Fear of philosophy of equality by Kancha Ilaiah

Deccan Chronicle

The philosophy of the Brahminic institutions of India is that inequality is natural. Caste being a brainchild of this philosophy it sustained and prolonged this inequality in hierarchical order, which got constructed in the realm of religion and spirituality.

The political realm was/is used only as an aid and abettor of this structural relationship. Any attempt to change the spiritual realm generates the fear of the very philosophy of equality itself. But for those who are born unequal and live unequal, equality becomes a philosophical desire and a goal of life.

Ever since Hinduism established itself as a religion, the forces that control it eliminated many who desired for equality in the realm of spirituality. Those who eliminated who desired equality said that such elimination was necessary to maintain dharma and those who died were said to have died because of their karma. Yet the desire for equality and the fight to break the caste system continues to exist. But so far the victory has been that of Brahminical forces in this battle.

I am targeted in subtle ways, as I began to fight caste system, thinking that it is their dharma. Should I take it as my karma? I believe that karma theory itself needs to be fought by all means. Whatever could be the consequences for the persons involved in the battle, the terms of discourse in the philosophical realm must be changed.

In fact, the very language of discourse itself must undergo a radical transformation. In other words the fight in the realm of philosophy in the post-Independence period is to change the very contours of Indian philosophy itself. This process is necessary to change the very contours of Indian philosophy itself.

The process is necessary to change the philosophical essence of our life. The fear of philosophy of equality engenders a deadening fear among the historically socially dominant forces as this battle in the philosophical realm is more harmful for their historical hegemony. The realm remained under the control of the Brahminical forces for centuries. At times, the political power went out of their hands and at times wealth went out of their hands. But they saw to it that the philosophical mother of caste, the theory of "dharma-karma" never was shaken. Not that battle lines between Brahminical thinkers and Dalit-Bahujan thinkers were not drawn earlier.

They were drawn at the time of Buddha. They were drawn at the time of Ambedkar. But, at no point of time, did the common sense of the Dalit-Bahujan mass get abstracted into philosophy as much as it is being done today. The reason is simple.

At no point of time as many Dalit-Bahujans could read and write as they can do today and that too in a language that the world can understand them. This is where English becomes a language of fear in spite of the fact that it is available to more with the Brahminic forces but yet the accessibility of it to the oppressed is creating a new philosophy of their own. English language, thus, in future can become a big instrument of liberation of Dalit-Bahujans and women.

Whenever an attempt is made to oppose the Hindu philosophy of inequality, they use different means to maul such opposition in all possible ways. There is a new blame that the hated himself inflames the hatred. It is a situation of blaming the victim.

The Dalit-Bahujans were hated for centuries and being hated even now in every sphere of life and more so in the corridors of power. Inequality appears as the most important social organism which keeps the hegemonic forces quite stable in the saddle of hegemony.

When inequality structured through the means of spirituality that works as a "divine force" to sustain that iniquitous relationship. The oppressor makes that relationship appear as natural and the oppressed are made to take it as naturally bound up. The Hindu theory of karma worked this strategy very well.

When the demand for spiritual equality comes from those who silently suffered the historical burden of inequality the oppressors feel completely shaken. Even today, the core of power structure rests in the hands of the Brahminical forces. Political democracy did not change that relationship in essential terms because the inequality is constructed in the sphere of spiritualism. In this God is arrested in casteism.

Only the person of one caste can become the priest and vegetarianism is added as a cultural value to that spiritual casteism. It is just unthinkable in any other part of the world, except in India, that caste is the criterion for becoming a priest in the temple. This place - the temple - actually is the real place of power. From this position of power whatever one says that appears to be true.

Truth, thus, is made a commodity of caste in the realm of spirituality. The Hindu religion is the only religion in the world which commoditised God and truth. Because of this commoditisation of God and truth, the most "sinful" theories of untouchability and exclusivisation of God and also casteisation of priesthood took place.

If an untouchable asks for touchability, if a tribal asks for civil societal life, if an OBC asks for equality in social and spiritual life earlier the language of casteists - that "sinners" - was that they were breaking Varnadharma. Now they speak a new language that those who oppose that sinful system are inflaming hatred. If the hated beings refuse to be hated, those who inflamed hatred for several centuries, now turn round and say you have now learnt to inflame hatred.

Those who lived in caste system and enjoyed the benefits accrued by that system, if they listen to the language of anti-caste discourse, more than anything else, the "fear of freedom" threatens them to the core. As Paulo Freire in his famous book Pedagogy of the Oppressed said that the oppressor suffers from the fear of freedom because they live in a process of dehumanisation and that dehumanised self survives in a constant fear of future.

Because any sign of breaking that hegemony produces a fear psychosis as they should now think of living as equals with those whom they oppressed so long. The Brahminical forces of India thought that in this country anything might happen but construction of philosophy of Sudras, Chandalas and Adivasis by their own representatives would be impossible.

When that impossibility is getting transcended into possibility, there begins a fear of philosophy itself. If they understand that the philosophy of freedom liberates even the oppressors as well, perhaps things would have been different. But they refuse to understand that.

Caste is a phenomenal psychological system. One who is the source of it, one who is living in it can accuse the other - the victim himself/herself - as well as casteist. The caste system has put the philosophical discourse upside down. Aristotle justified slavery in economic terms.

He never justified it in spiritual terms. Kautilya, Manu and all the Dharmasastra texts justified caste and the slavery of Sudras and Chandalas in spiritual terms. The slavery and class inequality that operated within economic spheres found an economic way for liberation. But slavery and caste inequality are structured in spiritual philosophical discourses. The philosophical upside down mindset makes the whole world see things upside down.

It is a situation of jaundiced eyes seeing yellowness in body's eyes. The tragedy of Brahminic India is that it injected jaundice into spiritual philosophy itself. As the son of a shepherd woman and a man who has grown in the Sudra cultural environment, my Goddess/God images have an altogether different basis. My spiritual images like Pochamma, Maisamma represent the opposite philosophical paradigm.

As Gramsci, a well-known Italian philosopher, put it, our philosophical contours are drawn based on our common sense, as shepherdhood is rooted in working class ethics and its relationship to nature itself producers a perfectly human spiritual relationship between human beings and philosophically constructed spiritual agencies. Social lines in that realm are drawn parallelly but not hierarchically. In that world the feminine authority survives in various ways. Its humaness grows out of the love it develops to the innocent dependent sheep he/she constantly interacts with. There is space for spiritual equality in our realm. A female Goddess can run a spiritual system in her own capacity. Unfortunately this spiritual democratic world did not exist among the Brahminical forces. When I challenge the Brahminical forces from this ground - from this philosophical realm - they accuse me of being the agent of foreign countries or of some foreign religion. This is a known gameplan of the spiritual fascists.

The language of this spiritual fascism is that you are part of me and Asham is the entire. You are assimilated in me not as equal but as a slave of mine. What is assimilated in Him - the Brahma - is the labour of our physical being but not our human essence. Our soul and spirit always were kept away from Him - the patriarchal power. Our women were forced to surrender to Him like the Devadasis of modern times.

As the Shankaracharya of Puri desires, their liberation destroys the source of their spiritual lust. We have a philosophy of food where mamsahara (meatarianism) is part of the global ecological system and it is not a food culture of eco-enmity but it is eco-friendly. In total opposition to the philosophy of the Brahmin priests meatarianism is not a sinful process of life but it is essential process of life. No divine law prohibited it. All the images of Gods are constructed in the image of men handling those Gods. All these years Indian nationalism was constructed in the image of Brahminical men and Gods. Now it is the turn of Dalit-Bahujans and women to construct their own Goddess/God images and build their own nationalism based on their own philosophical thinking. If that is not allowed, India will be a subcontinent of many nations very soon. The fear of philosophy of equality of these forces will do all the harm to this very great nation. Let us beware of this situation.

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