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It is time to, Cast YOUR Caste Away…

It is indeed time to have Faith in your roots and reject the divisive forces. It is indeed time to own up andprotect the social and cultural fabric of the Nation. It is indeed time to, Cast YOUR Caste Away…!!!

The domination of East India Company on the sub-continent had come very close to being overturned in 1857. The Company Command and the powers behind them preferred to brush aside the shock by downgrading the incident while recording it as just another mutiny, ‘Sepoy’ Mutiny. However, deep within they knew that, it was nothing short of the First War of Independence. A nation and its people, which had almost started accepting foreign dominance as their fate and destiny were suddenly being roused and awakened by a bunch of daredevils who were well aware of the impossibility of the challenge. Yet, they preferred to sacrifice their lives rather than remain slaves to some alien power which held no respect for their land, their traditions and their people. This was enough motivation for thousands of them to choose an untimely death over a continued life of subjugation.

The Empire realised that time was running out on them unless they devised some strategy to prolong their immoral rule and illegal loot. The British Government took over the ‘Company’ which was ‘owning’ this Nation and the destiny of its people. However, even the structured administrative takeover by the Greatest Power on the face of the Earth during those days, was clearly not enough to put a lid to the dreams and aspirations of the people which had got ignited after having tasted glimpses of the joys of Freedom.

Enter, Herbert Hope Risley born in Buckinghamshire, England who joined the Indian Civil Services in 1871. Risley was posted in Bengal which was the largest Presidency at that time and was quietly engaged in engaged in statistical studies and ethnographic research of the local populace. The intention of the Empire was to understand the local populace better in order to avoid another rebellion which could not be ignored. In his over enthusiasm to come out with something unique which could explain the characteristics of the local populace, their lifestyle, traditions; Risley came out with the outrageous theory to classify the native populace based on anthropometric measurements. In order to explain the complex Jati Parampara and Varna Vyavastha prevalent and unique to this land, something which possibly was way beyond the comprehension of someone un-exposed to the subtle philosophy and ancient tradition of this land, he audaciously went ahead to categorise Castes and sub-castes based on his observations of skin colour, nose, hair colour, eyes, features, profession, skill etc. and his concocted theories.

The manner in which the British Empire used this caste classification was not some error in judgement done out of lack of understanding but it was clearly with the intention to divide the largely Hindu society on ossified Caste lines. And did they succeed? Yes, they did! As there was never another ‘War of Independence’ to liberate our Land. Atleast, that is what we are taught. The society lost its identity, moorings, culture. self-esteem and courage to fight for a long, long time to follow.

It cannot be just mere coincidence that around the same time, an Organisation was born, again conceived and founded by another British Civil Servant Alexander Ocatavian Hume, this one masquerading as an Ornithologist and Botanist. Hume believed that, the British had failed in India not because of lack of good intent but due to insufficient understanding of the local culture and populace. The organisation which was born out of his ‘good intent’ to understand this land was, the Indian National Congress.

Risley who was convinced that Caste was a prevalent system of social precedence deriving from a race-based hierarchy of social life in India. For his path-breaking work, Risley rose up the ranks to become the Census Commissioner of British India later in his career and the British Empire adopted this theory for Caste-based classification of the Hindu society in the 1901 census.

Though it is difficult to comment today on how Congress, which was being led by an Indian by that time, reacted to this move or if they could foresee how damaging and divisive this move would be to the fabric of the society in times to come. There is no denying that there was disparity in the society of those days (as it is even today here, there and everywhere) which can also be traced to beon the basis of Jati or Caste even largely misrepresented as having religious sanction but never before had the schisms of the society been formalised or put in compartments like this. The society actually needed a correction to regain the purity of the Vedic concept which had survived for thousands of years without any conflict where, every individual had the birth right of mobility of his Varna [It may be noted here that Varna, as it finds mentions in the Scriptures, was based on Guna (Temperament)& Karma (Actions) and NOT merely by Birth].

Later, when India acquired Independence under the leadership of the Congress, the fault line called Caste was formally accepted while the philosophy behind the Varna Vyavastha which holds the key to resolve the conundrum was ignored. This was possibly done because the leadership was too keen to appear neutral on Religion. But then how can the solution for any problem being attributed wrongly to some cause be found anywhere other than in the source of the cause?

The Nation has carried this divide for long and almost included it as the new way of life. But the vested political powers, not satisfied at this have delivered one blow after another to create further schism after schism in the society only to cater to self-serving political interest and survival. No political party has been sincere in attempting to rectify the issue and unite the society. Risley had declared that there were some 2378 castes in India which has miraculously and magically increased to more than 25,000 castes and sub-castes in the present day.

The latest move the inheritors of the Party formed by the British Orn1ithologist with the purpose to ‘understand’ India better has gone one step further. The demand by the present-day Congress for Caste-based census in midst of the rigours of the crucial State election in the State of Karnataka is ostensibly to achieve ‘meaningful social justice and empowerment programmes’ but clearly, is nothing but a thinly veiled attempt to further fragment the society for the sake of electoral votes, yet again. It is indeed heartening to observe that a large populace of the ever-forward-looking Hindu society have slowly started moving on with their Caste identity but shedding the divisive nature of Caste-ism and this is what exactly hurts the petty political powers. Today, when you look back, it is not very difficult to see through the real intentions of Risley and Hume and their endeavours. The hidden intent behind desire and purpose to ‘understand’ the local populace was only to identify the chinks in the armour of the society where it could easily break so that the society does not standup united, once again.

Not much has changed today with the approach of the Congress of today. Let us hope that the Hindu has indeed learnt his lesson and rejects any more attempt to fragment the society. The division on caste fault-lines and the associated adverse outcome has already given rise to unprecedented religious conversion wreaking havoc on the fabric of the basic unit of the society – the village. Any further deepening on caste lines would indeed be nothing less than knock-out punch for the children of Sanatana Dharma. The Hindus for ages have shown a unique trait of overcoming any social evil which creeps in by the power of the collective understanding of Dharma. Be it, the evils of Dowry, Child Marriage, Female Infanticide, Sati, Widow remarriage, Girl Education. Caste-ism and the associated discrimination is another social evil which Hindus can and should overcome by leaning back on the depth of understanding of their Dharma.

It is indeed time to have Faith in your roots and reject the divisive forces. It is indeed time to own up andprotect the social and cultural fabric of the Nation. It is indeed time to, Cast YOUR Caste Away…!!!