How caste operates theologically 'non-caste' cultures?
By Dr. Ishtiaq Ahmed, Moderator Asia peace.
|Although caste is intertwined with Hinduism and dogmatic versions of Hinduism based on the Law of Manu suggest that the two may be inseparable it should be possible to disentangle them at some stage. After all, those who believe that the Quran allows
|What we also know is that despite having theologies, which are not caste-dependent South Asian Islam, Christianity and Sikhism also practice caste in different ways. The general rule is that the superior caste or biradari does not give its daughter to inferior biradaris but is usually willing to take girls from inferior castes through marriage. Normal is that one marries within the same biradari although this is always qualified with consideration of economic status. Those who take a lot of rishwat (bribes) have the chance of getting the better-looking girls. Among Pakistani Christians too the converts from the superior castes and actually there are some of Brahmin, Rajput and Jat origin, do not like marrying into converts from Dalit origins.
Muslims of all categories can sit together and eat but I have never seen the sweeper being allowed to sit on the same seat or eat from the same utensils. This applies to the cities and towns. In the villages the Syeds (putative descendents of the Prophet) usually enjoy many privileges, which are comparable to the Brahmins. The status of Syeds and families claiming descent from the caliphs Abu Bakr, Omar and Usman, has always been special and privileged amongst Muslims. I read somewhere that up until the early 20th century in Egypt which is otherwise a Sunni country the law did not allow a non-Syed man to marry a Syed girl.
The question is that in India the Gandhi-Nehru-Ambedhkar combination did succeed in criminalizing the practice of untouchability but in Pakistan forms of untouchability exist but are not recognized. Which is better? I don't know but I know that the only way forward to a democratic and egalitarian South Asia is if it adopts the human rights standards set up by the United Nations.
Dr William Robert Da Silva (member Asiapeace, UK) comments on caste and connects it to international capitalism.
Parwez Wahid (member Asiapeace, Boston) makes observations on caste and Hinduism and thinks the two can be kept separate.
1. Dr William Robert Da Silva (member Asiapeace, UK) writes:
Dear Ishtiaq, dear Shukla, and Asianpeace members,
There are two issues regarding 'theft, murder and prostitution' which Professor I. K. Shukla refers to. You cannot make them into 'a gift to humanity' unless, theft is capitalist market profits, and murder is state-approved lethal injection or collateral damage in unilateral or consensus-manipulated war for national Interests, and prostitution is sex made liberal supply on demand approved as adult consent. These are modern and globalize civilized models to live with today.
This, however, does not justify 'caste' as a gift to humanity by the dvija-made- ruler in India. But when their protecting hand is the same hand of protection or strategic tolerance above, 'caste' will be cushined as less harmful. We saw it happen in South Africa, at UNO conference last year. Didn't we? Formulation took the upper hand to please USA, UK and, of course, India. Not abolition and compensation.
Release the women of South Asia from the male hegemony by free decision to marry and shape their personal, married and family (and work) life, caste is as dead as once Hegel was (as Marx declared). The only mantra against 'caste' is: Let the women free. (This is not license, this is not immorality, and this is not irresponsibility. This is freedom of the most modern and civilized type). Looking at the civilized ads for marriage partners from India, especially women, from Indian expats 'women, their fertility, beauty, colour and caste seem to be the arranging criteria for the majority. How much worse with Indian inpats!
With best wishes,
2. Parwez Wahid (member Asiapeace, Boston) writes:
A couple of thoughts on the points and comments offered below.
1. Some people will be quick to point out the "apples/oranges" sense in comparing caste system to vices like theft, prostitution etc. A social order of caste distinction is certainly no "gift" to humanity however comparisons in this manner might give "debating points" to those who want to preserve the caste system.
2. From these discussion I am finding that caste social system and Hinduism are not directly related. It had always been my understanding that both are integral parts of the same order, however this belief may be incorrect, they seem to have become intertwined over centuries of practice. Further explanation and clarification of this relationship could be enlightening.