Weekend Vedic warriors defend the caste system
Image via Wikipedia
Neo calls them “Weekend Vedic Warriors”. During the week, these warriors are just like Neo and you, enjoying all the benefits of liberty, capitalism – and freedom from the religion of the next-door nutcase.
But on weekends, these otherwise normal men (yes they are always men) suddenly turn into fearless Vedic warriors – defending Hinduism (and even the caste system) from criticism, and writing “for the preservation of Indian culture”.
Lately Neo has seen a fresh batch of blog posts from them that claim to defend the Hindu caste system. Some of the warriors’ rants have even made it to the editorial pages of major newspapers! (Neo has a policy of never linking to scumbags – so you have to Google for them if you really want to find them.)
The claims of each new generation of these “caste system defenders” are always the same (you’d think they would do their homework during weekdays, read the rebuttals given to the previous generation and come up with new points).
They claim: The caste system was never intended to be hereditary and/or discriminatory. It was designed to solve real problems in society.
Reality: Here’s a question for the weekend Vedic warriors to write about in their next blog post – What precise modern-day problem does the caste system solve ? What is the burning problem that the caste system is the solution to ? (Hint: none)
The whole world, with its complex economy, thousands of professions and billions of people is running fine without a caste system. If we don’t need a caste system now, why did we need it specifically for India, when even India was much simpler than it is now?
If you still think we need a caste system today – well, write one, dear scholars! Lets pass “Caste System Version 2.0″ through Parliament (ignore the millions of people who will protest – what do they know about the beauties of the caste system). In fact – lets start a company and sell your brilliant intellectual property to other countries so that they too can benefit! Yes we can!
They claim: Although the idea behind the caste system was sound (and/or even beneficial), the implementation was flawed.
Reality: Here’s a blindingly obvious newsflash: it failed. It is hard to think of other things that have failed as spectacularly as the caste system – it ranks right up there with communism in the Top 10 list of “Really Bad Ideas”.
Sorry, but ideas are not judged by your subjective opinion of the elegance of a document – ideas are judged by history. Thus, the US Constitution is a success, and North Korean “democracy” is, just like the caste system, well, how can Neo put it gently – a spectacular and tragic failure.
But here is the more interesting question (for you) – If the original creation of the caste system was so perfect – why did it fail ?
If you are claiming a Vedic or divine origin for the caste system – you need to explain – why didn’t the sages/Gods just make it foolproof ? Were they unable to see just a few thousand years into the future and realize that, thanks to their perfect document, children would be born into the “sewage cleaning” caste ?
They claim: Why do people insist on hurting Hindu sentiments by constantly criticizing Hinduism by bringing up the caste system, dowry etc.?
Reality: Here’s an example of a sentiment argument that should be very familiar to weekend Vedic warriors (because they make it all the time): “Ayodhya is linked at a deep emotional level to the birthplace of Rama, and that sentiment needs to be respected at any cost” - i.e., the sentiment of large groups of people trumps practicality, history and ground reality.
Well, dear warriors – the term “caste system” is linked at a deep emotional level to the terrible hereditary caste system that exists today. So by trying to defend the caste system, you are hurting the sentiments of millions.
So now are we doing the sentiment thing or not ? Or are you exerting a monopolistic claim to sentiment ?
They claim: Those who talk about the evils of the caste system were/are out to destroy Hinduism – e.g. the British, the Communists or other “anti-Hindus”. That is why they are so happy when criticizing flaws in Hinduism (like the caste system, sati, dowry, …). They have a conversion agenda and are biased.
Reality: Yes, Neo forgot. You have no agenda in trying to prove that everything about Hinduism was just perfect. You are unbiased scholars who have realized that any minor problems are just because of flawed implementation. You want us to pay no attention to the details and look at the big beautiful picture.
Sorry – but isn’t this whole exercise in defending the caste system just a part of an agenda of denial, and an agenda in wanting to feel good about one’s own religion ?
Neo respects your right to want to feel good, but at what cost ?
In 13 countries around the world (including Germany), it is illegal to deny the holocaust. Perhaps a case can be made for banning denying the evils of the caste system. But as a staunch defender of free speech, Neo is not in favor of banning anything.
Here’s a better idea – feel free to regularly post your theories about the beauties of the original design of the caste system. Neo will just marvel (with all (fake) due respect) at your cold heartlessness and sheer stupidity.