Skip to comments.Low caste Indians set to convert (to Buddhism).
Posted on 05/26/2007 8:24:03 PM PDT by Jedi Master Pikachu
Thousands of tribal and Dalit Hindus in India are to embrace the Buddhist faith at a huge gathering in Mumbai.
The ceremony, which may be presided over by Tibet's exiled leader, the Dalai Lama, is billed as the largest religious conversion in modern India.
The converts hope to escape the rigid caste system in which their status is the lowest.
Right-wing Hindus have often opposed conversion, pushing some Indian states to restrict legal changes of faith.
The organisers say the number of people to convert in Sunday's ceremony could go up to 100,000, easily the biggest mass conversion in India's recent history.
The Dalits, once known as Untouchables, hope the conversion will give them dignity and equal rights.
Commentators say that despite the reservation of jobs for the Dalit and tribal communities, their social status and economic conditions have not greatly improved.
They say that Dalits still face widespread prejudice and discrimination.
Conversion is a controversial subject in India, especially if it involves Hindus converting to Christianity or Islam.
Two weeks ago two Catholic priests were publicly beaten after being accused of trying to bring a group of local people into the Catholic faith.
But converting to Buddhism does not evoke much adverse reaction, as most hardline Hindu leaders believe Buddhism is an extension of Hinduism.
Even so, several Indian states, especially the ones governed by the right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party, BJP, have made laws severely restricting conversion.
As they are simply going from non-Christianity to non-Christianity, however, it is acceptable.
Sheeat, “low caste” is a state of mind, dammit, even the
Queen of Britain needs to wipe her tail, or itch!
So much for the pretext of freedom of religion.
So in killing two birds with one stone, I will put a "Share the Well" bumper sticker on the car closest to the entrance and it gets instantly easier to get a seat that evening.
I'd rather they worship a Rock than Islam...wait, wasn't that the point of Indiana Jones 2?
Low-caste politician sweeps to power in India’s largest state
May 11, 2007
LUCKNOW, India: India’s most powerful low-caste politician swept into power Friday in the country’s largest state, dealing a political blow to the scion of the powerful Gandhi clan.
Mayawati, a fiery 51-year-old woman who goes by one name, was set to become the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, a vast, poor state that encompasses more than 180 million people and often sets the political agenda for the rest of the country.
“I thank people of all castes and communities who supported my party to achieve this overwhelming victory,” Mayawati, a dalit, or “untouchable,” at the bottom of India’s complex social ladder, said at a news conference.
With results final in all but 6 of the 403 seats in the state assembly on Friday, Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party had won 202 seats, enough to form a government without a coalition, according to the Press Trust of India news agency, citing state election authorities.
The election will likely slow the rise of Rahul Gandhi the son, grandson and great-grandson of Indian prime ministers. By Friday afternoon, Gandhi’s Congress party had gained no additional seats in the state assembly despite his relentless campaigning. Gandhi holds a seat in the Indian Parliament, representing a rural district in Uttar Pradesh.
The election was the first serious political test of Gandhi, 36, who is a rising power in the Congress party and despite his youth and inexperience already is mentioned as a possible future prime minister. Though the Congress party is not a major force in the state, Gandhi’s campaigning was expected to help boost its political power.
Mayawati forged a powerful coalition that brought together low-caste and Brahmin voters and candidates to force out Mulayam Singh Yadav, the state’s outgoing chief minister, whose own support was rooted among middle-caste farmers.
Mayawati, who has been chief minister of the state twice before, lost power in 2003 amid controversy over her government’s approval of a US$40 million-dollar tourism complex near the Taj Mahal.
The Uttar Pradesh elections are unlikely to have an immediate impact on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s Congress-led government in New Delhi, though the state often plays a key role in shaping national political alliances. The next national elections are due in 2009.
India’s RSS urges war against ‘evil’ of casteism
NEW DELHI: Expressing concern over caste-based political and social conflicts, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) has urged Hindus to “get rid of this evil at the earliest”.
“Hindu society should take all necessary measures to ensure entry and access to every Hindu, irrespective of his caste, to their homes, temples, religious places, public wells, ponds, and other public places,” a resolution adopted at the three-day national executive meeting of the RSS said.
Around 350 RSS volunteers met in Chitrakoot in Madhya Pradesh to brainstorm on several issues, including its ties with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which has been dogged by infighting.
After discussing the issue of casteism on Friday, the first day of the meeting, the organisation concluded that “caste-based untouchability” and “feelings of high caste and low caste” were the main evils haunting the Hindu society.
“Unfortunately, such incidents occur in society even to this day, manifesting the worst form of caste discrimination,” the resolution posted on the organisation’s website said.
“Hindu society will have to get rid of this evil at the earliest,” it said.
Appealing for social harmony and Hindu brotherhood, the organisation warned the community against the political parties, which it said had been drawing “political benefits” out of casteism.
“Inventing caste based new conflicts in the Hindu society for the sake of political benefits has become a trend of many politicians these days.”
“Treacherous elements are also joining hands in this. To create the vote banks, these politicians are encouraging caste-based rivalries, which result in creation of various caste based clashes,” the resolution said.
The RSS also has urged the political parties to keep away from “caste politics” which caused “deep divisions” in the society and to give an “Indian culture” to the democracy.
Citing instances from the Hindu epics it said the religion always stood for lower caste people.
“No religion or sect is inferior to others. The whole society should be aware that every sect and caste of Bharat has a glorious history.”
The national executive has appealed to all sects and castes that they should not look down on other sects and castes. “The entire society should fully realize the essence of ‘Na Hinduh Patito Bhavet’ (No Hindu shall ever come to grief),” the resolution said.
Interestingly, the RSS has been criticised by secular Indians for its Hindu supremacist philosophy and its frequent campaign against other religions, particularly Islam and Christianity.
I wonder if Zubair Ahmed agrees with you. /s
I went back to school at age 27 to finish an engineering degree that I had begun and abandoned. In the interim years I had worked as a carpenter. When I went back, one of my professors was an old Indian man. He was adamant that I should continue as a carpenter and not try to finish the degree. I found this extremely odd - you’d think a prof would encourage someone to move forward with their education. It occurred to me later that he was probably a traditionalist Hindu and might have been seeing me as lower caste somehow, like I was being uppity or going beyond my social rank for pursuing a professional degree (he knew I had worked in construction but was unaware that I had been to school previously). It didn’t stop me, of course - I got the degree and am currently working as an EE - but it was an interesting experience to have possibly bumped up against another culture’s notion of class.
“Our curiosity is naturally prompted to inquire by what means
the Christian faith obtained so remarkable a victory over the
established religions of the earth. To this inquiry, an obvious
but satisfactory answer may be returned; that it was owing to the
convincing evidence of the doctrine itself, and to the ruling
providence of its great Author. But as truth and reason seldom
find so favorable a reception in the world, and as the wisdom of
Providence frequently condescends to use the passions of the
human heart, and the general circumstances of mankind, as
instruments to execute its purpose, we may still be permitted,
though with becoming submission, to ask, not indeed what were the
first, but what were the secondary causes of the rapid growth of
the Christian church.” - The ever droll Mr. Gibbon
Most upper caste guys arent like that, especially when they are not in India. But some idiots bring that disgusting “superiority” complex with them. I too suffered under a south Indian (Madrasi as well call them back home) upper caste prof during engineering undergrad.
So you think its possible that I really was experiencing this guys hangups about caste? Ill tell you something - it definitely bugged me. It must be awful when the whole society looks down on you like that. I can see why the Indian untouchables might be motivated to convert.
BTW, you mention that you had a south Indian professor. Why do you make that regional distinction? Is the caste system more a feature of the south than the north?
If you are ever interested in learning more about India, I recommend the book “In Spite of the Gods”. It discusses the history of India, current politics, and the future.
There is an abyss between the N. and S. of India, a cultural chasm. In the south, people are much better educated and much more humble. So, if an Australian missionary gets killed in India, an Indian reading the headline in the newspaper knows instantaneously that it happened in N. India. If there’s a headline about a woman and her son who abduct and kill a child to cure the mother of nightmares, the Indian knows right away that in happened in the North. All the 7-11 owners are from the North. College professors, doctors, engineers, etc. are (typically) from the south. Bankers are (almost always) from the north. They’re tradespeople and business people (7-11s, restaurants, little shops, gas stations, .....)
It’s telling. Indian people make the regional distinction all the time. N. Indians, because they’re generally less educated than S. Indians, refer to all south Indians as being Madrasi, Madras being a city in a Southern state called Tamil Nadu. It would be the equivalent of an American from the North refering to all Southerners as Fayettevillers or Hopians or Billoxites. Most N. Indians don’t even know how many states there are in India. Heck if they can name them.
But in answer to your question, the caste system is not anymore a feature of the south than the north.
Very interesting. Thanks.
Freedom of religion is guaranteed by the constitution not by the “right-wing Hindus”. “Right-wing Hindus” will push for their agenda as much as Christians groups will push for theirs.
BTW why would you expect Hindus to oppose conversion to an Indic religion (like Buddhism, Sikhism or Jainism)?
From the article....
“But converting to Buddhism does not evoke much adverse reaction, as most hardline Hindu leaders believe Buddhism is an extension of Hinduism.”
However YOUR problem is that they are converting to a religion thats not Christianity. That people are exercising their right to their choice of religion and not in favour of Christianity (and Hindus are not even opposing them or raising an eyebrow) is what makes you bitter. You would rather have Evangelism forced down their throat and call it “freedom of religion”.
........Get over it.
It may not be due to caste. That guy was probably just being rude to you. I dont think anyone applies the caste system to foreigners because its just too absurd.