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Published in the 1-15 Apr 2004 print edition of MG; send me the print edition

Book Review

Brahmanism by V.T. Rajshekhar, published by Dalit Sahitya Akademy, 109/7th Cross, Palace Lower Orchards, Bangalore-560 003, India, pages 157, $5. 

The book is a masterpiece by Rajshekhar, editor of Dalit Voice. Seemingly a collection of polemics against India's oppressive system, the book is powerful with seminal ideas meant to undermine the entire system of mental slavery. Rajshekhar is not against Brahmins as individuals but against the caste system which invokes a religious mythology to trap vast numbers of human beings in a cycle of self-hatred and sado-masochism. 
Rajshekhar has a compelling thesis (p.68) that evil in the world today has these four component concepts: 

  • Man is superior to woman. 

  • White is superior to Black 

  • Merit comes out of birth. 

  • Might is right.

Rajshekhar points out a stark fact which most Muslims do not know, that the PEOPLE OF INDIA ARE NOT HINDUS BUT THE VICTIMS OF HINDUISM. He explains the pervasive and permeating influence of the Brahmin caste with the example of India's "socialist" rulers like Nehru who inveighed against capitalism but did nothing to denude Brahminism which is directly connected to India's richest people Tatas, Birlas, etc. (p.17). He quotes Dr. Ambedkar to show that the secular Brahmins and the priestly Brahmins are aspects of the same hydra of caste. 

Rajshekhar considers Brahmin philosophy responsible for the oppression not only of Brahmin women but also of "low caste" women. As he puts it: "If a 'low caste' and particularly the Untouchable is a slave today, his wife is the slave of a slave." (p.20). Rajshekhar is incisive in his criticism of the Hindu religion which sanctions oppression of humans by humans. He points that "The Hindu god Krishna tells us in the GITA that he is the author of the caste system (Gita 4-13, 10-36-41)." "What is the duty of the SHUDRA? The GITA (18-44) says: 'Service is the duty of the shudra.' The Laws of the Manu (1.91) say: 'The lord prescribed the SHUDRA to serve meekly ever these three (other) castes.' " 

Rajshekhar points out that only 15% of Indians are Hindus. The majority of the people are as follows: Muslims 15%; Christians 2.5%; Sikhs 2.5%; 
Scheduled Castes 20%; Scheduled Tribes 10%; 
Backward Castes 35%; The remaining 15% who are Hindus he divides as follows: Brahmins 3%; Kshatriyas 1%; Vaishya 1%; Shudras 10%.

Rajshekhar has much to say to Muslims. He points out that Muslims are converts from the oppressed sections of Indian society. There should be a natural affinity between them and other oppressed people of India. 

- Kaukab Siddique

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