Sunday, 8 February 2015

Varna Vyavastha explained by Dharmpal

Every Indian knows of the Varna Vyavastha. Today the educated Indians speak of it in terms of Caste.After reading about the Varna Vyavasta in a diagram of Purusha where Shudra are shown in the feet, I like most Indian's was confused why it was so. It is mostly interpreted to mean that some how the Shudra were considered lower. Indeed this is how most contemporary social scientist describe it and that is common perception. I first came to question it after reading the book "Ashwamedha"  by Subhash Kak who gives an explanation that Man is created in the image of the Purusha so each person has all 4 aspects in him.I also could not help but notice that mother earth and Shudra who work in production on earth(in an agricultural society or even otherwise) both are shown as coming from the feet of Purusha. Arthashastra also mentions that when any new area was to be settled, say a cleared forest then Shudra were the first to go and settle. So all this should change the way we look at Varna Vyavastha. But an interesting and perhaps quite complete explanation is found in Dharampal's "Bhartiya Chitta Manas Aur Kaal"

"The Purusha Sukta indeed states that the Sudras appeared from the feet of Brahman, the Vaisyas from the thighs, the Kshatriyas from the arms and the Brahmanas from the head. But this does not necessarily define a hierarchy between the Varnas. The Sukta is a statement of the identity of the microcosm and the macrocosm. It presents the world as an extension of the body of Brahman. In its cryptic Vedic style the Sukta informs us that the creation is a manifestation of Brahman, it is His extension, His play. The Sukta also probably recounts the variety of tasks that have to be performed in the world that Brahman creates. But nowhere in the Purusha Sukta is it said that some of these tasks, and consequently the performers of those tasks, are better than others. That the functions of the head are higher than those of the feet could only be a matter of a somewhat literal interpretation that came later. At another time such interpretations can even get reversed. After all it is only on his feet that a man stands securely on earth. It is only when the feet are stable that the head and hands play their parts. When the feet are not securely placed on the earth, nothing else remains secure either.

Incidentally, the Purusha Sukta does not even imply that all four Varnas came into existence simultaneously at the beginning of creation. The Sukta does not give the story of creation and its unfolding; it only explains, through the analogy of the body of Brahman, an already manifest and differentiated Universe. In fact, as we have seen earlier, the Pauranic texts seem to suggest that at the beginning there was only one Varna, and it is only later as the need for newer and newer human capacities started arising that the Varnas divided, first into two and then into three and four."

Obama's Religious Freedom

Barak Obama President of the United States had during his recent trip to India given Indians a lecture on upholding religious tolerance. He showed us article 25 of our own constitution. For those of us who thought this was a one off comment he repeated his "concern" in the so called National Prayer Breakfast which was started by a Mormon Evangelist Abraham Vereide. He said "Michelle and I returned from India -- an incredible, beautiful country, full of magnificent diversity -- but a place where, in past years, religious faiths of all types have, on occasion, been targeted by other peoples of faith, simply due to their heritage and their beliefs -- acts of intolerance that would have shocked Gandhiji [sic], the person who helped to liberate that nation". He did not single out any one faith at least not explicitly. But if anyone wants to know what he really meant in these two speeches one needs to read this press release(Feb 6, 2015) by United States Commission on International Religious Freedom.

The press release after quoting Obama's two speeches goes on to mention this "The President’s concerns come at a time of increasing abuses against India’s minority religious communities.  Hindu nationalist groups, such as Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), have assaulted these communities and forced community members to convert.  In just the last three months, five churches were attacked in Delhi; Hindu nationalists reportedly forcibly converted Christians and Muslims; and a mob of more than 5,000 people attacked the majority-Muslim village of Azizpur, Bihar, killing three Muslims and setting about 25 houses on fire.  In addition, on February 5, police detained hundreds of Christians demonstrating against attacks on churches in New Delhi, including John Dayal, a human rights activist, who testified on April 4, 2014 before the Tom Lantos Commission on 'The Plight of Religious Minorities in India.'"

So while Obama has not singled out any religious community this press release by USCIR which is also incidentally headed by a Mormon Katrina Lantos Swett makes it clear what it was all about. American right wing churches which do not want any breaks to be brought about in their evangelist activities, do single out Hindus, who they intend to convert. Any resistance is pre-empted by pointing out incidents some of which may not even be true to weave a story which is used as persecution propaganda. Indians need to be aware of how the west is an active participant in the religious discord in our country. Barak Obama's lecture to India on religious freedom squarely equates it with freedom to evangelize which is the real concern not religious "Bhai Chara".

1) To know about what really happened in Azizpur read this.
2) About the assault and forced conversion by RSS I don't know where this story came from. I presume it refers to the so called 'Ghar Wapsi'. A typical report condemning 'Ghar Wapsi' is here. It says "Clearly, the force involved in conversions across the religious spectrum, need not be physical. It can be psychological, social, and as is often the case, economic."
3) Minority commission of UP report on the 50 so called 'Ghar Wapasi" was covered by India today here. It talks about "lured". Not that luring is in anyway more respectable. But if the commissions recommendation were to be implemented that would put so many evangelists churches in the dock.
4) John Dayal is a more or less discredited figure who appears regularly to testify against India in such forums.