Gods Become Silent The
Speechless Must Speak
By Udit Raj
21 February, 2004
Dalits are rejecting
Hinduism. Why make a song and dance
about it? asks Udit Raj
Conversion has become
controversial because of opposition by
the Sangh Parivar, though, ironically, they flaunt their
`reconversion campaigns' as if that is derived by divine will.
That is why even Dilip Singh Judeo was glorified by the
BJP/RSS. This is because he was leading an
anti-Christian/pro-reconversion campaign in Chhattisgarh.
As if, there is no contradiction between corruption and the
so-called `salvation of the soul'.
This may appear
strange, since this is mostly articulated
by the Brahminical forces, but this phenomenon has been
prevalent since ancient times, is still in vogue and is likely
to perpetuate in the days to come. It is presumed that
behind every conversion there are vested interests; however,
barring rare instances, there is no doubt that it is the
oppressive social and religious caste society in India which
facilitates conversion. For a common Indian, after all,
religion is a revered dimension of their social identity;
hence, rejecting a religion and adopting another needs
tremendous courage and clarity.
Dalits have been
treated worse than garbage in the
Hindu caste society. For Brahmins or Kshatriyas, the shadow
of a Dalit can pollute their bodies and souls. They can
worship the cow but Dalits won't be allowed to lead a life
of dignity. Even now, a Dalit bridegroom is beaten up
because he dares to ride on a horse, or if he dresses up nicely.
The feudal castes
had no qualms in working as stooges of
the Mughals and Britishers, but even after Independence,
they have a mental block when it comes to working under/with
Dalits. Babu Jagjivan Ram, as the deputy prime minister,
inaugurated Sampurnanand's statue at Varanasi in 1979.
Next day, it was washed with Ganga jal. Never did the
so-called `upper' castes behave in this manner with British
and Muslim rulers. Recently, Dalits tried to enter the
infamous Nathdwara temple in Rajasthan, but were stopped.
This is the umpteenth time they have been stopped from
entering Hindu temples; is this not a violation of the
Dr BR Ambedkar fought
relentlessly against the caste
system. He thought that Hinduism would mend its ways;
when it did not happen, he rejected it with a massive rally
of `untouchables' in October 1956 at Nagpur. Dalits
converted to Buddhism en masse. This process of
rejection has been continuous. Orthodoxy has consolidated
religious conversion. As protest.
(Meanwhile, to block
their right to affirmative action,
reservation is being diluted by the unilateral brutality
of liberalisation and globalisation, though it's evident
that this is destroying the economy and pushing the
poor into the margins. Arun Sourrie and his partners,
in strategic connivance with the RSS, are welcoming
privatisation to block the entry of Dalits in the government
services. The feudal forces will welcome every move that
is detrimental to the Dalits' social mobility, while denying
the rights of trade unions, labourers and farmers. It's a
typical situation, as in Germany before the holocaust:
right wing capitalists in open alliance with the fascists.
Did Hinduism evolve
to give dignity and freedom to Dalits?
Thousands of temples are barred to them all over the
country. Dalits can't become Hindu priests. Dalits can't eat
with or share the same eating space with the upper
castes. A marital relationship is unimaginable. They can
do a Masters or Ph.D, and you can hear their politically
correct positions on the `ugly caste system', but ask them
who they will marry and who their children are likely to
marry, and they won't flinch before referring to the divine
truth of the racist matrimonial columns of the big papers.
When the All India
Confederation of SC/ST Organisations
announced that one million Dalits would embrace Buddhism
on November 4, 2001, at Ramlila Ground in New Delhi,
the VHP vitiated the atmosphere with its war cry: `Hinduism
is in danger'. The BJP-led government blocked the
democratic right of peaceful dalits to convert to Buddhism,
the permission at Ramlila Ground was withdrawn. Thousands
of Dalits were beaten up, forced to go back, pushed inside
running trains, blocked on the highways. The entire State
machinery was used by the RSS/VHP to stop the Dalits
to convert into Buddhists? Why? Is it against the
Constitution of India? Is it unlawful to convert with
your own free will, in a public arena, as rational, thinking,
For a Hindu priest,
a leper, a beggar and a widow are
hateful objects who need to be punished because of the
"curse of their past life". There are so many Christian
missionaries like Graham Staines who are silently working
for the poor--<and they have no conversion agenda>.
You can't compare them with the VHP who are out to
sanskritise tribals into the lower layers of the caste society,
brainwash them, and finally, use them as vanguards in
pogroms against minorities. This is what they did in
Article 25 of the
Constitution gives the fundamental right
to choose the religion of one's choice. If it is done voluntarily,
why should anyone make a song and dance about it?
If Dalits are rejecting Hinduism, the answer to this paradox
lies within Hinduism which must learn to give them equality
and dignity. No longer can they fool the world that the
caste system is a wonderful way of life.
The writer is Chairman,
All India Confederation of SC/ST Organisations