GANDHI: FATHER OF WHICH NATION ?

06/11/2011

DR. AMBEDKAR MEMORIAL LECTURE

India suffered by making Gandhi “father of the nation”

V.T. RAJSHEKAR SHETTY

[Speech delivered at the IT Seva Federation National Conference of the All-India Income Tax SC/ST Employees and Officers, on April 22, 2010 at the Birla Matushri Bhawan, New Marine Lines, Bombay, as part of the Dr. Ambedkar birth anniversary celebration.]

Jai Bhim,

I have made it clear to the organisers that I am not a political leader or film star. Nor do I belong to any VIP category. As the Editor of Dalit Voice for the past 30 years, I am essentially a journalist and writer and as such my assessment of Babasaheb will be like that of a surgeon who has to do merciless cutting with his knife to save the life of his patient.

So, as a writer specialised in the life and mission of Babasaheb — the only such person produced in this country after the so-called independence of India in 1947 — we have to examine the history — past and present — and mercilessly use the knife like the surgeon.

In the course of my speech I will have to pass some harsh judgements and make some critical remarks which traditional enemies of Babasaheb may not relish. But as a socio-cultural surgeon I cannot help it.

DR. AMBEDKAR AS “FATHER OF INDIA”

However, as the children of Babasaheb, I am sure you will appreciate my critical remarks on this historic occasion.

History is the best judge of men, matters and events. And history has already given its verdict. The verdict is Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar is the “Father of India”. Highest position.

Somebody asked us: “What about Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi?” What is often repeated in the “national” toilet papers, speeches of politicians and Brahminical history books is Gandhi is the “Father of the Nation”. To this our reply is like this: Did not Dr. Ambedkar famously say that “India is not a nation” but a subcontinent of several nations?

But the Hindus, our oppressors, go on calling Gandhi as the “Father of the Nation”. Fine. We have no objection. That is their opinion.

GANDHI: FATHER OF WHICH NATION ?

But we have a question. Gandhi is the Father of which nation?

Not our nation. Our nation, called the Moolnivasi Bahujan Samaj, comprises six sections.

Please take down the population figures of these sections.

SC 20% Muslim 15%
ST 10% Christians 2.5%
BCs 35% Sikhs 2.5%
Total 65% Total 20%
Total 85%.

This 85%, the overwhelming majority people of India, have said Gandhi is not the father of their nation. They say only Babasaheb fought and died for their liberation.

BRAHMINS HATED GANDHI

Gandhi helped only our oppressors — the 15% upper castes — and made them the rulers of India.

Brahmins constitute less than 3% of the country’s population. They form the cream of this ruthless Indian ruling class. But the wonder of all wonders is the Brahmins always hated Gandhi because he was not a Brahmin but a Bania born out of papa yoni.

Besides it is the Brahmin, Nathuram Godse, who killed Gandhi and RSS Brahmins distributed sweets all over the country and celebrated the death of Gandhi.

If these are the facts of history, which none can challenge, Gandhi is the father of which nation? None.

Yet the Brahminical national toilet papers go on calling him the “Father of the nation” — day in day out.

CHINA BECOMES SUPER POWER

Look at China. I led two delegations to China where Mao Tse-tung is called the Father of their nation. Yes. He was truly the father of its 1,500 million people.

He made China a super power. Today, China is next only to USA. Japan which was No.2 is demoted and China has taken its place.

The World Bank has said that in a couple of years China will become the No.1 power in the world.

Where does India stand? Of the 187 countries in the world, India is somewhere at 134. See the world of difference. China is No.2 in the world whereas India is 134. Year after year India is going down.

Mao gets the credit for taking China to the top of the world and Gandhi also gets the credit for taking India to the bottom of the world — because the ruling upper castes call him the “Father of the Nation”.

WHY “ABUSE” GANDHI ?

Some critics asked me:

“If you want to praise Dr. Ambedkar, do it. Why do you want to abuse Gandhi?”

Our reply is: History is like a weighing machine. If you put a weighty stuff on one scale the other scale must go up. Dr. Ambedkar is a weighty personality. Gandhi was a bogus fellow.

When the two are put on the weighting machine, called history, this is the judgement. Gandhi has proved to be bogus. This is the verdict of history.

This country ruled by the Brahmins and Banias— the two together do not form even 3% of the population— has become the “Sick man of the world”. And we see no chance of this Brahmin-Bania Dalal Street-ruled India ever recovering from this incurable disease.

Babasaheb had predicted all this. He had given us the clear road map but the Brahmin-Bania cut-throat gang rejected Babasaheb’s road map and converted India into a failed state. I don’t think India will recover. The children of Gandhi are doing their duty of killing India. Because they don’t love India.

VERDICT OF HISTORY

That is why the history has pronounced its verdict saying that Babasaheb is the “Father of India”. Not one nation inside India is ready to accept the Gujarat Bania as its “father”. Not even the Brahmins. They anyway hate him.

Yet the hypocritical Brahmin-Bania rulers with their Manuwadi monopoly media go on calling Gandhi the “Father of the nation”.

Let them get the pleasure by twisting the verdict of history.

Let this mere 3% micro-minority Brahmin-Bania rulers go on keeping this “Father of the Nation”. But our Father is different.

What is going on today in India is a violent clash between the “Father of India” and the “Father of the nation”. This clash is becoming more and more violent as days pass.

The verdict of history accepted by over 85% of India’s oppressed nationalities is Babasaheb is the “Father of India”.

I will now tell you how this verdict of history has proved correct.

Gandhi’s birthday comes on Oct.2 — called “Gandhi Jayanti” which is a national holiday. But the birthday of such a great man is dismissed with a one-hour celebration by holding bhajan. The singers of the song, Raghupati Raghava Raja Ram, have to be paid to sing the song. Not more than 100 to 200 gather at such a ceremony attended by the so-called VIPs. Common people don’t attend Gandhi Jayanti official function. It is a purely upper caste tamasha.

DELHI’S MOST FAMOUS MONUMENT

But look at Dr. Ambedkar Jayanti. It begins on April 14 and the celebrations go on and on for 5-6 months in every corner of the country, every village of the country.

Even a small man like me will attend at least a dozen “Ambedkar Jayanti” functions. I have already attended three functions in Bangalore.

Kanshi Ram once told me after touring the Saurashtra region of Gujarat that he found more statues of Babasaheb than that of Gandhi. In Rajkot itself, the birth place of Gandhi, he did not see a single statue of Gandhi but plenty of Babasahebs. That means Gandhi is rejected by his own birth place.

“Gandhi Jayanti” is the one and the only event that the “Father of the nation” has.

But the “Father of India”, Babasaheb Ambedkar, is remembered by the poor, oppressed people of India on three occasions every year.

(1) Ambedkar Jayanti on April 14, (2) Babasaheb’s conversion to Budhism (3) His death anniversary.

A fourth event is getting ready when the bungalow on the No.26- Alipore Road, in Old Delhi, is turned into Delhi’s most famous monument. This is the place where Babasaheb died — killed by his own Brahmin wife, according to his biographers. When this gets ready it will be the capital city’s most important national monument, dwarfing the Raj Ghat.

RAJ GHAT TAMASHA

Once I was coming from Delhi to Bombay and the taximan said Cadell Rd., which touches the Shivaji Park Chowpatty, was blocked by the police as lakhs of people were squatting on the road. I asked him the reason. He said it was the day on which Babasaheb was cremated on the Chowpatty. At least 5 to 10 lakh would come to Bombay every year to pay homage.

I will tell you another interesting incident. Babasaheb is remembered on three occasions by millions of people but Gandhi is remembered by only a few as a ritual. That also once a year.

Once I went to Delhi’s Raj Ghat where Gandhi was cremated. This place is called a national monument and every VIP visiting India is compulsorily taken there. When I went there was a steady stream of visitors. But when I asked the gatekeeper of the Raj Ghat, why so many people came, he said:

“Sir, the govt. by an order has compelled all the tourist buses coming to Delhi to stop at the Raj Ghat. If the tourist buses stop coming there would be no visitors”.

Look at the difference between our “Father of India” and their “Father of the nation”. The millions who pour into the Deeksha Bhoomi at Nagpur and the Dadar Chowpatty every year do it voluntarily. They are all poor, unlettered people carrying their own chapatis. They come out of devotion, affection, respect.

Why? Because Babasaheb brought light into the dark dungeon of their heart. They consider him their liberator. They see in Babasaheb their own Father.

That is why history, has rightly called him the “Father of India”.

The Gujarati Bania is only the “Father of the nation” but nobody knows which is this nation.

This is the verdict of history.

Yet another important difference between Gandhi and Babasaheb.

Do you know that Gandhi wrote only one book, My Experiments with Truth, which is his own autobiography? Even this bok is collection of articles. That means Gandhi did not write a single book.

BRITISH LIBRARY INCIDENT

But Babasaheb had no time to write his autobiography. He wrote books after books, may be about 50 solid books, all world famous. The Maharashtra Govt. has published 21 volumes of his Writings and Speeches so far.

I will tell you one interesting experience I had at the world famous British Library in London, 3 years ago.

At the very entrance to the Library I found a portrait of Babasaheb and his two books on display. On seeing it, I went straight to the Chief Librarian. I introduced my self and asked him the rationale of keeping the picture and the books of Dr. Ambedkar at the very entrance. “Why you did not give the same honour to M.K. Gandhi?” I asked. The Librarian was taken aback by my question. He said:

“You must know that this is a library where we display the books of great writers and scholars. Dr. Ambedkar was a great scholar. Give me the name of one book written by Gandhi?”

Babasaheb is held in very high esteem even in Pakistan.

INDIAN RULERS HATE BABASAHEB

I am leading a delegation of Dalit writers and poets to Pakistan in May for the celebration by the govt. itself.

But in this Hindu India, Babasaheb is not given his proper place. The ruling class hates him because he was an Untouchable.

What is the reason for that?

This less than 15% ruling class of India is suppressing all of us and riding roughshod over us guided by their fake Gandhian doctrine that “India is a nation”.

No. This is a big lie. India is not a nation. And was never a nation.

Babasaheb was the first person to say that India is not a nation but a vast subcontinent of many warring nations — divided by numerous castes, subcastes, languages, customs, territories, religions, traditions, races etc.

Gandhi and his grand children are killing us by not admitting this historical fact and sociological truth which Dr. Ambedkar has propounded.

INDIA SINKING & STINKING

By ignoring — if not rejecting —Babasaheb’s concept that India is not a nation, the Brahmin rulers have created a serious situation in which different contradictory forces are constantly at war with each other — killing each other.

So much so, the governance of the country itself has come to a standstill.

The mere 15% upper caste rulers, who have looted all our wealth by sucking our blood, may go on shouting that India is a nation.

All other persecuted nationalities — children of Babasaheb — are shouting back saying that India is not a nation but a country at war with itself.

In this process India is sinking. Not only sinking. But stinking.

Even 3,000 years after entering India as nomads and barbarians these Aryan Brahmins are refusing to merge and mix with us — advancing their obnoxious theory of “merit”.

BRAHMIN MERIT

What is this “Brahmin merit” that has converted India into a beggar nation?

To hell with this Brahmin merit. I have written a book called, “Merit, My Foot”. All our books are kept outside for sale.

Now I will come to another “controversial” point.

The words that you so far heard from me must have made you proud and cheerful.

But what I am going to speak now may not be palatable to you.

GANDHI STABBED US IN THE BACK

Babasaheb is hailed as “one among the 7 best brains of the world”. India has not produced a person of his calibre after the Budha. He is our second Budha. We are his children. Over 85% of this country’s 1,300 million people — called the Moolnivasi Bahujan Samaj — are his children. A very big family.

Babasaheb never hated even the 15% upper caste rulers. Not even the Brahmins. His second wife was a Brahmin. In spite of the fact the Brahmins made his life miserable and he died a sad man, he hated none. It is the upper castes who hated him. Gandhi cheated him by going on his fake “fast unto death” on the issue of “separate electorate”.

Gandhi brought living death to our people, and the country as whole became a “sick nation”. This sickman is becoming more and more serious as days pass.

In the place of “separate electorate”, which would have automatically made Babasaheb our first Prime Minister, the Brahmin-Bania conspirators made the Gujarati Bania to go on his fake fast and blackmailed him to agree to his mischievous formula of “reservations” which killed us permanently and made us permanent beggars outside the doors of Brahmins and Banias.

POONA PACT MUST BE BURNT

The “Poona Pact”, which Gandhi forced Babasaheb to sign, not only killed the Dalits but killed the country itself.

The “Poona Pact” must be publicly burnt— on Ambedkar Jayanti. Next year if you invite I will burn it.

Only when you behave like a tiger, roar like a lion, the vegetarian Brahmins and Banias will be scared to touch you.

What sort of animals are sacrificed at yagnas and yagas? Only tame animals like the sheep, goat, buffalo etc. Have you heard of people killing ferocious animals like lion, tiger? No. Why? Because if anybody goes near, these ferocious animals will kill them.

In other words, our Brahmin, Bania upper caste oppressors will persecute us only if we behave like the tame animals. The moment they know we are like tigers and lions they dare not come near us. Look at me. To this day no Brahmin had the courage to touch me. He will not go alive.

You people sitting here are the products of this “Poona Pact” that brought reservations — the Hindu charity or the discarded, thrown out crumbs of bread.

By eating this discarded crumbs of bread, you have achieved this position.

Daily you are insulted, kicked, punished by the Brahminical officers. But you silently swallow all the insults and suffer as second, if not third-grade, citizens. Am I right?

Why you are silently suffering?

DALIT CHIEF JUSTICE BEATEN UP

A Dalit Chief Justice of the Karnataka High Court was beaten up in his Court Hall No.1 itself by the Brahmin and other upper caste lawyers in Bangalore.

An unprecedented, shocking event in the history of India.

But the Dalits of Bangalore did not get angry. The upper caste charge is that Chief Justice Dinakaran is corrupt. Which Supreme Court or High Court judge is above corruption? Only when a Dalit is elevated to Supreme Court they find corruption.

EDUCATED DALITS FORGET BABASAHEB

Why are you silently suffering this step-motherly treatment? Why do you lack the courage and the strength to protest even to demand your legitimate constitutional rights?

The reason is simple: Because you the children of Babasaheb have forgotten your father.

It is because of our Father, all of you are here — drawing thousands of rupees salary every month but completely forgetting your own unfortunate blood brothers outside.

Not only you forgot your Father but you also violated every ground rule he set for us. Many of our highly paid Dalit employees have become Hindu — though our Father has told us that “Dalits are not Hindu and were never Hindu”. Our people worship Hindu gods, visit Hindu temples and become obedient slaves of Hindus. This is the beginning of your downfall.

Not only that. Quite a number of our people have married Brahmin girls —deceived by their fair skin. Those who got converted to Budhism have been trapped by the Marwari Goenka’s Vipassana fraud.

The SC/ST reservations are not implemented even to the extent of 10%.

That means over 90% of SC/ST, the children of Babasaheb, have not been touched by the reservations.

They are still uneducated, living in villages and urban slums and daily kicked, killed, burnt, raped, made beggars and prostitutes. About 50% of the prostitutes in the Bombay’s Red Light Area are Dalits and Tribals. Not a single Brahmin women is found there.

DALIT MOVEMENT IS DEAD

But you the educated and employed SC/STs, having been benefitted by Babasaheb’s sweat and blood, have forgotten your unfortunate blood brothers and sisters.

How can they forget and forgive your sins? Will the “Father of India” and our Father forget and forgive your sins?

Dalit movement is dead all over India. I am telling this as the Editor of Dalit Voice with circulation all over India and having travelled every part of India many times. In Maharashtra, Bombay in particular, where the Dalit Panthers was born everything is dead. The Maharashtra Govt. has stopped publishing Babasaheb’s books. Dalit political leaders are busy fighting with each other. They have all become corrupt. Many of them have married Brahmin girls.

Our Dalit professors, teachers are a big disappointment. We have no media of our own except Dalit Voice.

The Brahmin-Bania rulers hate the reservations. They have violated the constitution itself. The Supreme Court, packed with upper caste judges, is against the reservation.

Our MPs have no guts. Their powers have been drastically curtailed.

The power to rule has passed into the hands of the Brahminical bureaucracy, judiciary, media, Hindu religious crooks.

A mere, less than 15% of the population comprising the Brahmins, Banias and upper shudra castes are ruling India.

But the cream of the Scheduled Castes like those of you who are sitting here are not getting angry — though you are all silently suffering.

Our IAS, IPs officers are so scared of the Big Cat that they don’t like to associate with Dalit Voice. But when they are in trouble they rush to Dalit Voice with their complaint.

We have no pity on these cowards who have betrayed their own father and the Father of India.

All these betrayers will have to face the wrath of the 95% of the SC/ST people outside this charmed circle of beggars.

DALITS HAVE NO MEDIA

We don’t have a single media in the country to support the human rights need of SC/STs sanctioned by the constitution.

Only the Dalit Voice makes all the noise — for which we were badly punished. I was arrested half-dozen times, once put in jail in Punjab. Passport impounded, two attempts on life.

There are thousands of Dalit officers who have not even heard of Dalit Voice which is 30 years old and having India-wide circulation. Your president assured me that he will enroll lots of subscribers.

The Brahmin-Bania media has ruled that my name and that of my paper should not appear in any media. We don’t care. That is why you have not heard of the name of Dalit Voice or my name. We don’t care.

But what brings us so much sorrow is that our own blood brothers, the educated, employed Dalits, holding important positions, have forgotten their own Father.

For having committed this unpardonable sin, you are suffering today.

But you can certainly recover and make up for the lost time.

You are the architect of yourself.

But if you want to remain as the slaves of Brahmin, who love loyal servants, we have no objection. But remember even a loyal servant of Brahmins like Jagjivan Ram was finally kicked.

Please remember the fate of Jagjivan Ram.

Thank you for your patient hearing.


Why not a Dalit priest?

28/10/2011
Deepavali in White House
Why not a Dalit priest?
By Kancha Ilaiah

Let not the NRIs work for creating religious frictions by presenting one
section’s festival as Indian festival.

The Non-Resident Indians of North America have
been trying to convince the White House that they should recognise the
Deepavali festival as American national festival by celebrating it in White
House. They made such efforts during the Bill Clinton period but failed. Then
they tried very hard during the George W Bush term and again failed.

However, they succeeded during this time in convincing the Obama
administration that it should celebrate the Deepavali festival in the White
House. On the Deepavali day, Obama attended a celebration organised by
Indians in the White House and lit a lamp. The main representative of India
on the dais, along with Obama was an Indian Brahmin priest with a shaven head
and semi-naked body covered with a Pattu Vastram and a dhoti. He also sported
big three fold Vaishnava ‘namam’.

Assuming that the NRIs were not willing to present a homogeneous Hinduism by
keeping a Shaivaite priest also, the basic question that does bother is: does
that priest represent Indian Dalits-Bahujans who hardly have any space in the
Hindu religious temple structures?

The NRIs living in America used Obama’s black background to convince him to
attend the celebration and give a respectability to Indian-Hindu culture.
What they have ‘hidden’ from Obama and his administrative staff was that in
India still the Hindu priestly caste does not allow millions of Dalits to
enter Hindu temples and they treat them as untouchables.

We were all a witness to Obama’s oath taking ceremony where the black pastors
played a key role, though there were white pastors side by side. In spite of
an attempt to raise a controversy around his own pastor Jeremiah Wright,
Obama refused to disown him.

Since Hinduism does not even give such a scope to Dalits and other backward
castes, they are forced to remain unequal and outside its ritual
celebrations. No Dalit-Bahujan is allowed to become a priest in any
mainstream Hindu temple.

For a long time the American blacks faced a similar denial of spiritual
rights (though there was no untouchability) within the white church. The
blacks fought for decades to fight such spiritual racism and over a period of
time they gained the right to go to the white church. But the blacks were not
allowed to ordain as pastors and lead the church system. To counter such
discrimination the blacks started their own churches, which have become a
whole religious system in themselves. All great black leaders emerged from
that black church.

Whether it were the first major black leader, Frederick Doglas of Abraham Lincoln’s
times, or Martin Luther King who emerged as the greatest leader of the civil
rights movement and won a Nobel Peace prize at the age of 38, all were black
pastors in black churches. Even Obama emerged as a political leader, while
working in the black community church.

When the Indian casteist forces celebrated the Deepavali in the White House,
the Indian community would have realised that it would have destroyed his
race neutral administrative apparatus if they did not take a Dalit priest to
the White House. They should have done that, at least, to tell the world that
the NRIs do not believe in caste discrimination and untouchability.

Some of these NRIs were raising objections as to why the Congress House
Committee of Human Rights (called the Subcommittee on Africa, Global Human
Rights and International Operations in the United States House of
Representatives) heard the Indian delegation in 2005 about the existence of
discrimination based on caste and untouchability in India.

Back in India Sri Sri Ravishankar, Ramachandra Guha and others accused us
(myself, Joseph D’Souza, Udit Raj and Indira Atwale were the main deposers)
as people who were indulging in internationalising the internal problems. How
do these so called reform seers and intellectuals respond to celebration of
Deepavali in White House and that too with a Brahmin representing Indian
culture? Suppose the Kerala NRIs ask for celebration of Onam in the White
House, who will represent that festival? Would a Bali’s heritage Shudra
represent it or a Brahmin from Vaishnava tradition?

Do not these intellectuals, so called seers and NRIs understand that
Deepavali as it is being celebrated today is an anti-Dalit-Bahujan festival
as Narakasura, who was killed was a Shudra himself? How could a festival that
celebrates the death of an Indian Shudra be considered as a secular festival?
Secondly, how does Deepavali represent India as a cultural festival when
India is a country of multi-religious people?

The only festival that can represent all Indians is Independence Day (August
15) celebration. Let the NRIs not work for creating religious frictions by
presenting one section’s festival as Indian festival. Let the NRIs stop
globalising communalism and casteism also in this from. Let Obama’s
administration realise that there are 200 million Dalits who cannot celebrate
Deepavali as a festival in India.

This is the reason why the Obama administration should have asked for the
presence of a Dalit priest on the occasion of celebration of the Deepavali in
the White House.

 

http://www.deccanherald.com/content/32772/why-not-dalit-priest.html


Narendra Modi fast is farce

18/09/2011

It is disappointing and shameful the way BJP and some of its allies have exhibited their support for Narendra Modi’s fast for ‘atma shuddhi’ and ‘sadbhavna’. Gujarat Congress leader Shankar Singh Vaghela has also gone on fast though without much notice of the media. Vaghela comes from the Hindutva background and understand very well the tricks of the game. Those who have read the Supreme Court order know it well that it has given instruction to authorities to file cases as per the SIT report. There is every option for the people to again go the court and seek justice if the local authorities in Gujarat again try to subvert justice. However, the issue here is much bigger and the way the entire game is being played, it has wider political repercussions too and need political understanding of the entire game.

While every political party is free to go for its political campaign and can approach any community in India, however there are a few questions before that. In a democratic society there is no space for fasting which is nothing but an act of blackmail and side tracking the real issues. Therefore political battles have to be fought politically and not through apolitical blackmails. Fasting is nothing but re-imposition of the brahmanical values on India. Right from the period of Gandhi all the symbols adopted and exhibited for fasting are brahmanical and widely open to interpretation without saying directly. The war cries during these fasts are so loud that any one who oppose them genuinely face threat of physical intimidation. So, the non violent fasts are actually more violent than the physical violence as they expose your vulnerability.

Anyone who has seen the ‘progress’ and ‘peace’ in Gujarat can vouch for Narendra Modi. Gujarat is a very prosperous state and there is little doubt about that. But this is also a fact that it was so much before Narendra Modi as dominant Gujaratis are business mind and they have succeeded in their business world over. But has the business mind in Gujarat really brought a change in the ‘mindset’ of common Gujarati which Narendra Modi and others in the Sangh Parivar boast so much? Can we say that Gujarat is a state which has no discrimination and every body live in peace? Yes, because the Gujarat which Narendra Modi boast and develop actually is a Gujarat of Varna Vyavastha, of caste system and none of them have the courage to stand against that. If we ask these questions and make a checklist then the reality would exactly the opposite. Are inter caste marriages common in Gujarat and the answer is a big no. Similarly, we all know the fate of people marrying beyond their religious identity. So what has changed in Gujrat Mr Modi? Yes, all the Babas, and Sadhus are more popular than ever in Gujarat. The sas-bahus idiocies are too popular in Gujarat and therefore bollywood jump in that market.

If you compare Gujarat with Punjab then the differences will be sharp. Gujarati’s are businessmen but by heart not as open as the Sikhs. Sikhs also prospered and traveled world over like Gujaratis have much wider community sense than Gujaratis. They have also developed business and entrepreneurship. But see the difference. The progress in Punjab is over all and inclusive while in Gujarat it is exclusive and those living in margins are still living the same way. Today, the Dalits in Punjab whether it is the Mazhabis or Ravidasis are much better and liberated than their counterparts in Gujarat. Go to any Dalit basti in Gujarat particularly the Valmikis and you can hear the story of the racial prejudices in Gujarat.  In Punjab too they face discrimination against the vary tenants of Guru Granth Saheb yet Dalits retaliate in Punjab. They have their own Gurudwaras and strong community leadership has emerged.

Gujarat is not just Anand, Ahmedabad, Baroda or Surat. Gujarat is also Kheda, Porbandar, Kutchch and other tribal regions. Ask those regions about the changes and you will realize it.

Narendra Modi claims that there were no communal riots in Gujarat since 2002. Yes, there could not have been as the entire state machinery was used so much against the minorities that their life became hell and economy totally collapsed. It take time to rebuild in a state where a complete economic embargo was put on Muslims and Christians. Don’t we know that before the Muslim became direct target of the Hindutva brigade, it were the Christians, their churches and institutions that came under sharp attack from the Hindutva gangs who had clearly got state patronage.

Gujarat is very unfortunate in many way. Unfortunate because the cocktail of corporate and religion is working wonder in Gujarat. The powerful upper castes in Gujarat are more than ever powerful. They have migrated abroad. The condition of Dalits and tribal is so bad that none of them have power to stand up at the moment. Most of them have either state government jobs or at maximum private jobs owned by Patels, Sidhis and Jains whose political sympathies with Hindutva are well known to be described here. The Dalits even if they want to revolt may not be able to do so under the grave economic pressure. That has happened in a very systematic way. Whenever the Dalits organize their rallies and programme, their activities are watched and observed and later they are isolated. The economic dependency has hampered their movement for a different political understanding other than the upper caste parties of Congress and BJP. Muslims in Gujarat seems not to have any other option than switching their loyalty here and there as their condition is the worst.

Modi’s supporters are proposing Gujarat model for development. One does not know in which world they love. Can Gujarat be really called a developed state? A good state for investment and a better governed state are two different dynamics. If Gujarat is so good that every international company are vying to be here then why the Gujaratis living in Africa, Europe and Americas come back to their original land and restrengthen it. Why they still need to go abroad to earn much.

Gujarat riots were engineered to break the backbone of Muslim business. It is the basic tendency of the Hindutva protagonists to engineer riots where the Muslims had a sizeable business presence and the result from various communal riots reflect that. The isolation of Muslims in Gujarat was complete. If peace comes at the cost of leaving in submission and subjugation then Modi and his fanatic friends must understand that it will not be. Injustice anywhere is a threat to peace. If people are unable to get justice in the political set up then obviously it breed communalism on both the sides.

Today, Narendra Modi condemns communalism and caste-ism. He blames the policy of appeasement in the past sixty years. The fact is that India has been ruled by the upper caste upper elite during all these years Mr. Modi. And if he means that Indian state has appeased Muslims and given some thing special then Modi must understand that Muslims face the worst form of discrimination in the government jobs and private corporations. Even taking a house on rent is difficult to get and finally the person has to find the ‘Muslim’ locality’. Such ghettosiation helps the communal politicians and their leaders as the more the communication gap between the two communities the bigger the business of these loud mouths who shout at each other posing a threat from the opposing sides.

There is no denying the fact that India need to move forward. And for it the shortsighted policies must go. For this, the tamasha of fasting must stop. All these fast are meant against some one. Most of these fast are done by the caste Hindus to regain and retain their leadership and stop the others from gaining any right. Gandhi’s fast against untouchability was a betrayal to Ambedkar’s struggle for social justice and Dalits which he so valiantly fought. Anna’s fast looked intimidating to the Dalits, OBCs, and Muslims of India. Now Modi is fasting to cleanse himself while Congress too is fasting.

The political battles are to be fought politically but when the politics is just an adjustment and calculation then we can expect anything sincere from the political class which has become expert in saying things according to its convenience.

In the Gujarat University campus, sharing platform with Modi were various political leaders. Modi say ‘ India is run through constitution’, now this is another statement. Why any one has to host tricolor in India or say Vandemataram. While Modi’s supporters have not started following Anna, but such tactics are clear enough in projecting one particular community or people who disagree as traitors. When you say that India is run through constitution, it is because you want to communicate that you have been exonerated by the highest court of the land which is absolutely farcical. The Supreme Court’s Judgment has not exonerated Modi. In fact, Supreme Court must take a suo moto cognigence of such blatant lies and misinterpretations of its order.

We all know the agenda of the Hindutva protagonists. Most of them do not have faith in the constitution of India. Modi feel that the past 60 years India appeased to different castes and religion. Modi hate castes because it is obstructing his way. May be true because he is not a powerful Patel of Gujarat and at the initial phase the Patel lobby had actually tried to overthrow him.

Gujarat may be having a high growth rates but Gujarat’s Dalits and Adivasis too want Gujarati’s to leave their caste mind. The narrowness of Gujarat’s caste mindset can not be matched to openness in Punjab which a Dalit can feel. And in Punjab the Dalits too retaliate and react if they are under assault. We can not expect that in Gujarat at the moment. The openness that the Muslims have in Uttar-Pradesh and Bihar is much bigger than the peace of Gujarat. The blending of Muslims in the Ganga Jamuni culture is tremendous and despite all problems they too can retaliate when time comes. If Modi say that there were no curfew in Gujarat it is because the social ostracisation of marginalized communities in Gujarat completed with Modi. Along with Modi all the Gujaratis should atone for their caste mind. Gujarati’s want to enjoy liberty and freedom elsewhere but they do not want to give the same in their own state Mr Modi. So, these tamasha being oraganised in Gujarat will serve little purpose.

The problem of Gujarat is multifold. The oppression and control of the poor of Gujarat is complete. They will revolt against the elite of Gujarat who have Modi as their hero. That day is not far over. The so-called governance will then crumble. As far as the media is concern, the least say about them is the best. They were the most fascinating observer of YSR Rajshekar Reddy, the former Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh and today they can see YSR and his corrupt regime. So, Modi is good for them as he serves their interest. Let us ask a question to Modi what radical changes has he made in the lives of a common Gujarati? What is the standard of an ordinary road transport bus of Gujarat? Is it a better transport service than Rajasthan or Haryana? What about the college education in Gujarat? Is it providing better research than others? Yes, Gujarat is have business mind and that is why they can claim to have an IIM in Ahemdabad and one for the rural development in Anand. But what about the common education in school? What about the Panchayats in Gujarat?

Finally, Mr Modi, so many people were arrested under POTA in Gujrat, particularly in Godhra. I have visited those families and seen their pain. Old, young, visually impaired, we have seen people virtually living in deep dejection and isolation. How will they get justices who are in jail without any trial? How will people react if so many people without trials are in your jails on the one side while on the other side those who should have been behind the bar, are enjoying the fruits of power.

Yes, Mr Modi, caste was not discovered sixty years ago. It is a heritage that you feel proud. All those rishis, munis, sadhus and sanyasis that you bring on your stage and shout Bharat Mata ki Jaya are afraid of caste. They know it better that today thank to constitution of India these people are now standing up and reacting. Yes, Ambedkar’s constitution have given them power, understanding that in democracy number matters and it is here all the good friends of Narendra Modi are afraid of. Not of Modi but so-called opponents are also afraid of that weapon as the real threat to India according to them, does not come from Pakistan but the assertion of Dalit Bahujan. It is actually this feeling which is disturbing India’s ruling elite whether it is Kapil Sibol or Chidambaram or Jayalalitha-Advani and Modi. In this historic war, Muslims are simply becoming the tool to be used. They have to decide which side of the war are they on. It is not a war between Congress or BJP. It is actually a war between India’s minority upper caste elite and those who have suffered India caste based hidden apartheid. The power elite in India is desperate at the moment and looking for some savior such as Anna Hazare or Narendra Modi. Fortunately, India is such a diverse and huge country that despite all the propaganda material at their disposal they know it well, things are not that simple which our news channels want us to believe. Yes, India’s poor understand all these forces much better than those who make their opinion through TV channels. This desperation will not work. The upper caste upper elite in India need to believe in democratic set up and not try to subvert it through desperate means as end of democracy will only open caste anarchy in India. Let us not allow India to go the Afghanistan way by such short sighted policies of ignoring important division and genuinely addressing those issues. For the sake of a few leaders, a country’s unity cannot be put on stake. Coming days are more challenging for India as we need to see whether the perpetrators of crime will be punished as per law of the land or will they use this opportunity to take power in their own hands in the name of people’s verdict by creating hysterical situation and total polarization on religious line. The idea of India is under the threat.

http://nvonews.com/2011/09/17/narendra-modi-fast-is-farce/comment-page-1/


Interveiw with V. T. Rajshekar

06/06/2011

PART-I

PART-II

Interveiw with V. T. Rajshekar, Revolutionary Journalist, Editor Dalit Voice


Adivasis Were Buddhist Naagas: K. Jamanadas

30/05/2011

Were Adivasi ancient Buddhist Naga rulers ?

 Dr. K. Jamanadas,
Various names of Scheduled Tribes (aadivaasi) Various scholars have given different names to the population which is popularly called aadivasis in India. Nadgonde [p.1] has summerized these terms:
(1) “Aboriginal” or “Aborigines” by Riseley, Lassi, Elvin, Grigson, Shuburn, Talent, Martin and A. V. Thakkar (2) “Primitive Tribes” by Hutton (3) “So called aborigines” or “Backward Hindus” by Dr. G. S. Ghurye. (4) “Submerged humanity” by Dr. Das. (5) “Vanavasis” is a new name given to them by “Sangh Parivar”, against which the tribal leaders are agitating as they feel it as insulting as “Harijan” to the dalits. (6) Some Adivasi leaders do not like the term “Adivasi” also, as they feel it originates from Brahmanic texts and has an effect like “Harijan” for untouchables. [L. K. Madavi, p. 10] (7) “Scheduled Tribe” is the term used in the Constitution, the reason as explained by Dr. B. R. Ambedkar, was:
“the word Adiwasi is really a general term, which has no specific legal dejure connotation, whereas the word ‘Scheduled Tribes’ has a fixed meaning, because it enumerates the tribes. In the event of the matter being taken to a court of Law, there should be a precise definition as to who these Adiwasis are. It was, therefore, decided to enumerate the Adiwasis under the term to be called “Scheduled Tribe” [Madavi, p. 17]
Who should be called Aadivaasi
Nadgonde gives the following as distinctive marks of tribal society as distinct from Hindu population: (1) Separate location (2) Small number (3) Common blood relationship (4) Absence of own dialect and own writing (5) Own life style (6) Simple Economics (7) Limited technology (8) Common religion and (9) Integrated social life
Differences between Castes and Tribes
1.. Caste is based on birth, and there is no entry to caste without being born in it. Basis of tribe is not birth, but it is a group of people inhabiting in a particular area and are related by blood.
2. Caste is an endogamous group, but tribes do not oppose strongly the inter tribal marriages unlike caste. Inter dining also is allowed unlike caste.
3. Caste has obligations to follow hereditary traditional occupations, tribe does not.
4. Castes are spread on many areas but tribe stays at a place and has territorial integrity.
5. Castes have graded inequality in status, even subcastes have it, but not so in tribes.
Origins of various names
Various tribes have their own legends about their origin. One example is about origin of the word Korku – a legend says, once upon a time there ruled a king in Vidarbha at Nagpur, called Koram. Renouncing his home and kingdom, he went to forest with the intention of taking sanyas. A young Kol damsel fell in love with him and prayed for his love. King accepted after due consideration. The progeny of this union was called Korum or Korku. The area where they stay in large numbers is even now termed as Chota Nagpur. [Risley, “Tribe and Caste of Bengal, Appendix V., Chaure, p.12]
Prehistoric Period
It is held by scholars like Sankhalia, that the people of Neolithic age understood the use of fire, made pottery, cultivated grain and domesticated animals. The potters wheel and the art of spinning and weaving are also traced from the Neolithic period. [Mahajan, in “Ancient India”, [p. 28 ff.]
Some scholars believe that present day Adivasis are the survivals of the Neolithic Age, some of the Neolithic people were driven into hills and forests by later invaders and they are at present represented by the Gonds, Bhils, Santhals, etc. and a number of superstitious along with the worship of manes and spirits and Phallus images of stone and wood and the the use of amulets, beads, sacred threads, shells, stones, etc., for curing diseases and keeping away the evil spirits can be traced to the Neolithic period. [Mahajan, Ancient India, [p. 28 ff.]
Adivasis are post Buddhistic
The idea that present day Adivasis are the “Original inhabitants” or Mul Nivasis and are remnants of the Neolithic Age is a popular theory of many activists. But it is far from the truth. Sociologists do not believe that the present S.T.s are that ancient, as mentioned by Nadgonde, who avers that sociologists do not think them to be the most ancient society or the most original residents. [Nadgonde, p.2] At the time of rise of Buddhism, the society was so much intermixed that no trace of pure Aryans, or pure Dravidians for that matter, was left. Rhys Davids has observed:
“It is generally admitted that there are now no pure Aryans left in India. Had the actual custom been as strict as the brahmin theory this would not be so. … in Northern India the ancient distinction, Aryan, Kolarian, and Dravidian, cannot, at the time of the rise of Buddhism, any longer be recognized. Long before the priestly theory of caste had been brought into any sort of working order, a fusion, sufficient at least to obliterate completely the old landmarks, was an accomplished fact; and the modern division (on caste), though race has also its share in them, use different names, and are based on different ideas. [Rhys Davids, Buddhist India,p. 59]
Dr. Ambedkar also has expressed the similar opinion. It follows, therefore, that the creation of S.T.s is a post Buddhistic phenomenon, and the present day Adivasis are descendants of population, who were called Naagas and were Buddhist by faith, and after the fall of Buddhism were degraded to the present status by the ruling priestly class because Naagas had the enmity with the Aryans, did not worship Aryan Gods, did not perform yadnas but were devotees of Arhats, and chaiytas.
Indus Valley civilization was not of Aryans
The present Brahmanic scholarship is bent on proving that Aryans are the original residents of India and that there was no “Aryan Invasion”. They try to prove that Aryans were a civilized people and were the builders and not the destroyers of Harrapan Civilization. What is the reason, that they wish to somehow prove this? To us, it appears that, since Mahatma Jotirao Phule criticized the Arya Bhats for the atrocious behaviours of these people towards shudras and ati-shudras, in this “Land of Bali” – Bali Sthan -, and organized the masses against the Aryabhats, the latter felt that they will loose the supremacy, which they had achieved and very jealously guarded. So it became eminent for them, they prove that they are not aliens, they belong to the soil, and that Aryan Invasion is just a myth. Voluminous literature is being created by them and every method is being used to promote through the media, print as well as electronic, to put forward their view. Not withstanding all this, it was the Naagas who were the original residents of this land and Aryans were the invaders. That is the verdict of the history.
India was land of Naagas and its language Tamil
Who were the people inhabiting India during the Indus Valley Civilization? The modern scholars like Karan Singh and Dasaku Ikeda think that the Dravidians are the descendants of people from Harrapan Civilization. In his opinion, “…the creators of the Indus civilization were the forefathers of the Dravidians, who today mainly inhabit southern India.” [Karan Sing and Daisaku Ikeda, p.2]
Like many others like Gail Olmvet, Datta Ray Chaudhari and Majumdar also opine that, the main basis of Indian social cultural system is presumed to be Vedic Culture. This presumption is baseless, and unacceptable. There is no doubt that, the Indus valley culture played a great role in the development and preservation of Indian culture. [Kosare, p. 263]
Dr. Ambedkar’s views
That these people were the Naagas is clear from the account by Dr. Ambedkar, who observes that the students of ancient Indian History often come across four names, the Aryans, Dravidians, Dasas and Naagas. The Aryans were not a single homogeneous people, being divided into at least two sections. A greater mistake lies, he says, in differentiation of the Dasas from the Naagas. Dasas are the same as Naagas, Dasas being another name for Naagas. Dasa is the sanskritised from of the Indo Iranian word Dahaka, which was the name of the king of the Naagas. The following points emerge from his writings:
1. Undoubtedly the Naagas were non-Aryans. A careful study of Vedic literature reveals a spirit of conflict, of a dualism, and a race superiority between two distinct types of culture and thought. The mention of the Naagas in the Rig Veda shows that the Naagas were a very ancient people.
2. It must also be remembered that the Naagas were in no way aboriginal or uncivilized people. History shows a very close association by intermarriage between the Naaga people with the Royal families of India. Not only did the Naaga people occupy a high cultural level but history shows that they ruled a good part of India.
3. That Andhradesa and its neighbourhood were under the Naagas during early centuries of Christian era is suggested by evidence from more sources that one. The Satvahanas, and their Successors, the Chutu Kulu Satkarnis drew their blood more or less from the Naaga stock.
4. Contrary to the popular view is that Dravidians and Naagas are the names of two different races, the fact is that the term Dravidians and the Naagas are merely two different names for the same people.
5. The word ‘Dravida’ is the Sanskritised form of the word Tamil. The original word Tamil when imported into Sanskrit became Damila and later on Damila became Dravida. The word Dravida is the name of the language of the people and does not denote the race of the people.
6. The thing to remember is that Tamil or Dravida was not merely the language of South India but before the Aryans came it was the language of the whole of India, and was spoken from Kashmere to Cape Camorin. In fact it was the language of the Naagas throughout India. [“The Untouchables”, pp. 56, 58, 59, 63, 66, 75]
Vratyas were Naagas
Before seventh century B.C., i.e. before the rise of the Buddha, all the ksatriya dynasties of Mahabharata times had been ruined, shattered and destroyed. They were replaced on one side by the Dravidas – Naagas in Taxilla, Patalpuri, Udyanpuri, Padmawati, Bhogpuri, Nagpur, Anga or Champa, and in various places in the south; and on the other side by ganas or republics of vratyas like Licchavis, Mallas, Moriyas etc. [Jyoti Prasad Jain, quoted by Kosare, p. 42]
Brahmanic literature calls the various clans like Lichavis, Mallas, Moriyas, etc. as Vratyas. The Shishunakas are called as Ksatra-bandhus and not as Ksatriyas. According to Prof. Jaychandra Vidyalankar, this term is used to describe the ignoble origin of these people. They were the warriors among the vratyas, and the vratyas were those people who inhabitated the east and north-west of madhya-desha. They were not followers of Vedic brahmin culture. Their cultural language and day to day language in use was Prakrit. They did not respect the brahmins, instead they respected the arhants and worshipped the chaityas. [Kosare, p. 42] He further avers that there was no pure progeny of Aryans alone. Because of inter marriages, cultural interchanges and religious conversions, a new class of Indian people was emerging, which comprised in majority of followers of shramanic Naagas or Dravidas or Vratyas as they were called by the followers of chaturvarnya. There used to be inter marriages among the Aryans and Dravidas, and the ethnic differences were getting eliminated. All those who followed the profession of ksatriyas, may they be descendants of Vedic Aryans, or Manav-vamshi Aryans, or Vratyas, or Naagas or Vidyadharas or Dravidas, they all called themselves as Ksatriyas, and were having marriage relationship among themselves very freely. [Kosare, p. 42]
Sisunaaga Dynasty
The name of Sisunaaga is applied to first king of dynasty by the Brahmins, but Buddhist tradition, as seen in Mahawanso, applies it to tenth and narrates a legend, that he was a son of a courtesan from a Licchavi king, was thrown on a dung heap as an abortion, a certain Naaga Raja revived and protected the male child, who ascended the throne of Magadha. [Fergusson, p. 63]
Second Buddhist convocation was held hundred years after the Buddha, during reign of King Kalashoka. He and his successors, including nine Nandas, till Chandragupta Maurya came on throne, were all Naagas, and were considered of very low caste and hated by Brahmins. Maha Padma and Nanda, the only two of their names, certainly known to us, are both names of serpents and their coins depict the serpent as principle symbol. [Fergusson, p. 64]
After the Shishu-Naagas, the Nandas ruled Magadha. Their founder was called by many names, including vratya-nandi Shishu Naaga, the term according to K. P. Jayswal denotes of their being the vratyas, which meant that the Nandas like their predecessors, Shishu Naagas, were also from the Naaga descent. [Kosare, p. 43]
Naaga worship is non-Vedic
Fergusson explains, though the serpent worship is found as traces in various places, it is “diametrically opposed to the spirit of Vedas or of the Bible”, and it is prevalent among the Turanian races and essentially only among them only. By Turanian he means Dravidians, in Indian context. [Fergusson, p.3] Like Vedas, Zend Avesta also records the religious beliefs of Aryans, and they “are not, and never were, serpent worshipers anywhere” and that “serpent worship is essentially that of Turanian, or at least of non-Aryan people.” [Fergusson, p. 40]
Naagas were Buddhists
That the Naagas were sympathizers and followers of Buddha is well known. Dr. Ambedkar in 1956. while converting half a million of his followers to Buddhism at Nagpur, had remarked that his selection of Nagpur, was due to the historical association of the area with the Naagas, who were friendly towards Buddhism. His opinion that we all are the descendants of a Naaga Takshaka saved by Rishi Astika from the genocide of Naggas, in the Sarpa yadnya, performed by Janmejaya, the great grand son of Pandavas, is also well known. We might also quote a Buddhist tradition from Mahavatthu:
“Naagas are generally devoted to the Buddha. The enthusiastic devotion that our compilers believed Naagas to possess towards the Teacher and the Teaching finds expression in the popular episode of Muchalinda’s extraordinary way of protecting the Exalted One during the seven days of untimely rain. They were also among the beings who formed a body of guards protecting the Bodhisattva and his mother. At the Bodhisatva’s birth some Naagas came to bathe him, a scene that had long been a favourite among sculptors. On the magnificent demonstration of bearing parasols. From other sources we learn how they happened to obtain relics of the Buddha, which they jealously guarded for a long time, [quoted by K. Jamanadas, “Tirupati Balaji was a Buddhist Shrine”, p. 108]
While describing the birth of Bodhisatta, Paul Carus mentions about Naaga kings:
“The Naaga kings, earnestly desiring to show their reverence for the most excellent law, as they had paid honour to former Buddhas, now went to greet the Bodhisatta. They scattered before him mandaara flowers, rejoicing with heartfelt joy to pay their religious homage.” [Paul Carus, p. 11]
That “Naaga” was an honorable appellation used in ancient Indian society is clear from the description of the rite of initiation of Buddhist Bhikku. Dharmanand Kosambi mentions that the shramner desiring upasampada was being addressed as “Oh, Naaga”. [p. 57] Diggha Nikaya has two poems, which describe “how all the gods of the people come to pay reverence, at Kapilvastu, to the new teacher”, as Rhys Davids observes, among whom were four kings, which included the King of Naagas. While explaining the relationship between worship of Naaga, tree and river, Rhys Davids observes:
“Then come the Naagas, the Siren serpents, whose worship has been so important a factor in the folklore, superstition, and poetry of India from the earliest times down to-day. Cobras in their ordinary shape, they lived, like mermen and mermaids, more beneath the water, in great luxury and wealth, more especially of germ, and sometimes, as we shall see, the name is used of the Dryads, the tree-spirits, equally wealthy and powerful. They could at will and often did, adopt the human form and though terrible if angered, were kindly and mild by nature. Not mentioned either in the Veda or in the pre-Buddhistic Upanishads, the myth seems to be a strange jumble of beliefs, not altogether pleasant, about a strangely gifted race of actual men; combined with notions derived from previously existing theories of tree worship, and serpent worship, and river worship. But the history of the idea has still to be written. These Naagas are represented on the ancient bas-reliefs as men or women either with cobra’s hoods rising from behind their heads or with serpentine forms from the waist downwards.” [Rhys Davids, “Buddhist India”, p. 223]
Though “scarcely noticed in the Vedas”, as Rhys Davids mentions, the Tree worship formed an important part of the beliefs of peoples of Northern India at the time of the rise of Buddhism, and the tree deities were called Naagas. As to why tree gods are not mentioned separately, in Diggha Nikaya, Rhys Davids observes:
“… The tree-deities were called Naagas, and were able at will, like the Naagas, to assume the human form and in one story the spirit of a Bunyan tree who reduced the merchants to ashes is called a Naaga-raja, the tree itself is the dwelling place of Naaga. This may explain why it is that the tree-gods are not specially and separately mentioned in the Maha Samaya list of deities who are there said by the poet to have come to pay reverence to the Buddha. …” [Rhys Davids, “Buddhist India”, p. 232]
Rajwade’s Opinion
About the existence of the Naagas in this country, shri V. K. Rajwade mentions that ‘Rajtarangini’ describes in detail about the Naaga kingdoms in Kashmir in olden days. Astik parva of Mahabharat is related to Naagas from beginning to end. It mentions the inhabitation of Naagas in the Khandava-prastha and Khandav vana situated to the south of Yamuna river. Harivamsha mentions the of Naagas residence to be in Nagpur. Therefore, there is no doubt that in olden days, during the Pandava times and there after, there were Naagas residing on a vast territory of India. It can definitely be stated on the basis of description of ‘sarpa satra’, that there was a fierce war between the Naagas and Manavas for some time. Arjuna married a Naaga princess Ulupi. From this it can be inferred that some Naagas were friendly towards the Manavas. [Kosare, p. 270]
Views of T.A Gopinath Rao
While discussing hindu iconography he has agreed that majority of Buddhists were Naagas, as he said, quite a long time back, that many regions of India, in historical times, were inhabitated by the Naagas and they are said to have formed the majority of persons who joined the newly started Buddhistic religion. [p.554] He further states:
“Some scholars of Malabar are inclined to believe that the modern Nayars (Sudras) of Malabar might be descendants of early Naagas as name within modern times might have been corrupted into Nayars. The hypothesis is more fictitious and fanciful than real and tenable.” [Gopinath Rao, vol. II, part 2, p. 554]
Prof. Rao, who categorically mentions Nayars were sudras, finds the theory that they were Buddhists, untenable. It is difficult to understand what faults Prof. Rao found with the theory. At least, we do not find any particular reason to disbelieve this theory. One thing is certain that the Nayars were the original inhabitants of the region, they did not come from outside. Before the Brahmins came from the North and establish ‘sambamdhams’ with the female folks of Kerala, and thus dominated over the Nayar community, the original inhabitants were the Naagas only. From ‘Naaga’ they could have become ‘Nayar’. What is so peculiar in this, that Prof. Rao finds, is hard to understand.
Let it be as it may, the fact remains that the Naagas became Buddhist in great numbers, is a fact that is certain, as admitted by him. Today’s Indian society is made up of and is developed from the erstwhile aboriginal tribal people, is a fact recognized by all the scholars. Then what is the difficulty in accepting that the word ‘Nayar’ could have come from ‘Naaga’?
The relations of Nayars with low caste Pullayas, who were undoubtably Buddhists originally, can also be judged by a well known, and now banned by British, custom of so called “Pullaya scare”, where a Nayar woman had to go with a Pullaya man, if touched by him outside the house while alone, during one month in a year after Makar Sankrati. Barbosa, a traveller from Portugal has recorded about Pulaya Scare in 1517 AD.
There was a casteless society among the Naaga culture
The non-aryan Naaga people were believers in Buddhistic social culture. During their rule, there was a society based on social equality in India, because their cultural values were influenced by the Buddhist traditions. This social system of Naagas, even in those early days, is noteworthy in contrast to Brahmanical social system of inequality. It is unfortunate that the modern high caste scholars, while narrating the greatness of ancient Indian culture, ignore this fact. Shri H. L. Kosare opines:
“As all the elements in the Naagas society were treated with equal status, casteless social order was the main basis of social system of Naagas. As the Naaga culture was based on Buddha’s principles of equality, it received the status of Buddha’s religion. Thus, Naaga culture played the greatest role in the process of establishing a casteless egalitarian and integrated society in Indian cultural life.” [Kosare, p. 256]
“Basham has shown that there is no mention of caste anywhere in ancient Tamil literature. But after Aryan influence increased, and political and social system became more complex, caste system which was somewhat more severe than in north, evolved even here. The period of Sangam literature is third century A.D., This shows that during the Satavahana rule there was no caste system.” [Kosare, p. 251]
Naagas had their Republics
Not only their social system was public oriented, but unlike the brahmanical system, their political system also was designed to give social justice to all sections of people. It is well known that during pre-Gupta era, from first to the beginning of fourth century A.D., the central countries in India comprised of strong Republics of Naagas. Samudragupta destroyed these republics. About the system of administration of Bharshiv Naagas, Dr. K. P. Jaiswal has observed that their social system was based on the principles of equality. There was no place for any caste system in them. They all belonged to one and the same caste.” [Kosare p. 251]
There were independent kingdoms of Naagas in South India also. These kingdoms came together and formed a federal republic. This federal republic of Naagas was termed as Fanimandal or Naagamandal. This Cheromandal republic of Naagas of South India was very powerful and indivisible at the time of Periplus, i.e. in 80 A.D. Later during Ptolemy’s times, i.e. 150 A.D., north eastern part of Tondemandalam became separate. (J.P.Jain, ‘bharatiya itihas’, p. 239). This Cheromandal or Fanimandal was a federation of separate kingdoms of Naagas coming together to form a united national federation. In reality, it was a united Naaga Nation of South India. [Kosare, p. 179]
Naagas in Mahabharata
It is an accepted fact, that Mahabharata had minimum three revisions as per brahmanic scholars, along with Gita in it. As a matter of fact, scholars like Khare, an ardent student of Gita from Pune, has differentiated the verses of each of three authors, in his book. Western scholars like Kaegi believe that the epics continued to be interpolated upto 13th century and even to the beginning of current century. Therefore, it is no wonder that Rhys Davids finds it difficult to assign particular verses to Mahabharata depicting state of affairs in seventh century B.C. at the time of rise of Buddha. [Rhys Davids, p. 214] He feels the changes made by priests were “because the priests found that ideas not current in their schools had so much weight with the people that they (the priests) could not longer afford to neglect them.” The objects of priests in doing so were:
“…in the first place to insist on the supremacy of the brahmins, which had been so much endangered by the great popularity of the anti-priestly views of the Buddhists and others; and in the second place to show that the brahmins were in sympathy with, and had formally adopted, certain popular cults and beliefs highly esteemed by the people. In any case, there, in the poem, these cults and beliefs, absent from the Vedic literature, are found in full life and power. …” [Rhys Davids, “Buddhist India”, p. 214]
Mahabharata is a story of feud between Kurus and Pandus, and Pandus are unknown to early literature, either Brahamanas or Sutras. Mahabharata was originally a story of war between Kurus and Panchalas. But Mahabharata without Pandus is ‘like an Iliad without Achilles and Agamemnon’. In the epic, Panchalas are allies of Pandus. Pandus are for the first time mentioned by Katyayana (c.180 B.C.). Pandus first come to view in later Buddhist literature, as a mountain clan. Epic Pandus is not a people but a family. [Cambridge hist. of India, p.226] But who were Panchalas? Presumably, they were Aryans and the epic represents the ‘fight between Aryans after the original inhabitants were overthrown and Brahmanised’. But the author says this is doubtful, and speculates:
“It is possible that the Panchalas represent five Naaga clans (with ala ‘a water snake’ cf. Eng. eel) connected with the Kurus or Krivis (meaning ‘serpent’ or ‘Naaga’), and that none of the families is of pure Aryan blood, for the Naagas in the epic are closely related to Pandus …” [Ibid., p. 227]
Mahabharata opens with a curse on Naagas
Fergusson avers that, to start with, this epic poem opens, with a curse on the serpents. Poet uses the words so cleverly that, if carelessly read, the curse could appear to be on reptiles and not on human worshipers. But in reality it is a curse on the Naaga people. In Adi parva the word used is Naaga and in Vana parva, where Bhima gets in trouble with Nahusha in the form of a real serpent, it is sarpa. [Fergusson, p. 47, fn.]
“the story of great sacrifice for the destruction of the serpents is so mixed up with historical and human action that it is evident at once that the ambiguity about the name is only seized upon by the Hindu poets as an excuse for introducing the super natural into an ordinary human transaction, …” [Fergusson, p. 47]
Immediately after the introductory passages, the story Naaga races starts with two sisters Kadru and Vinata marrying Rishi Kashyapa. Kadru, the eldest, becomes mother of 1,000 Naagas, from whom originates the whole Naaga race. Important among the names of her decedents are Sesha, Vasuki, Airavata, Takshaka, Karkotaka, Kaaliya, Aila or Elaapatra, Nila, Anila, Nahusha and others. The younger sisters gives birth to garuda, who becomes a powerful enemy of Garuda race. “When divested of all poetical garb and mythological rubbish”, the heroes Mahabharata, “Lunar race” are of second horde of Aryan race comming to India, comming about 1000 years after purer “Solar race”, their original seat traced near north of Peshawar, however, has shown all of Buddhistic sculptures of Bactrian influence. [Fergusson, p. 59]
They passed through Punjab and settled at Hastinapura. In the first transaction with Naagas, they burn the forest Khandava, for making place for a second capital and dislodge the Naagas there. The Naagas were protected by a Buddhist deity Indra. But attacked by Vedic god Agni, the brahmin poet depicts that all Naagas perished except their king Takshaka. [Fergusson, p. 60]
The relations with the Pandus and Naagas were most friendly as seen by Arjuna, marrying first Ulupi, the daughter of a Naaga king at the foot of Himalayas, near Hurdwar, and marrying Chitrangada, daughter of Chitravahana, the Naaga king of Manipur. By her, he had a son, Bhabra-vahana, who played a strange part subsequently, during Arjuna’s Ashwamedha. From these and other minor particulars, Fergusson feels, “the author of Mahabharata wished to represent the Aryans of that day as cultivating friendly relations with the aborigines.” [Fergusson, p. 60] The quarrel between Aryans and Naagas started when Parikshit insulted a hermit by hanging a dead snake around his neck. Hermit’s son invoked Takshaka, who is represented as king of Takshashila. Takshaka bit the king to death to avenge the insult. Janmejaya started the great sacrifice for destruction of the Naagas to avenge the assassination of his father. Thousands – myriads – had already perished when slaughter was stayed at the intervention of Astika, a Brahmin, though nephew of Vasuki, a Naaga king of east. Probably, the remnants got converted or promised submission to Aryans and for next 3 or 4 centuries, we hear nothing about Naagas until 691 B.C., when we find Naaga dynasty on the throne of Magadha, and in reign of sixth king Ajatshatru, the Buddha was born in 623 B.C., and “regeneration of the subject races was inaugurated.” [Fergusson, p. 60] About Manipur, he feels it curious to observe that in Manipur, the scene of Arjuna’s marriage with Chitragandha, and his slaughter by her son, that at present day, the peculiar God of Royal family is a species of snake called Pa-kung-ba, from which family claims decent. [Fergusson, p. 61] In the immediate neighborhood of Manipur, there are numerous tribes of aboriginal people still called Naagas, though they are not serpent worshipers. [Fergusson, p. 61] The site of the Naaga sacrifice of Janmejaya is said to be Kurukshetra, but it is more probable that the site is in Orrisa, at Agrahaut. Here the tradition of Mahabharata is preserved by images of kings, who could not be present on the occasion. And the serpent worship is still prevalent in the region. [Fergusson, p. 61]
Naaga Rajas in Kashmir
Fergusson believes, “Kashmir has always been considered, in historical times, as one of the principle centres of serpent worship in India”, and whatever knowledge of Naagas has been gathered is from its legends. Though Naaga worship prevailed from ancient past, it is certainly seen from a century before Christ, when king Damodara, as per Raj Tarangani, was converted into a snake because he offended some brahmin. He was succeeded by three tartar princes who were Buddhists as confirmed by their coins. His successor was Abhimanyu, who appears to be against the Buddhists. His successor Gonerda III, restored the Naaga worship. Many more Naaga kings are mentioned. [Fergusson, p. 45]
When Huen Tsang entered the valley in 632 A.D. during the reign of Baladitya, Buddhism was flourishing, though the King was against Buddhism. He repeats the usual story of valley being a lake in the past, but adds that fifty years after the Nirvana of the Buddha, a disciple of Ananda, converted the Naaga Raja, who quitted the tank, built 500 monasteries, and invited bhikkus to dwell in them. [Fergusson, p. 46]
It is not only in the valley of Kashmir, but from Kabul to Kashmir, Huen Tsang finds Dragon Kings or Naaga Rajas playing important role in the history of land. All this shows how north west India, in seventh century, was Naaga worshiper and became Buddhist. [Fergusson, p. 46]
Huen Tsang further mentions a legend of a king of Sakya kula, during his travels through the land, fell in love with and married a Naaga princess, who was cured of blindness by the Buddha Himself; and her son was among those who were present during the distribution of relics of Buddha on His nirvana. [Fergusson, p. 46]
Another legend is of a Bhikku becoming a serpent because he killed the tree Elaapatra and resided in a beautiful lake or spring near Taxila. People could go there along with a sramana, during Huen Tsang’s times, and their wishes of good rain or weather were fulfilled by prayer of the Naaga. General Cunningham visited the spring in 1863, and found it still reverenced. [Fergusson, p. 46]
A story in ‘Mahavamso’, confirms the presence of Naaga Kings two centuries before Huen Tsang. A bhikku, named Majjhantiko, was sent to Kashmir and Gandhara by Ashoka after third Sangiti in 253 B.C. Aravaalo, the Naaga king ruling there, tried to terrify the bhikku, but was ultimately converted to Buddhism. Similarly in Himavanta, 84,000 Naagas were converted, and all his subjects were bowing down to the Thero. [Fergusson, p. 47]
Ambassadors of Alexander, returning after a visit to Kashmir, mentioned that the King there cherished two large serpents. The King of Taxilla also showed to Alexander a huge serpent being worshipped, according to Strabo. [Fergusson, p. 47]
The Naaga and Buddhist influence persisted till Moghul times as Abdul Fazal tells us in Ayeene Akbari, that during reign of Akbar (1556-1605), there were temples in Kashmir, 45 of Shiva, 65 of Vishnu, 3 of Brahma, 22 of Durga, but 700 of the Naagas, in active worship. All this is confirmed by the architecture of the valley. [Fergusson, p. 47]
Rise of Buddhism
A large section of Indian population is of Turanian race, which fell prey to hordes coming from west for centuries. The incoming Aryans intermixed with aboriginal races, became weak and were subdued by next hordes coming in. Less pure “Lunar race” came about 13th or 14th century B.C. For next thousand years, no other horde came here, due to powerful kingdoms in Assyria and Persia. As the blood of Aryans had become impure, Veda had lost its rule of faith. Under these circumstances, Sakyamuni tried to “revive the religion of aboriginal Turanians” and his call was responded to by not only Turanians in India, but by “all the Turanian families of mankind.” [Fergusson, p. 62]
On Puranic evidence, Fergusson, rather unjustifiably feels, the Buddha himself was Aryan. Though Buddhist tradition takes his son Rahula as a bhikku, Vishnu Purana records his succession to throne of his grand father. He says: “the dissemination of Buddhist religion is wholly due to the accident of its having been adopted by the low caste kings of Magadha, and to its having been elevated by one of them to the rank of the religion of the state.” [Fergusson, p. 62] As a matter of fact, Buddha was a Naaga, and even by Brahmins, he is described as Vratya Kshatriya. Fergusson feels that as the reforms introduced by the Buddha, ancestral worship was abolished and worship of relics of saints started, serpent worship was repressed and “its sister faith” the tree worship, was elevated to first rank. [p. 63]
Ahimsa of Buddha
Ferguson avers that the Buddha promoted asceticism, denounced the sensual enjoyment and preached nonviolence, and observes:
“No war was ever waged by Buddhists, … No faith was ever so essentially propagated by persuation as that of Buddha, and though the Buddhists were too frequently persecuted even to destruction, there is no instance on record of any attempt to spread their faith by force in any quarter of globe.” [Fergusson, p. 63]
Serpent worship during Mauryan Dynasty
Ashokan edicts do not show worship of Buddha, or tree or Serpent, but Mahinda takes branch of Bo tree to Ceylon and in caves in Orissa we see both tree and serpent worship prevalent during the period. [James Fergusson, “Tree and Serpent Worship”, p. 64]
Time of Naagaarjuna and Kanishka
Naagaarjuna was the ruling spirit behind the Buddhist Council held under Kanishaka. Roman coins dated 73 to 33 B.C. are found in a stupa by Kanishka at Manikyaal. The Name Naalandaa originates from a Naaga called Naalandaa, who resided in a pool nearby. Naagaarjuna was monk at Naalandaa monastery. According to him,
“the words uttered by the Sakya Muni during his life time, had been heard and noted down by the Naagas, and have kept them to themselves in their own abode, till such time as mankind would become worthy to receive them. Naagaarjuna gave out that he had received these documents from the Naagas and was commissioned to proclaim them to the world. …” [Fergusson, p. 65]
Buddhist Sculptures
The literary evidence is only available from Lalita-vistara of Tibet onwards, and such later books from Ceylon etc., it is hoped that original sutras would be available in future. Our only means to reconstruct the history is from archeological finds from Ashoka edicts, Sanchi, Amravati, Ajintha, Mahabalipuram, and other caves in ghats. [James Fergusson, “Tree and Serpent Worship”, p. 67 ff.]
Ashoka’s inscriptions present the picture of early Buddhism, entirely different and in a wonderful contrast with Buddhism of Lalitvistara. [James Fergusson, “Tree and Serpent Worship”, p. 67]
Gateways of Sanchi are of times of Naagarjuna, in first half of first century. “Buddha never appears in them as an object of worship. The Dagoba, the Chakra or wheel, the tree and other such emblems are reverenced. Serpent does appear but rarely.” [James Fergusson, “Tree and Serpent Worship”, p. 67]
At Amravati, three centuries later, Buddha is worshipped, but Naaga is his coequal, more in accordance with modern notions. Dagoba, Tree, Chakra are all worshipped. Thus Sanchi gives picture of Hinayana and Amaravati that of Mahayana, before coming of Fa Hian. [James Fergusson, “Tree and Serpent Worship”, p. 67]
Ajanta depicts picture just before its decline, three centuries later than Amravati. There is no serpent worship in paintings, but Naaga representations are found as sculptured decorations on the doorways or in detached bas-reliefs in the caves. [Fergusson, p. 67]
The important bas-relief described by Fergusson, which today’s brahmanic scholars like to describe as a scene of “Descent of river Ganges”, is at Mahabalipuram. He mentions it as “great Naaga sculpture belonging to the classical stage of Indian Art”. He describes the sculpture in minute details, and laments that the top portion is broken away, In 1827, only the lower part of Naaga was remaining, but his wife below him was quite intact. It has a form of Naaga different from those at Sanchi, Amravati and Ajanta, but the grouping of the figures around Naaga is so similar to the oldest one in Sanchi, as if so many centuries made no difference in style, and this is last of Takshaka sculptures. [Fergusson, p. 68]
Ayrans created writings, Turanians created structures
Fergusson believes, Turanians were builders, the stone architecture starting from Ashoka. The point that Turanian, i.e. Dravidian culture had also created great Buddhistic literature, and has been destroyed by Brahmanic / Aryan / Sanskritic vandalism, has not been taken into account by him, it seems. He mentions:
“… It (Buddhism) was not a reform of Vedic religion of Aryans, but simply that when they had lost their purity, Sakya Muni called on the subject races to rise, and moulded their feelings and their superstitions into that form of faith we now know as Buddhism. It was when these Turanians first came into power that permanent architecture was thought of in India, and as they grew in strength, and their influence extended, so did their architecture acquire consistency, and spread over the length and breadth over the land. They had no literature, or next to none; at least we have not yet found one Buddhist book that was reduced to its present shape till nearly 1000 years after the death of the founder of the religion. … Stated in its broadest terms, the distinction is this, – all the literature of India is Aryan, all the architecture is Turanian; and the latter did not come into existence till the former race had lost their purity and power, or, in other words, till the Turanian religion, known as Buddhism, rose to surface, and its followers usurped the place hereto occupied by the Aryans and their Vedas.” [James Fergusson, “Tree and Serpent Worship”, p. 78]
Tribal Population in Sanchi and Amaravati Stupas
By careful study of human figures both of men and women, which Fergusson has described in minute details, he identified two distinct races to be present there.
One is described as civilized, and worshiping the Buddhist emblems like Chakra, Stupa and tree. He is actually referring to Buddhist upasakas, i.e. house holders, though he calls them as Hindoos, not in modern sense as of brahmanic faith, as word hindoo has no relevance for a period before the arrival of Muslims. As against this there is another race, referred by Fergusson as Dasyus, for want of any suitable name, which is of Aboriginal Tribal culture, mostly worshiping Naaga emblems. These were labeled as “ascetics or priests” by General Cunningham and Colonel Massey, because their costumes resembled Buddhist ascetics in Burma and other Buddhist countries. But Fergusson believes them to be Aboriginal tribals. He says, as there is no appropriate name, he would “unhesitatingly” suggest them to be called as Takshaka, like Colonel Todd did. This is because, they are essentially serpent worshipers and “Naaga and Takshaka being synonymous appellations in Sanskrit for snake, and Takshaka is the celebrated Naagavamsha of the early heroic history of India.” He believes, these people were converted to Buddhism, as he says:
“From their appearing so frequently on Buddhist monuments, we may certainly assume that they were converted eventually to Buddhism, and being a tribe dwelling in woods, their priests may have become forest ascetics …” [Fergusson, p. 94 ff.]
He further avers that they were the real architects of India, their original home was near Takshsila, the important seat of serpent worship, and from there they spread all over India. [James Fergusson, “Tree and Serpent Worship”, p. 95]
Antiquity of Naaga worship
Fergusson believes that, Snake worship was an old and prevalent form of original faith all over India before Aryans arrived, and Aryans adopted it gradually as they intermarried with indigenous Naaga people. He remarks:
“It is not mentioned in Vedas, hardly hinted at in Ramayana, occupies a considerable space in Mahabharata, appears timidly at Sanchi in the first century of our era, and is triumphant at Amaravati in the fourth, and might have become dominant faith of India had it not been elbowed from its place of power by Vishnuism and Shaivism, which took its place when it fell together with the religion of Buddha, to which it had allied itself so closely.” [James Fergusson, “Tree and Serpent Worship”, p. 114]
Tri Ratna – not Trishul
On a fallen pillar of Southern gate way at Sanchi, along with a Bo tree, an emblem, which Fergusson conjectures to be a Trishul is found. Such is also found at Amarawati and Karle, and many Buddhist monuments at various places. It is not a trishul, as we understand from weapon of Shiva. Trishul has a central prong prominent and longer because of its use as a weapon, and also has a long handle. The emblem found in Buddhist monuments is Tri-Ratna, which denotes Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha. It has roundish contour, a smaller middle prong and no handle. It is also found on the chest of Buddhist images, and was later copied by Brahmins to be carved on Vishnu images, as Fergusson further observes:
“General Cunningham suggests that this afterwards became emblem of Juggernath, with his brother and sister. In this suggestion, I entirely agree, but the transformation took place at a period long subsequent to that we are now engaged upon. The more I look at it the more do I become convinced that Vishnuism is only very corrupt Buddhism.” [James Fergusson, “Tree and Serpent Worship”, p. 125]
Amaravati and Tree worship
As is well known, Buddha at Amaravati is now a days is worshipped as Shiva, the subject being discussed more fully by us elsewhere. [Tirupati Balaji was a Buddhist Shrine, p. 10]. The Tree worship and Naaga worship are well known methods of Buddhist practices. After conversion to Brahmanism, even now they form important part of ritual at Amareswara. Fergusson, while describing tree worship at Amaravati, observes:
“The following is a curious instance of irradicability of local forms, even long after the religion to which they belonged may have perished. At the present day, during the festival of Navaratri, in honour of Shiva at Amareswar, the immortal lord, on the third night a brazen tree is carried round the town in procession; on the fifth night a ten headed serpent in brass. At the close of the festival the worshipers go in great pomp to a tree called Shemmu Veerchum, where the god is made to exercise in shooting an arrow at the sacred tree, followed by discharge of fire arms in the air, which closes the ceremony. In the festival called Shiva Maharatri, the procession to the same tree is the culminating point, to which all previous arrangements are subordinate, and thus the festival closes.” [James Fergusson, “Tree and Serpent Worship”, p. 171]
Mihirkula and Feet marks of Buddha
The feet marks of Buddha are seen in many places at Amaravati, and are also seen stamped on cloths there. Mihirkula, a Shaivite king of Kashmir, is well known as the enemy of Buddhists. He waged a war against Sri Lanka, because his wife happened to wear a jacket of Simhala cloth, which was stamped with feet marks of Buddha. The impression came off on her bosom, and the king became indignant and invaded Ceylon, and forced him to stamp the cloth in future with a golden sun. [James Fergusson, “Tree and Serpent Worship”, p. 189]
Tribals are Naagas
Fergusson describes mainly two types of persons worshiping Buddha and being disciples of Buddhism. Turanians are the Dravidians, also termed the Naagas, whom we now know as aboriginal tribal population. Who are the people, whom Fergusson referred to as Hindoos. He himself has cleared the point. : “… the sculpture meant to represent the inhabitants of the province now known as Upper Bengal, more specially of the districts of Tirhoot and Behar, which were assuredly the cradle of Buddhism. …” [Fergusson, p. 225]
The people who are associated with Buddha in both the stupas of Sanchi and Amarawati, are the mixed race of Bengal, with some Aryan blood, but mostly which was mixed with the aboriginal tribes of Bengal before Aryan invasion. That the Buddhism could rise on its ruins, is the evidence of it.
Another important question is, Are the people who wear the snake hoods are as same race or not. Fergusson believes that the difference is only artistic, they are the same people but of two different nations. He explains that these are the aboriginal tribes.:
“The people whose manners and customs appear to present the closest affinities with what we found on the monuments, are those known as the Gonds and other closely allied tribes inhabiting the country to the south of the Vindhya hills. From their language we learn that they were allied to Dravidians, now occupying nearly the whole of Madras Presidency, …” [Fergusson, p. 225]
After careful study of figures, Fergusson comes to conclusion that people with snakes are the Naaga people. [Fergusson, p. 192]
Adivasis in South India
Most ancients were Villavar, (bowmen) identified with Bhils and Minaver (fishers) identified with Meenas. The other group is termed by the Sangam poets as Naagas, whom Hindu books depict as semi divine beings, half men and half snake, but Tamil poets describe them as warrior race with bows and nooses and famous as free booters. Various tribes are mentioned like Aruvalar in Arvunadu, and Aruva vadatalai, Eyinar, Maravar, Oliyar, and Paradavar (fisher tribe), who are certainly belonged to Naaga stock. [Cambridge hist. of India, vol. I, p. 539]
The main dynasties ruling Tamil country were of land tilling class. Pandyas, claiming descent from a tribe styled Maarar, Chola kings from tribe Tirayyirar, and Chera from Vaanavar tribe. Even in first century A.D., the country was free from Brahman caste system, thanks to the influence of strong Buddhist and Jain churches. [Cambridge hist. of India, p. 540]
Satavahanas were Buddhists and not of Brahmanic faith
Because Goutamiputra Satkarni performed the yadnyas, as mentioned in Nanaghat inscription of Naaganika, some scholars tend to think that he belonged to Brahmanic faith. This is a wrong interpretation. Shri Kosare feels the nature of these vedic yadnyas must be considered as a political act of a Ksatriya to raise ones own political prestige, status and glory as an Emperor. These yadnyas had absolutely no brahmanic effect on the republican style of their social culture in Satvahana times. Similarly, there are no records to show that any other king of Satvahana dynasty performed any vedic sacrifices. On the contrary, it appears that Buddhism flourished and developed to a great extent during the Satvahana period only. [Kosare, p.167]
Brahmanic traditions do not depict correct picture
It is now well recognised that Brahmanic books try to depict the superiority of Aryan / Sanskritic / Brahmanic culture and ignore the vast population, which had always been against this culture. Prof. Rhys Davids, aptly, points out this mentality:
“It is the accepted belief that it is in the literature of the brahmins that we find the evidence as to the religious beliefs of the peoples of India in the sixth and seventh centuries B.C. This seems to me more than doubtful. The priests have preserved for us, not so much the opinions the people actually held, as the opinions the priests wished them to hold. … We see how unreasonable it would be to expect that the brahmins, whose difficulties were so much greater, should have been able to do more. What they have done they have done accurately and well. But the record they have saved for us is a partial record. [Rhys Davids, “Buddhist India”, p.210 ]
Language of masses was Pali
That similar misinformation is spread by the Brahmanic claims that Sanskrit was lingua franca of India is clear when he avers:
“What had happened with respect to religious belief is on a par with what had happened with respect to language. From Takkasila all the way down to Champa no one spoke Sanskrit. The living language, everywhere, was a sort of Pali. … in the schools of the priests, and there only, a knowledge of the Vedic language (which we often call Sanskrit) was kept up. But even this Sanskrit of the schools had progressed, as some would say, or had degenerated, as others would say, from the Vedic standard. And the Sanskrit in actual use in the schools was as far removed the Vedic dialact as it is from the so-called classical Sanskrit of the post Buddhistic poems and plays.” [Rhys Davids, p. 211]
The religion of masses was not Vedic
The brahmanic books, and their propaganda by the vested interests, try to give an impression that the religious beliefs of Indian masses also were Vedic. This is far from the truth. Rhys Davids remarks:
“So with the religion, outside the schools of the priests the curious and interesting beliefs recorded in the Rig Veda had practically little effect. The Vedic thaumaturgy and theosophy had indeed never been a popular faith, that is, as we know it. … The gods more usually found in the older system – the dread Mother Earth, the dryads and the dragons, the dog-star, even the moon the sun have been cast into the shade by the new ideas (the new gods) of the fire, the exciting drink, and the thunderstorm. And the charm of the mystery and the magic of the ritual of the sacrifice had to contend, so far as the laity were concerned, with the distaste induced by its complications and its expense. … Those beliefs (in Rig Veda) seem to us, and indeed are, so bizarre and absurd, that it is hard to accept the proposition that they give expression to an advanced stage to thought. And one is so accustomed to consider the priesthood as the great obstacle, in India, an way of reform, that it is difficult to believe that the brahmins could ever, as a class have championed the newer views.
“But a comparison with the general course of the evolution of religious beliefs elsewhere shows that the beliefs recorded in the Rig Veda are not primitive. A consideration of the nature of those beliefs, so far as they are not found elsewhere, shows that they must have been, in the view of the men who formulated them, a kind of advance on, or reform of, the previous ideas, and at least three lines of evidence all tend to show that certainly all the time we are here considering, and almost certainly at the time when the Rig Veda was finally closed there were many other beliefs, commonly held among the Aaryans in India, but not represented in that Veda.” [Rhys Davids, Buddhist India, p. 212]
Atharva Veda is more ancient
It is well known that there are in reality only two Vedas, Rig and Atharva, the other two Sama and Yajus being the compilation of verses mostly from Rig, with a few more ideas being added. Out of these two, Atharva has got beliefs more ancient, the beliefs of ancient original residents, and therefore, the brahmins for a long time did not recognise it as a Veda, neither did the Buddhists. Rhys Davids explains:
“The first of these three lines is the history of the Atharva Veda. This invaluable old collection of charms to be used in sorcery had been actually put together long before Buddhism arose. But it was only just before that time it had come to be acknowledged by the sacrificial priests as Veda inferior to their own three older ones, but still a Veda. This explains why it is that Atharva is never mentioned as a Veda in the Buddhist canonical books. … Yet it is quite certain that the beliefs and practices to which the Atharva Veda is devoted are as old, if not older, than those to which the three other Vedas refer; and that they were commonly held and followed by the Aryans in India. …” [Rhys Davids, “Buddhist India”, p.213 ]
Forest folks were looked after by Ashoka
An account of his Kalinga conquest and its effects is given by Ashoka himself in Rock Edict XIII. After the horrible disaster, he became Buddhist, expressed profound sorrow and regret for the war, and started spreading Buddhism. About the forest dwellers he said, in the same edict:
“Even upon the forest-folk in his dominion, His Sacred Majesty looks kindly and he seeks to make them think aright, for, if he did not, repentance would come upon His Sacred Majesty. They are bidden to turn from evil ways that they be not chastised. For His Sacred Majesty desires that all animated beings should have security, self control, peace of mind and joyousness.” [Mahajan, “Ancient India”, p. 276]
Why Ashoka was sympathetic towards Adivasis is explained by todays Adivasi scholars: because “he was himself of the same blood”, says Venkatesh Atram as well as L. K. Madavi. [Venkatesh Atram, “Gondi sanskuti che sandarbha”, p. 51]
Naagas flourished before Guptas
Among the important monarchies flourishing before the rise of Guptas, the most important were the Naaga dynasties, and also many Republics. They were scattered all over India, as proved by literary, epigraphic and numismatic evidence. Vidisha, Kantipuri, Mathura and Padmavati were all Naaga powers, according to Puranas. We know from inscriptions, that Bharshiv Naagas came into power after fall of Kushanas. We have some coins of Bhava Naaga of Padmawati. In Puranas nine Naagas are mentioned by name. Powerful King Virsen of Mathura was also perhaps a Naaga. Guptas flourished by marriage of Chandragupta I, with princes Kumar Devi of Licchavis, whom Manusmriti had condemned as Vratya Ksatriyas. Allahabad Pillar inscription mentions of marriage of Chandragupta II with a Naaga princess Kuveranaga. Thus though the Guptas rose to power with the help of Naagas, they terminated Naaga kings like Ganpati Naaga and Naagsena, and most of the Naaga republics. [Mahajan, Ancient India, p. 406 ff.] Republics of Tribals were destroyed by Samudragupta The disappearance of the republics about 400 A.D. was due to the imperialism of the Guptas, according to Jaiswal, who said, “Samudragupta, like Alexander, killed the free spirit of the country. He destroyed the Malavas and the Yaudheyas who were the nursery of freedom and many others of their class.” As Dr. Altekar pointed out, even after Samudragupta, the republics of the Malavas, the Yaudheyas, the Madras and the Arjunayanas maintained their existence and autonomy, though now, under suzerainty of Guptas. However, the leadership became hereditary, and under those circumstances the republics disappeared and monarchy became the general rule. [Mahajan, “Ancient India”, p. 201]
The Pala Period
Many people are under a wrong impression, that after Harshavardhana in seventh century, there were no Buddhist Kings. They conveniently forget that Palas ruled for four centuries, and they ruled nearly whole of north India. They were staunch Buddhists and no brahmins were left after their reign in Bengal, so the Senas, who came after Palas, had to import the Brahmins, for yadnyas.
The area under control of Palas is the area of Naagas and is now an Adivasi tract. It was from Palas that the Buddhism finished, or mostly so. So they are the last remnants of Buddhism. Therefore, their history deserves special study by the Buddhists. That is why the tribal belt extends from North East Provinces, lower Bihar, some parts of Bengal, some parts of Orissa, Madhya Pradesh, Chatisgadh and Bastar and adjoining part in Chandrapur Gadchiroli and the parts of Andhra? The relationship of Pala kingdom with Adivasi tracts is not discussed by the scholars. The Adivasi scholars start the history of Adivasis from the Gonds kings in Sirpur in Andhra, and in old Chandrapur district, which is now divided into two, and in Bastar and Chattisgadh and Madhya Pradesh etc. Some people like to connect themselves to the people of the neolithic age, as if nothing has happened in the mean time. Then they are silent about the period in between. They not only remain silent, but do not try to understand the reasons why their history is ignored by the Brahmanic scholars. But even then, from scanty references, it is possible to reconstruct the history of tribal population in the area. A mention is made about Tribal kings as Naaga kings in post Harsha period in Madhya Pradesh. The Tunga kings, Jayasimha, ruled over the whole of Gondama (or Gondama) which is sometimes specifically referred to as Eighteen Gondama. Gondama has been taken to mean the Gond tribe, but it probably denotes a territory, which was perhaps the entire hilly tract extending from Bonal and Barma in the north up Jeypore in the Visakhapatnam District in the south. [Imperial Kanauj, p.77 ] An account in a book by the poet Padmagupta, of the court of a Paramara king, Navasahasanka Sindhuraja, is considered historical and it narrates how a Naaga king ruling south of the Narmada sought help from Sindhuraja against a neighboring demon-king named Vajrankusa, and gave his daughter Shashiprabha to him after their killing the demon king. It is suggested that the Naaga king was a chief of the Naaga dynasty ruling in old Bastar State, and the demon-king was a chief of the Non-Aryan Mana tribe of Vajra, modern Wairagarh, presently in Chandrpur District of Maharashtra. [Imperial Kanauj, p.97]
Also mention is made of Vijayaditya II, coming into conflict with a Naaga king probably of the Bastar region. [Imperial Kanauj, p.134]
The Pala Kingdom comprised tribal areas
After the death of Harshavardhana, the brahmins regained the lost prestige and started converting people to brahmanism through the means of force by creating small principalities. The empire was broken down and only small feudatories under the newly created Rajput clans started appearing. R. C. Majumdar, explains how the Palas stopped this political disintegration of Bengal resulting in anarchy and confusion for more than a century after the death of Sasanka, the king of Bengal and strong enemy of Buddhism and of Harshavardhana, and how in the middle of the eighth century A.D., a heroic and laudable effort was made to remedy the miserable state of affairs. Realizing at last, that all the troubles of masses were due to the absence of a strong central authority, the numerous chiefs exercising sovereignty in different parts of the country did set up such a regime by voluntary surrender of powers to one popular leader. This shows no small credit upon the sagacity and sacrifice of the leaders of Bengal who rose to the occasion and selected one among themselves to be the sole ruler of Bengal to whom they all paid willing allegiance. Majumdar comments:
“… It is not every age, it is not every nation that can show such a noble example of subordinating private interests to public welfare. The nearest parallel is the great political change that took place in Japan in A.D. 1870. The result was almost equally glorious and the great bloodless revolution ushered in an era of glory and prosperity such as Bengal has never enjoyed before or since.” [Majumdar R. C., “The Age of Imperial Kanauj” HCIP vol. IV, p 44]
The hero was one Gopala (c. 750-770 A.D.), whose early accounts are uncertain, but he came to be known as a Kshatriya and was a Buddhist. All his successors also were Buddhists and the dynasty ruled over a vast area for about four hundred years. The “bloodless revolution”, was no doubt religiously motivated. This was also the time when Tantrika Buddhism made its appearance, and the religious leadership passed on to the lower castes in the society, to such an extent that after the fall of Palas, their successors had to import the brahmins for performance of yadnyas. After Gopala, his son Dharmapala (c.770-810 A.D.), came on throne. He was a hero of hundred battles, and had assumed full imperial tiles. He held a most magnificent durbar at Kanauj, to proclaim himself as the suzerain. Vassals attending durbar, among others, were the rulers of Bhoja, Mastsya, Madra, Kuru, Yadu, Yavana, Avanti, Gandhara and Kira, who uttered
acclamations of approval “bowing down respectfully with their diadems trembling.” He is described as the “Lord of Northern India” (Uttarapathasvamin). [Majumdar, ibid., p.46]
He was ruling over a vast territory. Bengal and Bihar, which formed its nucleus, were directly ruled by him. Beyond this the kingdom of Kanauj, roughly corresponding to modern U.P., was a close dependency, whose ruler was nominated by, and directly subordinate to, him. Further to the west and south, in the Punjab, Western Hill States, Rajputana, Malwa and Berar, were a number of vassal states whose rulers acknowledged him as their overlord and paid him homage and obedience. According to tradition preserved in the Svayambhu-Purana, Nepal was also a vassal state of Dharmapala. [Majumdar, p.47]
His grateful subjects fully realized his greatness and sung in his praise all over the country. He was great patron of Buddhism and founder of Vikramshila University, named after his another name, and a great vihara at Sompuri in Varendra. He also built Odantpuri Vihara in Bihar as per Tibetian sourses, though credit is given to his father or son by some scholars. Great Buddhist author Haribhadra flourished during his reign. Majumdar laments that his greatness, though sung by masses, “it is irony of fate that he should have been forgotten in the land of his birth but his memory should be kept green in Tibet.” [Ibid., p.49] What is so strange about it? It had always been the practice of brahmanic scholars to kill the memory of great non-brahmanic dignitaries by non-mention, and if we may say so, it continues even today. No non-brahmanic king is remembered by the priestly scholars of this country. Chandragupta Maurya is remembered in a fiction Mudrarakshasa written thousand years later; Ashoka is remembered by his edicts and credit of identifying Ashoka of Cylonese chronicles with Piyadassi of edicts goes to James Prinsep; Kanishika is remembered by his coins, Chinese sourses and Buddhist MSS, and Buddhacharita of Ashvaghosha; King Milinda by foreign accounts and Harshavardhana mainly by Huen Tsang’s writings. For the elite of this country, even Alexander the great never existed.
Dharmapala was succeeded by his son Devapala who had a long reign of about forty years. He was a great patron of Buddhism like his father, and his fame spread to many Buddhist countries outside India. Devapala granted five villages on the request of Balaputradeva, a king of a powerful Buddhist Dynasty, in the East Indies, in order to endow a monastery at Nalanda. Another record informs us that a learned Buddhist priest, hailing from Naagarahara (Jelalabad), received high honors from Devapala and was appointed the head of Nalanda monastery. [Majumdar, p. 52] After Devapala, glory of Pala empire declined. Though to a large extent, Mahipala tried to restore it. The Brahmanical dynasty of Senas overtook them. Senas, had to import Brahmins to their kingdom from other Brahmanical areas and start the infamous Kulin system, to reestablish Brahmin supremacy.
The reason why we like to stress the importance of the history of Pala Kings, is that they were Buddhists and their subjects were Buddhists, and at the present time, the area under the influence of Pala kings is the exact area which is occupied by the present day Adivasis. This shows that they were reduced to their present state, after the fall of Palas, due to neglect by and the atrocities of the Brahmanical forces during post Pala period. Though the miseries of tribals had started with the rise of Guptas, they had no protector left after the fall of Palas.
Rise of Rajputs was mostly from Tribals
After the fall of Harsha, the Rajputs were created by the Brahmins, with the intention of fighting with the Buddhists by physical force. Through the Agnikula theory four dynasties of foreigners like Hunas were hinduised in North India, and in south India, through hiranyagarbha mahadana five dynasties were created out of tribal Buddhists. The subject is discussed fully by us elsewhere, suffice here to mention that also some tribal chiefs were among those who became the Rajputs. Giving example of House of Mewar which played important role in political and military history of India for centuries to come, and gave heroes like Bapa Raval, Rana Sanga, and Rana Pratap, Stella Kramerish observes:
“Formerly they (Bhils) ruled over their own country. This was prior to the arrival or Rajputs. The Rajputs, the ‘sons of king’, invaded the country, subsequently Rajasthan in about sixth century A. D. They became Kshatriyas, the nobility par excellence of India. Some of these Rajput princes, including the most exalted of them, the Rana of Mewar, at the inception of their rule, had their foreheads marked with the blood of a Bhil. It was drawn from his thumb or big toe. This was an acknowledgement of the precedence of Bhils as rulers of the country”. [Stella Kramerish, “Selected writings of Stella Kramerish”, Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1968, p. 90; fn:- Koppers, “Die Bhil”, p.14]
Rajputs came from Tribals
In North India, Rajputs were made on the Mount Abu, by a purificatory yadna and four important dynasties were created to physically oppose the Buddhists and accept the supremacy of Brahmins. Some were remnants of Hunas and some were tribals. But the Brahmins took special precaution to limit the admittance to Rajputs to only a few important people, and the rest were remaining as ordinary castes, as explained by Balkrishna Nair. In Southern India, the rite prformed for purification, conversion, and initiation into awarding Ksatriyahood was called Hiranya-garbhs mahadana and the king was designated as Hiranya-garbha-prasuta, i.e. “one who performed the sacred rite of hiranya-garbha which consists in the performer passing through an egg of gold which was afterwards distributed among the officiating priests”. [D. C. Sircar, ‘The Classical Age’, HCIP vol. III, p. 225]
The Hiranya garbha prasuta kings of South India belong to the dynasties of: (1) Ananda gotra connected with Chezarla. (2) Vishnukundin connected with Srisaila. (3) Chalukyas. (4) Pandyas and (5) Rashtrakutas.
Most, if not all, of them were Buddhist Tribals, but after accepting Brahmin supremacy they fought with Palas as well as among themselves, thus instituting a tripartrite struggle for centuries, till they all handed over the reigns of the country to Muslims. The detailed discussion of them is beyond scope of this article.
With their conversion, all their deities got converted into Brahmanic deitis, like Jaganath Puri, Pandharpur, Ayyapa, Draksharama, Srisailam, Badrikeswara and many more including Tirupati, as explained in my book “tirupati Balaji was a Buddhist Shrine”. Only one example is given below how tribal Madiyas became devotees of Puri.
Tribals worship Danteswari and are disciples of Jagannatha of Puri The tribal population of Bastar, known as Madiyas, as is well known, are Naagas, and they were referred as Naagas in inscriptions. What is not well known is that they have a Rath Yatra, very much like that of Puri. As explained by us in “Tirupati Balaji was a Buddhist Shrine”, both Rath Yatra and Puri Temple are of Buddhist origin. Also the name Danteswari of their deity is strongly suggestive of Dantpura, where Tooth Relic of the Buddha is being worshiped, which now is Jagannatha of Puri. The following are the excerpts from the article by Bhai Mahavir, who attended Dushera festival of Madiyas, and describes it as “a Dussehra without any mention of the Ramayana”. Even the date of Dushera is significant, as prior to Dr. Ambedkar’s conversion to Buddhism in 1956, the Hindu Panchangas used to depict Dushera as the date of birth of the Buddha, though Buddhist tradition places it on Veshakh full moon day. He writes:
“While for a large part of the country, Dussehra gets its name from the victory of Ram over the 10 headed Ravana, … in Bastar we have none of this. There is no Sita abduction, no Hanuman search mission and no Ram-Ravana battle. You do not see the spectacle of any effigies of Ravana, Kumbhakarna and Meghnath going up in flames as its finals. In fact, when this idea was mooted once, tribal leaders did not welcome it.”
Author explains how Baster’s Dussehra is connected with their own favourite deity, Danteshwari, unknown elsewhere. The festival, lasting virtually for two and a half months, is not mere entertainment, but a genuine religious practice and an essential part of their culture and philosophy.
Ratha Yatra being the main part, its preparation starts early, and different villages having well-designated duties of fetching wood meant for specified parts of the Rath. It is pulled with long ropes by about 500 Madiya tribals of Kilpal, a privilege they jealously guard. The fourth ruler of Bastar, Raja Purushottam Dev, who ascended the throne in 1408 AD, performed Dandavat (prostration) pilgrimage from Baster to Jagannath Puri, offered lots of precious gifts with one lakh gold mohurs to temple, and started the Ratha Yatra. Like in several states, the practice continued till the tragic death of Pravinchandra Bhanjdev. Now only the chhatra and the chief pujari of Danteshwari temple of Jagdalpur ride it. All the tribes bring their favourite deities with their chhatras to the courtyard of the royal palace. The whole town is out jostling to watch the gigantic chariot being pulled by hundreds of devotees. The tribes of Bastar are no Vaishnavites (vegetarians), they are devotes of Danteswari, though their Danteshwari Temple, at Dantewada, in Bastar, has an idol of Nandi and an image of Shiva. The Rath Yatra commences with a goat sacrifice, and no less than five goats are sacrificed by the time the festivals conclude. [An article “Without Ram or Ravana” by Bhai Mahavir in “Indian Express”, Nagpur, 4.12.99]
Why the Adivasis Struggle can not succeed in Hindu India
Excluding the population of Africa, India is the largest habitat of Adivasis. They are mostly divided into three geographical areas. A group in North East provinces, the “seven sisters”, are having Mongoloid influence. The second group, the “Central” group is in Bihar, Orrisa, Madhya Pradesh, Telangana and Vidarbha extends upto sea in the east and has Gond and Santhal origin. The Western group has mostly Bhil influence. The Constitution of India has taken note of these areas and the first group is placed under Schedule VI and the rest are placed in Schedule V. About the condition of all these adivasis, less said the better. Whereas the tribals in VI schedule are fighting a loosing battle against the Manuvadi social order, those in other areas are fast getting hinduised and accepting the Brahmanic values, and pessimistic about their struggle. The main question is why they are not getting any success in their struggle. The reason as explained by Kanshiram, long time back, is that they are fighting isolatedly and the reason is that they do not like to identify themselves as one of the co-sufferers among the multitudes of castes suffering under the tyranny of brahmanic social order. He appeals to them to organize their struggle together with these multitudes under one banner. [Adivasi-Bharat ke Mulnivasi, hindi, p. 10]
References
A. L. Basham, ‘The wonder that was India’, Rupa & Co., 1975
Carus Paul, The Gospel of Buddha reprinted by National book Trust, 1961
Chaure Narayan Dr., Korku Jan Jati ka itihas, hindi, Vishwa bharati prakashan, Nagpur, 1987
James Fergusson, Tree and serpent worship, 1868 India Museum London, Indian ed. – Indological Book House, Delhi, 1971
Kosambi Dharmanand, Buddha Dharma aani Sangh marathi, third edition 1970, publ. by Buddha Vihar Risaldar Park, Luckhnow
Kosare H. L. prachin bharatatil naag, marathi, 1989, Dnyan Pradip prakashan, Nagpur,
Karan Sing and Daisaku Ikeda, Humanity at the Cross Roads, Oxford University Press, 1988
Madavi L. K., (marathi), swatantra bharatatil adivasinchi swaytate chi chalval, 1998, publ. Mul Nivasi Mukti Manch Nagpur
Majumdar R. C., Chapter on The Palas The Age of Imperial Kanauj, HCIP, vo IV, 1955
Mahajan Vidya Dhar, Ancient India, Fifth Edition, Reprint 1972, Chand and Co., New Delhi.
Mukherjee, M.A. Prof. L., History of India (Hindu period), Mondal Brothers & Co. Pvt. Ltd. 54-8, College Street, Calcutta. 12. 26th edition.
Nadgonde, Gurunath D., (Dr.), Bharatiya Adivasi, (marathi), Continental Prakashan, Pune, 1979, reprint 1986
Nair Balkrishna N., The Dynamic Brahmin Popular Book Depot, Lamington Rd., Bombay – 7, 1959
Rapson E. J., Ed. The Cambridge History of India, vol. I, S.Chand and Co., third Indian reprint, 1968
Rhys Davids, Buddhist India, Motilal Banarasidas, 1993 reprint, original edition England, 1903
Karan Sing and Daisaku Ikeda, Humanity at the cross roads, Oxford University Press, 1988
T. A. Gopinath Rao, Elements of Hindu Iconography, vol. II, part 2, Motilal Banarasidas, 1985

Dalits and English : Prof. Kancha Ilaiah

17/03/2011
Kancha Ilaiah

The democratic nation proved that the fears of lower castes were wrong. They enrolled into regional language education in a big way.
 

One bright morning in 1960, when I was about eight, a newly appointed single teacher came to my house. My mother had already cleaned our courtyard called ‘vaakili’ and was sprinkling the dung water all around the courtyard. I was about to assist my elder brother in untying the cattle and go along with them for grazing. The teacher asked my mother to send me and my elder brother, who was about 10, to school. What she told him shocks every one of us in retrospect: “Ayyaa — if we send our children to school to read and write devil Saraswathi will kill them. That devil wants only brahmins and baniyas to be in that business.”

 

 

For centuries the so called goddess of education was against the dalit learning, reading and writing in any language. She was the goddess of education of only the high castes — mainly of the brahmins and baniayas. But the lower castes, who were denied of education treated her as a devil that would kill their children if they go to school.

The notion that she kills us was so deep that my grandmother fought with my mother for she was terrified of our imminent death, after I and my brother — not my sisters in any case — were sent to school. She used to pray Pochamma — our village goddess — that she should protect us from Saraswathi. Within a few months after we were sent to school my grandmother died of a future shock that we would not survive at all.

The democratic nation proved that those fears of lower castes were wrong. They got into regional language education in a big way. The goddess of Sanskrit education was adopted by lower castes as their goddess of regional language education too. Several school teachers across the country — many of them were OBC teachers — installed Saraswathi photo even in government schools, ignoring the fact there could be a muslim or a christian or any other minority students in the schools.

It is a known fact that there were several hindu teachers who made humiliating remarks about muslims and christians that they do not have goddess of education like Saraswathi and hence inferior in educational values. Saraswathi Shishumandirs have cropped up all over the country. In the ’70s and ’80s the aggressive ownership of ‘matru bhasha’ (mother tongue) theory and adoption of Saraswathi as goddess of Indian education had acquired a nationalist overtone. So militant was that nationalism that any opposition to installing Saraswathi’s portrait in the schools and colleges would only invite fist blows.

The right wing student organisations started installing her portrait in the university departments. The regional language departments made Saraswathi an educational-cultural symbol. Unmindful of the secular constitution of the nation even the university teachers — mainly of regional language departments sporting a visible saffron tilak on the forehead, began to treat others who operate outside that cultural norm as inferior.

A walking goddess

With the increase of women teachers in schools, colleges and universities Saraswathi was made almost a walking goddess in the nation. Buddha, Jesus, Mohammed, Guru Nanak whose life though revolved around education to all humans never appeared on the nationalist map of education.

While the majority OBCs, some dalits and tribals began to worship Saraswathi in regional educational centres — of course on the real pooja day the priest talked to her only in Sankrit, in spite of the fact, that under her sharp and well decorated nose that language died to a point no return, except that soliloquous priest nobody understands the slokas, she has become goddess of all Indian languages.

While the historical backwards were enjoying their new status of proximity to mythical Saraswathi, the living Saraswathi in the company of her cousin Laxmi shifted her real operative base to the other world, called colonial English world. The backward class people of India, as of now, have no entry so far.

The recent decision of the Central government to introduce English teaching from class one in all government schools will enable all the lower castes of India are going to enter into a new phase of English education. Though this method of English teaching does not take the dalit-bahujan and minority community children to the level of convent educated upper castes, it makes a new beginning of dreaming for egalitarian education in future.

English education is the key for adopting the modernist approach suitable to the globalised India. The upper castes have handled the contradiction between English and their native culture quite carefully. But when it comes to teaching English to the lower castes they have been proposing a theory that English will destroy the ‘culture of the soil’. Having realised the importance of English the Central government has taken a right decision.

However, the next stage should be moving towards total abolition of the gap between the private English medium schools and the government schools in terms of both infrastructure and teaching methods. Even about the language both the public and private schools must be brought under two language formula of teaching 50 per cent syllabus in English and the other half of the syllabus in the regional language across the country.

(The writer is D.Director, CSSEIP,  Maulana Azad National University, Hyderabad)

http://www.deccanherald.com/content/137777/dalits-english.html


RAJA OF CORRUPTION-Hurting the dalit cause : Prof. Kancha Ilaiah

24/12/2010

 

By Kancha Ilaiah
Our democracy is not only fragile but corrupt. But that does not absolve any dalit leader indulging in a massive corrupt practice.
The Indian nation is reeling under corruption of all varieties — financial, moral and ethical. Unfortunately former minister Raja’s corrupt contracting of the communication networks called 2G spectrum scam has not only shaken the UPA government but affected the moral credibility of DMK politics and more so that of the dalit ideology.

Raja is not only a dalit but has grown up in the Dravidian ideological framework. Why did he pursue politics of this level of corruption? Did he do it at the instance of the DMK leadership or on his own? I cannot imagine that a politician of his age and background could do it without the knowledge of the top DMK leadership.

The DMK has its origins in the socio-political culture of Periyar Ramasami Naikar’s movement. The DMK has moved far away from it. We have been haunted by the corrupt image of Lalu Prasad and Mayawati for quite some time now. The scope to justify their deeds as individual aberrations tainted our ideological vision also. Of course, we cannot write off such corrupt practices of the dalit-bahujan leaders as some historical inheritance of the same brahminic practice as the practice sustains outside the realm of ‘sramanic’ practices.

Gautham Buddha gave us a moral code that one’s own property should be an external image of one’s labour power that must get invested into it in varied forms. He was not totally opposed to private property but opposed to private property accumulated by exploiting the labour power of others.

Periyar, Mahatma Jotirao Phule and Ambedkar inherited the moral ethics of Buddha. DMK and Bahujan Samaj Party are the political expression of these great leaders of depressed classes. When these parties are heading the state institutions what ethical, moral and financial policies should they follow?

Marx also believed in a similar theory that the private property of a person should not go far beyond one’s own family labour power. Any property accumulated in any other form outside the realm of labour power of one’s own family is nothing but exploitation. The kind of political corruption that Raja or Kalmadi or Ashok Chauhan or Yeddyurappa got involved in amounts to plundering of the national resource that got generated with the investment of mass labour power of the nation into it.

If it were to be China or any other western democratic system, such political leaders either would have been hanged or they would have been jailed for their entire lifetime. In a country like the USA the jail term may be 120 years or 140 years whereby whatever could be the life span of that particular individual, he/she cannot come out of the jail till he/she dies. The Indian laws of punishment do not follow such a course. Life sentence at best means one would be in jail for 14 years.

Double punishment

The culture of punishing less for major crimes of corruption of the magnitude that we witness today has been inherited from the historical culture of ignoring or giving marginal punishments for such practices. Should not that legal trend change now? As Kanshi Ram used to say that if upper castes with proven history of corruption indulge in corruption they should be punished severely and when the state is being run by the representatives of the poor and oppressed they should be punished more because they were supposed to help the poor more. Raja, if proven guilty deserves double punishment because his moral duty was to work for the welfare of the poor more than the others. Obviously this he did not do so.

Of course, the present market economy seems to force every section to get into the network of corrupt accumulation of private capital. The culture of massive corrupt accumulation of family wealth seems to have become a normal mode of political life of politicians. May be this is part of third world democracy.

Our democracy itself is not only fragile but corrupt at the very base of it. But that does not absolve such massive corrupt practice of a dalit leader who emerged out of the political formation of the kind that DMK is.

B R Ambedkar thought that the Indian corruption is imposed by the brahminic intelligentsia, as they lived off the ‘dakshina’ economy. Those politicians who have come from the productive communities have acquired an ideological education that more you earn more respect and stature you acquire irrespective of the means you adopt for acquiring the wealth.

If Ambedkar and Jagjivan Ram, having come from the dalit-bahujan background provided one kind of example, Raja, having come from the same dalit background and having grown from the ranks of Periyarite party seems to set another example.

Culturally we have lost a moral ground that Buddha, Phule, Ambedkar and Periyar handed down to us. The political formations that emerged out of their ideology and practice must reset on a course of fresh debate about the political and social morality they set in motion. If these political parties along with communists also do not observe the cultural ethics of non-corruptibility where will the nation go?

http://www.deccanherald.com/content/121501/hurting-dalit-cause.html