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I work in a cosmopolitan environment where personnel from various nationality and religious background work. Recently a Muslim friend sent a message in closed WhatsApp group requesting prayers for his ailing cousin in Pakistan. Everyone in the group offered comforting words and perhaps prayed during prayer sessions as well. The consolidated positive vibe was quite tangible and consoling.

Few weeks back, during informal break between the works, I offered a cup of Coffee to a Christian friend from Philippines. He politely refused the offer and said he is fasting. I was surprised to see a Christian fasting. It’s a concept in Islam and Hinduism as far as I know, but never heard of it in Christianity. Intrigued, I asked him the reason for fasting. He said in his church there are five members who have issues like unemployment, ailment, personal problems etc., and 40 members of the church are on fasting for 12 days and offer prayers for them.

In both of the above incidents I found something in common, Fraternity. In Islam everyone is considered as brothers irrespective of the religion, clan or culture. In Christianity there is a concept of brotherhood where the fraternity members are considered brothers. But in Hinduism I couldn’t find any such concept. When someone prays to God, they pray and observe fasting for themselves or at the most for their immediate family. The fundamental concept of Hinduism is all about individual and his/her welfare.

brahminIs Hinduism a religion?

Unlike other religions, Hinduism is not an institutionalised religion. The fundamental building blocks of an institutionalised religion is single God or messenger of God (Jesus, Allah), single scripture (Bible, Kuran) and single institution (Church, Mosque). Hinduism never has any of these fundamental characteristics. It has multiple faiths within the faith, multiple Gods, multiple worship methods, multiple sect-wise scriptures, multiple temples. In fact the very word Hindu is not found in the roots of any Indian languages. It is the word used by the European Orientalists to mention people living on the other side of Sind River.

In 1799 Sir William Jones drafted the law for the land and named it ‘Hindu Law’ and thus the word attained a legal qualification. According to Indian constitution, definition for Hindu is ‘anyone who is not a Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi or Jew is a Hindu. Nowhere in the world would you find such a weird definition for a religion. By consolidating various micro level faiths under single umbrella Hinduism, only Brahmins stood to gain. This is very evident from the statement made by Chandrasekarendrar, the head of Sankara Mutt in Kanchipuram, ‘We are saved by the white people who gave the name ‘Hindu’ to us’. It simply helped Brahmins to revive their centuries old hegemony under rightful law.

There were three major sects before formation of Hinduism, namely Saivites, Vaishnavites and Smarthas. Saivites worship Siva, Vaishanvites worship Vishnu and Smarthas do not worship any idols but the script Veda. Apart from these major faiths, there were innumerable numbers of systems that worship local heroes and nature. In terms of numbers, these minor sects form the majority of the religion. Bringing these disparate sects under single umbrella helped Brahmins to consolidate everyone under treacherous practice of Sanadhana and divide them into Varnas, and crown themselves at the apex of the deceitful system. They occupied the key positions of British government and dictated terms in their favour. Unable to discern the complex Indian milieu and also due to the advantage of dividing and ruling the people through Brahmanical hegemony, British government was playing to the tunes of fallacious Brahmins. This can be illustrated through a classic example - the fraudulent practice of making Sanskrit knowledge mandatory for studying medicine (in English medium) in Indian medical colleges. Knowing very well except Brahmins none others are allowed to learn Sanskrit, Britishers practised it, letting almost 100% of the seats captured by them.

In Tamilnadu before the advent of Hinduism, six faiths were in practice namely, Saivam, Vainavam, Kowmaram, Sakthyam, Kanapathyam and Smartham. The worship methodology, Scripture and Gods were different for each practice. On bringing all of them under Hinduism, it is divided into two broad categories Saivam and Vainavam. Brahmins have two sects in Tamilnadu namely, Iyer and Iyengar and they both captured Saivam and Vainavam respectively. While they brought almost everyone under these two faiths, people belonging to other four sects still follow their own faiths and believe they are Hindus.

In rural parts of Tamilnadu, the practice of worshipping the local heroes (Madurai Veeran, Sudalai Madan, Ayyanaar, Madathi, Vellaiyammal etc.,) is still in vogue, and the priest here is not a Brahmin, but from either same community or another community from Sudra Varna. However a disturbing trend is evolving now. The local Brahmins insist the temple need to undergo Kumbabishekam (cleansing the Kumba, the ceiling of temple) as per religious practice. On completing the ritual they go a step further and insist upon appointing a Brahmin priest to maintain the holiness of shrine. As third step they ban slaughter of animals in the temple premises. Innocent villagers bite the bait and fall into an eternal trap. Such incidents further help fortification of Hinduism and thereby consolidation of Brahmanical hegemony.

Hinduism had always thrived upon the falsehood, fraudulent manipulations, slavery by birth and denial of equal rights. One of the Holy Scripture, Baghavad Gita says ‘Discharge your duties; don’t expect results’. As per Manu’s script, ‘The Sudra and Panchama (fourth and fifth Varnas of Varna system) should serve the people above them in the Varna system and should not expect any salary or reward. It’s their Karma to serve them throughout their life. On juxtaposing these two concepts, one can understand the underlying principle of doctrine is exploitation.

Panchathantra is the book recommended by Hinduism to enlighten children and enhance their intelligence. All the stories of this book are based on deceiving one another, backstabbing, fraudulent manipulation etc., and the religion without any shame advocates, ‘attaining goal is important and the means to reach it doesn’t matters’.

Brahmins, to maintain their superiority, have maintained for centuries that, four Vedas written in Sanskrit are the Holy Scriptures and anyone other than Brahmins should not learn it. If a Sudra happens to listen to it, molten lead should be poured into their ears as penalty. They had the kings under their influence, captured all the temples and ensured their dominance is not challenged.

As per Manu script, which is the official penal code for Hinduism, the penalty for a crime should be discharged based on the Varna the accused belongs to. For instance if a Brahmin commits murder, cutting a part of his hair is the penalty while it is death penalty for all other Varnas. The education institutions found by the kings will house only the Brahmins and people from all other Varnas are prohibited from learning. Modern day imposition of Sanskrit for studying medicine has roots from here.

brahminsDiscrimination in Hinduism

For many centuries Panchamas were considered untouchables and kept off from the society. They have to live in settlements outside the city or town, which continues till date. They have to carry-out all the menial jobs including scavenging. They were not properly remunerated for the job done. The children were not allowed to study and were mandated to do their ancestral chores.

No other religion of the world has such a treacherous enslavement of its own people. In a Mosque or Church anyone can sit in any part of the premises and pray. Anyone can become a Moulvi or Priest. But in Hinduism only a Brahmin can become a priest and can enter Sanctum Sanctorum of the temple. Until few decades ago the Sudras were not allowed to even enter the temple premises.

Brahmanical hegemony

Immersing themselves into the Manu script, Sanadhana Dharma, tales of Panchathantra, the Brahmin kids are brought up in a milieu where they do not even have fundamental humane feeling towards their own brethren. While generalizing and making such a sweeping statement might look like an exaggeration, the proportion of exceptions would convince anyone to vouch for the statement. Among Brahmins, some are very vocal and upfront about their superiority over others, and many say they are neutral and maintain middle ground but inconspicuously stay on the other side of the fence. To illustrate, I would like to quote two recent incidents.

Generally about the class wise representation system (infamously known as Reservation among journalists and Quota system among Brahmins) Brahmins used to say it is against the talent and skill and the system breeds unskilled, non-talented mobs in the educational institutions and government organisations. But recently Narendra Modi’s Hindutva government introduced Quota for ‘economically backward’ (the criterion to label one as economically backward is a farce by itself) people of upper caste, they kept mum and shamelessly lopped it up without an iota of ignominy.

India’s Schooling system is a very disparate system with umpteen number of boards and methodologies. CBSE is the system chalked out by Union government and adopted by few schools in the Metros and towns, catering mostly to elite class. Most of the Brahmin students study in CBSE schools due to their elite privilege and with an eye on Union government’s jobs and seats in higher education institutions like IIT and IIM. The Brahmanical forces that have long captured the key positions in the union government, introduced the selection system for Medical education through nation-wide examination process called NEET (National Eligibility cum Entrance Test). CBSE is the standard for this examination, which obviously put the ones studying in CBSE system at advantage ignoring all others. For obvious reason majority of Indian students, from rural locations who don’t have privilege of studying in CBSE syllabus are blatantly denied the opportunity of studying medicine. The conscience of every progressive Indian pricked on this atrocious decision and they raised voice against it in every possible platforms including social media. Almost all of those so called progressive Brahmins maintained mysterious silence and were in hibernation when the campaign went in full throttle.

Why progressive elements always target Hinduism

Every one of us would have come across this statement in our life at least in one occasion “Why progressive elements raise questions only against Hinduism, why they are not targeting Islam or Christianity?” A simple, logical, pragmatic response would be ‘Those religions treats its members equally, while Hinduism’s Dogma is Untouchability, Discrimination, Exploitation, Inequality and Slavery.

When Ambedkar invited Periyar to join Budhism along with him, he clairvoyantly replied, “I am able to analyse thread bare and criticise this system called Hinduism only because I am part of it. The moment I step out, I lose that privilege and Brahmanical forces would very easily dilute, torment and destroy all the concepts I vehemently voiced all these years”.

The evils to be fought against in other religions are miniscule and far less in magnitude compared to the ones in Hinduism. Moreover if progressive elements divert their focus from the savage Hindutva forces and take sides with them, it would embolden the barbaric regressive Hindutva forces and they would unleash all the power at their disposal to eradicate other religions. Hence the responsibility of the progressive elements doubles up not only to keep the Hindutva forces at bay by criticising the religion, but also to save the brothers and sisters from minority religions by fortifying and serving as their armours.

- Ramu. Palaniappan, Chennai

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