Annihilation of Caste': Sriticism of Caste Systems
The book written by Dr. Ambedkar, “Annihilation of Caste” which is also known as the undelivered speech which was supposed to be delivered at a Conference being organized by Jat-Pat-Todak Mandal of Lahore and was cancelled because of controversial and objectionable content against the Hindu religion, but it was published by Dr. Ambedkar as a book in which he aimed at the Caste system of Indian society which is led by the Hindu religion. In this book, Dr. Ambedkar has criticized the Hindu religion, its caste system and its religious texts like the Vedas and the Shastras which are male dominant and spread hatred and suppress the females by discriminating them. For Dr. Ambedkar the Arya Samaji’s ‘chaturvarnya’ was repellent and due to this he rebelled against it. The book was controversial at that time and till today it is the same.
According to my opinion, ‘Annihilation of Caste’ is not just a speech or a book, it’s the life of Dr. Ambedkar which was full of struggles like discrimination and exploitation by upper caste Hindus just because he was from a lower caste, it has the questions he wanted to ask the upper caste Hindu’s about the caste system they follow and implement, it’s his observation and experience and moreover it’s the reality of the Indian society which can be seen in the instances and facts given by him, it’s the pain and effort Dr. Ambedkar has put in for the lower caste untouchables i.e. Dalits, not only men but also the females who were exploited, so that they get the rights and justice they deserve. Caste is not just a stamp on a individual describing his or her identity, caste can be seen as a Division of the society into the rich upper caste and poor lower caste. Therefore, we can say that the upper caste not only have all the rights to do things and make decisions for the lower caste, but they also have the Power to implement them as they want to.
In the beginning of the text, Dr. Ambedkar says that “I have questioned the authority of the Mahatma whom they revere. They hate me. To them I am snake in their Garden”, with this he wanted to say that just because I am questioning them about their caste system, they hate me and feel that I am there to attack their system and their religious views. As Dr. Ambedkar was selected as the President by the Jat-pat-Todak Mandal, He said that the Mandal will be asked to explain why it has disobeyed the Shastras in selecting the President of the Mandal, because according to the Shastras the Brahmin is appointed to be the Guru for the three Varnas and Dr. Ambedkar was from a lower varna, so how can he be a Guru.
According to Dr. Ambedkar the major cause of the mandal was to bring Social Reform and this cause always made a appeal to him, and this was the major reason why he felt that he should not refuse an opportunity of helping the cause, especially when the Mandal thought that he was the one who could help it. He considered the path of social reform, like a path to Heaven in India which is full of hurdles and difficulties and also said that social reform in India has very few friends to support and many people to criticize and the critics fall into two different classes i.e. political reformers and the socialists.
The book talks about the caste system is not just a division of labour, whereas it is a division of laborers i.e. Dr. Ambedkar felt that it was a pity that caste system had its defenders who considered caste system as another name for division of labor and accordingly people have their occupations which is needed in a civilized society and therefore there nothing wrong in the caste system. But the true reality was that it wasn’t dividing the work, whereas it was dividing the workers on the basis of caste.
According to the book Caste is a state of mind, cultivated through the laws to be followed by a devout Hindu. Dr. Ambedkar maintained that the only way to get rid of the poison, is to cut off its source of supply i.e. the Hindu scriptures.
There are many instances given in the book by Dr. Ambedkar which explain the reality of the Caste System in India like the example of the Balais which is an untouchable community, and the Hindus had put many restrictions on them, they were not even allowed to drink water from the village wells, another example was of a incident in Kavitha in Gujarat where the Hindus ordered the untouchables not to insist upon sending their children to the common village school maintained by the Government, another example was of the village Zanu in Ahmadabad, where some untouchable women of well to do families started fetching water in metal pots, but the Hindus saw it as an affront to their dignity , and assaulted the untouchable women for their impudence. With this Dr. Ambedkar asked the Hindu community a question that whether they were really fit for political power even though they didn’t allow a large part of their own people like the untouchables to use public schools, public wells, public streets and even don’t allow them to eat what they like. According to him the Social Conference was a body which mainly concerned itself with the reform of the high class Hindu families and it consisted of the high caste Hindus who did not even feel the necessity for agitating for the abolition of caste, or didn’t have the courage to do it, just because they were the makers of the caste system and also they were the ones who benefitted from it. According to me ill treating and suppressing people of another class as a matter of system, as a matter of principles and allowing the oppression and exploitation to happen which creates a division is not justified. And as we say Justice delayed is Justice denied, which is a painful truth.
According to Dr. Ambedkar the social status of an individual in the society often becomes a source of power and authority which is made clear by the sway which the Mahatmas have held over the common man. According to me, with this he wanted to say like Gandhiji was made a Mahatma and treated as God by the people, so it is possible to oppose a man but how can someone question a God whom he believes and follows. But if talk about Dr. Ambedkar today, he is also given similar importance.
Dr. Ambedkar in the book also related caste with Scientific origin i.e. heredity and eugenics. According to him if caste is eugenic, due to which inter-caste marriages are not allowed. Also he feels that if caste is eugenic then the origin of the sub castes must also be eugenic. And at last he feels that if caste is eugenic in origin then why inter-dining between castes and sub-castes alike because inter-dining cannot infect blood and therefore cannot cause improvement or deterioration of the race or caste. Therefore, this shows that caste had no scientific origin. According to Dr. Ambedkar caste system is a social system which embodies the arrogance and selfishness of a perverse section of the Hindus who were superior enough in social status to set it in fashion, and who also have the authority to force it on their inferior i.e. the lower castes.
After analyzing Dr. Ambedkar’s ‘Annihilation of Caste’, I can say that Dr. Ambedkar has put in a lot of efforts to bring a Social Reform. The instances and views presented by him explains the reality i.e. the struggles of the untouchable caused by the so called upper caste Hindus. Dr. Ambedkar has challenged Caste system in way that no one could have done, and questions and facts given by him cannot be opposed, given reasons or answers.
According to me Ambedkar has rightly said that “so long as these names continue, Hindus will continue to think of the Brahmin, Kshatriya, Vaishya, Shudra as hierarchical divisions of high and low based on birth, and to act accordingly”.
“Annihilation of Caste” is not just a book, it was a reform movement which was started by Dr. Ambedkar, and till today the goals have not been fulfilled and caste based discrimination is still present in our society. Therefore, we can say that, Yes we say that we are modern and educated people, but still we need to know that things need to be changed and serious actions need to be taken against problems which have been a part of the society from so many years and the reform movement started by Dr. Ambedkar should reach its goal, as he always wanted to bring a social reform and bringing a social change. Those who really want to know the history of evolution of caste system in India, it’s mechanism, genesis and developments should surely read this book. It is not only helpful in understanding our caste problems, but it also gives us solutions which can be used to free from caste prejudices, it has some very practical advices on the abolition of caste like inter-dining between castes and inter-caste marriages. Therefore, the book shows the true reality of Caste system in India from its inception and how this can be brought to an end.
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