Dr S Radhakrishnan in his well researched book ‘Hinduism’ gives an exalted and philosophical view of the Hindu religion. There is no doubt that the Hindu religion is a vast ocean and tapping it can enlighten the thinker to the essence of life.The’ Bagdad Gita’ or The song divine gives us a glimpse of the higher echelons of man mind in the pursuit of truth.
But despite lofty ideals in practice there are a few things that are not desirable. The most important of these is the caste system. The originator of the caste system is attributed to the saint (rishi) Manu. He laid down 4 basic castes that included the Brahmin’s, Kshatriya’s, Vaish and Shudra. The last caste is supposed to be the untouchable who have in real terms no rights in the erstwhile Hindu society.
It is not known how and when this cast system came into being, but its origin can be traced to antiquity as the Mahabharata the epic book written almost 4000 years back repeatedly refers to the caste system. Over a period of time the caste system became the bedrock of the Hindu society and in some manner it also became the bane of an exalted and esoteric religion.
The Moslem’s and the British who ruled India did not tinker with the Hindu caste system, but the British did bring in legislation to end the exploitation of the Shudras.Even after the British left India, the one aspect in their rule which they could not change -the caste system continued to bedevil Hindu society.
Thus now after over 60 years of the end of British rule, caste has again become the bed rock of Indian polity and culture. Not many people abroad will know that the Indian government has perpetuated the cast system and given it a legal cover.
The framers of the Indian constitution had envisioned reservations for castes in jobs and institutes for untouchable and the scheduled castes for 15 years. But these have been extended at regular intervals by parliament. In addition the scope of reservations has also increased and the so called ‘other backward castes’ have also been given reservations. Thus where India should have moved forward towards a class less society, exactly the opposite has happened and India has reverted back to caste system with all its faults. It is regression in the extreme.
As it stands the caste has become the most important factor in India.Knowledgeable persons do not see how this differs from apartheid which was vigorously opposed by the United Nations and all sane people. India is unfortunately caught in a time warp. The politics of political expediency has taken center stage and the cast system re introduced by the government. No reformer in India can eradicate the caste system, Gandhi failed and so did Nehru.
The only solution is for the world powers and the UNO to take cognizaton of this aberration in Hindu society and put pressure on the Indian government to do away with caste as the denomination for everything in India. In a way it is worse than apartheid and it is high time India was classified as a state that divides its own people on the basis of caste which in any case is a man made division and has nothing to do with the Hindu philosophy as such.