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The Ripening Outcast, with Mythologist Norland Tellez

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  • #73886

    FYI – Shaheda has posted the complete essay excerpted above in the Share Your Work Corner of The Conversation with a Thousand Faces forum; you’ll find it here.

    #73885

    What do you think is the difference between the Indian subcontinent and the civilizations of Sumer, Akkad, and so many others that shared essentially the same social divisions?

    The difference is that the priestly class chose to enclose itself and practice endogamy.And  in the other classes it became prevalent as a derivation.

    the further the classes were to the priestly class – the looser ,  the rules governing their conduct.

    If one looks at DNA studies the Indian society showed  robust miscegenation till about a millenium or more before CE.

    And then the genetic picture shows a strictly endogamous trait.

    All the stories ,the practices that lionized Sati and Widowhood and Chastity were means to ensure that Endogamy was practiced in a class were Exogamy is still very much a norm. It is even today punishable with death if one married within a Clan or community or village. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manoj%E2%80%93Babli_honour_killing_case

    So why did the classes opt for endogamy? Could it be competition ? Too many of the priestly kind loafing around ,waiting for temples to be built inorder to discharge their duties?

    increase immigration? Or the desire to be a part of an organised social order?

    But when some Classes close their doors to others. There are those who were automatically shut out from all doors.The Dalits are one of those.

    But it is hilarious to see people accuse the Brahmins for their predicament. Cultural absorption is something all classes aspire to. The Brahmins may have found the means to remain an undiluted and critical social component but to force endogamy on other classes would prove far above their mettle. This is according to the stalwart Dr B.R Ambedkar a Dalit , who  authored our constitution.

    And now we see those who take the cause of the Dalits seized with impotent rage. And fattening themselves on it.

    There are classes among Dalits who enjoyed great economic and social stature a few  even rose to become Emperor Like Mahapadma Nanda and the Nanda  dynasty.

    So in effect the situation could be charitably described as that of a particularly slippery snake and ladder game.

    And if you think that the Brahmins had it easy ,Well,  think again.

    The life within a caste itself is highly controlled and monitored and never more  so than for a Brahmin.

    A good example is  Poet Rabindranath Tagores Grandfather who was ostracised bcz someone in his clan converted to Islam.

    Another more tragic eg is my great grandfather who was accused of if having sexual relations with his Gurus wife, when he was a teenager and committed suicide 20 years later when my grandfather was 8 years of age.

    And he was demoted to a lesser subcaste. Which like the Tagore family proved to be a blessing!

    If you want to see how caste overshadows religion look at this quora comment by a pakistani muslim punjabi

    the ruling elite in Punjab was mainly Rajput before the arrival of Sikhs. Many of them converted to Islam and remained Rajput just like my ancestors. When Sikhs came into power most of its people belonged to Jatt tribes and people who converted to Sikhism, whether they were Rajput or not denoted themselves as Jatts.

    For instance Barar and Sidhu/Sindhus are also a sub caste of Bhatti Rajput just like Sansi. My grandfather was from a village in Moga called Killi Kalan. Now it belonged to Bhattis and Brars. All Hindus who converted to Islam remained Bhatti and those who converted to Sikhism became Brars.

    But the real premise of your OP if I am not wrong is that of the creeping Casteism in America.

    Well we have seen a midline split of the electorate in USA.

    Fareed Zakaria described the groups without batting an eyelid as thus-

    If you hold a diploma or a higher education and live in an Urban area you are a Biden voter. Highschool and non urban population vote for Trump.

    The demographics are changing and it is no longer about colour or creed.

    Its about clamouring and jostling for opportunities. Just the way things are happening in India.

    Look how ML King discovered  that he belonged to a Caste when he came to India 😀😀 https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2020/08/17/isabel-wilkersons-world-historical-theory-of-race-and-caste

    For those who gnash their teeth at the way India is not changing to their expectations. I say to them – India never believed in the idea of a linear progression of events ending in a makebelieve world.

    The Gods and Demons , the Dark and Light will come

    and go again and again.

    Like that carousel in ‘A Hundred Years of Solitude’ 

    We will reach the realm of enlightenment  then descend into the darkness and come out of it again.

    But the important thing  to remember

    – is to dance 🙏

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    #73884

    Hello All,

    It takes time and brain power to go through all the fascinating posts above, hence I am just picking up a few illuminating points from the most recent post on this topic.

    Mythistorian, thank you Thank you for your illuminating piece, quoting Marx,

    It is just as Marx put it in a wonderfully psychological way (a quote that has been ringing in my ears for the last few days):

    “Just as our opinion of an individual is not based on what he thinks of himself, so can we not judge of such a period of transformation by its own consciousness; on the contrary, this consciousness must be explained rather from the contradictions of material life, from the existing conflict between the social productive forces and the relations of production.” (Preface of A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy)”

    So Marx is saying that our opinion of ourselves is different from the opinions of others, because the opinions of others (the collective) is shaped by the forces (means) of production ?  I find it very true, because that is how huge profits are made, by shaping the views of the collective for or against, however, the opposite is also true, that is, our opinion of ourselves (sometimes) is shaped by how people react to us, look at us, place us in categories that are based on their personal prejudices. We act and react to what is said about us. It’s just natural.  What do you think?

    #73883

    I am writing a blog post on the subject. I will articulate my ideas there and link it here.

    #73882

    #4407

    Hello Nandu,

    I am looking forward to your post. Remember, there might be some delays, if you post via a link. As Stephen mentioned in his message that for security reasons, posts with links are not immediately logged but require  manual intervention and approval.

    #73881

    My take on what ails India, and where liberals go wrong. Caste comes into it.

    #73880

    #4441

    Hello Nandu,

    I enjoyed reading your article. Great background. No disagreement with the background.  That caste prejudices exist in many other places besides higher caste Hindus (Brahmins) – No disagreement with your conclusion.  I accept all three:

    1.Accept the fact that Hinduism is not all Brahmin propaganda. It has got all of India in it. What has happened is that the Vedic religion has appropriated and standardised it. We must oppose this standardardisation and decentralise our culture.

    2. Caste and patriarchy are not just Savarna things. Each caste oppresses the castes below them. And almost all communities oppress their women. There is no easy, one-stop solution to this – this imbroglio has to be unravelled one knot at a time. Education holds the key.

    3. Islamic fundamentalism is as dangerous as Hindu fundamentalism. There should be no compromise (not even political soft-pedalling) when faced with it.

    How do you propose to implement these policies, that is, of decentralisation, education and opposing Islamic and Hindu fundamentalism?

    I’d argue that Law is the key.  As Joe Campbell said, “  …In America we have people from all kinds of backgrounds, all in a cluster, together, and consequently law has become very important in this country. Lawyers and law are what hold us together. There is no ethos.”[1]  Similarly in India, there is immense plurality in backgrounds, religions, ethnicity, languages, customs, and traditions. There is no ethos. But the big problem is promulgating the laws and then overseeing the law enforcement in India.

    Questions I ask are: 1) What sort of laws? 2) Who should enforce 3) How to enforce 4) Who should oversee the law enforcement.
    [1] Campbell, J., & Moyers, B. D. (2005). Joseph Campbell and the power of myth with Bill Moyers. New York, NY: Mystic Fire Video.

     

     

    #73879

    Brilliant! The predicament of millions of Secular minded Hindus
    and unspoken words find a place n your essay.
    Yes. This is a phase in Indian history that will determine
    our survival as a modern nation through this millennia.
    I daresay that it is going to be traumatic and the first step
    is to be brutally honest to oneself and those around you.
    The revelation of the real nature of the Indian soul is a
    revelation not only to the Liberal Hindus but also to the minority
    community who now find that they cannot hold the Hindu community
    to ransom by raising the spectre of the Hindu Radical Juggernaut
    and reinforcing the politically correct conduct in an obliging people.
    Its already at their door step.
    It behoves all Indians to negotiate this changing dynamics
    that define us as a people, with honesty and only then
    proceed with dialogue
    and hopefully succeed in reconciliation

    #73878

    Thank you, Shaheda and Captsunshine.

    Shaheda, as far as I am concerned, the law will work only to a certain extent – in a country like India where there is huge corruption in law enforcement agencies, and even the courts are compromised in favour of the privileged. (For example, Uttar Pradesh has just enacted a law which effectively criminalises interfaith marriage between Muslim boys and Hindu girls, and people are getting arrested.) The slow climb will start with the building of awareness – educating people what it means to be “Indian” (not Hindu or Muslim).

    The Britishers, then the Congress and now the BJP exploit the divisions within the society, making one group hate the other, based on false narratives. We need to remove these false divisions and make people see reality. In India, the only division is between the privileged and the underprivileged.

    I would suggest that the leftists (the genuine ones, not the career communists) start doing ground-level activism at the rock bottom. Now, that area has been usurped by the Maoists who encourage armed revolution- a sure recipe to disaster. Instead, the onus must be on providing basic services to the poor and education.

    At the level of the middle class, youngsters must be apprised of the false narratives they are consuming from their parents, peers and politicians. If possible, non-politicised discussion forums must be created wherever possible. And the advantages of a scientific mindset should be disseminated to all and sundry, to get India out of the morass of superstition it is wallowing in.

    #73877

    Hello Nandu,

    You provide a rich history of nearly many decades of India’s conquests, notably the Brits and the Mughals.  The essay reflects your intimate grounding in India’s typologies and periodization. It also corrects the thinking that only the upper class Hindus are to blame when it’s a predominant culture of many groups, Christians, Muslims, Sikhs, Parsees? Yes Parsees too, as I recently read, “Tatas inexplicably pulled their sponsorship of Britain’s famous Hay Literary Festival after bankrolling it for five years to the tune of nearly £1 million.”

    You wrote,

    The Britishers, then the Congress and now the BJP exploit the divisions within the society, making one group hate the other, based on false narratives. We need to remove these false divisions and make people see reality. In India, the only division is between the privileged and the underprivileged.”

    My question is, Is that not the division in most places, that is, the division between the privileged and the underprivileged? And in India, the privileged class mixed in with politicians have almost taken over the free press. Perhaps, a little bit of academic freedom,  supported by new legislation and reforms,  might help in removing the “false narratives“?

    I am reminded of the  2016 incident when Roy’s political writing landed her in trouble in India after student protests broke out in universities across the country following the hanging of a Kashmiri separatist whom Roy had praised.  She left Delhi for London —  of course, as one who is privileged she could do it. But it also suppressed the voice that expressed the wrongdoings of the Modi government. “Roy describes her nonfiction as “urgent interventions”, but ever since Modi came to power she is mostly drawn to writing fiction.”

    Fictional writing too could help dispel the false narratives, but India’s ruling Junta is not taking this bitter pill.

    Looking forward to your reply.

    Shaheda

     

    #73876

    Just  reminder in case you missed it. Norland Têllez’s most recent essay, “In the Stillness of Love’s Madness,” is this week’s entry in our MythBlast series. He and I have been discussing it here, focusing at the moment on the relationship between death and myth. Come say hi and weigh in with a comment or question.

Viewing 11 posts - 31 through 41 (of 41 total)
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