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WHY I AM NOT A HINDU: A Sudra Critique of Hindutva Philoso h!" Culture and Politi#al $#ono%! &!

'an#ha Ilaiah Let me make it clear, however, that I am not writing this book to convince suspicious brahminical minds; I am writing this book for those who have open minds. My request to brahmin, baniya and neo-kshatiya intellectuals is this !or about three thousand years you people learnt only how to teach and what to teach others " the #alit bahu$ans. %ow in your own interest and in the interest of this great country you must learn to listen and to read what we have to say. & people who refuse to listen to new questions and learn new answers will perish and not prosper' L&()*+ &, LI!!or #alit bahu$ans labour is life. !or a #alit bahu$an body, labour is as habitual as eating is to the stomach. In fact, every #alit bahu$an body produces more than it consumes. &s a result, #alit bahu$an life recreates itself in labour more than it recreates itself through eating and drinking. .hile labouring, a #alit bahu$an mind does not disengage from thinking but goes on producing ideas that make labour a pleasure. If labour is not pleasure, if #alit bahu$an minds do not derive pleasure out of that labouring process, given the low levels of consumption on which they subsist, #alit bahu$an bodies would have died much earlier than they do. -ven if #alit bahu$ans were to consider work as a monotonous, tortuous course of life, given the amount of labour that they e/pend during their lifetimes, death would have invited them much earlier than it does today. If without giving up such a practice of labouring, and labouring with pleasure, when adequate calories of food are provided, a #alit bahu$an body will live longer and more healthily than the non-labouring 0upper1 caste2class body. In the process of labour #alit bahu$ans engage in a constant intercourse with the land. 3heir thorough understanding of land and its producitivity, its colour and combination, is solely responsible for increase in productivity. -ven before 0knowledge from without1 4what we call urban-based, e/pert knowledge5 influenced #alit bahu$an productive skills, they had been e/perimenting constantly to improve their labour productivity, trying to understand scientifically the relationship between land and seed. 3hey also tried to understand the relationship between the seed and human biological systems. (efore cross-breeding was studied in modern laboratories, the #ali tbahu$ans had cross-bred seed systems. #alit bahu$an women selected and preserved seeds for planting. 3hey maintained huge stores of plant genes. 3hey grafted plants and worked out whole systems of hybridi6ation. &ll this knowledge was a product of their labour and its creative intercourse with land and nature. #alit bahu$an labour has creatively interacted with a whole range of non-agrarian plant systems. #alit bahu$ans who were engaged in sheep-, goat- and cattle-breeding made tireless investigations of plants and their medicinal values. 3hese investigations were done with an

e/emplary combination of physical labour and mental acumen. #alit bahu$an knowledge never separated physical labour from mental labour. In India this bifurcation took place in a caste2class form. !or #alit bahu$ans, physical and mental labour was an integrated whole. If we want to understand the process by which the contradiction between mental and physical labour is resolved as Mao did in the 7hinese conte/t, we must return to studying carefully the way the #alit bahu$an societies of India combined mental and physical labour, without a so-called wise man intervening, in the process of labouring to integrate, break open, reintegrate and finally discover new systems. 3he #alit bahu$an masses have enormous technological and en8 gineering skills which are not divorced from their labour. )ne who lifts dead cattle also knows the science of skinning it. 3hey themselves know how to process the skin and make chappals, shoes or ropes. &ll these tasks involve both mental and physical labour. 3his work is not like reading the 9edas or teaching in a school. +eading the 9edas or teaching in a school does not require much investment of physical labour or creative thought. 7ertain types of mental labour may not involve physical labour, but all physical labour involves mental labour. #alit bahu$an society has shown e/emplary skill in combining both. 3ake, for e/ample, the :oudaas who climb the toddy trees and combine in themselves the talent of mind and the training of body. .hile climbing the tree a :oudaa has to e/ercise his muscle power. ;e has also to invent ways of climbing tall trees which do not have branches. .hile climbing, if he does not focus his mind on every step the result is death. & (rabmin dance teacher, while dancing certainly combines both physical and mental labour but does not encounter a risk in every step. #espite this, why is it that brahminical dance has acquired so much value< .hy is it that brahminical dance is given so much space in literature< .hy not celebrate the beauty and skill of a :oudaa, which over and above being an art, science and an e/ercise has productive value. &s I have already discussed, the tapping of a toddy tree layer by layer, involves enormous knowledge and engaged application besides physical and mental skill. 3apping the gela in a way that makes the toddy flow, but does not hurt the tree, cannot be done by everybody. It needs training and cultivation of mind. 3raining in this speciali6ation is much more dangerous and difficult than training in reading the 9edas. &ll the same a ;indu is told to respect and value the training to read 9eda mantras, but not the :oudaa skills of producing something which has market-value and consumption-value. ;indu (rahminism defied all economic theories, including feminist economic theory, that all market-oriented societies valued labour which produced goods and commodities for market consumption. !eminist economic theory points out that though women1s labour in the house contributes to the economy, it does not find social respectability or receive economic compensation. In the brahminical economy #alit bahu$an labour 4male or female5 even if it is produced for market consumption has no value. )n the contrary, the so-called mental labour of the (rahmins and the (anlyas reciting mantras and e/tracting profit by sitting at the shop desk has been given enormous socioeconomic value. ;erein lies the ;indu delegitimi6ation of productive creativity. 3he brahminical economy even devalued production for the market and privileged its spiritual-mental labour over all other labour processes. (rahminical scholarship legitimi6ed leisure, mantra, pu$a, tapasya and soothsaying, though these are not knowledge systems in themselves. ,cientific knowledge systems, on the contrary, are available among the #alit bahu$an castes. & pot maker1s holistic approach to knowledge which

involves collecting the right type of earth, making it into clay, turning it on the wheel, and firing it requires knowledge of local materials and resources, scientific knowledge of the clay and the firing process, besides a sharp understanding of the market. It requires mental skill to use the fingers, while physically turning the wheel, skill to convert that clay into pots, pitchers and $ars =small or big=of all kinds. !iring is an equally skill-intensive process. 3he oven has to be heated to an e/act temperature and the pots baked $ust long enough for them to become durable and yet retain their attractive colour. 3his whole scheme is a speciali6ed knowledge in itself. 3hus, >amsalies 4goldsmiths5 have their own scientific knowledge, >ammaris 4blacksmiths5 theirs, and ,halaas 4weavers5 theirs. (ut all these arts and sciences, all these knowledge systems have been delegitimi6ed. Instead of being given social priority and status, mantric mysticism has been given priority. 3hese knowledge systems will get socioeconomic value only when their legitimacy is established. ;induism constructed its own account of #alit bahu$an knowledge systems. &s discussed earlier, while the #ali tbahu$ans live labour as life, the ;indus inverted this principle and privileged leisure over labour. 3he ancient theoretical formation of the thesis leisure as life was propounded by 9atsyayana in the Kamasutra, where he constructs a nagarika 4citi6en5 as one who embodies this notion. 3his very theory was reinstated at different stages of history whenever brahininical ;induism was in crisis, or whenever #alit bahu$an organic forces rebelled against ;indu theory and practice. &s we saw, the ?@@A anti-Mandal ;indutva wave again aimed at reviving the 0leisure as life1 theory as against the Mandal movement that aimed at universali6ing labour as life1 4irrespective of caste, everyone should do both manual labour and work in an office5. In other words, it aimed at daliti6ing Indian society. 3he whole world has overcome the theories of privileging leisure over labour. .hether it is countries like Bapan and 7hina or in the .est itself, labour has acquired more market value and social status than leisure. Mandali6ation of the Indian state and society would have integrated us into these universal systems. (ut ;indu (rahminisrn reacted to this historical transformation and started the counter-revolutionary ;indutva movement by reemphasi6ing leisure, mantra and moksha as basic principles which will undermine the onward march of Indian society. (ut a quicker development of Indian society lies in privileging labour over leisure. )nly #aliti6ation of the whole society can achieve this goal' 3his of course will require that they Cthe upper castesD unlearn the many things. 3he task is much more difficult with the (rahmins 21221and the (aniyas than it will be with the neo->shatriyas. Eet another ma$or area of #aliti6ation will be to push the (rahmin-(aniyas into productive work, whether it is rural or urban. (oth men and women of the so-called upper castes will resist this with all the strength at their command. 3his is because among them ;induism has destroyed all positive elements that normally e/ist in a human being. #uring the post-colonial period their energies were diverted to manipulate education, employment, production and development subtly. 3heir minds are poisoned with the notion that productive work is mean and that productive castes are inferior. %o ruling class in the world is as dehumani6ed as the Indian brahminical castes. 3hey can be rehumani6ed only by pushing them into productive work and by completely diverting their attention from the temple, the office, power-seeking, and so on.