Why I Am Not a Hindu 2nd UK ed. Edition
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- Item Weight : 8 ounces
- Paperback : 164 pages
- ISBN-10 : 9788185604824
- ISBN-13 : 978-8185604824
- Product Dimensions : 8.46 x 0.39 x 5.51 inches
- Publisher : Samya; 2nd UK ed. Edition (January 1, 2005)
- Language: : English
- ASIN : 8185604827
- Best Sellers Rank: #2,564,448 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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in that sense it can be argued, aside from the christians in south india which are the oldest christian group outside of palestine, their religion does not have any right in india as it is one that has led to much pain and anguish historically.
that said, I found this book by Illaiah very interesting. It is true, that for 2000 years the Brahmins did have much power in india. and it is reflected in the ethnic so called caste of many post colonial thinkers and intellectuals. they were a favored class when the british took over. particularly, even swami vivekananda said that the kingdom of travancore had the most disgusting practices in ethnic treatments referring to the namboodoris who have done much discredit to the brahmins as so called caste in their treatment of the people in the malabar coast. their archtype patrichiaral ways and presupposed superiority racially definitely left a lingering effect in Kerala- Vivekananda pointed this out in the high rate of converts to Islam and Christianity in South india. So therefore, there is much legitimacy in what this author is saying. Particular elements of hinduism is full of pomp. but it could be that this is what the brahmins inserted into hinduism.
it is a good read for hindus. you should take it as a critique. without open dialogue you cannot advance. a
and he has a good point about equality. why should a class that does not involve themselves in the production of goods reap the fruit of labor?
This is a fundamental question hidden in capitalistic urban hyper focused economies of the new age, and I feel this has a very good text about the other more ancient ideas of complex village life- 700 million of indians are villagers--so this has great bearing --- for thousands of years they have their own way and stylized complex way of living outside of certain prescribed faith but within it in so parts- so not all are outside the idea of hinduism- in fact the author argues incorrectly- the dalits are only a sub section a of these villager population and india is at best secular and the movement of right wing hinduism is wrong, but he attacks the rig veda and the whole concept of hindusim which i think is an over-reach; the complexity is that each group of each region is particular, but that said i understand why the author has aptly titled his book such. so much discrimination is wrong and if india wants to hit the golden years of its empire days prior the 18th century the invasion of british , it will need to set aside these caste distinctions and embrace every Indian as a brother or sister and take national pride for all like the Japanese do.. and in true ancient indian fashion respect the traditions of others and not impose a will of the upper caste which has been so for centuries. This is also the recent advent of light skin worship. it all relates to as well the british cementing the brahminnical class in power as their intermmediares and the zaymindar system which has ruined pakistan and india. regardless. hindus' should think and reflect on some of his reapproach. why are some indians not allowed in all parts of the temples other castes are ? what ludicrous insult is that to any holy text. they should consider this before attacking the faith of this author. those who are not treated equally will change religions as vivekananda pointed out in kerala and tamil nadu. because the other religion at least gives them some humanness. India has much changed since the author wrote this. But I feel it is a relevant study to those especially immersed in hindu right wing faith. otherwise i think this author is wrong about santanta dharma and the ancient scriptures and epics of india. they are massive stories with allegories. it is true that populations were discriminated against, but for the european crusades we dont denounce christ and the religion forever. i think this author is perversed in that way. but otherwise i feel it is an ok read because you have to understand why he denounces hinduism so much. the brahmins are responsible but they dont represent hinduism, his neo-west view colors and simplifies and overreaches ideas. hinduism is a pan -india concept but its just a web to hold many ideas. what he suggest is a dalit version of the world, but that can never be, only the idea of equality is feasible. but he makes a convincing argument about labor, but still if you are so busy with labor- how can you be trusted for governance? your best is a consultant. so there is ways for reform but you have to think of it two ways. the british made india poor. before that most of india was well off. including these classes.
The author, Kancha Ilaiah, is a "Dalitbahujan", a group which includes India's lower castes like farmers and the "untouchables". Ilaiah (sounds like "Isaiah") refuses to lump Dalitbahujans in with Hindus: "What do we, the lower [castes, or Dalitbahujans], have to do with Hinduism ...? [The Dalitbahujans of India] have never heard the word 'Hindu' - not as a word, nor as the name of a culture, nor as the name of a religion in our early childhood days. We heard about the Turukoollu (Muslims), we heard about Kirastaanapoollu (Christians), we heard about Baapanoollu (Brahmins) [the priestly caste] and Koomatoollu (Baniyas) [the merchant class] spoken of as people who were different from us. Among these four categories, the most different were the [Brahmins and the Baniyas]. There are at least some aspects of life common to us and the [Muslims and Christians]. We all eat meat, we all touch each other. With the [Muslims], we shared several other cultural relations. We both celebrated the Peerila festival. Many [Muslims] came with us to the fields. The only people with whom we had no relations, whatsoever, were the [Brahmins and Baniyas]. But today we are suddenly being told that we have a common religious and cultural relationship with the [Brahmins and Baniyas]. This is not merely surprising; it is shocking."
So begins Ilaiah's broadside against Hinduism and "Hindutva" or Hindu-ness, the ideology of the Hindu right. In the book, he argues that Hinduism, with its focus on upper caste gods, values, and culture, is a patriarchal and fascist religion and worldview. Furthermore, Hinduism should be considered the sole preserve of the upper castes - despite efforts by the Hindu right to draw the Dalitbahujan masses into the Hindu fold (in a subservient position of course) to increase their numbers and gain unity and strength in the fight against Muslims and Christians. Ilaiah identifies the Hindus as the ancestors of the Aryan tribes who were supposed to have invaded the subcontinent from the north a few thousand years ago, and the Dalitbahujans as the ancestors of the indigenous peoples of the subcontinent prior to the Aryan invasion. (He even attempts to explain Hindu sexism by proffering literary evidence tending to show how "all women, including Brahmin women, were treated in the same demeaning way because they were seen to share the same genealogical origins... because most of the ancient Aryan invaders were men and they must have married the native Sudra-Dravid women. They must have had sex with such women and must have treated them as the equivalent to Sudra slaves.")
Ilaiah explains that India today is in the sad state it is in owing to Hinduism and Hindus - meaning, again, the upper castes - which are still the ruling elite in India. During British occupation upper caste Indians were made into a comprador class: a segment of an occupied society that receives benefits and rewards from the occupier in return for collaboration. By the time India gained independence from Britain, "an all-India 'upper' caste elite - the new bhadralok (the 'upper' caste combine) - was ready to take over the whole range of post-colonial political institutions... each institution was made the preserve of the 'upper' caste forces, with Brahmins being in the lead in many of [them]." Even the anti-colonial, nationalist movements were hegemonized by the Brahmins and their upper caste allies, a process which was made possible "because the British colonialists themselves saw a possibility of manipulation of institutions, parties and organizations if they remained in the hands of the so-called upper castes... Consciously or unconsciously, the British themselves helped to construct a 'brahminical meritocracy' that came to power in post-Independence India."
"In post-colonial India, in the name of Congress [Party] democratic rule, the Hindus came to power both at Delhi and at the provincial headquarters. Parliamentary democracy in essence became brahminical democracy. Within no time the colonial bureaucracy was transformed into a brahminical bureaucracy. The same brahminical forces transformed themselves to suit an emerging global capitalism. They recast their Sanskritized life-style to anglicized life-styles, reshaping themselves, to live a semi-capitalist (and at the same time brahminical) life. Their anglicization did not undermine their casteized authoritarianism. All apex power centres in the country were brahminized and the power of the bureaucracy greatly extended. Because of their anglicization quite a few of them were integrated into the global techno-economic market. Such top brahminical elites were basically unconcerned with the development of the rural economy because it would result in changing the conditions of hte Dalitbahujan masses and thus new social forces might emerge. Thus the anglicized brahminical class also became an anti-development social force."
Even the Indian Communist Party did not escape upper caste domination. "Notionally the Communist leadership was trying to portray itself as an integral part of the masses and to stress that it was no different from the people. But in reality the Dalitbahujan masses remained distinctly different in three ways: (i) the Communist leadership came from the 'upper' caste - mainly from Brahmins; (ii) they remained Hindu in day-to-day life-styles; and (iii) by and large the masses were economically poor but the leaders came from relatively wealthy backgrounds. The masses came from Dalitbahujan castes, and these castes never found an equal place in the leadership structures. Even in states like Andrhra Pradesh and Kerala, where non-Brahmin movements were strong enough to influence the society, the pattern held good... All over the country, the Brahmin population has become leaders in all spheres of socio-political life. They never remained part of the masses. Thus even the Communist movement started functioning in two separate camps - the 'upper' caste leader camp and the Dalitbahujan cadre camp."
"What Hinduism has done is that through manipulative hierarchization, even in the socialist era, it has retained its hegemony over the managerial psots in the urban centres. In every industry the working masses are Dalitbahujans whose notions of life and work are non-Hinduistic [that is, they value labor and practical knowledge over leisure and religious knowledge], whereas, the entrepreneurs and managers of the factories - the directors, supervisors, engineers - are Brahmin, Baniya or Neo-Kshatriya [the warrior caste]. As a result, there is a total cultural divide between the managerial class and the working class. If some factory workers starve or if workers get injured or die because of an accident, the managers do not feel for them because there is no social relationship between them. They are separated not only by class but also by caste. Thus the worker's suffering or death is seen as that of the Other." Hence India's putrid wealth divide: divisions were first cut into society by caste, and now have been cemented by class.
As an interesting aside, Ilaiah argues that the "persistent theory that human beings are by nature, selfish or iniquitous or the scope for selfishness is removed only when inequality is reduced (as was done in some of hte former socialist systems) and its obverse: the theory that human systems do not survive if inequalities are totally removed, both these theories can be disproved by any systematic study of Dalitwaadas [Dalitbahujan communities], where there is no negative cut-throat competition and no withdrawing into lethargy."
I should have stayed silent because it is really not worth commenting on people who belong to the pamphlet distributing Walmart religion that is so shallow in spiritual thinking despite excellent achievement elsewhere in both Science and Arts. But I just could not tolerate the nonsense and lies in the book and in the Frank's comments.