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Social and political Values and Systems in India.

DNA of Hinduism and caste system

Traditional living had been an anchor, keeping our boat in safe harbour, Now that the anchor had gone and the boat is at the mercy of wild waves on a stormy ocean.

“Caste and Hinduism succeeded in doing in India, what no state, no conqueror and no economy was able to do – the establishment of a single unified system of society throughout the whole of India, accommodating numerous semi-autonomous communities arising at many times and in many places), a system of society, which was able to comprise a greater range of local differences in a single system than any society has previously accomplished.”  And

“Through caste system, India has simultaneously accommodated “it to an almost endlessly varied system of semi-autonomous community and at the same time, it brings considerable unity, harmony and condition of peace.” …. And it “succeeded in wielding an enormously varied plurality of semi-autonomous communities arising at many times and in many places and adopting themselves to many different conditions into a single system of society…” (Don Martindale, India since 1947, p 39)

DNA of Hinduism and caste system

Part 1  Introduction

Hinduism – Hinduism presents one of the oldest,  continuous and uninterrupted living culture and civilization in the world. Sometimes, during 19th century, English writers have added ‘ism’ into the word ‘Hindu’.

Philosophers, thinkers intellectuals and reformers regard Hinduism, culture and philosophy, in its purest form, as one of themost scientific ideology and way of living ever developed anywhere in the world. Hindu values, systems and principles have always remained an inspiring icon of peace, harmony, compassion and other human values for the whole universe. Caste system associated with Hinduism has worked as one of the instruments to maintain the continuity of Indian culture and civilization without interruption.

Gold-mine of Knowledge – The gold mine of Hindu knowledge in different spheres of real life still commands the respect and attention of an average Indian. It has inspired not only Indians, but foreigners as well.  Intellectuals from various countries have translated it in their own languages and reinterpreted it for a rational mind. reinterpreted it for a rational mind. Values and principles of Hinduism have always remained an inspiring icon of peace, harmony, compassion and other human values for the whole universe. It has guided people not only to live a quality of life here in this world, but also tells how to make life better after death.  Its rituals are techniques for leading a harmonious life.They speak of everything- on staying healthy, social evils, improving concentration and tenets of behaviour, which are relevant even today.

When in the past, the rest of the world was passing through the Dark Age, India was full of light. The first few centuries are recognized as the golden period of Indian history. During this period, arts, commerce, crafts, philosophy and knowledge flourished magnificently. Its people reached a high level of intelligence having specialization in different areas. It was rich in literary, philosophical and religious fields.

Issues – There are so many conflicting views about Hinduism and its caste system, that common men get confused. What is Hinduism, a religion of Hindus, a culture or a way of life? Has Hinduism and its caste system become obsolete in the light of modern times? If yes, then why along with caste system, Hinduism has not been replaced by other religion/religions? Why not only Hindus, but other communities living in India and having faith in other religions are influenced by the principles of Hinduism and values and systems of caste system?

Origin of the terms ‘Hindu’, ‘Hindustan’ or Hinduism? –  India and its people are known by different names. India is also known as Bharat, Hind, Hindustan. India and its people as Hindus, Hindustani, Bhartiya or Indians. The name Hindu refers to Indo-Aryans people. Each of these terms has historical significance.

  • Bharat – Ancient India, was referred to as Bharat-varsh and its people  as Bhartiya. Derived from the Sanskrit term ‘Bharata’ that means ‘the cherished’, this name dates back to the ancient ‘Hindu Puranas’ (Hindu scriptures). According to it, the legendary Emperor Bharata was the first conqueror of the entire Indian subcontinent and the founder of the famous Bharata dynasty. After him, the Indian land is known as ‘Bharatavarsa,’
  • Hind, Hindu and Hindustan – The credit of the emergence of the terms Hind, Hindu or Hindustan goes to Sind river. These terms have been in use in Greek since Herodotus (4th century BCE). The invaders from Persia and Greece came to Indian subcontinent around 5th century BCE. They took inspiration from the name of river Sindhu, which runs mostly through present day Pakistan, Jammu & Kashmir in India and Western Tibet. And people living there, mostly Indo-Aryans, were called  Hindus (‘Sindhu’). The term ‘Hindu’ is the Persian equivalent of  ‘Sindhu’. And their religion and culture were termed as Hinduism.
  • Hindusthan – When invaders came to India from land route, they called the land beyond Sind river as Hindusthan. ‘Stan’ in Persian means ‘land’ or ‘country,’ much like ‘sthana’ in Sanskrit means ‘place’. In the early 11th century a satellite state of the Ghaznavids in the Punjab with its capital at Lahore was called “Hindustan”. After the Delhi Sultanate was established, north India, especially the Gangetic plains and the Punjab, came to be called “Hindustan”.
  • India – By 13th century, India became a popular alternative name for Hindustan. Since then, Latin term “India” has been widely in use for the Indian sub-continent. During the British Raj, instead of Bharat or Hindustan, where Indo-Aryan culture is strongly based there. The term ‘Hindus’ evolved to ‘Indos’ and made its first ever appearance in Old English in 9th century and re-emerged in Modern English in the 17th century. After Independence, it is known as the “Republic of India”.

Hinduism as a way of living, a culture/civilization – Along with a religion, Hinduism is also a philosophy, a culture and an Art of living to lead a Quality of Life.

According to Hindu MythologyBelievers in Hindu Mythology think that Hinduism, its culture and civilization has been existing since times-immemorial. With the passage of time, a large number of social groups migrated into India, earlier from the land route, later from sea route from other parts of the world. They settled down here and ultimately merged into the mainstream of Hinduism.

Historical Evidences – Historical evidencesshow that Hinduism as a Vedic culture originated during the period of Indus Valley Civilization (around 3300–1300 BCE on the Indo-Gangetic Plains, (in northern parts of India) and matured by 2600–1900 BCE). It spread/flourished throughout India during 1500 BC and 500 BC. The blending up of migrating social groups with that of the indigenous people living in this region gave rise to Vedic Culture of Hinduism.

Hinduism as Vedic culture – The Vedic culture is a magnificent example of scientific division and orderly arrangement of rules. Its literature contains in itself vast human knowledge, about almost all the aspects of life, be it phonetics, arts, literature, medicine, polity, metrics, law, philosophy, astrology or astronomy.

Hinduism as a religionIs Hinduism merely a Religion? Somehow it is difficult for the Western world to understand the true meaning, ethos and nuances of Hindu “DHARMA”. They describe Hinduism as a religion/religious tradition. To them, it is a set of religious beliefs like Christianity or Islam. They have  literally translated the Sanskrit word ‘Dharma’ into English as ‘religion’.

Hinduism not merely a religion – Hinduism is not a merely a religion like Christianity or Islam. ‘Hinduism’ is  ‘a way of life’ and ’fusion of various beliefs’. It is mainly based on the principle ‘Dharma’/Sanatan Dharma. (Before the colonization of India, Hinduism was popularly known as Sanatana Dharma). At present, in the world, Hinduism is followed by 15%, after Christianity followed by 33% and Islam by 24.1%  of the world population. It is supposed to be one of the oldest and largest religion

Origin of ‘Hindu‘Dharma’, much older – Hindu ‘Dharma’ of Indus Valley Civilization is much older than the meaning of the term ‘religion’ in its present sense. The meaning of ‘religion’ in its present form was non-existent, when Upanishads (Vedic texts) were composed, containing the earliest emergence of some of the central religious concepts of Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. The roots of Hindu Dharma can be traced back to prehistoric times, over 5,000 years ago. In the past, gradually Hinduism spread all over South-eastern Asia, China, Korea, and Japan. Hindus worship a single god with His different forms.

Origin of the term “Religion” – According to the philologist Max Müller (the 19th century), the term ‘Religion’isoriginated from the Latin word ‘Religio’ meaning“to bind together.” It wasused originally to mean reverence for God or the gods, careful pondering of divine things, piety.

Renaissance Movement separated worldly things from Spirituality – After Renaissance movement, the term ‘Religion’ was used as a set of religious beliefs. It was first used in the 1500s to distinguish worldly things from spirituality  and  morality and set the domain of the church. From that time onwards, religion meant belief in or worship of God/Gods and a system of religious beliefs and practices.

Narrow meaning of ‘Hinduism’, as merely a religion, has been started in India only after the colonization, under the influence of Europeans, especially the British. Sometimes, during 19th century, English writers had added ‘ism’ to Hindu and termed their religion and culture as Hinduism.

Despite centuries of foreign rule, about 79.8% of the population of India identify themselves as Hindus, (roughly about 966 million people) as per 2011 Census of India, who have faith in the Vedic principles of Varna, Dharma, and Karma. 14.2% of the population follow Islam and the remaining 6% adhere to other religions like Christianity, Sikhism, Jainism or Buddhism etc.

Hinduism accepted other faiths as they are – Hinduism even as a religion has never tried annihilate other faiths, or the way of living, internal order, customs, culture or language of the people having faith in other religions of the world. Since ages, a large number of social groups migrated to this area from other parts of the world and willingly merged into the mainstream of Hindustan. Whenever migrated social groups desired to join the mainstream of Hinduism, they were neither prevented to join it, nor were they allowed to disturb its existing internal social order. Rather all the incoming groups were welcomed and given enough freedom to prosper according to their internal rhythm.

Hinduism as Philosophy – Hindu Philosophy is the base of Hinduism.  It has taken thousands of years to take a shape. It cannot be found in one single authoritative text, nor can it be attributed to one single author. All its principles cannot be found in one single authoritative text, nor can it be attributed to one single author.

Part II Hinduism as a Philosophy

How Principles of Hindu Philosophy passed on up-to present generation –  Hinduism has been followed by the majority community (Indo-Aryans) living in India since ages. The priestly schools had devised a most remarkable and effective system of transferring knowledge to succeeding generations in the form of hymns, restricting it only to those, possessing brilliant feats of memory and capability to keep extreme sanctity. Later on, it was put together in ‘Vedas’, ‘Smritis’ ‘Sutras’, and ‘Upanishads’. These Epics “contain an ocean of knowledge in a jar.”[i]

Hindu philosophy, simple and in conformity with nature – The speciality of Indian philosophy is its simplicity, solidity, and conformity with the forces of Mother Nature. Vedic literature, Scriptures and philosophy of Hinduism are described in’Vedas’, ‘Smritis’ ‘Sutras’, ‘Upanishads’, Ramayan and Bhagvat Gita etc. These are not merely the scriptures/religious/spiritual books, but also a perfect guide to lead a quality of life. The ”Rig Veda” , dated to between 1500–1200 BCE is said to be the oldest  complete religious holy book that has survived into the modern age. Ramayana and Mahabharat are the two great epics of Hinduism.

Laws of Manu/Manu Smriti or  Mānava-Dharmaśāstra also leaves a deep impression in the minds Hindus. Mythologists believe that Manusmriti is the record of the words of Brahma and the code of conduct for inter-caste relationships in Hindu society. The time of its recording is uncertain, but some believe it to be about 200 BC.

Manu Smriti was a hybrid moral-religious-law code and one of the first written law codes of Asia. It still sustains paramountcy in  conservative Hindu society in spite of its age and many controversies linked with it. 

Principles of Hindu PhilosophyFollowing are some of the basic principles of Hindu Philosophy:-

  • Atma (Self) and Parmatma (Creator of Universe)The Vedas conceptualize “Brahman” as the Cosmic Principle. ‘Brahman’ is a key concept found in the Vedas, and it is extensively discussed in the early Upanishads. According to Principle of non-duality, Atma and Parmatma are the two integral parts of the same God, and therefore inter-linked. the also known as ’Bramhan’/’Parmatma’ (God). The ultimate purpose of human life, according to Indian thought, is to unite with the ultimate Reality, the Divine/Brahman.
  • Meaning of Brahman “world soul”/”cosmic soul”) or Parmatma (Highest Divine Reality)In Upanishads, Brahman or Parmatma is described as a ‘Ultimate Supreme Divine Reality”, “world soul” or “cosmic soul.” He has been variously described as the creator and destroyer of the entire Universe. He is all-pervasive, infinite, permanent, eternal truth and bliss which does not change, yet is the cause of all changes. HE is present in all the objects, including human body. He is essence of this universe and way for ‘Atman’ to achieve Sat-cit-ānanda (truth-consciousness-bliss).
    • According to Upnishad, every human has two components – the body and the soul. Death can destroy a human Body, but Soul is indestructible. Body, which is  (made up of eight elements earth, water, air, sky, fire, mind, intellect and ego). Death merely changes the form of the body. Human body does not retain its original form or shape and changes its shape even in one life with moving times.
    • Atman Atman resides within a body of any living thing, be it a human, an animal or a tree. means ‘Eternal Self’ or ‘Real self’. It is often referred to as ‘spirit’ or ‘soul’ beyond human body or illusions/false ego of human mind. It indicates the true self or essence, which underlies human’s existence. Atman (soul) is the spiritual identity of human body. Body gets destroyed, but not the “Atman”. Like Parmatma, Atman is also eternal, being the integral part of the Supreme.
    • Principle of Reincarnation Hinduism believes in the Immortality of the soul, and in the ‘Principle of Reincarnation’. It means that the soul is a deathlessness entity. After death it is reborn again and again depending on the deeds of previous birth till it attains salvation. After several births and deaths of body, one can reach a state of immortality. But once it attains Salvation, it is not born again.

Ultimate purpose of human life, Moksha/Salvation – The ultimate purpose of human life is Immortality/Salvation/Moksha, get rid of the pangs of rebirth and death. In order to set itself free from the cycle of multiple rebirths and deaths, one should do follow the path of ‘Dharma’. Here dharma means ‘Sadachaar’ (good behaviour) by keeping purity and sincerity in  ‘Aachar’, ‘vichaar’, and ‘karma’ (thinking, behaviour and action). Good deeds of human can help to reach up to the stage of salvation. One needs to practice continuously detachment by restraining one’s senses from drifting towards the objects of worldly pleasures, (materialism and consumerism). A balanced mindset is required to practice detachment and keeping oneself away from illusions or irresistible lure for worldly pleasures.

  • Avatars to save humanity from evil – Hinduism believes in Avatars. According to Hindu mythology, the Supreme power visits the earth from time to time in some form of Avatars to save humanity from evil. So far these Avatars have visited the earth – Mats avatar (fish), then to Kurma (tortoise)); Varaha (wild boar); Narsimha (half animal half mam); Vamana (dwarf); Parushrama with axe (tool); Rama, the Maryadapurusha; Krishna the playful and serious avatar; and ninth, Budha the enlightened one. The world is awaiting for the 10th avatar in the form of Kalki, a genetically supreme bionic man. (‘Know your religion through its philosophy’ by Prakash Shesh, the Speaking tree, TOI, January 14, 2016, p. 20)

Righteousness always wins over Evil – The morale of the stories about Avtaars is that Righteousness always wins over Evil. It inspires and encourages masses to follow the path of virtue and keep themselves away from evils. Different rituals, traditions, and customs give to the people, a purpose to live for and follow the path of righteousness.

  • Teachings of Ramayana and Mahabharata – Mahabharata and Ramayana are two great Hindu epics, which commands the respect and attention of an average Indian. These Epics speak on everything, be it in the sphere of spirituality or material well-being – on keeping good relationship with other humans, staying healthy, overcome social evils, improve concentration and mannerism, which are relevant even today. The basic principles of these Epics  guides people to lead a worthwhile quality of life here in this world. And after death enable the soul to make its onward journey by improving the prospects re-births.  

Teachings of Bhagvat Gita – It is amazing that Bhagwat Gita, a book as old as 5000 years is still relevant even in the  age of Artificial Intelligence(AI) of 21st century. Teachings of Gita give an exercise to human minds in the same manner as yogic exercises to bodies. It has solutions to all doubts, fears, dilemmas, problems etc. and guide humans to live a happy, peaceful and prosperous life. Following five basic principles of Gita can change human life positively –

  1. Focus on your action and not on the results – Focus on your action and not its results. “Karm Karo, Fal ki Chinta mat Karo”. (Verse 47, Chapter 2, Bhagwat Gita) Because results are not solely dependent on your efforts. Result depends on other factors as well like other people, circumstances or atmosphere etc. If results are not as per your expectations, pain is unavoidable.
  2. Do not resort to inaction – When the work is hard and burdensome,  never lose interest and attach oneself to inaction (निष्क्रियता).
  3. Be Fearless – The biggest fear in our lives is “Fear of Death”. Fear creates deterrence in whatever you wanted to do it in life. Only body is destroyed, Soul is glorious, fearless, free from old age and immortal.
  4. Eliminate fear of death from your mind. (Verse 20, Chapter 2, Bhagwat Gita)
  5. Gateways to hell/unhappiness – There are three gateways to unhappiness – Lust, Greed and Anger, abandon these three completely as it disturb the balance of mind and soul, and leads to self-destruction. 

Following are lessons of Gita give an exercise to human minds in the same manner as yogic exercises to bodies:

  • Detach from illusions and attach to Divine. Give priority to divinity. See divinity all around.
  • Have enough knowledge/intellect/devotion to see the truth as it is.
  • Attachment is the cause of all distress.
  • Detachment is the way to progress and prosperity.
  • The attainment of True Knowledge is the ultimate aim of all such deeds.
  • Fight for right cause in life is the ultimate solution to all problems.
  • Live a simple life-style that matches your vision.
  • Always remain steady.
  • Renounce the ego and attain salvation leading to unending peace and happiness.
  • Every act should be done in moderation.
  • True Knowledge is far Superior to the knowledge of the Sacred Scripts.
  • Stress is on Detachment and Equanimity. Happiness and unhappiness should be considered alike. For achieving detachment or renunciation, Knowledge and intellect play an important role.
  • Concept of Right And Wrong, according to Indian philosophy – Right and wrong are relative terms. The idea of sin and virtue, good and evil are creations of the mind. They reflect the needs of society and therefore bear not much value. Truth lies somewhere in between various differing opinions. Yesterday’s Right/truth/Justice may be today’s wrong/falsehood/injustice, and today’s right tomorrow’s wrong. Truth is like a chameleon in reverse. It always assumes colors other than those of its environment. People chase truth/justice without embracing it. To understand it one needs a balanced approach. A rational opinion about it can be formed only by keeping these four variables in mind:
  • Desha (region) – The culture of a place, in which a person is born,
  • Kala (time) -The period of historical time, in which a person
  • is born,
  • Shrama (Effort)-The efforts required of him at different stages of Life,
  • Guna (Quality)-Aptitude and innate psycho-biological traits.
  • Positive and negative Mindset of human beings (Gunas) – Hindu philosophy believes that the whole world of activities is a result of complex intermixing of three basic qualities of human nature Satva, Rajas and Tamas. When born, a person, is like a clean slate – pure, formless, undifferentiated Consciousness. What s(he) writes on it, depends on the relative strengths of three Gunas –Tamas, Rajat and Sattva. The categorization in these three groups is usually depend on degree of attachment-detachment, austerity, Purity/cleanliness of body, speech and mind, charity and positive or negative thinking.

‘Satva’ Guna (Positive mindset) – ‘Satva’ is associated with peace purity, knowledge with clarity in  thinking positive attitude and consistency in actions. (1) Fearlessness, (2) Cleanliness of mind and body, (3) Devotion towards God, (4) Acquisition of true knowledge, (5) Suppression of the senses, (6) Study of scriptures, (7) Recitation of God’s name, (8) Taking pain in following one’s own code of conduct, (9) Simplicity of mind, inner self and senses, (10)Non-violence in all its forms, (11) Speaking Truth in a pleasant manner, (12) Absence of anger, (13) Non attachment, (14) Peace of mind, (15) Not speaking ill of others, (16) Kindness towards all, (17) Forgiveness, (18) Patience, (19) Lack of ego and (20) Feeling ashamed while doing something against Laws or Traditions. “Sat” or “austerity is required for pursuing knowledge,

‘Rajas Guna’ (Having power to control people and events)) –‘Rajas’ is associated with passion/lure for comfort, often makes an individual, self-centered.  Rajas represents itself by power, passion, action, energy and motion. Rajas Guna drives people towards passion, power, ambition, and love for comfortable living. It often makes an individual self-centred. It does not care much about any particular value. It can contextually be either good or bad. 

‘Tamas’ (Negative mindset) – Individuals with Tamas or negative thinking are the victims of ignorance, sloth carelessness. It usually suppresses good qualities and leads towards `Adharma (immoral behaviour, harsh words), Alasya (laziness) and Agyan (ignorance, Lack of knowledge). Tamas/negative mindset manifests (1) Ego, Ahankar (2) cruelty/Inhuman behaviour, (3) Injustice (Anyay), (4) Lust (5) Over- pride (mad) (6) Greed (Lobha) (7) Anger (Krodha), (8) . Jealousy, (9) Attachment (Moh), (10). Selfishness (Swartha).

Persons with negative mindset are usually responsible for different kinds of social evils, exploitation and miseries of the people. Most of the time, they make their own life quite stressful, as there is a gap between expectations and reality. In order to keep oneself away from negative mindset, one should first ‘Think’ before taking any step, then ‘evaluate’, and try to be Creative and confident, while setting goals.

Inter-play of the three qualities determine personality of a person – Inter-play of the three qualities determine the tendencies, potentialities, limitations, traits and character of different individuals and give them direction for action. The material world through senses attracts human mind towards a mirage/illusion or attachment. Many a times, such attachment leads to impurities. Freedom of mind from attachment/illusion is consciousness. In order to become civilized, one has to keep in control and observance of cleanliness – of body, speech and mind. The purpose of human life should be to overcome Tamas, refine Rajat and inculcate Sattva.

  • Hinduism provides legitimacy to Principle of Varna -Hinduism has provided legitimacy to the Varna followed by Jati-Pratha, which has prepared a political and social framework for Hindu society. Principles of Varna, Dharma and Karma are the Foundation pillar of Hinduism. Together these principles have given  a sustainable social structure and a distinct identity to Hindu society.
  • Principle of VarnaPrinciple Of Varna has provided continuity and stability despite numerous foreign invasions, migrations and assimilation of various groups.

Division of Labour/work according to Attitude and aptitude – According to Hindu philosophy, individuals differ from each other in natural endowments, intelligence, aptitudes, attitudes, skills, personal needs and other innate characteristics.  Their physical strength, mental capacity and moral aspirations, like and dislikes, inclination and expectations of everybody in the society are not the same. Therefore, Principle of Varna assigns different activities to different sections of society according to its natural endowment/inclinations, qualities attitudes, aptitudes, Gunas (psychological characteristics), personal needs and other innate characteristics.

The doctrine of Varna distributes and organizes systematically the performance of various functions; provides  a quality of life to its people; defines roles, duties and vocations for different sections of society on the basis of their attitude and aptitude roles; organizes inter-relationship of various sections of society. This way, Principle of Varna has organized and distributed  performance of various functions systematically needed for the survival of society.

Manu’s classification of Hindu society is was based on the principle of ‘Division of Labour’. He has grouped the people into four Varnas according to their attitude and aptitude –

  • Brahmins (Learners) – Persons who  have had qualities of “Sat”/“austerity (needed for pursuing knowledge) are put in Brahmin’ category. They are assigned the job of guiding the society in right direction. Ancient Greek philosophers have called such persons ’Philosopher King’.
  • Kshatriyas (Warriors) – Action-oriented, courageous/brave persons having quality of ‘Rajas’ have been given the charge are  put in Kshatriyas group. Their job was to exercise power and to protect the whole society from internal or external aggressions. Ancient Greeks called them ‘Warriors’.
  • Vaishyas (Business men) Business men inclined towards trade are put in Vaishyas group.
  • Shudras (Workers) – Persons needing guidance of above three groups for doing any  job have been put in Shudras category.

Numerous castes and sub-castes emerged within each Varna – As population increased and more and more indigenous and foreign social groups were merged into the Hindu-fold, Vedic Varna system gave way to  Jaati-pratha. Assimilation of various social groups, indigenous and foreign, (be it racial, immigrants, locals, tribal, professionals or other groups) into Hindu-fold, gave birth to Jaati -pratha.  Each new group coming into its fold was assigned  a new separate caste identity. The way of living and culture of each identity has been carefully nurtured and preserved.

Basic difference between Varna and Jaati – Initially, according to Smritis one fitted into a particular Varna not by birth. It was based on  qualities and deeds. But membership of jaati was by birth. With the passage of time, circumstances and convenience tended to make even Varnas hereditary. 

‘Varnas’ were never more or less than four and always remained the same. Numerous castes and sub-castes emerged within each Varna. Castes had its ethnic roots as denoted by Jati and a ritualistic and symbolic significance in its Varna aspect. Each caste found its place under a Varna on the basis of their nature of work, its being ritually clean or unclean and amount of self-discipline, they exercised.

“Castes” have its ethnic roots as denoted by Jati and a ritualistic and symbolic significance in its “Varna” aspect. Almost all castes have found their place under a Varna on the basis of their nature of work, its being ritually clean or unclean and amount of self-discipline, they exercise.

Modern India – As against this system, modern India has stratified Indian society into five unbridgeable watertight compartments – Upper castes or caste Hindus, Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, Backward Castes and Minorities. Employment/occupation/profession now depend on number of formal degrees/ diplomas/certificates. Jobs are divided into white-collared jobs, blue-collared jobs and menial/derogatory jobs. It is the contribution of Western world, a post-industrial-revolution development.

  • Principle ofDharma” Scholars have repeatedly commented that the word ‘Dharma’ is not translatable in English. Words like law righteousness, ethics, morality all together are not enough to give justice to the meaning of Dharma. The principle of Dharma embraced within itself religion, law, duty, righteousness, morality and conformity with truth”. Along with its being a religious idea, Dharma was also a principle and a vision of an organic society, in which all participating members were independent, yet their roles complimentary. 

Dharma guides individuals to remain true and to fulfil their duties earnestly, enables different groups to act cooperatively. It  regulates the behaviour and inter-personal relationship of its component members within the society. It provides universal, practical and eternal guidelines to be followed in personal life, family life, community life, social life, professional life and national life.

Common Dharma for all – Principle of Dharma has given universal, practical and eternal guidelines to be followed in personal life, family life, community life, social life, professional life and national life. All the people in the society are governed by Dharma at all times, be it a ruler or ruled, parent or child, teacher or student or man or woman. There is a common Dharma, which is applicable to all. These are the norms and values of good conduct, which lead individuals to the path of righteousness.

Specific and separate Dharma for different sections of society – Principle of Dharma also specifies role, duties, privileges and restrictions of each role separately. It prescribes a separate Dharma appropriate to each Varna, each class and each stage of human life. Separate Dharma for different communities is based on inherent qualities, aptitude and potentialities of its members. The Dharma of Brahmin was not that of a Shudra, or the Dharma of a student not that of an old man.

Follow Swadharma – ‘Dharma’ prepares an atmosphere to inspire people to do their own duties, ‘Swadharma’ honestly. Following one’s own Dharma gives everybody else opportunities to live and prosper socially, professionally, economically, and spiritually according to their own rhythm.

Will power to follow the path of ‘Swadharma’ – Moulding life according to Swadharma is not an easy task. It requires will power and a strong character. Therefore, persons with weak faculties finds it difficult to observe Dharma. Dharma along with Karma was the means, through which a person approached the desired goal of life, the ultimate aim being salvation from the cycle of birth and death.

Hindu culture assured people that proper performance of Swadharma with honesty and sincerity assures both, worldly honour and spiritual happiness. Proper assignment and performance leads the whole society to live quality of life. While performing Swadharma without hesitation, a person gets earns a rightful place in the society and a feeling of being an integral part of the society, not an outsider to it. Proper performance of Swadharma with honesty and sincerity assures both, worldly honour and spiritual happiness.

Principle of Karma with Detachment – Whereas, Western cultures have grown around the idea of `rights‘, forming the natural foundation of human relationship, Hinduism evolves around the concept of “duty, tolerance and sacrifice”. Emphasis on duty usually makes a person or a group humble and tolerant. It makes the inequalities, prevalent in the society, tolerable to an average Indian. It ensures social harmony and prevented rivalries and jealousies. Its helps people to adjust themselves, without much difficulty, to most drastic changes. India has achieved its freedom in a peaceful manner under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi. Hindus are basically filled with a sense of duty.

Karma, the Central Theme of Gita – Karma is the central theme of Bhagwat Gita. The Philosophy of Gita is simple. It guides people ‘Rely on one’s own Laws and Traditions. Do one’s own duties/deeds without hesitation and with complete devotion towards God, and achieve what is generally achieved by such deeds. 

Together these principles of Varna, Dharma and Karma have prepared an atmosphere of co-existence for different sections of its society – be it ruler or ruled, rich or poor; and  have held together different castes and communities having diverse languages and practices for generations – thus making unity in diversity a reality.

  • Work is WorshipHindu Philosophy teaches that Work is Worship. Society assigns everybody a specific task to do as per one’s own karmas and destiny. A person earns a rightful place in the society by doing his assigned duties honestly. While performing one’s duty/action, one gets a feeling  that he is an integral part of the society, and not an outsider to it.

One should do without hesitation the duties/deeds assigned to him/her  by the society and with complete devotion towards God, and achieve what is generally achieved by such deeds. 

  • No work superior or inferior – All kinds of work are worth pursuing and respectable, if done in its sincerely. No work is superior/high or humble/inferior/derogatory/ or waste. Any work done in its true spirit could never be derogatory or a waste. The work of a priest, warrior, manual worker or yogi, all are equally important for the society and are, therefore, right, respectable and worth pursuing. The idea of white-collared jobs, blue-collared jobs and menial/derogatory jobs is the contribution of Western world, emerged especially after industrial Revolution.
  • Every act should be done in moderation – Gita teaches that control over mind is necessary for purification of Soul. And for purification of Soul, one should fulfil the duties assigned to him in proper manner and in moderation.
  • Detachment – Work should be done with detachment.Dedicate the results of all your deeds to God. Detachment is the key to get control over restless mind. An individual should feel that he is the doer of the deeds. With detatchment, one can reach beyond the scope of the three qualities, saintly, worldly, and lethargic.
  • Work, not for external award – Work is done not so much for its external reward, but for the intrinsic satisfaction towards realization of ‘Swadharma’. Society assigns each one a specific duty as per one’s own karmas and destiny. Everyone should do His/herthe duties/deeds assigned to him without hesitation and with complete devotion towards God, and achieve what is generally achieved by such deeds.
  • Sanatan Dharma (Principle of Eternal Values) of Hinduism  – The term ‘Sanatan means eternal/beyond time and ‘Dharma’ means duty.It is said that things perfected by nature are better and more sustainable than anything else. The whole scheme of Sanatan Dharma is in conformity with time and forces of nature. All its instructions are in tune with the nature. It nurtures  basic instincts of human beings over nature. takes care of the basic physical, mental and spiritual needs of the human beings at different stages of life.

Sanatan Dharma is universal, eternal, applicable to all human beings  irrespective of race, caste or creed. Its norms of conduct takes care of their basic physical, mental and spiritual needs at different stages of life, which are as relevant even today, as it was earlier in ancient times. It attaches importance to social values. Its norms of conduct at different stages of life. are as relevant even today as it was earlier.  

Based on the experiences and deep study – Many learned sages and intellectuals, belonging to different communities at different point of time did  a deep study of natural instincts, inherent attributes, natural behavioural pattern and felt needs (physical, mental and spiritual) of humans at different stages of life. On basis of their experiences and deep thinking,  they formulated a compact life package, known as ‘Sanatan Dharma’.

  • According to Sanatan Dharma, for living life fruitfully and aging gracefully, every  individual passes through four stages of life. At each stage of life, he performs different roles like role of a student or a house-holder. It tells clearly what are the rights and duties of a person at what time and what is right age to study or enter into the real life.

Four stages of human-life – According to it, there is one pre-stage followed by four stages in human life. Different stages of human life are known as Ashrams, which are as following :-

  • Pre stage of Balyavastha or Childhood – First 5 or 6 years of infants’ and toddlers’ life is the pre-stage of learning. It is the best period of human life. This is the time for a child to learn and understand the first lesson of real life, about human relationships and mannerism. During this  period, the ground for  learning is prepared at home under the full-time attention, loving care and guidance of his parents. Constant interaction between parents and children prepares an atmosphere to develop child’s mental and physical faculties and character. It is the responsibility of parents to shape the attitude of their children. Obedience is expected from child.
  • Brahmacharya Ashram, First stage of human life – After Balyavasha (childhood) and beforeentering into real life is the right time for learning. The duty of young and grown up child is to learn and acquire knowledge.  It is a period of strict discipline. Students should lead a simple life. They should not bother much for worldly pleasures/comforts., They should work hard and devote their full time to acquire knowledge. It is teacher’s job to impart knowledge, shape attitudes, cultivate skills and build work habits, so that when they enter into real life environment after completing their course, they are better adjusted. Teachers should help students to develop their mental and moral faculties and guide them to get control over their senses, mind and intellect. At this stage society rears, protects and gives its best as heritage to coming generation.
  • “Grahasthashram/life of a householder” – Of all the Ashrams (stages) Grihasthashram has been given a high place of honour. Giving maximum importance to it shows that Indian philosophers and Epic writers attached great importance to social values.

During second phase of life, a person enters into the real life and joins work-force. It is the most energetic period of human life. As a householder, one raises family and enjoys the  married life. He gets a real ground to utilize one’s intellectual and physical capabilities. He works for financial and material success, get involved in economic activities.

  • Rights – This is the time to enjoy life fully and fulfil all his desires and dreams, with emphasis on – Dharma (piety, morality, duties), Artha (wealth, health, means of life), Kama (love, relationships, emotions) and Moksha (liberation, freedom, self-realization).
  • Duties – Householders are directly or indirectly in contact with the whole society. It is their duty to make direct contribution to the society, in consistent with the capacity, dictates of their knowledge and conscience. They are responsible to take care of their dependents, to look after the management, and the needs of  other three Ashramas, or financially help the people of other three Ashrams 

Dependents include elders, children, members of extended family, educational institutions and strangers in need of help. 

  • Third Stage of life, Vanaprastha Ashram – Grihathashram is conceptually followed by Vanaprastha Ashram. At this stage, running after luxurious life style or material success is not the aim. After fulfilling familial liabilities, time comes to start to lead a retired life, to start process of withdrawal, to delegate authority to next generation, start process of detachment from familial bonds and renunciation of worldly pleasures should start.. It is the time for ‘Simple living and high thinking’, to start process of withdrawal, delegation of authority to next generation, detachment from familial bonds and renunciation of worldly pleasures. 

Elders can provide extended care, to help in taking decisions, maintaining discipline within their respective groups. Time can be utilized by doing social service like helping and taking care of poor, helpless members of society like widows, destitute or weak. Spare time can be spent in contemplation or attending spiritual discourses..

  • Fourth Stage of life, Sanyas (renunciation) – At this stage, a person is completely free from any social obligation. It is a time for complete detachment, resignation and renunciation. to prepare oneself to leave this world and go to an unknown world. Realization of spirituality and wisdom is the aim.

Earlier, when human life was not so complicated and men were closer to nature, people could follow the principles of Sanatan Dharma without much difficulty. With the erosion of moral values and life becoming more and more complex, it became difficult for people to practice it.

  • Knowledge, a never ending process (‘Neti’, ‘Neti’) Vedas tell that creation and quest for knowledge is a constant process, without any beginning or an end. It is a never ending process (‘Neti’, ‘Neti’). Indian  Sages (Rishis and Munies) believed that even Vedas are not the end for quest for knowledge or prescribes any final absolutes.

According to Gita, Senses are superior to the body, Mind is superior to the Senses and Knowledge or intellect is superior to the Mind. Knowledge is better than Abhyas (practice), Meditation is better than Knowledge. Renunciation of the fruits of action is still better than Meditation as peace immediately follows such renunciation.

Knowledge, the key to know the truth – Knowledge is supposed to be necessary for giving Action (Karma) its due meaning, direction and value. It is necessary to know about one’s surroundings or understand what is right or wrong. Ignorance was considered to be leading to futile efforts destroying direction. Hinduism tries to inculcate discipline and sense of direction amongst ignorant masses through rituals, prayers, practices, and customs. But as said earlier it should not be followed blindly without understanding the purpose behind it.

There are choices before human beings – take action with developed mind/intellect or action with weak mind, bridled with desire, based on emotion, impulse, hatred, greed and selfishness. Intellect needs to be developed to make mind rational. Gita prescribes for ‘action’/’deed’ to be combined with intellect (knowledge with positive energies) governed by intellect makes a person calm and content. Knowledge with negative energies quite often leads to agitation/aggression and discontent.

Ignorance leads to futile efforts destroying direction. There are choices before everyone – either to take any action with knowledge and positive attitude or do a deed with ignorant/negative mindset.

  • Self-discipline, self-reliance and self-restraint – Hinduism gives importance to the considerations of self-discipline, self-reliance and self-restraint. It  suggests all social groups or Varnas to lead a self-restraint and self-disciplined life-style in all respects, be it in the matter of daily routine, occupation or inter group relationship. In the past, knowledge, spirituality, morality, hygiene, cleanliness of body and mind (concept of purity and impurity) and usefulness of their work to the society as a whole were the considerations , which determined the social, economic and political status of a group within society vis-a vis other social groups. Purer a varna or caste was, higher it was considered. Greater were the self-restrictions imposed on its behaviour through rituals by the society.

Discipline was inculcated and a sense of direction was given to the general public through infinite variety of rituals, prayers, practices, customs and meditation.

  • Tolerance and acceptance/interdependence Hindu philosophy values interdependence, acceptance and tolerance. Since ages, Hinduism sends messages like ‘Live and let live’, ‘Vasudhaiv-Kutumbakam’ (The whole world is one family) and ‘accept others as they are’, Truth, Ahimsa, peace and non-aggression are imbibed in Indian ethos. It can be seen everywhere in common men’s way of life  in India. People  endure without much protest injustice and unfairness until they are pushed right to the wall. It has prevented its people to exercise coercion, force, violence or aggressions. It is the reason, why it is one of the oldest living culture in the whole world.
  • Tolerance level of Hinduism  – Tolerance is most evident in the field of religion.  Hindu’s faith in an all pervading omnipresent god and multiplicity of god/goddesses as representing some portion of the infinite aspect of the Supreme Being inspires to accommodate people of all faiths.  Hinduism concedes validity to all the religions and does not lay down strictures against any faith or reject any religion or its god as false.  That is why, all the twelve major religions of the world are present and flourishing in India without much hindrance. 

Accepts others as they are – Hinduism values interdependence and accepts other communities as its integral parts.

  1. It accepts that there are different paths leading to God and be humane;
  2. It gives complete liberty to worship any god or goddess of their choice, as well as use their own methods of worship;
  3. It does not impose its own codes of conduct on other faiths;
  4. It is liberal enough to see atheism as a legitimate pursuit.

In the past, Hindus had accepted oppression and exploitation without much protest, while such situations, elsewhere in the world, would have led to bloody revolutions. Intolerance of people elsewhere in the world had compelled the people either to work under the threat of a whip or led to bloody revolutions as had happened in ancient Greece, Rome or other European countries. However, tolerance in India had kept on adapting itself to changing times and had prevented people from taking up the path of violence. It is continuously internalizing the changes and has kept on adapting itself to changing times. India has entered the modern era without any cultural break.

Area where tolerance is harmful – Even today, the people are tolerating the criminalization of politics, corruption, scams and scandals and inefficient governance without much protest. Governance of the nation is one such area, where tolerance is harmful, because it does not only hinder the development, but also pushes the nation backwards. Hindus have not raised their voice against inefficiency in administration, corruption, scandals, scams, oppression or exploitation by powerful lobbies so far. They have tolerated even criminalization of politics without much protest.  Elsewhere in the world, such situations would have led to strong protests/bloody revolutions.

  • Hinduism a wonderful example of assimilation and Inclusiveness – More than anywhere else in the world, India holds a multitude of thoughts, processes them and practices them. There has been co-existence of varied belief, pattern and thought due to inter-mixing and cultural mingling.

Adopted the path of assimilation – Beauty of Hinduism lies in the way, it has assimilated numerous social groups coming from different parts of the world at different points of time in waves immigrants, locals, tribal, professionals or others – into its mainstream unlike Islam or Christianity.

No conversion – It does not believe in conversion or imposing its beliefs, practices and customs on others. Hindu religion has neither repulsed any trend vehemently, nor allowed others to sweep its own established culture off the roots.

Caste-system used as a mechanism for inclusion of other groups – Caste system assigned each incoming new group a separate caste identity. Society remained stable, while offering a place to a new community. The system neither disturbed its existing internal social order nor prevented any new group to develop itself. Without any conversion, caste system made new groups its integral part. It never tried to annihilate their faith, originality, internal order, customs, culture or language. Instead, it gave all incoming groups freedom to prosper/make changes into their systems according to their internal rhythm.

III Caste system 

Don Martindale has described caste as “the system of social life, in which Hinduism was expressed. …  Caste and Hinduism succeeded in doing in India, what no state, no conqueror and no economy was able to do – the establishment of a single unified system of society throughout the whole of India (accommodating numerous semi-autonomous communities arising at many times and in many places), a system of society, which was able to comprise a greater range of local differences in a single system than any society has previously accomplished.” Caste is unique Indian institution upheld by a complex cultural ideology.

Caste-system is inseparably related to Hinduism by traditional customs, values and systems. It is having both religious and social sanction behind it. In the present understanding of caste system, element of caste is dominant and a system has been considerably suppressed. Castes has its ethnic roots as denoted by Jati, and a ritualistic and symbolic significance in its Varna aspect.

Meaning of the term caste – The term “caste” was unknown in ancient India. The terms ‘Varna and jaati’ were used in ancient and medieval India to identify different social groups and sub-groups. The term ‘Caste’ has been in use ever since British came to rule India.

The term caste has originated from Portuguese ‘casta’, meaning race, breed, ancestry. Portuguese first used the terms ‘casta’ meaning “breed, race, caste and ‘casta-raça’ meaning ‘unmixed race’. Portuguese observers described that Hindu society in western and southwestern India has divided itself through caste system into different socially ranked occupational groups. In an effort to maintain vertical social distance, these social groups practiced mutual exclusion in matters relating to eating and, presumably, marrying.

Application to Hindu social groups ‘Varna’ and ‘Jaati’ was picked up by English in India 1610s from Portuguese casta. The Latin word for it is castus, meaning “chaste” or purity of breed. Subsequently, British have merged both the terms ‘Varna’ and ‘caste’ into one word ‘cast’ or ‘caste’. Subsequently ‘caste’ has become the established word for the combination of ‘Varna’ and’’jaati’. 

Later on, major European languages (notably Dutch and French) also, ‘caste’ in the same specific sense.  has become established term The term Caste was recorded officially in 1840 for the first time by European colonizers, to mean persons belonging to the same hereditary social group. Instead of using ‘Varna or Jati’ separately, they Since then, the whole scenario about caste was messed up. The meaning and understanding about caste system has been changed drastically. 

Mystified western world – Western world is mystified by amazing pluralities and unique social structure of India based on caste. It is difficult for the western world to understand the role of caste – past or present – in Indian society. Complete localization and unfamiliarity makes it difficult to understand and appreciate fully, caste as a system in its totality and to know the nuances, the nature, role (both in the past as well as in present) and value of caste as a system.

Caste-system is inseparably related to Hinduism by traditional customs, values and systems. The roots of Varna system and Jaati-Pratha are so deep,  that it is virtually impossible to think of India without it. It has been one of the dominant features still running through the entire social fabric of India. Caste has its ethnic roots as denoted by Jati, and a ritualistic and symbolic significance in its Varna aspect.

Meaning of the terms Varṇa (वर्णः) and Jaati – ‘Caste’ has its ethnic roots as denoted by Jati, and a ritualistic and symbolic significance in its Varna aspect. The term “Varna” is a Sanskrit word, which means type, order, colour or class. ‘Jati’ is also a Sanskrit word  meaning ‘Jana’. Membership of ‘Varna’ is based on the attitude aptitude and deeds of a person, whereas by birth, everyone belongs to a Jaati. ‘Jaāti’ refers to thousands of endogamous social groups, sub-groups and sub-sub- groups coming under each Varna, living across the subcontinent. A jati may be divided into exogamous groups based on the same gotras. (Dumont, Louis, 1980, Homo hierarchicus: the caste system and its implications, University of Chicago Press, pp. 66–67)

Origin of Varna and Jaati Pratha (Caste system) in India – The origin of ‘Varna or Jaati’ can-not be found in one single authoritative text like Christian’s “Bible” or Islam’s “Kuran”, nor can it be attributed to one single founder, like Jesus Christ for Christianity or Mohammad Sahib for Islam. It is the development of thousands of years. to develop with the association of numerous social groups into it at different point of time. It started with the arrival of Aryans hereditary kinship and tribal groups in India in waves, from different parts of the world.

Different shades and meaning of caste system with changing times – Caste system has survived the vicissitudes of time, and saved itself by erosion from within and assault from outside. Credit of its prolonged life goes to its adaptability, flexibility and absorptive nature, which has internalized even the alien influences. It has taken different shades and meaning with the changing times and places. Once changed, it never returned to its original form. Such flexibility is not seen in the West. When Christianity broke away from Judaism, it departed totally from the common cultural traditions. 

Wonderful process of assimilation – Wonderful process of assimilation and fusion of different social groups has been a continuous process of the Hindu civilization. It contributed to the cultural richness of Bharat.  All the sects present in India, whether foreign or indigenous, have been influenced greatly by Hindu thinking, caste system, its practices and systems.

Different stages of making and evolution of Varna/casteFollowing are the different stages of the evolution of Varna/caste – 

  • Caste during Ancient period -As Basham has pointed out, Caste system may well be called a natural response of many small and primitive groups of people, who were forced to come to terms, with a more advanced economic and social system. Caste system provided a mechanism, by which numerous discrete tribes, all sorts of groups and associations arising for political, sectarian or other reasons could be internalized and preserved within the whole.
  • Pre-Vedic period – The making of caste system can be traced from the times of pastoral tribal society. Roughly ten millennia ago, people lived  in small migratory groups, living the life-style of wandering “nomadic herdsmen”. These small groups mostly lived in hilly areas, not far from rivers. Tribal communities were nomadic or semi nomadic and egalitarian. They depended on nature for its subsistence.
  • Settled agricultural society – Then came the period of making of the agricultural societies. People started  cultivating land and settled down Gradually pastoral tribal society transformed into a settled agricultural society, confining its activities and life within a small area or territory. Clans and tribes settled permanently in different parts of the country. As reflected in ‘Rigveda’, during early stages of Vedic Age people ceased to be a wandering people, started a settled life.
  • Entry of Aryans – Aryans entered into India in waves from land-side at different points of time. Aryans, after entering into India first conquered its original inhabitants of Northern part of India, colonized and established kingdoms, then Deccan and then south. During the period, it was possible to have high ranks, but not high social classes.
  • Development of structures and systems – Socio-political structures and systems were evolved leisurely over about 2000 years (roughly between 2000 BC to about 600 BC) and kept on coping with the changes slowly, time had brought in.
  • In the beginning people hardly possessed more than what was needed for their subsistence/survival.
  • The practice of cultivation, rise of crafts and iron tools transformed the egalitarian society into fully agricultural and stratified society sometime during 6th century BC.
  • Initially a simple class division was seen in the social structure, i.e. nobility and the ordinary tribesmen. Slowly, possession of land, slaves and hired laborers started. People started producing and possessing more than they needed. The kings collected their surplus yields.
  • The power of kings gradually increased. For regular collection, administrative and religious methods were devised.
  • Varnas and Jaatis (Caste) during Vedic Period – Vedic society is considered as the most advanced civilization in every respect be its social structure or its culture. This was the time when the social structure was taking shape under “Varna System”. Historical time of the origin and slow but steady evolution of Varna system is estimated around 3300–1300 BCE; mature period 2600–1900 BCE. It was the period of beginning of Indus Valley Civilization. Varna system originated and flourished in northern parts of India (on the Indo-Gangetic Plains of the Indian subcontinent) and later on spread throughout India during 1500 BC and 500 BC. Society was relatively egalitarian one. There was no distinct hierarchy of socio-economic classes or castes.

Emergence of “Jaatis” now known as Caste within each Vana – Later on, numerous racial, tribal, occupational and other groups entered in waves into India via land routes from different parts of the world. The assimilation of these migrating social groups into the  main-stream of Hinduism was done through jaati pratha. Each incoming new group was assigned a separate Jaati (caste) name. This way, numerous Jaatis emerged within each Varna. Jaati pratha had not only accommodated and bound migrating social groups into a single cultural system, but gave them full freedom to continue their own culture and way of living and flourish.

To discipline the society, Hinduism now clearly defined rights and duties. Along with all the freedom to flourish within its own soil, Hindu society imposed some restrictions as well. Slowly and steadily developed rules of endogamy, ritual purity, interdependence and hierarchical order of its social units. This way, Hinduism has neither repulsed any trend vehemently, nor allowed others to sweep its established culture off the roots.

  • Castes during Medieval PeriodMany changes took place, during medieval period in the caste system. Turks, Afghans and Mughals continuously invaded India. Invasion of Ghazni (998-1030 AD), and others, the establishment of Slave Dynasty (1206-1290), Khilji Dynasty (1290-1320), Tuglak Dynasty (1320-1412 AD) Sayyed Dynasty (1414-51) Lodi Dynasty (1451-1526) and Mughal Empire (1526 to 1757) continuously pressurized Hindu Social system. Earlier they drained out the wealth of the nation to foreign lands.  But afterwards, they conquered and made India their homeland.

Downfall of Hindu Raj along with decline of traditional Hindu values, imposition of Zaziya on Hindus and intolerance of alien rulers towards their Hindu subjects made it difficult for Hindus to preserve their identity and indigenous culture. Hindu society turned inwards to save their identity. Excesses by rulers resulted in conscious efforts by Hindus to save their identity, values and honour by making caste rules and rituals stricter and more rigidly applied than before[i]. It gave birth to many social evils like Sati Pratha; Dowry, Purdah system or superstitions. Feudalistic attitude, extravagance and luxurious life style of rulers and those at the helm of authority had increased the disparity between the rulers and the ruled.

Despite of all these socio-economic and political changes, the institution of caste was independent of the government’s intervention till medieval period.   It made the Hindu society stable but not static. Traditional decentralized self-regulated systems were the mode for keeping checks and balances in the social life of the country. The influence of caste system was immense on public minds because:-

  • The cultural endowments formed the basis of social status of different Varnas –
  • The ranking of different Varna was not based on wealth or material gains, but on intellectual and spiritual attainments and on self-discipline.
  • As late as the eighteenth century, no all-India hierarchical order of different Varna has taken an all-India character. Generally the position of Brahmins was considered at the top and that of Shudras at the bottom. The Brahmin strongholds were the centres of learning. But in between the two, there was an ambiguity about the status of all the castes, which was acceptable to all concerned in any local area. 
  • This, itself, has given a large element of fluidity to caste system.

Upward mobility was possible for different groups by improving their attitude and mannerism.

  • Close association of caste There was a close association of caste with occupation. As leading sociologists pointed out, in addition to their hereditary occupation, agriculture and army were open and had accommodated all social groups of society – indigenous or alien. The basic qualification for doing any work was mainly having the qualifications needed for that specific job.
    • There was no dearth of employment for aspiring workers.  A substantial labour market existed in agricultural sector. Immense influence  of powerful peasant was a reality of the rural life of Medieval India. Indian peasantry in UP, Bihar and MP were armed.  In fact, non-Kshatriya peasant provided leadership of most armed bands. They were numerically predominant and economically and politically strong at the village level. 
    • Military service was also accessible to anybody, from any strata of society including the lowest in the ritual terms.  There was no discrimination in recruitment and treatment of soldiers of any kind on the basis of caste.  Rajput status was given to soldiers. [Jain Girilal – The Hindu Phenomenon p9, 1994.]
  • Members of any caste group did not exercise monopoly over a profession. It is an established fact of Indian History that Brahmin or even Shudras sometimes became the kings. Khatriyas and Shudra were accepted and revered as philosophers or spiritual teachers.  In order to increase their strength, there were times, when inter caste marriages took place in the past. ]
  • Alternative ideologies and styles of life were available in India. The floating population, consisting groups like Gujjars, Bhattis, Rajput rangers, who remained outside caste system, were so strong, that they terrorized settled agriculturists for centuries. Forests, which competed with arable land in size and importance, till the 18th century, gave shelter and food to large sections of society and served as havens for those in search of escape from society.
  • People of different social-groups enjoyed a large measure of freedom in respect of their internal customs, rituals and life styles. All activities were confined within a small local area, having very little links with the outside world due slower means of transport.  Only merchants visited different distant places.
  • The plurality of society provided automatic checks and balances and controlled the arbitrariness or unbalanced growth of power of any group. Upward mobility was possible for different groups. Sometimes inter-caste marriages were also permitted. [ii]
  • The local societies before British rule used to be self-sufficient mutually `supporting and caring for each other. They were bound together by economic and social ties and had a strong bond of mutual dependence. Local character of society made close interaction and cooperation between different castes, a reality. Traditions and rituals required the participation of all social groups (castes). Even untouchables were assigned important social duties. Harijan women helped all castes at the time of child birth, sweepers beat drums in front of Hindu’s houses or in front of a procession at the time of an important ceremony, village barber spread news, arranged marriages and served food during celebrations.  Occasionally non-Brahmins or Harijans served as priests of temples of goddesses like Sita or Kali, where all castes made offerings.
  • There was not much disparity between different forward or lower castes.  There was hardly any question of all India tyranny of any caste group.  Not a single group was identifiable as very strong-dominating all the others, or as an enemy to defeat.  Laws remained unmodified and flexible with the capacity to adapt to local customs and situations.  People in power and position cared for the lower castes in order to acquire and retain local followers. The system made upper castes generous in matters of food, drinks and loans, when required. The tropical climate of the country compelled the people to the distribution of surplus, as it was difficult to store anything for long. [Sriniwas MN,  Times of India, Dated September 9, 1990, p 6.]
  • Teachings of Bhakti and Sufi saints like Sur, Tulsidas, Chaitnya Mahaprabhu, Nanak, Kabir etc. gave some breathing space to the rigidity of caste system, which suffocated the society during medieval India.

Pr. Rajni Kothari also accepts that till medieval times: –

  • There was a hierarchical social order, through which infinite ambiguities had been accepted, tolerated and regulated.
  • A multi-cultural framework of governance existed, which had restrained hegemonical and majority’s dominating tendencies.
  • A highly flexible ethics code was there, through which constant and continuing distortions, clash of personalities, major paradoxes in elite behaviours and instances of humiliation, acrimony and hypocritical behaviours in the conduct of public affairs were managed.[Times of India, dated July 28, 1997,  p13.]
  • Caste system during Modern Period – Caste system has always been a centre of attention for Westerners, politicians, intellectuals, activists or reformers from other faiths. It has been both defended and opposed vehemently in the political circles of modern India.

During Seventeenth century, many Dutch, Portuguese, French, British and Spanish companies came to India in search of market. Weakening of Islamic power, internal fights among various group leaders and communal unrest gave East India Company success not only in ousting other European companies from India, but also in establishing its rule in India and monopolizing its trade. Once firmly established, the authority was transferred from the Company to the Crown, through the Act of 1858.

After establishing their rule in India, British rulers adopted the policy of “divide and rule”. To keep their power intact, they played off one part against other, Prince  against Princes, Hindus against Muslims, province against provinces and caste against caste. They launched an ideological attack on Hindu practices and caste-system. To them, caste system was “discriminatory,” “iniquitous,” “exploitative,” “oppressive” “barbarous,” “uncivilized” and “highly stratified”. It was responsible for all evil social practices, feudalistic attitude, backward thinking, belief in dogmas and superstitions sustained by a unique set of rituals, and whimsical concept of purity and pollution.

Through Modern education system, British succeeded in disassociating many individuals from their traditional way of living, classical roots and knowledge. With it faded Indian values, philosophies, systems and traditions. It made many Indians to lose their faith in social values and systems. Many leaders like Mahatma Phule, Ambedkar or Gopal Ganesh instilled in the minds of millions of unlettered Hindus, venom against caste-system and the Brahmin community. They also held Caste system responsible for treating lower strata of society as lesser human beings; engaging them in forced labour, unsavoury jobs imposing many restrictions on them; preventing them from joining the mainstream of the society; and the subjugation of lower castes with the help of religion. They regarded untouchability as an inevitable concomitant of caste system.

There was another group of national leaders and reformers, who got alarmed at the erosion of Indian Culture, divisible policies of the rulers, economic loot, political subjugation, racial discrimination, assertion of lordly superiority over the subject on the ground of race, assumption of  haughty exclusiveness, persistent insulting and supercilious behaviour towards all Indians, exclusion of Indians from all places of authority and responsibility and denial of their capacity for self-governance united Indians against British rule. It gave birth to National movement.

Reformers also organized meetings to make ignorant masses aware of the social evils/real issues like superstitions or irrationality in observing rituals blindly. They advised people to stop treating low caste Hindus inhumanly. They advised to give underprivileged sections of society their rightful place in society. The intellectual ferment was strongest in West Bengal, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu.

In 1928, Raja Ram Mohan Roy founded Brahma Samaj in Bengal. He inspired the people of Bengal, UP, Punjab, Madras and other provinces, to form similar organizations and interpret religion rationally. Prarthana Samaj in Maharashtra (1867), Arya Samaj in Northern India, Rama Krishna Mission, Theosophical Society of India (1879), Dev Samaj in Lahore and Servants of India Society took up the job to awaken the masses. They talked about the greatness of Hindu Vedic culture and about Vedas as the source of all knowledge and truth. Swami Vivekanand founded the Rama Krishna Mission tried to reveal to the world Indian Philosophy and culture. Some reform institutes like Vivekanand’s or Rama Krishna Mission or Theosophical Society of India tried to familiarize the Western World, too, to the charm and graciousness of Indian Culture. Swami Vivekanand gave a call to “Return to Vedas”. He said, “Each nation like each individual has a theme in this life, which is its centre, the principle note, around which every other note comes to form the harmony. If any nation attempts to throw off its national vitality the direction which has become its own through the transmission of centuries the nation dies.”

They advised people not to be swayed away by Western culture. First they should know their own heritage and try to revive what is good in it.

  • Caste system after the Independence – Seventy four years after the Independence, Indians have lost the excuse of blaming the British for anything going wrong. Since 15th August 1947, Independent India is committed to democratic, secular and egalitarian principles as enshrined in the Constitution of India. Preamble of the Indian Constitution promises to secure to all its citizens: JUSTICE, social, economic and political; LIBERTY of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship; EQUALITY of status and of opportunity; and to promote among them all FRATERNITY assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the Nation. Article 15 of the Constitution prohibits any kind of discrimination on grounds of caste, race, religion, gender or place of birth; Article 16 gives equality of opportunity in matter of public employment, Article 338 creates National commission for Scheduled Castes to safeguard their interests etc.

In the eyes of common-man, Caste a social Institution – General public in Indiastill considers as one of the fundamental social institution – a natural, inevitable unit of society. Family, which is a natural unit of an extended family; Extended family of Kula; Kula of a tribe (Vish); and a tribe of a Jana of Jati (Caste). In a way, all are fundamental social institutions. To them, Caste is a large extended family bonded by same language, customs, thinking and way of living and occupation. It is second only to the family in widening a person’s social radius and in getting importance in his/her private and occupational life.

A person’s relation with members of his caste is closer than with those, belonging to other castes. Caste values, beliefs, prejudices, injunctions as well as distortions of reality are the indivisible part of a person’s psyche and conscience. It makes one feel good and loved, when he lives up to the norms, and anxious and guilty, when he transgresses them. It still provides an individual with social security. To foreigners, Varna/caste system represent the ancient culture in its eternity.

Amendments and legislations to protect people from the rigidities of Caste System – Since Independence, the government has passed a number of amendments in the Constitution and legislations to remove the unreasonable practices developed into the system. Like untouchability is declared a crime. Bonded labour is abolished by law. Civil Rights Act, 1955, aims to eliminate injustice against weaker sections. Amendment to Prevention of Atrocities Act (SCT) 1989 provides for stern punishments for offenses committed against SCT by Upper Castes. Special Courts, under SCT Act, have been established for punishing officials, who are found guilty.

Caste now more liberal in social sphere – With the spread of literacy and growing awareness among masses, Castes system has become less restrictive in social arena. Castes no longer enjoy legal or religious sanctions. Expulsion from castes now means little. Earlier it meant complete social ostracism. Old style of authority and power exercised by caste-elders has already diminished except for a few castes in, rural areas especially in Haryana and Rajasthan. Restrictions or interactions between different castes arising due to considerations for purity and pollution are fading away from public life even from rural areas.

Traditional barriers on marriage, hereditary occupations and commonality are losing its importance. Slowly but steadily, many discriminatory practices and deformities developed in Caste system, while living under alien rule are diminishing. Caste system is now more liberal and less restrictive in social life of the people. Still, caste system is considered problematic. Why? What is now wrong with the caste system? Does fault lies somewhere else? Yes, problem lies in entry of caste into politics.

Entry of Caste System in Politics – Caste system started entering into politics during British rule, who followed the policy of ‘Divide’ the people and ‘Rule’ as long as possible. The seeds sown by colonial rulers flourished in full in Independent India.

Winding up

Hinduism and its Caste system has travelled a very long distance experiencing many ups and downs since then. It has been both defended and opposed over the course of Indian history and up-to the present day. Especially Caste-system has drawn the attention of politicians, intellectuals, activists or reformers from other faiths. It has been interpreted praised, distorted or criticized the system  in the manner, whatever suited to their purpose or according to vested interests of that particular era.  Many changes have taken place in the system as time passed on. Especially during Muslim rule many deformities and rigidities had developed into the system. And during British rule, it has been criticized vehemently. After Independence also there are many political parties and pressure groups all over India, who criticize it strongly. So much and so that there is a section of Indian society, which desires to completely wipe caste system out from Indian scene and create a casteless society.

There is a big difference between caste as a system and casteism, and dreaming of replacing caste based society into a casteless society is almost impossible in near future –

Caste as system – Caste is an organised social institution having many salient features mentioned above. This term is specifically used to refer the social structure of Hindu India. Broadly speaking, the fourfold division of society has been sanctioned in ancient scriptures and said to structure all social relations.

Caste-ism – Generally law follows social changes. But after the Independence, the political leadership in their hurry and enthusiasm, tried to foster social changes through law and paternalistic policies and Plans based on caste rather than on economic criteria, in order to solve the problem of age-old imbalances and cumulative disparities of power, wealth and culture. It led to politicization of Caste-system. There is a section of Indian society, which desires to completely wipe caste system out from Indian scene and create a casteless society.

Is creation of casteless society possible – It is a distant dream because –

  • So far, the supporters of “caste-less society” have not been able to suggest a better alternative of caste system or thought of  support systems and norms needed to substitute caste-system into classless society. They do not even know, how to transform the caste-based Indian society into a classless society.
  • Reluctance of common man – Common men, too, are not willing to experiment new systems. They are reluctant to replace or abandon caste-system – an institution of proven value on trial and error basis. They are not sure about the effectiveness of proposed new systems to be created by the proponents of caste-less society. Therefore, elimination of caste in social life still remains a distant dream.
  • Majority of Hindus wish for rational reforms in the already existing system Most of the Indians understand that electoral politics has given a life to casteism. That is why they wish to make improvements in the tried and tested old system by removing deformities developed into it with time. A change is good for the growth of a society. But changes must be based on constant interpretation of past experiences and opinions, present requirements and existing ground realities of the place and future prospects.

Politicization of Caste System – Though the entry of Caste and Community in politics began during British rule, under their policy to ‘Divide’ the people and ‘Rule’ as long as possible. But the seeds sown by colonial rulers flourished in full in Independent India. How?

  • Ossification of caste-system – ‘Caste’ has become a bye-word for Indian politicians. Narrow loyalties of caste and religion are encouraged in political arena. Also with the spread of education and awareness, rising aspirations of people and demands of different social groups has created added problem.
  •  Caste as easiest and powerful weapon in the hands of politicians – For almost all  Political leaders, caste is the easiest and most powerful tool to sway public opinion emotionally and to create a large vote bank for themselves. It may be called ossification of caste-system fallen into the hands of power brokers and vote guzzlers.
  • Emergence of Political identities – For political and governance purposes, the government has divided Indian population in most insensitive manner into  following unbridgeable groups – Upper castes, Scheduled Castes, Scheduled tribes, Other Backward Class and Minorities. Sectional interests are being promoted on caste or communal basis shamelessly.
  • Sub-castes and Sub-sub-castes joined hands to increase their numerical strength – Such an official division of castes has grouped together and increased the numerical strength of lower strata of Hindu society. There emerged many powerful and assertive pressure groups amongst so called Scheduled castes and Backward Class to pursue their sectional interests.
  • Beneficiary castes stick to their caste identity – So-called lower-castes are  more tenacious about their caste-identity than the higher. So that they can continue their preferential status in matter of education, jobs and other facilities offered by the government from time to time.
  • Caste Hindus side-lined – The voice of upright and honest citizens, irrespective of their caste or community, is being continuously throttled mercilessly. In present day vote-bank politics based on game of numbers, it is very easy now for the pursuers of political power to side-line them.
  • Casteism giving rise to Sub-cultures – The combination of casteism and communalism has generated sub-cultures like caste-ism, favouritism, and lure for easy money, nepotism, parochialism, communalism, regionalism etc. Bigoted sentiments and irresponsible comments are spreading in-discipline and agitation in the society.
  • Increased inter-caste and intra-caste rivalry – Inter-caste and intra-caste, inter-community and intra-community and inter-tribal and intra-tribal rivalries have increased in order to get more space caste-wise in the corridors of power.

Paternalistic policies of Government – Entry of caste in politics started with the electoral politics and with successive governments initiating some of its economic policies and practices, based on caste rather than on economic criteria. The argument, that these policies are just to uplift of submerged sections of society has led to casteism. The paternalistic policies for bringing the submerged sections of the society into mainstream and creating a casteless society has not yielded the desired results, because-

  • These policies are devised by self-proclaimed leaders and mostly administered by bureaucrats, who follow the dictates of leaders of the political party in power.
  • Plans are not rooted in local priorities or skills.
  • Selection of the beneficiaries’ castes   is biased, It often depends on patronage networks of those, who have money or political power.
  • So far, it has mostly benefitted the rural elite or creamy layer of the beneficiary castes.

Unfortunately, instead creating a better future, paternalistic policies of government have generated many complications. General public do understand that it is not because of caste system, but because of circumstances that has pushed millions away from the mainstream. Suffering of lower strata of society is mainly because of centuries old enslavement, suppression or ostracism. But  Deteriorated condition of most of such individuals, not of the whole caste has stopped growth of their personality and made them dependent on powerful lobby of society for their livelihood.

Humanitarian obligation to empower the submerged sections of society – No doubt, it is a humanitarian obligation of any civilized society to uplift and empower its submerged sections. Generally law follows social changes. But after the Independence,  Political leadership of India, in their hurry and enthusiasm to end age-old imbalances and cumulative disparities of power, wealth and culture, have tried to foster social changes through law.  Their aim was to create a casteless secular society. But, in the process knowingly or unknowingly, they have encouraged Caste-ism and communalism.

Recently, many reformers and religious/spiritual institutions are focusing their attention on community development. Many self-help groups (NGOs) have emerged all-over India. They bypass the government mechanisms and go straight communities. Wherever and whenever harnessed properly, efforts of such self-help groups have yielded rich dividends. For example the Parsi and Christian communities, institutions run by Veerashaivya Mutts of Karnataka, Ramakrishan Mission, Radhaswami Satsang, Satya Sai Baba, Sadhu Vasvani and many others are practising community based approach for the development of humanity. They provide far better municipal, civic, educational, and medical services than the government.

Conclusion

  • Both Hinduism and its caste system have not become weak or obsolete in social arena even today. Many  ideological attacks have been launched on Hinduism and its caste system from time to time.  But so far, both have not only survived   the vicissitudes of time and saved itself from erosion from within or assault from outside, but have become stronger every time.  Still, both these institutions give present Indian society a distinguished identity and a solid social structure with a system of thought, a way of life, and sense of direction.,
  • The roots of Hinduism and  its ‘Varna/jati-Pratha’, now known as caste system, are so deep that it is virtually impossible to think of India without Hinduism and its caste system. Caste-system is inseparably related to Hinduism by traditional customs, values and systems. Hinduism and caste system is going strong in India.
  • Caste system associated with Hinduism has acted as a major force, through which Hindus retained their cultural identity, while living under an alien political order, whether it was Mughal, Portuguese or British.  It was the major force for the failure of Islam, Christianity and other religions to make headway in India even after mass conversion.
  • It is not the malice of castes-Hindus, but the circumstances, that have pushed individuals from lower strata of society away from the mainstream. Suffering from centuries old enslavement, suppression and ostracism deteriorated severely the condition of lower strata of society, stopped growth of their personality and made them dependent on others for their livelihood.
  • In-spite of all the accelerated changes in the society due to modernization, technological advancement, Westernization and Globalization of Indian society and the tough times it faced so far, Hinduism and its caste system have  survived and saved itself.  Whenever, it was on decline, it not only re-emerged, but re-emerged with greater force.
  • It is a humanitarian obligation of any civilized society to uplift and empower the submerged sections of society. Generally law follows social changes. But in India, after the Independence, in order to the political leadership in their hurry and enthusiasm, tried to bring social changes through law. 

At present, the whole atmosphere is in a state of turmoil. Economy of the nation is in a critical condition. Technology has advanced to such an extent, that phones are wireless; cooking is fire-less; cars are key-less; food is fat-less; tyres are tubeless; and tools are cordless. But along with it, main organs of the Government  Political institutions are clueless and almost paralyzed because of corruption; leaders are shameless; masses are helpless; youth are jobless; relations are meaningless; feelings are heartless; education is valueless; attitude is careless, and children are manner-less. Modernity has ignited the desire for position, name and possession. . People are gradually losing faith in traditional values and systems. Even institution like family has lost its sheen. It is quite a tough job for India to cope with the new challenges. Traditional living has been like an anchor, keeping the boat in safe harbour. Now that the anchor has gone and the boat is at the mercy of wild waves on a stormy ocean.

People like C. Rajagopalachari think that If there is honesty in India today, any hospitality, any charity…. any aversion to evil, any love to be good, it is due to whatever remains of the old faith and the old culture.

At present, when people are getting away from their roots, Hinduism can make their feet firmly grounded on earth and  instil right values in them. Its values and traditions give to the people, a purpose to live for and ideals to be achieved. Only after raising oneself from ignorance, a person could be able to understand the greatness of the Indian value system. Like a jeweller, one could spot out gems from among worthless pebbles.  A knowledgeable person could pick up knowledge and leave the undesired obsolete elements developed in it with passage of time. 

Modern India is desperate to pick up the lost threads of its true culture, and beliefs. It has to create an atmosphere, where different identities can once again live together in harmony and people can say proudly “we belong to a nation known as India, Hindustan, and Bharat”.


[i]            Basham, Wonder That Was India, p51-52.

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March 24, 2021 Posted by | General, Social and political values and systems | 1 Comment

Natural, healthy & disciplined life style

Pandemic Kovid 19 2020 has reminded all human beings allover the world that nature-friendly and disciplined life style is necessary for their own survival and for leading a healthy and happy life. It is the time when humans need to slow down a little bit in this fast-moving world of 21st century.

Global warming and other negative impacts on the planet due to technological advancement is becoming undeniable. However, modern people don’t want to give-up the comforts they enjoy in their day today life. Industrial and technological advancement, and urbanization has polluted the atmosphere and has reduced available shelter for animals.

People should love all parts of Mother Nature. They can’t pick and choose what parts we like and what we don’t. Everything in Mother Nature is connected.  Still there are plenty of things, they can do to make the world a better place. It can be done by keeping a balance between, human needs, laws of nature and technological advancement. A balanced approach can keep the world running smoothly.

Natural life-style – Follow the principle of Sanatan Dharma of Hindu philosophy, which believes in ‘Nurture over Nature’. Nature means the force that controls the weather and the destiny of all living things. It is the highest law all over world. No human, no matter how ancient, or how popular, has the power to be above the laws of nature. People can not afford to over-rule the laws of nature.

Mother nature is Supreme. Human beings will never be able to control Mother Nature completely by using their money, muscle or intellectual power. Nature does not care how much money one has or what color one is. People have to understand law the law of Nature and abide by them.

Many of laws of Nature involve general respect for all living things including animals, insects, and plants. People are supposed to love all parts of Mother Nature. They can’t pick and choose what parts they like or what they don’t. Everything in Mother Nature is connected. Taking away one part may affects adversely its other parts as well. If one kills all the caterpillars, how can he complain, there are no butterflies. Mother Nature shows equal respect for absolutely everything and everyone. 

Things in nature happen slowly. It takes its own time to take a proper shape. So have patience. People should respect the pace of nature. Everything in Nature is connected. It is not possible to take away one part, people don’t like. Doing so may affect other parts as well people do enjoy.

Nature gives humans a lot. People can pay back by not polluting the atmosphere and try to make the world a better place to live in. Sometimes laws of nature can be strict as well. Nature can raise hell in the form of pandemics or natural disaster like thunderstorms, tornadoes, or hurricanes. Such times remind people the presence of the Natural force in human beings’ every day lives, as well as of its strength.

Healthy lifestyle – It is the time in the fast-moving world of 21st century, when humans need to slow down their activities a little bit, The present attempt to control the forces of Nature, as much as possible, can lead to many health problems.  Being busy and productive are often two different things, and staying busy just for the sake of it will not bring sustainable development.

People are more stressed-out than ever before, for several reasons. Rising costs of everything, increasing stresses at work, strain on relationships, no time for self-care, lack of sleep, and just the fast pace of life, in general, are huge contributors to our stress. Also, political unrest, climate anxiety, and other global issues are causing upticks in anxiety. They have no idea how to slow down. How to do it?

  • Follow the principle of ‘Purity in Ahaar (Diet), Vichaar (thoughts) and Vywhaar’ (behavior) –
  • Slow and steady wins the race – Present society belongs to multi-taskers. Switching between tasks makes us less efficient and effective. And causes both mental and physical stress.
  • ‘No Mores’ – Don’t take more than one can be handled. Do have some time to relax.
  • Follow one’s own dreams – People can get more satisfaction out of building a life centered around their dreams, interests and passions. Follow your intuition, work hard, and don’t give up till the goal is achieved. Just follow one’s own heart and let the Nature take care of the rest.
  • Turn off electronics – Being busy all the time with electronic gazettes can lead to depression, social isolation, and loneliness. 

 Disciplined life-style – Self-discipline/internal discipline means ability to control one’s feelings and overcome one’s weaknesses and avoid temptations. Self-discipline teaches people to be punctual. It is the key to lead a a more organized life. Self-discipline is not ruled by external fear or fear of punishment. Self-control is the motivating factor.

Disciplined life-style makes a person healthy, wealthy and wise. It manifests inner strength or strong willpower to stick to one’s own decisions and follow them through. It enables people to stick with their decisions (perseverance) and plans until they accomplish them (persistence). It makes it easier to overcome addictions, overeating, procrastination and laziness. Lack of self discipline can lead to failure, loss, spoiling of relationships, and health problems etc.

Some of the advantages of Self-discipline are –

  1. Disciplined life-style makes a person to be self-confident and self-reliant.
  2. Avoid acting rashly and on impulse.
  3. Fulfill promises you make to yourself and to others.
  4. Make wise and healthy choices.
  5. Overcome laziness and procrastination.
  6. Makes it a habit to to be punctual.

Conclusion –  A balanced natural, healthy and disciplined life-style can make people happier than they are today, bring improvement in all aspects of human’s: relationships, work, fitness and health, and emotional well-being etc. and make the world a better place to live in.

November 3, 2020 Posted by | General, Social and political values and systems | | Leave a comment

System of Employment in ancient and modern India

“Your work is going to fill a large part of your and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love, what you do.” 

Introduction – The process of industrialization, modernization have drastically changed the traditional system pattern of occupations/employment and work culture of India. Specially 21st century led to the rapid advancement in information technology. It has completely changed the modern employment system. From community-based, it has become individual based. It has given freedom to individuals to choose any profession of their own choice/liking, without making them mature enough to know what they want. Growing aversion for traditional occupations has adversely affected employment prospects of many youth, especially unskilled/semi-skilled workers living in rural areas.

The history of the employment pattern in Indiacan be divided into –

System of Employment in ancient and medieval India

(From beginning up till 16th-17th century)

Ancient jobs came into existence, because of the most basic needs of human beings. Even today, many of ancient jobs exist still exist despite of digitisation and modernisation. Such as since beginning teaching was considered a noble profession not only in India, but across the world. Writers, accountants, doctors, artists, officers etc held high positions in the courts of kings and monarchs. Architects and builders were in great demand. The history of agriculture in India dates back to the Indus Valley Civilization era. Then there were miners, carpenters, brick-makers, hunters, butchers, massage therapists etc.

Principles behind the traditional way of Occupations – In ancient and medieval India, assignment of work was based on certain realities, principles and way of life –

  • Principle of Varna, Dharma and Karma – Principles of ‘Varna, karma and Dharma’  guided the employment pattern of India.
    • Principle of       ‘Varna’ had assigned duties to different social groups according to their natural instincts and qualities. It did fourfold division of occupations and their performers –       Brahmins, were assigned the work of learning, research and development. Action-oriented Kshatriyas were given the job of defense and maintenance of law and order in the       society; to Vaishyas, of trade and commerce; and to Shudras all kinds of service- functions. Principle of Varna had assigned duties to different groups according to people’s natural instincts and qualities.
    •  Principles of ‘Dharma’ and ‘Karma’ developed clear-cut vision of rights and duties/responsibilities of each group, considering the requirements of different occupations. The system managed well the daily necessities and day to day relation of its members. It  boosted morale of the people and promoted social equilibrium and solidarity. Principle of ‘Karma’       created the work culture. It gave stress to duty.
  • Traditional system of employment based on attitude and aptitude of human beings – The traditional system of occupations had maintained differentiation between various occupations, which was dependent on attitude and aptitude of people rather than on birth. Hinduism believes that the whole world of activities is a result of complex intermixing of three basic qualities of human nature – goodness (Satva, purity, peace and knowledge), Rajas/Passion (associated with comfort and action) and Tamas/dullness (with ignorance, sloth, sleep and carelessness). These qualities determined the tendencies, potentialities, limitations, traits and character of individuals and give them direction for action. It makes individuals different from each other in attitude, aptitude, physical and mental capacity, aspirations, like and dislikes, inclination and expectations.
  • System not too rigid – The system was not so rigid in matter of occupations as had been portrayed by alien rulers. The work in the sectors of agriculture or army was open to all. Members of any Varna did not exercise monopoly or authority over a particular occupation. It is an established fact of Indian History that Brahmin or even Shudras sometimes became the kings. There were times when gap between Vaishyas and Shudras became narrow or when Shudras acquired a better position in the society. Khatriyas and Shudra were accepted and revered as philosophers or spiritual teachers. Great respect had even earned by persons from humblest origin as a right. They had the all opportunity to pursue knowledge and reach up-to the top.
  • Stress on “duty, tolerance and sacrifice” – Whereas, Western cultures have grown around the idea of `rights” forming the natural foundation of human relationship, systems in India evolved around the concept of “duty, tolerance and sacrifice”. Emphasis on duty had made people or groups humble and tolerant. Sacrifice was regarded far more important than success, and renunciation was regarded as the crowning achievement.
  • Stress on ‘Self-discipline’, self-direction and ‘Self-effort’ –The system as a whole  encouraged interdependence in social matters. Each and every social group was expected to lead a self- restraint      and self-disciplined life-style  in all respect, be it in the matter of daily      routine, occupation or inter-group relationship. There was automatic de-centralization of       control systems and authority. The separation of rights and duties       combined with the principle of inter-dependence developed its own system       of checks and balances over arbitrary use of one’s authority.
  • Segmental Ranking according to relevance and contribution to society – There was no hard and fast rule of ranking of different social groups. Ranking of different occupational groups was dependent on factors like relevance, usefulness and contribution of their profession to society as a whole. Other considerations like self-discipline; sense of hygiene and cleanliness (relative purity) on the basis of climatic conditions of the region; morality; knowledge and spiritual standards; conduct and life-style usually determined their social, economic or political status in the society vis-a vis others.  Ranking system did not put different groups within a framework of hierarchical layers of social order, each fitting neatly below the other, but more or less as a series of vertical parallels.

Higher a group, greater were the self-restrictions on its conduct through rituals. Brahmins (intelligentsia) commanded respect of the whole society. They, being at highest place in the society, were put under maximum restrictions. They were supposed to lead a simple life, devoted to the spiritual and intellectual pursuits and denied accumulation of wealth.

  • Respect and honour not dependent on birth – Respect and honour was not dependent on birth. It was the deeds of a person which attracted the attention of the society. Sage Vashishta was the son of Uravshi, a prostitute, but he is highly respected allover India as the principal of the conservative school of Brahmanism. So was ‘Kshatriya’ Vishwamitra, the maker of the Gayatri Mantra, the quintessence of the Vedic Brahmanism, is recited even as of today almost in every house every day and on all auspicious occassions. Aitreya, after whom the sacramental part of Rig-Veda is named as Aitreya Brahamana, was the son from a non-Aryan wife of a Brahman sage. Vyasa of Mahabharata fame was the son of a fish-woman. Balmiki, the original author of Ramayana, was an untouchable according to present standards, but is still highly respected.
  • Disassociation between Wealth and knowledge/skills – Unlike West, there is disassociation between Wealth and knowledge/skills. The value system of India has separated wealth from status, power from authority, pursuit and achievement in knowledge from temptations of worldly comforts.
  • Stress on knowledge and duty – Whereas, in Western societies social status of a person or organization has always been associated with material success or control of power, authority. In India, status of a person is determined on the basis of its knowledge, purity, discipline and moral standards.
  • Division of labour – Traditional way of occupation believed in the principle of division of labour. All functions needed for the maintenance and growth of the society were divided into different occupations. On the basis of natural endowments, intelligence, aptitudes, attitudes, skills, personal needs and other innate characteristics, each group was assigned a distinct function to perform. Thus the system gave job-satisfaction to almost all individuals except for a few and managed smoothly daily necessities and day to day relation of its members.
  • Automatic system of checks and balances – Indian system of division of labour based on the principle of Varna, Dharma and Karma had developed such systems, that kept control over arbitrary use of any social/local group over others. Separation of rights and duties combined with the principle of inter dependence provided its own system of checks and balances over arbitrary use of one’s authority. There was an automatic decentralization of authority.
    • Each occupational group or caste had an independent entity, having its own hierarchy, based either on a tribal identity or an occupational identity. developed understanding amongst people for their liberties, limits and responsibilities.
    • The plurality of society provided automatic checks and balances and controlled the arbitrariness or unbalanced growth of power of any group.  Indian peasantry in UP, Bihar and MP were armed.  In fact, non-Kshatriya peasant provided leadership of most armed bands, which were numerically predominant and economically and politically strong at the village level.  The monopoly of powerful peasant was a reality of the rural life of Medieval India. The Brahmin strongholds were the centers of learning.  The floating population, consisting groups like Gujjars, Bhattis, Rajput rangers, who remained outside caste system, were so strong, that they terrorized settled agriculturists for centuries.  Forests, which competed with arable land in size and importance, till the 18th century, gave shelter and food to large sections of society and served as havens for those in search of escape from society.
  • Not much disparity – Categorization of people as backwards, forwards or weaker sections was almost non-existent at that time. The system was so conceived by the genius sages and ‘Munies’ (intelligentsia of ancient India) that there was hardly any room for any Varna to consider itself, as being placed in greater or lesser disadvantageous position with reference to another.
    Segmental ranking of different groups was done according to relevance and contribution of their occupations to society. Social status of different occupational groups was dependent on their relative self-discipline (relative purity), morality, knowledge and spiritual standards. Considerations of self-discipline, hygiene and cleanliness on the basis of climatic conditions of the region were given importance.
  • No confusion, bitterness, rivalry or frustration on matter of work – There was no confusion, unhealthy rivalry or frustration on matter of work, because everybody had his traditional occupation. It avoided rivalry or bitterness for pelf, power or position amongst different sections of society.

In ancient India, illiterate masses got the benefit of researches and knowledge of intelligentsia – learned sages and Munies. On the basis of their scholarly researches and experiences, the sages prescribed certain guidelines in the form of rituals to for the benefit of common men and keeping order in the society. In modern societies, this job is done by the national governments by enacting laws and forcing people to follow them.

  • Downward filtration of culture – It made downward filtration of culture, sophisticated language and knowledge possible. In modern society, everybody lives in one’s own world, hardly having any interaction with others. There are watertight compartments between different groups living in an area.
  • Principle of ‘Work is worship’ – All occupations were regarded worth pursuing. Principle of Dharma inspired people to do their jobs well, as all worldly honour and spiritual happiness were vested there. It assured the people that proper performance of one’s work, whether high or humble, whether of a priest, warrior, Shudra or yogi were equally important for the society and were, therefore, right, respectable and worth pursuing. It brought worldly honour and spiritual happiness for individuals and provided the whole society a quality of life.

Occupational pattern of India had filled the community with a sense of duty and trained them in      obedience.

  • Sense of duty stopped those in power to exercise coercion      against its working class.
    • Also it prevented resentment amongst masses.
    • It      helped Indians to adjust themselves, without much difficulty, to most      drastic changes in the past.
    • The systems stopped people from taking law in      their own hands. While other nations passed through many bloody      revolutions, India kept on adapting itself to changing times. In ancient      Greece, Rome or other European countries, people were made to work under the threat of a whip.
  • “Adharma”, “Alasya” and “Agyan” responsible for unemployment – Instead of blaming others for unemployment, “Adharma” (immoral behavior), “Alasya” (laziness) and “Agyan” (ignorance) were held responsible for unemployment and for all evils like exploitation, poverty, miseries and helplessness of the people that follow unemployment automatically.

These principles together had helped India to have more production, economic efficiency and specialization in various areas of activities. It had led to accomplish skill in different areas, specialization, success and happiness, decentralized authority and resources, made management within each unit effective and organized human and social behaviour in tune with the objectives of the society.

Salient features of traditional pattern of Employment – The traditional occupational pattern of India is unique in many way. Like –

  • Employment, dignity and honour for all – Traditional/hereditary occupational pattern had provided employment, dignity and honour to all. Each individual and every group served the community in one way or the other and was, therefore, satisfied. All the social groups lived the life of dignity and honour with the feeling that they, too, were contributing something to the society. All castes including untouchables were assigned important social duties. There was no dearth of employment opportunities for persons willing to work.
  • No monopoly over any profession– Members of any  caste group did not exercise monopoly over a profession. It is an established fact of Indian History that Brahmin or even Shudras sometimes became the kings. Khatriyas and Shudra were accepted and revered as philosophers or spiritual teachers.

HT Colebrooke, one of the early Sanskrit Scholars says, “It may be received as a general maxim that occupation appointed for each tribe is entitled merely to a preference. Every profession, with few exceptions, was open to every description of persons and the discouragement arising from religious prejudices is not greater than what exists in Great Britain from the effects of Municipal and Corporate laws.” (Quoted from ‘Indian Express’, dated 18.9.90, p 8).

In England and other European nations, it was not uncommon for a clergyman, a lawyer or soldier to educate and train his sons for his own profession. The association of merchants or craftsmen, who followed the same profession came to be known as Guilds. These guilds were generally found there in medieval period. The reason why these guilds were formed was to maintain standards, to sell any product for a fair price and to protect the interests of associate members. (https://brainly .in)

  • Local character – The whole of society living in a local area had control over its natural resources. All local groups, whether high or low, living in an area mutually depended and supported for fulfilling different kind of needs and cared for each other. Local character and semi-autonomous nature of the system made close interaction and cooperation between different groups a reality.
  • Combination of inter-dependence and self-reliance – Inter-dependence in social life and self-reliance in personal life were the intrinsic features of ancient system making each local area self-sufficient. Interdependence of different groups made it possible to have close contact amongst the people living in a local area. People whether living in a village or city, were bound together by economic and social ties and had a strong bond of mutual dependence.

Not a single group could claim to be self-sufficient, capable to survive alone and fulfil all needs of its people. Still people enjoyed a large measure of freedom in respect of their personal matters. The system as a whole was capable to fulfil all the needs of its people. There was not much disparity between different occupational groups or between urban and rural people in ancient India.

  • Developed a common bond– The system developed a common bond underlying their activities and minds. There was closeness and cooperation within each and every group, engaged in their own occupation due to common callings, common problems, and common solutions. The whole system together provided the society a quality of life.
  • More convenient and economical – According to “Smritis” the qualities and deeds of an individuals fitted them into a particular group of occupation, not birth. Later on, upbringing, atmosphere and convenience tended to make these occupational groups hereditary. People found it more economical and convenient to practice one’s own traditional occupation. Gradually different hereditary occupational groups emerged in the society.
    • Specialization – System as a whole evolved an atmosphere, where a high level of specialization and wisdom in different areas of activities could be achieved. Being constantly in contact with the family occupation, it was natural for the people to learn maximum about their traditional occupations. The system as a whole had led the society to have more production, economic efficiency and specialization in various areas of activities like spinning, weaving, pottery making, bead making, seal making, terra-cotta, handicrafts, brick-laying, metal work etc.
    • Natural training without investment -The practice of joining the traditional occupation led the people to learn basic qualifications and tricks of the trade within their families itself without investment. Skills, knowledge, intelligence, abilities, and professional experiences and expertise were passed on from one generation to another. Children, while growing up, learnt about hidden intricacies/skills of their profession and solutions of its occupational problems, informally from their elders, with every breath in a natural way. They learnt the skills of the job under the guidance of ‘elders’, while growing up. The system as a whole increased the confidence of the employees and saved them from confusion or unhealthy competition.
    • Spawning bed for professional skills – The system served as a spawning bed for inculcating skills in employees for different types of occupations. The practice of joining traditional occupations had transferred and developed skills and knowledge (technical as well as occupational) and experiences of those, who were already working in that specific area. It was through practice, and experiences; not through formal classroom lectures, which often kills originality and verve of people. By its very nature, it encouraged the development and preservation of local skills. There was a tendency to bring in the most diversified skills to high level of excellence. By its very nature, it encouraged the development and preservation of local skills. There was a tendency to bring in the most diversified skills to high level of excellence.
    • Reservoir of natural leaders – Don Martindale said that India possessed a reservoir of natural leaders, Brahman naturally trained in literary skills, Kshatriyas in art of leadership and different service groups in skills. It has been seen that a Marwari, traditionally belonging to business community, invests his money in share market with more ease and confidence than a graduate from other communities possessing a degree in business management. It was with their sincere efforts that the nation entered into modern era without any cultural break.
  • Job-satisfaction – Hindu philosophy says  “In life, only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe”.  The ancient system of employment gave job-satisfaction to almost all individuals except for a few and managed smoothly daily necessities and day to day relation of its members. All castes including untouchables were assigned important social duties, which gave them a sense of belonging and made them indispensable part of the whole society.
  • Bitterness or rivalry between different occupational groups for money or power was almost missing.

The traditional system of occupation of ancient and medieval India had led the society to have more production, economic efficiency and expertise in almost all the areas and activities like spinning, weaving, pottery making, bead making, seal making, terra-cotta, handicrafts, brick-laying, metal work etc. The system worked so well that when the world was passing through the Dark Age, India was full of light. The first few centuries are recognized as the golden period of Indian history. During this period, arts, commerce, crafts, philosophy and knowledge flourished magnificently.

Many travellers visiting India, from alien lands at different points of time, confirmed that India possessed huge wealth, knowledge, and quality of life. It was a cheerful land. Each person found a niche in the social system. Its people reached a high level of intelligence having specialization in different areas.

Problems of traditional pattern of employment- Since, most of the occupations were community-based and not individual based. There was not much choice to individuals in matter of occupation in traditional system. With the passage of time, the system became too rigid. It put hurdles on the way of creative minds of some individuals, who were not allowed to pursue work of their interest. The rigidity led to heartburn and heart-burn to changes, somewhere rationally, and somewhere it happened in a jest for change.

India during Medieval Period – During medieval period India was continuously invaded by Turks, Afghans and Mughals. Earlier, they drained out the wealth of the nation to foreign lands.  But afterwards, they conquered and made India their homeland. There were times, when intolerance of Mughal rulers towards their Hindu subjects made it difficult for Hindus to preserve indigenous culture. Besides, the feudalistic attitude, extravagance and luxurious life style of Mughal rulers and those at the helm of authority, increased the disparity between the rulers and the ruled.

It has been pointed out by many sociologists that leading sociologists pointed out, there was no dearth of employment for aspiring workers.  A substantial labour market existed.  In addition to their hereditary occupation, agriculture and army were open to all sections of society.  The basic qualification for belonging to any class was mainly the possession of basic qualifications to that specific job. Such as for belonging to Kshatriya class, bravery and management skill was necessary. This class was most open to anybody irrespective of caste or creed. It has accommodated many, both indigenous or alien people.

Period of transition

(World entering from medieval era to modernity)

Modern period starts after middle ages. Early modern period starts after middle ages.  Roughly from 16th century to the late 18th century was the period of transition. It was the time when industrial revolution had  begun in Europe, though in early stages. It was the beginning Industrial Revolution, which led the world to Modernization. Historians have identified several causes for the Industrial Revolution, including: the emergence of capitalism, European imperialism, efforts to mine coal, and the effects of the Agricultural Revolution. The pace of social, economic, occupational and political changes, brought by modernization and industrialization process all-over the word were much faster than that of agricultural era. It has influenced the thinking, behaviour pattern and work-culture of all the societies.

Process of Modernization and Industrialization – The pace of social, economic, occupational and political changes, brought by modernization and industrialization process all-over the word were much faster than that of agricultural era. It has influenced the thinking, behaviour pattern and work-culture of the societies all-over the world.  

Part 1 (Early Modern Period)

Phases of Industrialization – The process of modernization began and progressed gradually mainly due to industrialization. Following have been the phases of Industrialization —

  • First phase of industrialization (discovery of steam engine) – The First Industrial Revolution used water and steam power to mechanize production. Mechanization started in England replacing agriculture by industry as the backbone of the societal economy. The exponent growth of textile industry led Britain to new inventions in transportation to transport the raw materials to the factories and manufactured goods to customers. By 1830, steam powered industrialization helped Britain to develop railways, which had facilitated manufacturers a cheap way to transport materials and finished products.

The railroad boom has created hundreds of thousands of new jobs for both railroad workers and miners. The railroad industry spawns new industries and inventions and increases the productivity of others. It, in turn, led to better technology, and increased the total volume of world trade.

In the late 18th century, and during the 19th century Industrial revolution spread to Belgium, Germany, Northern France, United States, and Japan. By and large, those countries benefited from industrialization who had the necessary components of land, labour and capital, and often government support.

With the constant growth of industrialization, demand for raw materials also grew. It also led to the emergence of the concept of capitalism and European imperialism.

  • The second phase of industrialisation (the age of science and mass production) – The Second phase of industrialization used Electricity, gas, and oil to create mass production. It started at the end of the 19th century, with massive technological advancements in the field of industries that helped the emergence of a new source of energy.  Other important points of the second industrial revolution was the development for steel demand, chemical synthesis and methods of communication such as the telegraph and the telephone.  The inventions of the automobile, and the plane in the beginning of the 20th century was done during the times of Second Industrial Revolution.
  • Third industrial revolutions (Rise of digital technology) Third industrial revolutions happened in the second half of the 20th century (around 1970). It used electronics and information technology to automate production. It brought forth the rise of electronics, telecommunications and of course computers. New technologies, have opened the doors to space expeditions, research, and biotechnology. Two major inventions, Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs) and Robots helped give rise to an era of high-level automation.
  • The fourth Industrial Revolution (Era of artificial intelligence) – It is happening right now. The possibilities of billions of people connected by mobile devices, with unprecedented processing power, storage capacity, and access to knowledge, are unlimited. And these possibilities will be multiplied by emerging technology breakthroughs in fields such as artificial intelligence, robotics, the Internet of Things, autonomous vehicles, 3-D printing, nanotechnology, biotechnology, materials science, energy storage, and quantum computing. People are experiencing it every day. Everyone uses internet every single day. And its magnitude is yet unknown. Already, artificial intelligence is all around us, from self-driving cars and drones to virtual assistants and software that translate or invest.

Positive effects of Industrialization – The effects of industrialization included –

  • Large scale production of goods.
  • Urbanization or expansion of the cities.
  • Machines have helped people do their work more quickly. It has saved their time and labour.
  • Demand for raw material increased.
  • Productivity has been optimized,
  • Improved access of food and other items to the customers.
  • Considerable rise in the standard of living of the people.
  • Surplus products results in cheaper prices.
  • Significant population growth.

Prosperity and poverty has grown simultaneously during era of industrialization and modernization.

Adverse effects of the process of modernization and Industrialization – The trend of Industrialization and modernity has started disintegrating under its own weight. It has affected the global society adversely in some spheres. Like –

  • Mal-distribution of wealth and power has pushed the world towards many wars including the two world wars.
  • Global warming – Industrialization has contributed to negative environmental externalities, such as pollution, increased greenhouse gas emission, and global warming. The separation of capital and labour creates a disparity in incomes between laborers and those who control capital resources.
  • Creation of Super Powers – Industrial revolution originated in Europe, therefore, during initial period of industrial revolution money power was centred in Europe. It was after Second World War, that USA and USSR emerged as super powers and became financially the strongest. The collapse of USSR in 1990 as superpower, made economic dominance of USA unchallenged.
  • Internationally, the developing and underdeveloped nations are trying hard to make their place in world economy. And within a nation, sharp social and economic differences were seen between different regions, and between rural and urban areas.
  • Industrial Revolution is responsible for dividing the world into “haves” and “have-nots” countries, with many of the latter being controlled by in some the former. 

Part II

India and Britain during Cusp period

The early modern period began in the 16th century. At that point of time Mughal Empire had conquered most of the Indian sub-continent. It had become the biggest global economy and manufacturing power. The status of India and Britain at that time was –

India, before the process of Modernization beganTill the year 1577, during Mughal period Indian sub-continent was the biggest global economy and manufacturing power. As Ałex Von Tunzelmann describes, India was ” a vast, mighty and magnificent empire, brilliantly organized and culturally unified. It dominated a massive swath of the earth.  An average Indian peasant enjoyed  a relatively higher income, and lower taxation. Than his descendants ever would again. Though under Mughal rule, it’s people, Hindus, Sikhs and Buddhists were allowed the freedom of conscience and custom.” And

Britain at that point of time “At the same point of time, England was an undeveloped, semi feudal realm, riven legions factionalism and barely able to feed its illiterate, diseased and stinking masses areas and worked on land, going hungry during the frequent food shortages. They were prevented from moving into industry by the protectionist rackets of guild entry fees Begging was common. Nations ten thousand vagabonds were the terror of the land. Quality of life was not good. About two third population lived at subsistence  levels.” (Ałex Von Tunzelmann, Indian Summer, the secret history of the end of Empire, P. 11-12) .

However, The process of industrialization and modernization Britain and India reversed the situation. India became an underdeveloped country under British domination, while Britain came to be known as an advanced nation.

Britain prospering the most during the cusp period  The process of industrialization had benefited England, the most. It increased its economic and political power. The first Industrial Revolution began in England, and many technological innovations during this period happened in Britain. By 1750, Britain had developed industrialization of its textile industry. By the mid-18th century Britain was the world’s leading commercial nation. Britain first came to trade and not to conquer india. The Anglo-Indian trade was monopolized by the East India Company. The prosperity of Britain due to its industrial growth had led  it towards colonization of India and other lands, eventually building a worldwide British Empire.

The factors, which helped Britain – The factors, which helped Britain in increasing its prosperity along with its political and economic power were –

  • Though it took part in many wars during the 1700s, but none of them took place on British soil,
  • Political stability – By 1750 Parliament’s power far exceeded that of the king, and its members passed laws that protected business and helped expansion.
  • Its citizens did not seriously question the government’s authority.
  • Took initiative to do a series of inventions built on the principles of mass production, mechanization, and interchangeable parts.
  • Built up the economic practices and structures necessary for economic expansion,
  • Banks were well established, and they provided loans for businessmen to invest in new machinery and expand their operations.
  • Encouraged experienced persons having experience with trading and manufacturing goods.
  • By 1914, two great canals shortened sea journeys by thousands of miles. The Suez Canal built by the British and French in the 1850s linking the Mediterranean Sea to the Red Sea, and Panama Canal (completed in 1913). It encouraged trade and transportation between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. With the beginning of sea travel, journeys that had once taken months or years reduced to days or weeks.

The benefits and power, England got from its Industrial growth led it towards colonization of other lands, eventually building a worldwide British Empire.

Factors that pushed India backwards India lagged much behind the European powers for almost 200 years after the process of modernization and industrialization began there. The progress remained very slow as far as modernization and industrialization during the first two phases of industrial revolution, the first one, which revolutionized agriculture and textile production and the second one, when science was fused with technology – 

  • India was under British domination. The policies followed by the British rulers in India was not favourable to the interest of the country.
  • British imperial rule tried to undermine every pillar of old agricultural societies. It changed the traditional job-pattern and work culture tremendously. In agricultural societies, economics, employment and work culture revolved around long lasting structures.
  • Initially the changes, brought in by industrial revolution, were opposed strongly by forces of feudal agrarianism, landed gentry, traditionalist, superstations and social reformers/cultural elite.
  • Exploitative policies of British rulers –  
    • The colonial rule destroyed textile and handicrafts industries through their policies.
    • Flooded the market with machine made goods cheaper than hand-made products.
    • Indian farmers were forced to produce cotton plantation so that it can fuel English factories. It primarily remained producing country which ultimately retarded the industrial development of the country in its early period.
    • Britain policy of ‘divide and rule’ to perpetuate its rule, led to inter-caste/inter communal rivalries, inter group conflicts, which has done irreparable damage to India.

India under British dominationDuring first two industrial revolutions and initial period of modernization India was under British domination. The progress of Industrial development in India remained was very slow for about 200 years, when India was under  British rule. India remained to produce low technology, low productivity, low wage and low profit items. As against this, Britain, along with other European nations, was producing high technology, high productivity, high wage and high profit commodities.  It left India economically far behind the advanced nations.

Britain used India for its own advantage – For British rulers India was a source of raw materials for British industries and a market for its finished products. They flooded the Indian market with machine made cheap goods, Seeing the growing demand for raw material, British rulers forced Indian farmers to  grow cash crops in place of food crops and to  produce cotton plantation, which can fuel English factories. It resulted in awfully deadly famines in India.

Be it the pattern of occupations/employment or work culture, everything, started changing drastically. From community-based, it has become individual based. It has given freedom to individuals to choose any profession of one’s own choice/liking. Such a change has led to growing aversion towards the traditional occupations. And it has adversely affected employment prospects of youth, especially unskilled living in rural areas.

The first industrial undertaking was established in India only after the first railways had been constructed in 1851. The development in 1854 of the cotton textile industry in India – the first important large scale industry marks the dawn of a new industrial era in India. Throughout British rule, India mainly remained the source of raw materials for British industries and a market for its finished products. India remained to produce low technology, low productivity, low wage and low profit items. As against this, Britain, along with other European nations, was producing high technology, high productivity, high wage and high profit commodities.  It left India economically far behind the advanced nations.

Changes in the system of Occupations in Independent India – The modernization and industrialization process, especially under the guidance of British during the 19th Century changed the scene. Gradually, many traditional occupations became less paying and were regarded more hazardous and more time consuming.

White collared jobs gained importance – White collared jobs gained importance. The more, a person withdrew from physical labour, the more civilized, honored and qualified he was regarded by the modern society. It resulted in discrediting many traditional occupations and in destruction of Indian handicrafts and cottage industry.  It scattered the efforts, sense of direction and manufacturing skills of millions of artisans, craftsman, weavers etc.  A few of them joined modern occupations. The majority could neither enter the modern sector nor stick to traditional occupations considering the menial work derogatory.  They had no option, but to either join the band of agricultural laborers, industrial workers, marginal labour or increase the number of unemployed. The outcome of such a development has been the casualty of workers, first, their work style, commitment, motivation and culture afterwards. Many groups had lost their creativity, sense of achievement and pride.

Some entrepreneurs with money, education and awareness did market surveys and hijacked many traditional occupations.  Occupations like mechanization of fishing or leather industry were modernized by them and made profit oriented. Even less capital-intensive occupation, such as barber, washerman etc., have been taken up by educated middle class. Hitherto, these occupations were viewed with disdain and contempt by modern society. These have been, therefore, re-christened as saloon, laundry etc. It employed workers, largely from poor traditional workers, earlier practicing such occupations independently.

Technological development in India after IndependenceThe Pace of Technological advancement was quite slow immediately after Independence. There were many constraints at that time, like

  • Political constraints – The imperial rule of about 200 years had left behind in 1947 not a unified India, but about 560 princely states, big and small. After Independence India aimed to build up a rapidly expanding and technologically progressive economy  and move forward quickly and establish a new economic order in which common people could have better deal. It has chosen the most difficult form of government, democracy, along with the concepts of Welfare State and development Administration. Its survival is a miracle. When British left India, British PM Churchill had warned that  its public service would collapse and country would fall back rapidly ‘into the barbarism and privations of Middle Ages.’ But not only that democracy in India (poor, diverse and divided) survived, but prospered as a world’s largest democracy. Thanks to the efforts and vision of Sardar Patel, Deputy PM and First Home Minister of Independent India.
  • Disturbances – Very few nations in the world have started out with greater initial difficulties of political, economic, social and administrative character as India had to do. The partition of the nation, unification of the country, the three wars (with China  1962 and with Pakistan in 1965, and 1971), the swelling streams of nearly a crore of refugees from Bangla-Desh and from Sri Lanka, divisive forces like casteism, communalism, Naxalism, terrorism and regional separatist insurgencies etc, which base themselves on cultural and linguistic variations of the country had been posing a threat to the unity and stability of the nation as a whole.
  • Absence of enough capital or skilled personnel – Apart  from it, India faced other problems as well soon after Independence. In the absence of enough capital or skilled personnel or able management and efficiency organisation, the level of productivity has remained low, leaving little surplus for saving and capital formation.  In addition to all this, by and large, the absence of able and honest leadership and lack of efficient and clean administration are the main reasons for persistent economic backwardness.
  • Lack of infrastructural facilities – Over and above it, there has been other constraints like poor capital formation, pervasive corruption, and lack of infrastructural facilities. In the absence of proper transportation (rail and road) and communication facilities in many parts of the country, regional imbalances as industrial development could not be attained in those regions, which have huge development potentialities. There has been a wide gap between Targets and Achievements.

Initially slow pace of development – After independence, India worked mainly on mining, textile, iron and steel, and chemical sectors. Though the pace of industrial development remained slow for quite some time. But what appeared as an unattainable dream in early ‘60s, when the space program was born with establishment of ISRO, it tried its best.

After third Industrial revolution – Despite all the constraints, India has not only picked up the backlog, it has missed during first two industrial revolutions, but by the time third industrial revolution happened during 1970s, it emerged as one of the most successful in the world after third great information technology revolution. Earlier in the eyes of Western society, India was supposed to be the land of ‘mysticism, poverty and snake-charmers’. Now it is known as a nation, which plays with the “Mouse”, while present Prime Minister Modi describing its role in IT sector all-over the world.

With Liberalization, dreams appeared to come true – The dream appeared to come true, when through economic reforms in 1990’s   government in India tried to push aside its suffocating red tape of India’s quasi-socialist controlled economy and unleashed the country’s entrepreneurial spirit. By 1990, several key sectors of economy like automobiles, pharmaceuticals, construction and telecommunication have undergone a virtual revolution. Between 1999 and 2002, India started progressing,  especially its the IT industry developed at a very fast speed.

Since the early 1990s, the Indian IT industry has been growing at a phenomenal rate with several phases of growth and development over the last three decades. Digital technology, Artificial Intelligence, Cloud Computing, etc., are all common words today. Bangalore, one of the most dynamic cities in the world, also known as the Silicon Valley of Asia, is in India. Bangalore is home to multinational software companies, hundreds of start-ups, and tech companies that implement the latest technologies to deliver new products to the market. The future is here, and it’s definitely in India.

Progress during 2002 to 2012 – In the decade from 2002 to 2012, India was at the path of progress. The government was able to reach out to the people, providing communication through networks in remote areas, disaster warning systems, quick resource surveys to target ground water, save our forest cover and so on. The dreams of many Indians in the agricultural, scientific, artistic, cultural and social fields have also come true.

People’s expectations risen – People’s expectations from the government has risen. Now it desired to come out of the narrow confines of casteism and communalism and take a place in the modern economy. But soon, people’s aspirations got a set-back and the growth slowed down because of scams and corruption at the highest level of the government. A result Congress government was wiped out in the general elections of 2014 and Modi Government came in.

Under Modi government after 2014 – After 2014,under Modi government, India emerged as a strong nation and people have started dreaming about a prosperous India without poverty, an India strong in trade and commerce, an India strong in many fields of science and technology, an India with innovative industry and with health and education for all has remained just partially realized.

Present position – Demographically, India is a young nation. At present, 70% of its population is younger than 35 today. If the government in India wants to create jobs for 400-500 million illiterates and 200-250 million semi-ill-literates, that too, of their choice, it is practically impossible. For youths born and brought up in Independent and economically liberalized India, the atmosphere has become stifling.  The main reason behind it is the issue of unemployment or under-employment.

Effect of Corona infection (COVID-19) virus on employment – Right now, India, a country of 1.3 billion people, is facing one of the biggest crisis due to COVID-19 pandemic. It is likely to result in economic recession. It has induced market instability and nationwide complete or partial lockdown in India since March 25, 2020 to fight COVID-19. Since then thee has been a sharp rise in unemployment and stress on supply. Estimates of job loss showed that 80% jobs were affected in urban economy, most of which were self-employed. 54% jobs were affected in rural economy, most of which were casual employment. (June 11 2020, https:// economictimes.indiatimes.com) 

Changes in matter of employment due to Political, social, and economic reasons –   Modernization and Industrialization has brought in many drastic changes in the Indian society  especially after Independence. There have been many changes in the pattern of family life, values, attitudes occupational and economic life, work-atmosphere, business culture, power equation, political environment and inter-relationship of various individuals, groups and organizations.  There had been shifts in population, ecology, and technology. Following are the changes which have been brought in by the process of industrialization and modernization –

  • Emergence of new social classes (capitalists, a working class, and the middle class)  – The erosion of traditional pattern of occupation divided Indian people created new classes in the Indian society: –
    • People, for whom work was essential for survival. (Lower class people)
  • People, who were educated and loved to work for self-advancement and prosperity (Middle class people).
  • People, who lived on other’s labour benefiting from their position in society.(Upper Class persons)
  • Developed mass-culture – Industrialization has initiated the culture of mass capital, mass production, mass-consumption, mass media and mass democracy.
  • Money the prime motivator of workforce – Industrialization shifted the attention of the people to generate more wealth. People were desperately dependent on money for their survival. Money became the prime motivator of workforce, the main tool of social control and political power. (Toffler, Power shift) The most basic struggle was over the distribution of wealth-who gets what?
  •  More freedom to individuals to select occupation of their choice – There  is no doubt that Industrialization has given more freedom to individuals to select occupation of their choice. They could feel more liberated, while living in anonymity in urban areas.
  • Dependence on machinery increased – Gradually it has increased dependence on machines. Machines are usually heavy, rigid and capital intensive. Initially work in factories  was unskilled, standardized and broken into simplest possible operations. All the workers were equally good, easily interchangeable like parts of a machine. Numerous unemployed people were always available. The workers were kept ignorant and powerless by keeping information restricted. Workers were chained to industrial discipline. Their life in the factory was tightly regimented.
  • Formal income-generating skills training programs – Industrialization along with the process of modernization had changed tremendously the system of transferring knowledge and skills of various professions, shape of job-market, opportunities for employment and work culture. Instead of learning the tricks of the trade from their elders and getting advantage of their long experiences, the people learn about income-generating skills in the educational institutions. Slowly and steadily importance of formal degrees and certificates has increased for getting employed.

There is no doubt that India’s developmental needs require to harness science and technology in order to develop a modern India. However, the present employment pattern has created some problems as well.  

Adverse effect of modernization along with industrialization on Indian society – Industrial revolution along with modernization process together has changed the power structure, values, work-culture and socio-economic-political atmosphere of the whole world, including India.

  • Too many changes overloaded the people – In the present space age, everything is moving very fast including knowledge, due to revolution in information technology. It is increasing faster than human ability to handle it. Before people could cope with too many changes in too short a time, the world has moved in for yet third major revolution of Information technology somewhere around 1970. It has again changed the whole scenario.

Too many changes too soon have overloaded people, individuals, organizations and the nation. It has led to disorientation and incapacity of human beings to guide its course. The pace of social, economic and political changes, brought in during the industrial era, was much faster than that of agricultural era. It has influenced the thinking, behaviour pattern and work-culture of the whole of Indian society.

  • Decay of village industries – Industrialization led to the decay of village industries as the competition was directly with the cheap machine goods. The British rulers discouraged local genius, cottage industries and fine arts.  It had made many traditional occupations obsolete.  The British apathy towards indigenous skills, knowledge and occupations pushed millions backward in a very subtle manner and loosened the sanctity of caste rules and caste consciousness in matters of occupation.
  • Many traditional jobs became obsolete – Initially technologies were developed for lessening the strain on human muscles and designed for illiterate labour force. Many traditional jobs became obsolete as they were considered less paying, more hazardous or time consuming. Millions found their income threatened, their ways of work obsolete, their future uncertain and their power slashed.
  • Casualty of workers first, afterwards their work style – Outcome of industrialization has been casualty of workers first, afterwards their work style, commitment, motivation and culture. Many traditional occupations were discredited. Indian handicrafts and cottage industry were destructed. Efforts, sense of direction and manufacturing skills of millions of artisans, craftsmen and weavers, many of whom were experts in their respective areas, were scattered. They lost their creativity, sense of achievement and pride.
  • Eroded authority of caste in matter of occupation ­-  Industrialization had eroded the authority of caste in matter of occupation. Many castes of rural artisans, craftsman and traditional occupations abandoned their traditional work. They either migrated to cities as industrial labour or became agriculture labour. Many new occupations emerged giving choice of occupation, accessibility to which was through modern education, knowledge of English language and loyalty to British.
  • Unemployment increased – Majority of people could neither enter into modern sector, nor could stick to their traditional occupations. Very few of them could join modern occupations. In the near absence of industrial, commercial or social service activity, most of them had no option, but either to join band of agricultural laborers, industrial workers and marginal labour for their survival or increase number of unemployed or under employed.
  • Benefited rich people – Rich and privileged class took advantage of technological knowledge and new opportunities and became richer. But the general masses became poorer and more miserable. The social and economic condition of rural people deteriorated continuously. Consumerism had increased the economic and cultural differences enormously between the elite and the masses of a society.
  • Created a materialistic world – People got sick of too much consumerism and materialism. There is Mal-distribution of wealth and power. People blame each other as well as their social, political and economic structures and their systems. Authorities deal with the problems haphazardly. As a result, there is chaos, disparity and uncertainty in almost all the nations.

Some people get so fed up with the present trend of consumerism and materialism that they wish to go back to pre-industrial culture.

  • Mal-distribution of wealth – By 1970s and 1980s, signs of crisis in industrial societies appeared. They hold industrialization responsible for gross mal-distribution of wealth between different individuals or groups or nations. It has made some very rich and others very poor. Better-industrialized western nations attempted to influence or control the economy of the developing or underdeveloped nations, in order to increase their power and position in international sphere.
  • Problem of unemployment – Over the years, the number of unemployed has increased.  In 1951, the total number of unemployed was 3.3 million, and Mass unemployment or under employment is one of the major causes of deprivation and disparities in India.  Anybody, who is not gainfully employed in any productive activity, may be called unemployed. It can be of two kinds:

Ø       Voluntary unemployment.

Ø       Involuntary unemployment, when persons are able and willing to Work, but cannot find jobs.

Unemployment may be divided into following groups:

Rural –  (1)   Disguised Unemployment – People apparently seem to be employed, though enough work is not available for all. It is perennial in nature.

            (2)    Seasonal Unemployment – A large number of people engaged in agriculture remain idle for about six months in a year.

Urban – (1)   Open Unemployment- People willing to work have no work. It mainly includes uneducated and unskilled people migrating from rural areas to city and illiterate urban people.

            (2)    Underemployment- it is similar in nature to disguised unemployment.  It results, when a person contributes to production less than what he is capable of.         

            (3)    Educated Unemployment

Conclusion – 

  • Government, the biggest employer – With the adoption of modern concepts of Democracy, Welfare State and development administration has been that the government, instead of being a facilitator, has become the generator/creator of employment and the biggest employer. The government is supposed to create more employment opportunities for the people, whether job market requires employing more people or not. And still a large number of people remain unemployed.
  • Self-employed Economy – Sardar Patel had strongly advocated for self-employment economy. He told N. G. Ranga, the “so-called planning against self-employment economy would jeopardize the foundations of our democratic peasant and people’s economy”. His adversaries had portrayed Him as anti-socialist, because he was reluctant to accept Socialist plans. He made it difficult for Nehru to change economic and social structure of the country. Nehru had to wait till 1951. After Sardar, Nehru got enough time (about 14 years) to steer the ship of the nation as he wished. The result was as J.P. had pointed out, ““ the rich have become richer and the poor become poorer and unemployment had mounted. Those who have voluntarily suffered privation and spent their youth behind bars succumbed to the lure of power and a life of ease and comfort.” Some honest and sincere leaders found themselves helpless against the growing power of socialism and Planning Commission to protect self-employed economy of peasants and artisans.                     
  • Bureaucratic Red tape -J.R.D. Tata had commented, it was “economic dictatorship by the Government. It involved obtaining licenses and permits for everything. You had to go to the minister and the bureaucrats. Then, in addition, government officers were underpaid. That can only lead to corruption. There is tax evasion and corruption in getting things done.”
  • Sound system of education and training is needed urgently – In the 21st century, ‘Power’ is based on knowledge. Knowledge should be easily available to common-men/citizens in almost all the fields. In comparison to knowledge, land, cheap labour, raw material and capital – all these conventional forms of production are increasingly becoming less important.
  • Sufficient arrangement for proper education and training for all – In the present space age, everything is moving fast including knowledge, due to revolution in information technology. It is increasing faster than human ability to handle it. There are changes in the strategy, structure and management techniques. To keep pace with present time, it is necessary for the government to make enough arrangements to give  required education and income-generating skill training to all according to their attitude and aptitude, so that they can survive and live honourably in the real world.
  • India needs low-tech income generating skill-training institutes in large number –  Rush for higher education and degrees have failed to give to the modern youth suitable jobs, and to make modern Indian youth employable. More than increasing the number of colleges and universities, the nation needs more and more income-generating low- tech-training institutes. Low-tech manufacturing skill-training would make a large number of youth employable. It does not require high levels of education. This is the way other nations like China, Japan, Taiwan and South Korea have progressed.
  • Demographically, India is a young nation – 70% of its population is younger than 35 today. If the government in India wants to give jobs to 400-500 million illiterates and 200-250 million semi-ill-literates, that too, of their choice, it is practically impossible. For youths born and brought up in Independent and economically liberalized India, the atmosphere has become stifling. One of the  main reason behind the issue of unemployment is that with the rise in education and household income , aspiration levels of educated youth have also risen. They may no longer be willing to join labour force or workforce requiring low skills and low enumeration.
  • Rising expectations of people – People’s rising expectations coupled with failure of political parties to deal with rising unemployment. With higher literacy rate, educated youths dream big and get disenchanted when faced with either no job or menial ones.
  • New Education Policy 2020 Modi government has announced a New Education Policy 2020 which is expected to bring about several major reforms in education and training system of India in India. PM Modi said that this reform would transform the lives of millions of Indians and make them employable. Among the major reforms, the 10+2 structure in the schooling system has been replaced by a 5+3+3+4 structure.

The present is passing through an exceptional time of human history, when the world is leaving behind the industrial era and is ushering into a super-symbolic electronic era based on extra-intelligent networks. People needs to equip themselves through sound system of education and training to gain true knowledge, income generating skills according to their attitude and aptitude and cope with the changes.

August 14, 2020 Posted by | General | Leave a comment

Oldest, Continuous and Uninterrupted living civilization of India

What is civilization – civilization is generally defined as a highly organized group of people with their own language and ways of living, an advanced state of human society containing highly developed forms of government, culture, industry, and common social norms. Civilization usually defines the parameters of the shared way of life in different spheres like having a shared and long-term sense of closeness in language, beliefs, and cultural artifacts such as art, literature, music, and religion etc. over a large population. Its culture enhances our quality of life and increases overall well-being for both individuals and communities.

In the past many civilizations developed in river valleys like Indus Valley in South Asia, Nile river Valley in northeastern Africa, and Huan-He-Valley of China. These civilizations had well-organized cities, powerful governments, complex religions (well-developed religious beliefs), specialized skills and jobs, social classes and methods of keeping records.

About civilization of India – Indian civilization is considered one of the oldest, continuous and uninterrupted living civilizations in the whole world.[i]  Considerations of self-discipline, hygiene and cleanliness on the basis of climatic conditions of the region have always been given importance. When the world was passing through the Dark Age, India was full of light. It has always been a cheerful land. The first few centuries are recognized as the golden period of Indian history. Inter-dependence in social life and self-reliance in personal life were the intrinsic features of Indian culture.

During this period, arts, commerce, crafts, philosophy and knowledge flourished magnificently.  Many travelers visiting India, from alien lands at different points of time, confirmed that India possessed huge wealth, knowledge, and quality of life.  Each person found a niche in the social system.  Its people reached a high level of intelligence having specialization in different areas.[ii] An average Indian, according to Dr. Albert Swheitzen,  Did not find life a vale of tears, from which to escape at all costs, rather he was willing to accept the world, as he finds it and, extract, what happiness he could, from it.[iii]

In the modern world, no society or nation can exist as a homogeneous cultural monolith.  India specially presents a unique picture of composite culture, which grew out of intermixing of people of different cultures, belonging to different identities.  As India passed through various phases in the past, each and every social group. As is known so far, civilization of India starts with a mysterious culture along the Indus River.

New evidence suggests the Indus Valley Civilization in India and Pakistan, famed for its well-planned cities and impressive crafts, predates Egypt and Mesopotamia. Such continuity and flexibility is difficult to be seen in any other part of the world.  When Christianity broke away from Judaism, it departed totally from the common cultural traditions.  Therefore, it is very difficult for the Western world to understand and appreciate Indian culture fully. However, the influence of Indus Valley civilization has come down to the present generation in an unbroken chain of succession, with some modifications and adaptations. 

Continuous attacks and migrations – Since time immemorial, invaders attacked from the North and led to migrations to South. Local rulers often competed for power. Many new social groups migrated from Europe, Middle East and other parts of Asia. And finally settled down in India. Geographic features tended to separate people into regional and local groups, each with its own way of life, customs and practices, different values, different languages, different scripts, different religious beliefs, different ways to worship, different dress style, different food habits.

Wonderful process of assimilation and fusion of different cultures – The history and culture of India are dynamic. Throughout its long history, local cultures have blended with those brought by invaders. Wonderful process of assimilation and fusion of different cultures has been a continuous process of the India civilization.

In other parts of the world, usually local authorities have tried to convert people of other communities, be it racial, immigrants, locals, tribal, or professionals into their own culture and faith, thus imposing on the newcomers their own value system. But India has shown its unique capability to absorb into its mainstream, all willing new coming social groups as whole into itself without annihilating their originality, internal order, customs or language. It has never tried to liquidate or absorb new groups artificially into its main stream. Rather it has given each one an opportunity to come under one umbrella, to preserve their own culture, style of living and traditions, as well as an atmosphere to flourish in their own way.

Absorptive nature of Indian civilization – Not only that, it has carefully nurtured and preserved the culture of each identity, coming into its fold, it has also absorbed the good points of other cultures also, which has enriched the composite culture of India. More than anywhere else in the world, it holds a multitude of thoughts, processes them and practices them. There has been co-existence of varied belief, pattern and thought due to inter-mixing and cultural mingling.

Adaptability of Indian civilization – Indian civilization has survived the vicissitudes of time, saved itself by erosion from within and assault from outside only because of the adaptability. It has taken different shades and meaning with changing times and places. Its character during Indus Valley Civilization was altogether different from what exists today. It is still in a transient phase. The multi-centricity of Indian society has given it a syncretic character, a pluralistic tradition and an absorptive nature of internalizing alien influences. That is why, it presents one of the oldest social institution and a continuous and uninterrupted living culture still existing in the whole world.[iv]


[i]  The other three being Egypt, Mesopotamia and Greece

[ii]           Basham, Ibid  p9.

[iii]           Dr. Albert Swhweitzen,  Indian Thought and its development.

[iv]           The other three being Egypt, Mesopotamia and Greece

May 28, 2020 Posted by | General | | Leave a comment

Animal instinct, mob-mentality and Humans’ march towards refinement

Introduction

Instinct – An instinct is something you don’t need to learn, it happens naturally, without you even thinking about it. Babies cry by instinct, and ducks follow their mother by instinct. Animals and humans learn a lot of things from other animals and humans.

Animal instinctAnimal instincts are present in all creatures including humans. Initially humans were not better than animals. Like animals, the automatic response to any contingency, all creatures try to protect themselves from harm. They usually do instinctively, whatever needs to be done without thinking or giving second thought to it.

Mob mentality – When a collection of people get together for any specific purpose, it is known as a group. The activities of people are more organized and its behaviour is more socialized in a group situation. But, collection of few people together becomes a mob when they show their protests in disorganized, disorderly and unruly manner; or when it intends to cause trouble to others; or shows their agitation irrationally; or turns violent.

The latest example of mob mentality is Shaheen Bagh protest. It was a sit-in peaceful protest, led by mostly by women. It began in response to the passage of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) in both houses of Parliament on 11 December 2019 and the ensuing police intervention against students at Jamia Millia Islamia who were opposing the Amendment. For about 70 days, blocked road affected more than 100,000 vehicles per day, adding hours to some journeys. General public wanted to know whether a few persons were right to protest in such a way causing so much difficulty, in movement, to lacs of people. And also that the protests can be held in common areas indefinitely.

Animal instinct

Every human’s desire, impulse, and feelings are linked to a basic instinct. Like all animals, humans were also born psychologically with some basic natural instincts. Instinct means inherent aptitude, behaviour, impulse or a fixed action pattern that is unlearned. Two most basic natural instincts are self-preservation, and desire for survival and fear. Next to it is the instinct to be able to cope with vital environmental contingencies.

  • Instinct of survival – Instinct of self-preservation or to survive is the most basic, natural and the earliest instinct. When humans are born as babies, they are helpless. They depend on others for their survival, especially the Mother. The need to protect their babies is also there in all creatures – be it animals or humans. The instinct of survival has given rise to the institution of Family.
  • Fear – All creatures suffers from fear. Fear is the main source of superstition. It is the main sources of cruelty, corruption and many other social evil. The biggest fear in human lives is “Fear of Death”. So first of all, it is necessary to eliminate fear of death from the mind. To conquer fear, wisdom is required.

Next comes the number of fear of unknown, fear of failure, loud noises, phonophobia and a fear of falling, basophobia.

People don’t understand or accept this simple fact that ‘Fear’ creates deterrence in whatever one wants to do it in life. Death is a reality and is inevitable.

Be Fearless” – ‘Be Fearless’ that is what Srimat Bhagwat Gita preaches. (Verse 20, Chapter 2, Bhagwat) Fear, insecurity and misunderstanding about human needs give birth to some evils/animal instincts like Ego (Ahankaar), Cruelity (Amanatva), Injustice (Anyay), Lust (Kam/Vaasana), Anger (Krodha)), Greed (Lobha), Superiority-complex/Over-pride, Jealousy, Over-Attachment (Moh) and Selfishness (Swartha).

At present pre-dominance of animal instincts is one of the greatest challenge facing Humanity. To get control over such undesirable instincts and make life happy and civilized, these qualities are required – understanding, sensitivity, perseverance, contentment, good thoughts and good deeds.

Mob mentality

When does a group of people called MobCriminal Code Section 18.2-38 definesMob” in part as “any collection of people assembled for the purpose and with the intention of assault or battery on any individual. “Mob mentality” refers to the tendency/intentions of people to do over reactive things,  to act disorderly or to cause trouble or violence, while in a group of others with the same tendency, which they would not do otherwise.

Mob-mentalityAnimal instincts in human minds incite them for causing troubles for others. Mob-mentality comes into play when a group of people try to gain something, they desire, and which is not possible for them to get decently and single-handedly. Then they form a group of some people to put pressures on other people or State Authorities.

There are also some people, who find it exciting to join a mob without any purpose, as in mobs, they remain invisible. They feel that they won’t be held responsible for their unruly actions, when they are part of a mob. The influence of mob, as a pressure group. increases with crowd size. More the number of people in a mob, more stronger becomes its voice.

Best way to control agitating mob – The emotions of agitating mob remains at the peak. During that period, they are in extreme depression, anxiety or irritability. To control their irrational behaviour at that moment is extremely important. Afterwards time becomes the healer, because memory of the public is too short. And their anger does not stay for long.

At present, the best way for the government to satisfy the mob is to form an enquiry Commission to look into their problems and suggest solutions. This way, at the peak hour of anger, mob feels that their voice has been reached up to the concerned authorities. With time, their anger/irritation calms down and authorities get enough time to resolve the issue rationally.

Human’s march towards refinement The thought  to conquer/overcome undesirable animal instincts came into human mind came long long ago and it started the process of refinement of animal instinct. However, human-beings can never be able to overcome their animal instincts totally. Now and then, it is reflected in the day today their behaviour even now.

What refinement means? – Life is never without a need, never without a problem and never without a hurtful moment. When mind is balanced and strong, even a difficult situation becomes a  challenge and an opportunity to move forward. And when mind is weak, everything seems to be a problem.

It is wisdom a person which protects, guides and helps to attain a meaningful life. Happiness does not depend on what one has. It depends on how he feels toward what he is having. One can be happy with little and miserable with much.

Shaping of instincts – Shaping of instincts, natural, animal or refined depends on following variables :-

Human-mind – Nature has gifted to all creatures a mind/brain (primal brain; hindbrain and medulla) with intelligence. Humans-beings are more fortunate as human mind is a set of cognitive faculties, which includes natural instincts, consciousness, imagination, perception, thinking. These faculties make humans more intelligent than animals.

The power of Human mind is rooted in intelligence. Intelligence capacitates humans to think and experience emotions. It works like a computer. It has certain capacities like reason, morality, consciousness and a sense of responsibility. These qualities of mind have transformed humans from animals to intelligent persons and helped them to come over their fear, leave behind undesirable animal instincts and move towards a more civilized way of life.

Mind works at three levels. At Preconscious levels animal instincts dominates. Sub-conscious mind is the creator of ideas and desires/dreams. A awareness/ego operates mostly in Conscious mind. It is Conscious mind that leads individuals towards positive or negative thinking/attitude.

The development of mental faculties depends on purity of ‘Manasa (thinking), Vacha (speech) and Karmana (deeds).

Thinking  – Thinking is an activity of an existential value for humans’ mind. Thinking processes and creates thoughts. Thoughts create energy and energy transform it into reality. Thought encompasses an “aim-oriented flow of ideas and associations and leads to human actions and interactions.

Mind-setHuman body is a vehicle which is driven by mind or conscience of an individual throughout his/her life. Mindset means mental and emotional framework or thinking of a person. Actions and reactions of an individual depend on his/her mind-set. Not only a person’s life but also one’s all-round personality and performance is deeply affected by it. Mindset may be positive or negative.

Nature has given every human being a mind with power of ‘Viveka’ (intellect), five sense organs and free-will to assess what is good and be happy or misuse these by negative thinking and be miserable.

  • Positive mindset – Positive mindset/thinking generates positive energy/vibes, which leads positive life with focus on the bright side of life and brings positive results. It generates confidence, improves mood and reduces chances of developing stress-related conditions.

It usually focusses on the present. It encourages people to become a better person today than yesterday, to use more sophisticated language, to accept success or failures gracefully, to mix up with good-natured persons and to spend life in a meaningful way. Positive thoughts reinforces understanding and wisdom. Positive thinking leads to happiness, health, wealth prosperity and wisdom.

Positive thinking and controlling both the mind and five sense organs (eyes to see, ears to hear, nose to smell, skin to feel and tongue to taste) are necessary to follow the path of truth, purity, righteousness, compassion peace and love.

  • Negative mindset – One should try to eliminate negative thoughts. People with negative thinking imagine the worst possible scenario in everything. They do not have the confidence to face the challenges of life. The extent of negative feelings can go from anger, frustration, irritability, to even anxiety and depression, passing through many other feelings, none of them pleasant.

The gateways to negative thinking are (hell/unhappiness – Ego, Lust, Greed (misunderstanding about the needs) and Anger. Negative thinking disturbs the balance of mind and soul, and invariably leads to unhappiness, self-destruction. Humans with negative mindset develop a feelings of denial. They try their best to escape from uncomfortable situations or hardships in life. They think of excuses for not doing duties.

PerceptionPerception means the way in which something is regarded, understood, or interpreted. Framing of human mindset in either way depends on the perception of an individual.

Perception is relative. Perception creates one’s reality, one can look at life and see scarcity or abundance. It all depends on ones mindset. It is beyond the capacity of a human to perceive he whole truth.

Each person perceives the world and approaches life problems differently. “Your perception is yours and my perception is mine”. Perception occurs in five stages: selection, stimulation, organization, interpretation-evaluation, memory and recall.

Truth – It is a fact that Truth or Reality always remains one and the same. There are millions of people, each one having his/her own independent understanding. Based on different each persons’ perception, Truth/reality can never become more than one.

Meditation – Looking inwards/self-introspection helps in making a person mentally, emotionally and spiritually strong.

Khalil Gibran says, “Your living is determined not so much by what life brings to you as by the attitude you bring to life; not so much by what happens to you as by the way your mind looks at what happens.”

Attitude and Aptitude– Attitude and Aptitude play an important role in making the personality of a person and deciding his role in life.

  • Attitude is the collection of thoughts and beliefs that shapes one’s thought habits. And thought habits affect how one think, what one feel, and what one does. Because they are related to mindset, it also helps to understand attitude and beliefs.
  • Aptitudes are natural talents, special abilities for doing, or learning to do, certain kinds of things easily and quickly. They have little to do with knowledge or culture, or education, or even interests. They have to do with heredity. There is a close relation between Aptitude and intelligence. In general, aptitude helps humans to make/design their career and occupational decisions.

Attitudes according to ancient Vedic Hindu Philosophy Ancient Vedic Hindu philosophy thinks that individuals differ from one another in natural endowments, intelligence, aptitudes, attitudes, skills, personal needs and other innate characteristics. Accordingly it has assigned different tasks to different individuals.

  • About attitudes – According to Hindu Philosophy, thinking of human beings depends on three natural instincts/Gunas/ qualities, Sattva (purity), Rajas (activity) and Tamas (darkness, destruction).
    • Sattva embraces in itself purity, knowledge and harmony. It leads to goodness, joy, satisfaction, nobility and contentment, and frees human mind of fear, violence, wrath and malice.
    • Rajas represents passion, manipulation, action, and energy. Rajas fills human heart with a feeling of attachment, desire – a longing for creating one’s own comfort-zone, and self-satisfaction.
    • Tamas temperament leads to impurity, laziness, ignorance and darkness. It is the consequence of ignorance and it prevents all beings from seeing the reality. Increasing sattva is possible by reducing rajas and tamas, both in the mind and in your body.

Togetherness – The need to protect, preserve, pursue common interests and progress for the common good brought people together. There is a need for humans beings to build their relationship with others with love, laughter, sacrifice, patience, grace and forgiveness. They should avoid fights, anger, lust and greed. For inner peace, they must learn to ignore such things or thoughts that troubles them. There is no need to be jealous of others. Nobody can snatch from anyone anything, what he deserves. What is for you will remain with you. One should be wise enough to understand the difference between needs and desires and luxuries.

Start of the process of refinement, Step IInitially instinct of survival led humans to live together in small migratory  groups,  as wandering “nomadic herdsmen”. In the beginning, Humans were not better than animals.  Their life, as Hobbes describes was, “Nasty, brutish and short”.

Living together had made people feel more secured. Slowly, but steadily, instead of being wandering people, they learnt to live together in a settled life-style. Thus began the process of  refinement over the animal instincts and humans entered into an era of civilized life.

The purpose was to lead a more secure, decent and comfortable life-style. Togetherness made it easier for individuals to refine their animal instincts and to become more humane and civilized day by day.

Need and desire to live together has made individuals more humane. Slowly and steadily people had become so used to living together that it was considered that “if a human-being does not live with men or among men, then surely either he is god or beast.” (Famous Greek philosopher Aristotle)

Formation of groups, Step IIIt is the natural instinct of human mind to belong to one or the other group. On the basis of  their inherent qualities, needs, problems and difficulties, individuals get together and constitute their own independent group.

Differences in attitude and aptitude of different people has given rise to the formations of different social groups in every society. Individuals have become members of different groups for a multitude of reasons, mostly to satisfy their needs to provide companionship, survival and security, affiliation status, achievements or to gain power or control over state authorities as a pressure groups.

Setting up of the norms, Step III – The next step was setting up of the rules and norms. When people started to live together in different groups and got settled in different areas, they had created their own rules, values and systems in conformity with environment of that place.

Earlier their activities were confined within a small area or territory because of primitive communication and transport systems. But slowly, but steadily, with the advancement of technology in the areas of transportation and communication, their activities have spread all over the world. 

Influence of each other on instincts and behavior – While living with their respective groups, individuals’ instincts and behavior are deeply influenced by the thinking and behavior of other fellow-beings. The presence of near and dear ones around them, constantly moulds the mindset of humans toward either positive or negative thinking and behavior. People’s opinion and behavior also get influenced by the ideas of their leaders or role-models.

There are many ways, togetherness in a group can influence behavior of individuals as well as society. Usually interdependence, social interaction, perception as a group, commonality of purpose, and favoritism are the factors responsible for creating different groups.

Classification of society according to their aptitude – Vedic Hindu society has envisaged different activities for different groups of people based on natural instincts,  predominantly psychological characteristics, attitude and aptitude.

  • Persons having “Sat and “austerity, flair for learning and possessing intellectual/spiritual qualities to set standards for the whole society have been put in the category of Brahmins. They have been assigned the work of pursuing knowledge.
  • Befitting to their attitude and aptitude, men of action with `Rajas qualities, having courage, warrior skills, bravery,  leadership quality have been given the responsibility to defend the their people from internal and external aggression, maintain law and order in society and take care of the weaker sections of society.
  • People having business acumen have been given the task to carry on business.
  • People incapable to do the  above three tasks on their own and needing others guidance to perform a job are advised to get engaged in service sector under the guidance of other three categories.

According to Smritis”, it is not birth, but the qualities, attitude and aptitude and deeds, which fitted one into a particular group.[i] But, later on, as the population increased, upbringing, atmosphere and convenience tended to make these groups hereditary.

It is more convenient  and economical for the people also to practice their traditional occupations and acquire its basic qualifications from their elders in the family in a natural way. It has been seen that an illiterate Marwari  can invest his money in share market with more ease and confidence than a person having academic qualifications in this area.

Ideal state of Greek philosophers -The great ancient Greek  philosophers like Plato and Aristotle, had dreamt of a similar kind of classification for their Ideal State like Varna System for their Ideal state.

Principle of rule and subordinationGreek philosopher, Aristotle, has said that in Nature, there is a principle of rule and subordination, at large. It appears specially in the realm of animate creation.

By virtue of this principle, soul rules the body, those who possess the rational faculty of soul rules those, who possess only physical power and the faculty of understanding the directions given by another person’s reason. It is clearly natural and beneficial to the body that it should be ruled by the soul. So is the persons with strong mental power to guide the society.

Again it is natural and beneficial to the effective part of the body that it should be ruled by the mind and the rational part, whereas the equality of the two elements is always detrimental. Aristotle says that what holds good in man’s inner life, also hold good outside it.

Their ideal society was divided into following four sections: –

  • Philosopher king    –         For intellectual work for the society,
  • Army men              –         To protect the nation from outside invasions and maintain internal peace and order, and
  • Business community     – To do all kinds of transactions and
  • Slaves                           –   To do manual work

In their ideal state, all the people were supposed to belong to one group or the other, not on the basis of birth, but on the basis of their capabilities and aptitudes. Whatever Greek philosophers had dreamt, Indian society through Varna system has converted it into reality.

Nurture the nature – One needs to come to terms with the forces of nature. Conformity with nature insulates a person from shocks of life, pain and sufferings.

The teachings of Sanatan Dharma  of Hindu epics presents a scientific manual of self-management, self-reliance, and self-discipline, which is relevant even till today. It is based on natural instincts of human beings.  It guides people to assess and understand inherent nature of human beings, accept them and deal with them accordingly.

Conclusion

Take life as it comes – Life does not allow anybody to go back and fix what has been done wrong in the past. Life cannot be changed, undone or forgotten. What is done is done. Struggles are required in order to survive in life because in order to stand-up, one needs to know what failure/falling down means. Therefore, it is necessary to have a positive mindset and try to resist negative, bitter or depressive feelings.

Challenge the challenges – Take life as it comes. Be prepared mentally to face challenges in life and move on. Challenge the challenges coming on your way. Every problem has a solution. So don’t get disheartened. Never hesitate to take hard decisions/strong actions to overcome the hurdles. 


[i]            Varna 180, 21, 23.

May 28, 2020 Posted by | General | | 1 Comment

Hinduism and Caste as a system

“In modern understanding of ‘caste-system’, element of ‘caste’ has been highlighted and mis-interpreted;  and element of ‘system’ has been suppressed.”

Introduction – Don Martindale, an American sociologist, a prominent scholar and teacher wrote about Hinduism and caste system as “Caste was the system of social life, in which Hinduism was expressed. …… Hinduism was the ideological and emotional buttress of caste…. Caste and Hinduism succeeded in doing in India, what no state, no conqueror and no economy was able to do – the establishment of a single unified system of society throughout the whole of India (accommodating numerous semi-autonomous communities arising at many times and in many places), a system of society, which was able to comprise a greater range of local differences in a single system than any society has previously accomplished.”

“Through caste system, India has simultaneously accommodated “it to an almost endlessly varied system of semi-autonomous community and at the same time, it brings considerable unity, harmony and condition of peace.” And

It “succeeded in wielding an enormously varied plurality of semi-autonomous communities arising at many times and in many places and adopting themselves to many different conditions into a single system of society…”

Deep roots ‘caste system’ in India –“Caste was the system of social life, in which Hinduism was expressed.” (Don Martindale) In-spite of all the accelerated changes in the society due to modernization process and tough times, The roots of Hinduism and  ‘Varna/jati-Pratha’, now known as caste system, are so deep that it is virtually impossible to think of Hindustan without caste system.

Caste has its ethnic roots as denoted by Jati, and a ritualistic and symbolic significance in its Varna aspect. It is one of the dominant features still running through the entire social fabric of India. Rules of endogamy, ritual purity, interdependence, specialization and hierarchical order of social units were its important traits.

Caste-system is inseparably related to Hinduism by traditional customs, values and systems. At present, in India, about 79.8% of the population identify themselves as Hindus, (roughly about 966 million people) as per 2011 Census of India, who have faith in the Vedic principles of Varna, Dharma, and Karma. (14.2% of the population follow Islam and the remaining 6% adhere to other religions, such as Christianity, Sikhism, and Buddhism etc.).

Caste for a common-man in India – For a common man in India, caste appears to be a fundamental social institution – a natural, inevitable unit of society. Family, which is a natural unit of an extended family; Extended family of Kula; Kula of a tribe (Vish); and a tribe of a Jana of Jati (Caste). In a way, all are fundamental social institutions. Caste is nothing but a large extended family bonded by same language, customs, thinking and way of living and occupation. It is second only to the family in widening a person’s social radius and in getting importance in his/her private and occupational life.

Closer-relationship with caste-fellows – A person’s relation with members of his caste is closer than with those, belonging to other castes. Caste values, beliefs, prejudices, injunctions as well as distortions of reality are the indivisible part of a person’s psyche and conscience. Caste norms define an individual role in the society. Rules of endogamy, ritual purity, interdependence, specialization and hierarchical order of social units were its important traits. It makes one feel good and loved, when he lives up to the norms, and anxious and guilty, when he transgresses them. It still provides an individual with social security. To foreigners, Varna/caste system represent the ancient culture in its eternity.

Caste taking different shades and meaning with the changing times at different places –  Caste- system,  on which Hindu’s  social structure is based, has survived the vicissitudes of time, and saved itself by erosion from within and assault from outside. Its  adaptability, flexibility and absorptive nature has prolonged its life. absorptive nature has internalized alien influences.  It has taken different shades and meaning with the changing times and places. Once changed, it never returned to its original form. 

The system has evolved its structures and systems leisurely and kept on coping with the slow changes, time brought in. Its character during Indus Valley Civilization was altogether different from what exists today. It is still in a transient phase. It is different in context of village, locality, region or religion.

Caste system, a development of Thousands years –Its origin of Caste-system can’t be found in one single authoritative text like Bible or Koran, nor can it be attributed to one single founder like Jesus Christ or Mohammad Sahib. It has taken thousands of years to develop with the association of numerous social groups into it at different point of time.

The process was started with the arrival of Aryans hereditary kinship and tribal groups in India in waves, from different parts of the world. Their mixing up with the indigenous people (popularly known as Hindus) gave birth to caste system. Over thousands of years, the experiences and deep thinking of many learned sages and intellectuals belonging to different communities have contributed to evolve this system.

There is no denial to the fact that during the very long period of its evolution, many attacks were launched on Hindu ideologies from time to time. And also caste system has developed some evil practices. But so far, both have survived   the vicissitudes of time and saved itself from erosion from within or assault from outside. After each assault, Hinduism and its caste system re-emerged with greater force.

In the past, whenever rigid and discriminatory/evil practices of society in the name of caste system suffocated Indian society, there arose alternative ideologies or styles of life, which gave people breathing space. Rise of Buddhism in Ancient India, Sufi tradition of Islam and Bhakti movement of Hindus in medieval India (around 10th century), and reform movements of 19th and 20th centuries taught sympathetic attitude towards lesser human beings, brotherly love for each other and fellowship, love and respect all human beings irrespective of caste or creed and rejected practice of elaborate rituals and caste pretensions.

A mechanism to assimilate new groups – Caste system has provided a mechanism, through which numerous tribes and social groups, be it locals, immigrants, professionals, racial  or others. could be internalized and assimilated under the umbrella of Hinduism. Caste-system has created a plural society long long ago. The unique feature of the whole process was that the main society as a whole remained stable, even while offering a place to new groups within its main-stream. The assimilation of was done under Hindu society cordially through caste-system at different points of time, by assigning each new group a separate caste identity.

Preserved carefully the culture of new groups – The beauty of the caste system was that it has never tried to convert, liquidate or absorb new groups artificially into its main stream. Rather gives them opportunity to come under one umbrella, to preserve their own culture, style of living and traditions, and also provides an atmosphere to flourish in their own way. While other races and their religious systems (Christianity and Islam) believe to convert people belonging to other faiths into their own faith, and impose on them their own value system, Hinduism and its caste-system has absorbed other groups as whole into itself without annihilating their originality, internal order, customs or language.

Both Hinduism and its caste system have not become obsolete so far. Had it become obsolete, it would have given place to other systems. Both the institutions have always given the Indian society a distinguished identity and a solid social structure with a system of thought, a way of life, and sense of direction. The following facts proves the strength of caste-system even today:

  • Had it become obsolete, it would have given place to other religions and social structures.
  • Despite centuries of foreign rule, about 79.8% of the population identify themselves as Hindus, (roughly about 966 million people) as per 2011 Census of India, who have faith in the Vedic principles of Varna, Dharma, and Karma. 14.2% of the population follow Islam and the remaining 6% adhere to other religions like Christianity, Sikhism, and Buddhism etc.
  • Caste system has influenced almost other communities living in India and having faith in different religions.
  • Whenever in the past, new social groups desired, they were not prevented to join the mainstream. And also the existing internal social was not disturbed, only because of Hindu ideology and its cast system. All the incoming groups were given freedom to prosper according to their internal rhythm. Hindu society did not annihilate the faith, way of living, internal order, customs, culture or language of new groups.   

The caste system was working well in ancient times and still common-men do not find any complaint from any quarters against it. It is the vested interest of few sections of society, which raise their voice against the system. In recent past, they have tried to misinterpret it and portrayed it as an exploitative social system for retaining economic and social status of certain vested interests of upper castes. Indian caste system, which had been evolved in ancient period was an answer to the requirements of those times.

At present, Indian society is also in a state of great turmoil, trying to cope with the new challenges, which is a tough task. Socio-economic-political atmosphere is in a state of flux. Institution of family has lost its sheen. Traditional values are shattered. Political institutions are almost paralyzed. And economy of the nation is in a critical condition. There are many fast moving changes in systems, structure, strategy and management techniques. The main issues before the nation are -population explosion, poverty, resources, enough food, energy, breakdown of law and order situation, work-culture, ecology, climate changes, violence and terrorism etc.

Preference to present requirements over the opinions of past – In a changing world, nothing can be more disabling than its idolization of past; nothing can be more needed than the constant interpretation of past experiences and present circumstances. Present should be a constant challenge to the opinions of past. Throughout the world, from time immemorial, many systems, structures and principles have been evolved for the benefit and harmonious/peaceful living of all the members in a society. They have remained in vogue for some time, then faded and gave way to new structures, systems and concepts.

New values and systems  always challenge old way of thinking and behaving, no matter how useful they are! It is quite natural that when a new ideology or system is applied in real life situations, it is seen with suspicion. During the  period of its growth, many difficulties comes up. Sometimes undesirable elements/evil practices  develop in the system with changing atmosphere/circumstances. What is needed is try to do everything possible to maintain a fine balance between its theoretical aspect and its practicality.

May 25, 2020 Posted by | General, Social and political values and systems | Leave a comment

Bharat, Hind, Hindustan, Hinduism and Hindu Philosophy and Values

Traditional living had been an anchor, keeping our boat in safe harbor, Now that the anchor had gone and the boat is at the mercy of wild waves on a stormy ocean.

Introduction – The use terms Bharat, Hind, Hindu, Hindustan and Hinduism has historical significance.

India as Bharat –  Ancient India was referred to as Bharatvarsh before it came to be known as Hindustan. Derived from the Sanskrit term ‘Bharata’ that means ‘the cherished’, this name dates back to the ancient ‘Hindu Puranas’ (Hindu scriptures). According to it, the legendary Emperor Bharata was the first conqueror of the entire Indian subcontinent and the founder of the famous Bharata dynasty. After him, the Indian land is known as ‘Bharatavarsa,’

How ‘Bharatvarsh’ became Hindustan? –  Persians took inspiration from the name of river Sindhu to use the terms ‘Hindu’, ‘Hindustan; or ‘Hinduism’, ‘Hinduism’. The credit of the emergence of these terms go to Sind river. When Persians conquered the then Indian subcontinent and Greece in 5th century BCE, they termed land beyond Sind river as Hind or Hindustan. People living there were called Hindus from ‘Sindhu’. Their religion and culture were termed as Hinduism.

In Persian, the term Hind was originally used for Sind river, which runs mostly through present day Pakistan, Jammu & Kashmir in India and Western Tibet; the place beyond Sind River was called Hindustan ‘Stan’ in Persian means ‘land’ or ‘country,’ much like ‘sthana’ in Sanskrit means ‘place’); ‘Hindu’ is the Persian equivalent of Iranian ‘Sindhu’ that refers to people, the Indo-Aryans. These terms have been in use in Greek since Herodotus (4th century BCE)..

 Use of term ‘India’ for Bharat – By the 13th century, India became a popular alternative name for Hindustan. Since then, Latin term “India” has been widely in use for the Indian sub-continent. During the British Raj, instead of Bharat or Hindustan, where Indo-Aryan culture is strongly based there. The term ‘Hindus’ evolved to ‘Indos’ and made its first ever appearance in Old English in 9th century and reemerged in Modern English in the 17th century. After Independence, it is known as the “Republic of India”.

Hinduism – At present, Hinduism (its followers consist of 15% of the world population) comes within the range of one of the oldest and largest religion in the world after Christianity (with 33% of followers) and Islam (with 24.1% of followers).

It is believed that ‘Hinduism’, ‘a way of life’ and ’fusion of various beliefs’, mainly based on the principle ‘Dharma’. During  the 19th century, English writers added ‘ism’ to Hindu. Western thinkers have defined Hinduism as a religion/ a religious tradition or a set of religious beliefs, while translating the term ‘Dharma’ literally in English as ‘religion’. it is  not possible for the aliens to understand the true meaning, ethos and nuances Hinduism.  

Hinduism is not merely a religionHistory is a proof that Hinduism is not merely a religion like other religions, i.e.  Christianity or Islam. The term religion itself as a set of religious beliefs was shaped much later, can be said during Renaissance movement during 14th/15th centuries. And also,  Hinduism as a culture and civilization emerged into the scene centuries before other religions like Christianity, Islam, etc came into existence.

Hinduism a way of life – Hinduism was known at that time as a culture, “a way of life” and fusion of various beliefs of indigenous people living in Hindustan and migrating social groups willing to be merged in the mainstream of Hindustan.

No one can be called as the founder of Hinduism. The blending up or fusion of the language, values, systems  and culture of the indigenous people living in the region with Aryan’s gave rise to Hinduism and its Vedic Culture. It is the fusion of various beliefs.

Vedic culture originated during the period of Indus Valley Civilization (around 3300–1300 BCE) on the Indo-Gangetic Plains, (in northern parts of India) and matured by 2600–1900 BCE), and spread/flourished throughout India during 1500 BC and 500 BC.

Hinduism as a religion – According to the philologist Max Müller (the 19th century), the root of the English word religion is the Latin religio. The word means “to bind together.” For the first time the word was used in the 1500s to distinguish worldly things from spirituality  and  morality and set the domain of the church. Religion which means belief in or worship of God/Gods and a system of religious beliefs and practices.

Hinduism was used as a religion only after the colonization of Indus Valley civilization and influence of Europeans, especially the British. The term religion was used originally to mean reverence for God or the gods, careful pondering of divine things, piety. Before that Hinduism was popularly known as Sanatana Dharma.

The Upanishads (Vedic texts) were composed, containing the earliest emergence of some of the central religious concepts of Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. Its roots are traced back to prehistoric times, over 5,000 years ago. Hinduism spread through parts of Southeastern Asia, China, Korea, and Japan. Hindus worship a single god with different forms.

The ”Rig Veda” , a scripture of Hinduism, dated to between 1500–1200 BCE said to be the oldest  complete religious holy book that has survived into the modern age. Laws of Manu, (date of publication uncertain but believed to be about 200 BC) was a hybrid moral-religious-law code and one of the first written law codes of Asia. According to Hindu tradition, the Manu Smruti records the words of Brahma. Manusmriti is also called the Mānava-Dharmaśāstra or Laws of Manu (human). In spite of its age, it has sustained paramountcy in the Hindu culture. It was also the code of conduct for inter-caste relationships in India.

Hindu Philosophy as one of the most scientific ideology – The principles of Hindu philosophy cannot be found in one single authoritative text, nor can it be attributed to one single author. Many intellectuals and reformers regard Hinduism, its values and systems, culture and philosophy, in its purest form, as one of the most scientific ideology ever developed anywhere in the world. It has taken thousands of years to take a shape of principle.

Hindu Philosophy contains an ocean of knowledge in a jarIn the beginning, the priestly schools had devised a most remarkable and effective system of transferring knowledge to succeeding generations in the form of hymns, restricting it only to those, possessing brilliant feats of memory and capability to keep extreme sanctity. Later on, it was put together in ‘Vedas’, ‘Smritis’ ‘Sutras’, and ‘Upanishads’. The Epics ‘Vedas’, ‘Smritis’ ‘Sutras’, ‘Upanishads’, Ramayana, Mahabharat and Bhagvat Gita are not only the religious/spiritual books, but also a perfect guide to living a better life in this world as well as better life after death. It is the gold mine of knowledge. It is a magnificent example of scientific division and orderly arrangement of rules, in a few words, in different branches of human knowledge, covering almost all the aspects of life, be it spiritual, phonetics, arts, literature, medicine, polity, or metrics. Its rituals are techniques for leading a harmonious life.They speak of everything- on staying healthy, social evils, improving concentration and tenets of behavior, which are relevant even today.

These Epics “contain an ocean of knowledge in a jar.”[i] Only after raising oneself from ignorance, one can understand the greatness of Vedic literature. A knowledgeable person, like a jeweler, can spot out gems from this ocean of knowledge; pick them up and leave behind the undesired obsolete elements developed into it with passage of time. Its values and rituals give to the people, a purpose to live for and ideals to be achieved.

Vedic Hindu philosophy and other value systems of Hinduism are the gold mine of knowledge, which have always inspired not only Indians, but foreigners as well.  Intellectuals from various countries have translated it in their own languages and reinterpreted it for a rational mind. It still commands the respect and attention of an average Indian. Today, when Indians are getting away from their roots, it can make their feet firmly grounded on earth and  instill right values in them.

When the rest of the world was passing through the Dark Age, India was full of light. The first few centuries are recognized as the golden period of Indian history. During this period, arts, commerce, crafts, philosophy and knowledge flourished magnificently. Its people reached a high level of intelligence having specialization in different areas. It was rich in literary, philosophical and religious fields. Values and principles of Hindu philosophy have always remained an inspiring icon of peace, harmony, compassion and other human values for the whole universe. Caste system has worked as one of the instruments to maintain the continuity of Indian culture and civilization without interruption.

Principles of Hinduism and Hindu philosophy General principles of Hinduism and Hindu philosophy give guidelines to common-men as a purpose to live happily, lead a worthwhile quality of life. It also suggests make the journey of soul better after the death. It speaks on everything – be it in the sphere of spirituality or material well-being – on staying healthy, overcome social evils, improve concentration and mannerism, which are relevant even today. It is important to know about the basic tenets of Hinduism, the religion followed by the majority community living in India since ages. However rituals, customs, traditions of a society should not be mixed up with the basic principles of Hindu philosophy.

Basic tenets of Hinduism and its philosophy. Following are the basic principles/culture and religion of Hindu Philosophy and its importance for the people living in India, where followers of all the religions reside:

  • Atma (Self) and Parmatma (Creator of Universe) – In Hinduism, according to Principle of non-duality, the ‘Creator’/’Bramhan’/’Parmatma’ (God) and the ‘Creation’/ ‘Atma’ (every living thing in this world) are the integral part of the same God, and therefore inter-linked. The purpose of human life, according to Indian thought, is to unite with the ultimate Reality, the Divine/Brahman.
    • Brahman is a key concept found in the Vedas, and it is extensively discussed in the early Upnishads. The Vedas conceptualize Brahman as the “world soul” or “cosmic soul”/Cosmic Principle. In the Upanishads, it has been variously described as Sat-cit-anand (truth-consciousness-bliss) and as the unchanging, permanent, highest reality. Brahman/Parmatma is the creator and destroyer of the entire Universe. He is Supreme, the Ultimate Reality in the universe. He is all-pervasive, infinite, eternal truth and bliss which does not change, yet is the cause of all changes. HE is present in all the objects, including human body.
    • Atman Atman is an integral part of the supreme, ultimate reality Brahman, It is the eternal essence of the universe and the ultimate divine reality.The predominant teaching in the Upanishads Atman means ‘eternal self’. The atman refers to the real self beyond ego or false self. It is often referred to as ‘spirit’ or ‘soul’ and indicates the true self or essence which underlies our existence. Atman is the spiritual identity of soul within the body of each and every human being and inside every other living being, be it an animal or a tree.
  • Every human has two components – the body and the soul. Soul is indestructible. Body, which is  (made up of eight elements earth, water, air, sky, fire, mind, intellect and ego) does not retain its original form or shape even during one life time. Similarly, body Death merely changes the form of the body.

. Philosophy of Bhagvat Gita – Mahabharata and Ramayana are the two great epics of India. The philosophy Gita interesting and useful. Following are lessons of Gita give an exercise to human minds in the same manner as yogic exercises to bodies:

  • Detach from illusions and attach to Divine. Give priority to divinity. See divinity all around.
  • Have enough knowledge/intellect/devotion to see the truth as it is.
  • Attachment is the cause of all distress.
  • Detachment is the way to progress and prosperity.
  • The attainment of True Knowledge is the ultimate aim of all such deeds.
  • Fight for right cause in life is the ultimate solution to all problems.
  • Live a simple life-style that matches your vision.
  • Always remain steady.
  • Renounce the ego and attain salvation leading to unending peace and happiness.
  • Every act should be done in moderation.
  • True Knowledge is far Superior to the knowledge of the Sacred Scripts.
  • Stress is on Detachment and Equanimity. Happiness and unhappiness should be considered alike. For achieving detachment or renunciation, Knowledge and intellect play an important role.
  • Principle of Reincarnation – Hinduism believes in the Immortality of the soul, and the ‘Principle of Reincarnation’ which means that the soul is an eternal entity. After death it is reborn again and again depending on the deeds of previous birth till it attains salvation. After several births and deaths of body, one can reach a state of immortality. But once it attains Salvation, it is not born again.
  • The ultimate purpose of human life is immortality/Salvation/Moksha, get rid of the pangs of rebirth and death. In order to set itself free from the cycle of multiple rebirths and deaths, one should do follow the path of ‘Dharma’. Good deeds of human can help to reach up to the stage of salvation. One needs to practice continuously detachment (restrain one’s senses from drifting towards the objects of pleasure) and balanced mindset.
  • Avatars to save humanity from evil – According to Western philosophers Hinduism believes in Avatars. According to Hindu mythology (based on some truth and some imagination), the Supreme power visits the earth from time to time in some form of Avatars to save humanity from evil. So far these Avtars have visited the earth – Matsyavatar (fish), then to Kurma (tortoise)); Varaha (wild boar); Narsimha (half animal half mam); Vamana (dwarf); Parushrama with axe (tool); Rama, the Maryadapurusha; Krishna the playful and serious avatar; and ninth, Budha the enlightened one. The world is awaiting for the 10th avatar in the form of Kalki, a genetically supreme bionic man. (‘Know your religion through its philosophy’ by Prakash Shesh, the Speaking tree, TOI, January 14, 2016, p. 20)
  • Victory of Virtue over Evil – Hinduism believes that goodness always wins over evil. Stories about each Avataar inspires and encourages the masses to follow the path of  virtue and keep themselves away from evils. Different rituals, traditions, and customs give to the people, a purpose to live for and ideals to be achieved. They inspire the people to follow the path of righteousness. Rituals, customs, traditions of a society should not be followed blindly. It is necessary to understand the purpose behind traditions or rituals. These should not be mixed up with negative thinking, practices or superstitions. Such as festivals of Dussehra, Diwali or Janmashtmi etc. are celebrated to give the people the message that mark that ‘Good always wins over Evil’.
  • Concept of Right And Wrong, according to Indian philosophy – Truth lies somewhere in between various differing opinions. To find out what is really right or wrong, one has to keep a balanced approach. In fact, right and wrong are relative terms, which depend on the total configuration of following four variables of an action. A rational opinion about it can be formed only by keeping these four variables in mind:
    1. Desha (region) – The culture of a place, in which a person is born,
    2. Kala (time) -The period of historical time, in which a person is born,
    3. Shrama (Effort)-The efforts required of him at different stages of Life,
    4. Guna (Quality)-Aptitude and innate psycho-biological traits.
  • Positive and negative Mindset of human beings (Gunas) – Hindu philosophy believes that the whole world of activities is a result of complex intermixing of three basic qualities of human nature Satva, Rajas and Tamas. When born, a person, is like a clean slate – pure, formless, undifferentiated Consciousness. What s(he) writes on it, depends on the relative strengths of three Gunas –Tamas, Rajat and Sattva. The categorization in these three groups is usually depend on degree of attachment-detachment, austerity, Purity/cleanliness of body, speech and mind, charity and positive or negative thinking.

‘Satva’ is associated with peace purity, knowledge with clarity in  thinking positive attitude and consistency in actions. (1) Fearlessness, (2) Cleanliness of mind and body, (3) Devotion towards God, (4) Acquisition of true knowledge, (5) Suppression of the senses, (6) Study of scriptures, (7) Recitation of God’s name, (8) Taking pain in following one’s own code of conduct, (9) Simplicity of mind, inner self and senses, (10)Non-violence in all its forms, (11) Speaking Truth in a pleasant manner, (12) Absence of anger, (13) Non attachment, (14) Peace of mind, (15) Not speaking ill of others, (16) Kindness towards all, (17) Forgiveness, (18) Patience, (19) Lack of ego and (20) Feeling ashamed while doing something against Laws or Traditions.

‘Rajas’ is associated with passion/lure for comfort, often makes an individual self-centered. Individuals with Tamas or negative thinking are the victims of ignorance, sloth carelessness. It usually suppresses good qualities and leads towards `Adharma (immoral behavior), Alasya (laziness) and Agyan (ignorance). Tamas/negative mindset manifests (1) the show off, (2) pride, (3) ego, (4) anger, (5) harsh words, (6) lack of knowledge and (7) falsehood.

Persons with negative mindset usually responsible for different kinds of social evils, exploitation and miseries of the people. In order to keep oneself away from negative mindset, one should first ‘Think’ before taking any step, be regular, then ‘evaluate’, and make amendments/improvements. Try to be Creative, confident, and punctual, while setting goals.

Inter-play of three qualities – Inter-play of the three qualities determine the tendencies, potentialities, limitations, traits and character of different individuals and give them direction for action. The material world through senses attracts human mind towards a mirage/illusion or attachment. Many a times, attachment leads to impurities. Freedom of mind from attachment/illusion is consciousness. In order to become civilized, one has to keep in control and observance of cleanliness – of body, speech and mind. The purpose of human life should be to overcome Tamas, refine Rajat be regular, and inculcate Sattva.

PRINCIPLES OF ‘DHARMA’, ‘KARMA’ AND ‘VARNA’–The foundation pillars of the Indian social structure are the principles of Varna, Dharma and Karma. Together, these principles have given  Hinduism a distinct identity. Doctrine of Varna gives the Indian Society a stable, sustainable social structure. It has served to give Indian society coherence, stability and continuity. It has distributed and organized the performance of various functions systematically according to the attitude and aptitude.

It has organized inter-relationship of various sections of society. It has made it possible for the people to lead a quality of life and ensured the continuity despite numerous foreign invasions, migrations and assimilation of various groups. The doctrine of Dharma defines the duties and vocations for different sections of society. It has assigned specific roles to different sections of society on the basis of attitude and aptitude, ensures social harmony and prevents rivalries and jealousiesDoctrine of Karma makes the inequalities, prevalent in the society, tolerable to an average Indian.

Focus on assimilation and tolerance for others and interdependence – Hindu philosophy values interdependence, acceptance of others as they are, and tolerance.

(a) It accepts that there are different paths leading to God and be humane;

(b)It gives complete liberty to worship any god or goddess of their choice, as well as use their own methods of worship;

(c)It does not impose its own codes of conduct on other faiths;

(d) It is liberal enough to see atheism as a legitimate pursuit.

Path of assimilation – Hinduism has adopted the path of Assimilation. It gives complete liberty to all incoming social groups to worship god or goddess of their choice, as well as use their own methods of worship. It does not impose its own codes of conduct on other faiths. It is liberal enough to see atheism as a legitimate pursuit. It does not believe in conversion or imposing its beliefs, practices and customs on others. Hindu religion has neither repulsed any trend vehemently, nor allowed others to sweep its own established culture off the roots.

Tolerance Tolerance is most evident in the field of religion.  Hindu faith in an all pervading omnipresent god, multiplicity of god and goddesses as representing some portion of the infinite aspect of the Supreme Being, inspires it to accommodate people of all faiths.  Hinduism concedes validity to all the religions and does not lay down strictures against any faith or reject any religion or its god as false.  That is why, all the twelve major religions of the world are present and flourishing in India without much hindrance. It accepts that there are different paths leading to God and be humane.

Tolerance is not confined to religion alone.  It has always been seen everywhere in the Indian way of life and is the integral part of Indian ethos and is. Hinduism firmly believes in the principles, ‘Live and let live’, ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ (The whole world is one family). Truth, Ahimsa, peace and non-aggression are the hallmark of Indian culture. At present, more than anywhere else in the world, India holds a multitude of thoughts, processes them and practices them. There has been co-existence of varied belief, pattern and thought due to inter-mixing and cultural mingling.

Many times in the past, Indians had accepted oppression and exploitation without much protest, while such situations, elsewhere in the world, would have led to bloody revolutions. Even today, the people are tolerating the criminalization of politics, corruption, scams and scandals and inefficiency of the administration without much protest.  Administration is one such area, where tolerance is harmful, as it not only hinders the development, but also pushes the nation backwards.

Principles of Varna, Dharma and Karma, the foundation pillars of the Hinduism – Principles of Dharma Varna and Karma are the core values of Indian ethos. These principles together has These principles have, so far, contributed to the growth of the Indian society as a whole, in a systematic way. It has prepared an atmosphere for co-existence of different sections of the society – be it ruler or ruled, rich or poor; and held together different castes and communities having diverse languages and practices for generations – thus making unity in diversity a reality.

. Doctrine of Varna – Principle of Varna provided to Indian Society, a stable, sustainable social structure; It has ensured the continuity despite numerous foreign invasions, migrations and assimilation of various groups. It has served to give Indian society coherence, stability and continuity. It has defined, distributed and organized performance of various functions systematically. It has ensured social harmony and prevented rivalries and jealousies; organized systematically the performance of various functions; provided  quality of life to its people.; defined the duties and vocations for different sections of society on the basis of their attitude and aptitude roles; organized inter-relationship of various sections of society.

Assignment of Work – According to Hindu philosophy, individuals differ from each other in natural endowments, intelligence, aptitudes, attitudes, skills, personal needs and other innate characteristics.  Their physical strength, mental capacity and moral aspirations, like and dislikes, inclination and expectations are not the same.

Focus on attitude, aptitude and deeds – According to Smritis, it is not birth, but the qualities and deeds, which fitted one into a particular group. Such as Sat or “austerity is required for pursuing knowledge, “Rajas is the quality needed for actions of courage, bravery, power and protection of the weak. But, later on, upbringing, atmosphere and convenience tended to make these groups hereditary. At present, employment/occupation/profession of people depend on number of formal degrees/ diplomas/certificates.

According to Varna system, society itself assigns specific tasks to do to different sections of society according to its natural endowment/inclinations, qualities and aptitudes/psychological characteristics.

Work is worship – Hindu philosophy taught people that Work is Worship. All types of work were worth pursuing and respectable. no work is superior/high or humble/inferior/derogatory. Any work done in its true spirit could never be derogatory or a waste.

A work should not be valued so much for its external reward, as for the intrinsic satisfaction towards realization of ‘Swadharma’. Doing one’s Swadharma gives a feeling that s(he) is also an integral part of the society and not an outsider. By doing one’s Swadharma a person earns a rightful place in the society.

. Principle of Dharma – Scholars have repeatedly commented that the word ‘Dharma’ is not translatable in English. Words like law righteousness, ethics, morality all together are not enough to give justice to the meaning of Dharma. The principle of Dharma embraced within itself religion, law, duty, righteousness, morality and conformity with truth”. Along with its being a religious idea, Dharma was also a principle and a vision of an organic society, in which all participating members were independent, yet their roles complimentary.

Any kind of work worth pursuing Principle of Dharma tells the people that any kind of work is worth pursuing and respectable, if done in its sincerely. No work is derogatory or a waste. Everyone has come with some  specific role to play in  life, as per one’s own Karmas and destiny. While performing one’s duty/action, one should develop detachment – indicating, one should not bother for fruits of Action.

It assures people that proper performance of one’s work, with honesty and sincerity assures worldly honour and spiritual happiness. The work of a priest, warrior, manual worker or yogi, all are equally important for the society and are, therefore, right, respectable and worth pursuing. Proper assignment and performance leads the whole society to live quality of life. The idea of white-collared jobs, blue-collared jobs and menial/derogatory jobs is the contribution of Western society, especially after industrial the Industrial Revolution. It has attracted the attention of common men to a great extend in modern times.

Common Dharma for all – There was a common Dharma, which was applicable to all. All the people in the society were governed by Dharma at all times, be it a ruler or ruled, parent or child, teacher or student or man or woman. It provides universal, practical and eternal guidelines to be followed in personal life, family life, community life, social life, professional life and national life. It inspires people to follow the path of righteousness and do their duties earnestly.

Separate Dharma appropriate for each Varna – Dharma also specifies duties, privileges and restrictions of each role separately and their relationship with each other. It prescribes a separate Dharma appropriate to each Varna, each class and each stage of human life. Separate Dharma for different communities is based on inherent qualities, aptitude and potentialities of its members. The social, economic or spiritual Dharma of Brahmin is not similar to that of a Shudra, or the Dharma of a student not similar to that of an old man.

Moulding life according to Dharma not an easy task – Moulding life according to Dharma is not an easy task. It requires a strong will-power and character. Individuals with weak faculties finds it difficult to observe Dharma. Dharma along with Karma is the means to reach up to the desired goals of ones life, the ultimate aim being salvation from the cycle of birth and death.

Karma with Detachment – Doctrine of Karma makes the inequalities, prevalent in the society, tolerable to an average Indian. Karma is perhaps the centre piece of Bhagwat Gita. The Philosophy of Gita is simple. It guides people ‘Rely on one’s own Laws and Traditions. Do one’s own duties/deeds without hesitation and with complete devotion towards God, and achieve what is generally achieved by such deeds.

Every act should be done in moderation. For doing so control over mind is necessary. Control over mind is needed for purification of Soul. One should try to practice doing everything in proper manner and in moderation.

Detachment is the doorway to self-realization and to have control over restless mind. If a person wants peace of mind, he should not try to feel elated with the feeling that he is the doer of the deeds. Dedicate the results of all your deeds to God. Then one can keep the mind free from attachment towards the results of his deeds. In that manner you should reach beyond the scope of the three qualities – (saintly, worldly lethargic).

Knowledge necessary for giving Karma its due meaning – Knowledge is supposed to be necessary for giving Karma its due meaning, direction and value. Ignorance is considered to be leading to futile efforts destroying direction. On the basis of thorough research and experience, Rishis and Munies of ancient India set norms for the ignorant masses from time to time. Knowledge was supposed to be necessary for giving Karma its due meaning, direction and value. Ignorance was considered to be leading to futile efforts destroying direction. Therefore, discipline was inculcated among ignorant masses, and a sense of direction was given to them through infinite variety of rituals, prayers, practices, customs and meditation.

Quest for knowledge – Vedas teach that creation and quest for knowledge is a constant process, without any beginning or an end. It is a never ending process (‘Neti’, ‘Neti’). In olden days, Sages, Rishis and Munies (Intellectuals of that time) believed that even Vedas are not the end for quest for knowledge or prescribes any final absolutes.

As per Gita, senses are superior to the body, mind is superior to the senses and knowledge or intellect is superior to the mind. Gita tells: knowledge is better than abhyas (practice), meditation is better than mi Dayanand knowledge and renunciation of the fruits of action is still better than meditation as peace immediately follows such renunciation.

Gita prescribes for ‘action’/’deed’ combined with intellect. There are choices before human beings – take action with developed mind/intellect or action with weak mind, bridled with desire, based on emotion, impulse, hatred, greed and selfishness. It quite often leads to agitation/aggression and discontent. Intellect needs to be developed to make mind rational. A mind governed by intellect makes a person calm and content.

Sanatan Dharma ( a compact life package) Sanatan Dharma is a set of eternal (beyond the time) values. It is the Universal Truth which sustains the very core of Universe and its beings. It nurtures the basic instincts of human beings over nature, after a deep study of natural instincts, inherent attributes and natural behavioural pattern and takes care of the basic physical, mental and spiritual needs of the human beings at different stages of life. 

After a deep study of natural instincts, inherent attributes and natural behavioral pattern of human beings, Indian philosophy has developed a Sanatan Dharma. It nurtures basic human instincts over nature. In keeping view the felt needs at different stages of life, it takes care of their basic physical, mental and spiritual well-being of the people.

Sanatan Dharma facilitates to achieve Sachchidanand (Bliss, consciousness and delight), to follow one’s Dharma and Karma without difficulty and to lead an ideal way of life. The scheme is in conformity with time and forces of nature, which affects the circumstances of the people. It is applicable to all, irrespective of the Varna, caste, creed or place for all time to come. Even today it is as relevant as it was earlier.

According to it, there are four stages in human life. For living life fully and fruitfully and aging gracefully, everyone one has to pass through four stages of life and perform different duties in different stages of life –

. Stage I – Brahmcharya Ashram – During this stage, Society is the giver and individual recipient. Tasks of an individual are Learning and acquisition of knowledge of all Aspects and ramification of Dharma. For mental and physical discipline, learn to get control over senses, mind and intellect. Yoga and knowledge play an important role. Lead a simple life. A period of strict discipline.

. Stage II. Grahatha-ashram – This is the most energetic period of life. It provides a real ground to utilize one’s intellectual and physical capabilities. To indulge one-self in economic activities in order to fulfill one’s dreams and ambitions, to keep direct contact with the society, and to take proper care of the dependents, which included elders, children, members of extended family and strangers in need of help.

During this stage, Society is the recipient, individual makes contribution. It presents opportunities to practice and cultivate all the three Dharmas – Artha/finance (to fulfill his duties), Kama/desrires ( and financial and material success for full enjoyment of life) and Moh/attachment. An Individual has direct contact with  society and makes direct contribution to  society consistent with the dictates of his own knowledge and conscience.

This is the time, when a person gets opportunity to lead an active married life. His tasks are practice of Dharma and protection to his dependents with love and care.Proper management of other three Ashrams depends on Grihasthashram as their needs (like provision of food and financial help) are directly or indirectly supported by  householders.

Of all the Ashrams, Grihasthashram is given a high place of honour as it offers opportunities for practice and cultivation of all Guna and establishes direct contact with the society.

. Stage III, Vanaprastha Ashram (Adulthood withdrawal)- It is a Neutral phase of life. During this period, a person should prepare himself for loosening earthly bonds and to achieve happiness through good deeds and social service. Material success is not aim. Task assigned to this group is teaching Dharma and extended care.

. Stage IV, Sanyas (senior citizens) – It is a Phase of resignation and renunciation. By now, a person is completely free from any obligation. Senior citizens are advised to achieve complete detachment and lead a simple life.

In ancient period, when human life was not so complicated and men were closer to nature, people could follow the Sanatan Dharma without any hassle.  But as the atmosphere became more complex and moral values eroded, it became difficult to observe it truthfully in real life. At present, very old people, in their greed for power, position and wealth, remain active in politics and don’t plan to retire till the end.

Vedic Literature – Vedic literature is a magnificent example of scientific division and orderly arrangement of rules, in a few words, in different branches of human knowledge, covering almost all the aspects of life, be it phonetics, arts, literature, medicine, polity, metrics, law, philosophy, astrology or astronomy. 

The priestly schools had devised a most remarkable and effective system of transferring knowledge to succeeding generations in the form of hymns, restricting it only to those, possessing brilliant feats of memory and capability to keep extreme sanctity.  Only after raising oneself from ignorance, a person could be able to understand the greatness of the Indian value system.

Like a jeweler, one could spot out gems from among worthless pebbles.  A knowledgeable person could pick up knowledge and leave the undesired obsolete elements developed in it with passage of time.  This gold mine of knowledge inspired not only Indians, but foreigners as well.  Intellectuals from various countries have translated it in their own languages and reinterpreted it for a rational mind.

Self-discipline, self-reliance and self-restraint – Vedic literature has given importance to the considerations of self-discipline, morality, and knowledge. All social groups i.e. Varnas/Castes are supposed to lead a self-restraint and self-disciplined life in all respect, be it in the matter of daily routine, occupation or inter group relationship. In the past, ranking of different social groups was done on some principles. Self-discipline, hygiene, cleanliness, morality, knowledge, spirituality of different social groups and usefulness of their work to the society as a whole were the considerations, which determined the social, economic or political status of a group in society vis-a vis others. Higher a varna/caste, purer it was considered, and greater were the self-restrictions on its behaviour through rituals.

Truth, Ahimsa, peace and non-aggression – Truth, Ahimsa, peace and non-aggression are the hall-mark of Hindu philosophy. They have always been the part of Indian ethos. Indians  endure without much protest injustice and unfairness until they are pushed right to the wall. It has prevented its people to exercise coercion, force, violence or aggression. In the past, intolerance of people elsewhere in the world had compelled the people to work under the threat of a whip or led to bloody revolutions as had happened in ancient Greece, Rome or other European countries. However, tolerance in India had kept on adapting itself to changing times and had prevented people from taking up the path of violence. It is continuously internalizing the changes and has kept on adapting itself to changing times. India has entered the modern era without any cultural break.

Winding up – Ever since an average Indian has lost faith in these principles, (s)he has also lost faith not only in her/his fellow beings, but also in herself/himself. Almost all persons are heading towards indiscipline, violence and chase of sheer materialism/consumerism based on ruthless competition. The knowledge of the foundation pillars/core values and principles of Hinduism will lead to more tolerance and acceptance by all the communities settled in India.

While living for centuries under aliens domination, Indian people have faced many changes. Then modernization and globalization have shattered its old ways of thinking, lifestyle, values and systems of Indian people. systems and values. Now India  is desperate to pick up the lost threads of its true culture, beliefs. Once again, it is trying to create an atmosphere, where different identities can live together in harmony and can proudly say ‘we belong to a nation known as India, Hindustan, and Bharat’. 


[i]            Basham, Wonder That Was India, p51-52.

          [ii]           Basham, Wonder That Was India, p51-52.

         

May 23, 2020 Posted by | General, Social and political values and systems | Leave a comment

Electoral politics without principles is a sin

Electoral Politics without Principle is a sin

A good physician treats the disease; the great physician treats the patient who has disease.”           William Osler

“Don’t find faults, find remedies.” Henry Ford

“Solve the problem, or leave the problem. Do not live with it.” Lord Budhha

Introduction – Democracy is the “government of the people, for the people and by the people.’ Modern representative democratic system has operated since the 17th century, Free and fair elections at frequent intervals is the life-line of any democratic government. Election is a formal group decision-making process or the usual mechanism, by which a people choose their representatives to hold public office.

Through free and fair electoral process, people formally delegate them the authority to form a government and  look after the welfare of the people, and development of the society and nation as a whole. Election process is also used in many other private and business organizations, from clubs to voluntary associations and corporations.

Many democratic policies and systems were introduced in Modern India  by British Imperial rulers in the beginning of 20th century like Elections at frequent intervals and Census Operations. In an effort to know about the people, whom they wanted to rule, throughout second half of the Nineteenth Century, British anthropologists worked hard to collect data and to catalogue various social groups and tribes living in India. For the first time, the data so collected drew the attention of the rulers, intelligentsia and public to the diversity of Indian society and multiplicity of social groups, sub-groups and sub-sub groups throughout India.

The way, British rulers implemented these policies of great scope, was in their own self-interest. They had exploited the gathered information, used material relating to social, demographic, linguistics, religious and cultural diversities of India for ‘divide and rule’ purpose very diplomatically. Then the system of elections had led to cut-throat competition for scarce positions of power and prestige under British Raj.  Government of India Act of 1909, popularly known as Minto Morley Reforms Minto-Morley Reforms, divided the population into two uncompromising communal groups. It also brought forefront the idea in the minds of other castes and communities to demand separate electorate for them as well. This way, electoral politics further divided Indian society into Brahmins, Non Brahmins, untouchables etc.         It had given rise to electoral politics based on the “Power in numbers”.                                                                                Granting of by known as, brought the idea of communal electorate to the forefront which le Electoral process gave political leverage to castes and communities on the basis of their numerical strength.

Principles of separation of power and checks and balances – A Democratic nation works on the principle of defining with clarity the role of different organs of the government, be it Legislature, Executive, Judiciary, and Bureaucracy or even regional and local government.

Most of the elected representatives of the people in legislatures are supposed to legislate, lay down policies, and monitor its implementation. Executive is there to supervise the bureaucracy to execute its plans and policies, Opposition parties role is to criticize the wrong decisions/actions of party in power. Each one keeps a control on the arbitrariness of others.  If each one does its job properly, there won’t be much problem.

To strengthen democracy is needed a civil society. However, these days neither the system, nor politicians nor the people are not fully prepared or trained to make governance in a Democratic a success. That is why Churchill has once described Democracy as “the worst of all systems”. The major problem with

Recently, a trend has developed that politicians join politics and fight elections not to serve the national interests and the people of the nation. They do so just to enter into the corridor of power. They do not hesitate to resort to unethical practices to create or enhance their vote-banks. They do the right things only after they have exhausted all the alternatives.

Most of the times, they woo voters by making false promises. They try to divide the electorate into numerous watertight compartments on the basis of their diverse identities and interests. The purpose behind it to create and enhance their vote-banks. They appease different section/sections of society by assuring them that if they win the elections they will give priority to specific interests of theirs over everything, be it over national interests and welfare of the society as a whole.    

Vote-bank politics removes the focus/attention of political leaders and their parties from real issues. They are neither able to diagnose the disease (real issues) properly and treat the patient honestly.   to cure the disease. Quite often their self-interest prevents them to find out required solutions to treat the disease properly or to set objectives, plans and policies to deal with real issues or work on it sincerely and honestly. 

Such an attitude of political leaders with vested interests leads the nation towards slow development.. How can the disease of maladministration be cured, if elections are neither free and fair nor fought on fair principles. Many politicians’ fight  election just to gain political power by hook or crook, and control the destiny of millions of people in their own interest  or the interests of their followers.

Vote-bank politics tend them not focus their attention on real issues. Their failure to diagnose the disease properly and do sincere efforts to cure it. They are neither able to treat the disease (real issues) nor the patient (development of the nation). How can the disease of maladministration be cured, if elections are not fought with fair objectives. Many politicians’ fight  election just to gain political power by hook or crook, and control the destiny of millions of people in their own interest  or the interests of their followers.

Vote-bank politics tend them not focus their attention on real issues. Their failure to diagnose the disease properly and do sincere efforts to cure it. They are neither able to treat the disease (real issues) nor the patient (development of the nation). How can the disease of maladministration be cured, if elections are not fought with fair objectives. Many politicians’ fight  election just to gain political power by hook or crook, and control the destiny of millions of people in their own interest  or the interests of their followers.

Vote-bank politics tend them not focus their attention on real issues. Their failure to diagnose the disease properly and do sincere efforts to cure it. They are neither able to treat the disease (real issues) nor the patient (development of the nation). How can the disease of maladministration be cured, if elections are not fought with fair objectives. Many politicians’ fight  election just to gain political power by hook or crook, and control the destiny of millions of people in their own interest  or the interests of their followers.

Both the politicians and people have become quite insensitive to dissent views. People to have become quite intolerant. They do not have much faith in the way elections are conducted. They do not have much choice in selecting their representatives. It is the job of the rival political parties and their representatives to select the candidates and woo the voters to vote for their prospective candidates. In such a situation how can function  efficiently and effectively in a democratic state?

India’s experiment on Democracy and electoral politics

Many democratic policies and systems were introduced in Modern India  by British Imperial rulers in the beginning of 20th century like Elections at frequent intervals and Census Operations. In an effort to know about the people, whom they wanted to rule, throughout second half of the Nineteenth Century, British anthropologists worked hard to collect data and to catalogue various social groups and tribes living in India. For the first time, the data so collected drew the attention of the rulers, intelligentsia and public to the diversity of Indian society and multiplicity of social groups, sub-groups and sub-sub groups throughout India.

British rulers implemented these democratic processes of great scope for their own self-interest. They had exploited the gathered information, used material relating to social, demographic, linguistics, religious and cultural diversities of India for ‘divide and rule’ purpose very diplomatically. The way the system of elections was implemented, it led to cut-throat competition, between different social groups, to get access to scarce elective positions of power and prestige under British Raj. 

Government of India Act of 1909, popularly known as Minto Morley Reforms Minto-Morley Reforms, divided the population into two uncompromising communal groups. It also brought the idea of communal electorate to the fore front. This way, electoral politics had further divided Indian society into Brahmins, Non Brahmins, untouchables etc. It came into their minds that Electoral process could give political leverage to them on the basis of their numerical strength. They also started demanding separate electorate for them as well. And thus electoral politics based on the “Power in numbers” has started in India, which is still continuing.

India got Independence from British rule in 1947. It chose the most difficult form of government, i.e. democracy. Since then Democracy is the backbone of our country. The Constitution of India is founded on the principle that all voices should be heard. Institutions are established here for the benefit of nation and its citizens. 

In 1950, Election Commission 0f India (ECI) was constituted. Its Head Quarters is at New Delhi, the capital of the nation. It is permanent Independent constitutional body. It owns responsibility of superintendence, direction and control the entire process of elections. It conducts elections of Parliament, legislatures at sate level or Union Territories or election to the offices of President and Vice-President. It decides the election schedules for the conduct of elections, be it general elections or bye-elections.

Election Commission has powers to prepare, maintain and periodically update the electoral rolls and supervise the nomination of candidates. It registers political parties and monitors the election campaigns including funding and expenditure of candidates. After the elections, it has conducted 17 general elections of the Lok Sabha and about 370 general elections of State Legislatures.

Beginning of electoral politics – Granting separate Muslim electorate through Government of India Act 1909,  (Minto Morley Reforms) brought the idea of communal electorate to the forefront. Granting special electorate to Muslims made the numbers important.

Around 1909, the non-Brahmin Community was divided into two – Backwards and Untouchables.  For the first time, the lowest strata of Hindu Community were conceptualized under the name of untouchables in the political circles.

New dimension to electoral politics – In 1908, the untouchables comprised about 24% of the Hindu Population and 16% of the total population. The suggestion of Census Commission, to exclude untouchables from Hindu group, gave a new dimension to casteism in politics. The suggestion of Census Commissioner to exclude untouchables from Hindu fold, in the forthcoming 1911 census, immediately increased the importance of untouchables in political circle, in social circle, and in their own eyes too.

Such a move alerted national leaders. This was not acceptable to Hindu leaders at any cost. Their fear proved to be right  as the number of Hindus has fallen down continuously. The following chart, based on various censuses, establishes this fact: Hindu population was 73.3% in 1881, 72.3% in in 1891, 70.3% in 1901, 69.3% in 1911, 68.4 in 1921, 68.2 in 1931 and 65.9 in 1941.

In order to overcome the problem, the Hindu leaders gave top most priority to the abolition of untouchability. They interpreted Vedas liberally and said that purified Varna System expressed equality. The reformers pointed out that untouchability was neither an outcome of caste system nor an integral part of Hinduism, but an external impurity and sinful blot on Hinduism.  They were clear that segregation of lower castes in Hindu Society was not based on economic status or their incapability to do any intellectual work, but on cultural grounds – unclean habits, undisciplined  life style, speaking foul and abusive language etc.  They tried to improve the status of untouchables through Sanskritisation. The emphasis was on education, moral regeneration and philanthropic uplift.[ii]

Factors that led to electoral-politics in India – The game of electoral politics has been started in India long ago, in the beginning of the 20th century, with the start  of democratic process through general elections,

·       Importance of numbers in elections –  The introduction of electoral politics, in the beginning of the 20th century gave rise to the idea of importance and Power in numbers in a democracy. Initially it gave political leverage to the non-Brahmin castes in Southern states of India on account of their numerical strength. And then, influence of non-Brahmins has been growing continuously in politics all-over India. 

While introducing elections in India, the British very diplomatically divided the Hindu population into two uncompromising groups viz. `We the Non-Brahmins and `They the Brahmins and caste Hindus. They instilled deeply in the minds of millions of unlettered Hindus, venom against each other.

Leverage to Non-Brahmins in politics – Power of numbers in elections gave political leverage to the non-Brahmin castes on account of their numerical strength.  Earlier non-Brahmin movements had economic and social thrusts demanding education and land for backwards and freedom from caste rigidities. Later, it resisted the hold of Brahmins in the spheres of education and jobs in government. Non-Brahmins’ demand for a share in modern callings was quickly recognized by the British. They acquired considerable amount of political clout, in early 20th century, with the introduction of electoral politics. Since then, their influence in politics has grown enormously.

·       Census operation – Census operations had been started with a purpose to gather information about social, demographic, linguistics, religious and cultural diversities of India. It was later on exploited by imperial rulers.

After consolidating their position, the British Government in India made an effort to know about the people, whom they want to rule and chalk out strategies for the colonial governance. A systematic and modern population census, in its present form was conducted non synchronously between 1865 and 1872 in different parts of the country. This effort culminating in 1872 has been popularly labelled as the first population census of India. However, the first synchronous census in India was held in 1881.                           

British anthropologists worked very hard to collect data. For the first time, the Census operations drew the attention of the rulers, intelligentsia and public to the diversity of Indian society and multiplicity of castes and sub-castes throughout India. 

·       Introduction of Modern education system – British imperialists used modern education system to create differences between different castes and communities.

During British rule Modern education system was started in1834-35. On one hand, Indian people got access to the enlightened spirit of many liberal thinkers, like Locke, Mill Rossseau, Voltaire, Spencer and Burke; and the knowledge about English, French, American revolutions, through modern education. It offered to Indian intelligentsia, the key to the treasures of scientific and democratic thought of Modern West. It opened up the doors of knowledge and widened the mental horizons of Indian intelligentsia.

On the other hand, the rulers Discrediting Indian values and systems. Through introduction of modern education, British rulers tried  to develop a complex in Indian minds about their heritage and social values and systems.  British rulers exaggerated the distortions developed into the system during century’s after the decay of Hindu Raj. They carefully avoided telling the whole truth or strengths of Indian thoughts and its social systems.  They depicted the Indian culture and practices as discriminatory barbarous, uncivilized and its social system highly stratified”, where multiplicity of communities and their cultures were exploiting each other for their own advantage.

The rulers forcefully implanted in the minds of people, the real and imaginary, evils of 5practices.  The European teachers, missionaries, bureaucrats and British easily put all the blame on Social-structure of India for masses poverty, misery,  deprivation and exploitation

·       Modern means of transport and communications shortened distances and made mobility faster and easier, Every thing together had destroyed the local character of governance. Small local castes, confined within a small area earlier, grew in size, embracing a much wider area than before.

·       Earlier, the Hindu Society was classified into four Varnas embracing numerous castes and sub-castes within its fold.  Census operations divided it into five and created new unbridgeable compartments within Indian social structure – Backward caste, forward caste (caste Hindus), untouchable or scheduled caste, scheduled tribes and minority.  Through legal process, they gave each one a new separate and distinct identity.                                                                                            The new classification of Indian society has changed the older system in a fundamental way, giving rigidity to social stratification and hierarchical ranking. It led to casteism in politics. Dr. GS Ghurya says, The activities of the British Government has done very little toward the solution of the problem of caste.  Most of these activities, as must be evident, were dictated by prudence of administration and not by desire to reduce the rigidity of caste.  On the whole, the British rulers of India, who have throughout professed to be the trustees of the welfare of the country, never seem to have given much thought to the problem of caste, in so far as it affects the nationhood of India… Their measures generally have been promulgated piece-meal and with due regard to the safety of British domination.” (Dr. Ghurye GS, Caste and Class in India, pp 283-84.)

Preparation of grounds for electoral-politics – Various communities feared that Hindu majority government would dominate them. Leaders of non-Brahmin community united numerous endogamous jatis into region wise alliances, increased in size and emerged as powerful pressure groups in different regions.

Justice Party in Bombay in 1917, and South Indian Liberation Federation in Madras in 1916, united the lower and intermediate castes.  In Maharashtra, Phule and Ambedkar challenged the influence of Brahmins and Marathas. In Tamil Nadu and other Southern States, lower and intermediate castes got united under the leadership of Periyar by fusing in them Dravida and Tamil identities and led anti Brahmins movement.  They regarded lower and middle castes as descendants of the original non- Aryans natives of India, who believed in egalitarian pattern of society.  Aryans conquered them and through caste system, Brahmins established their superiority over them.

In AP and Karnataka, intermediate peasant castes like Reddy, Kammas, Lingayats, Vokkaligas came forward against Brahmins.  In Kerala, caste identities became rallying points for class like party formation starting with Ezhawwas, at one time the most depressed of all communities.  In Gujarat, ground level consolidation of Dalits, Adivasis and minorities rose.

The leaders of Non-Brahmins like Mahatma Phule, Ambedkar or Gopal Ganesh vehemently criticized Hindu hierarchical structure, and regarded untouchability as an inevitable concomitant of caste system. Therefore, eradication of caste system became their major plank. They taught the lower castes to get united and work for abolition of caste system as it was responsible for treating them as lesser human beings. It engaged them to forced labor or unsavory jobs, imposing many restrictions on them, preventing them from joining the mainstream of the society; and the subjugating them with the help of the religion. They also attacked the hypocrisy of Brahminism and emphasized reforms and spread of education.

Being non-militant by nature and very small in number, comprising only 3% of the total population, the Brahmins in South yielded to the pressures of non-Brahmins without much resistance and moved out from there to other parts of the country, where non-Brahmin movement was either weak or non-existent.

There was another group led by non-Brahmin political leaders, who wanted a share in the power-structure, special attention and intervention of the British government in electoral politics and government jobs, and thus improve the position of Backwards. In the South and Bombay Presidency, the non-Brahmin leaders voiced forcefully against the domination of Brahmins in government jobs and other modern callings. British had full sympathy with them.   This demand ultimately gave birth to the policy of Reservation. Electoral policy, Census operations, and Reservation Policy. Together, these policies were responsible for the entry of casteism and communalism into the political life of the country, which was non-existent hitherto.

In 1918, Mysore Government denominated all communities, but Brahmins, as backward and gave the backwards special protection in the form of scholarship, admission in educational institutions, quota in jobs and other concessions and benefits.  Special Government officers were appointed to look after their welfare.  Madras and Bombay Presidencies followed their example.

Government of India Act, 1919, accorded special representation by granting a few nominated seats, in the Legislative Assembly, for depressed classes.  Legislative regulations and administrative orders declared denial of access to untouchables to schools, well, roads and public places as illegal.  So far, untouchable activities were combined with the non-Brahmin movement.

By 1928, untouchables separated themselves from the intermediate caste and established their independent identity at national level. Until 1932, the Government of India avoided itself from stigmatizing any group, by official acknowledgement, of their low social status and considered it unfair because Owing to the social disabilities, to which members of the depressed classes are exposed, it would be in the highest degree undesirable that any official authorization might appear to extend such qualification. The fluidity of social distinctions and the efforts of the classes lowest in the scale, aided by social reformers, to improve their status make it more desirable, that government should abstain from doing anything, which would tend to give rigidity to these distinctions.(Indian Statutory Commission, 1930, VI, p 341)

The joint Select Committee of the British Parliament, while reviewing the South Borough Report on measures to secure representation of minorities or of Backward classes for Indian Constitutional Reforms 1919, commented that they attached importance to the educational advancement of the depressed and Backward classes. (Mukherjee P, Indian Constitution and all Relevant Documents relating to Indian Constitutional Reforms of 1990, p 528).

In 1930, Starte Committee suggested to sub-divide the backward classes into untouchables, aboriginal hill tribes and other backward class.  Political expediency and imperial designs to keep balance of power got victory over rational thinking.

Through Communal Award 1932, British created a permanent split in Hindu Society. It perpetuated casteism and made impossible the assimilation of different castes under one fold.  Dr. Rajendra Prasad said, The principle of dividing population into communal groups, which had been adopted in the Minto Morley reforms had been considerably extended, even beyond what had been done by Montagu Chelmsford Reforms… The electorate in 1919 was broken up into ten parts, now it is fragmented into seventeen unequal bits… Hindu community was further weakened by giving separate representation to Scheduled castes. Division on the basis of religion, occupation and service were made.  Every possible cross division was introduced by the British.(Cited in Mehta and Patwardhan, The Communal Triangle, p72). The Communal Award strengthened the roots of casteism in politics.

By the end of the 19th century, the concern for the downtrodden and the movement against the hold of the Brahmins on land, wealth, and education was turned into a political movement. It aimed at obtaining legal rights and position of power through government intervention, Dr. Ambedkar made it abundantly clear that through political power, untouchables were to find their solution, not through acceptance by Hindus.

Ironically, as their political power increased, they insisted on their separate identity. They sought special legal protection and share in politics and administration on the basis of caste. By 1920’s, numerous caste organizations, especially in the South and West, organised themselves into larger collectiveness by keeping contacts and alliances with their counterparts at other places; formed associations and federations at local and regional levels and emerged as a powerful political force.

Conclusion – From historical facts, above, it is clear that the British fanned casteism and communalism in electoral-politics for political reasons. Earlier, though there were few stray incidents of violence, the nation was largely free from caste wars or class clashes.  However, the sectional interests aroused the agitation among different castes and communities all over the nation.  There started a cut-throat competition for scarce positions of power and prestige under British Raj.

 The seeds of casteism and communalism, which were sown by the British, blossomed to its full in the electoral politics of independent India.

September 11, 2019 Posted by | General | | 1 Comment

Population Explosion and unbalanced population growth

“Har taraf, har jagah beshumaar aadmi, Phir bhi tanhaiyan ka shikar aadmi”  Nida Fazil

“Population explosion in the country will create various problems for the coming generations. Those who follow the policy of small family also contribute to the development of the nation, it is also a form of patriotism. There is a need of social awareness in the country,” says PM Modi during his speech on the occasion of 73rd Independence day

Introduction – India is a developing country, desires to move fast towards progress. the second most populous nation in the world. China being on the top.  However, unchecked population explosion has neutralized all its developmental activities, efforts done so far for its economic, social and infrastructural development.

Big strain on already loaded system – Unchecked population explosion has put severe strain on the already over loaded system. It has aggravated many problems in almost all the spheres, like poverty, low per capita income, food availability, pressure on land, burden on education, medical care, housing, unemployment, underemployment, rapid depletion of natural resources and environment. It has prolonged poverty and misery of millions of people.

 Question purely of ‘Demand and Supply ‘- There is constant pressure on infrastructure and civic services. Electricity and water-supply, sewage and drainage systems are not able to meet the growing demands. Population explosion has aggravated many problems such as poverty, low per capita income, food availability, pressure on land, burden on education, medical care, housing, unemployment, underemployment, rapid depletion of natural resources, etc.

Attention diverted from solving the basic issues to grab political power – One of the reason for failure to check population growth is that in electoral politics numerical strength of a section of society assumes great importance. Realising the worth of family planning, educated persons have started having small families. However, the population of illiterate, ignorant and superstitious masses is continuously increasing. They do not have much faith in following family planning measures. For them, more the number, better it is.

More stress on empowerment rather than on enlightenment – In the present atmosphere of power-politics, the focus of both, the people and government authorities is on empowerment and not on enlightenment. The whole history of twentieth century is full of the concerns and efforts to uplift the underclass or to benefit marginalized sections of society.  The main issue after the independence was that of ‘Roti (enough food for everyone), Kapda (clothes) aur Makaan (place to live) ‘.

The fight started for land, better medical facilities, food, employment/jobs, education and other opportunities to ensure security, progress and social status. Later on the fight has moved from the margins to center stage of politics and aimed to provide them a wider base in the power structure of a nation.

Family planning plans already being initiated since 1050, but with no result – The government has initiated a number of well-meaning projects and programs to control the population explosion. However, they could not succeed to yield the desired results. Realizing an urgent need to control the population, the Indian Government launched Family Planning Programs right through its first five-year Plan (1951`-56).  However, the population of India has continuously grown, un-checked. It could not get any success on this issue. Countries like Indonesia, Thailand, South Korea etc. which took inspiration from India and started similar programs, much later than India, have already stabilized their population growth.

Population growth responsible for changing demographic balance – The rapid population growth has changed the demographic balance. A huge social churning is going on the margins of the society. It is leading to distress migration within country as well as abroad.

Formation of Pressure groups to pursue sectional interests – During 20thbcentury many pressure groups have emerged all over India to put pressure on government to accept their demands/proposals. Some caste-groups have become very powerful either on the basis of their numerical strength or networking with other castes living in other villages and towns. Most of them are listed officially under the category of SC (Scheduled Castes), ST (Scheduled tribes), OBC (Other Backward Castes} or Non-SC/ST/OBC upper castes.

Negligible population growth till 1921 – The year 1921 is referred to as the year of the great divide. Before 1921, the population growth was almost negligible and balanced, because of high death rate due to lack of medical facilities, famines, epidemics and other natural calamities.  However, after 1921, there has been a rapid increase in population due to developed medical science, relatively slow death rate, immigration and control over natural calamities. The trends in population growth can be seen from the table given below: –

Population Growth rate since 1921

Year Period Population in Millions Birth rate Death rate Average Growth rate  
1901 240.0
1921 1911-21 259.9 49.0 49.0 0.30
1951 1941-51 361.1 47.0 37.0 1.26
1961 1951-61 439.2 44.0 26.0 1.98
1971 1961-71 548.2 42.0 20.0 2.20
1981 1971-81 683.3 31.0 15.0 2.25
1991 1981-89 844.3 30.9 10.2 2.11

Over last two decades Indian population has grown enormously. In 2001 India’s population was 102.9 crore, in 2004 108 crore, in 2009 116 crore and expected to be 124 crore by 2020. (Source: Census Reports of respective years)

Unbalanced population growth in addition to rapid population Growth – The present problem is not only of rapid population growth, but also of an unbalanced population growth. Level of education and income has a definite impact on population growth. There seems to be a correlation between the birth rate and literacy. Higher the levels of education lower the birth rate and vice verse. The population growth has been contained amongst educated class. But the number of poor, illiterate and unproductive hands is continuously increasing.

Trend of increase in the numerical strength of SC/ST and OBC population – It is observed that over decades population of SCs, STs and OBCs has been continuously growing. There appears to be no reason for them to control their population. The protective policies, preferences and allowances under various Welfare Schemes seem to work as incentive for not adopting  family planning measures. Rather they are encouraged to increase their numerical strength for increasing their influence and role in electoral politics.

According to 1991 Census, while the total population in the country, excluding Assam and J&K, grew by 23.79%, it was 30.90% in the case of SC, 25.67% in the case of ST and 22.11% in the case of non-SCT.

Region-wise growth of different sections of society – Region-wise, highest growth rate has been recorded by SC population in Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Manipur, Meghalaya Mizoram, Orissa and W Bengal. This is followed by ST, followed by Non SC/ST population. In Gujarat, Rajasthan, Tripura, Dadar and Nagar Haveli, ST population followed by SC, followed by NON SC/ST population has recorded highest growth rate. In Goa, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Sikkim, Tamil Nadu and Daman and Diu, the growth rate is highest among SC population, followed by Non SC/ST, followed by ST population. In Kerala, highest growth rate is among ST population followed by Non SC/ST and then SC population. In Arunachal Pradesh, Bihar and UP the growth rate is highest among Non SC/ST followed by SC and then ST population. The Non – SC/ST growth rate in most populous states like UP and Bihar appears to be mainly due to rapid rise in the population of OBC people.

Data on Non SC/ST and OBCs Population – Though, as per government’s census policy, no published data is available about Backward Class’s population growth, the 1951 Census authorities gave to the First Backward Class Commission, two sets of figures in respect of Backward class population. These were 678.39 lakhs (18.9%) and the other estimated at 20.5% of the total population. In 1956, the Commission raised it to 1135.10 lakhs (31.8%). The Mandal Commission, in 1980, further raised it to 52%. The increase in its number is both due to inclusion of additional castes in the backward list as also due to increase in the birth rate among them. The unbalanced growth is more pronounced in the case of Muslims. The 1991 census reports an increase from 11% in 1951 to 13% in 1990, in respect of Muslim population.

The growth of Muslims is higher than any other religious group. The recorded growth in Muslim population shows an increase of 32.78% as against 22.78% in the Hindu population. This increase is again due to increase in birth rate as well as migration.

Close relation between women literacy and population growth – Women literacy has led to lower birth rate as well as lower infant mortality rate. For example, in Kerala, having cent percent literacy, the birth rate is much lower than UP, Bihar or Rajasthan, where the literacy rate is lower, and the population of agrarian community and poor people is increasing unchecked. They suffer from illiteracy, superstitions, desire of male child, high mortality rate among children, or lack of awareness. They do not consider children as a problem, but an asset and insurance for old age.

Conclusion – As far as population explosion is concerned, it is putting tremendous pressure on limited natural resources of the nation like land, water, forest etc, on infra-structure of the nation like means of transport, hospitals, educational institutions etc. In addition to it, uncontrolled population growth aggravates the problem of unemployment. And affects adversely law and order position within the country it increases the number of different kinds of crimes. Government alone can not the problems of uncontrolled population growth. It needs the full cooperation of people themselves.

Though percent-wise, unbalanced growth of various sections does not seem much percentwise, but in absolute number, it is alarming. Tough competition between different sections for growth has created a gulf between different sections of society, each one pursuing its sectional interests. It gives rise to new equations in power echelons. The wider the gulf, larger the problem for the Government The welfare schemes for such a large population puts an extra economic burden on government.

The problem can not be sorted out by coercive methods. Literacy helps in bringing down fertility substantially among all the sections. People especially poor and marginalized should be encouraged to have a small but happy and healthy family by choice. Attention needs to be paid the problems like high numbers of maternal and infant deaths, by improving the quality of health services, meeting un-met needs of family planning services and linking population programmes with reasonable incentives as well as disincentives for having a large family.

August 17, 2019 Posted by | General | Leave a comment

Role of a government of a Nation State

Introduction – Concept of ‘Nation State is not very old. The notion of a ‘nation state’ is different from the earlier idea of ‘city state’, ‘multi-national state’, ‘empire’, ‘confederation’ or other state forms. For medieval scholars, present concept of nation was different. For them, government ruled by the consent of the people rather than by Holy mandate was perhaps unthinkable.

Expansion of territory along with the process of industrialization, modernization and new inventions in the field of technology gave birth to the idea of Nation State. Since 1776, started the process of city states converting into nation state. Nation state, in its present sense, is more or less a phenomenon of nineteenth century. Idea of nation state is associated with the rise of modern sovereign state, in which its government governs its specific territorial area for the unity, social, economic and cultural development of the people living in that area. The concept  of ‘Nation state’ in its present sense is more or less a nineteenth century concept. In 1815, at the Congress Of Vienna the Final Act recognized only 39 sovereign states in the European diplomatic system.  

The idea of ‘nation state’ is associated with the rise of modern sovereign state, where its own government administers within its specific territorial area. It works for the unity and social, economic, political and cultural development of all its people living in that area. The ultimate aim of government is to help common men live a peaceful, safe and secure life. Today, however, this simple and powerful truth is too often forgotten.

Emergence of the concept of Welfare and Developmental administration ties – Earlier, till nineteenth Century, the main tasks of the government used to be maintenance of law and order and revenue collection. French Revolution, Bolshevik Revolution, or Industrial Revolution had changed the scenario. It had a great impact on contemporary developments, especially in widening the scope of State activities. Poverty and misery, which were earlier accepted as the lot of masses, are no longer regarded as inevitable. In the post Second World war period, almost all the newly emerged nations in Asia, Africa, Latin America and parts of Europe, added Welfare and Developmental activities in their agenda.

Criteria of a nation-state – According to Shaw, Malcolm Nathan, p. 178. Article 1 of the Montevideo Convention  on Rights and Duties of States, 1, Published by Cambridge University Press, 2003) lays down the most widely accepted formulation of the criteria of statehood. A state possesses the following qualifications:

  • a permanent population;
  • a defined territory;
  • government; and
  • capacity to enter into relations with other states’.

Tasks of the government of a nation state – Of all the activities of a civilized nation, the task of governance/administration is perhaps the most complex one as it deals with living human beings prone to unpredictable behavior. A national government has to deal with the issues – political, economic or social, which directly affects day to day life of the people.

Usually the governments of modern nation states are involved in multifarious activities, like: 

  • Protection from internal or external aggression – It is the responsibility of every nation to protect its citizens and the nation from terror activities with the help of its armed forces. Its primary task is to maintain the law and order within the country.  Normally government through administrators, intelligence services, and revenue services take decisions, monitor the situation and keep control over disrupting activities of anti-social elements.

  • Collect Taxes – The collection of taxes provides funding to support the infrastructure of government, which allows for the delivery of public services to citizens of  the nation as a whole. Taxes are essential for provision of government services. 
  • Service functions – To provide services to public at large, there are some non-technical professionals as well as technical services like various Railways, Post and Telegraph etc, which provide services to the public at large.

  • Technical functions – Technical functions like Building up Infra-structure for country – The responsibility of building up permanent infra-structure for the sustainable development of the nation falls on the shoulders of technocrats.

  • Research and Development functions – Research and Development in various areas for a better future of its citizens – Modern states set up research goals for the sustainable development of the nation in the areas in different areas. The government plans and make policies like economic growth, environment protection, Good Health and Well-Being, behavioural science, Quality Education, and to develop new monitoring techniques.

Of all the above mentioned tasks, keeping law and order situation intact within its territory is the main task of the government of any nation. 

Source of Power for a government – The source of power of the government has kept on changing with passage of time. Earlier, during the times of city-states of Agricultural society, muscle power  gave the people power to govern. With the start of Industrial era, wealth took over the place of muscle power as a source of power. And in modern times, knowledge has become one of the major source of power. Creation of more wealth and control over muscle power depend to a large extent on knowledge, exchange of data and information. More the Knowledge, more strong/advanced is a nation in present day in modern global society.

 Changing scenario  about the Tasks of a government

The tasks of government and its source of power have kept on changing from time to time and from place to place.

  • During ancient societies- During in the era of ancient agricultural societies, there used to be independent (sovereign) Princely citystates – small or big. It usually consisted of a single city with its dependent territories. The power to govern was in the hands of physically strong persons, i.e. warriors. The task of the ruling authority was not so difficult. Expansion of their territory and protection of its people from foreign invasions and internal disturbances and collecting revenue were the main tasks of a government. 
  • Era of industrialization – Industrial Revolution (from about 1760 to sometime between 1820 and 1840) and the contemporary developments had a great impact in widening the scope of State activities. The Industrial Revolution permanently changed the relationship between worker, employer and government. During the era of Industrialization, wealth took over the place of muscle power as a source of power.

    Industrialization had both positive and negative effects on society. has generated employment opportunities, provided educational opportunities, encouraged advancement and innovation, and better utilized resources. It resulted in more efficient production processes, cheaper goods and improved quality of life. On the other hand, the Industrial Revolution encouraged environmental pollution, poor working conditions and a decline in agriculture. Industrial Revolution had some negative impacts for society. Although there are several positives to the Industrial Revolution there were also many negative elements, including: poor working conditions, poor living conditions, low wages, child labor, and pollution. The negative effects brought in the era of Revolutions. 

  • Era of Revolutions – The French Revolution (5th May 1789 to 9th Nov, 1799) had a great and far-reaching impact that probably transformed the world more than any other revolution. Its repercussions include lessening the importance of religion; rise of Modern Nationalism; spread of Liberalism and igniting the Age of Revolutions. Then Bolshevik Revolution/Russian revolution (1917 to 1920) had a great global impact. It swept the ideas of Communism, Socialism, democracy, economy, nationalism, and most importantly the division of the world. Russia was the first country to establish a communist government, and communism spread throughout the world. 
  • Concept of Laissez-faire – Concept of Laissez-faire advocates an economic system in which there is minimal intervention from governments and regulations. With the rise of the concept of nation state all over the world, the principle of Laissez-faire became popular. Most of the Governments of nation-state’s interfered minimum in the economic affairs of individuals and society.The government’s main tasks were only to maintain law and order and collect revenue.

It began with Adam Smiths’ “The wealth of nations”. Which developed the idea of “The wealth of nations”, developed the idea of Laissez faire”. Laissezfaire is a French meaning “allow to do”. The British economist John Stuart Mill was responsible for bringing this philosophy into popular economic usage in his Principles of Political Economy (1848).The philosophy’s popularity reached its peak around 1870.

The policy of laissezfaire received strong support in classical economics as it developed in Great Britain under the influence of economist and philosopher Adam Smith. It led some nations through success after success in the economic field. USA became world’s largest economy. Australia achieved one of the highest per capita income rate. Many European States emerged as great imperial powers. It was the guiding principle of governance till the end of  19th century.

The Physiocrats proclaimed laissezfaire in 18th-century France, placing it at the very core of their economic principles. With Adam Smiths’. The government’s main tasks were only to maintain law and order and collect revenue. It led the nations through success after success in the economic field. USA became world’s largest economy. Many European States emerged as great imperial powers.

Due to some inherent weaknesses, After 1873, the world moved away from the dominant political concept of “Laissez-faire”, with the crash of Vienna Stock market. The crash of Vienna Stock market had caused a short-lived panic in Paris, London, Frankfurt and New York. The Panic triggered an economic depression in Europe (Paris, London, Frankfurt) and New York that lasted from 1873 until 1877, and even longer in France and Britain. During early 1870s, several Banks in Europe collapsed, which led to the crash of the Vienna Stock Exchange. It was the beginning of an economic crisis, the Great Depression, which lasted until 1896. The crisis affected central Europe and later the United States. In the United States the Panic was known as the “Great Depression” until the events of the early 1930s set a new standard. It changed the course of political events.

It had turned many countries to totalitarian regimes. The first one to opt for totalitarian regime was Soviet Russia. Italy became a fascist nation and Nazism grew in Germany. It also  led to the emergence of imperialism, which led to economic exploitation of conquered places, colonization and World Wars.

  • Turning point – World War I (1914 to 1918) was the turning point. During the World Wars, different nation-states entered into Alliances with other nations.  As the world entered the 20th century, the process modernization, industrialization and new developments in the sphere of technology, and new techniques of warship, and arms race prepared the ground for imperialism, militarism, nationalism and  world war I.  Desire for greater empires led  economically strong countries to enter into Alliances, such as Treaty of Versailles was signed after World War I between Germany and the Allied Powers. Japan had an alliance with Entente Powers. 

World War II – Then in 1935, started II World War II. World War II had a profound effect on colonial powers. It completely destroyed their economies. It was an even bigger calamity for Germany and Europe. The war changed the economical balance of the world, leaving European countries deep in debt and making the U.S. the leading industrial power and creditor in the world. Inflation shot up in most countries and the German economy was highly affected by having to pay for reparations. 

Scenario after World-Wars, Rise of the concept of Welfare State – Peter F Drucker says  that two World-War had changed the course of of politics and led to the rise of welfare state and its immense power. 

Socio-economic justice was the idea that swept the entire world. At that time, it was not only a political or economic ideology, but also a radical philosophical alternative, which assured to create a new integrated classless egalitarian society, free of discrimination and inequality. It was supposed to destroy all inequalities of race, sex, power, position or wealth and to distribute equitably social, material and political resources of the nation. It meant to place in full or in parts means of production and distribution under State’s ownership or control, as against private ownership and free enterprise. It believed in planned development for removing poverty and leading the nation to prosperity.

Poverty and misery, which were earlier accepted as the lot of masses, are no longer regarded as inevitable. Millions of people started demanding, with persisting insistence, better standard of living, better housing, better education and better medical facilities. The masses started wishing that they themselves should be benefited a much as possible, from the resources of their nation. The desire of public to go forward quickly and to establish a new economic order, in which common people could have better deal, gave rise to the concept of `Welfare State’ and Developmental Administration. Democratic governments allover the world started playing the role of a guardian, as far as its economy was concerned. Government assumed the responsibility of protecting its citizens from the shocks of every day life.

Government of a Welfare State assumes the responsibility of its citizens from `womb to tomb’. It aims at to bring about `social, political and economic justice’ by improving the quality of life of its masses. Its main focus is on improving the lots of  poor people and weaker sections of society  poor by fulfilling their basic necessities. In short its objective is a massive attack on five major evils of society – want, disease, ignorance, squalor and idleness.

Technological developments, especially in the field of Information Technology after 1970, has facilitated the exchange of data and information. knowledge has become the major source of power.

The process of changes has not ended over here. Now the whole world is moving towards forming a global society.  Some people say that globalization has political, economic and cultural impact on the nationstate, which ultimately impacts the issue of identity on “global citizens”. Finally, the paper argues that globalization also has an impact on the autonomy of the nationstate especially on the education system and policies.

Some opine that Globalization creates a sense of interdependence among nations, which could create an imbalance of power among nations of different economic strengths. The role of the nationstate in a global world is largely a regulatory one as the chief factor in global interdependence.

Some people wonder, how the global society will be governed? It is yet to be seen.

 

 

July 1, 2019 Posted by | General | | Leave a comment

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