The RSS Brahmantva Versus Dalit-Bahujans
By Braj Ranjan Mani
26 April, 2016
As the most sinister defender of brahmanical social order under the guise of Hindu nationalism, the RSS-BJP knows that the awakening of Dalit-bahujans and their coming together with the Left and other egalitarian forces will herald a chain of events that will end only with the dismantling of brahmanical power. It is this mortal fear that haunts the RSS-BJP, despite being in power, and this explains their digressive madness of ghar wapsi, cow protection, the killings of rationalists and Rohith Vemula, and the drama of nationalism-in-danger alongside organized attacks on JNU and HCU as centres of ‘sedition’ and ‘anti-national’ activities
What is unfolding in India today in the wake of Rohith Vemula’s institutional killing and the arising of students and Dalit-bahujans against such violence in the campuses and public places—and the no-holds-barred backlash that this uprising has attracted from the ruling regime and the Hindu right—seems to be a straw in the wind of a looming civil war. And, in all likelihood, this civil war—against the persistence of caste persecution (even in the institutions of higher education) alongside gender-and religion-based discriminations, extreme economic inequalities and massive youth unemployment—is going to be uncivil, protracted and will perhaps dominate much of the 21st century India. Ugly, messy and yet full of emancipatory promises, this battle, has begun, as the egalitarian dissent of Dalit-bahujans, assertive new women and the rebellious students is now reaching the target and bit-by-bit opening up the terribly closed, casteist and patriarchal Indian society.
India is a democratic republic where elections are held regularly, but glaring inequalities and discriminations still pervade all spheres of its social, economic and cultural life. Things have not changed much on this front since Ambedkar’s 1948 caution in the Constituent Assembly that ‘democracy in India is only a top dressing on an Indian soil which is essentially undemocratic.’ Due to the persistence of caste and brahmanism, the Dalit-bahujans—that is, Dalits, Adivasis, Other Backward Classes (OBCs), Muslim masses, other religious and ethnic minorities, and women in general, who together constitute the overwhelming majority—are still demoralized and struggling, often unsuccessfully, to enter the crucial areas of governance, policy-making and public discourse. Since the 1990s, the political mobilization of Dalits, OBCs and Muslim masses along with the emergence of a Dalit discourse generated huge expectations of change in the structures of politics, power and public debate. The spread of mass education and rising political consciousness from below forced the ruling class to change its antics and tactics of politics. The Mandal moment, which came with the rise of Dalit-OBC parties in several states gave the impression that the suppressed majority are finally emerging as a national force to reckon with. This euphoria however fizzled out soon due to the crass opportunism and power politics of the Dalit-OBC leaders that allowed the BJP—a party far more brahmanical and communal than the Congress—to emerge as a mainstream national party and the main alternative to the Congress. Since then, the BJP has been propelled by the corporatization of economy and resurgence of socially reactionary forces, and is now the ruling party with a former Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) propagandist as Prime Minister. As the RSS is the BJP’s godfather and the lynchpin of the most devious brahmanic politics under the guise of Hindu nationalism, the educated Dalit-bahujans resent its poisonous politics and assert their autonomous forms of politics, culture, history and knowledge. Such assertions are getting strident in the university campuses, where more than anywhere else, various strands of thoughts are debated, fleshed out and compete against each other for intellectual and political primacy.
Changing structure of politics and public debate in campuses
In Indian universities, one crucial change has taken place recently and this change is bound to become a catalyst for other liberating changes. For the first time, Dalit-bahujans and other students from impoverished and working-class, semi-urban and rural backgrounds, thanks to their hunger for education and helped by some affirmative action, have started entering institutions of higher education in significant numbers. This has started changing the social composition of Indian universities as well as the structure of politics and public debate in campuses. Such a change has taken place in the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), Hyderabad Central University (HCU) and some other universities, and is largely responsible for what is happening there. Till now, the best universities in India had practically been closed to the likes of Rohith Vemula, Dontha Prashanth and Kanhaiya Kumar, the kind of students who have brought about a new incendiary debate in the campuses.
An example of this was the formation of forums like the Ambedkar-Periyar Study Circle at the IIT-Madras and its engagements with the larger social, political and environmental issues, which invited the ire of the Central Government in 2015 and led to its ban, which was revoked only after eruption of a nationwide protest. In recent years, Dalit students’ groups such as Ambedkar Students’ Association of HCU, with which Rohith Vemula was passionately associated, have been active in the campuses. Similarly, the Dalit-bahujan students of JNU have formed the Birsa-Ambedkar-Phule Students Association (BAPSA) with the understanding that the traditional Left in India has failed to fight brahmanism both culturally and politically. Such subversive fronts have also come up in the campuses of Mumbai University, Savitribai Phule Pune University and many other campuses across the country.
Moreover, the increasing and assertive presence of women is strengthening the transformations taking place on campuses. At the receiving end of pervasive misogyny in society, women students are better able to see the dehumanizing face of patriarchy and caste and their interconnections with other hierarchies. This makes at least some women from the privileged caste-class background side with the Dalit-bahujans and such socially-engaged women are making their presence felt in public debate. Some of them are now fighting and winning students’ union elections—and not only in the metropolitan cities. In Allahabad University’s century-old history, a woman has for the first time been elected president of the students’ union. Richa Singh, who won this feat, stands for social and gender equality and for this she is being targeted by the Hindu right and the fossilized university administration. To take another example, a year or so ago, the women students of colleges in Delhi launched a protest movement called Pinjra Tod (Break the Cage) against sexist restrictions imposed on women students, especially the oppressive hostel regulations that fetter their movement. The activists of Pinjra Tod, many of them fervent feminist, recently came on the streets demanding justice for Rohith Vemula and also protested against the witch-hunt of the JNU and HCU students.
In other words, the Ambedkarite Dalit-bahujans, a new generation of assertive women and Kanhaiya Kumar-Umar Khalid-type Marxists who are sensitive to the question of caste and brahmanism are bringing their personal caste-class-or-gender-based experiences of discrimination and deprivation and aligning them with the larger social struggles of their families and communities. Such a change is more visible in JNU where almost half the students are from Dalit-bahujan communities, and they have started a debate on caste, culture, history and the need for a renewed Phule-Ambedkarite struggle for social transformaion. They have been organizing meetings and seminars on socio-cultural issues, and challengingly telling the privileged-caste Marxist students to first fight brahmanism and their own caste prejudices before thinking of an alliance with them (i.e., Dalit-bahujans). The differences remain, but it seems that many young Marxists have begun to appreciate the fundamental point of Dalit-bahujan politics that social boundaries cannot be purely drawn on economic lines and the relations of production as the traditional hierarchies of caste, patriarchy and their consequences continue to play a crucial role in influencing status and power in society.
These ongoing churnings among the Dalit-bahujan and Marxist students is indeed a radical development which found expression in the united clamour of Jai Bhim and Lal Salaam. The emergence of Ambedkar from a Dalit icon to a rallying point of different forms of resistances is a development whose importance was not lost on the ruling Hindutva forces which saw in this the seed of a rebellion whose first casualty will be their brahmanical supremacist politics. The instances of subversive rereading of brahmanic myth-history, denunciation of Dharmashastras like Manusmriti and the observance of Mahishasura Martyrdom Day by the Dalit-bahujan students of JNU had earlier incensed the RSS-BJP a great deal. The JNU has become ‘a den of sedition and anti-national activities’, as the RSS mouthpiece Organiser put it, precisely for this reason. Not surprisingly, the top brass of RSS-BJP instructed their students wing Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarth Parishad (ABVP) not just to keep a close watch on these developments but also launch a Hindutva nationalist counterattack against the Ambedkarite-Marxist students. Under the patronage of Central government and the collusion with the university administration, the ABVP went on to augment its clout in the campuses and started intimidating the students of rival ideologies. The targeting and arrest of Kanhaiya Kumar and other JNU students was done after the ABVP ruffians clashed with the former and lodged formal complaints against them. The story was not very different from what had happened earlier at IIT-Madras where the Ambedkar-Periyar Study Circle was banned and the HCU where Rohith Vemula and four other Ambedkarite Ph. D. scholars were suspended and evicted form hostel with no scholarship, on the mere complaint of the ABVP and its patrons at the Centre.
Though the police action in JNU and the arrest of the student leaders was ostensibly made on the flimsy grounds of raising anti-India slogans, the real cause of the RSS-BJP fury was the threat posed by the growing assertiveness of Dalit-bahujan students and the budding solidarity between them and Marxist students. The RSS knows that tackling the caste-blind Marxists through tarnishing them with the allegation of adhering to a ‘foreign’ dogma is easy, but directly fighting the Phule-Ambedkarites will completely expose—and emasculate—their brahmanical politics.
Thus, what is happening in the universities across the country is not just the campus protest against the saffronization of education and attack on academic autonomy but also a part of a much bigger struggle for social democracy. The students are demanding freedom for the whole of suffering society—freedom from the exploitation of caste, class, patriarchy, feudalism, brahmanism and capitalism, as their popular and challenging Azadi song puts it. It is this rainbow rebelliousness and the possibility of coming together of the Phule-Ambedkarites, Marxists and other social democrats at national level that has rattled the ruling regime. Obviously, the nationalism that the RSS-BJP represents is not against any other nation or foreign power but against the Phule-Ambedkarites, Marxists and all those who oppose equating brahmanism with nationalism. The RSS hates the JNU-type critical education and wants to impose its stupefying Vedic-brahmanic education and gurukul system. In fact, all those who promote critical thinking and oppose caste and brahmanism are the ‘enemies within’ and ‘anti-nationals’ in the eyes of the BJP-RSS, though they can never dare to say this openly.
RSS is anti-Dalitbahujan and polar opposite of Phule-Ambedkarism
The RSS’s constant bogey of nationalism-in-danger is nothing but a ploy to cover up its brahmnaical conspiracy of suppressing the egalitarian aspirations of Dalit-bahujans. It is an old RSS trick to create a hoax that something terrible is happening, that ‘Hindu India’ is falling apart due to machinations of ‘internal enemies’ such as Muslims, Christians, Marxists. But its Hindu politics actually revolves around reinforcing brahmanical control of power and culture. The RSS knows that it will have to constantly devise more devious ways to tackle the Dalit-bahujans who are now waking up to the oppressive reality and demanding their democratic rights.
Not for nothing the RSS was born in the land of Phule and Ambedkar, the greatest leaders of Dalit-bahujans in modern India. According to C P Bhiskikar, the official biographer of K B Hedgewar who founded the RSS in 1925, the ‘lower-caste assertion’ was a danger on a par with the ‘Muslim threat’ that lay behind the formation of the RSS. Indeed, Maharashtra had witnessed a powerful movement against brahmanism from the 1870s onwards that was pioneered by Jotiba Phule and his mass organization Satyashodhak Samaj. Phule’s radical anti-caste ideas and activities were becoming popular among the Dalit-bahujans. And by the 1920s, the Dalits had started organizing themselves under Dr. Ambedkar. Nagpur, the birthplace of the RSS, was a centre of social radicalism and also the venue of the All India Depressed Classes Conference in 1920 where Ambedkar had rejected the paternalistic model of social reform. Later, Nagpur was also to become the Deekshabhoomi (the Land of Conversion) where Ambedkar led half-a-million Dalits to repudiate Hinduism and embrace Buddhism.
The fact that the RSS and its propagandists now present themselves as followers of Phule and Ambedkar to hoodwink the Dalit-bahujans—recently Narendra Modi took the contortionist’s pains to show that ‘he is a devotee of Ambedkar’ and Devendra Fadnavis, the chief minister of Maharashtra, demanded the Bharat Ratna for Phule—is an example of their vicious perfidy. Anyone who knows the basic ideology of Phule and Ambedkar knows that theirs was the strongest repudiation of the brahmanical Hindu ideology and politics that the RSS represents. They argued that the brahmanic socio-religious system was a most insidious form of colonialism and, therefore, its annihilation must constitute an integral part of nation-building. Phule, the first person to articulate this view, declared war on this internal colonialism and its religio-cultural matrix, which forms the nucleus of RSS nationalism. Later, Ambedkar, Periyar and other Dalit-bahujan leaders took this struggle forward and hammered home the point that the nation is nothing if it is not the people. Unravelling the oppressive structures of caste, class and patriarchy, they argued that a society divided by discrimination could not constitute a genuine nation. The caste elites claiming to represent the nation were actually its destroyers, they insisted, since they not only rationalized or masked the glaring inequalities of the past but also sought to maintain them as their power base in the present. Exposing the oppressive history of caste and its consequences, the Dalit-bahujan leaders held brahmanism squarely responsible for enslaving the minds of Dalit-bahujans and women through a fake religion and a false philosophy. They attacked brahmanism for creating caste ideology to exploit the productive majority and they rejected Hinduism itself by arguing that it was symbiotically bonded with brahmanical tyranny, superstition, and irrationality. They felt that the new India required an egalitarian and rational religion that could not be provided by reconstructed Hinduism.
For this reason, Phule and Ambedkar have been variously reviled by the RSS. It is well known that the RSS’ immediate ancestors dismissed Phule in his life-time as an undeserving ‘shudra teacher’ and the RSS hated Ambedkar for his iconoclastic criticism of Hinduism and for writing an ‘unIndian’ Constitution as well as advocating the reform of Hindu personal laws to give egalitarian rights to women.
The RSS, in contrast to Phule and Ambedkar, fanatically stands by Hinduism and its classical caste system, but pretends to oppose caste divisions. As recently as April 14, 2016, Ram Madhav, a top RSS agent, asserted, “…The varnashrama system never sanctioned any caste hierarchy; nor did it allow any caste discrimination.” Maintaining that the discriminatory caste system has no connection with the tradition of Vedic-brahmanism, the RSS claims that it strives for the unity of all Hindus, and that all castes are equal in its eyes. It even includes Adivasis and non-Hindu communities in its supremacist notion of ‘Hindu’, since anyone living in India is a Hindu! But the unificatory thrust of its ideology revolves around ‘naturalness of hierarchical social order’ that supports caste and renders autonomous Dalit-bahujan assertions as ‘divisive’ and ‘anti-national’. Behind its endless invocation of ‘Hindu dharma, Hindu sanskriti and Hindu parampara’ lurks visceral brahmanical support for Varna Vyavastha. M S Golwalkar, the second RSS chief, glorified the author of Manusmriti as ‘the first and greatest law-giver of the world’ who taught everyone ‘to learn their duties at the holy feet of Brahmans’. In his Bunch of Thoughts, he reiterated rapturously: ‘The Hindu people is the virat purusha … Brahman is the head, Kshatriya the hands, Vaishya the thighs and Shudra the feet. This means that the people who have this four-fold arrangement, that is, the Hindu people, is [sic] our god. This supreme vision of godhead is the very core of our concept of ‘nation’ and has permeated our thinking and given rise to various unique concepts of our cultural heritage.’ It is not unnatural for an outfit like RSS that fervently believes in social hierarchy to be terrified of democracy. Golwalkar said, ‘Democracy is not right for India. Hindutva and democracy cannot go hand-in-hand.’
The RSS’ zeal to hide the historical crimes of caste and brahmanism—and its overt or covert opposition to the emancipatory struggles of Dalit-bahujans—shows that its claim to fighting caste is a sham. Its idea of forging ‘Hindu unity’ is built on its violent politics against the ‘other’, especially Muslims, because, as Ambedkar pointed out, ‘Hindu society is a myth. Hindu society as such does not exist. It is only a collection of castes. …A caste has no feeling that it is affiliated to other castes except when there is Hindu-Muslim riot.’ Indeed, the Hindu politics of RSS serves its twin objectives of keeping the Dalit-bahujans under the brahmanical umbrella, on the one hand, and fighting Muslims, Christians and other ‘aliens’ with the unity thus achieved, on the other.
Though the RSS hoodwinks many ignorant Dalit-bahujans as foot soldiers for its dirty politics (especially during organizing riots against Muslims and Christians), it is basically a fanatic outfit of the upper-caste Hindus guided by a clique of brahmans. Its founder members—K B Hedgewar, B S Moonje, L V Paranjpe, B B Thalkar, and Baburao Savarkar—and all its early swayamsevaks were brahmans. In his diary, Moonje (himself a brahman) referred to RSS cadres as ‘brahman youths’ and ‘brahman lads’. Its ideological mentor was Savarkar, a brahman; its founder was Hedgewar, a brahman; its organizational builder was Golwalkar, a brahman. Beginning with Hedgewar, almost all the RSS chiefs—M S Golwalkar, Balasaheb Deoras, K S Sudarshan, Mohan Bhagwat—have been only from the chosen caste—brahman. Other foremost leaders whom the RSS holds in great esteem—B G Tilak, S P Mookerjee, Deendayal Upadhyaya, A B Vajpayee and so on—belong to the chosen caste. Behind its Hindu mask, the RSS is an outfit of, for and by the brahmans and allied upper-castes Its minions from the Dalit-bahujan communities have been in the RSS only to carry out the brahmanical politics. See these telling examples: When the RSS-BJP launched the Ram Mandir movement in 1990 under Lal Krishna Advani and the latter openly confessed that it was actually against the acceptance of Mandal Commission recommendations, not a single Dalit-OBC member of the so-called Sangh Parivar dared to open his mouth against this duplicity; and, a similar silence from the ‘bonded labourers of RSS’—to use Mayawati’s description of the Dalit-OBC leaders in the BJP—was witnessed in 2015 when the RSS chief Bhagwat spoke against the reservation policy.
The RSS functions on the belief that the less the people know about India’s real past and present, the more they believe in Hindutva propaganda. From its very inception, the real game plan of RSS has been to promote brahmanism as nationalsim as well as keep the Dalit-bahujans and Muslim masses uneducated and unempowered by raking up false issues in the name of religion. The RSS resorts to violent politics of religion and manufactures riots against Muslims and Christians to divert attention from the structural violence and exploitation of the caste system. As the Hindu formation is badly fragmented by the hierarchies of caste, communalism becomes the mechanism for the creation of the Hindu identity in which Muslim as full-time villain and scapegoat comes very handy and serves a most useful function. Scholar Dilip Menon rightly points out that communalism in India is a deflection of the central issue of violence and inegalitarianism within Hindu society. Indeed, in almost all Hindu-Muslim clashes, there is a displacement of hatred and the conjunction of caste-class interest with communal sentiment and indoctrination. That is why Gujarat’s anti-reservation agitation soon turned into anti-Muslim violence in the 1980s, and upper-caste protests against Mandal in 1990 merged seamlessly with the Ram Mandir movement that generated organized violence against Muslims.
The RSS is an organization shrouded in secrecy; it keeps even its own rank and file in the dark about its real aims and objectives; only its ‘inner circle’ is taken into confidence. Its ideology and politics are both absurd and ominous, as Neeladri Bhattacharya eloquently spells out, ‘The discourse of [Hindutva] communalism criticizes other religions for being monolithic, but aspires to build a monolithic unity. It glorifies diversity within Hinduism as a mark of its superiority over Semitic religions, but seeks to repress this diversity. It identifies aggressiveness as an evil intrinsic to other religions, but attempts to instill the same quality in all Hindus. It talks of patience and tolerance as innate virtues of Hindus, yet sees these traits as the basis of Hindu weakness. It condemns other religions for their politics of religious repression and temple destruction, but organizes itself around the same politics.’ Indeed, the glaring contrast between what the RSS professes and what it practices (talk of Hindu unity but divide the Dalit-bahujans and make them either fight each other or set them against Muslims and Christians) could teach a lesson or two to the likes of Paul Joseph Goebbels.
Crushing the RSS Brahmantva is essential for social democracy
Let us come back to the campus turmoil and its socio-political ramifications. I argued earlier how the root cause of such unrest, which is likely to intensify in the years to come, lies in the fact that the Indian State remains essentially discriminatory against the majority of its own citizens. While the Congress has been negligent of this undemocratic ugliness, the RSS and BJP aggressively celebrate the iniquitous status quo under the fig-leaf of ‘sacred’ Hindu tradition and patriotism. For them, nation is not people and their mutual trust, egalitarian cooperation and the celebration of citizenship but a hoax to exalt the rotten Vedic-brahmanic culture for safeguarding the upper-caste supremacy in the present. To the RSS, the threat to the upper-caste interests becomes the threat to Hinduism, and the threat to Hinduism becomes the threat to nationalism.
It is no secret that the ruling class often brings into play the circus of nationalism to project their petty interests as national interests. The nationalist mask, more than any other facade, gives the elites the license to delegitimize and crush all dissent and resistance to the status quo. The foundation of this devious nationalism in India was laid during the colonial rule when the old brahmanic religion was shrewdly intermingled with the new hegemonic politics of nationalism by the caste elites. This is the kind of nationalist politics that the Congress has been pursuing since the days of Gandhi and Nehru, and this is the game that the RSS-BJP is now playing in an extremely devious and obnoxious manner.
Given the striking upper-casteist similarities that the Congress and BJP-RSS share on economic and social issues, the difference between the secular Congress and the communal BJP-RSS seems to be like the one between Tweedledum and Tweedledee. The Congress is ‘BJP minus the Lotus’ and the BJP ‘Congress plus the cow’, as some wit put it, but there is one clear divide that separates the two. To be fair to the Congress, its central agenda, unlike the BJP’s, is neither the brahmanic cultural fundamentalism nor the fanatic politics of hate against Muslims and Christians, though it may be flirting dangerously with these things occasionally for petty political gains. The Congress is a bourgeois party of the status quo, but the RSS-BJP is a fascist axis of status quo ante. Save the Shiv Sena and Obaisi’s Muslim party, most other national and regional parties resemble the Congress: like the Congress, they are corrupt and some of them dynastic too but they are not out-and-out communal. And, as the BJP is equally, if not more, corrupt than the Congress means that the RSS progeny is many times more dangerous for India, and especially for the Dalit-bahujans, Muslims, Christians and the people of the North-East.
The RSS often exhibits its sick obsession with Sanatan Dharma and its sanatan obscurantism. To give one recent example, the RSS number two Sarkaryavah Bhaiyyaji Joshi said on April 2, 2016: ‘… A nation is a cultural way of living that has itself evolved in thousands of years and which never undergoes a change.’ Put simply, a way of life that does not ever change is glorious: any cultural change is dangerous! This is the sly RSS way to glorify the inegalitarian culture of caste and brahmanism. This makes the RSS-BJP the hot favourite of the ruling castes which feel that in the changed situation the Hindutva politics can much better safeguard their vested interests than the Congress. Indeed, the politics of RSS-BJP is far more cunningly organized and oriented than the Congress to serve the upper-caste interests.
Thus, the nationalism that the RSS-BJP stands for is just a ruse for deflecting attention from the people’s real issues and the growing clamour for democratic change that involves the vital questions of education, health and employment. The real motive of brahmanic politics that the RSS represents is to divide, demoralize, and dominate the Dalit-bahujans—a conspiracy that the educated and the awakened among them have begun to see. As I wrote sometime ago, remembering Martin Niemoller’s famous poem on the Nazi atrocity:
They first came to avenge the Love Jihad.
I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Muslim.
Then they came for the Ghar Wapsi.
I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t Christian.
Then they came for the saffronization of Sikhs.
And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Sikh.
Then they came for the de-Ambedkarization of Dalits,
And ‘purification’ of Adivasis in the caste culture.
And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Dalit or Adivasi;
I didn’t speak up because I was an OBC, an enslaved shudra.
Then they came for the erasure of Phule and Periyar from textbooks.
But by that time all the ‘minorities’, 90 per cent of the population—
Muslims, Chritsians, Sikhs, Dalits, Adivasis, OBCs—
Were put in their ghettos, to serve the Hindu nation with its capital at Nagpur,
Allowing the real minority, less than 10 per cent of Indian population—
The racist-casteist-misogynist thugs, led by the Neanderthals of Nagpur,
Hiding behind the deceptive label of Hindu majority—
To fool and rule—and make mincemeat of—the masses.
The dhoti-clad Neanderthals of Nagpur, funded by the Corporate crooks,
Always invoke their Vedic-Puranic ancestors
Who invented supersonic aeroplane before they made wheels,
And who concocted Caste, Untouchability and Varnashrama Dharma
To fool and rule and divide the humanity.
As the educated Dalit-bahujans and the socially-engaged students have begun to see through—and protest against—the vicious power game of the RSS-BJP, the latter have resorted to a more devious politics of nationalism-in-danger. Their Hindu nationalism is in danger because the Dalit-bahujans have started fighting the oppressive tradition of caste and brahmanism. This threat makes the RSS come up with new formulations and frauds to keep the people enthralled to the magic, mystery and power of the Vande Mataram and Bharat Mata as well as chalk out a strategy with its BJP government to revive Sanskrit and introduce Vedic education and gurukul system. All these Vedic-brahmanic sermons, breast-beating and hysterical hate speeches against sedition and the enemies within—to give but only one example: Ramdev, the Hindutva zealot, declared recently, ‘had there been no law, we would have cut lakhs of throats who refuse to chant Bharat Mata Ki Jai’—are actually intended to deflect people’s attention from the real issues and the everyday mutinies against injustice that we see erupting in India today.
As the most sinister defender of brahmanical social order under the guise of Hindu nationalism, the RSS-BJP knows that the awakening of Dalit-bahujans and their coming together with the Left and other egalitarian forces—the glimpses of which they saw in the JNU and HCU students’ stir—will herald a chain of events that will end only with the dismantling of brahmanical power. It is this mortal fear that haunts the RSS-BJP today, and this explains their vicious targeting of the JNU and HCU as centres of ‘sedition’ and ‘anti-national’ activities. Going by their nasty track record—the killings of three prominent rationalist intellectuals; the lynching of Mohammad Aflaq for the alleged crime of consuming beef; the suppression and silencing of Rohith Vemula; the brutal attack on Kanhaiya Kumar under the court premises; and sundry other incidents of criminal attacks on the political opponents—the Hindutva forces will resort to dirtier games in the coming days to crush the democratic upsurge. No doubt, they are a formidable force today and capable of perpetrating all kinds of atrocities, but whatever they do they will not succeed in suppressing an emancipatory idea whose time has finally come in India. This hope arises from the fact that the closed society and polity of ours have finally started opening up due to the mounting democratic pressure from below. Also, it is the irrepressible nature of democracy and modernity to unsettle the settled and change the old order, whether of men or institutions. Once the democratic genie—of justice and equality for all—is out of the bottle, the brahmanical forces, however controlling and crafty, will not be able to put it back in the bottle. What we are witnessing today in India is the beginning of the end of dominant brahmanical forces. The twenty-first century will be the century of liberation of the Dalit-bahujans and women.
Braj Ranjan Mani is the author of Knowledge and Power: A Discourse for Transformation (2014). His earlier work Debrahmanising History (2005) has undergone many reprints, and is now available in an extensively revised edition (2015).