Shubhashito (Noble Thoughts): Hinduism & Untouchability

Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at BRAINCELLS.COM
Tue Jan 20 19:34:42 CST 1998

On Tue, 20 Jan 1998, Ram Chandran wrote:

> Greetings:
> Enclosed Copy of the Article is a scholarly work on the history of Hindu
> Caste System.

By the standards of western Indology this would not count as scholarship
because it is full of unfounded and unsubstantiated speculation mostsly
based on mythology not history.  It does not count as scholarship by
Indian standards either as it does not follow, indeed shows no
understanding off traditional canons of interpretation.

Nevertheless it does show some of the salient themes of modern Hinduism
and thus deserves a response.

> In the early Vedic times

Modern Hindus believe in "Vedic times" a fuzzily-defined era when all was
love and kisses and India, the most powerful nation in the world, invented
science, and socialism, and good posture.

> The Hindus should remember that the all-pervading influence of the
> later-day degraded Buddhists and other allied sects, and also that of
> foreigners who ruled over India, has contributed substantially to
> demolition of the old structure of the Hindu society. As a result of
> the repeated internal revolutions and external invasions which
> threatened the very existence of the Hindus, the old laws, the old
> laws of the Varnashram Dharma became inoperative in the Hindu society
> long ago.

Then came a time of darkness.  Muslims are the scapegoat du jour but other
candidates are Buddhists (as in the passage above though modern Hindus
are often fond of claiming the Buddha as on of their own.) the British and
the scheming, superstitious "priests".

>  Now, certain blind and meaningless customs and practices, as
> also some local prejudices and usage have taken the place of pristine
> laws and begun to govern the society everywhere.

These villainous outsiders forced the poor Hindus into all kinds of
frightfully unprogressive things.

> bred many serious evils and damned them into perpetual slavery. It has
> been the root cause of division of Hindus into innumerable warrinng
> sects, which, in turn, have brought about their degeneration and
> downfall.

And this is the worst of medieval evils. political disunity.  The modern
Hindus particularly of the right wing sort are obsessed with the supposed
disrespect they think the rest of world is showing them.  This stems from
their origin.  Modern Hinduism grew up in Calcutta, Bombay and Madras
amongst the clerks of the East India Company and the Raj.  They gained
power and priviledge from their positions yet at the same time were keenly
aware of the scorn their colonial masters showed them.  This hankering for
the fruits of western culture mixed with their defensive need to prove the
superiority of their own is at the root of their schizophrenia.

How could they be saved from this awful fate?  The answer was the "Hindu
enlightenment"  All of a sudden Hinduism awoke from its nightmare and
remembered the glorious heritage it had forgotten.

If only the "ignorant masses" would give up their foolish superstition and
become "enlightened" and organized (under their leadership of course) the
masters could be shown a thing or two, so the Moderns thought.

> Analysing the defects of the cast system, Rao Bahadur C. V.
> Vaidya, the celebrated historian of Maharashtra, in his History of
> Medieval Hindu India, says: "The result of the Cast System is that,
> about 10% of the population is fit and disposed to fight; while the
> remaining 90%, by nature and heredity, is not fit to fight and is,
> therefore, ready to accept the rule of any nation which happens to be
> successful." So, serious attempts need be made to reform the Hindu
> society in a manner consistent with the changed condiions of the time
> as well as with our traditional religion and culture.

To paraphrase "The lower classes are sheep.  They are genetically
incapable of doing anything except under our leadership"

Mind you this was written before Hitler.  But as you can see it is still
being quoted by unthinking people today.

Needless to say this entire view of Indian history is completely bogus.
Nobody has any firm facts about a historical "Vedic age" even if it
existed or not.  The Vedas are not history books  .  Attempts to deduce
past attitudes from them are pure guesswork.  Even on matters of practice
they are sometimes vague.  The details are given in Vedangas like the
Kalpasutras and the Smrtis but they paint a considerably less rosy
picture than the moderns like so they are relegated to the realm of

There never was a dark age.  Sure invasions caused disruption and yes some
Muslim rulers were tyrants.  But Hindu society picked itself up and kept
on going.  And at no time were the Muslims completely in control and
neither were the British.

The "Hindu enlightenment" was anything but enlightening.  It only affected
a small number of people.  It provided very little in the way of reform
and most of it died out.

I've said too much.  This entire subject is off-topic for the list and I
suggest you drop it.

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at>

>From  Tue Jan 20 21:51:21 1998
Message-Id: <TUE.20.JAN.1998.215121.0500.>
Date: Tue, 20 Jan 1998 21:51:21 -0500
Reply-To: chandran at
To: "Advaita (non-duality) with reverence" <ADVAITA-L at TAMU.EDU>
From: Ram Chandran <chandran at TIDALWAVE.NET>
Organization: Home Personal Account
Subject: Manusmriti
Comments: To: Advaita List <Advaita-L at>
Comments: cc: Nanda.Chandran at NBC.COM
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Chandran, Nanda (NBC) <Nanda.Chandran at NBC.COM> writes:
(your message at the bottom of the posting)

Greetings Nanda:

Let me direct your attention to the Manu Smriti, 1.81-86 quoted in the
book, "Sources of Indian Tradition," Volume I, Complied by A.L. Basham,
R.N. Dandekar, etc., Columbia University Press, New York (1958), page:

Dharma (ethical law) is Not Static (From Manu Smriti, 1.81-86)
"The following passage brings out a very significant characteristic of
dharma, namely, that the concept and content of dharma change in
accordance with the changing circumstances.  Ancient tradition speaks of
four ages (Yugas) - Krita, Tretaa, Dvaapara, and Kali -their duration,
respectively, 1,728,000; 1,296,000; 864,000; and 432,000 human years. It
is believed that each of these four succeeding ages is characterized by
an increasing physical and spiritual deterioration. No one uniform set
of dharmas can, therefore, be made applicable to all the four ages. It
is further believed that when one cycle of four ages is completed, there
occurs the end of the universe, which is followed by a new creation and
a new cycle."

Position of Women (Page 227), (Manu Smriti, 3.55-5; 9.3-7, 11, 26)
" Women must be honored and adorned by their fathers, brothers,
husbands, and brothers-in-law who desire great good fortune.
Where women, verily, are honored, there the gods rejoice; where however,
they are not honored, there all sacred rites prove fruitless.
Where the female relations live in grief - that family soon perishes
completely; where, however, they do not suffer from any grievance-that
family always prospers.
Her father protects her in childhood, her husband protects her in youth,
her sons protect her in old age-- a woman does not deserve independence.
The father who does not give away his daughter in marriage at the proper
time is censurable; censurable is the husband who does not approach his
wife in due season; and after the husband is dead, the son verily, is
censurable, who does not protect his mother.
Even against the SLIGHTEST provocations should women be particularly
guarded; for unguarded they would bring grief to both the

Please make your own judgement and decide whether all the above laws are
currently  applicable for the present day society.  There are no facts
available to verify the applicability of Manu Smriti during Vedic time
period. Do we have evidence to condemn the Manu Smriti of Vedic time
period?  What is your recommendation? What is your position about the
Manu Smriti?

I believe that TRUTH reveals itself when we negate the  Lies.  Until
then I want to be humble enough to admit that I don't know the TRUTH.

Please note that I have taken time to answer your question with the
sincere hope of clearing your doubts.  I try my level best to be honest
but I know my limitations and I can make errors. But, please note that I
have no intention to mislead you.  Please forgive my errors and stinking
answers.  Please be kind enough to reply with appropriate corrections to
clear my ignorance.

Thanks for giving me this opportunity to put forward my answers.

With my regards,
Ram Chandran
Burke, VA 22015

Note: The following additional books also contain details to support my
(1) ^ÑHindu Samskaras - Socio Religious Study of the Hindu Sacraments'
Motilal Banarsidass Publishers, Delhi. (1993)
(2) ^ÑIndia and World Civilization,' by D.P. Singhal, Rupa & Co, Calcutta
(3) ^ÑIndian Culture Through The Ages, Vols. I & II. Longmans, Bombay

> Anybody who's read the text is aware of the level of discrimination
> expounded against castes, women in the text. And as equality and
> egalitarianism is observed in the current world and definitely on this list,
> my question was that, then can the Manusmriti be considered as a valid
> source of knowledge?
> Ram Chandran replied something to the effect that since the text has been
> written ages ago and since we're not really aware of the scenario then,
> there's no point questioning it.
> Doesn't seem like a strong argument to me. For if we're following texts
> which are millennia old, we should follow them as they've been expounded. Is
> it correct if we follow parts which suits us and abandon others which don't?
> If it's correct, then shouldn't we be outright in classifying texts which
> expound otherwise as worthless?
> Personally it's none of my business who learns Vedanta or not, and I
> sincerely feel sincerity is all that's needed. But in a school of thought
> where TRUTH is the thumb rule, this kind of hypocrisy stinks!

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