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The Intellectual Dishonesty of Shashi Tharoor on Caste system

Swami Shashi – The political Hinduism of Shashi Tharoor  by KANCHA ILAIAH SHEPHERD

AT THE OUTSET of Why I Am a Hindu, the politician and writer Shashi Tharoor—a member of the Nair castes, and so a Shudra—writes that the book is in large part a response to the “intolerant and often violent forms of Hindutva that began to impose themselves on the public consciousness of Indians in the 1980s.” I am also a Shudra, part of what are now officially called the Other Backward Classes, and I wrote my book Why I Am Not a Hindu in response to the rise of Hindutva as well.

How does Tharoor come to a different view of Hinduism than any Shudra writer of great prominence before him? Simply put, it is by not applying any critical or analytical thinking. His main strategy of persuasion is not argument, but repetition with rhetorical flourishes of a two-in-one premise and conclusion, stated already in the very first paragraph of the book where he describes Hinduism as “that most plural, inclusive, eclectic and expansive of faiths.”

Traditionally, the basic work of Nairs, as of many Shudra castes, was agriculture, but the caste system that allotted them this work also denied them land rights. Over the centuries, Nairs moved away from their typically Shudra occupation, and under the influence of Brahminism entered into a unique relationship with the dominant Nambudiri Brahmins. Well into the nineteenth century, Nair women lived in sambhandham with the Nambudiri Brahmins’ younger sons. This was a form of sexual slavery, with the women denied marital rights and the men freed from obligation towards any children of the union, and it had full spiritual and religious sanction under the caste order.

It is difficult to pretend that Hinduism can be exempted from the problems of casteism,” Tharoor states at the start of a passage examining caste in general, yet taken as a whole that is exactly what the passage does. He writes that “many modern Hindus have grown up rejecting the discriminatory aspects of the caste system, while still observing caste preferences when it comes to arranging the marriages of their children.”

Tharoor sees no contradiction between the two parts of the sentence. He says that “the rigidities of the caste system as we understand it today were introduced by the British in their desire to understand, categorise, and classify the people they were ruling, in order to control them all the better” yet also that historically “social mobility was relatively rare in Hinduism.”

According to Tharoor, “the Upanishadic insistence on the unity of being, a divinity available to everyone … implies the equality of all souls and argues against caste discrimination,” but “there is little doubt that many Hindus believed that the caste system had religious sanction.” He cites the Rig Veda’s theory of the creation of human life, where Brahmins are created from the mouth of Purusha, Kshatriyas from the arms, Vaishyas from the thighs and Shudras from the feet—with those falling outside these four varnas, Dalits and Adivasis, given the lowest standing of all. Yet, even as he profusely references this highly revered Hindu text by Brahmins, Tharoor maintains that “Hindu society may have maintained a distasteful practice”—that is, the caste system—“but no one can credibly argue that it is intrinsic to the religion.”

In fact, many have credibly argued that. The most prominent of them is perhaps BR Ambedkar, whose fundamental thesis, in works such as Riddles in Hinduism and The Annihilation of Caste, is that caste and Hinduism are one and the same, and if one dies the other cannot survive. Tharoor mentions Ambedkar just a handful of times in the almost 300 pages of his book, each time only in passing. Much of the analysis Ambedkar used to arrive at his conclusions relied on close readings of Hinduism’s holy texts, yet Tharoor does not address or challenge Ambedkar’s analysis even while extensively citing the Upanishads, Puranas and Vedas to defend his proposition that Hinduism is an “almost ideal” faith. The fact is that these texts never gave any rights to Shudras, let alone Dalits—who together form the majority of India’s population.

Tharoor points out that “Manu declared ‘where women are honoured, there the gods rejoice, but where they are not honoured, there all rituals are useless.’” If he had any knowledge of feminist discourse, he would have known that the problem lies exactly in Manu’s regressive concept of female honour.

Shudra philosophy is very clear that pure vegetarianism is unnatural, and that the people involved in the cattle economy have dignity, as do all productive workers. Brahminism, whether it is of the BJP or the Congress kind, is not going to make India great, but a productive philosophy can push the country to develop. The RSS and BJP’s ideology of gau raksha, and the entirety of sanyasi economics, can only be defeated through the philosophy of the country’s productive workers—not through standing by Brahminism like Tharoor does.

Shashi feeling proud that he was born a Hindu from the feet of the Brahmin god. He has surrendered to Brahminism for the sake of political power. This surrender may keep him in the Congress now, but could also take him into the BJP camp as things unfold. His Hinduism suits him personally and politically, but it has no promise for the future of India.

Read Full Article: The political Hinduism of Shashi Tharoor

Read Even More: The True Face of “Incredible India”

One Comment

  1. samir sardana samir sardana August 23, 2020

    People look at the disaster of Kashmir,Naxals,Article 370,Galwan and Ladakah – and say,that these Brahmins and Banias will doom Hindoosthan (India) !

    The PM and HM of Hindoosthan are Banias,and the RSS are Brahmins,and so are,the bureaucrats of India ! dindooohindoo

    What did RAMA say of these Brahmin/Bania vermin ?

    कच्चिन् न लोकायतिकान् ब्राह्मणामः तात सेवसे |
    अनर्थ कुशला ह्य् एते बालाः पण्डित मानिनः || २-१००-३८

    38. I hope are not honouring the materialistic brahmins, My dear brother! These men are skilled in perverting the mind, ignorant as they are and thinking themselves to be learned.”

    धर्म शास्त्रेषु मुख्येषु विद्यमानेषु दुर्बुधाः |
    बुद्धिमान् वीक्षिकीम् प्राप्य निरर्थम् प्रवदन्ति ते || २-१००-३९

    39. “Reaching to their logical acumen, these men of perverted intellect preach meaninglessly, in the presence of eminent books on righteousness.”

    BUT THE HINDOOS DO NOT GET IT ? Rama is WARNING THE HINDOOS “NOT TO” TRUST the Brahmins ! He is WARNING them ! Note the expressions “perverted intellect”,”meaningless preaching”….. Can it be MORE SPECIFIC ?

    REWIND TO – 1962 and 1965 – COAS was a Brahmin, Defense Minister was a Brahmin,PM was a Brahmin (although Nehru was only a Quasi – Hindoo)

    Krishna refers to the “Vedas and the Brahmins”, as under :

    O son of Prithâ! who are strongly attached to (worldly) pleasures and power, and whose minds are drawn away by “that flowery talk which is full of (ordinances of) specific acts”, for the “attainment of (those) pleasures and (that) power”, and which promises birth, as the “fruit of acts (that flowery talk)” which those unwise ones utter, who are “enamoured of Vedic words”, who say there is nothing else, who are full of desires..

    REWIND TO – Ladakh and Galwan Disaster, Article 370…..All planned by the Brahmins (Foreign Minister,Defense/Home and Cabinet Secretary)

    Krishna is WARNING the Hindoos ! He is warning against the “evils of sophistry and self-righteousness” ! But the Hindoos DO NOT GET IT !

    Dalits are poor and illiterate – and so,they know NOT. The Hindoos can READ – but they are weasels and cowards – and hence,they were,are and will be,doomed.

    History records that whosoever,trusted and relied on the Brahmins,was doomed and destroyed,in 10-20 years.Take the case of the hapless Sikhs – whose Gurus
    and scriptures were killed,and destroyed/forged,by the Brahmins – and STILL, the Sikhs claim,that they fought Islam,for the honour and life of the Brahmins
    (Suicide Blonde mentality – But who is blondie ?) ! The Brahmins and Dogras, also destroyed Ranjit Singh – solely by theft and treachery !

    Still the Hindoos DO NOT get it !

    Lastly,I present the GENIUS OF BERUNI,and note the SIMILARITY of his views,with that of RAMA and KRISHNA – the pure gems of genius !

    The Hindus believe that there is no country but theirs, no nation like theirs, no kings like theirs, no religion like theirs, no science like theirs.
    They are haughty, foolishly vain, self-conceited, and stolid.
    They are by nature niggardly in communicating that which they know, and they take the greatest possible care to withhold it from men of another caste among
    their own people,still much more, of course, from any foreigner…
    This wrong estimate of themselves blinded the Hindus and they assumed a false sense of superiority which ultimately proved their ruin.

    Beruni is referring ONLY TO the Brahmins !

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