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Examining Anti-Brahmanism and The New Anti-Hindu Priesthood

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Examining Anti-Brahmanism and The New Anti-Hindu Priesthood
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It is an irony and a farce that the modern-day English-educated, colonised intellectual class of India who have promoted anti-Hinduism and anti-Brahmanism for over 70 years, have themselves formed into an exclusionary, “priestly” class.

“Homo sum: humani nihil a me alienum puto.
I am human: I think nothing human is alien to me”

– Terence (Publius Terentius Afer, 336-250 BCE), Roman poet, playwright

Since the time when Protestant European intellectuals discovered Indian religious, philosophical, and cultural texts in the nineteenth century, Brahmins have become the target of much vilification.

Protestants of the nineteenth century had grown up in a Christian world where the Jewish minority and clerics had been the target of scorn for centuries. In their eyes, the Brahmins of India exhibited traits of both the Jews, an endogamous group, and the clerics, who had for long held the reins of all knowledge and learning in pre-Reformation Europe.

European colonialists, including the British, discovered that Brahmins had actually become a major component of the indigenous resistance to their oppressive rule.[1] It thus became inevitable that the colonialists began to be wary of Brahmins.

Historically, Brahmins were the repositories of indigenous culture and knowledge for thousands of years. With this in mind, let us examine the consequences of anti-Brahmanism. It will become clear that anti-Brahmanism would lead to the destruction of the culture, religion, and traditions of all Hindus. Once Hindus are fully cut off from their roots using violence and willful neglect, Hindu civilisation would face and existential threat.

It is an irony that modern-day, English-educated, colonised intellectual class of India, which has promoted anti-Hinduism and anti-Brahmanism for over 70 years, has itself formed into an exclusionary, “priestly” class. Also functioning as joint-high priests are Indologists and purveyors of critical theory, sub-altern studies, and intersectionality.

The Original Ideals

The Mudrarakshasa describes the simple lifestyle of Chanakya, the Brahmin minister of the Maurya emperor, Chandragupta Maurya thus:[2]

“I wonder at the possessions of the minister of the king of kings. Here is a piece of stone to pound cow-dung cakes (used for the agnihotra ritual); here lies a heap of Kusa-grass brought by pupils; and the tenement there with its mouldering walls appears to bend down at the (lower) end of the roof under the load of those sacrificial sticks which are being dried (in the sun).”

The Manu Smriti, said to have been written by Manu, the legendary ruler, is often cited in almost all of the anti-Hindu propaganda. However, even a basic, nonjudgmental study of the book reveals that it is full of wisdom and promotes a harmonious way of living in accordance with the highest thinking. The Manu Smriti advises Brahmins to not to react to ill-treatment, but to forebear it with equanimity:

“The Brāhmaṇa should ever shrink from reverence, as from poison; and he should always seek for disrespect, as for nectar” – Manu Smriti 2.162[3]

King Manu further upholds those Brahmins who have accumulated the least wealth, sufficient only for bare subsistence.[4] Thus, for thousands of years, poverty and austerity were held as the ideals for Brahmins who, apart from rare exceptions, held neither disproportionate wealth nor political power.

It was during the colonial rule that the British attempted to co-opt Brahmins by preferentially providing them jobs in the administration. This created divisions among Indians as it generated ill-well towards Brahmins. At the same time, the doctrine of anti-Brahmanism was institutionalised in the Macaulayan education system, which has continued without a break in post-independence India.

The Allegations Versus Reality

Nineteenth century European writers ascribed a sort of “magical power” to Brahmins that was supposed to have led to their “superior” status.[5] The seed of suspicion  sowed against the Vedic Brahmin class was in the allegation that Brahmins withheld knowledge from the rest of society, that they enjoyed unfair privilege, and that they were responsible for perpetuating the caste system. Such accusations are still made today. This allegation needs to be unpacked and examined.

To the charge that Brahmins withheld access to worldly knowledge, the reality was that Indian society across all jātis was well-educated before the Macaulayan imposition, as Dharampal has documented in detail in his book, The Beautiful Tree: Indigenous Indian Education in the Eighteenth Century . For example, in 1836, a British report on the indigenous schools of Bengal revealed that teachers came from the Kayastha, Brahmin, Sadgop, and 30 other caste groups, including the Chandals.[6]

Another charge is that Brahmins enjoyed an unfair level of privilege in society. In tenth century Tamil Nadu, Chola inscriptions show that tax was exempted from and land grants given to the Paraiyars (considered as Dalits today) and other castes alongside the Brahmins.[7] Further, in fifteenth century Tamil Nadu, castes like Sambavar (also considered as Dalits today) were documented to be wealthy and as owning lands.[8]

As to blaming “Brahmanism” for the caste system, even Hinduphobic historians like Irfan Habib have walked back on this claim.[9] Sociologists like M.N. Srinivas have also demonstrated via fieldwork how scriptural Brahmanism or the varṇa system had little correlation with ground reality. Jāti varied from village to village. Brahmins sometimes merely existed alongside other castes as a service caste.[10]

Thus, a detailed study of the actual historical role Brahmins played in society reveals that, as a rule, Brahmins were neither economically powerful like the Jews nor did they withhold knowledge from the rest of society like the Christian clerics. The jāti or caste system functioned autonomously at all levels of Indian society heedless of any scriptural injunctions.

The Priestly Class of Anti-Hindu Intellectuals

The Left intellectuals, while promoting the doctrine of anti-Brahmanism, themselves form an exclusionary elite club (Source: Google, The Print)

There are various anti-Hindu elite intellectuals today who like to defame Hindus and throw around false allegations about “Hindu communalism”. Ironically, they themselves form an extremely tight-knit and exclusionary club who enjoy many privileges. Their bonds are often tightened by mutual marriage and friendship. Many of them even attended the same school for their early education, for example, the Doon School.[11]

Such intellectuals are fond of Indology which consists mainly of racially prejudiced and biased studies of India and Hinduism.[12] Racial generalisations like “Indians never developed scientific, critical thinking” are commonplace assumptions of Indology. Many anti-Hindu intelligentsia of India derive their ideology from such bigoted propaganda. For example, the anti-Hindu intellectuals, Romila Thapar and R.S. Sharma, were the students of A.L. Basham, the British Indologist who perpetuated the idea of an India confined only to the museums.

A new tool adopted by left propagandists in India and elsewhere is the fad of “intersectionality”.[13] According to this fad, based on so-called lived experience, certain designated oppressed groups are given the highest power and privilege. In this new intersectional hierarchy, Muslims, for example, are given the highest place as they are identified as the “oppressed”. Bigoted hate speech is permitted against Hindus as they are designated as the “oppressor”.[14]

Further adding to their privilege, the anti-Hindu priestly class is also intimately connected to the murky world of NGOs which receive crores of Rupees from foreign donors in the form of FCRA contributions.[15] Some of these NGOs conduct activities which have the potential to even endanger national security.[16]

How all Hindus are the Ultimate Target of Anti-Brahmanism

Take as example how educated, colonised Indians are targeting the yajnopavit (sacred thread) as a “symbol of oppression” by associating it solely with Brahmins.[17] The reality, however, is that the thread ceremony is carried out by many non-Brahmin Hindus too, for example, by the Vishwakarmas (craftsmen) and the Chettys of Tamil Nadu.[18]

Also, it is well-documented that the shikha (tuft of hair) was worn by many non-Brahmin Hindus too. Mahatma Gandhi had documented how members of his own non-Brahmin family used to keep the shikha and wear the sacred thread.[19]

Finally, the Vedas are the common heritage of not only all Indians, but of all people. The essence of the Vedic religion has been captured in innumerable popular texts like the Mahabharata, the Ramayana and the Puraṇas, which have been translated multiple times in nearly all the major Indian languages and a number of foreign languages. For example, the 1800-year old collection of Prakrit poetry, Gaha Sattasayi (or Gatha Saptashati), contains many references to the Mahabharata and the Ramayana.[20]

Moreover, even until 40-50 years ago, virtually all Hindus used to be conversant with the stories from these epics as well as stories of local Hindu saints and deities. This was possible thanks to the tradition of kathā, which used to be performed in most villages and towns of India.[21]

By tainting Hindu beliefs, symbols, rituals, and practices by associating it solely with one community, the traditions and beliefs of all Hindus are also being targeted for destruction.

Conclusion

The anti-Brahmin narrative purveyed by the educated, colonised class of today’s India is founded on flimsy premises. Historically speaking, Brahmins performed a specialised function: the preservation and transmission of Vedic chanting, which today is considered a UNESCO intangible world heritage artefact.[22]

Further, as has been documented by sociologists,[23] there was much difference between the real-world social position of Brahmins versus the ritually privileged position accorded to them in texts. Finally, a new exclusionary, priesthood has arisen who base their livelihood on Hindu-bashing. These new “high priests”.

To combat these destructive forces anti-Brahmanism and anti-Hinduism must be exposed in every instance actively and vocally. Every Hindu should take the responsibility for safeguarding the culture and traditions of India. Finally, it is the responsibility of the government to protect its own citizens as well as preserve and propagate indigenous Hindu heritage, culture, and religion. The Indian government needs to be petitioned to ensure that this is carried out.

References

[1] Kapoor, Satish. “Contribution of Brahmins to Indian Society and Culture” (2019)

[2] Dhruva, H. K. Mudrarakshasa (1923)

[3] Manusmriti 2.162

[4] Manusmriti 4.7, 4.8

[5] De Roover, Jakob et al. “The Brahmin, the Aryan, and the Powers of the Priestly Class: Puzzles in the Study of Indian Religion” (2020)

[6] Dharampal. The Beautiful Tree (1983)

[7] “Inscriptions Of The Tanjavur Temple

[8] Perumal, A.K. Mudaliyar Olaigai

[9] “It wasn’t the Brahmins after all

[10] Srinivas, M.N. Caste in Modern India (1962)

[11] Balakrishna, S. “The Untold Story of how the Doon School Goon Squad Ran Bharatavarsha to the Ground” (2019)

[12] “Against Occidentalism

[13] “Intersectionality: The New Caste System”;

Intersectionality, the Dangerous Faith

[14] “The art of pushing religious bigotry in name of feminism and liberalism”;

‘Feminism in India’ protests against abrogation of Article 370

[15] “Indian ‘intellectuals’ and NGOs connected to George Soros

[16] Rao, Nageswara. “The Dangers of Foreign Funding” (2020)

[17] The Wire. “The ‘Janeu’ – Why Do Woke Brahmins Flaunt a Symbol of Oppression?

[18] “Weight Of The Poonool Wearers

[19] Gandhi, M.K. The Story of My Experiments with Truth (1929)

[20] Varadpande, M. Mythology of Vishnu and His Incarnations (2009)

[21] “Katha

[22] UNESCO. “Tradition of Vedic chanting” (2003)

[23] Srinivas, M.N. Caste in Modern India (1962)

Featured Image: Counter Currents

 

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