Thursday, October 16, 2008

Brahmins and caste conflicts



The following news – though given in a different context of how people in different regions of Tamilnadu are showing their protest by leaving their homes – is about the caste conflicts between sections that have once lived on symbiotic relationship but drifted in course of time with economic betterment becoming the cause for alienation from each other giving rise to what we call differences in social status.



The Pilaimaar do not go well with dalits living in their vicinity.

The Naickers have trouble in accepting dalits and Vanniyars too have differences with the dalits in their regions.



What must be noted is that in any conflict with dalits or any other caste,

Brahmins had not been there as perpetrators of conflict with them.

But Brahmins are accused as perpetrators of caste problems.

Again we must know that not all vanniyars or Naickers are rude to the dalits.

The disturbances happen in pockets where the conflict has been there for ages due to

one group not accepting the other.

The probable cause of this was analysed earlier in my post



Another accusation against the Brahmins is how they alone can be entitled to touch deities and work in temple.

Anyone speaking on these lines is surely not knowing anything about temples, deities and practices in pooja. There are still many temples – abandoned and in disuse. Try to enter them and start pooja. You can not. We have seen umpteen instances where temples are guarded by some unnatural powers in the form of snakes. They do not allow anyone nearby except those who are entitled to do pooja or take care of the temple– due to many reasons and connections with temples, only certain families and individuals are entitled to touch deities and do pooja to them.



If you look at the conflicts reported in the news below, they are to do with exclusive rights in temple entry! The reasons are obviously to do with social differences.

But no Brahmin was involved in these problems.

Instead there have been many instances of Brahmins

working for equality for the down trodden.



It is worth recalling here the words of Gandhiji,


""They (Tilak, Gokhale, Ranade and Agarkar) were Brahmins, they were in the forefront of every nationalist struggle, they served the cause of non-Brahmins at the greatest cost to themselves, it is in many cases through the work of Brahmins that the non-Brahmins have been made aware of their rights, he told them. It is the Brahmins who exert for the uplift of the depressed classes, more than anybody else. Lokmanya Tilak is revered by all classes for his services to the country. The late Mr. Gokhale, Mr. Ranade and the Hon'ble Mr. Sastri have all done splendid work for the regeneration of the backward classes. You complain of the Brahmin bureaucracy. But let us compare it with the British bureaucracy. The latter follow the 'divide and rule policy' and maintains its authority by the power of the sword, whereas, the Brahmins have never restored to the force of arms and they have established their superiority by sheer force of their intellect, self-sacrifice, and penance. I appeal to my non-Brahmins brethren not to hate the Brahmin and not to be victims of the snares of the bureaucracy…"

(source: The Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi vol. 20 p. 144)









'Quit home' protests gather pace in state






A new form of democratic protest, catching up in rural Tamil Nadu, is causing a severe headache to revenue officials.


In May, Pillaimaar families of Uthapuram in Madurai district left their village and climbed the hills to live in the wild after the government razed part of a wall, which the CPM claimed separated Dalit and Pillaimaar habitats. With support from other villages, they lived on the hillside for about ten days before revenue officials persuaded them to return from their self-imposed exile.


Now disgruntled groups in other villages too are following suit to catch the attention of the powersthat-be.


A month later, Hindu Vanniyars in Perumalkovilpatti near Ambathurai packed their bags and descended on the Mariamman temple in Dindigul to protest against the authorities who allegedly cut down trees to make way for the chapparam (chariot) of a church. The protestors stayed in the temple for two days until the revenue officials pleaded with them to return home.


Last month in Kaakkivadanpatti near Sivakasi, six castes including dalits joined together against Naickers and vacated the village after the issue over rights to worship in the Kaliamman temple came to a boil. About 500 families camped in another temple in a nearby village for a week to get their demands fulfilled.


In the western belt of Tamil Nadu, at Kandampatti in Salem, Vanniyars walked out of their village and stayed put in Siddhar hills last month when dalits were allowed to enter the Draupadi Amman temple.


The latest in the news are the Ahamudaiyars of Melmangalam near Periyakulam who have pitched their tents on a hillside in support of their demand for representation on the local temple committee.


While political parties are trying to whip up passions, revenue officials face the tough challenge of making these people return.


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