The Constitution Of India Day: Remain Vigilant Against Hindutva Which Always Denigrated It
By Shamsul Islam
26 November, 2015
This 26th November (2015) is the 66th anniversary of the passing of the democratic-secular Constitution by the Indian Constituent Assembly. This could materialize due to the vision of our Founding Fathers led by Dr. BR Ambedkar. RSS and its fraternal organization, Hindu Mahasabha were very angry when Indian Constituent Assembly adopted a democratic-Secular Constitution. They continued describing the Constituent Assembly as 'so-called Constituent Assembly'. The Indian Constitution was adopted by the Constituent Assembly on November 26, 1949, whereas four days later, RSS English organ, Organizer in an editorial on November 30, 1949, complained:
“The worst about the new constitution of Bharat is that there is nothing Bharatiya about it. The drafters of the constitution have incorporated in it elements of British, American, Canadian, Swiss and sundry other constitutions. But there is no trace of ancient Bharatiya constitutional laws, institutions, nomenclature and phraseology in it...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 this day his laws as enunciated in the Manusmriti excite the admiration of the world and elicit spontaneous obedience and conformity. But to our constitutional pundits that means nothing.”
RSS and Hindu Mahasabha continued demanding promulgation of Manusmriti as the constitution of India. The Hindutva ideologue, VD Savarkar claimed:
“Manusmriti is that scripture which is most worship-able after Vedas for our Hindu Nation 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 Manusmriti. Today Manusmriti is Hindu Law”. [VD Savarkar, 'Women in Manusmriti' in Savarkar Samagar (collection of Savarkar's writings in Hindi), vol. 4, Prabhat, Delhi, p. 416.]
Just on the eve of Republic day in 1950, the Organiser published a special feature by Sankar Subba Aiyar, a retired High Court Judge, in which loyalty towards Manu’s Codes was reaffirmed:
‘Even though Dr. Ambedkar is reported to have recently stated in Bombay that the days of Manu have ended it is nevertheless a fact that the daily lives of Hindus are even at the present day affected by the principles and injunctions contained in the Manusmrithi and other Smrithis. Even an unorthodox Hindu feels himself bound at least in some matters by the rules contained in the Smrithis and he feels powerless to give up altogether his adherence to them.’ [‘Manu Rules Our Hearts’ Organizer, February 6, 1950, p. 7.]
Even after Independence when a democratic-secular Constitution was in force it continued denigrating India Constitution. This can be seen in the following statement of MS Golwalkar, the most prominent ideologue of the RSS:
“Our Constitution too is just a cumbersome and heterogeneous piecing together of various articles from various Constitutions of the Western countries. It has absolutely nothing which can be called our own. Is there a single word of reference in its guiding principles as to what our national mission is and what our keynote in life is? No!” [MS Golwalkar, Bunch of Thoughts, Sahitya Sindhu, Bangalore, 1996, p. 238.]
The RSS continued vigorously its campaign for the enforcement of Manu Codes in India which denigrated not only lower castes but also women. What kind of society Manu ordered to be built upon can very well be understood by having a glimpse of the laws prescribed by Manu for the Sudras. Some of these de-humanising laws distinguishing Sudras (once-born) from Brahmanas and other high castes (twice-born), which are presented here, are self-explanatory.
(1) For the sake of the prosperity of the worlds [the divine one] caused the Brahmana, the Kshatriya, the Vaisya, and the Sudra to proceed from his mouth, his arm, his thighs and his feet (I/31).
(2) One occupation only the Lord prescribed to the Sudras, to serve meekly even these [other]) three castes (I/91).
(3) Let the first part of Brahmana’s name [denote something] auspicious, a Kashatriya’s be connected with power, and a Vaisya’s with wealth, but a Sudra’s [express something] contemptible (II/31).
(4) The kingdom of that monarch, who looks on while a Sudra settles the law, will sink [low], like a cow in a morass (VIII/21).
(5) That kingdom where Sudras are very numerous, which is infested by atheists and destitutes of twice-born [inhabitants], soon entirely perishes, afflicted by famine and disease (VIII/22).
(6) Once-born man [a Sudra], who insults a twice-born man with gross invective, shall have his tongue cut out; for he is of low origin (VIII/270).
(7) If he [a Sudra] mentions the names and castes [jati] of the [twice-born] with contumely, an iron nail, ten fingers long, shall be thrust red-hot into his mouth (VIII/271).
(8) If he arrogantly teaches Brahmanas their duty, the king shall cause hot oil to be poured into his mouth and into his ears (VIII/272).
(9) With whatever limb a man of a low caste does hurt to [a man of the three] highest [castes], even that limb shall be cut off; that is the teaching of Manu (VIII/279).
(10) He who raises his hand or a stick, shall have his hand cut off; he who in anger kicks with his foot, shall have his foot cut off (VIII/280).
(11) A low-caste man who tries to place himself on the same seat with a man of a high caste, shall be branded on his hip and be banished, or [the king] shall cause his buttock to be gashed (VIII/281).
(12) If out of arrogance he spits [on a superior], the king shall cause both his lips to be cut off; if he urines [on him], the penis; if he breaks wind [against him], the anus (VIII/282).
(13) If he lays hold of the hair [of a superior], let the [king] unhesitatingly cut off his hands, likewise [if he takes him] by the feet, the beard, the neck, or the scrotum (VIII/283).
(14) A man who is not a Brahmana ought to suffer death for adultery [samgrahana]; for the wives of all the four castes even must always be carefully guarded (VIII/359).
(15) A [man of] low [caste] who makes love to a maiden [of] the highest [caste] shall suffer corporal punishment; he who addresses a maiden [on] equal [caste] shall pay the nuptial fee, if her father desires it (VIII/366).
(16) A Sudra who has intercourse with a woman of a twice-born caste [varna], guarded or unguarded, [shall be punished in the following manner]: if she was unguarded, he loses the part [offending] and all his property; if she was guarded, everything [even his life] (VIII/374).
(17) Tonsure [of the head] is ordained for a Brahmana [instead of] capital punishment; but [men of] other castes shall suffer capital punishment (VIII/379).
(18) Let him never slay a Brahmana, though he has committed all [possible] crimes; let him banish such an [offender], leaving all his property [to him] and [his body] unhurt (VIII/380).
(19) A Sudra, though emancipated by his master, is not released from servitude; since that is innate in him, who can set him free from it? (VIII/414).
Manu Laws do not denigrate Sudras only but are also terribly anti-women as we will see in the following. If RSS is committed to enforce Manu Codes, one can imagine what is in store for Hindu women:
I By a girl, by a young woman, or even by an aged one, nothing must be done independently, even in her own house. (V/147)
II In childhood a female must be subject to her father, in youth to her husband, when her lord is dead to her sons; a woman must never be independent. (V/148)
III Day and night woman must be kept in dependence by the males (of) their (families), and, if they attach themselves to sensual enjoyments, they must be kept under one’s control. (IX/2)
IV Her father protects (her) in childhood, her husband protects (her) in youth, and her sons protect (her) in old age; a woman is never fit for independence. (IX/3)
V Women must particularly be guarded against evil inclinations, however trifling (they may appear); for, if they are not guarded, they will bring sorrow on two families. (IX/5)
VI Considering that the highest duty of all castes, even weak husbands (must) strive to guard their wives. (IX/6)
VII He who carefully guards his wife, preserves (the purity of) his offspring, virtuous conduct, his family, himself, and his (means of acquiring) merit. (IX/7)
VIII As the male is to whom a wife cleaves, even so is the son whom she brings forth; let him therefore carefully guard his wife, in order to keep his offspring pure. (IX/9)
IX No man can completely guard women by force; but they can be guarded by the employment of the (following) expedients:
X Let the (husband) employ his (wife) in the collection and expenditure of his wealth, in keeping (everything) clean, in (the fulfillment of) religious duties, in the preparation of his food, and in looking after the household utensils. (IX/10, 11)
XI Women, confined in the house under trustworthy and obedient servants, are not (well) guarded; but those who of their own accord keep guard over themselves, are well guarded. (IX/12)
XII Women do not care for beauty, nor is their attention fixed on age; (thinking), ‘(It is enough that) he is a man,’ they give themselves to the handsome and to the ugly. (IX/14)
XIII Through their passion for men, through their mutable temper, through their natural heartlessness, they become disloyal towards their husbands, however carefully they may be guarded in this (world). (IX/15)
XIV Knowing their disposition, which the Lord of creatures laid in them at the creation, to be such, (every) man should most strenuously exert himself to guard them. (IX/16)
XV (When creating them) Manu allotted to women (a love of their) bed, (of their) seat and (of) ornament, impure desires, wrath, dishonesty, malice, and bad conduct. (IX/17)
XVI For women no (sacramental) rite (is performed) with sacred texts, thus the law is settled; women (who are) destitute of strength and destitute of (the knowledge of) Vedic texts, (are as impure as) falsehood (itself), that is a fixed rule. (IX/18).
[This selection of Manu’s Codes is from F. Max Muller, Laws of Manu, Delhi: LP Publications, 1996; first published in 1886]
The Modi government has issued an order to commemorate this historic occasion. It has been forced to do it fearing backlash from the people of India. But the Indian masses must be on guard to ensure that the present Hindutva rulers of India are unable to destroy our democratic-secular constitution from within. These rulers are master liars and specialize in double/triple speak. They are simultaneously raising questions about secularism, democracy, reservation and justice. On the 66th anniversary of finalization of our Constitution we must pledge to scuttle all attempts to undo this fundamental law of the land.
Shamsul Islam is a retired Professor of University of Delhi.Email: firstname.lastname@example.org