The Reason India’s Dalits Hate Gandhi

An aerial view of Bhendi Bazaar that is undergoing modernisation led by the Dawoodi Bohra Muslim community in Mumbai, India. June 6, 2017. Thomson Reuters Foundation/Rina Chandrann

The reason India’s Dalits hate Gandhi is that, to the Dalits, he
helped preserve the caste system, or Varna, in post independence
India.

To understand India you must understand caste, or what the real word
is for this religious practice, Varna. To start with in the Indian
language of Sanskrit, Varna literally translates into the word
“color”. Your varna, your color, determines your status in society,
something that under the belief in reincarnation is determined by your
actions in a previous life.

Under the system of Varna if you are from one of the Dalit “castes”,
let say the very lowest status or “untouchables” it is because you are
being punished by God for sins in a previous life in your present
reincarnation.

Under Hindu religious beliefs, those of the lowest, mainly darker,
Varna, have a religious duty to obey and serve those in the “high
castes”, mainly lighter skinned Brahmins/Priests, the
Kashatrya/Warriors or the Vaishas/Merchants like Gandhi, a distinctly
“upper caste” name.

If you are an untouchable, say, forced to clean the public toilets,
you are breaking “Gods Will” if you rebel against this status,
something that will be enforced on your children after you and their
childen after them. Accept your varna, be a good servant to the high
castes and you will be reborn someday as one of them, or so goes
Hinduism.

The practice of Varna is the only religious practice that all Hindus
adhere to with a multitude of gods, worship services and holy books
being observed throughout Hinduism. There is no Bible, Torah or Koran
in Hinduism rather a multitude of day to day practices in many ways
completely different in various Hindu communities across India.

Only Varna, “color”, is practiced by all Hindus.

To this day this religious practice is observed by most Hindus with
even as many as 80% of Dalits believing in Varna.

Dalits call themselves Dalits because they reject what they have been
historically called, “untouchables”, though most other oppressed
peoples in India are included in the title. The word comes from the
“dal”, crushed lentils, that is India’s staple food, as in a crushed
and broken people.

Most of the leadership of India’s Dalit community see Gandhi as the
main force in preserving the practice of Varna in post independence
India for his opposition to reserved voting rights for India’s Dalits
in India’s post independence constitution. This means all castes can
vote for the elected Dalit leaders, for those seats in the Indian
Parliament reserved for “minorities”.

Dalits believe that if only Dalits could vote for Dalit leaders than a
more truly representative selection would take place. This is where
Gandhi drew the line, that allowing Dalits to chose their own leaders
directly was not to be allowed, and he went on his famous hunger
strike to the death to prevent this from happening.

The Dalits leader, Dr. Ambedkar, finally gave in, accepted Gandhi’s
demand and Dalits lost the right to directly chose their own leaders.
This loss of choice is what Dalit leaders say is what is most
responsible for preserving Varna in India after independence. Without
Dalit leaders chosen directly by Dalits there has been no one to fight
for Dalit rights by the effective outlawing of varna through the
enforcement of the Indian Constitution authored by the Dalit leader
Dr. Ambedkar, or so most Dalit leaders will tell you. After over a
half century of independence India’s Constitution is still not being
enforced with only a fraction of positions reserved for Dalits in
employment and education being filled.

One thing is for sure and that is caste/varna is king in India’s
almost half a million villages where caste infested Hindus dominate
society and Dalits are forced into the most menial and degrading
professions. Even drinking water from the wells reserved for caste
infested Hindus is forbidden.

Most Dalit’s lives in post-Gandhi India remain one of misery and
hardship with basic education for their children still just a dream.
Being unable to even chose their own leaders directly through reserved
voting and with Gandhi playing such a pivotal role in this happening
is the reason India’s Dalits hate Mohandas Gandhi.

In a previous life Thomas C. Mountain was the Publisher of the
Ambedkar Journal on India’s Dalits or Black Untouchables, founded in
1996. Today he is an independent journalist in Eritrea living and
reporting from here since 2006. See thomascmountain on Facebook,
thomascmountain on Twitter or best reach him at thomascmountain at g
mail dot com


Mareeg senior news editor since 2001 and he can be reached at news@mareeg.com