By Satish Mylvarapu
Belgian historian Koenraad Elst described anti-Brahminism as the Indian equivalent of anti-semitism.
“Pope Gregory XV (1621-23) decreed that the missionaries could tolerate caste distinction among Christian converts; but by and large, caste remained an effective hurdle to the destruction of Hinduism through conversion. That is why the missionaries started attacking the institution of caste and in particular the brahmin caste. This propaganda has bloomed into a full-fledged anti-brahminism, the Indian equivalent of anti-Semitism.”
To understand the dynamics of anti-Brahminism, we will have to take a look at caste arithmetic, history and the social nature of Hindu society.
Census based on caste is banned in India since castes are not encouraged in public. The last census on caste was taken in the year 1931. At that time, brahmins comprised 4 percent of the population.
Many estimate that it may have shrunk given the hostile atmosphere in which Brahmins live. However, the percentage of SCs and STs and OBCs have been made available following the reservation scheme. The SCs, STs and OBCs together form 75 percent of Indian population as per data from Mandal Commission records.
Caste wise demographics:
Scheduled Caste 16 percent
Scheduled Tribe 7percent
Other Backward Caste 52 percent
Muslims 13 percent
Sikhs 2 percent
Chrisians 2 percent
Jains & Buddhists 1 percent
Brahmins 4 percent (as per 1931 census) currently less than 2%.
Others 3 or 4 percent
From this is obvious that KHAM (Kshatriya, Harijan, Adivasi and Muslim) combination would work out to more than 90 percent. So it is natural for the Congress and the secular parties to woo this combine by demonizing the Brahmins on the charges that lower castes have been exploited by Brahmins for centuries. This forms the central crux of the anti-brahmin argument. Besides it is very safe to be an anti-Brahmin since the Brahmins are docile and don’t hit back. Just imagine what would happen if other castes and other religions were targeted.
While there is no denying the Brahmin atrocities and the need for uplifting the Dalits, the other side of the coin has to be factored too. The effects of anti-Brahminism has been disastrous for the Bharathiya psyche. It is a gross distortion of history and it undermines Brahmin sacrifices in ensuring the nation’s continuity.
Remember, the Brahmins have played a stellar role in preserving India’s heritage which have been fully acknowledged by Swami Vivekananda and Gandhi. However, this contribution has not just been ignored but negated by our eminent left historians.
To understand the reason why Hindus survived the Islamic conquests we have to study the fall of Buddhism too. This is what B R Ambedkar wrote on the fall of Buddhism in India following Islamic invasion: “The Musalman invaders sacked the Buddhist Universities of Nalanda, Vikramshila, Jagaddala, Odantapuri to name only a few. They raised to the ground Buddhist monasteries with which the country was studded. The monks fled away in thousands to Nepal, Tibet and other places outside India. A very large number were killed outright by the Muslim commanders. How the Buddhist priesthood perished by the sword of the Muslim invaders has been recorded by the Muslim historians themselves. Summarizing the evidence relating to the slaughter of the Buddhist Monks perpetrated by the Musalman General in the course of his invasion of Bihar in 1197 AD, Mr. Vincent Smith says, “….Great quantities of plunder were obtained, and the slaughter of the ‘shaven headed Brahmans’, that is to say the Buddhist monks, was so thoroughly completed, that when the victor sought for someone capable of explaining the contents of the books in the libraries of the monasteries, not a living man could be found who was able to read them. ‘It was discovered,’ we are told, ‘that the whole of that fortress and city was a college, and in the Hindi tongue they call a college Bihar.’ “Such was the slaughter of the Buddhist priesthood perpetrated by the Islamic invaders. The axe was struck at the very root. For by killing the Buddhist priesthood, Islam killed Buddhism. This was the greatest disaster that befell the religion of the Buddha in India….”
According to Arun Shourie, Hinduism survived largely because of Brahminism: He says:
“For the Hindus, every Brahmin was a potential priest. No ordination was mandated. Neither anything else. Every household carried on rituals — oblations, recitation of particular mantras, pilgrimages, each Brahmin family made memorizing some Veda its very purpose…. By contrast, Buddhism had instituted ordination, particular training etc. for its priestly class. Thus, when the invaders massacred Brahmins, Hinduism continued. But when they massacred the Buddhist monks, the religion itself was killed.”
The priestly Brahmin class managed to preserve India’s spiritual traditions despite ethnic cleansing and genocides. This is not to undermine the contribution of other castes who had played their role by refusing to convert despite their low stature. It is high time that the Brahmin is seen for what he is rather than being demonized.
Social dimensions of Brahmin today:
French journalist Francois Gautier says: Rampant anti-Brahmanism, first used by the Muslim invaders, then by the British colonialists and missionaries, is still in vogue at the hands of Nehruvians, Marxists, Indian Christians and politicians in search of the votes of Dalits and Muslims, which combined together make and unmake prime ministers.
Gautier had published an article in Rediff – Brahmins as Dalits of Today — stating that several young Brahmins were working in Sulab Toilets as toilet cleaners, sweepers et al (a job that is usually arrogated to the lower caste Dalits.)
Though Gautier had given this information to the Indian media, they started avoiding him, refused to publish it and some even criticized him as a “RSS stooge”. Certainly when editors, intellectuals and intelligentsia of the day bear anti-brahmin bias and refuse to look at reality, it is a tragedy of the society besides a slur on journalistic tradition which preaches objectivity. Remember, Brahmins are always projected as a fat, rich arrogant community. The selective amnesia of the media when it comes to Brahmin poverty is breathtaking. Is it not?
Sri Aurobindo wrote:
‘A Brahmin was a Brahmin only if he cultivated the spiritual temperament and acquired the spiritual training which alone would qualify him for the task.’Says Gautier, “Thanks to the lingering influence of Nehruvianism, ‘Brahmins’ remain today a dirty word, even in the face of reality: that Dalits have considerably come up since 1947 in Indian society, that no nation in the world has done so much for its underprivileged (India had a Dalit President — did the US ever have a Black President?). But the intellectual elite of India, which never mentions these facts, continues to hide its face in the sand like an ostrich, refusing to see the reality.”
Dr Bindeshwar Pathak, the founder of the Sulabh Shauchalaya Movement remarks:’Society sustained the Brahmins and other upper castes earlier, who upheld the Hindu scriptures and Hindu culture. Today Hinduism is on the decline day-by-day. There is a lack of ancient knowledge. No political party has objected to reservation thanks to vote-bank politics. People have a very short memory. They have forgotten the contribution made by Brahmins to our society.’
And who says that Brahmins and other upper castes are anti-Dalits. Some of India’s top avatars, saints and gurus were of low caste and are still worshipped today by all upper castes. Valmiki, the composer of the Ramayana, was a fisherman; Ved Vyasa, the epic poet of the Mahabharata, which also contains the Bhagavad Gita, the Bible of Future Humanity, was the son of a fisherwoman; Krishna was from the shepherd’s caste. And are not today’s Amritanandamayi or Satya Sai Baba of low caste birth? Don’t they have millions of Indians, many of them from upper castes, bowing down to them?
Anti-Brahmanism has to be stopped! This inter-caste war, triggered by the politicians’ greed for votes, has to be defused.
Brahmins and Manu Smrithies:
Manu Smrithies are the most effective tool used for Brahmin bashing. However, what is not pointed out is that Manu Smrithi has no validity in Hindu soceity. Manu Smriti is part of Samaja Dharma (which is like a constitution which was valid only during a certain period of time). Hindus have more faith in Sanatana Dharma (texts like Bhagavad Gita). According to several other scholars, the Manu Smrithies suffer from interpolation and cannot be relied upon. Most of the Hindus are ignorant about Manu Smrithies and tend to rely more upon classical texts like the Bhagavad Gita.
It is these alien intellectuals who have selected obscure passages from Manu Smrithies and are demonising a largely peaceful community. They do not point out other scriptures like the Gita where the Brahmin is described as a person in whom you find “truthfulness, generosity, absence of hatred, modesty, goodness and self-restraint.” Appreciating Brahmins is taboo in India.
What these intellectual worthies do not realise is that most of the Dalit reformers were Brahmins too. This only proves that brahmins are open to reforms and committed to justice.
A smritis, or code of conduct composed by sage Atri defines brahminhood very clearly
.”By birth, every man is a Shudra (an ignorant person). Through various types of disciplines (samskaras), he becomes a dwija (twice born). Through the studies of scriptures, he becomes a vipra (or a scholar). Through realization of supreme spirit (brahmajnana), he becomes a brahmin.”