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The Annihilation of Caste

Preface
The Annihilation of Caste was originally written as a speech for the Society of the Abolition of Caste (Jat-Pat-Todak). The Society wanted Ambedkar to lead the 1936 Conference in Lahore. The Society composed of Dalits and Caste Hindus working to end caste first invited Ambedkar on December 12, 1935. Ambedkar initially turned them down because even liberal Hindus often opposed his views. The Society sent a delegation to Ambedkar in Bombay. He eventually agreed to explain in detail how it is impossible to break caste without annihilating religious notions undergirding the caste system.

Ambedkar prepared the first draft and sent it to the Society for approval. An argument began on whether the Society should publish the speech in Lahore or by Ambedkar in Bombay during the completion of the final draft. Ambedkar held firm to his right to publish his work. The Society sent a representative to Ambedkar to make amends and get a final draft of the address.

When the Society received the final draft, many Hindu members were upset that the speech attacked Hindu scripture and the fundamental morality of Hinduism. The Society then asked Ambedkar to change the address to make it more palatable to all the members. Ambedkar refused. The Society specifically asked him to explain how Hinduism is fundamental to the Caste System. If they had a problem with his speech, the Society should have rejected the first draft. Criticizing the casteism within Hindu scriptures is fundamental to Ambedkar’s prescription for Indian progress. The existence of caste inside scripture makes the religion of Hinduism antithetical to equality. Ambedkar canceled the conference and left the Society with the following quote:

But What can anyone expect from a relationship so tragic as the relationship between the reforming sect of Caste Hindus and the self-respecting sect of Untouchables where the former have no desire to alienate their orthodox fellows, and the latter have no alternative but to insist upon return being carried out?

The Annihilation of Caste

India must annihilate caste to facilitate unification. Without unification, there will never be a large enough population resisting British rule. Even if Britain granted independence to a divided India, persecution of the lower castes will continue. The divisions with in the country will retard India’s growth if not rip it apart.

The caste system is a system that divides India into thousands of sub-castes due to birth. Also, the caste system created a hierarchy in which sub-caste in the highest positions have more rights and privileges. There is no unifying moral belief that everyone must follow. All morality is contingent on caste. One is also born with this caste and cannot change it. Therefore conversion is not possible. If one were to adopt Hinduism, they would not have a caste and would not intermingle with other believers. India has a large population of people that still live in tribes uninfluenced by Hinduism.

The term “Hindu” is derived from Arabic to describe the people they conquered in India. Before the Islamic invasion, no word unified all the people in the sub-continent. Essentially, Indians never saw themselves as one united people. The caste worshiped Hindu gods in separate cults. There was never a unifying ethos or praxis in the religion.

Separation due to caste had always weakened India. Muslims and Sikhs stood united against oppression, whereas Hindus understood people of other castes would not support them. That is why so many invaders took over India. Hinduism and the caste system have left India weak. India’s failure to repel a conqueror proves it. The Hindu culture has survived thousands of years only because no conqueror saw it necessary to destroy it. Hinduism is not uniquely resilient.

Many Indians, including Mr. Mohandes Gandhi, favored replacing the caste system with Chaturuvarnya. The Chaturuvarnya classified people into four castes Brahmin (Priest), Kshatriyas (Soldiers), Vaishya (Retailers), and Shudras (Menials). The idea was that reducing the hundreds of castes in India currently would be the first step in unification. Also, the Chaturvarnya doesn’t forbid anyone from learning a profession outside their birth occupation. It only prohibits earning a living from it.

Ambedkar explains Chatruvarnya will not work because people don’t fit into simple categories. People are much too complicated for that, and classification is only superficial. Determining one’s profession by birth hinders people from fulfilling market needs. People need the flexibility to change jobs when needs arise, such as war. If India were to be invaded and only Kshatriyas could serve in the military, there would not be enough soldiers for defense, as seen many times in Indian history.

Even within the Chatruvarnya, there is no motivation for a Kshatriya to defend the rights of a Shudra. There is no motivation for a Brahmin to use his intellect for the good of the Shudra. Hierarchies naturally lead to exploitation. People in every community depends on experts. However, all societies should allow all citizens access to education and self-defense as both are vital needs.

Socialists, in contrast to supporters of Chatruvarnya, wanted to end caste. However, they saw it best to do this indirectly with the inevitable socialist revolution. Once workers owned the means of production, all the workers would unite regardless of caste. There was no need to attack caste directly; the natural progression of society would end caste.

Here the socialist are class reductionists, and Ambedkar reminds them that money is not the only source of power for many people. Religious and social statuses are also a source of power. Muslims will sell their last possessions to go on Haj. Wealthy Hindus will obey penniless gurus. The idea that money is the primary method to obtain power comes from an analysis of modern-day Europe. India is a very different creature, and the socialist theorist had not evaluated the intersectionality of economics, religion, and culture.

The socialist revolution will require all workers to unite. Worker unity is not possible without the abolition of caste. Those of low caste will not trust high caste leadership. Those of high caste would not follow leaders of low caste. The people of India must foment fellow-feeling as a prerequisite to solidarity.

It is essential to remember class is not the same as caste. Classes are not separated socially. Nothing is stopping the poor woman from eating with the rich woman, no reason to kill a poor man that marries a rich woman. Castes are separated in every area of intercourse and suffer stiff penalties for transgression. Dalits are not allowed on the sidewalk at the same time as a Hindu because the Dalit shadow could pollute the Hindu. Dalits had to wear a pot around their neck to catch their spittle and a broom on their waste to sweep away their footsteps. No poor person in Europe had to go through this level of humiliation.

Caste is also not based on race or ethnology. Even in the 1930s, ethnologist agreed that no one is racially pure. Even the ethnologists that support the idea of race do not believe races represent different species. Even if race was the basis of caste, there is no reason to think there would be a scientific justification for hundreds of subcastes. It is also important that those that support eugenicists, those that believe races are different species, are also supporting the idea that Indians are pygmies, and 90% are unfit for military service.

Ambedkar did not believe all men have equal ability. He did believe there is no way to predetermine a person’s ability. Ability is dependent on physical heredity, environment, and personal effort. These factors interconnect in complex ways that are difficult for outsiders to understand. From a practical standpoint, Society should be organized in a way to allow for as much equality from the very start. Equity is the only way to get the most out of each member of Society. The following quote is the best summary:

Treat all men alike not because they are alike but because classification and assortment is impossible. The doctrine of equality is glaringly fallacious but taking all in all it is the only way a statesmen can proceed in politics which is a severely practical affair and which demands a severely practical test.

One must destroy the religious underpinnings of caste to eradicate it from Indian Society. That means an abdication of the Vedas, Smirtis, Shastras, and Sadachars. These texts do not serve as a moral code and are only a set of rules. Ambedkar thinks Hinduism should be reformed as a state religion with the following parameters:

  1. There should be one and only one standard book of Hinduism acceptable to all Hindus
  2. Priesthood should be open to all citizens, and heredical priesthood should be abolished
  3. Only licensed priest can perform ceremonies
  4. State should discipline priest that break moral or civil codes
  5. State should limit the amount of priest based on population

After the annihilation of caste, Indians can establish fellow-feeling amongst themselves. This fraternity is the basis of democracy. There will not be campaigns to promote inter-dining or intermarriage because those things will not be needed. India needs and deserves more than a new system of government. Indians need an equitable society.

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Why Equality is Necessary for Democracy

In Ambedkar’s view, three main types of foreigners that become interested in Indian politics and inequality. The first attempt to use the disparity of India to justify continued British rule. The second doesn’t know or care about the depressed classes and only wants India to be free. The third only have a passing interest in India and involve themselves only for multi-cultural effect. For the rare few that are interested in the intersection of inequality and independence, Ambedkar details difference in India hurts the cause of independence.

Foreign misunderstanding is quite understandable. Congress was the only party strong enough to have international press coverage. They can control Indian media because most of the capitalist class are upper castemen and supply all the advertising revenue for the newspaper. The monopoly on the media led to the perception that they are the only group resisting the British. Also, the press suppressed the shortcomings of Congress on Dalit issues.

Those in command of Congress despise depressed classes and want to maintain the caste system. There was one Congressman, Mr. Tilak, that said depressed classes are only to obey laws not make them. The mere notion that depressed classes should join the war effort angered Congressman Patel. All the provinces that had a population majority of Hindus had Brahmin Prime Ministers. When Congress did promote depressed class legislatures, it was done to discourage Hindu participation. They knew self-respecting Hindus would not participate in a Parliament that included depressed classes. Congress was not only fighting for the removal of British rule but the reinstatement of the ancient caste rulers.

The caste order was not just an extreme version of the stratification in all societies of the ruling and servile class. The result of the class solidification was those that governed in previous generations produced the current governors. This stratification can only be partially explained by the fact most don’t want to participate in governance. Those in the ruled class begin to form an inferiority complex that helps to perpetuate and solidify class. Because the ruling class is rarely lost power, their prestige grew. That is why adult suffrage by itself is not enough to ensure equality.

The parliamentary government replaced despotic sovereigns in most of the developed world. At the time of the World Wars, parliamentary government fell to despots in Italy, German, Russia, and Spain. The cause of regression was a disparity between rulers and those ruled. The Constitution should primarily prevent the formation of a permanent governing class. Parliamentary government, by its very nature, cannot move quickly enough to meet the needs of the servile class after the creation of significant disparities. If this class developed, the only recourse was a revolution.

Democracy requires constitutional safeguards to protect the servile class and prevent the development of a permanent ruling class. Many that are against these safeguards operate under the incorrect assumption that individuals operate with equal bargaining power. The disparity between rulers and the ruled is only one barrier to truly free enterprise. The government must act affirmatively to balance power between individuals.

How Gandhism hurts Dalits

Gandhism is the name given to the philosophy of Mr. Mohandes Gandhi. He never admitted to fathering a new philosophy, but also didn’t object to the publication of books entitled Gandhism. Ambedkar used Gandhi’s speeches, published interviews, and the book Hindu Raj to define Gandhism.

The return to the village and ancient life served as the center for Gandhi’s philosophy. It was not a plan for modernization. He was only against the caste system due to its complication and formation of hundreds of castes. Gandhi supported the Varna system that had only four castes: Brahmin (Priest), Kshatriyas (Soldiers), Vanias (Retailers), and Shudra (Menials). Those without Caste, Dalits, would be added as a fifth caste. There would be no untouchability observed. So if someone interacted with Dalits, they would not need to be cleansed. Dalits would keep their hereditary occupations, including sewer cleaning. So Gandhi was for the replacement of the caste system with the Varna system. He did not support the equality of Dalits.

Gandhi saw the caste system as no worse than any other societal stratification. All societies have rules. Intermarriage between castes are outlawed no differently as a marriage between relatives is outlawed. All societies set limits around enjoyment to prevent the community from devolving into chaos.

The varna system is superior to the caste system because it prohibits no caste from learning or conducting any tasks. It only prevents one from earning a living in any other profession than that prescribed by one’s caste. Because no one can change their profession, there is no reason for class war or struggle.

Gandhi is opposed to unionization or collective bargaining in anything other than extreme circumstances. A strike should happen only with a “real” grievance. Those participating in the strike should live on savings or temporary work. They should not ask for donations or charity. Also, they must make their minimum demand know from the beginning of the strike. So with criteria such as these, it would be challenging for unions to be effective.

The overreach of capitalists was common. Gandhi admitted this. However, he thought workers should show restraint when addressing these grievances. The use of violence was out of the question. The laborers should remember that the capitalists have strength and intelligence. Their guidance was vital.

Machinery is another evil in Gandhi’s view. It removes man from his work, making the body idle. He also said “I would not weep over the disappearance of machinery or consider it a calamity.” If people serve in their caste profession, there will be more than enough labor and no need for machinery.

If India adopted Western values, their culture would dissolve. In Europe, the is suspicion around all the interactions between groups. Workers distrust company owners. French distrust English. Catholics distrust Protestants. Almost all members of Western Civilization are miserable. Indians must hold on to their culture not to be swept up in misery.

Ultimately, there is nothing wrong with the disparity in Indian society, only the perception of disparity. Instead of being angry that Shudras can’t accumulate wealth, praise the Shudras for not being materialistic. Instead of being jealous that only Brahmin can make a living in academia, say that they were the burden of becoming learned for their people. Most importantly, the Dalits profession of manually cleaning sewers was the noblest profession of all. This profession was ordained by divine fate as all others were. Never mind if most Dalits hated the job or had potential far greater than scavenging.

Ambedkar rebuts by making clear that caste divisions are more stringent than class divisions. Caste is the complete separation of individuals by birth. There is no way to improve one’s lot in the caste system. One can work hard and climb socially in Europe. Forcing people to hold an occupation by birth is an anathema to an industrious society.

Machinery and modernization are vital for the development of culture. When people have the burden of work lessened, time is freed for the development of culture. Man is separated from animals by his ability to build a culture. The growth of science, art, and philosophy is the foundation for a more equitable society.

The main discrepancy between the philosophy of Ambedkar and Gandhi is :

“Is it natural that a group of people solidify to govern society in perpetuity?”

or

“Is the creation of a ruling class the result of a dysfunctional society?”

Ambedkar emphatically sides with the latter. There needs to be a specific plan of redress to funnel resources into underprivileged communities. Gandhi only wanted to lessen the burden of the servile class while keeping society stratified.

India and the Pre-Requistes of Communism

This work was unfinished.

One must first understand how the Hindu social order differs from free social order.

In a free social order, society sees the individual and his development as an end in itself. Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity are the cornerstones of the societies values. To justify man being the impetus for creating a society, Ambedkar uses a quote from French philosopher Jacques Maritain that states that people are unique in the universe because they possess a divine spirit.

Ambedkar uniquely defines equality and fraternity. Equality further specified as moral equality, the belief that all people deserve to have their rights respected. As the Declaration of Independence states, “All men are created equal” meaning they begin equal. Ambedkar does not mean that all men have equal ability. Fraternity is defined by reverence for the fellow man and the desire to be in unity with him.

Liberty has two parts, civil and political. Civil Liberty is the freedom of movement, speech, and action. Whereas, political liberty is the right for individual people to share in lawmaking and governance. These two aspects of liberty are intertwined and inseparable.

In contrast, the Hindu social order does not recognize individuals or individual responsibility. Instead, caste serves as the basis for social order. The four castes are Brahmin (Priest), Kshatriya (Soldiers), Vaishyas (Retailers), Shudra (Menials). In addition to the four major castes, there are over 3,000 subcastes. These castes are solidified, and individuals do not pursue their purpose to maintain social order. The base institution of society is caste. Marriage and inheritance are the only subjects in which Hindu society recognizes family. Castes are a division of society by occupation given at birth. Hinduism further separates caste for purposes of dining and marriage.

The three unique features of the Hindu Caste System:

  1. Worship of a Superman
  2. The Brahmin serves as the object of worship for the lower castes. The lower castes, especially, the Shudra exist to serve Brahmin. The servitude of Brahmin lasts until death. Hinduism does not permit Shudra to retire. In the same vein, a Brahmin has no obligation to a shudra.

  3. King is responsible for maintaining the Social Order
  4. The king must maintain social order. If he fails in doing this, he will suffer prosecution like any other criminal. The king also heads a legal system in which penalties are dependent on the caste of the victim and perpetrator. If someone of lower caste injures a person of the higher caste they receive a harsh sentence. The reverse is also true, to the point that someone outside the Caste system could be killed a will by a Brahmin with no penalty.

  5. The social order was ordained by Brahma (God)
  6. It is believed the Brahmin sprang from God’s mouth. The Kshatriya from God’s shoulders. Vaishya came from the thighs, and Shudra came from the feet. The origin of each caste is different, and therefore, so should their station in life. Because the caste system is divine, no modification or change is valid. Ambedkar reiterates that caste is not equivalent to class. Class is something one can ascend or descend depending on individual efforts.

There is also an interesting discussion of the revolution in the book. Three conditions lead to rebellion. The first is a wrong being committed to a group of people. The second is the capacity for the people to realize they suffer a slight—finally, the availability of arms or other means in the overthrowing government. The Hindu social order exists because Hinduism keeps people blind to the fact they suffered wrong. Hindus believe the social order is divinely prepared. Ambedkar lists Nazi and Muslim examples of societies that allow their people to realize they were wronged and then violently suppress the rebellions once they happen.

In the last paragraph, Ambedkar differentiates between Savarna, caste observing, Hindus and Avarna, non-caste observing, Hindus. Ambedkar says there is a class division between them, but not much other information is available.

There is no discussion on Communism because the work is unfinished.

Maharashtra as a Linguistic Province

A linguistic province is an independent political entity formed to ensure that those who speak a similar language can govern together. Ambedkar takes on the idea of reforming the region that includes his hometown of Mhow as a linguistic province.

Those that support linguistic provinces see it as a way to preserve and develop local culture. If the government creates provinces without considering local cultures, they will die. In heterogeneous societies, people tend to advantage their group over others. The group hostilities will hinder nation-building.

Linguistic states would make a national democracy more challenging to develop. Democracies work best in homogenous societies. By having province drawn without linguistic considerations, everyone in the province would be forced to use the common language. The use of the common language builds national identity.

In addition to hindering the construction of national identity, Linguistic states increase government bureaucracy. The central government would have to make documents and provide translators of all the provincial languages.

The compromise solution proposed by Ambedkar was to create provinces based on common local language but use the national language for business and government transactions. The local language could be used for cultural activities. However, if the national language overtakes the provincial, so be it. A culture can stay together without a government entity or a unique language. Cultures can be cohesive through shared history, experience, and tradition.

Maharashtra as a Province

Ambedkar begins by explaining that the proposed province of Maharashtra would be viable. When comparing Maharashtra to the American state of Delaware, it is much larger. The population is greater than the most populous American state, New York. Maharashtra also had enough tax revenue to stay self-sufficient.

The next question was, should the province be unitary or federal. Federal meaning that Maharashtra would be broken into sub-provinces that work in a confederation. Ambedkar takes the stand that a federal province would only increase bureaucracy without any advantage. Maharashtra should be a unitary province.

Bombay

The largest city in Maharashtra would be Bombay, which has historically been an international trading capital. It has a sizeable Gujarathi population. Most work as merchants and liaisons from English and other European business. Many of the Gujaratis wanted Bombay to be independent.

Mostly the argument was that the Gujaratis turn Bombay into an economic powerhouse, and local Maharashtrians should not rule them. Most of the Maharashtrians in Bombay were laborers. They had no idea how to govern correctly. Many of the Gujaratis believed that Maharashtra wanted the surplus revenue of Bombay.

Ambedkar reminds the Gujaratis that they are only captains of industry because the British East India company gave them privileges to work in Bombay. Also, the surrounding provinces provide tax revenue to keep Bombay afloat. Lastly, the wealth of Bombay would not exist without Maharashtrian labor. The Capitalist did not gather their wealth themselves and had no right to its complete control. Wealth is the property of the society because it takes a community to build it.

Essay on Untouchability II: Social Undergirding of Caste

When most social analysts study India, they see the chief division as religion, Hindu vs. Muslim. However, it is also essential to understand caste divisions. These divisions are recognized by those that practice all the religions of India. Those in the lower caste, namely: primitive tribes, criminal tribes, and untouchables make up 60% of the population or 79.5 million people. Since the caste system is disenfranchising a larger number of people than the population of Japan, one cannot ignore the division.

As stated early, the lower or avarna castes: primitive tribes, criminal tribes, and the untouchables are unique on the subcontinent. Primitive tribes exist in the wilderness of India, living a hunter-gatherer lifestyle. The criminal tribes earn their name by raiding neighboring villages and committing assisinations. One clan called the Pindharies can muster up to 20,000 in Calvary. The clan of hired assassins is called, The Thugs. The government considers their acts legitimate business, and they pay taxes. Untouchables live observing Hindu culture and law. However, touching them would pollute a Hindu and require him to be cleansed at a temple.

Of the three avarna castes, Untouchables are the only group that has a social condition that cannot be changed. If a member of the primitive or criminal tribes decides to leave his group and enter Hindu society, they would be welcomed with open arms. An Untouchable could become the leader in his industry and would still cause a Hindu to be polluted. Therefore, Untouchable has a unique struggle in society. Ambedkar uses the analogy that Hindus relate to untouchables as a man relates to his shoes. Untouchables are just a means to an end.

The idea of caste causes separation in marriage, dining, and occupation. The specifics of the Caste System has changed as evidenced by records of foreign travelers to India. At the time of publishing of the treatise, Gandhi wanted Untouchables added to the least powerful caste, Shudra (Laborer). The Untouchables would not have permission to change occupations. The only difference would be, they would not pollute a person of a higher caste.

Aside from the fact that Hinduism promotes the caste system, the religion is also invalid because the highest form of religious experience is trance. It is absurd to think an abnormal psychological condition produced by artificial means is the sign of enlightenment. Trance (Samadhi) was just another aspect of Hindu metaphysics that prevented the population from moving toward rationalism. It is rationalism that will advance society and end discrimination.

Caste is a social order made sacred by the religion of Hinduism and enforced by Hindu law. The laws supporting caste are as old as antiquity, but they were rarely invoked. The laws supporting caste ended in 1850 with the Caste Disabilities Removal Act. The Caste system stayed intact despite not having legal bases. The fact the caste system survived without legal undergirding shows that religion served as the caste system’s base.

Hinduism was exceptionally robust in enforcing caste because it was a religion of a book without a prophet. Ambedkar defines his position by referencing Professor Max Muller’s work on classifying religions as natural vs. revealed. In the natural category, he groups the religion of aboriginal people such as Iroquois. The natural faiths classify objects and people as sacred or taboo and don’t use a personified being as supreme. The revealed religions are those that have a book revealed by a prophet. In the revealed camp, one would find most of the Abrahamic religions and Zoroastrianism. The Vedas are Hinduism holy book, but a prophet did not reveal them to the worshipers. Therefore the credibility of the book cannot be questioned by attacking the character or historical validity of a prophet.

The Caste System occupied a scared space in Hinduism. No other religion deemed any social order sacred. There have been those that have fought against the system such as the Buddha and King Vishvamitra. Yet the idea has persisted. Most religions consider economic activity outside the purview of religion. Combining religious/ social and economic disadvantage was a dangerous combination.

Ambedkar objected to Gandhi’s proportion that caste was the ideal form of society. In fact, caste is not founded on the cooperation of various professions, but their antagonism and class war. To justify his position, Ambedkar uses allegories from sacred Hindu texts that show that Kshatriya and Brahmin had a bloody civil war over the right to perform sacrifices. Bloody conflict is the inevitable result of the Caste System.

Philosophy of Hinduism

Ambedkar begins by establishing what he means by a philosophy of religion. This treatise evaluates Hinduism’s ability to create a fair and just society. Hinduism will either be vindicated or dismissed as a way of life.

A short synopsis of various terms and sub-categories used in comparative religion follows. The treatise defines religion as an ideal scheme of divine government that creates a social order in which men live in a moral order. The previous statement shows Ambedkar’s ability to think holistically as he describes religion as a large holon that encompasses the smaller holon of social order which includes the smaller holon of moral order. He then explains how these three holons were not always connected and over time life conditions facilitate these holons merging.

The work evaluates the idea of G-d as a supreme controller. Ambedkar admits that there is no way to know where the idea to G-d originated definitively. It is possible that it came from hero worship or as an explanation for the origin of the Universe. However, the concept of G-d is not necessary for evaluating morality and or explaining the source of the universe. Also, the idea of an omnipotent and benevolent creator is not in primitive religion.

The progression of religion is briefly explained. At one time religion encompassed all knowledge. An external revolution called the renaissance pruned religion from branching into areas of study it had no real authority. Internal revolutions forced a progression in how the relationship between man and G-d was viewed.

Religion should be both godly and earthly. Instead of evaluating Hinduism on these criteria Hindus take one of two stances. The first is religion is not important. The second is all religions are good. Both these statements are demonstrably false, as Ambedkar will later prove. Religion is a societal influencer for better or worse.

Hinduism’s claim to be a religion of equality was first dissected. The caste system as defined in the scripture Manusmriti creates a societal scheme that is hierarchical. An individual’s position determined at birth with no means to move up or down. Manusmriti dictates romantic relationships, the division of labor, and access to education between caste. When a lower caste is created that can be isolated socially and economically inequality will persist in society. A collective remedy for social and economic inequality is needed for further progress. Society intentionally created the division and must remove it.

The inequality in education leads to those in lower caste being more vulnerable to servitude. In Hinduism, only Brahmin can study scripture which leads to them being the literate class. Shudras, Dalit, and women were forbidden from studying Vedas. Those without an ability to understand the law or access written information of any kind will always be susceptible to manipulation. Also, if one believes Hinduism leads to union with G-d, precluding lower caste from scripture is especially sinister.

Hinduism all runs counter to the building of fraternity or fellow feeling needed for an equitable society. In addition to the four castes, there are thousands of sub-castes. It is difficult for a Hindu to find a suitable community outside his hometown. In addition to social isolation, the caste system has caused genocide. According to scripture, the priest caste annihilated the soldier class twenty-one times. Ambedkar frames these caste wars as a class war. They are endemic and permanent in Hindu society. All the castes and those outside Hinduism are suffering. Hindus can’t even share a meal with a member of a different caste.

He summarizes the problem with Hinduism and the caste system in four points.

  1. Caste divides labourers
  2. Caste dissociates work from interest
  3. Caste devitalises because it prevents men from pursuing their interest
  4. Caste prevents mobilization

Caste is not merely a division of labor; it is a division of laborers. By creating a system that assigns occupations at birth you divorce work from ability or interest. The separation of work and personal ability is a market inefficiency. Caste is also impractical in times of national emergency such as war. In war, everyone must be a soldier. To confine fighting to the soldier caste would prevent taking on any outside enemy. Also, Shudras are not allowed to accumulate wealth. Not being allowed to accumulate wealth removes them from any business pursuits.

He ends the treatise by comparing Hinduism to Nazism. The idea of supermen is the basis for both philosophies. Whether Brahman or Aryan, there is an idea that some are just born better, and others are not allowed to challenge the belief. The real difference was Nazism was out to create a super race, and Hinduism was created to maintain privilege asserted by a few at an earlier stage in history.

Ambedkar recognizes critics could say Manusmriti was not an essential text of Hinduism. He refutes this by recounting the history of how the smritis rose in prominence over time. Because smritis maintained social order, they became equal with the Vedas. It is true that Manusmritis states explicitly the rules of Vedas, but the concept is in the Vedas and Bhagwat Geeta.

Because the Hindu scriptures do not create a more just society or protect individual freedom, their study is unimportant. Ambedkar favors study of the greats in Western philosophy such as Plato and Rousseau. The Bible and other works of poetry are equally insignificant in comparison to rational philosophy. India must modernize while looking backward. However, he doesn’t completely disavow religion. Instead, he understands its value is proportional to its ability to fosters a love for humanity. If love for humanity and its advancement are not the center of religion, the religion should be abandoned.

Full text can be found HERE

Revolution and Counter Revolution in Ancient India

The book Revolution and Counter-Revolution is an unfinished work of Ambedkar.

At the time of the Buddha, India was a decadent country. Hinduism permitted all manner of licentious behavior. The Buddha came as a reformer and gave people an alternative that can lead to a purposeful life. The religion spread due to the charisma of the leader and being backed by influential people. After his death, his disciples spread his dhamma from India to Central Asia, Southeast Asia, and the Far East.

Hundreds of years after Buddhism began, Ashoka became the most prominent Buddhist. Ashoka was emperor of the Maurya Empire and converted to Buddhism toward the end of his life. At the time Buddhism was vegetarian. As king, Ashoka banned the killing of animals and animal sacrifice. The Hindu Brahman primarily served the community as officiants in animal sacrifice. They lost not only money but prestige and social standing. Ashoka conquered the Maurya Empire around 45 BC.

The revolt against Buddhism was lead by Pushyamitra. The goal was to re-solidify and secure the role of the Brahman. To ensure Brahman stay in control, Brahmans had to grant themselves the right to hold kingship and fight in a war. Both responsibilities were initially given to the Kshatriya. Then the Brahman had to create a strict social order to ensure a converted king could not reinstall Buddhism. The Manusmriti was the perfect sacred document for this purpose. The Pushyamitra revolution happened in 185 BC.

Pushyamitra persecuted Buddhist monks, going as far as placing a bounty on their heads. If Buddhist were found practicing their religion, were banished from the realm. Denial of water was also punishment for practicing Buddhism. Pushyamitra was a brutal dictator.

Through Manusmriti, Pushyamitra was able to codify the caste system. To solidify the place of Brahman in society and ensure the progeny would enjoy the same privilege, Manusmriti prohibited inter-dinning, inter-marriage, and general social interaction. These prohibitions provided the Brahman were an isolated group held above the rest of society.

Changing marriage laws to allow child brides and forbidding widows to remarry further solidified the Brahmans place and lineage. Controlling the sexuality of women reduces the likelihood they will procreate with those outside their caste. Having women wed in childhood prevents sexual exploration in youth. The killing of widows does prevent sexual exploration in adult years. Brahman also allowed themselves to marry and have children with lower varna women. Low varna men were castrated if he had sex with high caste women. To further extend the privilege of Brahman men, they were not responsible for the children they had by low caste women. The children would have their mother’s caste.

The Islamic invasion starting in 712 AD and ending around 1296 AD was another blow to Buddhism. The areas conquered by Muslims outlawed the practice of other religions. Islamic rulers killed Buddhist and Hindu clergy. The Hindu were able to replenish quicker because Hindus are born into the priesthood. Buddhist have to undergo a lengthy process administered by elder monks. If all the monks in a region died, the Sangha ended. Also, the Hindu priest had the support of the state, Buddhist had no state support.

Even though many Buddhist were forced to convert, others willingly joined Islam. Hindu rulers were persecuting Buddhist in southern India as severely as they did in the Mauryan Empire. Many Buddhist joined Islam to consolidate forces and resist. Ambedkar also offers evidence that the present-day country of Bangladesh was once a Buddhist kingdom. Converting to Islam provided a nominal level of protection from Hindu and other Muslim invaders.

Ultimately Hindu India was invaded by Muslim invaders, and Brahman invaders invaded Buddhist India.

Caste in Buddhism

Ambedkar reiterates that Buddha allowed people of both genders and all social status to be part of his Sangha. For further evidence, he provides the Ambattha Sutta. In this Sutta, Buddha refuses to pay respect to a Brahman because Buddha knows the Brahman does not come from a pure lineage. Also, he makes the Brahman acknowledge that his life is not virtuous and renounce Hinduism. The Brahman is then allowed to join the Sangha.

Manusmirti and the conflict between Brahmin and Kshatriya

Manusmirti is the religious text that codified the caste system. The caste system existed long before the document, but no one text housed all the rules. In this text, the four castes were separated with Brahman on the top. To solidify the superiority of Brahman, they were allowed to take the duty of caste below them. However, lower castes could not assume the role of castes higher than them. Manusmirti allowed Brahman to take up arms against Kshatriya. The arming of Brahman was a fundamental change to the caste system unprecedented in previous works.

Brahman taking up arms was important to solidify their dominance over the Kshatriyan Kings. The Kshatriya wanted to have their own priesthood to solidify power, temporal and divine. The conflict between Kshatriya and Brahman is mythologized as the conflict between the Brahman Vashishtha and the Kshatriya Vishvamitra.

Ambedkar contradicts his other works by saying the Shudra were members of a privileged political class not vanquished Kshatriyas. The King that the name Shudra is derived, Sudas, was always a Shudra. There were many Shudra kings before Manusmirti and Brahman say nothing wrong with serving them.

Manusmirti degraded women. Specifically:

  1. Women had no right to initiate divorce
  2. Be subject to beatings by husband
  3. Own property
  4. Obtain education

Women before Manusmirti had freedom and were considered equals in society and marriage.

Significance of Bhagvat Gita

Ambedkar makes a case that the Bhagvat Gita is not a religious text. Instead, it is a counter-revolutionary text used to oppose Buddhism. The three main points of the Bhagvat Gita are:

  1. Justification of killing because the soul and body are separate. If a person is killed or dies in war only their body perishes. The soul is indestructible and the body will re-incarnate
  2. Defense of the caste system as the result of unchangeable quality in an individual
  3. Expands the idea of karmic yoga, the concept that your current life conditions are the result of past actions in this or previous lives, to make a case against revolt. Ultimately, people should accept there position in society as a cosmic duty

There is no over-arching morality to the text. It is merely a defense of duty and the status quo.

Ambedkar also questions the year the text was written and if it predates Buddhism. To begin the Bhagvat Gita has concepts that are in Buddhism and not the Upanishads. Scholars know the idea of Nirvana started with Buddhism. Also, when the text describes a good devotee of Krishna, the language is very similar to the Sutta’s description of an excellent devote of Buddha. Also, The Bhagvat Gita mentions a religious sect called Mahasanghikas. Ambedkar determined Mahasanghikas are an early sect of Mahayana Buddhist.

The Bhagvat Gita is also determined by Ambedkar to have four distinct parts written at different times. The first and original is the epic poem in which Krishna is determined to be a mortal human. The second is the introduction of Sankhya and Vedanta philosophy. The third raises Krishna to the level of a god. The work is unfinished so the fourth point is not detailed.

Full Text can be found HERE

Pakistan or the Partition of India

The Muslims came to India in various ethnic groups during many invasions. All the attacks shared one goal, the total eradication of native Hindu religion. Areas that maintain Hindu control violently suppressed Islam. The suppression of both faiths led to two distinct people groups inheriting what would become future India, Muslims and Hindus.

Ambedkar is clear that there are two distinct people groups must come together as a new whole. The heroes of Muslims are the villains of Hindus and vice versa. The stark differences in worldviews led to people of both ethnicities to advocate for separate homelands. Hindustan for the Hindus and Pakistan for the Muslims.

One of the things a unified India would lose if Pakistan becomes a separate state is the majority of its military. Most of the current military is native to the Northwest region of the country. The reason for the concentration of military force in the northwest was not due to an inherent trait in the people of that area. The concentration was the result of British military policies. It is because the British military had recruitment policies that favored these territories. The initiative to recruit high caste members from the northwest was politically motivated.

Supporters of the creation of Pakistan would say that its creation would end the need for separate electorates dictated in the Communal Award. Ambedkar explains how the creation of Pakistan would not absolve the demand for separate electorates. Under the current system the four northwest provinces would control a Hindu minority while the rest of India controlled a Muslim minority. The reservation of seats for minorities ensured there would be some representation for the Hindus in the Northwest and Muslims in the rest of India. If in either section of the country the majority oppresses the minority, they minority could call on his brothers in the other part of India to retaliate. Essentially, creating a mutual hostage situation. Even though the method is crude, it could cause both majorities to treat minorities with respect. If Pakistan is created, Hindus inside its borders would be vulnerable to ethnic cleansing.

In a unified India the northwest provinces could act as a national home, without the full powers of a state. The provinces could hold the cultural, religious, and communal heritage of the Muslims of India without the power of a state. The Muslims of southern India would benefit from a unified India in that, they are connected to their brothers. If Pakistan splits, southern Muslims will be alone to tend with a Hindu cultural and political majority.

As stated earlier, if Pakistan is not separated from India, the Muslims will live as a minority in a Hindu country. Even if their rights are not infringed upon they will live by Hindu cultural norms. The thirst for Muslim nationalism could increase even after political concessions. Ambedkar uses the Arabs of the Ottoman Empire and the Slovaks of former Czechoslovakia to illustrate how nationalism grows even in people that are not oppressed. If the current political climate changes to allow for a unified India, separation could be inevitable.

A genuine growth of fellow-feeling needs to be fostered between Hindus and Muslims to create a new nation. Political allegiance and expediency will not promote long-lasting unity. Both parties have to see the inherent value in solidarity and be willing to sacrifice privilege to stay together. If Britain grants India independence, and Muslims mistrust Hindus, political stability is impossible. Britain often serves as an arbitrary third party in disputes as the situation stands now. Western intervention is not always a bad thing.

One issue observed in the Muslim community by Ambedkar was the inability to advocate for social change. Most Muslims put religion at the top of their priorities. The hyper-focus on religion causes them to only seek control in the political realm. They want to be in charge, yet do not care about how the government functions or if vulnerable people are protected. To expand political power they often implore violence. In the year immediately preceding the publishing of this book, Hindus reciprocated. The current climate could lead to a civil war.

The idea that Muslims are superior and a fear of absorption into the more dominate Hindu culture leads to torpor in the field of social justice. If the Koran doesn’t specifically condemn an act, most Muslims will not advocate for change. As a result, women’s rights had been halted and once a Muslim is in charge, no one would challenge him. Also, questioning a Muslim leader could lead to a Hindu takeover. Therefore the social stagnation seen in the Muslim community is a superiority complex mixed with fear of vulnerability.

Another division in the Hindu and Muslim community is what they ideally want with independence. Muslims want full autonomy and no affiliation with the British Empire. Hindu support varies between dominion status in the British Empire similar to Australia and full independence. However, for Muslims, a significant tenet of their religion is to live in a country that they rule. Living side by side with another religion as equals is not part of the Islamic faith. It is also incumbent on Muslims to extend the rule of Islam all over the world. Therefore, if another Muslim country declares war, they are obligated to help the Muslim nation whether or not it is beneficial to India.

As a solution, Ambedkar purposes Britain granting India a limited amount of Independence as a unit. If the Muslims see they can be in a unified India with their rights not infringed upon, they can decide to become entirely independent. He also questions if the Muslim League reflects the thoughts and concerns of the entire community. It appeared to him that the league was only concerned with the elites.

Post-Script

From an Integral perspective what Ambedkar is talking about here is the dangers of fundamentalist religion. A nation can not be built with a large percentage of people identifying with their faith more than the country. Besides if they see those outside their religious community as enemies or oppressors, then national unity is impossible.

This book has a lengthy discussion on how Gandhi’s position on nationalism changed over the years.

If you enjoyed the summary and want to know more the full text can be found HERE

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