Tag Archives: religion

Caste and Exploitation in Indian History: Bharat Patankar

Guest post by BHARAT PATANKAR translated by GAIL OMVEDT

Introduction: The Process of Exploitation

Exploitation arising from the caste hierarchy is a particular feature of the South Asian subcontinent. There was no such exploitative system in other continents or in countries outside of South Asia. But since caste exploitation has been a reality for 1500-2000 years this shakes the belief that only class can be the basis of exploitation. And because of this we have to transcend the attempt to find a way only pragmatically and deal with the issue on a philosophical and theoretical level. Class has been theorized extensively in terms of exploitation; to some extent gender also, but not caste. Exploitation as women in various forms has also been a reality for thousands of years; this also is not through “class”. This reality from throughout the world gives a blow to the idea that exploitation can only be class exploitation. This can also be said of exploitation arising on the basis of racial and communal factors. Continue reading Caste and Exploitation in Indian History: Bharat Patankar

Green and Saffron: Hindu Nationalism and Indian Environmental Politics

Cover - Green and Saffron

My book Green and Saffron is just out. The book details and an interview  are on the blog of Permanent BlackFrom the publishers’ notice:

This book examines contemporary environmental issues and movements in independent India on the one hand, and the development of Hindu conservative ideology and politics on the other. It includes the first thorough investigation of Anna Hazare’s movement in Maharashtra.

Mukul Sharma argues that these two social currents—environmental conservation and Hindu politics—have forged bonds which reveal the hijacking of environmentalism by conservative and retrograde worldviews. This, he says, constitutes a major aspect of hinterland political life which neither academics nor journalists have seriously analysed. Environmentalism and politics cannot be seen as separate from each other, for environmental issues are being defined in new ways by an anti-secular form of Hinduism. In turn, Hindu ideologues are gaining mileage for their ideology by espousing major environmental projects. Continue reading Green and Saffron: Hindu Nationalism and Indian Environmental Politics

Where have the pilgrims gone?

The Journey is an integral part of any pilgrimage, the manner in which it is conducted is crucial to the successful conclusion of the endeavour. An edited version of this article first appeared in the travel and culture magazine Terrascape, published from Delhi. Photos: Himanshu Joshi/Curun Singh

Pilgrims at Puri, outside Jagannath Temple

There is a scene in Mughal-e-Azam, the early 1960s blockbuster of a movie by K Asif, where Akbar and his queen, the mother of his first son Jahangir (wrongly identified by K Asif and also by Ashutosh Gowarikar as Jodha Bai) stumble through the hot sands of Rajasthan under the mid-summer day sun that seemed intent on drying up and burning everything in sight. The two are on a pilgrimage. The pilgrimage was to fulfill a vow that Akbar had taken.

What I have to say in this piece can best be prefaced by narrating the story of that vow. Continue reading Where have the pilgrims gone?

‘Locking up gods within caste’

This note comes via Malarvizhi Jayanth. Those in support can leave a comment saying so, and add their designations to their names, if they wish.

We call for all those who support democracy and free speech to express solidarity with Thirumavalavan, Meena Kandasamy and Samya.Kathavarayan and Madurai Veeran are among the gods who are acknowledged to be Dalit and are worshipped by many castes. Clearly, in the oral history of the people, the gods have castes and these castes are not determined by who worships them. The twin brothers Ponnar Shankar inhabit the realm between hero and deity. They have been fictionalised, recreated for the silver screen, and are worshipped across communities. Their origin myth remains contested territory – it is variously read as symbolic of the conflict between agriculturists/warriors and hunters, as part of founding tale of the land-owning agriculturist Kongu Vellala Gounder sub-caste and, in a textbook example of how Hindutva functions, have recently been claimed as reincarnations of the Pandavas. Like other deities of the people, they are firmly located in a historical imagination among a society of human beings, and not in a mythos of gods.

In a footnote in Uproot Hindutva: The Fiery Voice of the Liberation Panthers by Thirmavalavan, MeenaKandasamy describes Ponnar Shankar as dalit. M Loganathan, an advocate from Nanje Goundanpudur and Students Wing Convenor of the Kongu Nadu Munnetra Kazhagam (KMK), has been quoted in news reports as saying that there is evidence proving that Ponnar and Shankar are Kongu Vellala Gounders and claiming that depicting them as Dalits will lead to caste tension. Continue reading ‘Locking up gods within caste’