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Gandhi and Brahmins

" Do you think you will gain anything by becoming non-Hindus, he told them, do not think you will gain anything by abusing, Brahmins or burning their homes. “Who were Tilak, Gokhale, Ranade and Agarkar?” he asked them. They were Brahmins, they were in the forefront of every nationalist struggle, they served the cause of non-Brahmins at the greatest cost to themselves, it is in many cases through the work of Brahmins that the non-Brahmins have been made aware of their rights, he told them.  It is the Brahmins who exert for the uplift of the depressed classes, more than anybody else. Lokmanya Tilak is revered by all classes for his services to the country. The late Mr. Gokhale, Mr. Ranade and the Hon’ble Mr. Sastri have all done splendid work for the regeneration of the backward classes. You complain of the Brahmin bureaucracy. But let us compare it with the British bureaucracy. The latter follow the ‘divide and rule policy’ and maintains its authority by the power of the sword, whereas, the Brahmins have never restored to the force of arms and they have established their superiority by sheer force of their intellect, self-sacrifice, and penance. I appeal to my non-Brahmins brethren not to hate the Brahmin and not to be victims of the snares of the bureaucracy…”

(source: The Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi vol. 20 p. 144). Watch video - Brahmins in India have become a minority

“By indulging in violent contempt of a community which has produced men like Ramdas, Tulsidas, Ranade, Tilak and others,” he told the non-Brahmins, “it is impossible that you can rise.” By looking to the British for help you will sink deeper into slavery. "

(source: The Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi volume 448-49). 

“I have not a shadow of doubts,” he declared, “that Hinduism owes its all to the great traditions that the Brahmins have left for Hinduism. They have left a legacy for India, for which every nation, no matter to what varna he may belong owes a deep gratitude. Having studied the history of almost every religion in the world it is my settled conviction that there is no class in the world that has accepted poverty and self-effacement as its lot. " 

(source: The Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi volume 19 p. 546).

Contrast Gandhiji’s counsel with the fulminations of our Communists and our Columnist and their Western counterparts.  


Poverty and Brahmins in India

Poverty knows no caste. Many Brahmins eke out a living cleaning toilets, pulling rickshaws.

Not all Brahmins are successful technocrats or bureaucrats. Across the country the poor among the upper-most Hindu caste have to eke out a miserable existence like the rest of humanity's economically deprived.

Forty of Sulabh's toilet cleaners are Brahmins, most of them from Bihar . Says Kashinath Jha, a maintenance engineer at Sulabh: "This is largely because of the abject poverty in Bihar ." The Brahmin sanitation staff are from what is believed to be a large Brahmin migrant labour population in Delhi consisting of rickshaw-pullers, coolies and vegetable vendors.

Kamlesh Chaudhary, one of the Brahmin sanitation workers at Sulabh's toilet complex inside Azadpur vegetable market in Delhi , says: "Our income from farming is meagre as the region where we come from is prone to floods and drought. Most people like us leave in search of jobs and come to the cities." Jha left home in Samastipur and joined Sulabh six years ago after he heard of it from one of his relatives, another Brahmin, who also works for the NGO. Kamlesh and others like him earn Rs 2,500 per month. Since they are provided food and lodging, they save enough money to send back home. This, they say, is more than what they can earn working as casual labourers.

Ramesh Jha, a Brahmin from Darbhanga in Bihar , is also an employee at Sulabh. He came to Delhi seven years ago but had to struggle. "I worked at a factory in Wazirpur for two months. I was paid Rs 1,200 a month and I found it very difficult to survive." Ramesh then switched to Sulabh after a chance meeting with one of its employees and is currently employed at the second toilet complex inside the Azadpur mandi. Doesn't the nature of his work upset him? "I have never had second thoughts about working at Sulabh. Why should I? I am not stealing or committing any crime. I have to earn my living and I am doing that here with my hard work," he says.

Not just in Delhi . In Benares, Mumbai, Chennai and Jammu the plight of the poor Brahmin is the same. Poverty obviously knows no caste.

(source: For Work Is Worship - By Anuradha Raman & Debarshi Dasgupta Outlook  June 4, 2007). Watch video - Brahmins in India have become a minority  

Debunkcing the Myth: Dalits and Indigenous System of Educaiton

Dharampal's book (The Beautiful Tree) has effectively debunked the myth that Dalits had no place in the indigenous system of education. Sir Thomas Munro, Governor of Madras, ordered a mammoth survey in June 1822, whereby the district collectors furnished the caste-wise division of students in four categories, viz., Brahmins, Vysyas (Vaishyas), Shoodras (Shudras) and other castes (broadly the modern scheduled castes). While the percentages of the different castes varied in each district, the results were revealing to the extent that they showed an impressive presence of the so-called lower castes in the school system.

Thus, in Vizagapatam, Brahmins and Vaishyas together accounted for 47% of the students, Shudras comprised 21% and the other castes (scheduled) were 20%; the remaining 12% were Muslims. In Tinnevelly, Brahmins were 21.8% of the total number of students, Shudras were 31.2% and other castes 38.4% (by no means a low figure). In South Arcot, Shudras and other castes together comprised more than 84% of the students!

In the realm of higher education as well, there were regional variations. Brahmins appear to have dominated in the Andhra and Tamil Nadu regions, but in the Malabar area, theology and law were Brahmin preserves, but astronomy and medicine were dominated by Shudras and other castes. Thus, of a total of 808 students in astronomy, only 78 were Brahmins, while 195 were Shudras and 510 belonged to the other castes (scheduled). In medicine, out of a total of 194 students, only 31 were Brahmins, 59 were Shudras and 100 belonged to the other castes. Even subjects like metaphysics and ethics that we generally associate with Brahmin supremacy, were dominated by the other castes (62) as opposed to merely 56 Brahmin students. It bears mentioning that this higher education was in the form of private tuition (or education at home), and to that extent also reflects the near equal economic power of the concerned groups.

As a concerned reader informed me, the ‘Survey of Indigenous Education in the Province of Bombay (1820-1830)’ showed that Brahmins were only 30% of the total students there. What is more, when William Adam surveyed Bengal and Bihar, he found that Brahmins and Kayasthas together comprised less than 40% of the total students, and that forty castes like Tanti, Teli, Napit, Sadgop, Tamli etc. were well represented in the student body. The Adam report mentions that in Burdwan district, while native schools had 674 students from the lowest thirty castes, the 13 missionary schools in the district together had only 86 students from those castes. Coming to teachers, Kayasthas triumphed with about 50% of the jobs and there were only six Chandal teachers; but Rajputs, Kshatriyas and Chattris (Khatris) together had only five teachers.

Even Dalit intellectuals have questioned what the British meant when they spoke of ‘education’ and ‘learning’. Dr. D.R. Nagaraj, a leading Dalit leader of Karnataka, wrote that it was the British, particularly Lord Wellesley, who declared the Vedantic Hinduism of the Brahmins of Benares and Navadweep as “the standard Hinduism,” because they realized that the vitality of the Hindu dharma of the lower castes was a threat to the empire. Fort William College, founded by Wellesley in 1800, played a major role in investing Vedantic learning with a prominence it probably hadn't had for centuries. In the process, the cultural heritage of the lower castes was successfully marginalized, and this remains an enduring legacy of colonialism. Examining Dharampal's “Indian science and technology in the eighteenth century,” Nagaraj observed that most of the native skills and technologies that perished as a result of British policies were those of the Dalit and artisan castes. This effectively debunks the fiction of Hindu-hating secularists that the so-called lower castes made no contribution to India's cultural heritage and needed deliverance from wily Brahmins.

Indeed, given the desperate manner in which the British vilified the Brahmin, it is worth examining what so annoyed them. As early as 1871-72, Sir John Campbell objected to Brahmins facilitating upward mobility: “…the Brahmans are always ready to receive all who will submit to them… The process of manufacturing Rajputs from ambitious aborigines (tribals) goes on before our eyes.”

Sir Alfred Lyall (1796 - 1865) was unhappy and he wrote:

“…more persons in India become every year Brahmanists than all the converts to all the other religions in India put together... these teachers address themselves to every one without distinction of caste or of creed; they preach to low-caste men and to the aboriginal tribes… in fact, they succeed largely in those ranks of the population which would lean towards Christianity and Mohammedanism if they were not drawn into Brahmanism…”

So much for the British public denunciation of the exclusion practiced by Brahmins!

(source: The Brahmin and the Hindu - By Sandhya Jain - - December 14 2004). 
Refer to Take a look at Slavery -

Also refer to Education in Pre-British India - Pankaj Goyal. 

Role of Brahmins in Hindu society

Brahminism has been reviled - indeed, to do so in recent years has assumed the nature of a fad with large sections of the cosmopolitan intelligentsia - as exploitative and something degenerate and regressive. But take Brahminism away from Hindu society and you are left with a body without its soul.

Ever since it came into existence, the institution of Shankaracharya has functioned as the confluence between grihastha and sanyasa ashramas. An incredibly subtle, invisible tapestry has been woven into Hindu social fabric as a result. As vitraagis, a class of people beyond raag (attachment) - who have upheld virtues like satya (truth), ahimsa (non-violence), asteya (above stealing), aparigraha (renunciation), and brahmacharya (devotion to other ethical principles) - Brahmins have for aeons been considered ideals worth emulating in Hindu society. 

They have been the fulcrum of Hindu social order and upholders of heritage, and this is what makes India a continuous civilisation. Brahmins have epitomised the Swami-Sanyasi tradition that has periodically cleansed and purged Hindu society of its ills and exploitative elements, and though there have been occasions in the past when their authority has been sought to be undermined, by kings and commoners alike, the institution has not just survived but emerged more robust than before.

(source: Crisis before Brahminism - By Gautam Siddharth - - December 5' 2004). Refer to The Myth of Saint Thomas and the Mylapore Shiva Temple

Hindu organization condemns discrimination against Dalit student

A Hindu organisation in the US has condemned reported discrimination against a Dalit student who was allegedly victimised for offering prayers in a Hindu temple in India's Andhra Pradesh state.

Navya Shastra, which professes spiritual equality of all Hindus, has also promised financial assistance to Tukaram, 19, to meet his educational costs.

The boy scored a first class in his intermediate examinations and visited the village temple of Hanuman to make the traditional coconut offering in Allapur, Andhra Pradesh. When members of the upper caste community discovered this they condemned the boy and extorted Rs.500 fine from his apologetic father, Tulsiram. They also purified the temple by washing it with cow urine and dung so as to efface the imprints of an "untouchable," according to Vikram Masson, co-chairman of the organisation. Such community-based discrimination continues in India despite a constitutional ban and strict legal safeguards against community discrimination. 

"Tukaram must know that others in the Hindu world strongly condemn such actions," said Jaishree Gopal, the other co-chairman of the organisation.

"Navya Shastra will award Tukaram a scholarship to help his family with Tukaram's educational costs and sincerely hopes that the Indian government and religious leaders will pay more attention to the apartheid in our midst," said Gopal.

(source:  Hindu organization condemns discrimination against Dalit student - and Hindu body condemns discrimination against Dalit teenager -

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