Do Depressed Classes desire Temple Entry ?

15 03 2008

N. B. :- Gandhi requested Dr. Ambedkar to lend his support to Dr. Subbarayan’s Temple entry Bill and that of Ranga Iyer-when both met on 4th Feb. 1934 at Yeravada Prison. Dr. Ambedkar declined in person, and later issued a statement on 14th Feb, 1933. He outlined the impracticability of the bill, crticised it for not making Untouchability illegal and outlined why he would not prefer just temple entry-this part is reproduced here.

The main question is : Do the Depressed Classes desire Temple Entry or do they not ? This main question is viewed by the Depressed Classes by two points of view. One is the materialistic point of view. Starting from it, the Depressed Classes think that the surest way of elevation lies in education, higher employment and better ways of earning a living. Once they become well placed in the scale of social life, they would become respectable the religious outlook of the orthodox towards them is sure to undergo change, and even if it didn’t happen, it can do no injury to their material interest. Proceeding on these lines the Depressed Classes say that they will not spend their resources on such an empty things as Temple Entry. There is another reason why they do not care to fight for it. Their argument is the argument of self-respect.

Not very long ago there used to be boards on club doors and other social resorts maintained by Europeans in India, which said “Dogs and Indians” are not allowed. The temples of Hindus carry similar boards today, the only difference is that the boards on the Hindu temples practically say : “All Hindus and all animals including gods are admitted, only Untouchables are not admitted”. The situation in both cases is of parity. But Hindus never begged for admission in those places form which the Europeans in their arrogance had excluded them. Why should an Untouchable beg for admission in a place from which he has been excluded by the the arrogance of the Hindus? This is the reason of the Depressed Class man who is interested in material welfare. He is prepared to say the Hindus, “to open or not to open your temples is a question for you to consider and not for me to agitate. If you think, it is bad manners not to respect the sacredness of human personality, open your temple and be a gentleman. If you rather be a Hindu than a gentleman, then shut the doors and damn yourself for I don’t care to come.”

I found it necessary to put the argument in this form, because I want to disabuse the minds of men like Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya of their belief that the Depressed Classes are looking forward for their patronage.

The second point of view is the spiritual one. As religiously minded people, do the Depressed Classes desire temple entry or do they not ? That is the question. From the spiritual point of view, they are not indifferent to temple entry as they would be, if the material point of view alone were to prevail. But their final answer must depend upon the reply which Mahatma Gandhi and the Hindus give to the questions namely : What is the drive behind this offer of temple entry ? Is temple entry to be the final goal of the advancement in the social status of the Depressed Classes in the Hindu fold ? Or is it only the first step and if it is the first step, what is the ultimate goal ? Temple entry as a final goal, the Depressed Classes can never support. Indeed they will not only reject it, but they would then regard themselves rejected by Hindu Society and free to find their own destiny elsewhere. On the other hand, if is only to be a first step they may be inclined to support it. The position would then be analogous to what is happening in India today. All Indians have claimed dominion status for India. The actual constitution will fall short of Dominion status and many Indians will accept it. Why ? The answer is that as the goal is defined, it does not matter much if it is to be reached by steps and not in one jump. But if the British had not accepted the goal of Dominion status, no one would have accepted the partial reforms which many are now willing to accept. In the same way, if Mahatma Gandhi and the reformers were to proclaim what the goal which they have set before themselves is for the advancement of the social status of the Depressed Classes in the Hindu fold, it would be easier for the Depressed Classes to define their attitude towards Temple entry. The goal of the Depressed Classes might as well be stated here for the information and consideration of all concerned. What the Depressed Classes want is a religion,, which will give them equality of social status. To prevent any misunderstanding,I would like to elaborate the point by drawing a distinction between social evils are which are the result of secular causes and social evils which are founded upon doctrine of religion. Social evils can have no justification whatsoever in a civilised society. But nothing can be more odious and vile than that admitted social evils should be sought to be justified on the ground of religion. The Depressed Classes may not be able to overthrow inequalities to which they are being subjected. But they have made up their mind not to tolerate a religion that will lend its support to the continuance of these inequalities.

If the Hindu religion is to be their religion, then it must become a religion of Social Equality. The mere amendment of Hindu religious code by the mere inclusion in it of a provision to permit temple entry for all, cannot make it a religion of equality of social status. All that it can do is to recognize as nationals not aliens, if I may use the common terms which have become so familiar in politics. But that cannot mean that they would thereby reach a position where they would be free and equal. , without being above and below any one else, for the simple reason that the Hindu religion does not recognise the principle of equality of social status : on the other hand it fosters inequality by insisting upon grading people as Brahmins, Kshatrias, Vaishyas and Shudras, which now stand toward one another in an ascending scale of hatred and descending scale of contempt. If the Hindu Religion is to be a religion of social equality then an amendment of its code to provide temple entry is not enough. What is required is to purge it of the doctrine of chaturvarna. That is the root cause of all inequality and also the parent of the Caste system and Untouchability, which are merely forms of inequality. Unless it is done not only will the Depressed Classes reject the temple entry, they will also reject the Hindu faith. Chaturvarna and the Caste system are incompatible with the self-respect of the Depressed Classes. So long as they stand to be its cardinal doctrine, the depressed classes must continue to be looked upon as low. The Depressed Classes can say that they are Hindus only the theory of Chaturvarna and Caste system is abandoned and expunged from the Hindu shastras. Do the Mahatma and the Hindu reformers accept this as their goal and will they show the courage to work for it ? I shall look forward to their pronouncements on this issue, before I decide upon my final attitude. But whether Mahatma Gandhi and the Hindus are prepared for this or not, let it be known once and for all that nothing short of this will satisfy the Depressed Classes and make them accept temple entry. To accept temple entry and be content with it, is to temporise with evil and barter away the sacredness of human personality that dwells in them.

There is, however, one more argument which Mahatma Gandhi and the reforming Hindu may advance against the position I have taken. They may say : “acceptance by the Depressed Classes of Temple entry now, will not prevent them from agitating hereafter for the abolition of Chaturvarna and Caste. If that is the view, I like to meet the argument right at this stage so as to clinch the issue and clear the road for future developments. My reply is that it is true that the my right to agitate for the abolition of Chaturvarna and Caste system will not be lost, if I accept Temple entry now. But the question is on what side will Mahatma Gandhi be when the question is put. If he will be in the camp of my opponents, I must tell him I cant be in in camp now. If he will be in my camp he ought to be in it now.

(Almost all the Depressed Classes leaders of Dr. Ambedkar’s persuasions, endorsed the view of their leader. Srinivasan, Permtai and Malik upheld views of their leader.

Gandhi issued a statement in reply in which he stated : “I am a Hindu, not merely because I am born in the Hindu fold, but I am one by conviction and choice. There is no superiority or inferiority in Hinduism of my conception. But when Dr. Ambedkar wants to fight Varnashram itself, I cannot be in his camp, because I believe Varnashram to be an integral part of Hinduism. )

SECTION- IV Kalaram Temple entry Satryagraha, Nasik and Temple entry movement, Volume-XVII. Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Writing and Speeches

Temple entry wont make equals

15 03 2008

N.B :- This is the content of the letter written by Dr. Ambedkar to Mr. Bhaurao Gaikwad on 3rd March 1934, regarding the KalaRam Temple Entry Satyagraha-which stated on 2nd March 1930 , but whose preparation was underway for months. It started “with” the leadership of Dr. Ambedkar. His inaugural speech remained consistent with the conviction in which the Satyagraha was withdrawn. It was stopped immediately after the reciept the the said letter.

….. It is very kind of you to have asked me my views on the propriety of the Depressed Classes launching upon a Satyagraha at the Kala Ram Temple in Nasik on the coming Ram Navami Day. I have no position in saying that such a move would be quite uncalled for and should not merely be suspended but stopped altogether. This may appear strange and surprising coming as it does from one who was the author of the Satyagraha. But I am afraid to declare this change of front. I didn’t launch the temple entry movement because I wanted the Depressed Classes to become worshipers of idols which they were prevented from worshiping or because I believed temple entry would make them equal members in and an integral part of the Hindu Society. So far as this aspect of the case is concerned I would advise the Depressed Classes to insist upon a complete overhauling of Hindu Society and Hindu theology before they consent to become an integral part of Hindu Society. I started temple entry Satyagraha only because I felt that was the best way of energizing th Depressed Classes and making them conscious of their position. As I believe I have achieved that purpose I have no more use for temple entry. I want the Depressed Classes to concentrate their energy and resource on politics and education and I hope that they will realise the importance of both.

SECTION- IV Kalaram Temple entry Satryagraha, Nasik and Temple entry movement, Volume-XVII. Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Writing and Speeches

From Varna to Caste (II)- Endogamy

9 10 2007

N.B:- The accompanying table is a pain, because wordpress(free) does not support custom CSS. But we will put it as a picture for clarity.

(This) isolation among the classes is the work of Brahmanism. The principal steps taken by it was to abrogate the system of intermarriage and interdining that was prevalent among the four Varnas in olden times. This has already been discussed in an earlier section of this chapter. There is however one part of the story that remains to be told. I have said the Varna system had nothing to do with marriage. That males and females belonging to the different Varnas could marry and did marry. Law did not come in the way of inter-varna marriage. Social morality was not opposed to such marriages. Savarna marriage was neither required by law nor demanded by Society. All marriages between different Varnas irrespective of the question whether the bride was of a higher Varna than the bride-groom or whether the bride-groom was of the higher Varna and the bride of the lower Varna were valid. Indeed as Prof. Kane says the distinction between Anuloma and Pratiloma marriage was quite unknown and even the terms Anuloma and Pratiloma were not in existence. They are the creation of Brahmanism. Brahmanism put a stop to Pratiloma marriages i.e. marriages between women of a higher Varna and men of lower Varna. That was a step in the direction of closing the connection between the Varnas and creating in them an exclusive and anti-social spirit regarding one another. But while the inter-connecting gate of the Pratiloma marriage was closed the inter-connecting gate of Anuloma marriage had remained open. That was not closed. As pointed out in the section on graded inequality Anuloma marriage i.e. marriage between a male of the higher Varna and the female of the lower Varna was allowed by Brahmanism to continue. The gate of Anuloma marriage was not very respectable and was a one way gate only. still it was an interconnecting gate by which it was possible to prevent a complete isolation of the Varnas. But even here Brahmanism played what cannot but be called a dirty trick. To show how dirty the trick was it is necessary first to state the rules which prevailed for determining the status of the child. Under the rule existing from very ancient times the status of the child was determined by the Varna of the father. The Varna of the mother was quite unimportant. I he following illustrations will place the point beyond doubt:

Father’s Varna of Mother’s Varna of Child’s Varna Name father Name mother name child

1. Shantanu Kshatriya Ganga Shudra Bhishma Kshatriya


2. Shantanu Kshatriya Matsyagandha Shudra Vichitra Virya Kshatriya


3. Parashar Brahmin Matsyagandha Shudra Krishna- Brahmin

(Fisher) Dwaipayana

4. Vishwamitra Kshtriya Menaka (Apsara) Shakuntala Kshatriya

5. Yayati Kshatriya Devayani Brahmin Yadu Kshatriya

6. Yayati Kshatriya Sharmishta Asuri Druhya Kshatriya


7. Jaratkaru Brahmin Jaratkari Nag. Asita Brahmin


The rule was known as the rule of Pitra Savarnya. It would he interesting to consider the effect of this rule of Pitra Savarnya on the Anuloma and Pratiloma systems of marriage.

The effect on Pratiloma marriage would be that the children of mothers of the higher Varnas would be dragged down to the level of the lower Varnas represented by their fathers. Its effect on Anuloma marriage would be just the contrary. The children of mothers of the lower Varnas would be raised up and absorbed in the higher Varnas of their fathers.

Manu stopped Pratiloma marriages and thereby prevented the higher from being dragged to the status of the lower. However regrettable, not much damage was done by it so long as the Anuloma marriage and the rule of Pitra Savarnya continued in operation. The two together formed a very useful system. The Anuloma marriage maintained the inter-connection and the Pitra Savarnya rule made the higher classes quite composite in their make up. For they could not but help to he drawn from mothers of different Varnas. Brahmanism did not want to keep this gate of intercommunication between the Varnas open. It was bent on closing it. But it did it in a manner which is disreputable.

The straight and honourable way was to stop Anuloma marriage. But Brahmanism did not do that. It allowed the system of Anuloma marriage to continue. What it did was to alter the rule of determining the status of the child. It replaced the rule of Pitra Savarnya by the rule of Matra Savarnya by which the status of the child came to be determined by the status of the mother. By this change marriage ceased to be that means of intersocial communication which it principally is. It relieved men of the higher Varna from the responsibility to their children simply because they were born of a mother of lower Varna. It made Anuloma marriage mere matter of sex. a humiliation and insult to the lower Varnas and a privilege to the higher classes to lawfully commit prostitution with women of the lower classes. And from a larger social point of view it brought the complete isolation among the Varnas which has been the bane of Hindu Society.

CHAPTER-7 The Triumph of Brahmanism : Regicide or the birth of Counter-Revolution, part-III. Revolution and Counter-Revolution in Ancient India, Volume-III. Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Writing and Speeches

From Varna to Caste (I)- Occupational Fixity

9 10 2007

N.B:- The length of the text quoted is approximately 2 & 1/2 pages of MS document in font size 12 and line spacing 1.0. But It includes the complete ‘Story’.

When I say that Brahmanism converted Varna into Caste what I mean is that it made status and occupation hereditary.

How was this transformation effected? As I said there are no foot prints left of the steps taken by Brahmanism to accomplish this change but there are landmarks which serve to give us a clear view of how the deed came to be done.

The change was accomplished by stages. In the transformation of Varna into Caste three stages are quite well marked. The first stage was the stage in which the duration of Varna i.e. of status and occupation of a person was for a prescribed period of time only. The second stage was a stage in which the status and occupation involved the Varna of a person ensured during lifetime only. The third stage was a stage in which the status and occupation of the Varna became hereditary. To use legal language the Estate conferred by Varna was at the beginning an Estate for a term only. Thereafter it became a life Estate and finally it became an Estate of inheritance which is tantamount to saying that Varna became Caste. That these are the stages by which Varna was converted into Caste seems to have ample support from tradition as recorded in the religious literature. There is no reason why this tradition should not be accepted as embodying some thing that is quite genuine. According to this tradition, the task of determining Varna of a person was effected by a body of officers called Manu and Sapta Rishis. From the mass of people Manu selected those who were fit to be Kshatriyas and Vaishas and the Sapta Rishis selected those who were fit to be Brahmanas. After this selection was made by Manu and Sapta Rishis for being Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishas, the rest that were not selected were called Shudras. The Varna arrangement so determined lasts for one Yug i.e. a period of four years. Every fourth year a new body of officers known by the same designation Manu and Sapta Rishi were appointed for making a new selection. It happened that last time some of those who were left to be fit only for being Shudras were selected for being Brahmins, Kshatriyas and Vaishyas while some of those who were, elected last time for being Brahmins, Kshatriyas and Vaishyas were left as being fit only of being Shudras. Thus the personnel of the Varna changed. It was a sort of a periodical shuffling and selection of men to take up according to their mental and physical aptitudes and occupations which were essential to the life of the community. The time when the reshuffling of the Varnas took place was called Manwantar which etymologically means change of Varna made by Manu. The word Manwantar also means the period for which the Varna of an individual was fixed. The word Manwantar is very rich in its contents and expresses the essential elements of the Varna system which were two. First it shows that Varna was determined by an independent body of people called Manu and Saptarshi. Secondly it shows that the Varna was for a period after which a change was made by Manu . According to ancient tradition as embodied in the Puranas the period for which the Varna of a person was fixed by Manu and Saptarshi was a period of four years and was called Yug. At the end of the period of four years there occured the Manwantar whereby every fourth year the list was revised. Under the revision some changed their old Varna, some retained it, some lost it and some gained it.

The original system seems to have in contemplation the determination of the Varna of adults. It was not based on prior training or close scrutiny of bias and aptitude. Manu and Saptarshi was a sort of a Board of Interview which determined the Varna of a person from how he struck them at the interview. The determination of the Varna was done in a rough and tumble manner. This system seems to have gone into abeyance. A new system grew up in its place. It was known as the Gurukul system. The Gurukul was a school maintained by a Guru (teacher) also called Acharya (learned man). All children went to this Gurukul for their education. The period of education extended for twelve years. The child while at Gurukul was known as Bramhachari. After the period of education was over there was the Upanayan ceremony performed at the Gurukul by the Acharya. The Upanayan ceremony was the most important ceremony. It was a ceremony at which the Acharya determined the Varna of the student and sent him out in the world to perform the duties of that Varna. Upanayan by the Acharyas was the new method of determining Varna which came into vogue in place of method of determination by Manu and Saptarshi. The new method was undoubtedly superior to the old method. It retained the true feature of the old method namely that the Varna should be determined by a disinterested and independent body. But it added a new feature namely training as a pre-requisite for assignment of Varna. On the ground that training alone developes individual in the make up of a person and the only safe way to determine the Varna of a person is to know his individuality, the addition of this new feature was undoubtedly a great improvement.

With the introduction of the Acharya Gurukul system, the duration of the Varna came to be altered. Varna instead of being Varna for a period became Varna for life. But it was not hereditary.

Evidently Brahmanism was dissatisfied with this system. The reason for dissatisfaction was quite obvious. Under the system as prevalent there was every chance of the Acharya declaring the child of a Brahmin as fit only to be a Shudra. Brahmanism was naturally most anxious to avoid this result. It wanted the Varna to be hereditary. Only by making the Varna hereditary could it save the children of the Brahmins from being declared Shudra. To achieve this Brahmanism proceeded in the most audacious manner one can think of.

Brahmanism made three most radical changes in the system of determing the Varna of the child. In the first place the system of Gurukul as the place where training to the child was given and its Varna was determined by the Guru at the end of the period of training was abolished. Manu is quite aware of the Gurukul and refers to Guruvas i.e. training and residence in the Gurukul under the Guru. But does not refer to it at all in connection with the Upanayan. He abolishes the Guru as an authority competent to perform Upanayan by omitting to make even the remotest reference to him in connection with Upanayan. In place of the Guru Manu allows the Upanayan of the child to be performed by its father at home. Secondly Upanayan was made into a Sanskara i.e. a sacrament. In olden times Upanayan was like a convocation ceremony held by the Guru to confer degrees obtained by students in his Gurukul in which certificates of proficiency in the duties of a particular Varna were granted. In Manu’s law that Upanayan was a complete change in the meaning and purpose of this most important institution. Thirdly the relation of training to Upanayan was totally reversed. In the olden system training came before Upanayan.

Under the Brahmanism Upanayan came before training. Manu directs that a child be sent to the Guru for training but that is after Upanayan i.e. after his Varna is determined by his father.

The principal change made by Brahmanism was the transfer of authority from the Guru to the father in the matter of performing Upanayan. The result was that the father having the right to perform the Upanayan of his child gave his own Varna to the child and thus made it hereditory. It is by divesting the Guru of his authority to determine the Varna and vesting it in the father that Brahmanism ultimately converted Varna into Caste.

Such is the story of the transformation of Varna into Caste. The story of the transition from one to the other is of course reconstructed. For the reasons already given it may not be quite as accurate as one would wish it to be in all its details. But I have no doubt that the stages and the ways by which Varna ceased to exist and caste came into being must be some such as have been suggested in the foregoing discussion of the subject.

CHAPTER-7 The Triumph of Brahmanism : Regicide or the birth of Counter-Revolution, part-II & III. Revolution and Counter-Revolution in Ancient India, Volume-III. Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Writing and Speeches

Moral Equality

4 08 2007

” Why is Equality essential? The best exposition of the subject is by Prof. Beard in his essay on ‘ Freedom in Political Thought ‘ and I shall do no more than quote him. Says Prof. Beard: β€”

β€œ…It(moral equality) is asserted against inequalities in physical strength, talents, industry, and wealth. It denied that superior physical strength has a moral right to kill, eat, or oppress human beings merely because it is superior. To talents and wealth, the ideal of moral equality makes a similar denial of right. And indeed few can imagine themselves to have superior physical strength, talents and wealth will withhold from inferiors all moral rights. In such circumstances government and wealth would go to superior physical strength; while virtue and talents would serve the brute man, as accomplished Greek slaves served the whims, passions and desires to Roman conquerors. When the last bitter word of criticism has been uttered against the ideal of moral equality, there remains something in it which all, except things, must accept and in practice do accept, despite their sheers and protests. A society without any respect for human personalities is a band of robbers.”

CHAPTER-1, The Hindu Social Order: It’s Essential Principles, India and The Pre-requisites of Communism

Land of Hero-worship

16 07 2007

India is still par excellence the land of idolatry. There is idolatry in religion, there is idolatry in politics. Heroes and hero-worship is a hard if unfortunate, fact in India’s political life.

SECTION IX, Ranade, Gandhi and Jinnah. Vol-I, Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Writing and Speeches

Beware of Great Men

16 07 2007

I admit that we ought to be more cautious in our worship of great men. For in this country we have perhaps arrived at such a stage when alongside the notice boards saying ” beware of pickpockets ” we need to have notice boards saying ” beware of great men “.

SECTION IX, Ranade, Gandhi and Jinnah. Vol-I, Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Writing and Speeches