu religious seminaries monopolized by Brahmins. Thus the backward castes, scheduled castes and scheduled tribes are summarily banned from studying, training and working as Hindu religious priests by the Brahmins and the bigoted Hindu law. It is obvious that the Dalits, Other Backward Castes and Scheduled Tribes do not subscribe to any belief in the Vedas, thus failing the definition of “Hindu” and “Hinduism” established by the aforementioned Supreme Court Judgment which deems that a belief in the “Vedas” to be one of the defining features of Hinduism. Thus there is a strong theological, legal and factual basis to consider the religious traditions of Dalits (scheduled castes), Adivasis (scheduled tribes) and Other Backward Castes (OBCs) as non-Hindu, rural, animist or indigenous religions of folk deity worship which need to be legally and theologically recognised as being separate and distinct from the Sanathan Dharma (Hinduism) religion based on the Hindu law drawn from Brahmins’ Sanskrit scriptures such as Vedas, Upanishads, Smrithis and Shruthis. In this light, one should emphasize the declaration of Babasaheb Dr. Ambedkar that Dalit people are not Hindus, and the assertion of Periyar that Dravidian people (non-Brahmin backward castes, scheduled castes and scheduled tribes) are of non-Hindu (and ethno-linguo-culturally of non-Aryan) origin, and the assertion of intellectuals of OBC background like Professor Kancha Ilaiah that OBC people (backward castes) are not Hindus. It is also obvious that the lifestyle and rural worshipping traditions of Adivasis (scheduled tribes), Dalits and backward castes have nothing to do with Hinduism as codified by the Hindu Law based on Brahmanical Sanskrit scriptures.
According to Hindu Law, the members of the first three upper castes of Brahmans (priests), Kshatriyas (kings) and Vaisyas (traders) [in the vertically graded caste system] are considered as “twice born” or “regenerate”. The second birth or regeneration consists in the study of the Vedas or sacred literature and in the performance of "samskaras" or sacraments (such as “Upanayanam” in which the Brahmin and “twice born” supremacist upper caste males are initiated into a “second birth” by wearing the “sacred thread” across their chest – and hence become “twice born”). All these are religiously and scripturally denied to the Shudras except for the "Samskara" of marriage. Thus it is obvious that those who are legally considered as Shudras (by Hindu law) are denied the religious right to the study and practice of religious priesthood and (Brahmanical Sanskrit) religious scriptures of Hinduism. Moreover, it is also obvious that those who are legally considered as Shudras by Hindu law [and judicial case law based on Hindu law such as Muthusami Mudaliar Vs Masilamani (1909), 33 Mad. 342] are all those who don’t belong to the trio of “regenerate or twice born” supremacist castes, and this includes all of the various castes who are lower to “twice born” supremacist trio of upper castes in the vertically graded caste hierarchy such as backward castes, scheduled castes, scheduled tribes, and members of other social groups, religions and castes who are forced with the “Hindu” religious identity by the aforesaid Hindu civil legal statutes such as Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists, Lingayats, etc.
(Note: But the caste system has also pervaded the Sikh religion with the result that some Sikhs of “twice born” Kshatriya origins call themselves as “Khatri” Sikhs, while Sikhs descending from castes bonded to physically labouring vocations (Shudras) are Jat Sikhs, Ramgharia Sikhs, etc., (with Jats tending to be landholding farmers) while Dalit Sikhs go by names such as Ravidasia, Valmiki, etc. Such dilution of the Sikh spiritual ethos with the caste system has been the direct result of Sikhs being brought under the dominant legal, cultural and religious identity of Hinduism (in which the various Hindu civil legal statutes and Hindu law regimes played a considerable role), thus negating the “Khalsa” oath of unadulterated Sikhism that negates the caste system and assures social equality of all Sikhs.
The Hindu law based on various Brahmanical Sanskrit scriptures such as Vedas, Upanishads, Smrithis and Shruthis, recognises only the “twice born” supremacist upper caste trio of Brahmins, Vysyas (Baniyas) and Kshatriyas as the “only scriptural and sacramental members of Hinduism”, thus excluding all the other people bonded to physically labouring vocations and derided as “Shudras” by the Hindu religious scriptures (such as backward castes, scheduled castes and scheduled tribes) from “scriptural and sacramental” membership of Hinduism. This legal premise sanctified by the bigoted scriptures of Hindu Law (such as “Manu Smrithi”) was used as one of the judicial reasons to successfully challenge and abrogate the Tamil Nadu legislation (of 1974) enacted by the DMK party led state government - that sought to end the Brahmin monopoly on Hindu religious priesthood by allowing people from all castes (including Dalits) to train and work as Hindu religious priests. (The Tamil Nadu state Government led by the DMK party re-enacted the state legislation in 2008 to allow people of all castes to train and work as Hindu religious and temple priests, which has again been stayed by the Supreme Court due to litigations by Brahmin led Orthodox Hindu outfits which are currently pending at the Supreme Court of India). But backward castes, scheduled castes and scheduled tribes who are banned from “scriptural and sacramental” membership of Hinduism by Hindu law and thus excluded from Hindu religious priesthood by Hindu law are nevertheless contradictorily imposed with the Hindu religious identity by various Hindu civil legal statutes in violation of their individual freedom to freely choose a non-Hindu religious denomination or atheism, which only serves to entrench the legally fabricated and falsely projected mythical Hindu majority.
In this legal situation, the demographic conclusions of any kind of census in India, whether caste based or not, will label the religion of all people (excepting those belonging to the four religions of Judaism, Islam, Christianity, and Zoroastrianism) only as Hindu, thus enforcing a mythical, delusional and false Hindu majoritarianism fabricated by law which negates the freedom of thought, conscience and religion of individual citizens.
This legal situation which creates a false, fabricated and mythical Hindu majority by legally imposing the Hindu religious identity on various non-Hindu peoples can only be ended by introducing secular civil law regimes for people who choose not to be identified as Hindus (while exempting Jews, Muslims, Christians, Zoroastrians and “twice born” supremacist trio of upper castes from such a secular civil law), by abrogating various provisions in Hindu civil legal statutes that legally enforces a blanket imposition of the Hindu religious identity on all people except Jews, Muslims, Christians and Zoroastrians, by legally abrogating and removing all repugnant Hindu scriptures that codify the bigoted caste system such as “Manu Smrithi” from the legal body of Hindu law, completely abrogating Hindu law in its current form, by extending affirmative action (reservation) in education and employment to people belonging to backward castes, scheduled castes and scheduled tribes irrespective of their religion and even if they identify themselves with any non-Hindu religious identities or as atheists, and by legally recognizing the spiritual and religious traditions of animism and indigenous rural religions of folk deity worship practiced by Dalits (Scheduled Castes), Adivasis (Scheduled Tribes) and OBCs (Backward Castes) as being distinct and separate from Hinduism with legal terminology such as “indigenous Dravidian religions” or simply as “scheduled caste, backward caste or scheduled tribe religions”.
Today, any person domiciled in India (except for Muslims, Christians, Jews and Parsis) has to legally identify himself or herself as a “Hindu” in any legal document or court proceedings, even if the person believes that he or she is not a Hindu. This false, oppressive, violative and theologically untenable socio-legal imposition of the Hindu religious identity on Dalits (scheduled castes), OBCs (backward castes), Adivasis (scheduled tribes), atheists, antitheists and other non-Hindu religionists should be ended through various legislative reforms suggested above.
The fanatical elements of Hindutva fascist parties who make untenable and false accusations of “forced conversion” against Islamic and Christian missionaries and who unleashed mass murderous and pillaging violence and sexual attacks against Muslims in Gujarat and Christian missionaries, Dalit Christians and Adivasi Christians in Orissa, and who murderously target religious minorities in various other parts of India, should ponder over this “legally forced conversion” of millions of non-Hindu peoples to Hinduism in order to project a false, fabricated and mythical Hindu majority.
The Brahmanical Sanskrit scriptures of Sanathan Dharma that constitute the Hindu law which legally codifies Hinduism recognizes only the “twice born” supremacist upper caste trio (Brahmins, Vysyas [Baniyas] and Kshatriyas) as the real and only members of Sanathan Dharma (Hinduism) who were given exclusive monopoly over education, trade and governance for millennia, while the rest of the populace who did not belong to the “twice born” supremacist upper caste trio were derided as “Shudras”, excluded from the “scriptural and sacramental” membership of Sanathan Dharma (Hinduism), banned from education, governance and wealth, thrust into various occupations involving physical labour, forced to marry amongst only those who were thrust into a particular occupation of physical labour thus creating vertically graded endogamous caste divisions based on various occupations of physical labour, and a section of the Shudras were further divided and segregated as “untouchables” and thrust into the most degrading physical labour. The “untouchables” were further divided into vertically graded castes based on the degrading physical labour thrust on them. Thus it is evident that only the “twice born” supremacist upper caste trio led by the Brahmins are the “real” Hindus while the Shudras (backward castes), Dalits (untouchables – scheduled castes) and Adivasis (scheduled tribes) are not Hindus, but are actually peoples subjugated, oppressed, divided and ruled by the Hindus (the “twice born” trio of supremacist upper castes led by Brahmins).
Some theologists say that even the religious schools of worshipping Siva known as “Saivism” and Vishnu (or “Thirumaal” in Tamil) known as “Vaishnavism” have been co-opted by Brahmins and instituted with the caste system, (just as any religion or cult which challenged Brahmins and the caste system was), since there is no mention of Siva, Vishnu (or any other deity worshipped by backward castes, scheduled castes or scheduled tribes) in the Brahmanical Sanskrit scriptures such as Vedas, Upanishads, Shruthis and Smrithis which constitute the scriptural, legal and religious basis of Hindu religion and Hindu law. There is also no tradition of idol worship (but only a form of fire worship known as “Yagas” or “Yagnas”) in the Brahmanical Sanskrit scriptures of Sanathan Dharma (such as the Vedas, Upanishads, Shruthis and Smrithis) that constitute the Hindu law which legally codifies Hinduism based on the Vedic religion of Sanathan Dharma and allows only the “twice born” trio of supremacist upper castes led by Brahmins as “scriptural and sacramental” members. Brahmins have usurped the monopoly to officiate as priests in the temples of idol worship which are essentially temples of Shudras (backward castes and Dalits) built by the physical labour of Shudras (backward castes and Dalits) even though Brahmins’ Vedic religious texts which codify Hinduism (such as the Vedas, Upanishads, Shruthis and Smrithis) do not contain idol worship but only fire worship (“Yagas” or “Yagnas”) and prurient traditions such as “Aswamedha Yaga” which was a form of fire worship (“Yaga”) accompanied by inhumane rituals forcing women to indulge in bestial acts with horses. Tamil scholars pin point to millennia old Tamil literary works (of the “Sangam” and “Pre-Sangam” age) that refer to temples of idol worship of Siva (“Seyon” in Tamil) and Vishnu (“Thirumaal” in Tamil) in which Brahmins were not the officiating priests, but people drawn from the native Tamil population were trained as priests, until this changed after the Brahmins migrated to Tamil speaking lands. The Tamil monarchs (Cholas, Pandiyas and Cheras) were attracted by the mystic imagery of Brahmin rituals and Yagas and superstitiously believed that patronising Brahmins and conducting “Yagas” will lead to success in battle, longevity and prosperity. Thus, in their strong mystical interest to patronize the Brahmins, the Tamil (and other Dravidian) monarchs in India instituted the caste system, untouchability and Brahmin hegemony as the law (based on “Manu Smrithi” and other Brahmanical Scriptures), even though the Tamil monarchs were considered only as “Shudras” by Brahmins because they were “non-Aryan” ethnically, linguistically and culturally. Thus the non-Hindu Tamil (Dravidian) religions were co-opted by Brahmins and instituted with the caste system and Sanskrit rituals. Other socio-religious evils allied with the caste system were also enforced by Brahmins with the concurrence of the deluded Tamil kings such as segregating working people as “untouchables”, forcibly trafficking and enslaving Tamil women as temple prostitutes (Devadasis) who were sexually exploited by the Brahmins and other powerful males, and the derision of physically labouring people as “Shudras” and their division into hundreds of vertically graded endogamous castes based on the physically laborious occupations thrust on them, and their (Shudras’ and untouchables’) exclusion from education, governance and trade. This happened all over India where Brahmins imposed their socio-cultural and religious hegemony just as it happened in Tamil speaking lands. Until the invention and blanket imposition of the Hindu religious label on the Shudras and untouchables during and after the British rule of India, Brahmins never considered Shudras and untouchables as their fellow religionists but only as peoples oppressed and excluded by Brahmins from the latter’s religion of Sanathan Dharma based on Brahmanical Sanskrit scriptures (such as Vedas, Upanishads, Shruthis and Smrithis) in which only the “twice born” supremacist upper caste trio of Brahmins, Kshatriyas and Vysyas (Baniyas) can be the scriptural and sacramental members.
Thus it is evident that backward castes, scheduled castes and scheduled tribes, all of whom cannot be “scriptural and sacramental” members of Sanathan Dharma (Hinduism) were co-opted and deluded into accepting the blanket religious label of “Hindu” and “Hinduism”, which was aided by the Brahmin co-option of Shudra religious temples by way of giving monopoly on temple priesthood to Brahmins, in order to allow the sustenance of the caste system and its division and oppression of the backward castes and scheduled castes, and to sustain the hegemony of the Brahmin led “twice born” supremacist upper caste trio and the latter’s monopolistic hold on the intellectual, trading and governing classes and to allow the infiltration of Brahmins and the caste system into any new religion Shudras may create to resist the caste system by imposing the new religion with the “Hindu” religious label. Thus it is clear that the twice born supremacist upper caste trio led by the Brahmins are an apartheid class akin to the Afrikaners in the erstwhile South African apartheid state, who excluded the physically labouring working populace and native people derided as Shudras and untouchables from education, trade and governance, and further divided, oppressed, segregated and exploited the Shudras and untouchables through the caste system, which was effectively challenged by social reformers in various parts of India like Periyar, Mahatma Phule, Narayana Guru and Dr.Ambedkar only after the advent of the British rule. But unlike the Afrikaners, the “twice born” trio of supremacist upper castes led by the Brahmins cloaked their apartheid under a religious label (of “Hindu”) and made the very people (Shudras and untouchables) who were victimized, divided, exploited, oppressed and excluded by the caste system to accept the caste system by deluding the working people derided as “Shudras” and untouchables to falsely believe that they belonged to the same religion as the “twice born” supremacist upper caste trio, while in the scriptural, legal and theological reality – Shudras and untouchables cannot become “scriptural and sacramental members” of the legally codified Hinduism religion based on the Brahmanical Sanskrit scriptures, which is affirmed by Supreme Court judgments which overthrow and negate state legislations (such as the 1974 Tamil Nadu law) that allowed Shudras and untouchables the right to train and work as temple priests. Even allowing backward castes and scheduled castes to work as Hindu temple priests will not change the theological reality of Brahmanical Sanskrit scriptures of “Sanathan Dharma” (Hinduism) which consider only the “twice born” supremacist upper caste trio led by Brahmins as the “only” scriptural and sacramental members of “Sanathan Dharma” (Hinduism).
Thus “Hinduism” is nothing but a fabricated religious cloak and a lie created to hide the apartheid system of caste and the hegemony of “twice born” supremacist upper caste trio led by the Brahmins, which is as ludicrous and bizarre as a hypothetical situation such as white Afrikaners of the erstwhile apartheid South Africa attempting to fool the Black South Africans into accepting the apartheid system by selling the lie that both the Afrikaners and Black South Africans belonged to the same religion called “Apartheid”! But the only difference is that the Black South Africans would have never been as foolish, divided, irrational, superstitious and delusional as the Shudras (backward castes) and untouchables (Dalits – scheduled castes) into accepting the bigotry of an apartheid system such as the caste system under the false cloak of a fabricated religious label, in which the oppressed could never be equal religionists with the oppressing supremacist elite of “twice born” supremacist castes led by the Brahmins.
The cultural, religious and linguistic exclusivism and supremacy practiced by the “twice born” supremacist upper caste trio led by the Brahmins based on their Indo-European linguistic Sanskrit heritage led social reformers like Periyar to conclude that the “twice born” supremacist upper caste trio led by the Brahmins are “Aryan” culturally, linguistically, religiously and ethnically (if not in terms of “racial purity” because the “twice born” supremacist upper caste trio took “non-twice born” women as wives, concubines and sexual slaves because of which all women including Brahmin women are considered as “Shudras” scripturally and subjected to gruesome misogyny by the Brahmanical Sanskrit scriptures and bigoted scriptures such as “Manu Smiruthi” which codify Hinduism and the caste system in the body of Hindu law). On the other hand if any Shudra or untouchable male consorted with a “twice born” supremacist caste woman, he should be castrated according to the bigoted Hindu religious laws of Manu. The vertically graded caste divisions of Shudras and untouchables were further entrenched by the Hindu religious, scriptural and Brahmanical prescription of murdering any romantic couple who loved or married across caste barriers. The theological derision, oppression, division, exclusion and exploitation of Shudras and untouchables sanctioned by Hindu scriptures on the pretext of their “Dravidian” heritage (as mentioned in the Hindu religious scripture “Manu Smrithi”), and the defilement of the proto-Dravidian language of Tamil as a “Neecha Basha” (language of “inferior” people) by Sanskrit Brahmanical Hindu scriptures and Brahmin traditions, led social thinkers like Periyar to conclude that Shudras and untouchables were descendants of non-Aryan peoples whom he called as “Dravidians”, a view echoed by Babasaheb Dr.Ambedkar.
The complete and total exclusion of Shudras and untouchables from education, wealth and governance started to decrease only after the advent of the British rule of India, when the British opened up government schools and official jobs to people of all castes. The truth is that almost a millennia of rule by the Muslim Moghul empire left the caste system unscathed and the “twice born” supremacist upper caste hegemony led by Brahmins intact, since the Moghuls mostly appointed Brahmins and “twice born” supremacist upper caste men as their ministers and bureaucrats and did not seek to reform the caste system, even though countless Shudras and untouchables embraced Islam to escape the bigotry of the caste system. Even today, the “twice born” trio of supremacist upper castes led by Brahmins comprise of and control the mainstream media, government bureaucracy, diplomatic corps, top judiciary, elite academia and corporate leadership, while universal access to education, health care, housing, sanitation and social security is denied to the masses of Shudras and untouchables by a ruling establishment comprising of the bureaucracy, media, top judiciary and intellectual elite controlled by “twice born” supremacist upper castes led by the Brahmins. Even though considerable numbers of Shudras and untouchables have become regional political leaders, ministers, MPs, MLAs, and many amongst backward castes and Dalits have become bureaucrats and professionals thanks to an improperly and incompletely implemented system of affirmative action called “reservation”, the core of the ruling establishment comprising of the bureaucracy, mainstream media, top supreme court judiciary, corporate elite, intellectual elite and other pillars of state power are still controlled by and comprises of the “twice born” supremacist upper caste trio led by the Brahmins. This ruling establishment comprising of and controlled by the “twice born” trio of supremacist upper castes led by the Brahmins is in logger heads with the parliamentary and legislative democracy represented by the MPs and MLAs who are increasingly drawn from Shudras and Dalits, which has resulted in the mainstream media controlled by the Brahmins and “twice born” trio of supremacist upper castes to demonize and smear Shudra and Dalit political leaders and their elected representatives with media concocted campaigns such as the “Anna Hazare campaign against political corruption” and other media abetted propaganda, while ignoring the millennia old socio-religious, intellectual and economic corruption of the “twice born” trio of supremacist upper castes led by Brahmins who oppressed, exploited and excluded the working masses derided as Shudras and untouchables (backward castes and scheduled castes) from education, governance and wealth, thus entrenching the working masses of India in poverty, illiteracy, disempowerment and caste divisions. Other political expressions of this “Aryan” Brahmin bigotry takes the form of Hindu extremist nationalists and Brahmin politicians such as Subramaniya Samy and Jayalalitha scuttling developmental projects that may benefit the Dravidian Shudra and Dalit masses such as opposing the “Sethu Canal Project” by making mythological, irrational, religious and scientifically untrue claims of “Rama Bridge”, or for example, the Brahmin bureaucratic, diplomatic and media establishment demonizing the Sri Lankan Tamils to aid and abet war crimes and genocide against the Tamils of Sri Lanka or the Brahmins’ opposition to use Tamil as the language of worship in temples of Tamil Nadu.
The mainstream media controlled by the “twice born” supremacist upper caste trio led by the Brahmins do not seek the destruction of the caste system and never critique or publish the true facts about the caste system. Hence, the mainstream media in India can be hardly expected to annihilate the fabricated religious label of Hinduism that is thrust on millions of non-Hindu backward castes, scheduled castes and scheduled tribes, thus serving as a cloak to hide and sustain the bigotry of the caste system and hegemony of the “twice born” supremacist upper caste trio led by the Brahmins.
Thus it is obvious that the so called “Hindu” religion and a legally fabricated Hindu majority are essentially fraudulent in nature and that India is not a land of a majority singular religion called Hinduism, but is indeed the land of a multitude of diverse and varied schools of religions followed by scheduled castes, scheduled tribes, backward castes and others, which have all been unjustly and fraudulently usurped and negated by the summary and blanket imposition of the Hindu religious label on “any” person domiciled in India who is not a Jew, Muslim, Christian or a Parsi (Zoroastrian).
Keeping the backward castes, scheduled castes and scheduled tribes under the delusional and fraudulent Hindu religious identity is a pre-requisite for Brahmins and “twice born” supremacist upper caste trio to sustain the caste system and their power as the governing and intellectual classes of India lording over the mainstream media, bureaucracy, higher judiciary, corporate leadership, elite academia and other institutions of power. To prevent backward castes, scheduled castes and scheduled tribes from rebelling against the caste system and the fabricated Hindu religious fold, and to preserve the power of the Brahmins and the “twice born” supremacist upper caste trio, Brahmin ideologues have founded the Hindutva (Hindu fascist) movement to whip up mass frenzy amongst backward castes, scheduled castes and scheduled tribes through demagoguery that spreads hatred and instigation of murderous violence against Muslims and Christians to enable the political party of the Hindu fascists (BJP) to seize political power through the demonization of Indian Muslims and Indian Christians, who are essentially descendants of those backward castes, Dalits and scheduled tribes who converted to Islam and Christianity to escape the caste system.
Informed and intellectually conscious citizens hailing from backward castes, scheduled castes and scheduled tribes, (particularly those who assert atheism and non-Hindu religions usurped by the Hindu religious label) should strongly assert that they are “not Hindus” and launch a political, intellectual, social and legal struggle to overthrow this summary socio-legal imposition of the Hindu religious identity on them. The dictum of Babasaheb Dr.Ambedkar that Dalits are not Hindus and the call of Periyar to backward castes and Dalits to unite as rationalist and atheist “Dravidians” by foregoing the Hindu religious identity and caste system would be apt to recall in this regard.
The theologically, legally and socio-culturally fraudulent construct of Hinduism should be legally and socially dismantled by way of aforementioned legislative reforms to enshrine and secure India as a nation of umpteen religious groups and not as a nation of a fabricated and fraudulent singular religious majority, while also giving constitutional and legal rights to irreligious rationalist atheists, antitheists and other non-Hindu religionists of scheduled castes, scheduled tribes and backward castes - who have been farcically and legally thrust with the “Hindu “ religious identity by the legal status quo in India.
Educating the masses belonging to the scheduled castes, scheduled tribes and backward castes about the fraudulent socio-legal construct of Hinduism in the aforementioned manner is imperative for challenging the rise of Hindu religious extremist fascism which is ideologically spearheaded by the Brahmins, since backward castes and Dalits who are brainwashed and deluded into the fraudulent “Hindu” religious identity are used as foot soldiers to unleash murderous mayhem against Muslims and Christians. The rise of the Hindu religious fascist totalitarian politics is itself a reactionary reaction to the socio-political challenge thrown on the fraudulent Hindu religious construct by the assertion of people belonging to backward castes and scheduled castes who are struggling against the exclusion caused by Hindu caste bigotry through social justice movements (such as the “Mandal” movement), which made the Brahmin led “twice born” trio of supremacist upper castes to unleash the “Hindutva” fascist movement through violence and demagoguery against Muslims and Christians, in order to consolidate the backward castes, scheduled castes and scheduled tribes under the Hindu umbrella to secure the fraudulent Hindu religious identity which cloaks the bigoted caste system and the elitist power of the “twice born” trio of supremacist upper castes led by the Brahmins.
In view of the aforementioned theological and legal facts in this essay, the religious labels of “Hindu and Hinduism” should not be imposed on backward castes (Shudras), scheduled castes (Dalits) and scheduled tribes (aboriginal Adivasis). As mentioned earlier, scheduled tribes, scheduled castes and backward castes should be given the legal right and freedom to choose any non-Hindu religious label they want to use to describe their religions without the mandatory legal thrusting of the Hindu religious label on them against their freedom of thought, conscience and religion. Atheists and antitheists should have the legal freedom to legally call themselves as atheists or antitheists without the “Hindu” religious label summarily thrust on them against their will. Similarly, the legal thrusting of the Hindu religious identity on various non-Hindu religions (apart from Judaism, Christianity, Islam and Zoroastrianism) such as Buddhism, Sikhism, Jainism, Lingayatism, or any other non-Hindu religion should be ended through legislative reforms such as the aforementioned ones suggested in this essay. The rural and indigenous folk religions of backward castes, scheduled castes and scheduled tribes should be recognized as distinct and separate from the Hindu religion based on the Brahmanical Sanskrit scriptures of “Sanathan Dharma”, and should be called as “indigenous Dravidian religions” or as “religions of backward castes, scheduled castes or scheduled tribes” as the individual’s case may be. Other religious schools of idol worship should be called as Saivism, Vaishnavism, etc., according to their original names before the “Hindu” label was re-invented and legally instituted by the British. Even the religion of the “twice born” supremacist trio of upper castes should be called by the real Sanskrit name of their religion as mentioned in their Brahmanical Sanskrit religious scriptures which is “Sanathan Dharma” and not Hinduism. The fraudulent use of the words “Hindu or Hinduism” to denote a singular fabricated religion should be discontinued, discouraged and legally proscribed. And affirmative action in education and employment should be given to scheduled castes, scheduled tribes and backward castes irrespective of their religion and even if they choose to identify themselves with a non-Hindu religious label of any kind or as atheists or antitheists.
T here is a large body of agreement amongst historians and anthropologists that the Vedas are Iranian (Persian) in origin. Hence the theologically and legally codified Hindu religion based on the Vedas is more Iranian (Persian) than Indian.
The wikipedia position on the origin of the Vedas is as follows: There are strong linguistic and cultural similarities between the Rig Veda and the early Iranian Avesta, deriving from the Proto-Indo-Iranian times, often associated with the early Andronovo and Sintashta-Petrovka cultures of circa. 2200–1600 BC. Being composed in an early Indo-Aryan language, the Vedic hymns must post-date the Indo-Iranian separation, dated to roughly 2000 BC. A reasonable date close to that of the composition of the core of the Rigveda is that of the Indo-Aryan Mitanni documents of c. 1400 BC. Other evidence also points to a composition close to 1400 BC.
All evidence points to the fact that the Vedas and the Brahmanical Sanskrit scriptures that theologically codify Hinduism are Iranian (Persian - Aryan) in its origins, which has nothing to do with the BC/SC/ST people of India.
This means that the Vedas and related Brahmanical Sanskrit scriptures on which Hinduism is theologically based are not Indian at all but of Persian (Iranian) origins, and hence Hinduism is unrelated to the proletariat of India defamed and defiled as Shudras (BC/SC/ST people). The term "Aryan" has generally been used historically to denote the Indo-Iranians because “Arya” is the self designation of the Indo-Iranian languages and their speakers, specifically the Iranian and the Indo-Aryan peoples, collectively known as the Indo-Iranians.
The Rig Veda is primarily an invocation to Indra, Agni and other Vedic Gods who are not worshipped by the working people of India derided as “Shudras” (BC/SC/ST) people. It is indeed true that Gods, Goddesses and other folk deities worshipped in the various native and rural indigenous religions of backward castes, scheduled castes and scheduled tribes are totally absent in the Vedas and other Sanskritic Brahmanical texts such as Upanishads, Shruthis and Smrithis which form the theological and legal basis of Hinduism as codified by Hindu law. Similarly there is no reference to "Siva" in these Sanskritic Hindu texts which codify Hinduism. My earlier reference to the absence of "Visnu" in the Sanskritic texts codifying Hinduism should be clarified and understood in the following light: Though the Rig Veda is primarily an invocation to Indra, Agni and other Vedic Gods, the “Visnu” mentioned in the Rig Veda bears no resemblance to the God “Thirumaal” of Tamil Vaishnavite texts. “Thirumaal” worship by Shudras has been co-opted by Brahmins by giving the Vedic God “Visnu's” name to “Thirumaal” and other such Shudra schools of worship such as Saivism [worshipping “Seyon” (Siva)] and Kaumaram [worshipping “Muruga”] have been co-opted by Brahmins and instituted with the caste system, with the manufacture of mythological stories linking the Gods of BC/SC/ST people with Vedic Gods and the monopolistic domination of Brahmins as priests in the temples of Shudra religions (of BC/SC/ST people) in order to institute the caste system in the latter.
The article was modified on 15/03/13
(The writer is a physician, counselling psychotherapist and a human rights legal advocate. He is also a correspondent of the “Dalit Murasu” magazine and an atheist Ambedkarite Buddhist who is totally devoid of any strand of Hinduism in him. He successfully applied for asylum in the UK in 2001 as an act of legal protest (based on international human rights law) against the legal imposition of the Hindu religious identity on him by the various Hindu law regimes and constitutional provisions of India in violation of his freedom of thought, conscience and religion. He blogs at http://hinducasteracism.blogspot.in/ and he can be reached at email@example.com).
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