Insightful newsletter of Drishtikone: Issue #121 - How was Caste System Installed in India; Tale of Two 9-11s

(Old Bagan, Myanmar (Burma) / Photo by Charlie Costello on Unsplash)

“Journalism largely consists in saying "Lord Jones is dead" to people who never knew Lord Jones was alive.” ― G.K. Chesterton


19 years ago, on the morning of September 11, 2001, 19 Islamic hijackers took control of four commercial airliners (two Boeing 757 and two Boeing 767) en route to California (three were headed to LAX in Los Angeles, and one to San Francisco) after takeoffs from Boston, Massachusetts; Newark, New Jersey; and Washington, D.C – and unleashed a terror attack so unprecedented that it has remained the most iconic image in the minds of most Americans of that generation.

127 years ago, again, on this day in 1893, a Hindu Monk introduced the concept of Hinduism and Dharma to the Americans for the first time.  His name was Swami Vivekananda. Never before had an Eastern Monk, so articulate, so well steeped in Dharmic Spiritual order and so accomplished, spoken to the Americans about something that was beyond their own religious upbringing.

Many come to the shore of other nations.  What they bring with them and how they treat the new land is very important for all.  

While a Monk who came 127 years back still inspires millions to live a life of fulfillment, health, well being, and Spirituality; the terrorists from another land brought destruction, which has taken many lives and still is pushing the world to disastrous wars.

An entire culture of the Middle East, which has for the last 1400 years unleashed brutal wars and taken over of lands by annihilating the local cultures and traditions, far more sophisticated than those Desert ways; could only bring to the US what it hid in its bosom.  

India’s Dharmic tradition sent what it hid in its bosom, a message of wellbeing and “toleration”, as Swami Vivekananda called it.

That is why the ethos of a society is most important.


The Congressi and the Nationalist - Changing minds

We had discussed how Rhea Chakraborty’s sudden transformation as the foremost Woke Darling is a message to the entire society. Of who all are part of this whole issue and behind Sushant’s murder. Characterizing their escape strategy in ideological terms is really the only way forward for them.

Saw this interesting statement by Kangana Ranaut’s mother. She is talking about how the entire family was always loyal to Congress. They have always voted for Congress on both sides of the family. Yet, they found a savior in Amit Shah.

This sends an interesting message out to the masses. Specifically, those who have voted for Congress generation after generation. That it is time to change.

There was a time when for superficial reasons at least, but Congress was somehow aligned with people like Manoj Kumar, who was a loyal Congressi.

In this context, please watch this part of the interview with JRD Tata where he discusses how Sardar Patel’s leadership would have been very different for India. The reaction of Nehru when JRD discussed the economy seems to be very similar to the apathetic mannerisms of Rahul Gandhi. It clearly runs in the family.

Tale of Caste System and Aryan Invasion Theory - How they were installed in India

The great first war of India’s independence had been fought in 1857. It was brought about by the general frustration with the British imperialist ways and hatred for the colonial masters.

After the Indian forces lost, not only was there a terrible man-slaughter, but a social re-engineering project also started. This book by Subrata Chattopadhyay Banerjee titled “The Development of Aryan Invasion Theory in India” gives a very interesting insight.

It specifically discusses how organizations like Brahmo Samaj were used to disseminate the Aryan Invasion Theory. It was in the decades right after the 1857 war that the British started experimenting with anthropological interventions in India. And, the top in that list was the Caste System and Aryan Invasion Theory. Both intertwined.

‘We see a re-union of parted cousins, the descendants of two different families of the ancient Aryan race’, proclaimed by Keshub Chandra Sen, arguably the most prominent Indian religious reformer of his times, in a mass gathering in Calcutta, the capital of British India in March 1877 (pg 51) 

Now, Aryan Invasion Theory has its basis in a seemingly innocuous mistake that Max Müller made in one of his speeches. Strangely, that mistake morphed into a full-blown domination tool.

The first reference of the Aryan Race in linguistic research occurs in page 262 of the lectures on the Science of Language, by Müller, delivered at the Royal Institution of Great Britain in 1861. Müller comments—‘while examining its ramification, learn at the same time why that name was chosen by the agricultural nomads, the ancestors of the Aryan race’. It might; very well, be an unintentional mistake as in the same lecture he mentioned ‘Aryan dialect’, ‘Aryan verb’, ‘Aryan speech’ and ‘Aryan languages’. Nevertheless, the overlapping of language-speaking group with the race continued. The mixing of language-speaking group and race also had to do something that was taking shape across many European nations. (pg 57-58)

So, how did the Aryan word get linked to the Germans? Interestingly, the Germans were the Gallic tribes. They were often called barbaric. For a quick understanding - please watch Tudors and Spartacus series on Netflix to see how they were talked about.

 The Germans were looking for some “respectability”. And that is when during the European Romantic movement (happening around the same time) they hit upon an interesting way to assign “honor” to their “race”. See the extract below.

In 1836, Gustav Klemm published a book titled
‘Handbook of German Antiquity’, which tried to retrace German culture through ancient literature and available archaeological data. Schlegel was very much familiar with ancient Indian texts, as well as the Aryan myth due to the
Proto-Indo-European language family. In 1808, he published a book on ‘Über die Sprache und Weisheit der Indier’ (On the Language and Wisdom of Indians). In search of the antiquity, Schlegel put forward a theory. In the first-hand account of Julius Caesar’s ‘Commentarii de Bello Gallico’ (Comments on the Gallic Wars), he mentioned about Ariovistus, a German leader. Schlegel suggested that etymologically Ario is close to the German word ‘Ehre’ (meaning honour), and hence, it is connected to Aryan (pg 58)

Now, the person who worked tirelessly to color the Indian social landscape with caste overlay was Sir Herbert Hope Risley. Risley conducted extensive “experiments” and studies on the tribes and social groups in the Bengal Presidency and worked with folks like Denzil Ibbetson in Punjab to proliferate the census work with his theories and concepts further out in India.

He wrote a paper titled “The Study of Ethmology in India” within The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland. This set the tone for the overarching design of India’s Caste System intertwined with Aryan Invasion Theory.

Now, interestingly in this piece of his paper, Risley discusses how the changing of groups and “Brahmanization” of different groups within a matter of one, or maybe two generations, was not just common but even observed by him.

But even more importantly, he discusses how those with lands and means (money, wealth) were able to “reinvent” themselves as “Brahmins” when they were not. Risley discusses how Sir Alfred Lyal called it the “gradual Brahmanising of the aboriginals, non-Aryan or casteless tribes”. He also notes that this movement was progress on a large scale.

What is fascinating is that the British had already changed the Zamindari structure with the “Permanent Settlement” system in Bengal. The Zamindars had a lot of powers to the Zamindars and large landowners. Not just that, these landowning Zamindars were actually made loyal to the Brits.

Now, put the experiments by Alfred Lyal and Risley with the powering up of the zamindars in Bengal and elsewhere, while pushing them to get revenues and unleash atrocities on the lower caste.

And you find that a perfect storm was in place for the Indian society.

Meanwhile, Abbé Dubois, a missionary ethnographer was playing his own games with the Brahmans as he too worked with Max Müller.

His problem with the Brahmins was because they were the chief impediments in conversion. The second point mentioned below comes from the justification of the first. Demonizing a group that you want to convert and hate in moral terms was the way Christians had followed against Pagans as well.

(Castes of Mind: Colonialism and the Making of Modern India, Nicholas B. Dirks)

On the one hand, landowners - many with faux-Brahmin credentials - were being used to subjugate the other groups and work as an instrument of wealth collection for the British. And, on the other hand, the Brahmins (traditional ones in this case) in general were being targeted by the missionaries because they were tough to convert.

Not only was the ground being set for the demonization of the Brahmins by giving the land-owning-faux-Brahmins the power to subjugate (and use them as poster boys of cruel Brahmins), but also a narrative was being set up with respect to the “learned class” of Brahmins to ensure they have no backing in the society, thereby making them and others easy sitting ducks for conversions.

The zamindari is gone now. But the past sins of the faux-Brahmins are still being hurled against the entire group to break down the Hindu society with aggressive “Dalit” movements even now. Actually now more than ever.

Think about it.

nota bene

Another yogi CM: There is intense speculation in Bengal about the probable political rise of a yogi, Swami Kripakarananda Maharaj of Ramakrishna Mission. Hindutva insider groups have already started describing him as the future chief minister of Bengal. It could be a startlingly game-altering move if — and it is a very big if — the BJP leadership can convince him to join politics and be at the forefront of the party’s most crucial clash ahead in 2021, the Battle of Bengal. A caveat: The Ramakrishna Mission is extremely shy of politics, and in a past interview, Kripakarananda Maharaj himself said he had no such plans. (Source)

Kissan rail from South to Delhi: In a step towards doubling the income of farmers by 2022, the newly-introduced Kisan Rail, chugged off from Anantapur Railway Station on Wednesday (9 September) carrying 322 tonnes of fruits and vegetables to Adarsh Nagar in Delhi. The train provides fast connectivity between Anantapur to New Delhi with a distance of 2,150 kilometers being covered in approximately 40 hours. (Source)

Child pornographer arrested: Cyber Unit of Mumbai police has arrested 20-year-old Alfaz Jamani from Gujarat for stalking, blackmailing, hacking, and child pornography using images of minor girls between 9 to 15 years of age. As per the reports, police have found over 700 nude photos of minor girls on his mobile phone. He managed to get these photographs from girls after hacking in their Instagram accounts (Source)

Penguin Fascism: A police complaint has been registered against actress Kangana Ranaut after she made statements against Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on social media. The complaint has been filed at Vikhroli Police Station. According to a report by Times Now, Kangana posted a video on her Instagram handle after BMC demolished what they claimed as ‘illegal’ portions of her Mumbai office. In the video, she was seen warning the Maharashtra CM that 'his ego will also be destroyed, just as he broke her house.' (Source)

Caste system and the British

Given today’s discussion on the caste system, AIT, and the British rule, here is a very insightful discussion from Rajiv Malhotra.

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