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‘Can someone be a Brahmin and not be acting as a Brahmin?’

June 25, 2011

Over at the excellent India Site, Rahul Pandita asks a thought-provoking question:

As a Brahmin, does it make me less sensitive to the plight of the poor or the marginalised? Why is it such a big deal that I can wear my Janeu, recite my Hanuman Chalisa, and yet go to Bant Singh’s house in Bhurj Jabbar, thirstily gulp down a few glasses of water, and tell his story? Where is the contradiction? [‘A Brahmin Heart’]

And the ever-sharp Kufr has the best answers there can be to that question:

when rahul pandita says he’s a brahmin, he’s making a claim on a lot of indian history. when bant singh rebels against his present, he is also rejecting pandita’s history, his claim on privilege. if pandita doesn’t see that, he shouldn’t have undertaken the trip to bant singh’s home. [why bant singh can’t go to rahul pandita]

19 Comments leave one →
  1. June 25, 2011 5:39 PM

    Economic mobility != Social mobility

    I suggest you skim and

    Without reservations SC/ST were uneducated untouchables in India.
    With reservations via Poona Pact SC/ST are educated untouchables.

    Forward caste community is manipulating SC/ST people with Reservations/Poona Pact etc.

    300 million SC/ST community should seek Autonomy/Homeland where their children can live with dignity.

    They’ll be 14th biggest nation in the world.

  2. Kumarpushp permalink
    June 26, 2011 12:29 AM

    160 million dalits require seperate electorate and seperate settlement away from barbaric and inhuman hindus.I had watched the documentry about Puri where dalits are not allowed to enter the kali temple but same hindu was taking money from dalits.I think pakistan should help the dalits to come out from the dalit holocaust in india.BSP.RPI and dalit panther should sit together to ask for seprate county away from the barbaric hindus .I think dalits should revolt against the hindu led government in india.Mr gandhi and their people should be punished in india who had robbed the seperate electorate rights and made dalit s orphen in india and produce a leader like jagjeevan ram and Punia,Ram vilash Paswan who are worried about their seats.

  3. June 26, 2011 12:54 AM

    Rahul Pandita desires to be both a Brahman and not a Brahman. That is not possible in today’s India. Your caste is determined in part by your behavior. You cannot have it both ways. If you really want to act like a non-Brahman, you must do things that a Brahman would never do, and you must do those things publicly. You must renounce *all* the habits of Brahmans, renounce caste itself. Then only you will be accepted as a former Brahman who is no longer a Brahman.
    Brahmans have many privileges, including some that they may not be aware of. Are you willing to renounce all of these privileges? If so, you are on the right path. If not, you can stay in the place of privilege that Brahmans have built for themselves over the centuries.
    It looks like you are trying to get out of that restricted place. I encourage you to get out all the way, into the open air.

  4. shama zaidi permalink
    June 26, 2011 12:44 PM

    @kumarpushp. most of the dalits in pakistan converted to christianity believing that as “people of the book” they would be treated better than idol-worshippers. but the targetting of poor dalit christians under the blashemy act and demanding that the victims be given capital punishment is what has happened. in other words dalits in pakistan are certainly not better off there than here.

    • Kumarpushp permalink
      June 27, 2011 4:36 AM

      Dear Shama Zaidi, I think you are living in cocoo land ,I met hundred of pakistani friend ,who are happy in pakistan because of seprate electorate away from problem had taken place during nawaj shareef period where dalits were merged with would not find a single slums in Pakistani capital.even hindus are given all minorities rights in pakistan .Dalits in pakistan are thousand time better than dalits of India.Our editor VT rajshekhar had visited Pakistan who was given heartfull welcome to all over the pakistan ,I think you must check your facts.

      • Ron permalink
        June 28, 2011 12:26 AM

        shama zaidi is correct.
        MrKumarpushp , i request you to read some pakistani blogs like Pak Tea House , Pakistaniat etc.

        @@Margaret Trawick

        Totally agree. Not just brahmans but all “upper castes”.

      • July 6, 2011 7:25 PM

        @Kumarpushp: I would love it if it were true that the Pakistani capital has no slums. But alas, Islamabad contains a number of “Christian colonies” that are situated along the small waterways that go through the city and have a) no plumbing b) no city facilities and c) no real ownership. It’s a ghetto. A series of ghettos. Caste has been an incredibly pervasive and deep-rooted thing in South Asia and conversion to Christianity or Islam has not freed any of us from it, regardless of what national borders we have drawn.

        • Kumarpushp permalink
          July 8, 2011 5:47 PM

          Mr Kyla, Islamabad is thousand time better than Delhi, every muslim give jakat to poor at leat once in year but Hindus are keeping wealth underground.Dalits need separate settlement nothing else other things are just cow shits.those who want dalits should liberated from clutches of hinduism ,Please help them to come out from ghetto of hinduism means annahilate the hinduism first other things will come to dalit path.

  5. suresh permalink
    June 27, 2011 12:44 AM

    If you really want to act like a non-Brahman, you must do things that a Brahman would never do, and you must do those things publicly. You must renounce *all* the habits of Brahmans, renounce caste itself. Then only you will be accepted as a former Brahman who is no longer a Brahman.

    Assuming all this is done, what we will end up with — if past history is anything to go by — is a new caste of “brahmins who are no longer brahmins” who will find their own position in the hierarchy. If only it were that easy to get rid of caste.

  6. Iqbal Abhimanyu permalink
    June 27, 2011 11:48 AM

    भैय्या हम तो इतना जानते हैं कि जनेऊ या यज्ञोपवीत बामनों की दूसरों पर श्रेष्ठता जताता है.. इसलिए जनेऊ वाले बामन उसी दिमागी दिवालियेपन के शिकार हैं जो हज़ारों सालों से सवर्णों के दिमाग में घुसा है. अगर वास्तव में प्रगतिशील होने का दम भरते हैं तो निकाल फेंकिये जनेऊ और कर्मकांडों को.

  7. ravanan permalink
    June 28, 2011 3:17 PM

    Dear friends,
    ‘ A Brahmin heart’ is really an “excellent piece” and reflects the brutal reality of indian intellecuals and civil society from left , middle and right inclinations.
    a good brahmin can make it to be a good communist/leftist/ human right activist also! Wow.. what a wonderful statement.. So much so that rahul pandita claims to be the sympathizer of maoist…wow…
    I am reminded of the debate between Periyar EVR and “Maha Atma””gandhi.

    Gandhi asked periyar Mr Periyar Ramasamy, cant you find a single good and honest brahmin from this vast country? Then periyar replies that “there may be few good brahmins but i have not come across any”… “Then again gandhi responds i know one good brahmin, I consider him as absolutely good Brahmin; he is Gopal Krishna Gokhale”.
    Then periyar replies “Oh, what a relief! If such a great person like you have been able to find only one good Brahmin, how can, “sinners”, like us come across any good Brahmin?”

    It seems the debate is still relevant.. And i would like to add one more thing.. let rahul pandita to be a good prctising brahmins.. there are lot in sudra and dalits to write about them and lead the struggle as well…

    And history is the witenss now,what is the fate brahmin led communist movement…..However, i need them once to write about the violence that is yet happen.. you may onder what is that i am calling a journalist to write on a incident that is yet to happen..

    Yaa its true.. there have been many violence in india, muslims, sikhs, dalitts, nagas, kashmiris, tribals, tamils, various north east communities… But i have not come across so far any any such violence on real minority community that is Brahmins… I guess thats going to be the final battle in india.

    More over, a brahmin friend said that Narendra modi keep telling us that minority to be kept at right place and given frequent treatment…i agree with him, minority to be kept at right place and given lesson and one can learn evn from Modi but with one difference, for us muslims and christians are not minority and they are our brothers and sisters therefore part of majority.. will we given Modi’s so called lesson to the real minority that is BRAHMINS.

  8. on the other hand permalink
    June 28, 2011 11:20 PM

    This is with reference to the above comment posted in the name of ravanan.
    Does Kafila permit such hate speech and call for violence in comments.

  9. Harsha permalink
    June 30, 2011 5:17 PM


    We know VT Rajasekhar does sponsered entourage of Pakistan, To get an alternate view also please go through the post from Mr Malji Meghwar a Social Activist from Thar Parkar, Sindh, Pakistan

  10. July 4, 2011 1:39 AM

    I tried addressing this issue on my blog. This is what I wrote:

    This post made me revisit a dilemma I have had for quite some time now. I will revisit my dilemma later on. First of all, I want to respond to this post. In this post Rahul Pandita, a journalist, talks about his Brahmin-ness and wonders why he should not feel proud about his Brahmin roots and culture.

    It is important to understand the caste hierarchy. Brahmins, as we all know, occupy the topmost position in the hierarchy. Their position that they enjoy and have enjoyed over a period of years is also based on severe oppression of lower castes. Simply put, one is not a Brahmin just like that. The position of that of a Brahmin cannot be without oppression of others. To put it very simply, Brahmins became possessors of knowledge purely on the basis of exclusion. Because of the position they enjoyed, they could conveniently exclude people who were non-Brahmins and their power also could be sustained by centuries of exclusion. It still continues. I haven’t seen many non-Brahmin priests. It is still the domain of Brahmins. So what are we saying, when one says, “I am proud of Brahmin culture.” Can we be proud of a culture that has evolved under conditions of having oppressed such a large majority? I definitely don’t think so. Culture cannot be devoid of politics. Culture that evolved then was also an outcome of political economy of that given period. Thus, it cannot be viewed in isolation of this historic background. It is important to know and understand under what conditions the cultural practices originated from.

    Rahul Pandita is a Kashmiri Pandit. Their history of displacement has been very painful to say the least. It just appears to me that he has taken recourse to his culture as a response to being a victim of displacement. Taking recourse to one’s culture is a very common way of connecting to one’s roots especially in the face of physical displacement. The history of caste oppression of Dalits has been happening across centuries and cannot even be compared to the displacement of Kashmiri Pandits. Their history of oppression existed long before the displacement of Kashmiri Pandits. That is why I think Kashmiri Brahmin culture cannot be contextualised without taking into account the centuries’ old oppression of the Dalits. Feeling sorry for the Dalits is futile if one doesn’t take into account that their condition is very deeply connected to the Brahmin culture.

    Recently, there has been a website that has been famously frequented by many Tamil Brahmins. It is called the TamBrahm Rage. It is a site where Tamil Brahmins collectively make fun of all things Tam Brahm. When I checked out TamBrahm Rage, I experienced mixed reactions. When I go through Tam Brahm rage, I feel an acute discomfort when I see people laughing at all the jokes and the rituals. That is because I often wonder if they are just mocking or actually being critical of the entire thing. But even as I say this, I also laugh at the same jokes that that I am being critical of right now. That is because I think there are some things I have no control over. For instance, my upbringing. And it does have a major influence on things I do relate to. All my life, I have seen all these practices happening all around me. It has been an inevitable part of my growing up and my reality. I have never bothered to join the innumerable Tam Brahm groups on various social networking sites as I find it absolutely ridiculous to talk at a platform where the main reason of association is that of being a Brahmin. But then, I do frequent Tam Brahm rage sometimes because it does consist of some (of the many) questions I asked in my childhood which were left unanswered. Many of which are also ultimately responsible for my disregard to Brahminism as a whole.

    The issue of personal identity is a very complex one. While I don’t consider myself as a Brahmin per se, I am one by default, in terms of my upbringing; in terms of certain privileges I have enjoyed being one. While I consciously do not associate myself with the identity of being a Brahmin and its associated rituals, I wonder if I can be away from it at all? Ideally I would want the destruction of the entire caste system and the annihilation of caste identity. But then, I also wearily sometimes wonder, is it possible?

    Can one really separate culture from the oppressive conditions it thrived in? Carnatic classical music has been a preserve of only Brahmins till now. This clearly means that Brahmins would have isolated everyone outside of their community in the spread of the art. No wonder we only have Brahmin performers ruling the roost. But then, I love Carnatic music very much. I often wonder where I stand. I often wonder if I can ever enjoy it without these confusions in my head.

  11. Rajesh permalink
    July 7, 2011 11:31 PM

    I have written this before and I am writing it again.
    I grew up watching a beautiful movie on sacrifices made by a woman to stand fast against the opressions of land lords in Inidan villages.
    It was a story of great pathos and disbeleif, the movie being called Mother Inida.
    Today my beleif has changed, severely and my doubts on Hindus of upper strata even more so. I think that for all practical purpose, Bharat Mata or Mother Inida was a whore, a cheap prostitute who sold her body for money. She sold her body and produced four childre. According to the payments she received from her Johns, she prescibed their catse to the children born out of wedlock.
    So, A Brahmin., born out of greatest payment, was dubbed as such and giver the honor of being a Brahmin. He had a fruitful life. The others paid less money for her services and they were designated according to the moneys that this cheap whore received.
    So the caste sysetm was perpetuated by Mother India for the benefit of its citizens who gave maximum wealth to a whore.
    As such, the religion we know as Hinduism, is not a religion. Its a racket of the worst kind existing in the world. Every Hindu practitioner, temple goer, Intellectuals perpetuate tis beleif and enforce this particular aspect of Hinduism so that it can continue to provide benefits to the higher castes.
    There are several reasons o dissapearence of Buddhism in Inida. But had the Brahmins considered it as their own, it would have survived. Today and like before. Hindu machienery is busy propogating virulent propoganda against the Sage who broke their dominance and beleif.
    Hinduism had been destroyed before, at least intellectually. But now, its leaders want it perpetuated and glorified. Hence all these religios trobles Babri Msjid, Gujrat riots, atrocities against Dalits and minorities. The Hindus are really afraid that a Democracy might take hold in Inida and the equal rights will be given to its citizens. They dont want that, for sure. Because with equality, the Upper Caste Hindus will lose their advantage.
    So, it is religion of oppression, of propoganda , a racket, not unlike the Hawala scemes going on across most of india. Its strategically placed religion for gaining power, wealth and definite advantage in the Indian society.
    To fight this onslaught of maniacal religion and its practices, it has to be exposed, talked about and stopped at the very core.
    I often see Dalits and other lower catse Hindus donating, praying in Hindu temple. What spritual benefit can you get from a religion which has no philosophy of temples, supporting them financially, you are doing nothing more that supproting a beleif that is perpetuating all those attrocities across Inida.
    Anyone with a little bit of morals will never support the destruction of its own people.
    So to a point the lowest caste people by supporting these temmple, by praying inside are merely reinforcing the already existing division in the society.

  12. Trayansh permalink
    July 9, 2011 11:09 AM

    It is the followers and not founders who make an ‘ism’ and its history.
    The world has progressed to a level where no one is free-as-a-bird or privileged. Personal relationship, family and society are undergoing a vast change. If we do not want to get drawn into the impending whorl of machine equalization that exploit one’s youth and turns its back on the dysfunctional, let us devote ourselves to getting educated (privilege of Brahmin) devise policy (duty of Kshatriya) practice execution (enterprise of Vaishya) and carve our destiny (action of Sudra). Focus is required on free, accessible, quality education, robust infrastructure and faith on ‘possibility of good’. Corruption (term and practice, both) rises out of disbelief and mistrust — of people, practices and ideas.
    Should we fight ills to better our lot, or fight aimlessly come what may?

  13. sumit baudh permalink
    August 26, 2011 11:12 PM

    sharma, trivedi, chaturvedi, dube, menon, upadhyay, kamat …

    can caste hindus give up their surnames?

  14. D.D.Raut, President, Native People's Party permalink
    October 2, 2011 11:53 PM

    No conflict in Gandhi and Ambedkar.
    Native People’s Party believes in the thoughts and teachings of Founder of Satya Hindu Dharm, Satya Vakta, Mahatma Kabir, Father of Indian Social Reforms, Satya Dharmi Mahatma Phule, Father of Nation, Satya Prayogi, Mahatma Gandhi and Satya Margi, Bharat Bhaya Vidhata Dr. Ambedkar. We do not find any conflicts of thoughts and aim among these four son of India. All were Pujari of Satya. All were Native Indian fighting for freedom of India from foreigners slavery. Some times their means and time appear not matching but aim is not different. The latter three were followers of Kabir.Gandhi was by caste Modh, which is apbrasnsh of Bodh or Boudh. His caste Devi is Matangi Devi which is Ati Shudra Devi of Puranas ,before Buddha.Gandhiji’s mother was Kabir follower. Brahmins or Veda Dharma peoples do not have faith in kabir. Since Gandhiji’s grand father and his father were on big post in the Rajkot kingdom , they were well off. You know In Sindh a Mahar person was CM. Mahar, Matang, Dhed, Chamar and other caste people were wealthy at some places. you Know a Mahar of Mangal vedha was so rich that he paid all cost of food grains distributed by Damaji Pant. Even the credit was not given to Mahar and said that Zala Mahar Pandhari nath. Many Mahar were rich in Vidharbha and Businessmen. Similarly. Gandhi family were business by profession. But they were Ati Shudra first or to say were Native people. Dr. Ambedkar family from his fore father were believers of Kabir. They all know Kabir Bhajans and Dohas wery well. Hojy Bijak of Kabir is the most authentic code of Satya Hindu Dharm. All other books are rejected by us. The Ram of Gandhi and Kabir is not king Rama a son of king Dasharatha but Chetana, which governs every thing and which does not die. Ram is the same Chetana which is not dead, means Mra.Kabir is the most mystic in his revelation of Dharm. After Buddha he is the only person who could tell what is truth. He rejected all Brahmin Granths, Ved , Puranas,Smruti, all those things were there is no truth. In short KABIR, PHULE, GANDHI AND AMBEDKAR ARE NATIVE. .


    D.D.Raut, President, Native People’s Party


  1. Hypocrisy in Any Season: Mridu Rai responds to Rahul Pandita on the Harud Literature Festival « Kafila

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