R.N.Tagore on Gandhi

 

Rabindranath goes further to say, we resolve that: An appeal to my countryman

 

  1. We shall not look down upon any person as inferior to us in status because of his caste, or the community to which he may belong.
  2. All public temples, places of worship, schools, and social gatherings water tanks etc. will be made accessible to all irrespective of caste and creed. Untouchability in all its forms shall be discarded; we shall be constantly engaged in trying to remove this evil from our neighbourhood and from all places wherever we may find ourselves.
  3. We shall tolerate nothing in our society which wounds the feeling of others.

 

In one lecture Dr.B.R.Ambedkar remarked that English was the richest of all languages and said: “I do not believe any other language in India including Hindi can be used instead of English in schools and colleges.” He also said Hindi lacked “Literature and depth,” both of which the English Language possessed.

 

  1. Practically speaking is a class structure there is, on the one hand, tyranny, vanity, pride, arrogance, greed, selfishness and on the other, insecurity, poverty, degradation, loss of liberty, self-reliance, independence, dignity and self-respect. Democratic society cannot be indifferent to such consequences.
  2. Gandhism is not democracy because its support Caste and Varna. He said “There is no harm if a person belonging to one varna acquires the knowledge or science and art specialized in by persons belonging to other varnas. But as far as the way of earning his living is concerned he must follow the occupation of the varna to which he belongs which means he must follow the hereditary profession of his forefathers.”
  3. That the Hindu Society has been able to stand while others have died out or disappeared hardly a matter for congratulation. If it has survived it is not because of caste but because the foreigner who conquered the Hindus did not find it necessary to kill them wholesale. There is no honour in mere survival. What matters is the plane of survival. One can survive by un-conditional surrender. One can survive by beating a cowardly retreat and one can survive by fighting. On what plane have the Hindus survived? If they can be said to have survived after fighting and beating their enemies the virtue ascribed to the caste system by Mr.Gandhi could be admitted. The history of the Hindus has been one of surrender-abject surrender. It is true other have surrendered to their invaders. But in their case surrender is followed by a revolt against the foreign ruler. The Hindus have not one never withstood the onslaught of the foreign invader; they have never even shown the capacity to organize a rebellion to throw off the foreign yoke. On the other hand the Hindus have tried to make slavery comfortable. On this one way well argue the contrary namely that this helpless condition of the Hindus is due entirely to the caste system.
  4. Gandhi knows that not a single caste in his own Province of Gujarat has ever raised a military unit. It did not do it in the present World War. But it did not do so even in the last World War, when Mr. Gandhi toured through Gujrat as a recruiting agent of British Imperialism.
  5. The Caste system has been defended by others. But this is the first time I have seen such an extraordinary if not a shocking argument used to support it. Even the orthodox may say, “Save us from Mr.Gandhi.” It shows what a deep dyed Hindu Mr.Gandhi is. He has outdone the most orthodox of orthodox Hindu. It is not enough to say that it is an argument of a cave man. It is really an argument of a mad man.
  6. For Hinduism places no restrain upon man marrying hundred women and keeping hundred prostitutes with the ambit of his caste. Nor does it stop him from indulging in his appetite with his caste men to any degree.
  7. Who can say that compulsory system has worked better than the voluntary system?
  8. Gandhi told “I have come to fulfill the law of Caste.”
  9. The religion, to which they are tied, instead of providing for them an honorable place, brands them as lepers, not fit for ordinary inter course. Economically, it is a class entirely dependent upon the high Caste Hindus for earning its daily bread with no independent way of living open to it. Nor are all ways closed by reason of the social prejudices of the Hindus but there is a definite attempt all throughout the Hindu society to bolt every possible door so as not to allow the Depressed Classes any opportunity to rise in the scale of life. Indeed it would not be an exaggeration to say that in every village the Caste Hindus, however divided among themselves, are always in a standing conspiracy to put down in a merciless manner any attempt on the part of the Depressed Classes who form a small and scattered body of an ordinary Indian citizen.
  10. In these circumstances it would be granted by all fair minded persons that as the only path for a community so handicapped to succeed in the struggle for life against organized tyranny, some the share of political power in order that it may protect itself is a paramount necessity.
  11. Mahatma’s has come and Mahatma has gone. But the Untouchable have remained as Untouchables.

This may be the one of the reason that Mr.Jinha was determined to get a separate state for his community to save his community from organized tyranny.  As he may be thought that a man called mahatma is so much of inclined to his caste man to ignore the welfare of their own co-religionist namely Depressed Classes. How they will treat in future united India if that was so? This was not understood by Mr.Gandhi that opposition to the welfare of depressed class can side effect and bonfire in the mind of other Minority community in India.

  1. Untouchable’s as a separate element.
  2. How do the proposals deal with the Depressed Classes? To put it shortly, they are bound hand and foot and handed over to the Caste Hindus. They offer them nothing; stone instead of bread.
  3. The Caste Hindus having virtually the right to nominate the representatives of the Depressed Classes to the Constituent Assembly. Such representatives of the Depressed Classes will be the tools of the Caste Hindus.
  4. The Roman had their Slaves, the Spartans their Helots, the British their Villains, the Americans their Negroes and the Germans their Jews. So the Hindus have their Untouchables.
  5. Untouchability will last as long as Hinduism will last.
  6. British occupied power now Congress occupies.
  7. There is a homely saying that man’s Skin sits closer to him than his shirt.
  8. India is admittedly a land of villages and so long as the village system provides an easy method of marking out and identifying the Untouchable, the Untouchable has no escape from Untouchbility. It is the village system which perpetuates untouchability and the Untouchables therefore demand that it should be broken and the Untouchables who are as a matter of fact socially separate should be made separate geographically and territorially also and be grouped in to separate villages exclusively of Untouchable in which the distinction of the high and the low and of Touchable and Untouchabe will find no place.
  9. The class system is true produces groups. But they are not akin to Caste group. The groups of the Class system are only non- social while the Castes in the Caste system are in their mutual relation definitely and positively anti-socia If this analysis is true then there can be no denying the fact that the social structure of Hindu Society is different and consequently its political structure must be different.
  10. There are people who admit this but argue that Caste can be abolished from Hindu society. I deny that. Those who advocate such a view think that caste is an institution like a club or a Municipality or a County Council. This is a gross error. Caste is Religion, and religion is anything but institution. It may be institutionalized but it is not the same as the institution in which it is embedded. Religion is an influence or force suffused through the life of each individual molding his character determined his actions and reactions, his likes and dislikes.
  11. How could the Untouchables be legitimately asked to leave their interest in the hands of a people who as a matter of fact are opposed to them in their motives and interests, who; do not sympathies with the living forces operating among the Untouchables, who are themselves not charged with their wants craving and desires, who are inimical to their aspirations, who in all certainly will deny justice to them and to discriminate against them and who by reason of the sanction of their religion have not been and will not be ashamed to practice against the Untouchables any kind of inhumanity. The only safety against such people is to have the political rights which the Untouchables claim as safeguards against the tyranny of the Hindu Majority defined in the Constitution. Are the Untouchables extravagant in demanding this safety?
  12. The Hindus have been opposing the political demands of the Untouchables with the tenacity of a bulldog and perversity of a renegade. The Press is theirs and they make a systematic attempt to ignore the Untouchables. When they fail to ignore them they buy their leaders; and where they find a leader not open to purchase they systematically abuse him, misrepresent him, blackmail him, and do everything possible that lies in their power to suppress him and silence him: Any such leader who is determined to fight for the cause of the Untouchables he and his followers are condemned as anti-National.. In the opinion of the Hindus the Untouchables have no right to ask for any rights.
  13. The Hindus have an innate and inveterate conservatism and they have a religion which is incompatible with liberty, equality and fraternity i.e. with democracy. Inequality, no doubt, exists, everywhere in the world. It is largely to conditions and circumstances. But it never has had the supports of religion.
  14. Harijan Sevak Sangh is one of the many techniques which have enabled Gandhi to be a successful humbug.
  15. What do these children of the leisured class Hindus have to redress the wrongs their forefathers have done to the Untouchables? You can get thousands of Hindu youths of join political propaganda but you cannot get one single youth to take up the cause of breaking the caste system or of removing Untouchability. Democracy and democratic life, justice and conscience which are sustained by a belief in democratic principle are foreign to the Hindu mind.
  16. The Congressmen will not admit the patriotic motives of the Untouchables in keeping silent over Congress propaganda which is directed against them. The fact, however, remains that the silence and the desire to avoid open challenge on the part of the Untouchables have been materially responsible for the general belief that the Congress represents all, even the Untouchables.
  17. Beware of parliamentary democracy it is not the best products as it’s appears to be.
  18. The second wrong ideology which has vitiated parliamentary democracy is the failure to realize that political democracy cannot succeed where there is no social and economic democracy. Some may question this proposition. To those who are disposed to question it, I will ask a counter-question. Why did parliamentary democracy collapse so easily in Italy, Germany and Russia? Why did it not collapse so easily in “England and the U.S.A.? To my mind there is only one answer. It is that there was a greater degree of economic and social democracy in the latter countries than existed in the former. Social and economic democracy is the tissues and the fiber of a political democracy. The tougher the tissue and the fiber, the greater the strength of the body. Democracy is another name for equality. Parliamentary democracy developed a passion for liberty. It never made even a nodding acquaintance with equality. It failed to realize the significance of equality and did not even endeavor to strike a balance between liberty and equality with the result that liberty swallowed equality and had made democracy a name and a farce.
  19. The intellectual class in every community is charged by its moral code with one sacred duty, namely, to safeguard the interest of the community and not to sacrifice it to the interest of thereon class. No intellectual class has so grossly violated this trust as have the Brahmins in India.
  20. The Governing class in India consists principally of the Brahmins.
  21. In Malabar, where the Sambandham form of marriage prevails, the servile classes, such as the Nairs, regard it an honour to have their females kept as mistresses by the Brahmins. Even kings invited Brahmins to deflower their queens on prima noctis.
  22. In 1918, when the non-Brahmins and the Backward classes had started an agitation for separate representation in the legislature, Mr.Tilak in a public meeting held in Sholapur said that he did not understand why the oil pressers tobacco shopkeepers, washer men, etc, that was his description of the Non-Brahmins and the Backwards classes-should want to go into the legislature. In his opinion, their business was to obey the laws and not to aspire for power to make laws.
  23. In 1942 Lord Linlithgow invited 52 important Indian representatives among those that were invited were members belonging to the Scheduled Castes. Vallabhai Patel could not bear the idea that the Viceroy should have invited such a crowd of mean men.
  24. Brahmin scholar is only a learned man. He is not an intellectual. There is a world of difference between one who is learned and one who is an intellectual. The former is class-conscious and is alive to the interests of his class. The latter is an emancipated being who is free to act without being swayed by class considerations. It is because the Brahmins have been only learned men that they have not produced a Voltaire. A person cannot be called secular if he,  when his father’s dies, performs the religious ceremonies prescribed by a orthodox Hinduism at the hands of Brahmin priests on the banks of the river Ganges as Pandit Jawaharlal did when his father died in 1931.
  25. The cardinal principles of this philosophy of the Brahmins were six-to use a correct expression, techniques of suppression-

(1) graded inequality between the different classes;

(2) complete disarmament of the Shudras and the Untouchables;

(3) complete ban on education of the Shudras and the Untouchables;

(4) Total exclusion of the Shudras and the Untouchables from place of power and authority;

(5) Complete subjugation and suppression of women.

 

Inequality is the official doctrine of Brahmanism and the suppression of the lower classes aspiring to equality has been looked upon by them and carried out by them, without remorse as their bounden duty. For if efficiency was made the only criterion there would be nothing wrong in Employing Englishmen, Frenchmen, Germans and Turks instead of the Brahmins of India.

 

  1. The Congress politicians complain that the British are ruling India by a wholesale disarmament of the people of India. But they forget that disarmament of the Shudras and the Untouchables was the rule of law promulgated by the Brahmins.
  2. In India widows were burnt alive as suttee and the Brahmin gave his fullest support to the practice. Widows were not allowed to remarry. The Brahmin upheld the doctrine. Girls were required to be married before 8 and the husbands were permitted to claim the right to consummate the marriage at any time thereafter whether she had reached puberty or not. The Brahmin defended the system. The record of the Brahmins as law givers for the Shudras, for the Untouchables and for women is the blackest as compared with the record of the intellectual classes in other parts of the world. For no intellectual class has prostitute its intelligence for the sole purpose of inventing a philosophy to keep his uneducated countrymen in a perpetual state of servility, ignorance and poverty as the Brahmins have done in In
  3. Every Brahmlin to-day believes in this philosophy of Brahminism propounded by his forefathers. He is an alien element in the Hindu society. The Brahmin ‘vis-s-vis’ the Shudras and the Untouchables is as foreign as the German is to French, as the Jew is to the Gentile or as the White is to the Negro. There is real gulf between him and the lower classes of Shudras and Untouchables. He is not only alien to them but he is also hostile to them. In relation with them, there is in him no room for conscience and no call for justice.
  4. Mere efficiency can never be accepted as a test. If it was accepted as attest. If it was accepted as the only test the result would be that the affairs of the French might well be run by the Germans, of Turks by the Russians and of Chinese by the Japanese. Those who hold out the theory of naked efficiency and nothing but efficiency as the test of good Government should ask the French, the Turks and the Chinese as to what they have to say about it and how they like the result which follows from its application.
  5. If the governing class in India stands on the principle of efficiency and efficiency alone it is because it is actuated by the selfish motive of monopolizing the instrumentalities of Government.
  6. A bar divides but does not link, a hyphen does both. It divides but it also links. India the governing classes and the servile classes are divided by a bar.
  7. The demand for reservation pointed by Dicey advocated by Marx and adopted by Russia.
  8. If it will have safeguards it will be possible for the servile classes to liquidate the governing classes in course of time.
  9. Do they not know that this governing class in India is not a part of the Indian people, is not only completely isolated from them, but believes in isolating itself, lest it should be contaminated by them, has implanted in its mind by reason of the Brahmanic philosophy, motives and interests which are hostile to those who are outside its fold and therefore does not sympathies with the living forces operating in the servile masses whom it has trodden down, is not charged with their wants, their pains, their cravings, their desires, is inimical to their aspirations, does not favour any advance in their education promotion to high office and disfavours every movement calculated to raise their dignity and their self-respect? Do they not know that in the Swaraj of India is involved the fate of 60 million of Untouchables?
  10. The party in India who fighting for political democracy is the party of the Untouchables who fear that this Congress fight for liberty, if it succeeds, will mean liberty to the strong and the powerful to suppress the weak and the down-trodden unless they are protected by constitutional safeguards.
  11. The Untouchables have no press. The Congress Press is closed to them and is determined not to give them the slightest publicity. They cannot have their own press and for obvious reasons. No paper can survive without advertisement revenue.
  12. The foreign correspondents who are foreigners fall into two groups. If they are Americans they are just Anti-British and for that reason pro-Congress. Any political party in India which is not madly anti-British does not interest them.
  13. It is a pity that they do not seem to distinguish the case of a tyrant who is held down and who pleads for liberty because he wants to regain his right to oppress and the case of an oppressed class seeking to be free from the oppression of the tyrant.
  14. In other words all the social evils are based on religion. A Hindu man or woman, whatever he does, he does as a religious observance. A Hindu eats religiously, drinks religiously, bathes religiously, dresses religiously, is born religiously, is married religiously and is burned religiously. His acts are all pious acts. However evil they may be form a secular point of view, to his, they are not sinful because they are sanctioned and enjoined by his religion. If anyone accuses a Hindu of Sin, his reply is, “If I sin, I am sinning religiously”.
  15. Indeed it is most extraordinary thing to note that although Legislative Bodies were established in India in 1861 and have been passing laws on every social questions and discussing public questions, yet except on two occasions the Untouchables were not even mentioned. The first occasion on which they were mentioned was in 1916, when one Parsi gentlemen Sir Maneckji Dadabhoy moved the following Resolution in the Central Legislature:

“That this Council recommends to the Governor General in Council that measures be devised with the help, if necessary, of a small representative committee of officials and non-officials for an amelioration in the moral, material and educational condition of what are known as the Depressed Classes, and that, as a preliminary step the Local Government and Administrations be invited to formulate schemes with due regard to local conditions”.

There was no sympathy to this resolution. The Hindu members of the Legislature were angry with mover for his having brought such a subject before the Legislature. Including Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya and Sir Surendra Nath Banerjee.

The second time the Untouchables are mentioned in the proceedings of the Legislature was in 1928 when Mr.M.R.Jayakar moved the following Resolution:

‘This Assembly recommends to the Governor General in Council to issue directions to all Local governments to provide special facilities for the education of the Untouchables and other depressed classes, and also for opening all public services to them, specially the Police.”

Mr.G.S.Bajpai, speaking on behalf of the Government of India said:

“The Local Governments are alive to their responsibility; they are doing what they can. It is not my privilege to claim for them that they have achieved the ideal, but I do claim that there is an awakening and an awakened and roused sense of responsibility and a roused sense of endeavour for improving the position of these depressed classes. That being so, It is no function to interfere by direction or by demand. They (i.e. Government) can, if the House wishes, communicate to them the views of the House on this very national problem.”

Such is the record of the British Government in the matter of social Reform. What a miserable record it is? Some of the regulations in acted to remove the disability of India’s social reform.

Bengal Regulation xxi of 1795, against Brahmins to prohibit to kill women and children.

Regulation xvii of 1829, preventing killing widows.

Regulation xxi of 1850, The caste disabilities removal act.

Regulation xv of 1856, Hindu widows remarriage act.

In Maharashtra an Untouchable was required to wear a black thread either in his neck or on his wrist for the purpose of ready identification.

In Gujarat the Untouchables were compelled to wear a horn as their distinguishing mark.

In the Punjab a sweeper was required while walking through streets in towns to carry a broom in his hand or under his armpit as a mark of his being a scavenger.

In Malabar the Untouchables were not allowed to build houses above one story in height and not allowed to cremate their dead.

In Malabar the Untouchables were not permitted to carry umbrellas, to wear shoes or golden ornaments, to mild cows or even to use the ordinary language of the country.

In South India Untouchables were expressly forbidden to cover the upper part of their body above the waist and in the case of women of the Untouchables they were compelled to go with the upper part of their bodies quite bare.

In the Bombay Presidency so high a caste as that of Sonars (Goldsmiths) was forbidden to wear their Dhotis with folds and prohibited to use Namaskar as the word of salutation.

Under the Maratha rule anyone other than a Brahmin uttering a Veda Mantra was liable to have his tongue cut off and as a matter of fact the tongues of several Sonars were actually cut off by the order of the Peshwa for their daring to utter the Vedas contrary to law.

In Bombay the Untouchables were not permitted to wear clean or untorn clothes. In fact the shopkeepers took the precaution to see that before cloth was sold to the Untouchable it was torn and soiled.

It is impossible to believe that Hindus will ever be able to absorb the Untouchables in their society. Their Caste System and the Religion completely negative any hope being entertained in this behalf.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Dr.B.R.Ambedkars writings, Vol-9

Dr.B.R.Ambedkars writings (Vol-12)

 

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