After the Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the Ram temple trust the former Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, who over saw the Babri Msjid  destruction, Kalyan Singh and Uma Bharati, who actively participated in that act, said that the Other Backward Classes (Shudra/ OBCs) are as much Ram Bhakts as Dalits are and demanded for inclusion of an OBC member on the trust. They held back from saying that they are as Ram Bhakts as the Brahmin/Bania/Ksatriyas are  yet with a difference as the OBCs and Dalits contributed the man power needed for the destruction of Babri Masjid destruction and their physical labour alone will build the temple yet they are not in the Trust. This certainly is a caste conscious demand by the very same Sangh OBC leaders.

The members of trust so far declared are senior lawyer K Parasaran, Jagatguru Shankracharya, Jyothishpeethadheeshwar Swami Vasudevanand Saraswati Ji Maharaj from Allahabad, Jagatguru Madhavacharya Swami Vishwa Prasannatheerth Ji Maharaj, Pejawar Math in Udupi, Yugpurush Paramanand Ji Maharaj from Haridwar, Swami Govinddev Giri Ji Maharaj from Pune and Vimlendra Mohan Pratap Mishra from Ayodhya. The Dalit member is Mahant Dinedra Das from Bihar. The others would be Ex-Officio members from the Government structures. There is no single OBC member on the trust as this list shows.

The question is why any Shudra/OBCs that include  Jats, Yadavs, Patels Marathas, Lingayat and Vakkalinga to whole of reserved OBC communities which were mainly responsible for the BJP victory did not find eligibility on the trust? The immediate reason is that the Shudra/OBCs are not such an organized national spiritual/political force as the Brahmin/Bania/Ksatriyas and also the Dalits. The modern Shudras never asserted their identity and demanded for their share in Hindu spiritual system, although they are the main stay of the religion. Brahmin presence in any Hindu activity is seen as Shudra presence as well. What about Dalits?

After Ambedkar’s emergence Dalits acquired new spiritual status and identity, though they still suffer massive oppression in the caste hierarchy. Sriram’s historical spiritual status as against Shudras also has something to do with the present exclusion of them. The Dalit issue never finds mention in Ramayan.

The dwija communities have a historical nexus with Sriram’ heritage, though mythological. Even when Sriram was king not God in the Ramayan narration the Brahmins were his gurus, the Ksatriyas were his caste community rulers. Yogi Adithyanath feels a strong bondage to Sriram because he comes from his caste-community heritage and even today that power parampara continues to hold true. Brahmins know that Sriram did not do anything without the approval of his Brahmin gurus. Vashisht played a key adviser role in every step of his life–both in war and peace times. Ram killed Shudra Shambuk with the command of Vashisht for he claimed a Brahmin status trying to perform a tapashya. RSS believes that that story narrative is part of Vedic parampara and needs to be preserved.

RSS treats Srikrishna, on the other hand, with a different view. Srikrishna did not accept any Brahmin guruship and declared him self the ultimate God. He has Shudra descendency. Perhaps, this could be the main reason why right from 1925 the Rastriya Swayamsevak Sangh leadership conceptualized its Hindu Rastra in the image of Ramrajya but never used the idea of Krishnarajya, inspite of the fact Srikrishna is known as God and king of Dwaraka.

RSS strongly believes in Guru parampara wherein the Brahmin guru should be on the highest pedestal. The Bania nexus with Ram is very recent. Mahatama Gandhi also used the Ramrajya concept once Hindu Maha Sabha and RSS started using it, though he treated Gita as his sacred text. Gandhi made it acceptable to Banias and other Shudra nationalists during his mass mobilization. That base was very useful for RSS in the temple mobilization. Only Ambedkar kept the Dalit samaj outside that fold and Dalit samaj needs to be satisfied with this kind of identity tokenism. The Shudra/OBCs are seen as subsumed social force in Hindu brahminism while being unequals.

Prime Minister ignored the Shudra/OBCs while constituting the trust because they are not seen as a threat to BJP’s power and their spiritual ideology at the national level. They are taken for granted social agrarian lot. Though the Shudra/OBCs have regional political control in many states, they have never challenged the Hindutva ideology with an independent spiritual ideology of their own at at the national level. Dalits on the other hand used Buddhism and Christianity as alternatives. A direct threat to Hinduism. RSS/BJP dwija leadership is worried about that conversion threat, as their status of being historical untouchables now finds a global recognition and sympathy. This also worries the ruling RSS/BJP dwija leadership. Shudra/OBCs have never challenged Hindu dwija focres on spiritual  matters. Kalyan Singh and Uma Bharati have raised a mild inside protest as they too were two Chief Ministers in big North Indian states and emotionally involved in demolition of Babri Masjid.

At the time Babri demolition since the OBC militancy in the so called movement was strong, greater was the acceptability in the RSS/BJP networks. Shudra/OBCs competed for that recognition. Kalyan Singh lost his Government, went to jail for a day and became a hero. Umabharati lead the demolition squads with a slogan ourek Dhakka maaro. From that position of more threats to Muslims she became the first OBC woman Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh. Sadvi Rithambhara another OBC women also became Sangh heroin with fiery speeches. In that atmosphere the  Modi’s OBC certificate found resonance in the 2014 election.

Kalyan Singh and Uma Bharati  are not spiritual thinkers. They are rabble rousers. RSS has not produced a single Shudra/OBC spiritual philosopher so far. Constant reading of spiritual or philosophical texts is not considered to be a Shudra/OBC job even now within the Sangh. RSS has not accepted the role reversal of castes and communities, because that goes against Hindu parampara. All Sarsanchalaks, including Mohan Bhagwat repeatedly stress on protecting Hindu parampara.

From Congress fold also a known Shudra intellectual like Shashi Tharoor who could raise philosophical questions on inside inequality in Hinduism eulogized the whole Hindu system in his book Why I am a Hindu without raising questions of caste and hierarchy . In private conversation at a Kerala Literature Festival recently  he told me that Kerala Nairs do not consider themselves as Shudras, even though they are not dwijas with a right to sacred thread (jenevu). Nairs produced many writers on religion but they all see Hinduism without looking at caste differentiation. Hence the Kerala communists also do not talk about caste as much as Kalyan Singh and Uma Bharati do.

If only the Shudra/OBCs realize the caste exclusion in RSS/BJP parampara is a reality the principle of majoritarianism will find a social set back.

Unless there is a Shudra/OBC  intellectual challenge to RSS ideology like the one that Ambedkar posed to the dwija hegemony in Hinduism in the name of parampara the RSS/BJP do not give any spiritual credence to Shudra/OBCs. Kalyan Singh or Uma Bharati cannot do that as they are not ideological thinkers even within their own framework. Shudra/OBCs need to produce an Ambedkar from among their agrarian brains.

Kancha Ilaiah Shepherd is a political theorist, social activist and author of many books, the latest being From Shepherd Boy to an Intellectual—My Memoirs


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