Sunday, June 03, 2007

‘Upper Castes’ should Convert to Buddhism

So by now, 30 people have died in that needless violence which has followed the Gujjar’s demand to be given the ST status. Is it just me or do you think as well that today’s India is being torn apart by the overwhelming presence of the caste system and its dynamics now then ever before in our coherent lifetimes?

As much as many of us are impatient to embrace the India which is growing at 9 plus percent, we cannot ignore the fact that there are weighty questions to resolve. And only when the questions affecting the multitude of masses which are out of our vision and earshot are answered, that we can hope our country to have a future we want for it.

A few days earlier, I had read news articles about one lakh people converting to Buddhism in Mumbai. One lakh! Most people who were part of the mass conversion were nomadic tribals and Dalits.

What a contrast! At one end you have a set of people who want to be given the ST status and are willing to hold a state to ransom to achieve that end. And then you have a whole bunch of people (One lakh, remember) who one would think are mostly ‘STs’ wanting to escape the clutches of a religion which they believe can do them no good.

Dalits and lower castes converting to Buddhism has stopped being a big story unless the numbers are big enough. The reason is that most mass conversions are perceived as being less of a matter of choice and more of an easy escape route from a desperate existence. A sort of a short cut, perhaps. There is nothing noble in that. Let’s go to Page Three.

So I think its time for us so called ‘upper caste’ intelligentsia to step up and do something for a change rather than expend our arm chair expertise on the ills of our country.

Give up our ‘Upper Caste’ status, Convert to Buddhism, what say?

Why, you ask? If you are from an ‘upper caste’, give me reasons why you should be proud of that fact which are of any relevance in today’s age.

If you say that you couldn’t care less about being an ‘upper caste’ but also see no reason to take the trouble of doing something as obscure as a conversion of faith then I give you a couple of reasons. They are full of noble-idealistic bullshit.

-You will express your solidarity with the lowest of the low in our caste system.
-It will be a slap on the face to all those people who are earning their living by cutting up our country on the basis of caste.

But why Buddhism?

Now that’s a good question. Well, there’s no point in joining the Gujjar’s and clamor for an ST status for yourselves as well, even though your reasons (mentioned above) maybe noble and all that. Nobody will believe you or take you seriously.

There are other options as well. There’s the ‘Arya Samaj’ organization which is the watered down version of Hinduism without all of its caste trappings, idolatry etc. I will leave it to you to explore them if you want to. But Buddhism has a clear modern history as a vehicle to deliver the lower castes from their unwanted religion. It is a natural choice if you want to join hands.

Of course, you should know what Buddhism’s all about and only take the plunge if you are convinced. Here’s a link. Click.

Am I convinced? Am I going to convert? I don’t know. I know, it’s very unlike me to take the trouble and do something about anything. Maybe I’ll just forget pretty soon how I am feeling right now and go back to eating my curd rice and worrying about my career.

Or maybe I’ll just dwell on it for some time (I’m sure the Buddha would have liked that)

1 comment:

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