Recently I read a joyous article on this very site which made me happy and then filled me with sadness. I felt a bit dejected. “The Left has won”, I thought, “And we don’t even realize it. In fact we are celebrating it as if it’s a triumph!”
The news I am talking about is this one: Juna Akhara designates a Dalit sanyasi as Mahamandaleshwar in the 2019 Kumbh
Why is this a loss?
The word “dalit” literally means poor, but in modern context it has come to mean a person from so-called “lower caste”. “So called” because it is misnomer and a colonial construct.
As per Hindu traditions all “castes” i.e. Varnas (which is the correct term) are equal. In pre-colonial era, historical records show that these “castes” were quite fluid and people moved from one to the other fairly regularly. But colonial reading of two different things as one – Varna system & Jaati system – and then implementing and reinforcing it is what has led to this modern day caste system.
However, that is not to say that Hindus were not responsible at all. Discrimination and atrocities on caste lines were very much a thing even before colonization, and still are today. To overcome this, is exactly what our fight and today we have lost. Because apparently Sanyasis are also “dalits” and “non-dalits” now.
If we take the literal meaning, Sanyasis have nothing to do with material wealth. So the question of “dalit” or “non-dalit” Sanyasi does not arise. If we look into the modern meaning and the one which was meant in the article, even then how can Shivanand Giri ji be seen as anything other than a Brahmin? We are all born as Shudra and what we study and what profession we take up decides our Varna. And Shivanand ji is, therefore, a Brahman.
But that is theoretical, readers might be tempted to say, and doesn’t hold true in modern day Indian Hindu society. I will concede that but there is another reason. And that is, Shivanand ji belongs to Juna Akhada. A sect that does not believe in Varna/Caste system, much like the Nath Sampradaya to which Yogi Adityanath belongs. And to still bring up Shivanand ji’s caste background, even as he has given up his previous name and life, is an insult not only to the Juna Akhada and its traditions but also to the tyag and tapasya of Shivanand ji himself. In a way, it is no different from when political opponents refer to Yogi Adityanath as Ajay Singh Bhisht in order to insult him and undermine his years of difficult tapasya.
And when we started celebrating this news, as not Shivanand ji becoming Mahamandaleshwar, but as a “dalit Sanyasi” becoming Mahamandaleshwar we not just lost, but we did exactly what our cultural and political opponents on the Left do and proceeded to pat ourselves on the back for it. It would not have been much different if we had spit at ourselves and thought that we have bathed in panchaamrit!
Many readers might be tempted to say, but this is important for achieving social justice. To them I would like to say that Social Justice is a great EVIL masquerading as a virtue, as something desirable and to aspire for. But in truth Social Justice is just Communism, re-branded, and it aims at equality of outcome rather than equality of opportunity.
It is an absolutely despicable principle that puts justice to a group above justice to an individual. Just as you would not expect a whole family to be punished for the crime of one member, you should not want a social group to pay for acts of their ancestors. Social Justice reduces a person’s unique individual identity to his group identity. It is absolutely disgusting and inhumane.
So, my appeal to the readers and the editors of this platform and other Hindu Right Wing platforms is that we erred this time, but we should not repeat this again. It is important that we realize our mistake and try not to repeat it. We should be striving towards individual justice, and working to get equal opportunity to everyone rather than group justice and equal outcome.