[Advaita-l] Re: Question: Swadharma

Ramesh Krishnamurthy rkmurthy at gmail.com
Sat Feb 11 01:37:58 CST 2006

Namaste Sri Ram Garib,

Let me explain once again what I was trying to say:

1. Negative scriptural statements in the manusmriti etc pertain to non-dvijas
2. Negative social treatment pertains to people currently classified
as "scheduled castes"
3. SCs are only a subset of non-dvijas i.e. there are many non-dvijas
who are not SCs.
4. Negative treatment of SCs relates to the phenomenon of
untouchability, which does not have a sciptural basis
5. Because of this negative social treatment, SCs have a sense of victimhood
6. Non-SC non-dvijas do not have this sense of victimhood, because
they have not been treated negatively, inspite of negative scriptural
statements about non-dvijas
7. Some communities that are classified as "OBC" or even "FC" are also
non-dvija, but they have not been treated badly.
8. For many communities, their dvijahood is unclear(Nairs, Kayasthas,
etc) and they have not been treated negatively. Many of these are
among the most educated jaatis in their areas.
9. Therefore, there is no direct link between scriptural statements
about non-dvijas and the way they were actually treated.

Now we have 2 problems on hand:
1. Some scriptures have negative statements about non-dvijas
2. SCs have faced the problem of negative social treatment, including

To solve these problems, consider the following:
(a) A scriptural statement that matches traditional practice is on a
very strong footing. If such statements/practices are negative, they
are difficult to reform

(b) A scriptural statement that does not match traditional practice is
on a relatively weaker footing. If the statement is negative, it can
be ignored/reinterpreted. However, if it is positive, it can be used
as a "tool" against negative practices

(c) A traditional practice that does not match scriptural statements
will/should get evaluated against scriptural statements as society
gets more educated. If such practices are negative, positive
scriptural statements can be used to combat them. If such practices
are positive, they can be preserved in their own right.

(d) Negative sciptural statements about non-dvijas fall under category
(b) above. They do not match traditional practice, therefore they can
be ignored or reinterpreted

(e) Negative social treatment of SCs falls under (c) above. It can be
countered using a combination of positive scriptural statements and
explicit rejection of such practices.

(f) However, your interpretation confuses scriptural statements about
non-dvijas with social treatment of SCs. Instead of a (b) category
problem and a (c) category problem, we end up with an (a) category
problem, which is much more difficult to solve. This is precisely what
I am warning against.

> I would quite happily agree that traditions are more
> at the root of the problem esp. since most of these
> scriptures were anyway not available for non-dvija-s.
> The issue is that today we can neither restrict nor it
> is desirable to restrict the knowledge about such
> scriptural texts. As knowledge about them grows, a
> very substantial portion of hindu community will find
> it difficult to relate to them. How are we going to
> respond to this situation?

This is precisely what I am saying. If we can separate the scriptural
statements about non-dvijas from the negative treatment of SCs, we can
respond to this situation much better. Non-dvijas who find scriptural
statements problematic will know that these havent been followed in
practice. SCs who have experienced negative social treatment will know
that such treatment does not have a scriptural basis. Hindu
organizations/scholars who make this separation will be better able to
respond to the situation because they will better able to build a
sense of pride among our people.

On the other hand, if you dont make the above separation, it will be
difficult for an educated person from an SC community to be proud of

> I, on the other hand do not share your pessimism about
> the fate of Hinduism. I have a firm belief that
> tomorrow will be better.

Great that you are optimistic. In general, I am optimistic too. My
pessimism comes from the way you (and a lot of people in general) look
at our problems.

Bad theory that is unrelated to practice is solvable. Bad practice
that is unrelated to theory is also solvable.

However, if you link up bad theory with bad practice, it becomes much
more difficult to solve.

And the fact is that we have one problem of bad theory and another of
bad practice. The relation between them is tenuous at best. If we
recognize this separation, we will be better placed to solve both.


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