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Indian History

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.

Thoughts on Linguistic States

Ambedkar begins the book by saying he wanted to come out on the topic of linguistic states sooner. He admits his views have changed over time, and some of his views contradict. However, the idea of linguistic states needs to be vetted with cold reason. Ambedkar denounced the hooliganism going on during the publication of this work in defense of linguistic states.

Linguistic states facilitate fellow-feeling that leads to cohesive democracy. When people are grouped in states based on a common language, they have a much easier time working together. Mixed states fail because it forces people of different ethnicities to work together. Ambedkar asserts there is no real reason for various ethnicities to have conflict in India. The separation into linguistic states would facilitate democracy by reducing ethnic strife.

The downside of linguistic states is the possibility of the states developing into separate nationalities. If this happened, there could be the possibility of interstate conflict and war. A strong central government could quell the threat of interstate war. So the downside of linguistic states is far smaller than mixed states.

Another way to increase social cohesion with linguistic states is to make the official language the same in all provinces. So all business and government transactions would be done in the official language. Ambedkar recommends Hindi because 48% of the country already speaks the language. At a later date, when the population is ready, India would transition to English. The use of an official language reduces bureaucracy and ensures everyone in the country has access to all levels of government. It is paramount that those that advocate for linguistics states support one central language. Ambedkar goes as far as to state that someone that is against on central language is not fit to be Indian.

The work briefly discusses the partition of Pakistan. Ambedkar says he supported it. Specifically, he says, “I was glad that India was separated from Pakistan.” He feared Muslims would dominate the rest of India. By letting the Muslims leave, it would make way from India to build a prosperous democracy. However, he felt recent developments of ethnic conflict could close the door on Indian prosperity.

Upon the establishment of linguistic states a new problem arises. The south would have much smaller states than the Indian north. How then would power be equated between the north and south? The power distribution mattered because, according to Ambedkar, the south is educationally advanced and modern. The north is superstitious and backward. The solution is to break up the largest states in the north: Utter Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh. The new states would have around 20 million people to put them at par with the southern states.

Maharashtra and Bombay

Maharashtra and Bombay were examples of failed mixed states currently in India. Both areas were plagued with ethnic conflict and violence. There were four proposals that the government was vetting to improve the area:

  1. To retain Bombay as a mixed state of Maharashtra, Gujarat, and Bombay
  2. To disrupt the existing state and to separate Maharashtra and Gujarat and make them two separate states.
  3. To make united Maharashtra with Bombay as one state
  4. To separate Bombay from Maharashtra and make it a separate city state

Ambedkar believes none of these proposals go far enough. He proposes breaking the state up into four separate provinces: Maharashtra City State (Bombay), Western Maharashtra, Central Maharashtra, and Eastern Maharashtra. The state of Maharashtra as it is was too big to govern. The smaller states would be easier to administrate and facilitate young leaders emerging. The Maharathi people had few political leaders and lagged in education.

Bombay could also benefit from being independent. At this time, the Maharthi population has not developed political or economic leadership. If the transient population of Gujurathis left the economy of Maharahtra would tank. Formation of Bombay into a separate city-state would allow for those creating industry to be satisfied, while the Maharthi develop. Ambedkar also proposes changing the name of Bombay to a Maharthi name.

Caste System Hindered Political Development

There were many problems with the current political system. The treatise talked explicitly about issues of taxation and alcohol prohibition. As in America, alcohol prohibition in India led to a black market and more consumption. To solve this problem, India needed a system that could could facilitate political change.

The social structure of India based on the Caste System caused political stagnation. The Caste System led to an ascending scale of hatred and a descending scale of contempt. A caste has all the pride of a nation. Those in higher caste see themselves as superior, and that led to them not voting for people of lower caste. However, those of lower caste would vote for someone of high caste because they are used to seeing high caste people in leadership. Political reservation would be essential in developing political leadership in lower caste communities. Also, smaller states would allow for areas with concentrations of lower caste people to hold political office.

There are two types of majorities. The first is a political majority formed to push a political agenda. Entrance into this majority is open and would change as political needs change. Societal norms set communal majorities. Entrance into a communal majority is closed, the status is set at birth. If the communal majority became the political majority tyranny would overtake the country.

India is much too large to have a single capital. There was also historical precedent for two capitals in India. For example, the Moghal Empire had Delhi as one capital and Shrinagar in Kashmir as a second. Calcutta and Simla both served the British as capitals. Those in the south had access to a Central government. Ambedkar proposes consolidating Hyderabad, Secunderabad, and Bolraum into a southern capital.

Evidence Before the Royal Commission

The paper is a court transcript in which Ambedkar advised the commission on how to improve the strength of the rupee. The transcript implies that rupees saturate the market.

To solve this problem, Ambedkar proposes what he calls the gold standard. India would use the following currencies.

1. The rupee which will no longer be manufactured

2. A paper currency fully backed by gold

3. Bank notes partially backed by gold

With these three currencies, there is always a possibility that one could be overvalued or undervalued in respect to the other two.

The gold back paper currency will have limited production each year. There will not be enough issued to affect the overall price of gold. The public can exchange the gold backed currency for gold. The ability to exchange will ensure the currency will not be undervalued in respect to gold. Because if it is the currency will be traded in for gold reducing the supply.

Another advantage to having gold-backed currency circulating in the economy is it helps to stabilize the price of gold. Ambedkar saw more and more countries stockpiling gold, yet there were many alternatives to gold in the form of currency. He estimated that the price of gold would continue to be devalued because as people substitute currency for gold. Keeping gold circulating would increase demand, and that would steady the price as gold production increases due to technology.

The market was over saturated with rupees, so Ambedkar recommended putting a halt on production. The price of the rupee would be pegged to gold, but rupees could not be exchanged for gold. So the value of the rupee would not go down because it had a limited issuance. The value would also not inflate because when it does people will use the gold back currency. Ambedkar did accept there could be some extreme conditions in which the government would be forced to trade rupees for gold.

Bank notes were only mentioned briefly. Bank notes will be issued by private banks, and the government will require that the notes are partially backed by gold. It can be assumed that Ambedkar didn’t think bank notes would be created in large numbers.

Ambedkar asserts that he is a member of the labor class. As a member of said class, it is in his best interest to create a currency scheme that keeps the price of goods low. Most economists want a currency that holds its value in respect to gold. By doing this, he gives a window into how he sees himself. He also asserts that keep prices low or steady is the best thing for the country because it helps most people.

The price of goods should be the primary factor in Indian currency policy. The reason is the Indian economy is chiefly driven by internal trade. Most large European countries are driven by foreign trade. Therefore European currency policies can’t be imported whole-cloth.

Many on the council wanted Indian currency to return to its pre World War I level. In response, Ambedkar reminds them that increasing the value of the rupee will only matter if the prices of goods return to the pre- World War I levels. Increasing the value of a currency will increase price hurting the poor. Increasing the value of currency will also reduce trade.

The opposing view of Ambedkar’s gold standard is the gold exchange standard. In a gold exchange standard, a gold back currency is circulating in the country, but it can’t be exchanged for gold within the country. However, the currency could be exchanged for gold outside the country. So the exchange value is only valuable to exporters. Ambedkar explains the limited exchange will not be enough to ensure that the money supply will not grow too large.

The full document can be read 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

Essay on the Untouchables : Dalit and Christianity

Ambedkar begins the treatise by justifying the need for a mass conversion of Dalit. Most Dalits have determined Hinduism will never be conducive to Dalit uplift. Ambedkar then purposes a reasoned and logical evaluation of all religions to see which religion will suit the Dalit’s unique needs.

Many critics would characterize this type of evaluation as artificial and solely politically motivated. Ambedkar retorts the criticism by showing that most Christian conversion in the middle ages came after the king of a country was converted. The subjects would convert in mass to follow the king. If the subjects did not, they would be politically isolated.

Religion is by its nature communal. It projects the essential values of a community on to the universe. The purpose is to unite a community of people beyond extended family bonds. In primitive society, extended family bonds determined those that hold your life sacred and those that do not. Religion binds people beyond the family and creates a means of social control. Law and police can’t contain a society if the people don’t fundamentally respect life and property.

The concerns that a new Dalit religion needs to address are the Dalit’s social isolation and the resulting inferiority complex. To end the social isolation Dalit must move to a group that does not recognize caste. Hinduism will never serve this purpose because caste is a fundamental part of the Hindu religion. Ambedkar even goes further saying that a Dalit that accepts Hinduism accepts her oppression. Also, there is no altruistic center in Hinduism. All forms of behavior can be accommodated under certain pretenses.

A brief history of Christianity in India is given before arguments for and against it are presented. The first missionaries came to India from the Syrian church 800 years prior. They were followed 400 years later by European Christians. Many denominations of the church have created extensive charity networks in India. The goal of the charity networks is to build an audience to listen to gospel. However, there has been no effort to make the society of India more equitable, thus relieving the need for charity.

There were three main impediments to the spread of Christianity in India. One, early European Christians that settled in India were unruly sailors. Two, infighting between various denominations of the Christian church distracted from evangelizing. Three, the church adopted a failed strategy of concentrating on Brahmin converts assuming lower castes would automatically follow. The loss of privilege disincentivized Brahmin conversion. At the time of publication, there were only 6 million Christians in the subcontinent housing 358 million people. Most of the Christians were Dalit and most incorporated Christianity in their Hinduism instead of making a full conversion.

Christianity could not fundamentally challenge Dalit’s social isolation. Christianity itself was a composite community of different denominations. Also, the church kept the caste system going in its India churches. Different castes have different churches. There was no effort to change because a version of caste is practiced elsewhere in Christendom. In America and the Caribbean, blacks are separated from whites. In Europe, people of high class are separated from people of low class.

Christian believe the fall of Adam caused inequality. Therefore nothing can be fundamentally done to make life more equitable. The belief in predetermined inequality due to “The Fall” is no better than believing the cause of inequality is past karma. They also assert once a person accepts the religion they will be forgiven of all sin. The belief in absolute forgiveness also disincentivizes the need for social reform. Dalit can’t join a religion that does not facilitate their active striving for social justice.

Gandhi was briefly discussed in the treatise. Ambedkar shows that he vehemently fights against the conversion of Dalit to Christianity, but will not do the same to stop Dalit conversion to Islam. The discrepancy in Gandhi reaction was political according to Ambedkar.

Gandhi is quoted in this essay as saying ”They (Dali) can no more distinguish between the relative merits… than can a cow. (Dalit) have no mind, no intelligence, no sense of the difference between G-d and no G-d”. This statement shows Gandhi’s feelings for Dalits and his belief in Brahmin superiority.

The full essay can be read HERE

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