Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Low caste Hindus and their dilemma

Tens of thousands of people are due to attend a mass conversion ceremony in India at which large numbers of low-caste Hindus will become Buddhists.
The ceremony in the central city of Nagpur is part of a protest against the injustices of India's caste system.
By becoming Buddhists low-caste Hindus, or Dalits, can escape the prejudice and discrimination they normally face.
The ceremony marks the 50th anniversary of the adoption of Buddhism by the scholar Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar.
He was the first prominent Dalit - or Untouchable as they were formerly called - to urge low-caste Indians to embrace Buddhism.
Similar mass conversions are taking place this month in many other parts of India.
Several states governed by the Hindu nationalist party, the BJP, have introduced laws to make such conversions more difficult.
http://newsvote. bbc.co.uk/ 2/hi/south_ asia/6050408

My comment :
The news feature sheds the light on existence of the injustice which Sikh Gurus fought against in India. Castes were openly looked down upon in Sikhism which was a dharma that entails universal love for mankind. However, as it is reported in certain news items, some nominal Sikhs are also ,contrary to guru’s bani , immersed in caste quagmire. A person who accepts the caste concept cannot be a Sikh. One of the social values of Langar is also shunning the concept of inferiority of one being from another. In today’s context, practice of caste philosophy can be determined as a violation of human rights and a form of oppression similar to holocaust experienced in Nazi Germany, Bosnia or Darfur. Caste is a distal determinant of wellbeing and subsequently, it is a determinant of “Health”. Deprivation of health of a person is reciprocally affects the so called superiors in a society as well. From an economic point of view, Caste philosophy has a societal cost as well. Thus, it is quite clear, like Guru’s prophecy, from modern scientific view also, shunning caste philosophy has an importance as it can directly affect the society. Caste is the modern form of slavery abolition of which needs the concerted efforts of everyone. The gurus foresaw its menace. As Sikhs, when we eneter the guru’s abode( Harmandir at Amritsar) via its four entries, it symbolises the path for liberation for all four castes ( Brahman, Kshatriya,Vaishya and Shudra) by following Guru’s path. Shunning this out dated concept is essential for an emerging economic giants like India as it may be an unshakeable stumbling block for India’s socio-economic leap towards the developed world


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