Friday, March 26, 2021

Freedom of self respect

Freedom of self respect

It is argued that in ancient India, there was free mobility between the castes and their roles in the society. Sometimes Brahmins used to be downgraded or Khatriyas or Shudras upgraded. Slaves became kings, set up dynasties but never the question of caste cane up in those days excepting the broad four Varnas! The Rajputs or Mughals or even Pandavas used marriage to politically tie up powers irrespective of caste, religion or even tribes.

If this is true, then Present India is in need of that ancient society of free mobility of varna/castes as per their roles in the society.

This reminds me the story of Maharaja Vishvath. When he and his army failed in capturing Kamadhenu from Maharshi Vashishtha, he accepted the importance of Brahamanatva over Kshtriyatva.
" धिक् बलम् क्षत्रिय बलम, ब्रम्ह-तेजो बलम्-बलम्।
He then became tapasvi, attained the status of Brahmarshi and known as Maharshi Vishvamitra. (In present day context, Kshatriya Ajit Singh Bist became Yogi Adityanath, again become Rajarshi as CM of UP)

The Hindu Shastras have clearly stated:
" जन्मनाजायते शूद्रा:, संस्कारो दिवज् उच्यते।
वेदात पठनात भवेत विप्र:, ब्रह्म जानाति इति ब्राह्मण: ।।
“By birth one is a sudra (lowest caste), by the purificatory process one becomes a dvija (higher caste), by study of the Vedas one becomes a vipra, and one who knows Brahman is a brahmana.”

When large population of India was illiterate, it had flexible society of interchangeable Varnas, where people were ascending or descending in Varnas as per their abilities and Karmas.

Shudra by birth, Rishi Valmiki studied Sanskrit and wrote the epic Ramayana. He gave shelter to pregnant Sita when Lord Rama banished her. He became Guru-teacher of Love and Kush. There were tribe kings during Ramayan time. But Shambuka, the Shudra was beheaded by Lord Rama because he was practicing penance. Polygamy, banishing pregnant wife due to doubts, killing Vali from the back when he was engaged in duel with younger brother (argument: Vali is a vanar, open for hunting by the Kshatriya!), and killing of Shambuka, the Shudra for practicing penance, etc, acts were considered Dharma of those days.

During Mahabharata time, Eklavya, Karna have been presented as examples of caste based discrimination. Pandavas were not accepted by Kauravas because they were not the sons of Pandu but were mantra putras of Kunti. However, the marriage of Bhim with tribal-Rakshasha Girl of Panchmahals(!) Hidimba, Arjun's marriage with Subhadra the Yadava girl and another marriage with Naga Girl of northeast, etc, are examples of flexible society. But Krishna had to run away from the battle field of Mathura to crown himself as the king of Dwarika.

Ancient history centres around the Brahmanas and the Kshatriyas. When Hinduism developed rigidity of rituals, Buddhism emerged with flexible middle path approach. Jainism was older as its first and founder Tirthankar Rishabhdev (Aadinath) was born before Vedas. Jain 22nd Tirthankar Neminath was cousin of Lord Krishna. 24th Tirthankar Mahavir Swami spread Jain philosophy of non violence throughout India. Gautam Buddha and all the Tirthankars of Jains were Kshatriyas.

Chandragupta Maurya was a turning point of Indian history because, he being a lower caste person, created the biggest empire of ancient India, and at the end, changed his faith from Hinduism to Jainism. His grandson Ashoka became Buddhist who spread Buddhism across the world. Not declared OBC like present days India, but history recorded them as non Brahmin, non Kshatriya Varna. From 3rd Century BC to 19th Century, many invaders and foreigners entered into India and made us the country of Complex society of multi caste and multi faith system. Who's who, none is certain. However, excluding tribal India, Crown was considered the right of the Kshtriya (who holds the kshetra/territory). Therefore, Brahmins denied to crown Shivaji as King in 1674 AD. Muslims who took over the throne with the power of swords and executed mass conversion of Hindus into Islam were never been accepted by Hindu hearts.

When Hindus were fed up with the Slavery of British rule of 200 years, decided to boycott Simon Commission and were representing their rights of drafting Constitution for free India in Round Table Conferences in London in 1930-32; Dr Ambedkar raised the issue of slavery of depressed classes the 'Panchama' for 2000 years and demanded the commitment to safeguard the rights of the depressed classes in the new system.

Modern India of 21st century, with 80% literacy, while living in a society of caste based discrimination, looks more backward than the ancient India of Chandragupta Maurya of 3rd Century! So great we were in past, had slipped so low, that some people are still searching their freedom of self respect in the society.

3 April 2017


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