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Brahmins Attack Kancha Ilaiah , A Dalit Writer, Activist And Philosopher

By P Victor Vijay Kumar

21 May, 2016

It was a cloudy afternoon. Wind was blowing over the shadows of fig trees. He asked me to see him at 1.30, when hunger was blazing along with the summer. The simmering heat in the University campus in the cloudy afternoon was not seen but felt like how implicit casteism cannot be sensed in modernized society. I knocked the door and entered his cabin and saw him having his lunch. He smiled and greeted and said in telugu “ randi randi…nenu diabetes…kaabatti tvaraga annam tinaalsi untundi “ ( Please come….I have diabetes…and so need to take lunch in time ). Kancha Ilaiah is the author of “ Why I am not a Hindu “ “ Buffalo Nationalism “ “ Untouchable God..” etc and a leading activist for dalit and human rights. A Professor, by profession, in Maulana Azad National Urdu University, is a voracious writer encompassing issues mainly around Hindutva and casteism. He was the one who spearheaded ‘ Dalitvadam’ in early 1990s in the Marxist-Leninist circles and human right organisations for the cause of Dalit representation and leadership. He has been waging a vehement fight against Hindutva philosophy in all the fora at India and international level. The entire intellectual and progressive sections of Andhra and Telangana States were taken aback when he was fiercely came under attack by Brahmin organistions for his remarks on Brahminism and Hindutva.

I cordially greeted him too and after a brief personal enquiries, I asked him “ What happened,sir?“. He, while making the lumps of rice and dal, explained “ I attended a meeting organized by CITU in Vijayawada and I was talking to them, in the course of speech, on evolution of working class in India and was broaching that Brahmins were never part of production and they, as a community, never participated in labour. This was slightly extended by the media next day hitting headlines that “ Brahmins are lazy and slumber class “. Some Brahmin organisations came to my cabin and squabbled with me demanding apology. I never uttered apology but tried to explain them how they must understand my statement. They never heeded to my version and thereafter, I have been receiving threatening and menacing calls on my phone for the past few days. I was also told that Brahmins are reacting through organization formed with the spirit of Parusuram (Brahmin warrior) “. I nodded my head in congruence. He stopped for a while and enquired, “ Is it?“. I said in affirmation “ yes sir, I have been watching all online attack going on against you. And through hearsay, I was told about some Brahmin Terrorist Organization, which is campaigning for teaching a lesson to you “. He was listening to me in the same unfaltering mood. “ I am just trying to search in my hand set. And, I would forward to your mail all the stuff”

Ilaiah : See, I am nearing 65 now. I really want to take on the brahminsim head on. Enough is enough. Jesus was 33 when he died but he could accomplish a change what he wanted. Mohammad died at 63 and changed the eastern world’s thinking . Ambedkar was 65 when he died. I don’t really care for all this and whatever is happening and the polarization I am seeing is for good. It has to come out in open and public.

Me : Sir, you have been in this unflinching fight against brahminism for a long time and has been centre of wrath for brahmin sections all along. Have you ever observed these Brahmin sections coming openly and reaching in person to intimidate you ?

Ilaiah : No, it never happened earlier. See, When Congress and Y S Raja Shekhar Reddy was ruling, the Hindutva could not get the adequate support, as it aspired for, though it was spreading its tentacles. After Modi Government took over, these people have got the moral boost to resort to such acts. Of course, I don’t really mind about this. End of the day, we need to expose their attitude.

Me : I am in complete agreement with you , sir. The thick-skinned attitude of this Govt. is very apparent as is seen in case Rohith Vemula issue and FTII issue and other issues as well. I want to ask you – you are so focused on Brahmins. Though I have an answer for myself, still I want to know your perspective, are there no good Brahmins ? ( I smiled )

Ilaiah : Look, that not a question at all. I am not talking about a Brahmin at an individual level. That’s not the criterion.We are talking about this Brahminism as a social issue. Idol worship and consequent social inequalities are resulting in untouchability. This mentions about attitude of Brahmins, as a community, as a matter of collective attitude and approach. I have my colleagues and friends as Brahmins who know their mind very well. They keep visiting me and we have get together on friendly occasions. But, that’s not the point. A Brahmin is a good Brahmin only when he realizes that Dalits and BCs have larger share in the labour and production and they deserve an equitable share in the fruits of production in all respects…be it…..education, employment, entrepreneurship or leadership whatever.They must give a due regard to this in all their attitude and heartfully admit this fact. They must acknowledge that people who are in working class living in poor conditions is just not warranted. You may still care less if someone is living in poor conditions because he is not participating in production. Without raising their unconditional voice on this, simply claiming that they have worked in some Marxist organisation or worked on some writings or some struggle does not mean anything.

Me : Why I have asked you this is the present attack on you has also given rise to many liberal Brahmins raising their voice as your opinion is too extreme and needs to be cut down, as their goodness in few of them needs recognition.

Ilaiah : Yess…that the best thing that I can expect in my life. It makes out advancement clear. Let them separate themselves in this argument. See, Brahminism has caused serious injury to the Indian social system. Unless we break temple system and grow beyond vernacular languages to the level of English , the Brahminsim cannot be toned down. I told in the same meeting that Chandrababu Naidu constructing state capital in the name of Amaravathi and I had found it to be nothing about Buddhist symbolization and purely like a capital of Rama. What is this ? Why do they want to use Buddha’s name for this ? I have demanded that they must make world’s largest large shrine of Buddha in Amaravathi, else there is no meaning for the same. Buddha is an international figure. We will appreciate Chandrababu for naming the capital in the memory of Buddha. This shrine would attract international attention. Places like Tirupathi are meant for local superstitious people. Such kind of Buddha Vihar is going to pose a threat to place like Tirupathi and a world class Buddha Vihar put Chandrababu Naidu too on the world famous figures. This is how we must , in a planned way, destroy Brahminism. The legitimacy they earned over the years shall have to be shun out.

Me : How do you correlate all these attacks happening on Dalits by non-Brahmin upper castes with that of influence of Brahmins.

Ilaiah : You see the basic problem is Hindutva , this structure and idol worship. Once you change religion, you must be largely getting insulated. We must break this first. There are elite sections all over the world in all the countries. We need to look at the issue – where is the fundamental equality ?

Me : How linguistic war can help ? Dalit sections growing to English , as a language of communication ?

Ilaiah : See, Dalits and all backward castes need to get internationalized. They need not confine themselves to these limited boundaries. They must look beyond this. English would definitely will come handy to them. All these Brahmins are into English while they want others to speak in Sanskrit or other local languages. I have been fighting in all the fora that Telangana Govt. must promote English medium schools. I think they are gradually considering it. I have been promoting English medium school in my village with about 600 students and developing a chain of schools. I take only SC, ST and BC students. Last year, an ST student topped while lowest score being above 80%, which is quite decent.

Me : Sir, as you see, the cultural system in India is coming under great attack after the new Govt formed at the Centre. The students, Professors and intellectuals like you are under continuous attack. Rohith Vemula case has become a classic case of deeply rooted isolation of low caste sections in the education system. Don’t you think we can have a better demand like establishment of exclusive Dalit-Adivasi Universities without being confined to Rohith Act kind of stuff, which is a marginal improvement over existing rules and regulations.

Ilaiah : Yea…..thats fine. As and when Dalits keep growing into elite sections and people like you can raise funds and do the same. We have Urdu universities and we can have these too. As I said, I have been taking only non-forward caste sections only as students in the school I am promoting.

Me : Sir, I have seen you as the one who batted for Dalit vadam and refinement in the Marxist organisations too. Don’t you see – Dalit vadam could not catch up to the next level and has been entangled where it has got originated ?

Ilaiah : Yea…could be. We must recognize its fantastic contribution to the human rights movement. You see…Rohith Vemula is a product of Dalit vadam. See.. the Dalit vadam would take some more time to pick up to the next level.

Me : Sir, I have taken much of your time. Nice of you for sharing with me several things. We shall stand by you. I shall see you tomorrow at the public meeting.

Ilaiah : I have put enough material against Brahmins in English. Should they kill me only to spoil themselves.

It is always invigorating to talk to him. A man who hated caste system to the core and steering the cause in his own style and fashion with grit. He has been voicing several high level concerns which are controversial statements for main stream media. There has been a threatening climate surrounding him. Brahmins and their lobby are resorting to all possible vulgar steps to cut down his voice in all undemocratic ways possible. He holds a clear high level over view of casteism in India and the roots of brahmincal conscience prevailing here. Numerous writers of Andhra and Telangana vehemently condemned the attacks on him containing his freedom of expression. Through Countercurrents, the writer of this article urges every democrat to stand by Ilaiah and ensure there wont be any continuing incidents of Kalburgi, Dhabolkar , Pansare etc.

P Victor Vijay Kumar, by profession, is a CFO of a an infrastructure company based out of Hyderabad. He has been a critic, analyst and writer. The author can be reached at his face book account ‘ P V Vijay Kumar’ or at the email – [email protected]




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