DO YOU BELIEVE IN CASTE?--- Uday Pai
A friend in Germany, Heidi Ryan, asked: "India still has the evil caste system. Do you believe in Caste, Uday?"
"Yes, Indian caste system is definitely evil in current form..."I agreed with her.
"But I saw few pics of you performing some funny rituals. Why do educated people like you follow ancient ridiculous evil caste system? Do you practice the inhuman untouchability too?"
"I follow my culture, tradition and rituals in special occasions of family...But those rituals are not ridiculous. We do not practice untouchabilty. And I am not aware of any caste system that was prevailing in ancient India..."
"You mean to say there was no caste system in ancient India?" she laughed! "I know Indian history too..."
"The Indian history books, curriculum and research papers were prepared by die-hard fans of invaders, missionaries and communists. Similar to today's market-media, they have successfully planted a false theory that caste system was prevailing in ancient India...But, our social system was not like that of your western way of dividing society..."
"How can you compare your barbaric system with modern scientific western system of division?" she got bit angry.
"You divided the society based on race and hate...Indian caste system, even in present rude form, pales when compare to South African apartheid and the feudal system that was in force in Europe. We never had a slavery system based on class or caste as you still can see in the Middle East..."
"But you also had caste system based on Aryan and Dravidian races..."
"You got it all wrong... For example, my community (I don't call it a caste) is Gawd Saraswat Brahmins (GSB) - There are blacks, whites and brownish people in our community - from all races. There is Uttar Chitpavana ethnic groups (Mongolic), Ratnagiri ethnic group (Indo-European race) or Aryan and Dravidian races. You can even find Chinese faces in our community. That shows Indian community (caste) system has nothing to do with race..."
"Hmmm...So I was misinformed..." she appeared confused..."But what about caste based violence in India?"
"There was not even a single violence related to caste or community in India till Muslim and British rule. In recent times, yes. But if you investigate, the real was not caste. It's not like the Nazi holocaust of 10 million and burning of innocent females in the name of race...."
"But there were wars between religions in India..."
"It was not war. It is one-sided attack and persecution by non-Indian origin religions...According to an estimate, more than 100 millions Hindus were persecuted by invaders starting from Mahmud Ghazni. It was not war - it was holocaust of the Hindus. Hindus never kill or fight for faith...India never had religious war like that when 50 million Africans killed in slave boats during 200+ years of slavery with Church justification of Africans having no soul or decimation of Native Americans...Europe and Middle East were raging Holy Cross War or Jihad against Infidels...But India never had such wars..."
"I know Hindus always stood for peace and universal love beyond religions. But all your scriptures have promoted caste system..."
"Please show me any Vedic scripture that promotes or even mention about caste. There was NO caste system in India. We had a “varna vyavastha” based on the karma (job) people do. Caste is not intrinsic to Hinduism. Jaati, Kula and Varna are cornerstones of the society that followed Sanatan Dharma (Hindus). When the Portuguese colonized parts of India, they mistakenly translated “varna vyavasthaa” as “caste system” and the mistake has stayed since then. So "Caste" is not an Indian term to describe the complex mix of factors that made up a part of the ancient social system in India. It is an inaccurate Portuguese term grouping and mixing the separate ideas of jati and varna, and the equally separate issue of ethnicity all into one. "
"Everybody knows India had a caste system, you are in denial mode, Uday"
" Till about 400-600 A.D. Guna (character) and Karma defined the Varna system in India. But, after the invasions by foreigners everything had changed. Europeans and Arabians came to India as invaders, conquerors, missionaries and for inquisition. They created untouchable lower class in the Hindu society too and distorted the varna-system and used it politically for their selfish purposes. For, in the West and Middle East, you had slavery system and treated so-called "lower class" people like animals."
"Hmmm...But I follow Christianity that doesn't believe in any caste system..."
"That makes me laugh...There are approximately 41,000 denominations in Christianity. This also can be called caste, if Varna = caste. And most of these denominations fight each other for increasing market share, converting each other... Such inter-caste conversion or fight for market share never ever happens among Hindu castes."
"Hmmm...So, Islam is the only religion that doesn't differentiate people based on caste..."
"No single day passes without report of violence between Shia and Sunni castes in Islam. There are many sects in Islam - Ahmadiyya, Shi'a, Sufism and Sunni. There are religious orientation within the sect (Isnashari, Ismaili, Ahmedi, etc.) and ethnic affiliation (e.g. Sindhi, Baloch, Punjabi, etc.). They don't even marry each other..."
"So, all people in the earth follow caste system..."
"Mahatma Gandhi said that varnashrama (caste system) is "inherent in human nature, and Hinduism has simply made a science of it. Thus unlike racism as well as culturalism elsewhere, India has 'merely' ethnicism. Swami Vivekananda says: Caste is the plan we want to follow. What caste really is, not one in a million understands..."
"So you support caste system..."
"Yes - but not in the current form. A caste system dominated by superstitions, wrong rituals and discrimination is not acceptable. Today, the entire society manipulated by greed and corruption. Hindu "varna" system was one of the greatest social institutions. I can perform one duty in social life, and you another; you can govern a country, and I can stitch a dress, but that is no reason why you are greater than I, for can you stitch my dress? Can I govern the country? The seers of the early Vedic period knew nothing of caste. The four-fold Varna (mistaken as caste) is merely a theoretical division of society to which tribes, clans and family groups are affiliated. It is a sociological fiction. The earliest available literature gives instances of Brahmins carrying on the professions of medicine, arms and administration..."
"But karma based caste system has later turned into birth right..." she said.
"Yes - even in democracy, you can see birth-based leaders. So the social deterioration is not confined to caste. It exists in every sphere of life - especially more in political ideologies than in castes. Can you find any single leader in Communist Marxist Party who does everyday physical labour, though its ideology was based on upliftment of working class and labourers? Indian National Congress that was founded upon the ideology of Swaraj, ended up as a closely held proprietary company that promotes Western domination in life style in India. The corruption and manipulation have crept in everywhere. So, why blame only on manipulated caste system? Blame it on manipulation and corruption in the society."
"So, birth-based caste system is totally wrong..."
"Again, I have a different view here. There are good and bad in birth based privilege too. A carpenter’s son starts the profession from the childhood. There is lot of common sense, special skills and wisdom that developed from the rich experience of generation. It imbibes in hid genes. So, a carpenter’s son can do a better carpentry work than me or you. There can be exceptions...."
"Why do you follow Brahminism, is it because you born to Brahmin parents or going by karma?"
"Brahmanism is an invitation to live a virtuous, humble and noble life in accordance with the nature. It is not a caste. A Brahmin follows path of non-violence, vegetarianism and prays for the happiness of entire universe (not just for believers or caste). For, a Brahmin sees the divine presence in everything - that's the gist of Brahmajnan. Every human being in this world should thrive to be a Brahmin. A person born to a Brahmin parents have more access to these concepts, sacred scriptures and Sanskrit, than born in other castes...But whether they follow such noble tradition is a different question."
"So we in the West have lot of misconceptions about Hindu caste system..."
"Hinduism believes in "Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam" (the world is one family). So how can we follow a rigid caste system? The caste system was never a tenet of the Sanatan Dharma faith." I told her.
(Excerpts from http://udaypai.in/?p=93 and http://udaypai.in/?p=12 )