It is unfortunate that Dr. Koenraad Elst who has done sterling work in the last two to three decades on behalf of the Hindu cause has let his impatience get the upper hand and engage in castigating Hindus for their perceived tardiness in dealing with the question of Dalit rights. The present writer has already responded in a previous article ‘When Non-Hindus try to defend Hindus‘ (Bharata Bharati, Aug. 29, 2012) by observing that a great deal of work has already been undertaken by Hindus on that question (more needs to be done). Despite that, the efforts of asuric forces are powerful not because they have any reasonable arguments or because of failure of Hindus to present their case, but because of the power of the almighty dollar/pound/euro, as you will and their overweening desire to control and subjugate.
It was also pointed out by the present writer that a non-Hindu such as Dr. Elst (and Mark Tully) cannot fully understand the Hindu mind-set. This is simply a reality and pointing that out is not intended as an insult. In fact, taking that into account is important in evaluating what such individuals have to say. The reader is referred to the above article to be informed of the arguments supplied there.
But two points must be clarified: first, Dr. Elst’s sudden eruption against a significant Hindu woman intellectual and thinker Srimathi Radha Rajan is puzzling. Whether one agrees with all of her views, Ms. Radha Rajan remains one of the outstanding, outspoken Hindu women critics of the present UPA government, run by an alien Italian Catholic, and the general corruption and malaise of the Congress Party. Her past work on corruption and the misunderstandings and misrepresentations of Indian history are already there. In addition, her recent work The Eclipse of the Hindu Nation is a remarkable reading of the freedom struggle from a Hindu perspective. The present writer recalls that Dr. Elst himself provided a favourable review of that work.
It is therefore with some dismay that many Hindus on the scene view his present personal attack on Ms. Rajan’s intellectual failures (see his article ‘Rejoinder: The Art of Making Enemies‘, Bharata Bharati, Aug.31,2012).
She has rightly criticised those whom she sees as betraying the Hindu cause (that does not seem to include Dr. Elst).
The second point that must be clarified is that no serious person can criticise Dr. Elst for presenting the bleak picture that non-Hindu foreigners have of the caste system. However, despite the best efforts of Hindus to explain the situation, the asuric forces wilfully distort the picture because it is in their political interests to do so. It is in this context and past history that both Ms. Rajan and others have continued to speak of white racism. En passant, it might be useful for Dr. Elst to continue on his own most excellent trajectory, rather than focus on Hindu shortcomings in dealing with foreign criticisms. The brown sahibs and the brown Christians who follow the Church’s attack on Hinduism are simply following their master’s voice and can therefore be legitimately included in the ‘white racist’ category. These despicable individuals may laugh at their success (as Dr. Elst claims) but it is a hollow laughter. The Veda and Agama will not be defeated, although in their nefarious enterprises these brown clergy may cause suffering and sorrow to the aam admi. It would be helpful if Dr. Elst would without reservations join in our specific struggle, rather than pontificate from afar.
His trajectory is somewhat different from ours. With his academic training and erudite mind and as a Westerner (forgive stating the obvious) it is highly desirable that he undertake a critique of the pretensions of Christianity, a critique which Hindus may not be in the best position to undertake, whether it is karma or genes or whatever else. Perhaps too, we may not be as learned as Dr. Elst in this field! The Hindu has always been reluctant to criticise another’s faith when it is perceived as a universal theology. Should we imitate Adi Shankara on his triumphant Digvijaya tours? You bet many a Hindu would like to do that, but many have not succeeded to date in that task and in fact have given up halfway! Dr. Elst is already well versed in Christian theology and it would be most helpful if he could undertake that task without further delay.
Hence, instead of lecturing/hectoring Hindus for perceived inadequacies, it would be wiser of Dr. Elst to continue his own exemplary work.
As for Hindus, it is important that they follow their own trajectory. Friends and allies are always welcome, but the task is ours in the final analysis.
And this task is also determined by our past history and our present engagements. The Veda has never condoned caste (Dr. Elst recognises that).
And untouchability, the context of the Dalit problem, was a later development, according to scholars, around 300 BCE Dr. Ambedkar’s accounts are interesting but not particularly helpful. His original thesis is that the Dalits were Shudras who refused to follow the diktats of the Brahmins and were degraded into untouchability. Although, some scholars have speculated that like the helots in Sparta, these were captured slaves etc.
The distinction between varna and jati has been made by innumerable Hindu writers (Dr. Elst himself has written a short article on the topic in Hinduism Today, 1993). And the jati as the basis of India’s prosperity, similar to the guilds of Europe is also a well-known fact. Scholars such as Dr. S. Kalyanraman of the Saraswati Research Centre have written about this topic. And the jati continues to be the basis of the retail trade in India, in small and medium businesses. These are under attack from the purveyors of Walmart.
And since the asuric forces have a dual strategy of concealing their historic evils and present ones by finger-pointing at the failures of Hindu society, it is important for Hindus to continue to write about THEIR historic evils (notwithstanding kindly advice). This is not only a moral imperative but is also good strategy. It is surprising that Dr. Elst (otherwise shrewd in his assessments) fails to see that. Tried and tested methods must be adhered to, even while welcoming relevant new suggestions.
All the above is well-known and one need not retrace our steps here. Our present engagement requires not only continuing to deal with the Dalit question both nationally and at international forums, but it also requires that we do not forget our moorings which is Hinduism. This is a strength that is not available to non-Hindus, and it is vitally important that we do not allow their impatience with Hindu attitudes to deprive us of this strength.
It was very moving to see a comment on the article (When non-Hindus try to defend Hindus) from a Hindu which said: I know Brahmins who will not eat their food until they know that no one in their vicinity is starving.
This is known in Hindu parlance as annadanam. These are the small mercies that a non-Hindu cannot relate to. Many such instances can be multiplied. They are a reminder that Hindus cannot/should not forget their moorings, and be enticed by glamourous sounding solutions.
» The writer is a Political Philosopher who taught Political Philosophy at a Canadian university.
Filed under: caste, ethics, globalization, hindu, hinduism, hindutva, human rights, india, philosophy, politics, psychological warfare, racism, religion, rituals Tagged: | caste, caste system, dalits, discrimination, hindu cause, hindu defence, hindu mind, hindu traditions, hindu-bashing, hinduism, koenraad elst, mark tully, politics, racial discrimination, racism, religion, scheduled castes, untouchable