- Academicians and their allied groups have used casteism to erase the contributions of the great souls hailing from peasant communities
- Sandeep, who belongs to the Shudra community, said that he is proud to belong to a community that has greatly contributed to Hinduism
- Hinduism and the Indian Civilisation belongs to Dalits and the “lower castes” much more than it belongs to any other community
Casteism has always been exploited by the rich and the powerful. And the colonialists further exploited this weakness to colonial rule. What started out as a division of labour, turned out to be the order of superiority. The craving for power and money turned the simplest of ideas into a means of subjugation. But there have been those who rose against the corrupt system, revealing the true intentions of the ‘masters’ and enlightening the masses to the principle of equality. These philosophers and saints have contributed to the growth of Hinduism, bringing back the rich and just system of our forefathers.
Sandeep Dedage, the Director of Hindu Education Foundation USA, while talking to Huffingtonpost shared his opinion about how academicians and their allied groups have used casteism to erase the contributions of the great souls hailing from peasant communities.
”A group of academicians calling themselves the ‘South Asia Faculty Group’ (SAFG) is, under the pretext of protecting my children’s heritage, seeking to objectify and thereby obliterate us all together and erase Indian civilisation and Hinduism from the textbooks. These academicians and their allied groups, like the South Asian Histories For All (SAHFA), believe that my children’s ancestors, saints and sages hailing from peasant communities (often categorised as Shudras or sometimes even outside the varna system), should be removed from the curriculum. It is like someone telling my grandfather, as he toiled on the farm, that he could not let his heart sing the words of Savta Mali because that didn’t fit their theory about Hinduism and caste. It is a complete silencing of who we are, and how we see our heritage,” he says to the Huffingtonpost.
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“My children deserve to be told the truth about their ancestors, and not lies about them being mere nobodies and victims who did not contribute to the building of Indian Civilisation.”
Sandeep, who belongs to the Shudra community, said that he is proud to belong to a community that has greatly contributed to Hinduism. “It may be ancient Vedic sages such as Valmiki and Vyasa who were born into non-Brahmin families, or one of numerous later day spiritual figures such as Janabai, Ravidas, Sajan Kasai, Tukaram, Gora Kumbhar, Chokha Mela, and Nirmala Mahar—women and men who came from Dalit and “lower caste” communities like my own— who have helped Hinduism grow, rejuvenate and reform. They have been role models for Hindus of all social backgrounds,” he said to Huffpost.com.
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Social inequalities and discrimination on the basis of caste, creed, race and gender have existed in all societies all around the world. Sandeep feels, the force to fight against the social ills that have accrued in society over time due to stagnation, decay, invasions and colonialism is not some gift given to us by the colonial British or the Western world but from within Hinduism and its traditions, nurtured by great reformers like Narayana Guru and Swami Vivekananda.
As one who actively works on curriculum reforms in California textbooks, he points out that SAFG has callously advocated the removal of the mention in textbooks that great sages Vyasa and Valmiki were not born to Brahmin families. The SAFG also did not even care to mention any of saints like Sant Ravidas and Alvars, preventing their spiritual teachings and contributions from being mentioned in the textbooks.
He also adds that Hinduism and the Indian Civilization belongs to Dalits and the “lower castes” much more than it belongs to any other community.
– prepared by Ajay Krishna, an intern at NewsGram.