24/06/11

why bant singh can't go to rahul pandita

something led me here, to this very entertaining piece of information:
The meaning of the word 'Saraswat' has more than one origin. One refers to 'offspring of Saraswati'[citation needed] , the Goddess of learning applied usually to learned and scholarly people. It may also denote the residents of Saraswati river basin. The brahmins of this region who are referred to as 'Saraswats' in Mahabharata and Puranas were learned in Vedic lore[citation needed] . They concentrated on studying subjects like astronomy, metaphysics, medicine and allied subjects and disseminating knowledge[citation needed] .
the heading, you'd notice says 'history'. history? do people really believe that's history? gods and goddesses are history? do you notice anything like dates in that whole section?

that piece of history whetted my appetite for more such knowledge. this page tells you about the origins of the nambudiris:
The ancient Sangam literature mentions Brahmins of Chera Kingdom (which became Kerala) who may be Namboothiris as there is mention of Perinchellur(Taliparamba) village, which is one of the most important villages for Namboothiris, as a great Vedic village. There is no concrete evidence to suggest migration of Namboothiri Brahmins to Kerala but would most probably be the heavily civilised Aryans who took the Red sea route to Kerala even before the 100O BC. The recent evidence of Brahmin migration to Kerala is the Embranthiris who were originally Tulu Brahmins.
no concrete evidence, but they're most probably heavily civilised Aryans who took the Red sea route to Kerala even before the 100O BC (100O BC?).

what's funnier (than the content of those histories) is the fact that some people, at least two persons, actually wrote those pages. why? to tell people like me: this is not your history, you can't bask in the glory of the saraswats or the nambudiris, you can only admire them. but would anyone have written those pages if non-nambudiris/non-saraswats like me didn't exist? what's the point of being a brahmin when there aren't any non-brahmins around? so i am there in those narratives: as, say, most probably the heavily uncivilised native who didn't take the red sea route to kerala even before the 100O BC, but was born here. no non-indian can read between the lines and spot me, the non-saraswat or non-nambudiri, who doesn't deserve any history. the nambudiri is the light, i am the shadow that gives the light meaning.

if i ever tell a non-indian that my people studied astronomy, metaphysics and medicine ages ago, i'd be lying. because it was the saraswats who studied astronomy, metaphysics and medicine. so i have to make sure no brahmins, saraswats especially, are around when i tell non-indians that my people studied astronomy, metaphysics and medicine. but a lie is a lie and as long as that page, and less crude but similar pages exist in many forms, i can never really be proud of the fact that 'indians' were smart enough to explore astronomy etc a thousand or more years ago. not as long as some 'indians' claim that they're brahmins.

they say the chinese first started making rockets, or something like rockets. it's quite possible a chinese nobleman first made it. but now, any chinese soldier or hawker or sex worker or scientist or film star could proudly say: we invented rockets. because there is no single endogamous group of people in china who could say: my forefathers invented rockets. so everyone is free to claim that glory.

when someone explicitly tells the world he's a brahmin, like the writers of those two pages, he's claiming a lot of history for himself. a history filled with 'glorious achievements'. you might have problems with the authenticity or incompleteness of that history, but there's very little you can do about it. the problem is, a lot of history attaches itself even to those who don't explicitly tell the world that they're brahmin. a lot of history attaches itself to all brahmins, as long as they're brahmins, in whatever fashion, for the simple reason that indian history doesn't have much space for anyone else.

the reason why indian history sounds so much like a bad zombie movie in which the characters seemingly incapable of any voluntary, conscious action so smartly and purposefully keep cornering the conscious, hyperactive ones, is because it implicitly makes the claim that those mostly unconnected with any production produced all of indian science, astronomy, medicine etc. indian history reads so much like mythology because those claiming its 'glorious achievements' as their own have no idea whatsoever how those achievements were accomplished-- it's obvious that they know only a part of the story, so they add a lot of mumbo jumbo to complete it, to obfuscate the dalitbahujan contributions. indian history is such a colossal crime because by depriving the dalitbahujans of any past, it steals their future too.

as long as the brahmins, as brahmins, are around, and in very large numbers, in academia and other places that produce history-- it'd be very difficult to find anything resembling objective history in that kind of an environment. no, i have no problems with people whose forefathers might have been brahmins filling all available seats in universities with their..behinds.

but as long as people who can trace their ancestry back to the nambudiris or saraswats are around, i might as well give up thinking that i can produce something of value, because indian history tells me i'm totally incapable of producing anything of any value. only the brahmin can.

but mr.dipankar gupta would object to that kind of a caste sneer:
Only recently, a newspaper article, while discussing Narayana Murthy’s inept attempts to wriggle out of his faux pas with the national anthem episode, calmly added without context that one cannot expect much from a Brahmin after all. Now where did that come from? As if to explain further, the journalist went on to remind the readers that Narayana Murthy, the Brahmin, as a Brahmin, also opposed reservation quotas. This is clearly a caste sneer!
yes, that clearly is a caste sneer, because it attributes a negative trait to all brahmins. gupta is trying to say that the journalist accused narayana muthy, the brahmin, of acting as a brahmin. can the word brahmin be sanitized of its history, and of its sociology? can a person just be a brahmin, just as someone can be tall, fat or dark? can someone be a brahmin and not be acting as a brahmin?

isn't the very claim to be a brahmin, a claim on an exclusive right to a long line of 'super-achievements', also an act of consigning almost everyone else to an history of 'non-achievement'? isn't that a caste sneer, in a way?

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i started on this post nearly two years ago-- don't know if all the links work now. but its logic still seems ok to me, and i feel more confident of that theory today, after reading this article by rahul pandita. he says:
As a Brahmin, does it make me less sensitive to the plight of the poor or the marginalised? Why is it such a big deal that I can wear my Janeu, recite my Hanuman Chalisa, and yet go to Bant Singh’s house in Bhurj Jabbar, thirstily gulp down a few glasses of water, and tell his story? Where is the contradiction?
yes, why is it such a big deal that he wears a janeu etc? i don't believe the practice of rituals etc make a brahmin. so giving them up won't make one less of a brahmin, either, in my view.

the big deal is that bant singh can't just get up and go meet rahul pandita in delhi or mumbai or wherever he lives, gulp down a few glasses of water, and tell his story. bant singh was attacked because he wanted to do exactly what rahul pandita does. get up and go do the things he wanted to do.

the big deal is that rahul pandita has the freedom to do so and bant singh doesn't.

if you say bant singh lost his freedom of movement because of the line of work he chose to do-- organizing farm labour-- you'd be wrong because he didn't have much freedom of choice to begin with. history had seen to that. now rahul pandita, despite being forced out of home 'at the age of 14', seems to have done quite well for himself. that's the contradiction.

when rahul pandita says he's a brahmin, he's making a claim on a lot of indian history. when bant singh rebels against his present, he is also rejecting pandita's history, his claim on privilege. if pandita doesn't see that, he shouldn't have undertaken the trip to bant singh's home. 

14 comments:

gaddeswarup said...

Kuffir,
I have been trying to get some idea of technology in ancient India but cannot find much material. There is one boo, volume 6 of Culture and Heritage of India published by Ramakrishna mission. But it does not have much material of any textual material on ship building or the technology that went in to building the iron pillar of Delhi or Telangana steel or many of the crafts practiced by various people.. There are sporadic references without descriptionsof actual technolgy. There are tracts on medicine, astronomy (popular because of its use in astrology), mathematics etc and some on medicine, adriculture from ancient times and even encyclopedias. But even astronomy seems riddled with difficulties trying to reconcile it with puranic accounts of the origins of the universe.. (Mount Meru, seven seas ...). My impression is that 'brahmins' did play a role in agriculture by their knowledge of seasons, and the knowledge of texts on agriculture which discussed various crops, types of soil etc. I was also told that even today some craftsmen in Kerala have knowledge of ancient ship building in their memory banks without any texts. It seems that text communities focussed on different sorts of topics than practical ones except in a few areas like agriculture and medicine. If you or anybody have references, I would like to know more.

nalanz said...

Let me keep the comment here as well (the same that was posted on Rahul's blog)

Rahul Says: My father didn’t have much to teach me. But he taught me a few things, nevertheless. He taught me to be proud of my roots, of where I come from

Proud of the roots of a culture that had the caste system as its basic philisophy, a philososphy of inequality!! Do you consider the Brahmanical Hindu religion is compatable with the modern concepts of equality. The simple fact is that the Brahmanical religion cannot co-exist with the progressive concepts of equality. There is nothing to be proud of our roots. It can only be recalled with awe and disgust, the barbaric forms of uintochability. The philisophy that subjects such a emotional and theoritical cruelty to the untouchables that they do not even have an afterlife, that can be a solace to their very existance…. No sane person can feel proud of such a legacy

Anonymous said...

We all have the right to be proud of where we come from. Being a Brahmin is more of a cultural identity, and does not impinge on anyone else's right to identify as they choose.

As to comments regarding how compatible the hindu religion is to modern ideas of equality, few religions would pass this test if they were all practiced in the same manner today as in the past. Islam (as per its original revelation) for example is not at all compatible with modern ideas of gender equality or freedom 'from' religion. Similarly both Islam and traditional Christianity would find it hard to co-exist with modern concepts of equality for those with a different sexual orientation. As Hinduism is not really bound to any definitive text, it can be interpreted to be fully compatible with any progressive agenda.

Kiran said...

@anonymous

Every individual has a right to have self dignity - brahmin or not. But when you say you are proud of your brahminness people would like to know for what reasons. And they have a right to be offended by those reasons if they are offensive or insensitive. You have to deal with that.

Kiran

blueshift said...

wow ...good one...

Anonymous said...

Kiran,

I was responding to Nalanz who was arguing that Rahul had no right to be proud of his roots..

As you stated we all have a right to self-dignity and being proud of ones roots forms part of that. Why should anyone find it offensive if I wear a thread as part of my cultural and religious tradition ? People have the right to follow any religious tradition they wish, and as long as I am not stopping someone else from following their own traditions, then it doesn't concern anyone else.

Kumarpushp said...

Before India got independence ,dalits of Jammu and kashmeer had demanded that we should alsobe allowed to wear the janau so brahmins of J&K did they brought the hot red sickle and burn the dalits skin in same way as of janau and told the dalit masses that you have permanent janau on your body so need not put on your ear while going for Poo or loo.yadav of Bihar had demnded the British that we should be allowed to wear the janau but brahmins of Bihar thrown the yadav out and few yadav had been killed by brahmins.It does not matter that some body wear the janau or not but it does matter Shudhra should be told who are Rama and krishna and their orgin means Hindu religion should be removed from state education curriculum.

gaddeswarup said...

Just read a novel by Manu Joseph "Serious Men", which may be related to the discussion. A review here:
http://middlestage.blogspot.com/2010/07/rage-and-love-in-manu-josephs-serious.html
It does not seem to be great novel, the portraits of the scientists are caricatures, but off and on there are discussions about various priviliges.

Anonymous said...

"actually wrote those pages. why? to tell people like me: this is not your history, you can't bask in the glory of the saraswats or the nambudiris, you can only admire them. but would anyone have written those pages if non-nambudiris/non-saraswats like me didn't exist? what's the point of being a brahmin when there aren't any non-brahmins around?"

This is true of any history of any community.

windwheel said...

Got to say- reading this makes me feel proud of my Brahminhood.
I'm just superior is what I am. I've lots of Brahmin friends but they do shite Brahminbandhu stuff like Law or Medicine or Business while I alone meditate upon the Brahman and mentally modulate the music of the Weltgeist's Sama.

Thank you Kufr. You are that immortal snake in the garden which, as Adi Shesha, reconciles, not just Saivite and Vaisnavite, but ALL Brahmins to each other.

'Poetry,' Hazlitt observed, 'is always on the side of power'.
That's true certainly of Shraman poetry- Pampa's Mahabharata- but not true at all of Brahmin poetry- mine is a 'miserable class' (kosambi)
Unlike you, kufr, I have done little to prolong the hegemony of my caste.
That's why I'm not grateful to you but see something noisome in the noise to signal ratio of your post.

Rahul Pandita, on the other hand, is just sad. He's of Kaula descent, acharabrashta as far as the rest of us are concerned. Doesn't eat meat on Tuesdays! Hilarious. That's not a janeo- yagnyapavita- you have on dude, it's less than a Nuristani zunnar!
Incidentally, the Bant Singhs of the world have and do come to Brahmins like me. Why?
We're not dominant caste.
Nor want to be.
Brahman is just better than that, merging more Orient horizons.

Welcome to death and wealth, buddy!

The two unfailing, tho' ever known to havefailed, Fuck You's to Brahman.

Anonymous said...

Why are you filled with so much angst? A lot of this is in your mind. Do you define yourself in terms of others or is there something in you independent of others? There are histories of brahmin communities (a lot of them being completely nonsensical) and there are histories of other communities as well. They are all equally interesting (and sometimes fantastical). But they are part of cultural bequests from generation to generation.

We remember our forefathers and carry on our culture because it is the only thing that can be bequeathed from generation to generation. Whole tribes have chosen to have themselves annihilated rather than be assimilated by other cultures. Ask those Native Americans who perished as against some of their brethren who chose to or were forced to assimilate into the colonizing European culture. Culture is all we have.

A Brahmin can describe the stories of his forefathers and yet move on from the prejudices of the past. I am no Brahmin but I can understand that we are all struggling to get on in this world while preserving the memories of our forefathers in any way we can. We are trying to survive while keeping our identities intact.

Anonymous said...

oh dear mr spiteful kufr.i am a brahmin, kashmiri at that. gimme a word will you.you want us to believe that brahmins who have never formed more than 8-9 % of population in the country have dominated your ancestors all the while. but really i have no respect for such idiocy.
you begin with a stupid idea of dates not being mentioned. i don think you quite get the idea of lore and story, because as a shameless self hating self flagelling self history weaving(unfortunately there never was a pogrom, never an annihilation so you have no wailing wall too) idiot you have never even read your history. u mean to tell me that u dont understand why namboodiripad brahmins wallow in their history. at present they are 0.09% of kerela's population, yet they are the oppressors. and ITS NOT funny when people write those pages about history beacause all they are saying is this was our legacy. for years and years you parasites did BUSINESS for which my stupid brahmanical ancestors had the highest contempt. you ammased wealth. you indulged in the spice trade, you were the fuckin baniya that lavished all his life while my ancestors believed their stupid brahmin hair tail will take them to heavenly adobe. who is the oppressed one here. and u think only we had our stories. have u known any caricatures of brahmins at all. brahmine is the effeminate weakling, he is the potbellied temple going idol cleaning idiot. u think that such a large section of population was just innocently suppressed by these high caste hindus. you say oh well chinese can claim the gunpowder, even their sex worker. but here your asnine stupidity fails you again, you dont know the first thing about china. do u even know about the centuries of conflict between han chinese and cantonese. and who told you that you have no history. who built the great khajuraho temple and elephanta caves, were those brahmin hands, were those brahmin designs. who started the spice trade with portugese ( the greedy brahmin?). and of course endogamy existed in india but for you to sit perched in your easy comfy chair in whereever the hell hole with your fathers money over your stupid head as your life savings(otherwise you like me would not have time to publish such half baked un documented concocted ad hominem attack on "the brahmin") but did your underevolved brain think about "time context". did u think about comparing how endogamus other communities were at the same time guess what once again without your noticing you landed in a pile of constipated shit
http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp/2011/03/genetics-as-the-myth-buster-indian-edition/

Anonymous said...

go do some reaseach first, and stop blaming everyone else for your impotence. your clan is the clan that invented sub sub sub castes. so the university poen will only clean the tables and not the floor and the lowest of the low will clean the floor and then probably we will reach your beleaguered ancestor. how crass.
and i have no time for pretentious douches like you, but for you to play this standalone victim is quite "convinient". as for my community i can tell you that within us brahmins there are the supposed Dattatreya Kauls who are supposed to be the purest of the lot(most scholarly) and i am supposed to be the warrior kind(a tad bit low!@# lol).google "boston brahmins" .. they were a bunch of intellectuals of the east coast who believed that by incalcating values of education generation after generation they had become a sort of class. and these arent unemployed semi literate opiners like you, they include the likes of Oliver wendell Holmes, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry Thoreau et al. but again your brain only understood this to be another "brahmanical imperialism". but guess what the construction workers at the boston dock had their own life and their own custom and their own pride. it is not my problem that now suddenly you dont find that history suitable to your inferiority infested brain. that is your problem, not mine. your position is like some bible belt american redneck crying hoarse over east coast ivy leaguers saying oh well "why am i not on the rolls of harvard and yale" wtf. i do understand that in India the situation wasnt quite the same, i do. but for you to claim that it were these "brahmins" is outlandish. thumbs down. get an education, believe in humanism. renounce hinduism. and get some humour coaching or that bile will kill you.

Anonymous said...

your article smelled of cultivated ignorance. you know the kind where a person uses his education for the most shabbiest of purposes and that is.... not a hard guess rreally .. well its called fiction masquerading as matter of fact... by constant repition... ( a patent has already been filed in germany in the name of Josef Goebbels, if you thought about applying anyway).. oops and Goebbels is not a brahmin. sorry.

 
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