Beware of Those Claiming ‘Gandhi Against Caste’ and Gandhism


At the outset, it is necessary to state that some Gandhists have conjured up a conception of Gandhism which is purely imaginary. According to this conception, Gandhism means a return to the village and making the village self-sufficient. It makes Gandhism a mere matter of regionalism. Gandhism, I am sure, is neither so simple nor as innocent as regionalism is.

Gandhism has a much bigger content than regionalism. Regionalism is a small insignificant part of it. It has a social philosophy and it has an economic philosophy. To omit to take into account the economic and social philosophy of Gandhism is to present deliberately a false picture of Gandhism. The first and foremost requisite is to present a true picture of Gandhism.

Read – 55 Racist Quotes of Gandhi

Let’s start with Mr. Gandhi”s teachings on the social problem. Mr. Gandhi’s views on the caste system which constitutes the main, social problem in India were fully elaborated by him in 1921-22 in a Gujarathi Journal called NavaJivan. The article is written in Gujarati. I give below an English translation of his views as near as possible in his own words. Says Mr. Gandhi:

  1. I believe that if Hindu Society has been able to stand it is because it is founded on the caste system.
  2. The seeds of Swaraj are to be found in the caste system. Different castes are like different sections of the military division. Each division is working for the good of the whole.
  3. A community which can create the caste system must be said to possess unique power of organization.
  4. Caste has a ready-made means for spreading primary education. Every caste can take the responsibility for the education of the children of the Caste. Caste has a political basis. It can work as an electorate for a representative body. Caste can perform judicial functions by electing persons to act as judges to decide disputes among members of the same caste. With castes it is easy to raise a defense force by requiring each caste to raise a brigade.
  5. I believe that inter-dining or intermarriage is not necessary for promoting national unity. That dining together creates friendship is contrary to experience. If this was true there would have been no war in Europe… Taking food is as dirty an act as answering the call of nature. The only difference is that after answering call of nature we get peace while after eating food we get discomfort. Just as we perform the act of answering the call of nature in seclusion so also the act of taking food must also be done in seclusion.
  6. In India children of brothers do not intermarry. Do they cease to love because they do not intermarry? Among the Vaishnavas many women are so orthodox that they will not eat with the members of the family nor will they drink water from a common water pot. Have they no love? The Caste system cannot be said to be bad because it does not allow interdining or intermarriage between different Castes.
  7. Caste is another name for the control. Caste puts a limit on enjoyment. Caste does not allow a person to transgress caste limits in pursuit of his enjoyment. That is the meaning of such caste restrictions as interdining and intermarriage.
  8. To destroy caste system and adopt Western European social system means that Hindus must give up the principle of hereditary occupation which is the soul of the caste system. Hereditary principle is an eternal principle. To change it is to create disorder. I have no use for a Brahmin if I cannot call him a Brahmin for my life. It will be a chaos if every day a Brahmin is to be changed into a Shudra and a Snudra is to be changed into a Brahmin.
  9. The caste system is and the natural order of society. In India, it has been given a religious coating. Other countries not having understood the utility of the Caste System it existed only in a loose condition and consequently, those countries have not derived from Caste system the same degree of advantage which India has derived. These being my views I am opposed to all those who are out to destroy the Caste System.
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Beware of those authors writing books like ‘Gandhi against Caste’ and portraying him as anti-castiest.

— Excerpt from the book ‘What Congress and Gandhi have done to the Untouchables’ by Dr. B. R. Ambedkar

Author – Rushabh Dhongde

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