The RSS supremo Mohan Bhagwat in an issue of Organiser, the mouthpiece of RSS, recently called for a revision of the reservation policy, revealing the hitherto camouflaged policy of the RSS towards social justice. In reality, RSS is against reservations for socially deprived sections of Indian society. But declaring this openly is not easy. When Hardik Patel in Gujarat started his agitation demanding either reservation for the powerful Patel community or scrapping of the whole reservation policy, only then did the RSS supremo summon the courage to express the real views of his organization.
The reservation policy has its importance in giving opportunities to the weaker sections of Indian society that have been deprived of even human status by the caste system since centuries. Even today, gross social discrimination against dalits is practiced in many parts of the country. Despite reservation, dalits are forced to do menial jobs while upper castes corner most of the top jobs. A majority of landless labourers are dalits and a recent survey found that on an average dalit family incomes are 40% less than upper caste incomes in rural areas, while this gap is a shocking 60% in urban areas. There are repeated incidents of murders, lynching, rape and arson against dalit families. But the RSS wants to wish away this brutality by claiming that the caste system in its mythical ‘pure’ form is actually a unifying force for Hindu society.
The ideology of the RSS is based on ‘Hindutva’, which is inseparable from the varna and caste system. The RSS believes in the caste system, according to which each must perform his/her duties without complaint as per their place in the caste hierarchy. The RSS has no love for the Dalits and Adivasis. It expects that the Dalits and backward communities must perform their duties in accordance with the Dharmashastras (Hindu scriptures) which the RSS lauds as ideal. Narendra Modi has even said that dalit manual scavengers feel spiritual pleasure in doing their work. And his cabinet colleague VK Singh referred to the horrific Sunpedh incident of two dalit children being burnt alive as like throwing stones at a dog.
So, what is the real RSS view of dalits and where do they derive it from? To understand this, it is necessary to briefly explore the history of the varna/caste system. This is all the more necessary because the RSS and its multiple fronts are constantly trying to rewrite history and claim that the caste system was introduced only by the Mughal rulers and before that everybody lived in harmony and equality. As we show below, nothing could be further from truth. Ancient Hindi scriptures are full of praise for the varna system, and explicitly spell out the inferior dehumanized status of ‘lower’ castes.
VARNA/CASTE SYSTEM AND DHARMASHASTRAS
The former President of India S. Radhakrishnan in his book “The Hindu View of Life” presented a fascinating picture of Hindu society. It is made of four varnas, with the Brahmins on the top and the Shudras at the bottom. Each of the four Varnas has its own Dharmas (duties) or ethical codes. Radhakrishnan described it as a neat and symmetrical system.
But this apparently rosy picture in reality is the most inhuman system in history. The Four Varnas (Chaturvarnya) system based on duties was only in the imagination of the law givers; it never appeared in practice. In reality, the caste system depends on birth. The caste system is called Jati Vyavastha. Jati means birth and hence the caste system is actually a Birth System. This caste system is unique in human history and is only found in Hindu society. Another feature of the caste system is that it is a hierarchy with superior and inferior castes. Such is the tenacity of this hierarchical concept that even within castes, the sub-castes consider themselves above or below others.
Apart from the Four Varnas there is a vast population which is out of the Varna system altogether and no law givers or Dharmashastras consider them a part of the social system. This is ‘last birth’ or Antyaja. The Dalits and Adivasis are ‘Antyaja’, out of the caste system and hence theoretically not members of Hindu society. Dalits are the most wretched, exploited and dehumanised sections which do not fit in the four Varna system of Hindu hierarchy. But still some Dalit castes or Jatis consider themselves as Hindu and the Hindu society presses for it.
It is claimed that the four Varna system evolved from the ‘Purursh Sukta’ of Rigveda. The Rigveda is the oldest of the four Vedas evolved about 1500 BCE and took centuries for completion. The tenth Mandal of Rigveda is the latest and is thought to have been created in 800 BCE and only in this tenth Mandal, and only once in the whole of Rigveda, that there is mention of four Varnas.
The Purush Sukta hymn of Rigveda says: “Brahmanosya mukhamasid bahu rajanyah kritah, Uru tadasya yad vaishyah padbhyam shudro ajayat.” (Explanation – when the Purush was sacrificed in yajnya the priests questioned how to define the sacrificed Purusha’s body parts. Then his head is Brahmin, arms are rajanya (Kshatriya), thighs Vaishya and feet are Shudra.)
This tenth Mandal was created when the Aryans settled in the Ganga valley. They abandoned nomadic life. Cultivation was the principal occupation and pastoralism was subsidiary which in the earlier nomadic life was the principal activity. Settled agriculture and use of iron implements produced surplus and the Aryan society became stratified into classes. It was to justify this class division based on the cultivation economy, that the Purush Sukta was created. To say that the caste system or Varna system sprang from the Purush Sukta is like placing the cart before the horse, and is unscientific. Actually, after the division of society in classes the Purush Sukta justified it as a divine system.
State power controls the producers of material production that is necessary for the existence of society and helps the exploiters to retain maximum surplus in their hands and lets the producers eke out bare subsistence. Even the four Varnas were arranged in two groups – the Dvijas i.e. twice born – first born from mother’s womb and second after initiation – which was a minority and the vast majority were Shudras. The Shudras were engaged in production while the Dvijas were parasitical, being engaged in priesthood, ruling or commerce, according to their place in the Varna hierarchy. All of them lived on the labour of the producers who were the Shudras.
For smooth functioning of the class-divided society and exploitation of the toiling masses, indoctrination of the exploited was necessary and the Purush Sukta was used to declare the system as divine. The Dharmashastras which were the jurisprudence of the time explained that the Brahmins originated from the mouth of Brahma and so on. The Shudras were born from the feet of Brahma and it was their divine duty to carry the burden of the dvijas or upper three Varnas.
The practice of dharma is explained in various ‘smritis’, the most notorious of which is the Manusmriti. It formulated many inhuman laws for Shudras. For instance: they cannot possess property, as they themselves were the property of the three higher varnas; if a Shudra abuses a Brahmin his tongue should be cut, whereas if a Brahmin abuses a Shudra a nominal punishment was suggested; if a Shudra beats a Brahman his arms should be cut; if he listens to the Veda, molten lead should be poured in his ears; if he recites the Veda his tongue should be cut; if a Shudra happens to be a witness in a dispute or case, his testimony can be believed only when he drinks poison and does not die, or is put in the fire and does not burn.
Two most revolting dictates of the Manusmriti are: 1) The Shudras must wear torn and discarded clothes of the upper Varnas, must eat left-over food of the upper Varnas and use broken earthen utensils. 2) To dehumanize the Shudras, the Manusmriti went to the extent of declaring that the names of the Shudras must be filthy. These laws were forced especially on Dalits and also women. This law of personal names was actually practiced in Indian society. Even up to two generations ago, Dalit Mahars had such ugly names as Hagrya (shit), Bhikarya (beggar), Janglya (savage), Fakirya (beggar) etc. The name of the grandfather of the writer of this article was Phandya (treacherous) and great grandfather was Fuktu (beggar). His father-in-law was named Janglya. The Manusmriti not only dehumanized Dalits but also suppressed their personality ruthlessly. They had no right to choose even good names for themselves.
Other Dharmashastras and epics follow the same brutality towards dalits. Bhishma in Shantiparva of Mahabharat says - Na chapi samskaram, Ih arhati (Shudras are without sanskar or initiations). Aapstambha Dharmasutra says - Asato va ev sambhuta yat shudra (Shudras are originated from falsehood). Satpath Brahmana says – Women, Shudras, dogs and crows inherit vice, falsehood and darkness. Atri (Law giver) says - Women and Shudras cannot perform Jap (recitation), Tap (meditation), Pravajya (mendicancy), Tirthayatra (pilgrimage), Mantrasadhana (hymn recitation) and Devpooja (God worship). Aitereya Brahmana says - Shudras are controlled by others, a Shudra stands up when ordered, he can be slain at will.
The Dharmashastras imposed disability on Dalits, deprived them of access to education and dehumanized them. And this went on for centuries. This was not in any way for the mental satisfaction of the higher castes, but to maintain class and caste dominance over the system of exploitation.
The Dharmashastras, Epics, Smritis, Dharmasutras are the pillars of the unjust Hindu society on which feudal jurisprudence of the caste system rested. One cannot imagine Hinduism (and of course Hindutva) without these pillars.
THE RSS AND THE CASTE SYSTEM
The ideology of the RSS and its Hindutva is based on these ancient scriptures. The former RSS supremo M S Golwalkar wrote in his ‘Bunch of Thoughts’ that the Dharma is a way of life. It must be noted that by Dharma he means Varnadharma and not religion. While glorifying the Varnashram system in his Bunch of Thoughts, Part-2, Chapter X he wrote under the title ‘Nation and its Problems’ that “Society was conceived of as the four-fold manifestation of the Almighty to be worshipped by all.” On the caste system he said, in the same chapter – “Castes were in those ancient times too, continuing for thousands of years of our glorious national life ….. They serve as a great bond of social cohesion.”
Further glorifying the caste system Golwalkar wrote, “If the caste system had really been the root cause of our weakness, then our people should have succumbed to foreign invasion far more easily than those people who had no castes.”
It must be stressed that none of Golwalkar’s casteist and communal writings have ever been repudiated by the RSS. Thus the RSS wholeheartedly supports the caste system. It talks about samarasata (assimilation) and not samata (equality). It wishes that each caste must retain its identity and it should survive, not be annihilated.
Prime Minister Modi spent several years as a pracharak of the RSS before becoming the chief minister of Gujarat in 2001. In 2008 he published a book which contains short life histories of 16 people that had a great influence on him. It is not surprising that one of these is MS Golwalkar, whom Modi describes in glowing terms.
RSS AND DALITS
Although the RSS dare not openly treat Dalits as untouchables but it is opposed to any reformation that strengthens the Dalit population - may it be the Constitution, law or the reservation system.
When the Constituent Assembly finalised the Constitution of India, the RSS mouthpiece Organiser in its editorial in the November 30, 1949 issue lamented: “But in our Constitution there is no mention of that unique constitutional development in ancient Bharat. Manu’s Laws were written long before Lycurgus of Sparta or Solon of Persia. To this day his laws as enunciated in the Manusmriti excite the admiration of the world and elicit spontaneous obedience and conformity. But to our Constitutional pundits that means nothing.”
On February 6, 1950 Organiser carried an article by a retired High Court Judge Shankar Subha Aiyar titled “Manu Rules Our Hearts.” He wrote that “Even though Dr. Ambedkar is reported to have recently stated in Bombay that the days of Manu have ended, it is nevertheless a fact that the daily lives of Hindus are even in the present day affected by the principles and injunctions contained in the Manusmriti and other Smritis. Even an unorthodox Hindu feels himself bound at least in some matters by the rules contained in the Smritis and he feels powerless to give up altogether his adherence to them.”
Golwalkar in his Bunch of Thoughts said, “Our Constitution too is just a cumbersome and heterogenous piecing together of various articles from various Constitutions of the Western countries. It has nothing which can be called our own. Is there a single word of reference in its guiding principles as to what our National Mission is, what our keynote in life is?”
Clearly, the RSS thinks that Hindutva based on Manusmriti which proclaimed inequality and dehumanization of the masses must be our National Mission and this must be included in the Constitution of India, instead of equality before law irrespective of caste, creed, gender and language.
The RSS has never supported the agitation of entry of Dalits in Mandirs. Even decades after independence, there are many temples in India where entry of Dalits is denied. Similarly, the RSS has never come out openly against many social evils that are part of the ancient Hindu traditions and that still plague today’s society.
For a function in Vasant Kunj in New Delhi of laying the foundation stone of an institute for Vedic Studies attended by L K Advani – veteran of RSS - on February 1, 2002, ten Dalit families of Jusadh caste were forced to leave their homes because the organisers of the function thought that the presence of Dalits would pollute the area. No RSS functionary, not even L K Advani, objected.
In Dulena police post in Jhajjar district of Haryana in October 2002, five Dalits were skinning a dead cow to sell its hide. Local Vishwa Hindu Parishad (part of the Sangh Parivar) and Shiv Sena spread rumours of cow slaughter. The five Dalits were lynched. Instead of condemning this gruesome murder, a senior leader of the VHP Giriraj Kishor supporting this lynching said that the life of a cow was more important than the lives of any number of people. Again the RSS did not utter a word. Just recently in Faridabad in Haryana two small children of a Dalit family were burnt alive by the upper castes and the mother and father sustained severe burn injuries. The silence of the RSS on this ghastly incident was indeed deafening.
The RSS jumped into the Sampurna Kranti agitation led by Jayprakash Narayan. But when Jayprakash Narayan gave a call for breaking the sacred thread (Janeu) which is a symbol of higher caste supremacy, the RSS neglected it and not a single RSS member followed this call. This was because the RSS firmly believes in caste hierarchy.
The statement that the reservation policy be reviewed is a part of the RSS agenda. The RSS does not want empowerment of Dalits, Adivasis and Backward Communities. When the Mandal Commission recommendations were implemented, the Advani-led BJP started the Ram Janma Bhoomi movement inciting communal polarisation throughout India. RSS supporters stirred up anti-reservation rallies and incidents of self-immolation took place. Behind all this were the Hindutva forces. The BJP withdrew support to the V P Singh government and it fell.
In Dadri in UP, not far away from Delhi, a Muslim was lynched on mere rumors that he had beef in his house. But some RSS men openly proclaimed that it is in accordance with the order in the Vedas to exterminate beef eaters. What treatment then is the RSS going to give Mahars (Neo-Buddhists) a Dalit caste in Maharashtra? Many Mahars eat beef because it is a cheaper source of protein than mutton. Two generations ago beef was a staple food for Mahar caste.
The RSS objective is to establish a theocratic state in India, a state deriving its ideas from ancient writings like the Manusmriti. This state will be an enemy of dalits, tribals and all those who follow a different faith, like Muslims and Christians. It will be an inhuman, dangerous, degenerate and perverted dictatorship than ever seen before. Hence it is the duty of all patriotic and democratic people of India to fight the RSS and all of its different faces.