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





Why Hindus are Weak ?

16 07 2007

It is not Buddha who; as is often alleged, weakened Hindu society by his gospel of non-violence. It is the Brahmin theory of Chaturvarnya that ha.s been responsible not only for the defeat but for the decay of Hindu society.

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





Think Chaturvarnya As The Ideal Form of Society ???

16 07 2007

How can anybody who is not a congenital idiot accept Chaturvarnya as the ideal form of society ? Individually and socially it is a folly and a crime. One class and one class alone to be entitled to education and learning! One class and one class alone to be entitled to arms! One class and one class alone to trade! One class and one class alone to serve! For the Individual the consequences are obvious. Where can you find a learned man who has no means of livelihood who will not degrade his education. ? Where can you find a soldier with no education and culture who will use his arms to conserve and not to destroy ? Where can you find a merchant with nothing but the acquisitive instinct to follow who will not descend to the level of the brute ? Where can you find the servant who is not to acquire education, who is not to own arms and who is not to possess other means of livelihood to be a man as his maker intended him to be ?

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





Is caste a division of Labour ??

16 07 2007

Civilized society undoubtedly needs division of labour. But in no civilized society is division of labour accompanied by this unnatural division of labourers into watertight compartments. Caste System is not merely a division of labourers which is quite different from division of labour—it is an hierarchy in which the divisions of labourers are graded one above the other. In no other country is the division of labour accompanied by this gradation of labourers. There is also a third point of criticism against this view of the Caste System. This division of labour is not spontaneous; it is not based on natural aptitudes. Social and individual efficiency requires us to develop the capacity of an individual to the point of competency to choose and to make his own career. This principle is violated in the Caste System in so far as it involves an attempt to appoint tasks to individuals in advance, selected not on the basis of trained original capacities, but on that of the social status of the parents. Looked at from another point of view this stratification of occupations which is the result of the Caste System is positively pernicious. Industry is never static. It undergoes rapid and abrupt changes. With such changes an individual must be free to change his occupation. Without such freedom to adjust himself to changing circumstances it would be impossible for him to gain his livelihood. Now the Caste System will not allow Hindus to take to occupations where they are wanted if they do not belong to them by heredity. If a Hindu is seen to starve rather than take to new occupations not assigned to his Caste, the reason is to be found in the Caste System. By not permitting readjustment of occupations, caste becomes a direct cause of much of the unemployment we see in the country. As a form of division of labour the Caste system suffers from another serious defect. The division of labour brought about by the Caste System is not a division based on choice. Individual sentiment, individual preference has no place in it. It is based on the dogma of predestination.

SECTION IV Annihilation of Caste. Vol-I, Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Writing and Speeches





Intellectual Class

14 07 2007

It is true that intellect by itself is no virtue. It is only a means and the use of means depends upon the ends which an intellectual person pursues. An intellectual man can be a good man but he can easily be a rogue. Similarly an intellectual class may be a band of high-souled persons, ready to help, ready to emancipate erring humanity or it may easily be a gang of crooks or a body of advocates of a narrow clique from which it draws its support. You may think it a pity that the intellectual class in India is simply another name for the Brahmin caste.

SECTION XXI Annihilation of Caste. Vol-I, Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Writing and Speeches





Karl Marx Fails Here…

14 07 2007

To excite the proletariat to bring about an economic revolution, Karl Marx told them : ” You have nothing to lose except your chains.” But the artful way in which the social and religious rights are distributed among the different castes whereby some have more and some have less, makes the slogan of Karl Marx quite useless to excite the Hindus against the Caste System. Castes form a graded system of sovereignties, high and low, which are jealous of their status and which know that if a general dissolution came, some of them stand to lose more of their prestige and power than others do. You cannot, therefore, have a general mobilization of the Hindus, to use a military expression, for an attack on the Caste System.

SECTION XXI Annihilation of Caste. Vol-I, Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Writing and Speeches





Individual and Society

13 07 2007

It is true that man cannot get on with his fellows. But it is also true that he cannot do without them. He would like to have the society of his fellows on his terms. If be cannot get it on his terms then he will be ready to have it on any terms even amounting to complete surrender. This is because he cannot do without society. A caste is ever ready to take advantage of the helplessness of a man and insist upon complete conformity to its code in letter and in spirit. A caste can easily organize itself into a conspiracy to make the life of a reformer a hell and if a conspiracy is a crime I do not understand why such a nefarious act as an attempt to excommunicate a person for daring to act contrary to the rules of caste should not be made an offense punishable in law.

N.B:- Suggested to read along with this, is “Reform and Individual” which is discussed along with this quotation and deals with the same subject.

SECTION XII Annihilation of Caste. Vol-I, Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Writing and Speeches