“Untouchability is a sin”
“Untouchability is a crime”
“Untouchability is inhuman”
We all are aware of these phrases and we do know the right & wrong sides of it but still, we seldom follow it.
Let me ask you a straightforward yet very simple question:
How many of your family members had practiced caste exogamy and how do you think, they got treated by your elders?
The answers are known by you all.
Though we are living an urban life of so-called “educated class” but wistfully, we still consider this inhumane act admissible.
To explain my point better and give you a reality check, we’ve to dive into the history of “Varna“.
According to Wikipedia, “Varna” is a Sanskrit word with several meanings including type, order, color, or class, which was used to refer to social classes in Hindu texts.
First appeared in the Purusha Sukta verse of the Rigveda, this term talks about varna, not caste! And it only talks about the division of labor, not about division of humanity.
According to it, a particular body part depicts varna:
- Head to the brahmin, as they are the only one who can learn Vedas
- Arms to a kshatriya, as they have to go for a battle
- Thighs to vaishya, as to depict trade, and the last
- Feet to shudra, as they are the support system or the one who has to help all
Manusmriti (read here for free), which is an ancient legal text among the many Dharmaśāstras of Hinduism, talks about dharma but criticizes shudra. Here’s what it says:
If the shudra intentionally listens for committing to memory the Veda, then his ears should be filled with (molten) lead and lac; if he utters the Veda, then his tongue should be cut off; if he has mastered the Veda his body should be cut to pieces.
It talks about the differences like inter-dining wasn’t allowed, women’s were not allowed to cover their upper body.
Here’s an article I would like you to read: The status of women as depicted in the Manusmriti
We talk about inequality/discrimination/reservation but we never thought about exploiting or harassing the one who is just not born to the so-called upper caste. They have been raging them since time immortal. It’s been 70 years to our independence and we are still bounded with such taboos.
In the name of protecting our cattle, OUR PEOPLE, we do inhumane crimes like lynching, torturing, and whatnot! But when any of OUR PEOPLE die, we don’t touch them. We let Shudra do this work. Ever wondered why? Ever questioned this? Ever felt guilty?
The despairing thing is that we still practice casteism.
Here’s an example – Have you ever seen the matrimonial page in the newspaper? In that, they do not list the grooms or brides according to their occupation, but by their castes. And yeah, this is the 21st century we’re living in!
If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.
I am really sorry if I have in any way given you the reality check but indeed this generation needs it.
Don’t miss out: Gender equality in India and everything that’s wrong with it!
Also, do let us know what do you think of this article in the comments below!