Let us bring in Dayabhag

Dr. K. Jamanadas,

Hindu Code Bill sought to weaken the Caste

Recently a learned worker in Ambedkarite movement was seen inquiring what was so great in Hindu Code Bill that Babasaheb resigned for it in despair. There was hardly anything of benefit to the Dalits as such in the Hindu Code Bill, he thought. Why the Brahminical dignitaries opposed it then? This was the question next asked. Obviously that “they thought it an insult that an untouchable was meddling with their Law”, was a very superficial answer. And real reason is that it sought to lessen the grip of Caste System and Brahminic hegemony.

Six signs of Caste system

M. M. P. V. Kane has described six cardinal signs of caste. They are

1. Heredity

2. Occupations based on birth

3. Ban on Matrimony outside the caste

4. Ban on dining with other castes

5. Hierarchy of the caste and caste colonies, and

6. The Caste Panchayats

But all these six signs did not appear simultaneously. Sharad Patil tells us that, the first sign of heredity was the only sign seen till second century CE, the other signs being stopped by the caste-less institutions of ‘pug’ and ‘shrenis’. [vol. 3, p. 15]. Though the Brahminic counter-revolution started around second century, it could not succeed fully over the non-Brahminic camp till the caste system did not stop developing. Kumaril Bhatta, the strongest opponent of Buddhism, in eighth century CE, tells us that most of the Shudras were the worshipers of the Buddha. Thus the caste system hardened gradually for twelve centuries from sixth century BCE to eighth century CE. After the death of Harsha (640 CE), during Rajput age, it got hardened more and more. By the seventh or eighth century CE, the caste system reached its full blown up form, by the time of the rise of the Rajputs. Till the arrival of Turks, Brahminism pushed all the castes engaged in production into category of ‘untouchables’.

After the arrival of Muslims around 1000 CE, though the Buddhist cults like ‘Dharma-Mangal’ were available, these could not give relief to the masses against the Brahminic caste atrocities, and hence the masses welcomed the Arab and Turk invaders as ‘Bodhisatvas’ and accepted Islam. The invaders went into written agreement with the Hindu feudal lords - Jamindars, who appeared for the first time after death of Harsha - for collection of revenue and their struggle against the invaders stopped, thus leading to a compromise. The Sufi saints developed rapport with the masses and led a life of cooperation keeping away from Islamic rulers, but they did not lead an agitation against the Caste system, unlike Kabir did. [Ibid. 87] During the Muslim period, Muslim Amirs above and the Hindu Jamindars below ruled the masses. Egalitarian Islam could not prevent caste system entering the new Muslim society. Story of Anarkali, real or imaginary, shows discrimination.

Three pillars of Caste System

It was Rajwade who had observed that the history of ‘Chaturvarnya’ is the history of Shudras and women. It must be realized that the caste system perpetuated all these years because it rests on three pillars. These are:

1. village structure of the country

2. slavery of the women, and

3. joint family among the Indians

Village structure of the country

That India is divided into numerous small villages very near to each other is well known. What is not properly understood is that the reason is that the agriculture is based on the bullock cart economy. A farmer can not till the land at a distance greater than three or four kilometers from his residence and so has to stay within that distance.

If the mechanized farming is used, this need can be obviated and a farmer could easily till the land from a distance of say ten to fifteen kilometers. In that case, the village could be located at a distance of, say, thirty or forty kilometers and be bigger in size and population and have better amenities. But then that would be a danger to caste system and to Brahmin supremacy. The Brahmins know this and therefore propagate the cow culture to the detriment of the Bahujans, who are too gullible to understand the Brahminic designs.

Ambedkar was a strong antagonist of the village culture. He strongly opposed the idea of ‘gram swaraj’ of Gandhi. He did not accept the village as the ‘autonomous administrative unit’ of the Indian society. He denounced villages in strong words calling them the ‘greatest calamity’. All villages, he said, are made up of two villages, inside and outside village boundaries, both opposing each other as enemy nations. [W&S 5, pp. 19, 62]

Knowing all the ill effects of village Panchayats and caste councils, Dr. Ambedkar wanted to abolish the village structure. But after independence, the misguided leaders under the Brahminic advice brought in the ‘Panchayat Raj’ during Rajiv Gandhi’s rule, and strengthened the caste, as most of the times the village panchayats are in the hands of leaders of ‘caste panchayats’ of the dominant caste. Everybody knows the menace of caste panchayats. We have seen the ills of panchayats in recent judgements of, even death sentences awarded and executed by the caste panchayats to the newly wedded couples of mixed marriages.

Emancipation of Women

Woman is the main factor, which sustains the perpetuation of caste system. That was the reason, why the Brahminic Law Books thrust severe restrictions and conditions on women. Dr. Ambedkar has discussed the problem in ‘Rise and Fall of Hindu Woman’, and needs no more discussion, as enough has been said by Ambedkarites in later times.

Unless the women are freed from the clutches of financial slavery, their real emancipation can not be achieved and they can not stand on their feet to face the challenges of the Brahminic oppression. Dr. Ambedkar, therefore, provided the women with relief from family atrocities by giving monogamous marriages, easier divorces, and financial relief by provided equal rights in father’s and husband’s property. Most of his thoughts are already implemented.

Joint family Destruction

It is not properly realized that staying away from the parental house for service or otherwise of the couple does not constitute a break up of ‘joint family’. Such so-called ‘nuclear families’ are still part of joint family and are governed by the Mitakshara Law, which is in force in practically whole of India. Dr. Ambedkar wanted that the Dayabhag Law should replace it. This is not achieved as yet. Unfortunately, the Ambedkarites are not fighting for the demand of introduction of Dayabhag Law all over the country. They have not yet realized that this one measure would give a strong blow to the caste system.


Dr. Ambedkar, in his speech on Hindu code, explained the fundamental differences between two systems of inheritance in Mitakshara and Dayabhag Law. According to Mitakshara, the property of a Hindu is not his individual property. It is property, which belongs to what is called a coparcenary, which consists of father, son, grandson and great grandson (the ‘sapindas’). All these people have a birthright in that property and the property on the death of any member of this coparcenary passes by survivorship to the members who remain behind, and does not pass to the heirs of the deceased.

The Hindu Code Bill wanted the Dayabhag rule, under which the property was to be held by the heir as his personal property with an absolute right to dispose it of either by gift or by will or any other manner that he chooses. Babasaheb wanted this fundamental change to universalize the law of inheritance by extending the Dayabhag rule to whole of India.

The order of succession among the heirs also differs. Under the Mitakshara rule the agnates of a deceased are preferred to his cognates; under the Dayabhag the basis of heirship is blood relationship to the deceased and not the relationship based on cognatic or agnatic relationship.

Let us remember Babasaheb, in ‘22 vows’, put in restriction on ‘pinda-daan’, thus killing the concept of ‘sapinda’.

Let us fight to bring in Dayabhag

I feel it is time that the Ambedkarites should stop lamenting about the killing of Hindu Code Bill and devote their attention to the unfinished work of Ambedkar about the Hindu Code Bill. They must demand the implementation of such clauses of Hindu Code Bill, which are not converted into Law yet. One important aspect Babasaheb wanted to introduce in Hindu Law was ONLY Dayabhag system instead of Mitakshara - all over India. This is his unfulfilled desire. Let us try to fulfill it.

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Published on: May 16, 2005
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