Castes and Myths – Bust the Myths


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Hinduism is a conglomeration of superstitions and myths. – Arthur Miles

Castes are unreal. Unlike other forms of discrimination which can be attributed to physical aspects (like the skin colour, disabilities, and gender, to name a few) and visible forms (like people’s economic status), caste is not based on any visible attribute.

Castes are based on the myths. The studies of myths have shown that human societies used myths to organise and to create a common communal experience for its members. Like all the stories, the myths have characters and they have their roles to play, and follow their scripts. The Hindu mythologies are all woven around the myth that some people are born privileged and some people are born without any privileges at all. The myth of Brahma as the creator of the four-fold varna system and of Krishna as the defender of that four-fold Varnashrama Dharma makes individuals to participate subconsciously depending on the roles assigned to them in the myths.

Supremacy of the Brahmans is yet another myth, which is woven into all the myths that are popular in Hindu society. The breaking of these powerful myths is a big challenge. There is an ideological India created on the basis of these myths. Hindu religion is a tribal and archaic system of thoughts and there is nothing in it which supports the modernist values like liberty, equality, and fraternity. It is really challenged by the western impact on India. It is challenged by the mighty myths that Jyotiba Phule created in which he turned the myths on their head.

There can be basically two strategies:

1. Like Phule did, turn the myths upside down, reinterpret, rewrite, and revise it to make them more accessible to the modern mind. This has been a difficult job. But yes, this is an important task, in which the myths can be used against those who have been benefited by those myths.

2. Bring in more secular myths, or destroy the myths of the past by presenting science-based universe and reality and experimentally proved facts of the world. The scheme of caste cannot stand before any scientific and sociological testimony that seeks the truth of human existence.

Author – Mangesh Dahiwale, Human Rights Activist

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