Not Oppressed: A Statement of Shudra Pride
“There is hardly a village, great or small, throughout our territories, in which there is not at least one school, and in larger villages more.” (Source: G.L. Prendergast, 1820)
“It has generally been assumed that the education of any kind in India…was mainly concerned with the higher and middle strata of society (the Brahmins, Kshatriyas and Vaishyas). However, as will be seen, the data of 1822-25 indicates more or less an opposite position…in the Tamil-speaking areas the twice-born (in schools) ranged between 13% in South Arcot to 23% in Madras… while the Soodras and the other castes (later to be labeled as SC) ranged from about 70% in Salem and Tinnevelly to over 84% in South Arcot.” (Source: The Beautiful Tree, Dharampal via Collectors reports from the 1820s)
“It is true that the greater proportion of the teachers came from the Kayasthas, Brahmins, Sadgop and Aguri castes. Yet, quite a number came from 30 other caste groups also, and even the Chandals had 6 teachers. The elementary school students present an even greater variety, and it seems as if every caste group is represented in the student population, the Brahmins and the Kayasthas nowhere forming more than 40% of the total. In the two Bihar districts, together they formed no more than 15 to 16%. The more surprising figure is of 61 Dom, and 61 Chandal school students in the district of Burdwan, nearly equal to the number of Vaidya students, 126, in that district. (As per Adam) only 86 of the ‘scholars belonging to 16 of the lowest castes’ were in the (British) missionary schools, while 674 scholars from them were in the ‘native schools’.” (Source: The Beautiful Tree, Dharampal via William Adams’ Reports on Education in the 1830s)
“In most areas, the Brahmin scholars formed a very small proportion of those studying in schools. (In higher learning, especially the disciplines of Theology, Metaphysics, Ethics, and Law, Brahmins formed the majority) But the disciplines of Astronomy and Medical Science seem to have been studied by scholars from a variety of backgrounds and castes. This is very evident from the Malabar data: out of 808 studying Astronomy, only 78 were Brahmins; and of the 194 studying Medicine, only 31 were Brahmins. Incidentally, in Rajahmundry, five of the scholars in the institution of higher learning were Soodras. According to other Madras Presidency surveys, of those practising Medicine and Surgery, it was found that such persons belonged to a variety of castes. Amongst them, the barbers, according to British medical men, were the best in Surgery” (Source: The Beautiful Tree, Dharampal via Collectors reports, 1812 onwards & Madras Board of Revenue Proceedings, 1821-37)
The greatest trick that the white man ever pulled on us was convincing us that they knew more about us that we did ourselves.
Do not believe them and their agents when they say that our ancestors were oppressed. Do not believe them when they say that we are victims. Do not believe them when they say our ancestors were uneducated and that our culture was imposed upon us by supremacist outsiders.
Do not believe any of that.
We are the inheritors of the greatest civilizational heritage on the planet. Period.
Our ancestors exhibited a commitment to excellence that has not been surpassed by anyone anywhere in the world. Their chisel work continues to shape light and shadow at the magnificent Brihadeeshvara Temple a thousand years after they lived, loved and worked. I put my heart and soul into the buildings that I build, but nothing I do today can match the magnificence of the work of our ancestors.
Question. Who told us that we were incapable?
Our ancestors were stewards of our natural resources – land, water and forests. Take great pride in the knowledge that they developed – in the fifty thousand genetic variations of rice they helped evolve, in the ten thousand plant varieties and their healing properties that they recognized and utilized, in the incredible water harvesting systems that they developed, the most sophisticated in the world.
“The extent to which it (irrigation works) has been carried throughout all the irrigated region of the Madras Presidency is truly extraordinary. An imperfect record of the number of tanks in 14 districts (of the Madras Presidency) shows them to amount to no less than 43,000 in repair and 10,000 out of repair or 53,000 in all…These data, only assumed to give some definite idea of the extent of the system, would give close upon 30,000 miles of embankment (sufficient to put a girdle around the globe not less than 6 feet thick) and 3,00,000 separate masonry works. The whole of this gigantic machinery of irrigation is of purely native origin, as it is a fact that not one new tank has even been made by us.” (Source: The Cauvery, Kistnah and Godavery : being a report on the works constructed of these rivers for the irrigation of the provinces of Tanjore, Guntoor, Masulipatam and Rajahmundry in the presidency of Madras, Richard Baird Smith (British Engineer Officer), 1856)
Question. Who told us that we were poor and incapable of excellence?
Know that it was our ancestors who were the world’s best metallurgists, they made the world’s best steel, exported all throughout the ancient world. And we must not forget our foremost contribution to wealth creation in ancient Bharat, our weaving skills. Our ancestors weaved the world’s best cloth, the finest muslin, the world’s most diverse range of patterns and colour, all a part of our incredible knowledge base.
“Something has to be said about the chemical excellence of cast iron in ancient India, and about the high industrial development of the Gupta times, when India was looked to, even by Imperial Rome, as the most skilled of the nations in such chemical industries as dyeing, tanning, soap-making, glass and cement… By the sixth century the Hindus were far ahead of Europe in industrial chemistry; they were masters of calcinations, distillation, sublimation, steaming, fixation, the production of light without heat, the mixing of anesthetic and soporific powders, and the preparation of metallic salts, compounds and alloys. The tempering of steel was brought in ancient India to a perfection unknown in Europe till our own times… the secret of manufacturing “Damascus” blades, for example, was taken by the Arabs from the Persians, and by the Persians from India..” (Source: The Story of Civilization, Will Durant, 1954)
“…that there is not a year but it costs our State to furnish into India, 50,000,000 Sesterces, (fifty millions of Sesterces.) For which the Indians send back Merchandise (luxury goods including cloth, spices and jewellery), which at Rome is sold for a hundred times as much as it cost.” (Natural History, Pliny the Elder, 77CE)
“Every nation that ever traded to the Indies has constantly carried bullion (gold and silver) and brought merchandise in return… Their climate demands and permits hardly anything that comes from ours. They go in a great measure naked; such clothes as they have the country itself furnishes; and their religion, which is deeply rooted, gives them an aversion for those things that serve for our nourishment. They want, therefore, nothing but our bullion to serve as a medium of value; and for this they give us merchandise in return, with which their frugality and the nature of the country furnish them in great abundance…and in every period of time those who traded with that country carried specie (gold and silver coins) thither and brought none in return.” (Source: The Spirit of Laws, Baron de Montesquieu, 1748)
Questions. What is there to be ashamed of? Who told us that our work was menial? At what point in history did this thought enter our minds?
“…for whereas among other nations it is usual, in the contests of war, to ravage the soil and thus to reduce it to an uncultivated waste, among the Indians on the contrary, by whom husbandsmen are regarded as a class that is sacred and inviolable, the tillers of the soil, even when battle is raging in their neighbourhood, are undisturbed by any sense of danger, for the combatants on either side in waging the conflict make carnage of each other but allow those engaged in husbandry to remain quite unmolested.” (Source: Megasthenes in the 3rd Century BCE)
“The fourth (out of seven) caste consists of the Artizans. Of these some are armourers, while others make implements which husbandsmen and others find useful in their different callings. This class is not only exempt from paying taxes but even receives maintenance from the royal exchequer” (Source: Megasthenes in the 3rd Century BCE)
The liberals and evangelists who suggest that we were oppressed for millennia are actually suggesting that our ancestors were either stupid or weak. It is clear that they were neither. Our ancestors were capable, strong, productive, creative and respected world-over for their excellence.
Inequality was never an issue in ancient Bharat simply because it was excellence and austerity that were the highest aims. He who did the best and he who coveted the least were the most respected. It was to their support and to the support of the divine deities that watched over us for millennia, that our kings and petty chiefs were devoted and to whom their wealth was dedicated. Our temples, our festivals, our artisans, our brahmanas, our sanyasis, our poets, our philosophers, and the well-being of our agriculturalists, these were the objects of charity for the rulers and petty chiefs of yore. So many kings consciously humbled themselves and ruled on behalf of the primary deity of the kingdom giving away their wealth to the temples which were the great centres for education, culture & social welfare.
Inequality becomes a problem and conversely equality a virtue only in societies where accumulation is the highest aim. This perverse way of being did eventually come to Bharat and our world, our old world of ethics and honour was pulled from under our feet bringing with it our current poverty, dependence, fallen pride and the possibility of our mental colonization by forces inimical to us. You know what I’m talking about.
A hundred and twenty years from the murder of Kattabomman is all it took. Look at it chronologically –
- The taking of our Wealth (note the tax rates, higher than current day Scandinavian rates)
Principle of Assessment(circa 1798). As to the method employed in assessing the lands when surveyed, it was assumed that the Government share was about half(50%) the produce for dry lands and three-fifth(60%) for wet land…Making the necessary allowances, however,…the actual shares were one-third (33%) for dry land and two-fifth(40%) for wet land. (Source: The Land Systems of British India Vol:3, Baden Powell, 1892)
- The closedown of our Indigenous System of Education
“First, His Lordship in Council is of opinion that the great object of the British Government ought to be the promotion of European literature and science among the natives of India; and that all the funds appropriated for the purpose of education would be best employed on English education alone.” (Source: English Education Act, 1835)
“An admirable survey of the indigenous system of education, carried out in 1835 and the following years by Mr.W.Adam, showed that a network of primitive vernacular schools existed throughout Bengal. But no attempt was made to develop these schools. Government preferred to devote its energies to secondary and higher schools, on the theory that if Western education were introduced to the upper classes it would “filter down” … to the lower classes.” (Source: Calcutta University Commission, Michael E. Sandler 1919)
- The taking of our Land and the forced Criminalization of our ancestors (for failing to pay taxes)
An arrear of land revenue (inability to pay taxes) may be recovered by the following processes—
(c) by distraint and sale of the defaulter’s movable property under section 154;
(d) by sale of the defaulter’s immovable property under section 155;
(e) by arrest and imprisonment of the defaulter under sections 157 and 158;
(f) in the case of alienated holding consisting of entire villages, or shares of villages, by attachment of the said villages or shares of villages under sections 159 to 163. 150.
(Source: Gujarat Land Revenue Code, 1879)
- The take-over of our Commons
“Extinction of rights.-Rights in respect of which no claim has been preferred under section 6, and of the existence of which no knowledge has been acquired by inquiry under section 7, shall be extinguished, unless before the notification under section 20 is published, the person claiming them satisfies the Forest Settlement-officer that he had sufficient cause for not prefer-ring such claim within the period fixed under section 6” (Source: The Indian Forest Act, 1878 and 1927)
“whenever water from any such river, stream, channel, tank or work, by direct flow or percolation, or by indirect flow, percolation or drainage from or through adjoining land, irrigates any land under cultivation, … irrigates any land under cultivation, and in the opinion of the Revenue Officer empowered to charge water-cess, subject to the control of the Collector and the Board of Revenue, …it shall be lawful for the [State] Government before the end of the revenue year…to levy on the land so irrigated a separate cess by way of land tax for such water] (hereinafter referred to as the water-cess)” (Source: Tamil Nadu Irrigation Cess Act, 1865)
- Divide and Rule
“I had intended pointing out that there is a very wide revolt against the classification of occupational castes; that these castes have been largely manufactured and almost entirely preserved as separate castes by the British Government…We deplore the caste system and its effect on social and economic problems, but we are largely responsible for the system we deplore” (Source: L.Middleton, Census Of India, 1921)
The culprits are clear, and yet today, so many of us believe that our ancestors were oppressed and impoverished by our own brothers, that we were victims, that we have never done anything worthwhile and can only survive with governmental support. So many of us believe that the religion and beliefs of our ancestors are to be blamed for our current fate. Some have even bought the lie that our ancestors were defeated by invaders 4000 years ago, who impoverished us and forced their Gods upon us.
This hoax, the Aryan invasion and the Aryan-Dravidian divide is in wide acceptance among our people. Who are the people who first sold us these lies? Who told us that our history is not ours, that our heritage is someone else’s? That even our Gods are someone else’s! That the deeds, choices and faith of our ancestors are illegitimate? That they had been duped and an alien faith imposed upon them by people cleverer than them? That they performed all those heroic deeds under a false faith to false Gods? What an outrageous concept! If you don’t know who you are, go ask your grandmother, don’t consult an economic theory manufactured by a German taught to you in the language of our enslavers!! What madness to believe the words of the snake-oil salesmen of foreign origin over the experiences, deeds and faith of our own ancestors.
Let us unmask the original salesman then. Read his words carefully.
“The worship of Subrahmaniya, the second son of Siva, having been popular in Peninsular India, from an early period, the majority of the Shanars symbolize with the higher castes by attending the annual festival in his honour at Tiruchendoor, Shasta also, the Hari-Hara putra of the Brahmans, and rather a demon-king than a divinity, being guardian of boundaries and protector of paddy fields is worshipped to a considerable extent in his official missions…A streak of holy ash, the mark of Sivism, is the only trace of the influence of legitimate Brahmanism which one can see. Demonism in one shape or another may be said to rule over the Shanars with undisputed authority.”
So here’s his game. We all worship Muruga, we all worship Ayyapa but when we also worship our kula devatas, Bam! what’s “legitimate” in our religion is termed as Brahmanism while the rest of our religion is “Demonism”? What kind of mind would function this way? What kind of person?
“The Hindus are not the only depraved people in the world; but it maybe asserted with confidence that the extent and universal prevalence of their depravity are without a parallel. Where else shall we find such indelicacy of feeling, and systematic licentiousness? – the habitual use of such vile, obscene expressions? – such deliberate, placid, cruelty in the treatment of inferiors and brute animals? – the commission of such flagrant acts of oppression and wrong, as matters of course, where it is supposed the injured party is too weak to resist? – such intense, all-pervading, over-mastering covetousness? – such ingratitude, selfishness and perfidy? – such a preference of under-hand trickery to open opposition? – such cheating and pilfering in all mercantile dealings? Such bribery in all legal proceedings? – such fawning obsequiousness to the great, and such haughtiness to the little? But especially where shall we find such lying – such habitual lying – such audacious lying – such multiform life-long, universal lying, as we meet with in India?”
Now we’re awake! This remarkable string of vomit from the pen of Robert Caldwell, foremost British “expert” on Tamil culture, missionary and inventor of the Aryan-Dravidian divide, reveals more about the mind of the writer than the society he claims to describe. Every single accusation of his is obviously false to any Bharatiya person and any open minded person who has travelled and lived in Bharat. This is one of the foremost colonial minds from which came the ideas of Brahmanism and Dravidianism. Now that we have seen his truth, can there be any more doubt about the unscrupulousness of his intentions and about the falsity of his theories?
Our Gods are our own, since the dawn of time, risen from the mud like ourselves – our Vediappan, our Murugan, our Shivan, our Munishwaran, our Aiyannar, our Mariamman, our Perumal, our Ayappan, our Kaliamman, our Puthuamman, our Nagathamman. You cannot tell me that my ancestor’s chisel marks are not laid upon the magnificent rock sculptures at Mahabalipuram. You cannot tell me that his sweat and blood have not mingled with the granite at Palani. You cannot tell me that the bronze Natarajas of Thanjavur were cast under oppression, you cannot tell me that their other-wordly beauty is not a reflection of our ancestor’s love, his faith and yes, his gethu.
Close your ears to the lies, the false history and fairy tale about millennia of oppression. Turn instead to catch the sounds wafting in the breeze- of chisel upon rock, of the bells on our bulls as they draw furrows upon the land, the rhythm of the handloom, the beat of our festival drums and of bicycle bells in the morning when our children ride out to school and the modern age. They speak the truth about who we are and our incomparable contribution to all life and living in this land.
There is only one question to ask ourselves– “Are we involved, in whatever small way, in the pursuit of excellence like our ancestors were?”
“The Cauvery, Kistnah, and Godavery,” a Report on the Works constructed on these Rivers for the Irrigation of the Provinces of Tanjore, Guntoor, Masulipatam, and Rajahmundry, in the Presidency of Madras,’ 8vo, London, 1856, Richard Baird Smith
The Spirit of
Laws, Montesquieu, 1689-1755
Pliny’s Natural History, 77 CE
The Story of
Civilization, Will Durant, 1935
University Commission, Michael E. Sandler 1919
Education Act, 1835
Forest Act, 1878 and 1927
Irrigation Cess Act, 1865
http://www.lawsofindia.org/pdf/tamil_nadu/1865/1865TN7.pdf (irrigation Cess Act)
Settlement of Bengal, R.H.Hollingbery, 1879
Systems of British IndiaVol:3, Baden Powell, 1892
Revenue Code, 1879
The Tinnevelly Shanars, Rev. R.Caldwell, 1849
Featured Image: Bharat Temples