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Why Hindutva is the biggest anti-caste force of India and how Veer Savarkar was the pioneer of it

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Vinayak Damodar Savarkar was born on 28 May 1883 in the Marathi Chitpavan Brahmin Hindu family of Damodar and Radhabai Savarkar in the village of Bhagur, near the city of Nashik, Maharashtra. So that may be the basis of the whole ‘Hindutva is casteist’ nonsense, but let’s analyze carefully.

Savarkar was an alleged atheist and a staunch rationalist who strongly opposed orthodox Hindu beliefs and traditions. He decried the caste system and dismissed cow worship as mere superstition, so he was a rationalist and a person-way ahead of his time.

He was strictly against the Caste system and In his 1931 essay titled Seven Shackles of the Hindu Society, He wrote “One of the most important components of such injunctions of the past that we have blindly carried on and which deserves to be thrown in the dustbins of history is the rigid caste system“.

Savarkar was a strong critic of the caste system and ensured that children of the so-called lower castes attend school. He gave monetary incentives to their parents and distributed slate and chalk to children from these castes. Savarkar said, “Once the children are educated together, they will not observe caste hierarchy in later life. They will not feel the need to observe caste division. In addition, the government should abandon the title ‘special schools for low caste children’. This very title creates a feeling of inferiority among children attending the school.”

On Hindu festivals like Dussehra and Makar Sakranti, Savarkar would visit houses, accompanied by people from different castes, and distribute traditional sweets. He himself brought up a girl child from a former untouchable community and taught people from untouchable communities to read, write and recite the Gayatri mantra.

In 1930, Savarkar started the first pan-Hindu Ganeshotsav. The festivities would be marked by “kirtans” rendered by the so-called untouchables. Listeners from the so-called higher castes would garland those who rendered these devotional songs. Public lectures by women and inter-caste dining by women were special features of these festivities. Savarkar was also behind many temple movements of Maharashtra, where the untouchables were encouraged to pray, recite Sanskrit hymns and conduct “abhishek” of the Vishnu idol.

In 1931, the Patitpavan temple was established in Ratnagiri; it had on its trust, representation from all castes, including those from the erstwhile untouchable caste. Savarkar also organized community meals in some temples. The first community meal for women in Maharashtra was held in the Patitpavan temple on September 21, 1931. Around 75 women were present on the occasion. By 1935, this count had gone up to 400.

On May 1, 1933, Savarkar started a cafe for Hindus of all castes, including untouchables. This was the first pan-Hindu café in entire India. He had employed a person from the Mahar caste to serve food there. This was at a time when inter-caste dining was unthinkable.

Criticizing the practice of caste being decided by birth, Savarkar said: “There is a belief that heredity, birth in a particular caste decides what qualities a person imbibes… A person who has no qualities of a Brahmin…whose seven generations have not shown any qualities expected of a Brahmin is called a Brahmin because one of his forefathers, maybe 70 generations ago, possessed those qualities. He or she has the privileges of a Brahmin simply because they are born in that family. And a person born to a family considered as a lower caste is untouchable just because some of his forefathers 70 generations ago had performed a job that was considered lowly. This system of deciding caste by birth is so unjust, damaging and a hindrance to the progress of humanity.” Savarkar argued that such a the system should be abolished.

Savarkar also talked about the ways to abolish the caste system and untouchability, He said, “To achieve social revolution we first have to strike at the birth-based caste system and bridge the differences between the various castes” (Samagra Savarkar Vangmay; Part 3, page 641). In a letter to his brother Narayanrao on July 6, 1920, Savarkar wrote “I feel the need to rebel against caste discrimination and untouchability as much as I feel the need to fight against foreign occupation of India”. So this busts the nonsense that Savarkar wasn’t a patriot!

Advocating a strong case for their total, complete and unconditional eradication at a time when these ideas were not yet a part of the political discourse popularised by either Gandhi or Ambedkar, he was the pioneer of a vision of a casteless India.

In his 1931 essay titled Seven Shackles of the Hindu Society, Savarkar said that heredity as a determinant of talent and intellect was erroneous and an individual’s environment was what shapes his character and conduct. Taking a radical stand against those scriptural injunctions, including the Manusmriti, that advocated caste, he said fossilizing oneself to them was idiocy.

These scriptures that were often self-contradicting according to Savarkar were created by human beings and were relevant in a particular context and in a particular society. They need to evolve or be discarded as society moves ahead, he said. He viewed the caste system as an evil that splintered and disunited Hindu society, making it susceptible to attacks and conversions by other groups.

The seven fetters that he advocated a complete dismantling of were:

1. Vedoktabandi: Exclusivity of access to Vedic literature and rituals to only the Brahmin community.
2. Vyavasaayabandi: Choice of profession an individual chooses must be entirely his and based on his aptitude and capability and not on one’s birth.
3. Sparshabandi: Untouchability that he considered a sin and a blot on society.
4. Samudrabandi: Loss of caste on foreign travel or crossing the seas.
5. Shuddhibandi: Disallowing reconversions to Hinduism. “I have nothing,” he said, “against those who convert to another faith by sheer conviction. But such examples are rare. Why should we not allow the enhancement of our (Hindu) numbers due to some antiquated idea that does not even have any scriptural sanction that we cannot convert to Hinduism?”
6. Rotibandi: Prohibition on inter-caste dining.
7. Betibandi: Prohibition on inter-caste marriage.

Hindutva has been and is far from Casteism another proof of this is that so many Dalits and OBCs vote for BJP!

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