PAID TO LATE CHANAN CHAHAL
year on 7th August, one of the prominent exponents of
Ambedkarite movement, Mr. Chanan Chahal left us for
ever. In his memory a function was organised to pay
him tributes on 5th September 2010 at Brickllin Community
Centre, Wolverhampton. Six members of Sangha plus large
numbers of close his friends, associates and his family
members from North Wales, Scotland, Bedford, Birmingham,
London and other cities were present in this memorial
started with lighting the candle by Mrs. Nirmal Chahal,
wife of late Chanan Chahal and by giving five precepts
by most Ven. Phramaha Samboon Siddhiyano
on the contribution of Chanan Chahal to the Ambedkar
movement in particular and to the society as a whole,
Mr. Arun Kumar stated that he started his social work
from Bedford. First he established Sri Guru Ravidass
Sabha, Bedford and later on Dr. Ambedkar Mission Society,
Bedford. He was one of the founding members of the Federation
of Ambedkarite & Buddhist Organisations, UK and
Punjab Buddhist Society, UK. He played a major part
in establishing Takshilla Maha Buddha Vihara, Ludhiana.
Late Mr. Chanan Chahal worked all his life for the cause
of unprivileged people and travelled all over the World
to spread Ambedkarite and Buddhist thought. He attended
many seminars, conferences and other functions to highlight
the problem of downtrodden people of India. He will
always be remembered. Giving introduction about the
film ' A Cherished memories of Chanan Chahal,’
he said that that was a small tribute to a great man.
His contribution is a larger than life which can not
be depicted in a short film. He requested everybody
to provide visual and written material on Chanan so
that a proper film is made. This film was made by Arun
Kumar and Mr. Pirthi Kaeley from Dr. Ambedkar Mission
Society, Bedford. Mr. Kaeley worked very hard and made
such a great film in short period of time. By doing
this, in actual fact he has preserved the history of
Ambedkar movement in the UK. Everybody appreciated this
message from his Mr. Harmesh Jassal from Punjab was
read in which he mentioned that Chanan was a self made
man who dedicated whole of his to the Ambedkar mission.
his experiences and association with Chanan, Mr. C.
Gautam said that Chanan Chahal as a President of Federation
of Ambedkarite and Buddhist Organisations, UK took Baba
Sahib’s mission to great height which must be
maintained. His last work ‘Evil of Caste’
will be helpful to the researchers. Nobody will be able
to take his place. A great vacuum has been created which
can never be fulfilled. Remembering Chanan, one of his
close friends, Mr. Chaman Chahal termed him a true and
dependable friend who always stood by whatever he committed
to do. He told that most of the time they travelled
together. On this occasion, he sang a very emotional
Jassal, Mr. Harbans Virdee, Mr. Balwant Saroya, Mr.
Manohar Birdi, Mr. Rattan Lal Sampla and many others
also paid warm tributes to late Chanan Chahal.
everybody for attending the function, Mr. Ram Pal Rahi,
President Punjab Buddhist Society, UK stated that Chanan
has left a legacy to work hard for the mission. Everybody
must rededicate to work wholeheartedly like Chanan.
That will be the biggest tribute to him. He also said
that to keep his memory alive two books, ‘Pritam
Kav’ by late Pritam Ramdaspuri and ‘Soch
NU Sijda’ by Sohan Sehjal are dedicated to our
late friend Chanan.
closed with the Dhamma Talk by Ven. Chander Bodhi and
Blessings by Most Ven. Sangha. Mr C. Gautam and Mr.
Arun Kumar conducted the programme very effectively.
A photo exhibition on the life of Mr. Chanan Chahal
was also displayed
Posted on September 14, 2010
Chanan Chahal A Final Farewell
(Arun Kumar UK)
On Tuesday, 18th August 2009 we bid our final farewell to the late Mr. Chanan Chahal. Mr Chahal, who died on 7 August, was a leading force in the UK Ambedkarite Buddhist movement. Born on 13 June 1946 in Punjab, India, he immigrated to England in 1962.
Many hundreds of people from around the world came to pay their last respects to their departed friend, colleague, hero, and their leader.
Mr Chahal’s funeral cortege was brought from his home in North Wales to Bedford, which he often lovingly referred to as ‘his home town’ and placed in the Sri Guru Ravidass Community Centre for public viewing. Bhikhu Sangha led by Ven. Pramaha Somboon Siddinyanao chanted Buddhist prayers. There was deep emotion and tears in the crowd which queued to pay their last respects to their beloved Chanan for the last time. Still in a state of shock, many could not accept that he was no longer physically with them.
After public viewing, the funeral cortege made its way to Norse Road Crematorium. The funeral service which began at 4pm commenced with the lighting a candle by Nirmala Chahal (Mr Chahal’s wife) and Trisharan and Panchshil (Buddhist prayers) administered by the most Ven. Pramaha Somboon Siddinyanao.
There were a number of speakers at the funeral service. In his introduction Gautam Chakravarty General Secretary FABO UK spoke about his personal and professional relationship with Mr Chahal during his chairmanship of FABO, UK and Ambedkar Centenary Celebration committee, UK. He said that Mr Chahal had been influenced in his early years by the teachings of Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar. He raised awareness of human rights issues and later brought disparate groups together under the Federation of Ambedkarite and Buddhist Organisations, UK ( FABO, UK). He added that Mr Chahal’s published writings and powerful public speeches inspired many generations of Indian Dalits to take a stand against the caste system in the UK and in India. In February 2009 he launched his report ‘Evils of Caste’ in the House of Commons. Ven. Dr. W. Kassapa Nayake Thera OBE, spoke about the many achievements of Mr Chahal and added that Chanan had told him that he wanted to stay with him in Buddha Vihara to complete his work on Buddhism but his health never allowed that happening. The funeral service was conducted by both Ven. Dr. W. Kassapa Nayake Thera OBE, and Ven. Bhikku Chander Bodhi.
Ven. Chander Bodhi who had worked with Mr Chahal in the Punjab Buddhist Society, UK for a number of years paid a very moving tribute about Mr Chahal’s energy and commitment to the Buddhist and human rights movement. Mr Chahal’s daughter, Anita spoke about her father’s sense of humour and how he touched so many hearts. She further added that her father voiced many opinions and never backed down. He enjoyed a good argument or debate, and in most cases he was always right. His voice overpowered most and he made sure he was heard. He loved a challenge and was frightened of nothing. She told the congregation that whenever anyone in the family approached her dad with a problem, he always used to say “what problem?” and took it upon himself to solve – which he always did. In a choking voice, she said,” I close my eyes and see my dad smiling back at me reassuring me ‘its going to be ok….don’t worry’. I can still hear him calling my name, his voice echoes within and it hurts, knowing I will never be able to see him or talk to him again.”
A memorial service was arranged at Sri Guru Ravidass Community Centre after the funeral at Norse Road Crematorium. As Mr Chahal had been involved with many organisations, representative of these organisations attended the memorial service and paid tributes. Speaking about his association with Mr. Chahal and his work, Mr. Arun Kumar said that he established Sri Guru Ravidass Sabha, Bedford and after that the Dr. Ambedkar Mission Society, Bedford. He took a keen interest to unite various groups in the Great Britain and formed Federation of Ambedkarite and Buddhist organisations, UK ( FABO, UK). He was a staunch Buddhist. He wanted to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of the great Dr. Ambedkar’s conversion to Buddhism in a big way. He set up Punjab Buddhist Society, UK and Punjab. In a short span of time, he helped to build Takshilla Maha Buddh Vihar, Ludhiana in Punjab, India at the cost of over two crores of rupees. Currently he was the Vice President of Punjab Buddhist Society, UK and President of FABO, UK. Chanan always wanted to see the followers of Dr. Ambedkar, Guru Ravidass and Bhagwan Valmik on one platform. To achieve his objective, he helped to establish Forum for Social Justice, UK where all Dalit groups were represented. Because of his untimely departure, his dream remained unfulfilled. Up to his last breath, he remained a loyal member of Dr. Ambedkar Mission Society, Bedford and guided its members to carry on Babasaheb’s and Buddha’s message.
Dr. N. Srinivasan, Vice President of FABO called Mr Chahal; ‘A Visionary’, who could predict the things to come and provided the strategic leadership to get people to prepare to deal with anything that came their way in the movement. His monumental work ‘Evil of Caste’ shows his great intellectual power through which he was able to destroy false myths with reasoned argument. He was a true Buddhist and tried to live according to Buddhist principles.
Mr. Harmesh Jassal, a very close friend of Mr Chahal, specially came from India to attend the funeral and to pay his last respects in person. He said that with Mr Chahal’s demise, a wave of sorrow has spread in the Dalit and Buddhist circles in India and many functions were being arranged to pay tribute to Mr Chahal,. He recalled his days spent with Mr Chahal. Mr Jassal added that in his discussions, meetings and public talks, Mr Chahal always focused his energies on one point - how the downtrodden must be empowered and how we could go about doing this. As a final farewell, Mr Jassal promised Mr Chahal that he would continue to follow in his footsteps and continue the work in order to fulfil Mr Chahal’s dreams. Another close associate and friend from the last 40 years, Mr. Dhanpat Rattu, remembering Chanan’s work and friendship with him from early days, stated that Chanan Chahal was not an individual but an institution. With his demise, a chapter in the Dalit and Ambedkar Buddhist movement in the UK has closed.
Des Raj Mehmi, President, Sri Guru Ravidass International Organisation for Human Rights, UK said how well Mr Chahal was respected all over UK and how he always gave positive advice to anyone who sought it. Mr. Harbans Lal Virdee, Buddha Dhamma Association, Southall, Mr. Gurdial Bangar, International Mission, London, Mehar Chand Jassal, Dr. Ambedkar Mission Society, Glasgow and Ram Murti Suman from Letchworth also spoke on this sad occasion and paid tributes to late Mr Chahal.
On behalf of Mr. Chahal’ family, Mr. Ram Pal thanked everyone who came from far and wide to pay last respect to Chahal Sahib and to share their grief. He appreciated everyone for their support and also thanked those who sent condolence messages.
Mr M. S. Bahal, Coordinator, BAMCEF International Network, and a very close friend of Mr Chahal was so distressed and moved that he found it very hard and was unable to say few words for his very close friend.
On that sad day when we all bid farewell to Mr Chanan Chahal we all knew that although he had passed on, his shining light and the work he had started would continue in a new generation of Ambedkarites in the UK and abroad. He will be deeply missed but not forgotten.
Posted on September 10, 2009
With great sorrow, we have to inform about this shocking news that Mr. Chanan Chahal is no more with us. He passed away on 7th August at 3pm. He was unwell for sometime.
CHANAN CHAHAL IS NO MORE WITH US
He was a very friendly and kind person, always prepared to help others. He served the Dalit community selflessly for the past 40 years. He was responsible to take Dalit movement to the international level.
Mr. Chahal was the pillar of Ambedkar and Buddhist movement in the UK. His demise is an irreparable loss to the whole movement. Currently he was the president of The Federation of Ambedkarite & Buddhist Organisations, UK and Punjab Buddhist Society, UK.
Arun Kumar & C Gautam
Federation of Ambedkarite & Buddhist Organisations UK
Posted on August 08, 2009 (05:45)
|Chanan Chahal Passed Away
With very heavy heart and shock, I am to inform all of you about the sudden death of My dearest and sincerest Ambedkarite and Buddhist colleague Chanan Chahal. 38 year long mate who stood by us through all thick and thin situations of life and left no stone unturned and left no corner inaccessible as for as the Phuley-Ambedkar movement was concerned. He preached and promoted Buddhist thought among our people despite of many difficulties.
When it was time to talk about Buddhist Ambedkar ideology he will not compromise.
In the long span of 38 years he was instrument for spread Ambedkar-Buddhist movement
though out the western Diaspora. His death has robbed us of a very hard working and understanding personality who understood and acted to put right every problem that was created by the Brahminical social order home and abroad.
Despite of his ill health he still promised me to write a reply to the Hindu Council UK
that will keep his memories fresh and alive for many coming generations. He was very much against the caste system and its evils practices. His reply to Hindus that in UK there is no caste discrimination, therefore British Mps and Government should not include in “Single discrimination Bill" He gave a very befitting reply, "Evils of Caste" that was launched in British Parliament this Year. He has left an undeletable mark in the history of Ambedkar-Buddhist movement that will shine like a beacon. He will be dearly missed and his loss will never be recovered.
I will write some memorable moments we had together at some later stage.
May Lord Buddha bless him peace.
I am in the footstep of our forefathers
M S Bahal (UK)
Posted on August 08, 2009 (05:45)
ON HIS FUNERAL DAY, I SALUTE LATE
MR. CHANAN CHAHAL SAHEB
With respect, I was use to address him “ Chahal Saheb”. I will not forget his dedicated services to the community for over 40 years. There are a few people like him who are honest and committed for the mission of Baba Saheb and Lord Buddha.
My farewell to my hero who guided me for the last several years and taught me the real sense of the mission. Though my eyes are full of tears while I am writing this mail, I promise him to follow his guidance, respect his principles and make every effort to carry his mission forward.
May Lord Buddha bless him with peace !
Raj Kumar Oshroaj, Torotno, Canada
Evil of Caste-
A detailed response to Hindu Council UK's report
The Evil of Caste:-
The Caste System as the Largest Systemic Violation of Human Rights in Today’s World
By Chanan Chahal (A Response to the Hindu Council UK Report on the Denial of the Caste System and its Effects)
“Know Truth as Truth and Untruth as Untruth”
This Report is published by FABO, the Federation of Ambedkarite and Buddhist Organisations UK, in association with the Dalit Solidarity Network UK . The DSN can be contacted at Thomas Clarkson House, Broomgrove Road , London SW9 9TL 2
1. Introduction 7
2. The Evolution of India ’s Caste system 9
2.1 Brahman (First Varna ).
2.2 Kashatriya (Second Varna )
2.3 Vaishya (Third Varna )
2.4 Shudra (Fourth Varna )
2.5 Avarna (Fifth Varna )
3. Categories of Caste Discrimination 12
3.1 Superiority by age.
3.6 Economical exploitation
3.7 Fines and punishments
3.9 Social boycott
4. Denial of Justice and Denial of its Existence 15
5. Lord Buddha’s Challenge 19
6. Caste contamination of other faiths 21
7. The Invasion of India and Foreign Rule 23
8. Affirmative Action and Unimplemented Reservations 25
9. Disparity in Humanitarian Aid to Dalits 29
10. Segregation - the Highest Form of Human Rights Violation 30
11. No End in Sight - India Today 34
11.1 Hindu beliefs
Page 2 of 57 3
11.3 Caste prejudices in the media
11.4 The caste contamination of British politics
11.5 Caste in workplace
11.6 Caste in places of worship
12. Caste and the Wider World 41
13. Conclusion 45
14. Responses to the Hindu Council Report from other Organizations 47
Page 3 of 57 4
Due to the success of democracy, fast communications, scientific achievements, and the rise of social conscience the world is changing fast. It has already eradicated apartheid and is tackling slavery, and also striving for the elimination of all forms of social, religious or political activities which limit or curtail freedoms for the advancement of the individual or certain groups of people, no matter in which country or culture they exist.
The societies which have discriminatory cultures should take note that there is nothing wrong in being proud of their past, but this does not mean they have to live in the past and become stagnant instead of evolving. There is no argument that the past has also laid down fine ideals from which have developed the best in modern society, but it also gave respectability to slavery, apartheid, and to caste, race and gender discrimination, all of which are unacceptable in today’s world.
The attention behind writing this document is not to undermine or vilify any individual or group, it is only to clarify some misconceptions about the caste system and the damage it has done, as it still threatens to wreck the social harmony of society. I shall be failing in my duty if I fail to thank Dharminder Chahal, Arun Kumar, M.S.Bahal, Balram Sampla, C.Gautam, Ram Pal ‘Rahi’ Dr.Muni, Neresh Banga and Raj Kumar Oshoraj for making some positive suggestions. My grateful thanks are also due to David Haslam for laboriously editing this document and Jeremy Corbyn MP who was kind enough to write a Foreword. My thanks also go to the ‘Federation of Ambedkarite and Buddhist Organisations UK ’ for publishing this booklet ‘The Evil of Caste’, in association with the ‘Dalit Solidarity Network UK ’.
Page 4 of 57 5
Foreword to ‘ The Evil of Caste’
Caste-based discrimination (CBD) has become an increasingly important issue in human rights work over the last few years. It is now generally recognised as the largest systemic human rights violation in the modern world, affecting up to 300 million people in over a dozen countries. Most of those affected are in the countries of South Asia , especially India , where some 250 million Dalits and tribal peoples face varying degrees of ‘Untouchability’. It has recently become clear that caste has also travelled with the Indian Diaspora and the modest Dalit Solidarity Network UK research report ‘No Escape’ (2006) indicated there are caste issues here in the UK, especially in the fields of education, employment and temple access. Dalits are of course the former ‘untouchables’, called by the Indian Government ‘Scheduled Castes’ and ‘Scheduled Tribes, and by Gandhi ‘Harijans’. ‘Dalit’ means broken or crushed but Dalits themselves have imbued it with a sense of resistance and a united identity.
In March 2008 the Hindu Council UK (followed later by the Hindu Forum) responded to DSN’s work with a report which contained a number of inaccuracies and misconceptions. More importantly it sought to downplay the issue of caste without really acknowledging the enormous amount of damage CBD is still doing to millions of the Council’s fellow citizens in India . It claimed that reservation (affirmative action) in education and employment is overcoming the effects of CBD, that some higher caste people in India are themselves ’terribly poor’, that caste is dying out and that Dalit communities in the UK are doing well.
The report also suggested that myself and other Parliamentary colleagues have been misled, to some extent by ‘Christian groups who want .... to convert people to Christianity’. I take some exception to this, partly because I and my colleagues are not so easily ‘misled’ on human rights issues and have met with Dalit groups both here and in India and heard their stories, and partly on behalf of Christians (which I am not) who I believe seek simply to expose and challenge the dehumanising and exploitative caste system. The Dalit Solidarity Network is not a ‘Christian organisation’ as has been suggested, only one of our current funders is Christian and only one of our Trustees.
More importantly again, however, Dalit communities in the UK have also taken exception to the Hindu Council report, not least because it contained a statement purporting to come from the Southall Valmiki community, objecting to being described by ‘Christian missionary groups’ as ‘Dalit’, blaming British colonialism for setting CBD in place and accusing Christianity of ‘spreading hatred’. This ‘statement’ was rejected by that community, the rejection appears here in the appendices. I welcome this very useful report by Chanan Chahal as it gives so much information about where CBD originates in certain Hindu scriptures and communicates the strength of feeling Dalits have about how ‘higher-caste’ Hindus have used caste. When human rights violations occur it is my experience that one gets a picture much closer to the truth from those discriminated against rather than from those doing the discriminating.
A specific and particularly unpleasant manifestation of CBD in today’s India is the practice of ‘manual scavenging’, a polite term for cleaning the toilets of the higher castes by hand, a practice into which certain groups of Dalits are condemned by birth. Despite this practice having been outlawed by the Indian Parliament, and hundreds of millions of rupees having been allocated to stamping it out over the last few years, still around 1.3 million people are engaged in the practice because caste continually undermines democratic efforts to eliminate it. The DSN’s current main campaign is to support the SKA, the ‘scavengers’’ own liberation movement, to end manual scavenging by the time
Page 5 of 57 6
of the Commonwealth Games in Delhi in October 2010. It would be good to have the Hindu communities join these efforts.
The main concern of the Hindu community, however appears to be a horror of the possibility of caste being introduced into the UK ’s anti-discrimination legislation. It is true that I and other British MPs hope it will appear in the Single Equality Bill which is expected to come before the next Parliamentary session. What I cannot understand is that, if there is appalling treatment of Dalits, as the Hindu Council report agrees, and if they are opposed to such treatment – presumably both in India and the UK – why not support the inclusion of CBD in UK law?
This would then send a clear message not just to Dalit communities here but also in India , Nepal , Pakistan , Bangladesh and the other countries where it exists. It would also send a message to the European Union, the International Labour Organisation and the various UN bodies who are currently addressing CBD. I urge the Hindu Council and the Hindu Forum to look again at this issue, and join with us in both our support for the SKA and our request to include caste in the Single Equality Bill. If they wish simply to retain caste as a form of cultural identity, or a ‘clan system’ as they call it, in which all are ‘British Hindus’, surely that would be possible while at the same time rejecting caste-based discrimination? Otherwise the only conclusion could be that the Hindu community is not opposed to such discrimination, rather than ensuring this ‘blot on humanity’, as the Indian Prime Minister has called it, is eradicated.
Jeremy Corbyn MP, Chair of the Dalit Solidarity Network UK and Vice-Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Human Rights
Page 6 of 57 7
India has been the centre of attention of the world in recent years, because of the globalisation and the availability of rich amount of human resources of a 1.3 billion population. India also is a major beneficiary of recent developments in IT technology and outsourcing businesses. A major question arising here is will all the Indians reap the benefits from this boom?
This is not the only reason India is well known, India is also widely talked about in the past due to some good Samaritans in this country who have raised their voices against oppressed people in the World. Some concerned Indians have raised their voices in the past against discrimination in other continents whether they were blacks in South Africa or Palestinians in Palestine .
Ironically and sadly, the real India stands contrary to this perception, what we hear or read is largely skewed version of media propaganda to keep India’s name on top of the world. Indians are appalling towards their fellow Indians; they caused huge sufferings to Dalits 1 in the name of caste, mythical beliefs and religious ignorance.
Indians might have been known to support black people in eradicating apartheid in South Africa , but they forgot to look at their own backyard where over 260 million people are victims of systematic discrimination. Over a hundred million people are degraded to ‘manual scavenging’, removing and carrying human excreta on their heads. This is the ultimate human tragedy that one can see and witness in India . India is the only country in the world where human scavenging is pushed upon a section of society by the government officials and religious rulers of India .
India also is one of the few countries where discrimination on the basis of birth has existed from centuries. This has resulted in segregation and suppression. Neither Indian governments nor the people of the society made honest and practical plans to get rid of this culturally and religiously enforced cruelty. The government, media and religious leaders who travelled outside the country were notorious in blindfolding the people of other nations to prevent them knowing the truth about Caste and its evil practices. Indians don’t want to talk about it as they are afraid that it will defame India . Whenever somebody tried to discuss caste, it has been branded as an internal issue. Even if somebody from India opened his/her mouth on this matter, it is cleverly defended by Hindus by saying the caste system is wrongly interpreted. They even go to the extent of disguising the truth, by saying caste was created for the sake of the stability of the whole society. A system that teaches discrimination against fellow humans as higher, lower and ‘untouchable’; a system that treats a certain section of Indians worse than animals is considered to be for the sake of stability. What a pathological explanation is this?
Thanks to the British society for their forthcoming and forward looking discussion on the “Single Equality Bill” where provisions to remove disabilities and discriminations based on colour, race, gender, religion and age will be made.
It is beyond question that caste discrimination, which exists in the UK and some other foreign countries, is imported from India by Hindus. As
1 Dalit is the newly given name to the former ‘Untouchables’ of India .
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discrimination based on caste is also beginning to raise its ugly head in British society, some organisations are campaigning to include caste-based discrimination in the Equality Bill. But the ‘Hindu Council of UK’ who considers themselves as champions of equality is against inserting caste discrimination in the bill. If they are genuinely interested in a fair society based on equality and liberty, then why are they opposing the inclusion of Caste discrimination into ‘Single Equality Bill? Shouldn’t they be supporting such laws which prevent all known discrimination, full stop?
2 Fourfold Varna or Caste System.
Instead, the news that the Single Equality Bill is to include measures against all known human discrimination has created unprecedented alarm in the Hindu circles. They have come up with a 35 page biased, disingenuous and inaccurate report to condemn a bill that any humane organization should welcome into their society. We the victims (the Dalits), the good humanitarians, citizens of UK and other nations are presenting this response to counter the untruthful, cruelly construed and misinformation that has been disseminated by the Hindu Council UK .
India probably is the only country in the world today whose inhabitants take pride in the divisive nature of their society. It has been designed to maintain itself by means of ‘graded inequality’ in accordance with laws of Chaturvarnya 2 ; each and every caste can look down upon another to be their inferior. Caste membership is not voluntary, it’s exclusive to birth. It is a hereditary system, which is dependent on hierarchical privileges and disadvantages. Even though the original creation of Chaturvarnya had only four Varnas (Castes) it has multiplied to about 6000+Castes. Chaturvarnya means four Castes namely Brahman (priest), Kashatriya (soldier or ruler), Vaishya (accumulator of wealth) and Shudra (menial servant). Theoretically it seems plausible, because for a society to function progressively, it must have its intellectuals, soldiers, economists and menial workers. It should be the policy of the state to take advantage of people’s interests and experiences and also prevent any form of discrimination inside or outside the work place. Instead, unfortunately in India Caste rules supreme.
Whereas the caste divide is pathology to begin with, it has every aspects of virulence of a deadly virus, it is degrading, divisive and atrocious in character. If allowed, it is destined to produce the same virulent pathology in UK ’s society. It is an extremely sinister and anti-social creation. Its inherent discriminatory character has proved ruinous to Indian society. The Caste system is a religious dogma, which has the ‘blessings of the Hindu Gods’. These anti-social creators and their followers have made this religiously worshipful and spiritually blended it into day to day practices and beliefs. They preached it to create a unique and unshakeable Hindu mind-set devoid of all reason or logic. This is exactly why, so many humanitarians, great scholars like Dr. Ambedkar (the Dalit creator of India ’s Constitution) could not dismantle or eliminate caste. If the nations, their people and leaders become aware of the true nature of caste and its evil practices, they will raise their voice against such pathology. There are chances that we can collectively one day eliminate this dehumanising system.
Due to international pressure, Apartheid in South Africa has been eradicated and because of this, anti-human rights abuse momentum is running high. The world communities are turning their eyes
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3 Letter from Downing Street 7 th.September 1977.
towards suffering humanity elsewhere. Caste prejudice and the atrocities against Dalits in India and other countries of South Asia are the worse human rights violation in the world today. There is a new consciousness in the world, dedicated to the eradication of human rights violations, from human society. There was a time when countries refrained from interfering in what happens in other nations and kept silent, but not any-more. This is a globalised World, which is fast becoming conscious of the burdens and fears of other societies. Over thirty years ago when ‘The Republican Group of Great Britain’ took a memorandum against atrocities on the ‘Untouchables of India’, to the British Prime Minister, James Callaghan on 4 th.September 1977, to be forwarded to the Indian Government on our behalf we received a diplomatically polite letter, which said “foreign Governments are sensitive to what to them appears to be interference by another Government in their internal affairs.” 3
The Untouchable Castes in India have suffered in silence for long enough, it is time the world took notice of their plight and came to their aid. Due to international consciousness of fair play Apartheid has been smashed, similarly now, Caste prejudice should take priority to be shattered and abolished, so over 260 million Dalits can escape their serfdom. This would bring social equality, which will enable society to maintain the spirit of Justice, in accordance with ‘United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights’ to which most countries are signatories:
• Article 1: All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
• Article 2: Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in the Declaration without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinions, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the bases of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or the territory to which a person belongs, whether it is independent, trust, non self-governing or any other form of limitation of sovereignty.
In this reply to ‘Hindu Council U.K’ a lot of emphasis has been put on the creation, implementation and survival of the Caste system. The Hindu Council report has tried to take advantage of general ignorance about Caste in the Western world, so they deceptively fabricated the facts to misguide the people in general. The aim of this response, however, is to explain the true nature of Caste and the real motivation behind its creation.
2. The Evolution of India ’s Caste System
Hindus express pride in having elevated the Brahman to the level of Gods while subjugating lower Castes to the level of Untouchables. The status of a Brahman according to Manu Simiriti (the most notorious of all religious books in the world today that teaches atrocious beliefs against each other in the name of religion) is that “Man started to be purer above the navel, than below; hence self-existent (Svayambhu) has declared the purest part of him to be the mouth. As the Brahman sprang from the Brahma’s mouth, as he was first-born,
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4 Manu Simiriti. I.PP.92 ‐ 93, 95, 98 ‐ 101
5 Reg ‐ Veda. 10/95/15
6 Manu Simiriti. Chapter IX, Verse 15
and he possesses the Vedas, he is by right the lord of the whole creation. What created being can surpass him, through whose mouth the Gods continually consume the sacrificial viands?...Very birth of a Brahman is an external incarnation of the sacred law; for he is born to fulfil the sacred law, and become one with Brahma. A Brahman, coming into existence, is born as the highest on earth, the lord of all created beings, for the protection of the treasury of the law. Whatever exists in the world is the property of the Brahmin; on account of the excellence of the origin of the Brahman is, indeed, entitled to it all. The Brahman can but eat his own food, wears but his own apparel, bestows but his own alms; other mortals subsist through the benevolence of the Brahman.” 4
Women have been treated very badly, religiously they have no status, in their domestic life, and they are to be supervised at all times, during childhood by father, in fullness of age by husband, in old age by sons. According to Rig-Veda “There cannot be any friendship with a woman. Her heart is crueller than that of a hyena.” 5 “Through their passion for men, through their mutable temper, through their natural heartlessness, they become disloyal towards their husbands, however carefully they may be guarded in this world.” 6
There are over 260 million people who have been stigmatised as Untouchables, because of which they suffer untold atrocities at the hands of high caste Hindus. The only crime they have committed is being born in a Caste, which has been condemned as lowest of the low even before their birth. There is no provision for reprieve in this life. They are the largest minority in the world today, equivalent to the total population of United Kingdom, France and Germany put together, who have suffered this stigma for over three thousand years and still continue to do so.
It is a misconception on the part of foreigners and deliberate deception on the part of Hindus, to say that Caste is a profession-based system or a division of labour. Caste is a religious concept by which each Caste disowns any social connection with any other Caste and they neither inter-dine, nor inter-marry. It is a hereditary and exclusive system, based on one’s birth. What is written in the Hindu Scriptures stands as a clear testimonial to that very fact? The ability of the Hindus to believe this pathological and virulent social system and force it upon generations after generations of Indians almost made this pathology into an acceptable and respectable social system. This is a melancholy of the highest order the World has ever known. This is what they preach inside their temples and spiritual places. They bring it up in daily interactions with each other and feel proud to talk about this barbarism: The creation of Chaturvarnya is found in the ninetieth Hymn of the Tenth Mandala (chapter) of the Rig-Veda, in which the Gods have sacrificed a godly deity called Purusha to carve out the universe and in the verse 11 and 12 the creation of mankind is described;
“When (The Gods) divided Purusha, into how-many parts did they cut him up? What was his mouth? What arms (had he)? What (two objects) are said (to have been) his thighs and feet?
The Brahmana was from his mouth, the Rajanya (rulers) were made from his arms; the being called the Vaishya was his thighs; the last Shudras sprang from his feet.” Such anti-social religious
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7 Vishnu Simiriti. Chapter XXVII, Sutra 6 ‐ 9
8 Manu Simiriti. Chapter. I. Verse 87 ‐ 88
9 Abbe J.A. Dubois as quoted by Oliver, J Cox in Caste, Class and race P. 15S
10 Manu Simiriti. Chapter I, Verse 89
11 Bhagavad ‐ Gita chapter II verses 31 ‐ 32
12 Manu Simiriti. Chapter I, verse 90
13 Vashishtha Dharma Sutra. Chapter II. Verse 1 ‐ 4.
creation was forced upon people; it should be accepted in society as “The names that are chosen should be auspicious in the case of the Brahman, indicating power in the case of the Kashatriya, indicating wealth in case of the Vaishya, and indicating contempt in the case of the Shudra.” 7
Each Varna (Caste) comes with complete privileges, duties and disabilities.
2.1 Brahman (First Varna )
“For the sake of preserving all this creation, the most glorious being has ordained separate duties for those who sprang from his mouth, arms, thighs and feet. For Brahman he ordered teaching, study, sacrifices and sacrificing as priest for others and also giving and receiving gifts.” 8
“The Brahman’s superiority is inherent and it remains intact, no matter what his condition in life may be. Rich or poor, unfortunate or prosperous, he always goes on the principle engraved in him that he is the most noble, the most excellent and the most perfect of all created beings; the rest of mankind are infinitely beneath him, and that there is nothing in the world, so sublime or so admirable as his customs and practices.” 9
2.2 Kashatriya (Second Varna )
“The Kashatriya are responsible for defence of the nation, giving alms, sacrifice, also study, and absence of attachment to subject of sense, in short these are the duties for a Kashatriya.” 10
The Lord Krishna said to Arjun (the hero of the Mahabharata) “O Arjun, having regard to your natural pattern of behaviour to fight, there is no reason for you to hesitate to kill others, as for a Kashatriya there is nothing more meritorious than to fight. O Bertha (Arjun), only lucky Kashatriya (warrior Varna ) have the chance to such a war presenting itself unsought before them is an open door to heaven.” 11
2.3 Vaishya (Third Varna )
“Tending to the cattle, giving alms, sacrifice, study, trade usury, and also agriculture is for the Vaishya.” 12
These upper three Varnas have been separated from the beginning. They have been called the ‘twice-born’, “There are four Castes (Varnas) Brahmans, Kashatriyas, Vaishyas and Shudras. The upper three Castes Brahmans, Kashatriyas and Vaishya are the twice-born. Their first birth is from the mother; the second from the investiture with the sacred girdle. In that (second birth) the Savitri (one of the numerous of Hindu Goddesses) is the mother, but the teacher said to be the father. They call the teacher father, because he gives instructions in the Vedas.” 13
2.4 Shudra (Fourth Varna )
The maintenance of superiority of the Brahman and subjugation of the Shudra is the real success story of the Hindus, “A Traivarnika student shall never study (the Vedas) in a burial ground nor anywhere near it within the throw of a Samya. If the village has been built over a burial ground or its surface has been cultivated as a field, the recitation of the Veda in such a place is not prohibited. But if the place is known to have been a burial ground, he shall not study there. A Shudra and an outcast are included in the term burial ground, and the rules given in the Sutra 6 applies to them. Some declare that one ought to avoid study in the same house where they
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14 Apastamba Dharma Sutra Prasna I. Patala 3 Khanda 9 Sutra 6 ‐ 11
15 Taittiriya Brahmana. i.2.6.7. Quoted by Muir op. Cit. I, p21
16 Muir Vol. I. P 21
17 Vashishtha Dharam Sutra. Chapter XVIII< verse 11 ‐ 15
18 One of Hindu Gods
19 Outcastes or Untouchables
20 Rig Veda , Viii.24.27
21 Rig Veda, x.38.3
22 DR. Patwardhan. Manu Simiriti. Introduction.
23 Manu Simiriti. Chapter II. Verse. 135 ‐ 37.
24 Manu Simiriti. Chapter II. Verse 154 ‐ 56
dwell. But if a student and Shudra women merely look at each other, the recitation of the Veda must be interrupted.” 14
“The Brahman Caste is sprung from the Gods; the Shudras from the Asuras (daemons).” 15
“The Shudras sprung from non-existence.” 16 “The wicked Shudra-Race is manifestly a burial ground. Therefore the Vedas must never be recited in the presence of a Shudra.” 17
2-5 Avarna (fifth Varna )
The original ‘Chaturvarnya’ had only four ( Varna ) Castes. There was some people of Aryan and Anaryan origin who revolted against it; “Oh you, Indra 18 , who saved us from the hands of the cruel Rakshasas 19 and from the Aryas living on the banks of Indus , do thou deprive the Dasas of their weapons.” 20 The people who rejected philosophical aspect of Brahmanism and its Caste based social division of society came from all walks of life. “Oh you most revered Indra, those Dasas and Aryas who are irreligious and who are our enemies, make it easy for us with your blessings to subdue them. With your help we shall kill them.” 21
Manu in his Simiriti put all those people who did not accept the authority of the Vedas, who would not pay homage to their Gods, refuse to be categorised in separate Castes, did not abide by religious dictums by abstaining from inter-Caste liaison and the Shudras were put into the fifth Varna ‘Avarna’. “In Manu Simiriti, not only the rules and regulations for Four Varnas are described, but also, in the tenth chapter those of the Avarnas are also described. This supports the contention that five classes of the Hindu society of Brahmana, Kashatriya, Vaishya, Shudra and Avarnas were the creation of the Manu.” 22
3. Categories of Discrimination
3.1 Superiority by age.
“One should consider a Brahman ten year-old and a Kashatriya hundred year old as father and son; but of them the Brahman is the father. Wealth, kindred age, sect and knowledge, those are the causes of respect; the most important is the last mentioned. In whom amongst the three higher Castes the most and the best of those five may be, he is worthy of respect; a Shudra is not worthy of respect on the ground of his wealth or knowledge no matter how high he may be. It is only on grounds of his age and that too only if he has attained the tenth decade of his life that he becomes worthy of respect and not before.” 23
“For not by years, not by grey hair, not by wealth, nor kindred is superiority; the seers made the rules, who knows the Vedas completely, he is great amongst us. Of Brahmans, superiority is by knowledge, but of Kashatriyas by valour; Vaishya by reason of property and wealth, and of Shudra by age only. One is not therefore aged, just because his head is grey; however, although a youth, has perused the Vedas (Brahman), him the Gods consider an elder.” 24
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25 Manu Simiriti. Chapter I, Verse 91
26 Apastamba Dharma Sutra. Prasna, I, Patala, 1, Lhanda I, Sutra 7 ‐ 8.
27 Manu Simiriti. Chapter IX, Verse 334 ‐ 335
28 The Apastamba Dharma Sutra Prasna I, Patala 2, Khanda 5, Sutra 16
29 Vishnu Simiriti XXVII, Sutr 6 ‐ 9
30 Manu Simiriti. Chapter X, Verse 52
31 Manu Simiriti Chapter VIII, verse 417.
32 Manu Simiriti, Chapter X, verse 129.
“The one duty the Lord assigned to the Shudra is to serve the upper three Castes without grudging.” 25
“To serve the upper three Castes is ordained for the Shudra. The higher the Caste which he serves the greater is the merits.” 26
“Now the supreme duty of the Shudra and that which ensures his blessings is merely obedience towards celebrated priests who understand the Vedas and live like householders. If he be pure, obedient to higher Castes, mild in speech, without conceit, and always submissive to the Brahman, he attains (in the next transmigration) a high birth.” 27
The Caste system is set up in such a way in the Hindu religion that one’s Caste is recognised at a glance by means of appearance, dress sense, by name, the way one greets others, general pattern of behaviour and use of language in general.
“A Brahman should salute stretching forward his right arm on a level with his ear, a Kashatriya holding his arm on a level with the breasts, a Vaishya holding it on a level with his waist, a Shudra holding it low and stretching forward from the waist with joined hands.” 28
“The name to be chosen should be auspicious in the case of a Brahman, indicating power in the case of a Kashatriya, indicating wealth in the case of the Vaishya and indicating contempt in the case of the Shudra.” 29
“The wealth of the Shudra shall be Dogs and Donkeys. The dress of the Shudra shall be the garments of the dead; they should eat their food from broken dishes, black iron shall be their ornaments and they always should wonder from place to place.” 30
Nobody can accuse the Hindu law givers for leaving something to chance or incomplete as far as the superiority of the Brahman and degradation of the Shudra was concerned. The Caste system deprived the Shudras of all the worldly opportunities. It deprives them of social equality, the right to think for themselves, to safeguard their welfare, to migrate to other parts of the country to get better employment and it is also designed to economically exploit and suppress the lower Caste masses.
3.6 Economical exploitation
“A Brahman may take possession of the goods of the Shudra with perfect peace of mind, for, nothing at all belongs to the Shudra as his own, and he is one, whose property may be taken away by his master.” 31
“ Indeed, an accumulation of wealth should not be made by a Shudra even if he is able to do so, for the sight of mere possession of wealth by a Shudra injures the Brahman.” 32
3.7 Fines and punishments
“A Shudra can be slain at the pleasure of his master, and the penance is the same as killing the Crow, chameleon, peacock,
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33 Apastamba Dharma Sutra. Prasna I, Patala 9, Khanda 25, Sutr 15
34 Apastamba Dharma Sutra. Prasna II, Patala 10, Khanda 27, Sutra 8 ‐ 9
35 Vishnu Simiriti Chapter V, Verse 19 ‐ 25.
a duck, a swan, a vulture, a frog, an ichneumon, rat or a dog.” 33
“The man of the first three Castes who commits adultery with a woman of the Shudra Caste shall be banished. A Shudra who commits adultery with a woman of the first three Castes shall suffer capital punishment.” 34
“With whatever limb an inferior insults or hurts his superior in Caste, of that limb the King shall cause him to be deprived. If he places himself on the same seat with his superior, he shall be banished with a mark on his buttocks. If he spit on him he shall lose both lips. If he breaks wind against him, he shall lose his hind parts. If he uses abusive language, he shall loose his tongue. If low-born men, through pride, give instruction to the member of the highest Caste concerning his duty, let the King order hot oil to be dropped into his mouth. If the Shudra mention the name or Caste of the superior revealingly, a red hot iron pin ten inches long shall be thrust into his mouth.” 35
From having studied the Hindu scriptures and having been victim of this vicious pathological culture, Dr. Ambedkar came to the conclusion that, “A religion which glorifies ignorance and impudently preached inequality, hatred, divided human beings into multitudinous Castes and sub Castes, sanctioned poverty and adopted economic measures to keep the majority of its followers poor, illiterate, ignorant, disunited and divided was nothing short of infamy.”
Under the influence of such teachings social and economic exploitation still continues; “During the study of the ‘Discrimination in Food Security Programme’ conducted by the Indian University Grants Commission (UGC), the present UGC chairman Sukhdeo Thorat (a dalit) and Joel Lee of Columbia University (USA), it was found that discrimination in quantity, quality, price, favouritism and Untouchability is rampant across the country. The result is startling enough to make the government re-orient its food security programmes.
With Casteism heavily dominating the ‘Public Distribution Programme’ (PDS), Dalits are not only denied access to food, but are also made to pay more money for lesser quantity and are charged higher prices. Of the total 521 Villages surveyed in five States:
Uttar Pradesh, Bihar , Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh- almost 40% reported that Dalits were found to be receiving lesser quantities for the same price as compared to the Upper Castes.
Posted on January 23, 2009