THE BASIS OF INDIA'S CASTE SYSTEM - THE LAWS OF MANU & RG VEDA
One of the earliest Hindu texts is the Rg Veda. The date of its creation - based on astronomical data - has been argued to be anything from 2,200 BC right back to 7000BC. Linguistic data places it between 2,000 BC and 1.600BC. The oldest manuscript version dates from 1464 AD. What is certain, however, is that it divided the population into four main castes, which later split up into several thousand sub-castes, as is the case today. The essence of this system is the notion that the casteless are born unclean because of their sins of past lives. Therefore, they have no right to complain. Defenders of the caste system often cite a verse from the Upanishads, one of the oldest Hindu libertarian writings. "He who through his behavior has been a source of joy will be reborn in a high quality woman. But has it been bad, he must expect to be reborn as an evil and smelly creature - a witch, a pig or a casteless.”
India's early history is little known and much of it was buried in the desert sands. 'Excavating' it is a major and onerous academic process. In general it has largely consisted of myths, legends and fairy tales. It is however generally (if not universally) established that around 1500-100 BC the Indian subcontinent was invaded by the light-skinned nomadic Aryan peoples from Central Asia and the Caucasus. [Note: the Shastri David Frawley contests this theory, claiming that the Hindus are descendants pof the much earlier Indus civilisation]. It is widely thought that they arrived in waves and eventually subjugated the indigenous inhabitants, which created a large division between conquerors and the conquered. The Aryan peoples were already divided into classes and estates - the lighter the skin, the higher and stronger. Gradually the natives were made into and inferior class, and millions of them were driven south of the country. Conquerors took over trade and laid their hands on the best land. In the same period Hinduism provided scriptures and priests, cementing the social order on religious basis with a caste system.
In Manus laws written 2000 years ago (between 200BC and 200AD), we find the essence of Hinduism (Manusmriti (Ordinances of Manu), which dates from A.D. 700). The book consists of the 2685 decrees and prohibitions. Chapter 1, verse 1, begins:
"The great sages approached Manu, while he sat alone and in deep concentration. They exchanged mutual greetings as it sewn up, and then they said: "Lord, please tell us, clearly and in the correct order, the duties of the four classes. For you, Lord, is the only one who completely knows how we should relate to each other in the world... "
Manu - "if the energy was boundless" - immediately woke from his trance and was not before he had rendered all the 2685 verses. But who was he?
Manu means "the view", but none can say with certainty whether he actually existed. None the less, modern Hindus seek answers to find the answer to life's complicated problems in Manus laws. For example: What will happen to a woman who is unfaithful to her husband? Manu replied: "She will be eaten up by dogs and reborn as a jackal, only to be torn to shreds by countless diseases." And what happens to a man who urinates on a cow? Answer: "He loses his mind."
In Manus world were Brahmins, the priests, the highest caste. Next came the rulers and warriors, ksatriyaene, said traders and farmers, vaishyaene, and at the bottom of the ladder lived tjenerkasten, shudraene. Manu and Hindu priests endorsed that those outside the caste system were regarded as casteless. Their work was confined to slaughtering animals, tanning and other leather work, emptying latrines and removing rubbish, burning the dead - in short, the "unclean" jobs. Consequently, they were stained and completely unfit to live with caste people. Their dwellings were to be in close proximity to cremation places and in the mountains, bogs and swamps. Manu gave strict instructions that the casteless should keep entirely to themselves and were only allowed to marry each other.
"Very sensible," declared the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, a great admirer of Hindu libertarian ideas about superior and inferior peoples. At the end of his life he received a German translation of Manus laws and was unrestrained in his enthusiasm for them. "Nothing less is proposed here than to breed for four races at the same time, with the further inferior race of casteless." Nietzsche wrote: “Having lived in Christianity's madhouse one draws a sigh of relief to get into this healthier, higher and wider world. How pale the New Testament is compared to Manus laws!"
For Manu - and Nietzsche - the principle of the right of strongest. Christianity's basic principle of human equality is reprehensible. It is the opposite in the animal kingdom, the stronger eat the weaker. Had it not been so, would creation have failed, so why should the same laws apply among people?
About the highest caste, Brahmins, Manu holds that Brahmins are God's representatives on Earth. "A man is said to be purer above the navel; and the mouth is the cleanest place in the body. Therefore the ‘self-existing’ let priests come forth out of his mouth and put them to protect creation. "Manu said that although priests com mitt adverse actions they should be worshipped in every possible way. "…the princes, the secular rulers should respect the priests,"
THE CASTE SYSTEM DEFENDED AS 'NATURAL' (BY SAI BABA) AND CRITICISED BY P.L. MIMROTH
In strong contrast to Sai Baba, P.L. Mimorth is as intelligent and courageous a defender of the casteless as was Ambedkar. P.L. Mimroth is a lawyer and president of an organization that tries to help India’s casteless, the Dalits. Based in New Delhi, Mimroth often travels to Rajasthan, his native state. Everything there is the same as ever, the houses, families, castes. Even the village well is still only open to people of caste and closed to the casteless! Now as ever, the casteless are forced to trudge off to the water hole four kilometers away. The casteless are denied access to temples in many villages, and sometimes they must even go to the city to get a haircut because caste people refuse to touch them!
Statistics show that 90 presented by the casteless continue to sweat their traditional low-status jobs in that only five per cent have managed to advance themselves into service professions - and that even fewer have managed to reach the truly high status of doctor or lawyer.
The unrighteousness of Rajasthan has lasted for over 2,000 years with the rest of India not far behind. India’s caste system has existed nearly as long as Hinduism. The world's largest democracy has 160 million casteless. On paper, they have the same rights and obligations as everyone else, but the reality is different. Mimroth says that ancient ideas can’t be removed by decision and powerful pressure groups.
Sathya Sai Baba promotes himself as an unsurpassed renewer of moral and human values come to save India and the whole of humanity, while he is a regular defender of the caste system. He has cited the age-old laws of Manu, which insist on a divisive, unjust and virtually racialist exclusion of those deemed 'casteless', - involving a very repressive 'caste hygiene' (actually a kind of 'racial hygiene' against the indigenous non-Aryan and Hindu population among others) all of which is still a major scourge in India.
Despite his much publicised teaching of non-discrimination due to colour, creed, caste & religion he not only speaks favourably of the four-caste system (even as primitively stated as it was by Manu) and he does not publicly criticise any specific caste discrimination Both in his discourses and actions, he tends strongly to support the basic religious ideas underpinning even the present caste system. For example, he has NEVER spoken out about the huge and terrible injustices that the Dalits suffer... he has, for example, never instructed his followers to help these 'untouchable' casteless to have access to wells, nor has he criticised the continued pseudo-religious organized prostitution of thousands of female temple dancers.
Sathya Sai Baba has very great influence on most of the Prime Ministers and Presidents of India for three decades - and on the Supreme and High Court judiciary [whose key founding figure Bhagwati is on the board of his Sathya Sai Central Trust] - yet he has evidently not insisted that they make proper efforts to stop the injustices against the Dalits. This illustrates the frequent divergence of his preaching and practice.
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