Social Equality and Hindu
The annual 'Vasant Vyakhyanamala'
of Poona has a country wide repute as a platform for high level intellectual
discussion on many a vital aspect of our life. Time and again leading thinkers
of the country have been pouring out their thoughts and experiences from
that platform. 1974 was its centenary year.
The 8th of May, 1974, was an
important day in the lecture series of that year. The speaker on that day
was Shri Balasaheb Deoras, the Sarsanghachalak of Rashtriya Swayamsevak
Sangh. 'Social Equality and Hindu Consolidation' was the subject of his
speech. The speaker as well as the subject, had aroused intense curiosity
among intelligentsia of Poona.
As the following pages will
bear out, Shri Balasaheb Deoras has analysed the multifaced complicated
problem of our social disparities in a most lucid and dispassionate manner
and offered constructive solutions. He has presented the correct perspective
of the past, the proper guidelines for the present and the right vision
for the future. After the speech, he also answered, in his inimitable disarming
style, the ticklish questions which were posed by the audience.
These living thoughts coming
from one who has selflessly dedicated himself for over four decades to
the cause of Hindu Consolidation, will undoubtedly prove a beacon-light
for all those who are interested in building up a homogeneous and glorious
Social Equality and Hindu Consolidation
The organisers of this programme
had suggested some topics for my speech. Out of them, I have chosen the
topic 'Social Equality and Hindu Consolidation', as it has a very vital
bearing on the future of our nation. Hindu Consolidation is a must for
the welfare of the nation. Hence all aspects of it are important. Even
among them, the aspect of social equality being a delicate and currently
relevant one, appealed to me as one of great import. That is why I thought
that I should not miss this opportunity of expressing my views on it. I
do not claim to be one among the thinkers and scholars of the society.
But I have moved much amongst our people. That has given me many experiences
and ideas and also a peep into the feelings of the people. Keeping all
of them in view, I shall try to place before you what all of us might be
Who is a Hindu ?
While broaching this subject,
the first question that naturally poses itself before us is: "Who is a
'Hindu'?" Many definitions of the word 'Hindu' have been forwarded but
none of them appears to be perfect, since every one of them, however carefully
worded, suffers from the defect of being either 'too little' or 'too much'.
But can we deny the very existence of the Hindu society just because it
defies definition? Although the word cannot be defined, we all know very
well that the 'Hindu society' does exist. Also all of us do have a definite
and common understanding as to who constitute this society.
Some years ago, the Government
formulated the Hindu Code which was approved by the Parliament. Pandit
Nehru and Dr. Ambedkar were the main architects of the Code. In order to
make the Code applicable to the largest society in this country, they had
to perforce name it 'The Hindu Code'. While defining its scope of applicability
they had to declare in the beginning stages that all except, the Muslims,
the Christians, the Parsis and the Jews, come under its purview and that
it was applicable to Sanatanis, Lingayats, Arya Samajists, Jains, Sikhs
and Buddhists and even others who, did not come under any of these categories.
It was also made clear that any one seeking exemption from it will have
to bear the onus of justifying such an exemption. The only comprehensive
term which could denote the people whom they had in mind was 'Hindu'.
The Two-fold Basis
We want to organise or consolidate
all the Hindus. Organisation does not merely mean a crowd, a front or a
meeting. Organisation implies bringing and keeping the people together
and making them realise the purpose for their remaining together. This
is no easy task. We will have to furnish some basis for it. And some of
those basic factors of unity will have to be necessarily emotional in content;
because the constitution of the human mind is such. Therefore we start
with our motherland.
'This is our motherland, we
are its children and we have been living here for the past thousands of
years. During this long past, we have created in this land a glorious history;
and also contributed to world thought, culture and civilization. We alone
have been responsible both for its rise and for its fall. Therefore we,
being the children of this soil, must come together and live together.'
These realisations should form the emotional basis of our unity. Even those
who call themselves 'rational' will have to accept such an emotional basis.
There is nothing wrong in it. Even Stalin had to remind his compatriots
that they all belonged to a single, great nation, when Russia faced a terrible
ordeal during the Second World War. He had to invoke the spirit of 'nationalism'
and 'fatherland'. The necessity of such an emotional inspiration is beyond
However, will this suffice?
While actually working in the social field, we feel it necessary that there
should also be a practical manifestation of this basis. It is of course
essential that every one must emotionally feel that-we are all one and
that we are all equal, but at the same time we should also be able to experience
naturally and always this oneness in our day-to-day life. So long as we
do not have this living experience alongside the emotional call, the basis
of our unity will neither be robust nor long-standing.
The Folly is Ours
Our history of the past hundreds
of years tells us that just a handful of Muslims and even fewer Englishmen
could rule over us and could forcibly convert many of our brethren to their
religions. They also created controversies like 'Brahmin and non-Brahmin'
'Savarna and Asprishya.' In this regard we cannot just blame the
foreigners and exonerate ourselves. What is the use of lamenting that it
was because of our contact with foreigners and their divisive machinations
that our unity was shattered? It was but inevitable that we should, sooner
or later, come into contact with the foreign societies and their cultures.
There could not for ever be a Berlin Wall between them and us. It is only
the diffident people afraid of the contacts and thoughts of others that
put up a wall around themselves. The greatness of any system is proved
only when it can hold its head high even while it is in contact with others.
When a system encloses itself in an impenetrable shell, it is only declaring
its own inferiority. Hence instead of blaming others for our shortcomings
we should introspect within ourselves and try to know which of our failings
enabled the foreigners to get the better of us. In this regard, Dr. Hedgewar,
the founder of the RSS, had a unique outlook. Whenever this topic arose,
he used to say, "We cannot escape our responsibility by simply blaming
the Muslims and the Christians for our downfall. We must seek out our own
failings." We have to admit that social inequality amongst us has been
a reason for our downfall. Fissiparous tendencies like caste and sub-caste
rivalries and untouchability have all been the manifestations of this social
For the Hindu Sanghatanists
this is a delicate and difficult issue since we are immensely proud of
our Dharma and our Sanskriti. It is true that we have a lot of things of
which we can be justly proud. The philosophy and values of life of this
land have received the highest acclamation of the thinkers the world over
as an invaluable contribution to peace and progress of humanity itself.
These values of life have stood the test of time in the face of long-drawn-out
onslaughts and amidst historical and political upheavals. We all naturally
feel that these eternal life-principles should be preserved.
However, it is clear that even
while cherishing this pride, it would not do to think that all that is
old is gold.
Puraanamityeva na saadhu sarvam.
Just because something is old,
it need not necessarily be good or eternal or gospel truth. Neither should
we think that since we have been living all these years on the basis of
these old principles we need not even think on new lines.
Taatasya koopoyamiti bruvaanaah
Kshaaram jalam kaapurushaah pibanti.
'My father and grandfather dug
this well. The water was salty. But they drank it and lived on. Hence we
shall also drink the same water'-such bigotism does nobody any good. The
saying speaks of such a person not as satpurusha (good person) but as kaapurusha
(coward). Such a way of thinking is wrong.
The society is made up of various
types of people. There will be some who will jump at any new thing as good
and ideal; some others react to any new thing adversely and reject it outright
as being useless and worthless. But those who have taken up the mission
of eradicating the social defects and reorganising the society should not
take up either of these extreme attitudes. They have to adopt the attitude
Santah pareekshyaanyatarat bhajante.
They will have to discriminate,
preserve and take up whatever is worthy and feel not sorry for the dying
out of things which are to die. The more our people adopt this rational
way of looking at things, the sooner will the mission of Hindu Consolidation
and removal of inequality be fulfilled.
Reform In Keeping with Times
For instance, the Jews have-according
to a book I read recently-reviewed their religious texts and practices
after every century or two and revalued them in the contemporary context.
Of course, the wordings of the religious texts could not be changed, but
fresh interpretations were placed on them in keeping with the times. These
they introduced in practice and made popular also. It means they discriminated
between what was eternal and what was changeable. I believe that in our
own country too similar rethinking and revaluation of our religions texts
must have been done in the olden times. Otherwise there is no reason why
to many different types of religious books-Smritis-should have come
into existence. See, how many changes have taken place even in our gods
and goddesses. Indra, Varuna, Agni and other gods have given place to Vishnu
and Siva. There was at one time conflict between Saivas and Vaishnavas,
but Sri Sankaracharya established a harmony between the two and ushered
in the puja of the Panchaayatan. And now Sivaratri and Sayani and
Prabodhini Ekadasis are being observed in almost every house. It means
that even in olden times efforts were made from time to time to establish
harmony and bring in new interpretations; and that people were not insistent
about sticking to every word and syllable of all that is old.
A Common Human Weakness
There are many stories recounted
in the ancient texts and Puranas. But do we accept them all as literally
true? For instance, it has been said in the Puranas that the lunar and
solar eclipses are a result of 'Raahu and Ketu swallowing the Moon and
the Sun'. But should we, in order to affirm our devotion to our old religious
texts, incorporate this story in, the school textbooks to explain to the
children why the eclipses take place? We are bound to give in the textbooks
only what is scientific and factual.
It is not peculiar to only
Hindu society that religious texts are understood by the letter, and the
texts or stories therein believed in blind faith. In 1925, a thrilling
court case took place in America ('The trial that rocked the world', Reader's
Digest, July 1962)-a country believed to be most scientific in outlook.
A teacher in one of the States was placed in the dock. He was charged by
a Christian citizen with teaching the theory of evolution in contravention
of the story of Genesis and Creation of Man as told in the Bible. The teacher
had taught in the light of the latest theory of evolution. The court declared
him guilty and he was punished. However, today no Christian gives credence
to that story of evolution in the Bible; but still they have not tried
to destroy their faith in the Bible. This may appear strange, but ha sa
great lesson for us.
Spirit Eternal, Forms Ever New
Such problems are common to
all countries. Solutions must be found for them. Whenever I speak like
this, some people say that these are things created by God. It is their
intention perhaps to impress upon us the idea that such things cannot be
changed or amended because they are created by God. But how far can this
argument stand? God Himself has declared: "Whenever Dharma declines I reincarnate
myself." However, the re-establishment of Dharma after its decline does
not mean that the old order will be re-established without any change whatsoever.
Nobody in our country, like Mohammed Paigambar, has ever said, "I am the
last prophet." So it is but proper that we should rethink how far it is
right to assert that this is the Word of God and hence unchangeable. The
re-establishment of Dharma can only mean that the same eternal life principles
will be preserved, while its expressions and manifestations will change.
And these changes we must be prepared to welcome.
We should also be able to think
clearly and without bias regarding the genesis of the systems which came
into vogue in those old days. There is no reason to think that our ancestors
had no insight into things and that they had set up the systems arbitrarily
or in ignorance. We must keep in mind the fact that the thinkers and leaders
of society of those times considered the needs under those conditions and
laid down suitable norms to ensure its solidarity and progress. In case
those systems are unnecessary or no longer useful at present, we are free
to reject them. But it is necessary that we should also understand why
a particular system was introduced in a particular period of time.
Take for instance the Varna
Vyavastha--the caste system. It is said that there was no Varna
Vyavastha in olden times. Later on it was felt that some system was
necessary to ensure the proper and steady progress of society. The leaders
of society at that time thought that society could progress only if four
kinds of functions were properly and efficiently executed. Hence the society
was classified into four groups depending upon the specific propensities
and aptitudes of individuals and groups of individuals. Thus, the caste
system was evolved. Any system entails classification. However, this system
did not envisage any differences in the status of the people belonging
to the different groups. Classification is one thing and class-discrimination
According to some scholars,
the classification in the beginning was also not hereditary. But as time
went on, it must have become increasingly difficult to recognise and classify
aptitudes in an extensive society, residing in such a vast stretch of country
and having no means of quick transport or communication. Under such a situation,
birth in a particular family must itself have been taken as the indication
of his aptitudes and as a basis for classifying a person or a group of
persons. That is how the growth of the caste system must have taken place.
But even at that time there were no superiority or inferiority complexes.
On the other hand, the whole society was visualised as a single living
entity, personified into a magnificent figure with 'a thousand heads, a
thousand eyes and a thousand feet'. Such a glorious concept does not permit
the perverse and ridiculous notion that the thighs are superior to the
feet, handsare superior to the thighs or the head is superior to the hands.
The idea is that all these limbs are equally essential for the proper functioning
The sense of high and low that
we witness today had no place in that concept of one corporate living social
entity. To imagine otherwise would be to do grave injustice to those people.
It was for this reason that the system was acceptable to one and all. And
it was because of its common acceptance that certain systems of checks
and balances were evolved to continue it from generation to generation.
For example, the group endowed with the intellectual power was to embrace
poverty. The group with ruling power was denied wealth power. The power
of state and of wealth were not allowed to combine in the same group. So
long as these checks and balances were efficiently maintained, the system
worked well. But defects crept into the system when these checks and balances
were ignored in course of time.
Defects are bound to creep
into any system. It is well known that communism aimed at the removal of
all types of inequalities, particularly the 'classes'. But Milovan Djilas
(a top communist leader of Yugoslavia), in his famous book The New Class,
has written that a new class has come up in all communist countries. He
had to say this of the communist system within less than 50 years of its
inception-a system which was avowedly born to do away with all 'classes'.
Human nature is such. Vested interests develop in any system. The caste
system too was no exception to this human weakness and as a result it became
distorted and it collapsed. But none can say that the originators of the
system had any such perverse intentions in their mind when they introduced
Limitations of Hereditary Aptitudes
Even though our ancestors classified
the society on the basis of heredity, they were aware of the limitations
of the inherited talents. In our old religious literature such expressions
are scattered all over. They said,
Shudropi sheelasampanno gunavaan braahmano
Braahmano pi kriyaaheenah shudraat pratyawaro
'By his noble conduct a Shudra
can become a Brahmana, and a Brahmana becomes a Shudra without that rectitude.'
or, Jaatyaa braahmana iti chet na
'One cannot become a Brahmana
because of birth alone.' Great sages like Rishyashringa, Vishwamitra and
Agastya stand as illustrious examples of people who, though not born as
Brahmins, became Brahmins by their penance, virtues and attainments.
It is said in the Puranas that
Mahidasa, the author of Aitareya Braahmana, who became a Dwija,
was the son of a Shudra woman. Jabala, who had no father to be named, was
initiated into the Brahmin group by his Guru through the Upanayana
ceremony. These things were possible only because they had recognised the
limitations of the inherited talents and had made the system elastic and
catholic in outlook. Thus it was possible for the system to last for centuries.
The Changed Situation
Today the situation has changed
completely. The changed situation demands changes in our way of thinking
also in keeping with the times. Those were the days when every student
had to learn his lessons at the residence of his teacher. Then the printing
press had not been invented. The machine age had not set in. The blacksmith's
son, the jeweller's son or the weaver's son used to learn his trade by
observing his father at work. The home was his school. Hence, heredity
and environment cooperated with each other in teaching the individual his
profession. But now the printing press has come, education is imparted
in educational institutions, not in homes. The machine age has made the
industries to be carried on in factories, not in home. Science has progressed,
new inventions have been made. The whole environment has changed. It is
now recognised by one and all that though heredity is important, environment
also has its effective role in shaping the human character.
Therefore, it is inconsistent
with the demands of modern times to insist on the hereditary caste system.
Importance of Environment
Some people attach great importance
to the differences arising out of natural and hereditary factors. To an
extent their contention is true. But these differences are not to be made
a science by itself. It is definitely not to the credit of man if he were
to make efforts only to substantiate the hereditary disparities in individuals.
His efforts should be to study nature's processes and devise ways and means
for lessening these disparities and making them tolerable. Therein lies
his greatness and his courage. Keeping in mind the limited importance of
heredity we should, by changing the environment and imparting education
and training and introducing suitable systems, try to remove any hereditary
defects and handicaps in any section of the people. This is possible in
the present times. The Japanese people were considered to be dwarfish in
stature. But after the Second World War, they came into close contact with
the Americans. Appreciable changes took place in their eating and drinking
habits as also in their general style of living. As a result, their average
height has now increased.
Before the First and the Second
World Wars, only certain groups of people in our country and also other
countries were termed martial races. But during the two wars total mobilisation
and conscription had to be resorted to in all countries and huge armies
were raised. It was then observed that all these people fought better than
even the professional soldiers, better than even the standing armies. Nobody
accepts the notion of 'martial' or 'fighting' races any more. Hence it
is now futile to try to give heredity a philosophical basis.
In fact, circumstances have
changed so much that even to say that Varna Vyavastha or caste system,
which could serve as a necessary basis for the proper functioning of the
society, exists is ridiculous. Perversion and confusion pervade the atmosphere'.
Castes no doubt exist, but they have nothing to do with the preservation
of the social fabric. Caste is now confined only to marriage alliances.
It exists only in the form, the spirit having disappeared long ago. What
exists now is not (Varna) Vyavastha but only Avyavastha!
Hence we should all put our heads together and think out how to guide it-a
system which has to die and is already dying a natural death-along the
correct path to its termination.
There is in vogue a phrase
Roti-Beti-Vyavahaar. In the olden days, even the Roti-Vyavahaar,
that is, partaking of food, was restricted to within a caste. That restriction
has however broken down and nowadays people of all castes have started
partaking food with one another. The credit for such a change is shared
by English education, the Jhunka-Bhaakar Sangh, community dinners
and social workers taking to that task specifically, etc. RSS also deserves
some credit on account of its camps and other congregational programmes.
This has subscribed greatly to the easing of disparities among different
castes. Intercaste marriages have begun taking place.
It can be said without reservation
that if the Beti-Vyavahaar, just like Roti-Vyavahaar, also
takes place in a greater measure, it will help to a very great extent in
wiping out caste-differences and bringing about homogeneity in the society.
However Beti-Vyavahaar-inter-caste marriages-are a more difficult
proposition than intercaste dinners. Keeping this in mind, and without
making unseemly haste, all should conduct themselves in a congenial manner.
The reason is, as soon as the idea of marriage comes up, the question of
a good match naturally crops up. Any one cannot marry indiscriminately
any one else. It can be a good match if only the bride and the groom can
claim near equality in educational, economic and social standards. This
is possible only to the extent that residences are close together encouraging
the habit of close contact with one another. Residential colonies like
the LIC colony, the bank employees colony, the railway workers colony and
the teachers colony, coming up in good number now-a-days, subscribe substantially
towards this end. Along with this, when their economic status also rises,
irrespective of caste differences, and education becomes universal, then
such marriages also become natural. Legislation, monetary temptations,
propaganda tactics cannot bring this about. That would be wrong. For, this
is a delicate matter which cannot have a rough and ready solution. Every
one of us has to keep this in mind and subscribe this mind towards bringing
about the social transformation. The changeover may take time, but it is
bound to take place.
Root Out this Evil
Untouchability is a still more
saddening and unfortunate aspect of our social inequality. Some thinkers
opine that it was non existent in the olden times, but at some stage during
the passage of time, it gatecrashed into our social system and took root.
Whatever be its origin, all of us consider that untouchability is a terrible
folly and it must, of necessity, be thrown out lock, stock and barrel.
There are no two opinions about it. Abraham Lincoln, who abolished slavery
in America, said: "If slavery is not wrong, then nothing in the world is
Every one of us must therefore
aim at eradicating social inequality in each and every form. We must clearly
explain to the people at large how our society became weak and disorganised
on account of social inequalities. We must also show them the way to get
rid of them. It is necessary that every individual must make his or her
contribution in this effort. That would remove a stumbling block in the
way of Hindu Consolidation.
Success through Persuasion
In this task of bringing about
social equality, we should be able to win over the support and cooperation
of various types of people. We should, for that purpose, conduct ourselves
with restraint and grace. Then only we will be successful. There are our
religious leaders, saints, sages and scholars. They hold a sway over the
popular mind. Their cooperation in this task is essential. Sometimes we
feel that they are firmly attached to only the old customs and would not
like to see them changed. However, this should not make us mistake their
good intentions. In other countries too there are religious teachers pinning
their faith on ancient system. Nevertheless the people there do not ridicule
them on that account. We too, with proper approach, could plead with our
religious leaders that they should, in their preachings and discourses,
tell the people which facets of our Dharma are of eternal value and which
of them changeable according to the times and that such an exposition on
their part would be more impressive and pervasive in its effects. We should
also submit to them that the responsibility of protecting the society is
theirs and that it can be discharged only by their coming out of their
ashrams and mutts and unreservedly mixing in the society.
Though this appears as an uphill
task, actually it is not so. Fortunately there are already auspicious indications
that our Dharmagurus have started working in this direction. Our late Sarsanghachalak
Parama Poojaneeya Sri Guruji had brought together on a common platform,
under the auspices of Vishwa Hindu Parishad, all the religious leaders
to persuade them to this viewpoint. As a result, many saints and religious
leaders have commenced mixing amongst all Sections of society. They have
given up their previous opposition to reconversion and have now come forward
to take back into their fold those brethren of ours who had been converted.
The enlightened section of
our society have a great responsibility in this regard. They should so
think and act as will help achieve equality and at the same time not give
rise to bitterness in society. Those who suggest solutions to the problem
should also keep in mind the dangers that may result from such solutions.
Upaayam chintayan praajnah apaayamapi
We want equality only for the
purpose of establishing in the society an atmosphere of goodwill, harmony
and mutual Cooperation. Those that speak, write or act without understanding
this basic viewpoint will only harm the purpose they wish to serve.
The Right Approach
Many times, particular section
of society is made the target of stinging attack. It is highly improper
to disgrace or demoralise any part of our society. Maintaining their morale,
examples of new and better social behaviour should be placed before them.
Unfortunately there are still some people in our society who believe in
discrimination and are unable to grasp the right attitude. In the final
analysis, they are all a part and parcel of the Hindu society. It is not
necessary that we should pounce upon such people or tackle them hard way.
There are certainly other ways of persuading and bringing them round.
This was the way revered Dr.
Hedgewar, the Founder of the Sangh, worked. I had the good fortune in my
young age to work under his guidance. In the beginning stages, we had very
interesting experiences. I was present in the first Sangh camp. In that
there were quite a number of mahaar (untouchable) brethren. At the
time of meals, some began hesitating to sit along with them. They had never
before in their life sat for meals with the mahaars. They placed
their problem before Doctorji. But he did not enforce the discipline of
the camp and ask them to get out. Doctorji simply said: "Our practice is
to sit together. We shall sit accordingly." All of us sat together for
meals. Those few that were hesitant sat in a separate line. But, for the
next meals those very people came to Doctorji and apologised and sat with
us of their own accord. If Doctorji had taken disciplinary action against
them at the very outset and sent them out of the camp, they would not have
A very instructive episode
concerned my late friend, Sri Bachharaj Vyas. He was a swayamsevak of the
Sangh shakha of which I was the Karyavaha. Having been born in a highly
orthodox family, he would not come even to my house for meals. When he
first attended a Sangh camp, taking meals posed a problem for him. He could
not partake the meals prepared and served for all. When I placed this problem
before Doctorji, he did not quote any rule of the camp and prevent Sri
Bachharaj from attending the camp, since he was certain that the desired
reformation would definitely take place in him. He knew Bachharaj was a
man of great caliber and utterly selfless at heart. He told me, "Let him
come to the camp. We shall give him the utensils and the ration, let him
cook his own food." Thus it was for the first year. The next year, Sri
Bachharaj himself said to Doctorji, "I shall take meals with the rest"!
Thereafter, as he involved himself more and more in Sangh work, as you
all know, his behaviour underwent a metamorphic change in spite of his
orthodox background. He became a trusted worker of the Sangh and served
as the Provincial Organiser of the Sangh in Rajasthan. Later he even became
the All-India President of the Bharatiya Jana Sangh.
Beware of This Game
Many a time, at the root of
the internecine quarrels and violent conflicts in the Hindu society lie
political or personal rivalries. Election clashes, land and family disputes
also take up that vicious form. Further, the politician or the interested
person gives it the colour of conflict between two castes just to save
his skin and serve his political ends. At such times unfortunately, many
well-meaning persons and even press correspondents, in their ignorance,
are made pawns in this game. In particular, pressmen in search of a scoop,
do not bother to obtain a first-hand knowledge of what happened but weave
out a story with a single thread of information and give it a sensational
headline. When clashes take place between Hindus and Muslims. they are
reported as a, clash between one community and another, while even petty
quarrels among the Hindus are magnified and reported in an inciting fashion.
This is certainly not desirable. We should all exercise the greatest care
and restraint in all our actions, if we are to lessen the social disparities.
Not Criticism, but Cooperation
It is a fact that the backward
or untouchable brethren of ours have born quite an amount of misery, insults
and injustice all these centuries. That agony is there in their hearts.
We are also much pained at this sight. Now we have to find a way out of
this. All of us feel that onslaughts on them are wrong and that they should
stop forthwith. Therefore, the efforts of all of us, our talk, our behaviour
should be such as to be conducive to the achievement of this goal. I appeal
to the oppressed brethren also to exercise this care and restraint. The
faults and follies in our society must certainly be criticised. But there
are different ways of criticism. When foreigners criticise us, it is with
a sense of contempt. But when our own people criticise, it carries an element
of pain born out of affectionate concern. Otherwise, if we begin to drag
our quarrels of the past into the present, we shall be only placing our
future in jeopardy. That will only hamper our progress towards equality
and harmony. They (the oppressed brethren) should feel that they are also
part and parcel of the same society and shall live as such with the other
members of society. If they stand up shoulder to shoulder with others who
have similar ideas and feelings, then the combined efforts of both will
make the task much easier and bring the goal much nearer.
In the past, some eminent leaders
of the oppressed communities have severely criticised certain castes and
certain religious texts. That was necessary at that time. In order to draw
the attention of the people to a certain point and rouse public opinion,
an individual may employ a biting language in the beginning stages. But
it is not necessary that such tirades should continue for ever. Now the
times have changed. The actual transformation has to take place now. As
such the responsibility is upon all of us to employ only such language
as will help the process of change.
The Self-respectful Way
I believe that the 'backward'
brethren of ours do not ask for the mercy of anybody. They only desire
an equal status with others and that too on their own merits. Since they
have been backward all these days, they only want that facilities and opportunities
should be provided to them to advance. This desire of theirs is quite legitimate.
And it is for them to decide how long these privileges should continue.
In the long run, however, they will have to compete with others and earn
an equal status only on the basis of merit. Perhaps, they also know this.
It is for them to think and strive and chalk out a time-bound plan of raising
themselves up. A day has to come when all of us will feel equal, equal
in our worth and capacities.
In spite of many drawbacks,
the Hindus have their own specialities, they have certain concepts and
attitudes with regard to life. Thinkers the world over concede that this
society has established certain great and eternal values of life. If the
Hindu society believing in such specialities and eternal values of life
and following them in practice, can stand up united, imbued with spirit
of social equality, then alone will those specialities live on for ever
and prove beneficial to the world at large also. But unfortunately today
the Hindu society is week and disorganised. Dr. Ambedkar felt very much
pained that in this society which considers all human beings as children
of God, nay, as part and parcel of that Divinity Itself, there should be
found a sense of high and low. He also said that there could be no better
basis for equality than the basic faith in the existence of a common spark
of Divinity in all human beings.
Adopt Constructive Outlook
The history of our society
is a very long one. All these centuries there was absolute freedom of thought
and action. As a result, quite a good number of things were written in
our texts some of which could even be misinterpreted. If 'Na stree swaatantryam
arhati (Woman is unworthy of freedom) is quoted to make it appear that
woman was despised in society, the saying Yatra naryastu poojyante,
ramante tatra devatah (Where women are revered there the gods rejoice)
is also available to show that woman was held in the highest esteem. If
one wants to establish unity and harmony in the society, one has to think
what are the concepts which should be picked up from our religious texts
and from our history which would be conducive to the removal of disparities
and the consolidation of Hindu Society.
May all of us feel that the
Hindus must unite and that for their unity the basis can only be social
equality. With the conviction may all of us come forward to make our society
united and strong. This is my fervent appeal to one and all.
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
Q: We are much concerned
about the slow pace with which the work of consolidating the Hindus is
going on. Have you any suggestion for speeding it up ?
A: It is quite natural
that we should all be concerned, since we all feel that Hindu Consolidation
is essential for the welfare of this country. Some may accept that this
is a Hindu Nation and some may not. But all will have to accept that since
Hindus make up 85% of the population here, they are the main prop and support
of this country. So long as they are divided on the question of caste and
creed, language and province, there is no future for this land. Hindu Consolidation
is a must for making the others also join the national mainstream. It is
only when the Hindus are united that no undesirable ambitions will creep
into their minds. However difficult and adverse the circumstances, whatever
the problems thrown up before us on account of political and other reasons,
we must find a way out of all this. In order to do this, we have to approach
every one of our brethren and enlighten them as to what is right and what
is wrong. They should be made to understand the social defects arising
out of anachronic systems, which have now become distorted. I am not claiming
any considerable success for the efforts on the part of RSS, but in almost
all the provinces, people belonging to all castes and sects are with us.
It is our experience that no other mode of work will be able to give the
desired result. Sometimes, it so happens that after we have progressed
somewhat in our Sangh work, some people behave strangely, thereby putting
up obstacles in its way. As a result, the work seems to slacken. But such
a situation is inevitable in a vast land like ours, where there are so
many parties, so many thoughts and so many kinds of selfish interests.
It is quite possible that the strange behaviour of some people is due to
their not being properly approached and educated. If realising all enlightened
people come out of' their homes and join their hands in our efforts, the
problem can be solved early.
Q: Some are of the opinion
that Shri Guruji upheld the Chaaturvarnya system. How far is this
A: Perhaps those people
did not have a clear understanding of what Sri Guruji accepted and did
not accept. Subsequent to the controversies in this regard, I had a talk
with Shri Guruji. I very well remember what he told me then. He had only
spoken of the reasons for which the Chaaturvarnya system had been
created in the past. But his words had been misinterpreted to mean that
the current caste system was a scientific system necessary for the sustenance
of the society.
Speaking to those that had
come to meet him about this topic later, Shri Guruji had clearly stated
: "I only spoke about the scientific background of the system as it existed
in days gone by. Today that system, tattered and torn, has become outdated."
These are the words of Shri Guruji himself. Nobody took note of these words,
and the interested parties continued to make this old allegations.
Q: Casteism seems to
be again on the increase because of politics. How to counteract this tendency
A: The trend of today's
politics and the atmosphere in the villages naturally give rise to the
impression that casteism is growing strong. But I do not think so. On the
intellectual plane all have declared that casteism must disappear from
the society. But it seems that some vested interests have developed due
to the craze of political leaders for votes in the elections. Our duty
under such circumstances is that we confront such old leaders with the
youngers generation from amongst themselves. The youngster of today read
news papers, move with one and all and are gaining experience. It is not
possible to mislead them for all time. Keeping this in mind, we should
all concentrate our efforts on the younger generation in giving them the
right vision. If we do so, I am confident that the desired change will
be brought about in spite of the present adverse situation.
Yugantar Sahitra Prakashan, Keshav Kunj, New Delhi - 110 055.
Distributor : Suruchi
Sahitya Keshav Kunj, Jhandewalan, New Delhi - 110 055.
Reprint : Septmber