Caste guilt

This is the age of the start-up, not megaliths. Remember T-Rex did not survive evolution. It is unlikely that religions organised like T-Rexes – most of the Abrahamic religions fit this description – will survive an era of fast change.

The T-Rex did evolve in the first place because the evolutionary pathway existed for it to, and what it didn’t survive wasn’t evolution but a meteorite strike. What is only true is that T-Rex-like creatures couldn’t re-emerge after the strike because the evolution of other creatures had moved on and because the world had changed.

The quote above is from a piece on the supposed guilt Hindus have because their spiritual ancestors were the progenitors of casteism in India, by R. Jagannathan in Swarajya. Excerpt:

Put simply, just as it is foolish to blame Africans for giving us AIDS, it is pointless blaming Hinduism for caste, even though this is where it may have originated. Where caste originated should not be a source of perpetual guilt for Hindus. It is now everybody’s problem, not Hinduism’s alone.

I’m not sure if Hindus are blamed because their forefathers did something or because Hindus continue to perpetuate their beliefs, disenfranchise the weaker sections of society and, increasingly today, subject them to majoritarian justice. If anything, I regret that my Hindu forefathers did what they did but I’m certainly neither ashamed nor guilty because of it.

Jagannathan also writes that, like the deras have done to Sikhism, Hinduism should loosen up and allow individual caste groups to function by themselves because this could only benefit the religion.

Hindus are comfortable with caste, and those who want to remain in it should be free to do so. It does not matter if castes become separate religions, retaining only a loose link with Hinduism; it does not matter if groups that are currently identified with Hinduism want to break away, and seek minority, non-Hindu status, as some groups within the Lingayats want to do. If the Ramakrishna Mission wants to be treated as a non-Hindu denomination, why not allow it to do so? It will not actually become less Hindu because of this nomenclature change. In fact, it could become more innovative and grow faster.

From what I’ve understood, one of the biggest ways in which casteism is evil is that it ‘locks in’ its adherents into certain social classes that individuals inherit from generation to generation, and can’t escape easily from. So the only Hindus who “want to remain” within the folds of casteism and who would “be free to do so” are the upper-caste Hindus. This is why the Dera Sacha Sauda flowered – because, to paraphrase Jagannathan, it offered a “casteless” form of Sikhism to Dalits, a ladder to use to climb through social and power structures, increasingly dominated by the upper-caste Jats and Khatris.

In all, the piece is very interesting because of its novel use of metaphors – borrowed from adaptive systems like evolution and capitalism and applied to regressive systems like caste – and because at its heart it seems okay with there being a caste system, just not in the form it’s prevalent at the moment. That’s just wishful thinking because, to those suppressed by their bond with the caste system, being able to live under a more liberal and progressive form of the practice (if such a thing is possible) would be nigh indistinguishable from being liberated altogether.