So, these days you have started hearing quite a lot that “Brahmanwad se Azadi” to “Manuwad se Azadi”. Even Communists parties are talking about the end of Brahmanism (also sometimes written as Brahminism) despite being full of Brahmins.
What is Brahmanism?
Many times people on social media start abusing people who say we must end Brahmanism.
Is it right to connect Brahmanism with Brahmans?
This article is an attempt to look into what Brahmanism really is and what great leader of untouchables, Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar said about it.
Brahmanism Definition According to Various Sources
According to Google Dictionary
the complex sacrificial religion that emerged in post-Vedic India (c. 900 BC) under the influence of the dominant priesthood (Brahmans), an early stage in the development of Hinduism.
Notice the time period when it started to gain popularity, according to Google. Google analyses almost all the mention of Brahmanism word online from the various sources and let you know when any particular word became popular.
Now notice when the word “Hinduism” started to gain popularity –
It is around the same time both Hinduism and Brahmanism started to gain popularity as per the Google.
Which makes sense as Hinduism was never mentioned in Brahamical scriptures, it was Brahmanism. How the switch happened, we might look into that in some other post.
How The Free Dictionary defines Brahmanism
- The religious practices and beliefs of ancient India as reflected in the Vedas.
- The social and religious system of orthodox Hindus, especially of the Brahmins, based on a caste structure and various forms of pantheism.
Various other sources define it as follows or on the same lines –
Brahmanism is considered to be the predecessor of Hinduism. Brahmanism is the central theme and belief of Vedic followers, its thoughts and philosophical concept giving rise to the primary and socio-religious belief and conduct in Hinduism.
All these definitions might be correct, I don’t want to comment on this. As that is not the motive of this article.
So, how I define Brahmanism?
For me Brahmanism is:
Brahmanism is nature or characteristics of a person that deprive others of equal opportunities, that denies others equal rights and suppress others.
It is as simple as it is.
How did the name Brahmanism come to picture and is it derived from Brahmans?
The definition which I provided above has a direct correlation with nature of qualities of Brahmans that we have seen over the years – depriving others of their rights and suppressing others. So, maybe the name came from that.
Is it right to link Brahmanism with Brahmans?
You might wonder and say no but keep on reading and we will find out.
What is the Core of Brahmanism?
Brahmans may tell you all kind of things from eternal peace to eternal life but is that really the core of Brahmanism?
The core of Brahmanism is graded inequality.
Without graded inequality, varna system, Brahmanism could not have survived and if even one removes this graded inequality from the Hinduism today, it would die its own death.
Brahmanism’s core is at opposing the spirit of Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity.
The Brahmanical religion does not teach the doctrine of the Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity. These are part of democracy and it can never be a part of Brahmanical religion.
It can be seen that the basic principle of Brahmanical social order is inequality and hatred. The fraternity has no place for that. Instead of teaching fraternity, it teaches divisions – graded inequality.
Cardinal Principles (Sins!) of Brahmanism
Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar in Riddles of Hinduism defines the creed of Brahmanism and that may be summed up in the following –
- Belief in the Chaturvarna.
- Sanctity and infallibility of the Vedas.
- Sacrifices to Gods the only way to salvation.
Defining the cardinal principles of Brahmanism, Dr. Ambedkar said that
1) Brahmanism is nothing but the graded inequality between different castes,
2) Complete disarmament of Shudras and untouchables,
3) Ban on Shudras and untouchables occupying places of power and authority,
4) Ban on Shudras and untouchables acquiring properties,
5) Complete prohibition of education to Shudras and Untouchables, and
6) Complete subjugation and suppression of women. Inequality is, therefore, the official doctrine of Brahmanism.
Brahmans and Brahmanism
People usually say that Dr. Ambedkar said that he is against Brahmanism but not Brahmans.
But this is very wrong perception. Or is it?
When we say we are against Capitalism; it means that we need to fight against capitalist of the country. If we are saying that we are against feudalism, then we are against the feudalist. Likewise, when we say that we are against Brahminism, we cannot set aside the Brahmans from the Brahmanical ideology.
It is the Brahmins who actually define and carry forward the Brahminical ideology.
So, is it right to link Brahmans with Brahmanism?
I leave it up to you to decide.
Further, Dr. Babashaeb Ambedkar said, “It is useless to make a distinction between the secular Brahmin and a progressive Brahmin. Both are kith and kin. They are the two arms of the same body and one is bound to fight for the existence of other.”
Buddhism vs Brahmanism
Some parts from Dr. Babasaheb’s book The Untouchables: Who Were They and Why They Became Untouchables?
The clue to the worship of the cow is to be found in the struggle between Buddhism and Brahmanism and the means adopted by Brahmanism to establish its supremacy over Buddhism.
Can the hatred between Buddhism and Brahmanism be taken to be the sole cause why Broken Men became Untouchables? Obviously, it cannot be. The hatred and contempt preached by the Brahmins were directed against Buddhists in general and not against the Broken Men in particular. Since untouchability stuck to Broken Men only, it is obvious that there was some additional circumstance which has played its part in fastening untouchability upon the Broken Men. What could that circumstance have been? We must next direct our effort in the direction of ascertaining it.
To my mind, it was a strategy which made the Brahmins give up beef-eating and start worshipping the cow. The clue to the worship of the cow is to be found in the struggle between Buddhism and Brahmanism and the means adopted by Brahmanism to establish its supremacy over Buddhism.
The strife between Buddhism and Brahmanism is a crucial fact in Indian history. Without the realization of this fact, it is impossible to explain some of the features of Hinduism. Unfortunately, students of Indian history have entirely missed the importance of this strife. They knew there was Brahmanism. But they seem to be entirely unaware of the struggle for supremacy in which these creeds were engaged and that their struggle, which extended for 400 years has left some indelible marks on religion, society, and politics of India.
This is not the place for describing the full story of the struggle. All one can do is to mention a few salient points. Buddhism was at one time the religion of the majority of the people of India. It continued to be the religion of the masses for hundreds of years. It attacked Brahmanism on all sides as no religion had done before.
Brahmanism was on the wane and if not on the wane, it was certainly on the defensive. As a result of the spread of Buddhism, the Brahmins had lost all power and prestige at the Royal Court and among the people.
Read complete essay at Why Brahmins Started Worshipping the Cow and Stop Eating Beef? – What Dr. Ambedkar Said
Ram Puniyani says,
Buddhism had come up with the message of equality and it started appealing to large sections of society, who opted for the values of social equality and embraced this religion. The advent of Buddhism; has been called as revolution Ambedkar. This changed the social equation and caste hierarchy got a serious challenge. Apart from Brahmanism there were other religious traditions which prevailed here. Buddhism’s challenge to caste system forced Brahmanism to come up with a new phase in due course of time. During this phase the cultic practices were broadened and public ceremonies and rituals were devised by Brahmanism to influence the broad masses to wean them away from Buddhism. The term Hinduism started being used for religions prevalent here. With spread of Buddhism the hold of Brahmin-landlord on low caste got weakened. Shankarachaya led the movement which opposed Buddhism at ideological level. Ambedkar calls this as counter revolution. This assault on Buddhism came was duly supported by the rulers, many a kings Pushyamitra Shung and Shashank being major examples.
Buddhism was wiped out from this land in the process and all the other religious traditions, from animism to atheism, came to be lumped under the umbrella of Hinduism. Hinduism as such has neither a single prophet nor a single Holy Scripture. The broad Hindu identity took shape with Brahmanism in command and other traditions on margins; subjugated to Brahmanism. From this time on the Hinduism as a religion got initial identity. The two major streams within this umbrella of Hinduism, Brahmanism and Shramanism had contradictory beliefs, values and practices.
Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar on Brahmanism
In his Speech at G.I.P. Railway Depressed Class Workmen’s Conference, Nashik Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar expressed his views on Brahmanism. You can read the whole speech from here.
There are in my view two enemies which the workers of this country have to deal with. The two enemies are Brahmanism and Capitalism. The accusation of our critics arises partly because the critics fail to reckon Brahmanism as an enemy which the workers have to deal with. I do not want to be misunderstood when I say that Brahmanism is an enemy which must be dealt with. By Brahmanism, I do not mean the power, privileges, and interests of Brahmins as a community. That is not the sense in which I am using the word. By Brahmanism, I mean the negation of the spirit of Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity. In that sense, it is rampant in classes and is not confined to the Brahmins alone, though they have been the originators of it. This Brahmanism which pervades everywhere and which regulates the thought and deeds of all classes is an incontrovertible fact. It is also an incontrovertible fact that the Brahmanism gives certain classes a privileged position. It denies certain other classes even equality of opportunity. The effect of Brahmanism is not confined to what are social rights such as inter-dining or inter-marriage. If that was so, one would not mind it. But it is not so. It extends to civic rights as distinguished from social rights. Use of public wells, of public conveyances, of public restaurants are matters of civic rights. Everything which is intended for the public or maintained out of public fund must be open to every citizen. But there are millions to whom these civic rights are denied. Can anybody doubt this is the result of Brahmanism which has been let loose in this country for thousands of years and which is functioning even now as a live wire? So omnipresent is Brahmanism that it even affects the field of economic opportunities. Take the Depressed Class worker and compare his opportunities with a worker who does not belong to the Depressed Classes. What opportunities of obtaining work has he? What are the prospects he has in the matter of security of service or advancement therein?
How are we to consolidate the ranks of labour? Not by allowing one section of workers to suppress another section of the workers. Not by preventing the oppressed section from agitating against the injustice that is being done to them. The real way to bring about unity is to remove the causes which make one worker the antagonist of another worker on the ground of race and religion. The real way to bring about unity is to tell the worker that he is wrong in claiming rights which he is not prepared to give to other workers. The real way to bring about unity is to tell the worker who makes these social distinctions which result in unfair discrimination, are wrong in principle and injurious to the solidarity of workers. In other words, we must uproot Brahmanism, the spirit of inequality from among the workers if the ranks and labour are to be united. But where is the labour leader who has done this among workers? I have heard labour leaders speaking vociferously against capitalism. But I have never heard any labour leader speaking against Brahmanism amongst workers. On the other hand, their silence on this point is quite suspicious. Whether their silence is due to their belief that Brahmanism has nothing to do with the organisation and unity of workers, whether it is due to their non-appreciation of the fact that Brahmanism has great deal to do with the disorganisation of labour or whether it is due to sheer opportunism which believes in acquiring leadership of labour and not saying anything which would hurt the feelings of the workers. I do not stop to inquire. But I must say that if Brahmanism is admitted to be the root cause of the disorganization of labour, a serious effort must be made to remove it from the workers. The infection will not go away merely by ignoring it or by remaining silent about it. It must be pursued, dug out and notched. Then and then only will, the way for the unity of workers be made safe.
So long as Brahmanism remains a living force and so long as people continue to stick to it because it confers privileges upon one class and puts handicaps on others, I am afraid that till then there will be the necessity for those who suffer from these handicaps to organize themselves. And what harm is there if they do organize themselves?
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