Skip to main content

Gandhiji quoted as saying his anti-untouchability view has little space for inter-dining with "lower" castes

By Our Representative
A senior activist close to Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) leader Medha Patkar has defended top Booker prize winning novelist Arundhati Roy’s controversial utterance on Gandhiji that “his doctrine of nonviolence was based on an acceptance of the most brutal social hierarchy the world has ever known, the caste system.” Surprised at the police seeking video footage and transcript of Roy’s Mahatma Ayyankali memorial lecture at the Kerala University on July 17, Nandini K Oza in a recent blog quotes from available sources to “prove” that Gandhiji indeed believed in “removal of untouchability within the caste system.”
Pointing out Roy’s entire speech and video have been posted on the website of Navayana, an anti-caste publisher, and there is no secret about it, Oza, who has translated what all Gandhiji believed straight from Gujarati, insists, “To bring to light Gandhiji’s belief in the caste system cannot be a crime to be investigated by police or objected to. There can only be a debate on the issue.” Oza particularly extensively cites references from Gandhiji’s personal secretary Mahadev Desai’s diary.
Mahadev Desai’s diary quotes Gandhiji in Pune at a mammoth sabha in 1921 as saying: “I request the non-Brahmins that they should not spread any lies in my name… They are projecting that I deny varnashram (caste system). I say that is a lie. All kinds of falsehood go on in my name. I am a staunch Hindu vaishnav… I understand the faults in my shastras, but I am a staunch believer of varnashram…”
Gandhiji praises Brahmins in the following words, “I want to tell the Hindus that for all the sacrifice dharma, yagna dharma, we are grateful to only the Brahmins… no one else in this world has done the kind of sacrifice that Brahmins have done… If there is any dirt in milk you can see the same immediately, but dirt cannot be seen in that which is already dirty. Non-Brahmins have kept such high values in respect to Brahmins that their faults can be seen immediately…the kind of penance that Brahmins have done – I have seen no community has done in any other country…”
On the other hand, at another place, Gandhiji advises the scavengers, protesting against poor houses offered to them by a municipal government: “You have received bad houses, these get waterlogged… I would like to tell you that crores of others are worse off than you…You get eight and a half rupees, others do not get even that much…thinking of them we must keep quiet… We must be satisfied that God has given us this much…”
Gandhiji speech at the Asprushyata Nivaran Parishad (untouchability removal convention) in 1924 has the following reference: “…I believe in varnashram (caste system), and I believe in birth and deeds in relation to that… I have never said that roti (chapatti/food) and beti (daughter) vyavhar ( marriage relations) should be maintained with antyajano ( people of lower caste); however, I do keep roti vyavhar, I have no scope of beti vyavhar …” In 1933, Gandhiji added, “Removal of untouchability does not include inter-dining unless untouchables are excluded on the ground of their being born so, when others are not.”
Further: “The fault that should be removed is that of untouchability. But that does not include roti vyavhar… Let that much control that exists in rotibeti vyavhar continue. That there will invariably be a downfall by eating with someone is not always true… I do not desire that my son eats anything and anywhere because food has an impact on the soul… May God give us such knowledge that untochability is removed within a second…”
After the visit to Rajgopalachari’s ashram, while addressing the village people, Gandhji explained the objectives of the Ashram as follows: “Rajgopalachari, his friends and I believe that untouchability is a sin and so untouchability has been banned in the Ashram. But do not imitate his deeds improperly. Through his deeds he wishes to tell you only that much that you should not consider anyone untouchable. Not that you should keep roti beti vyavhara with the untouchables.”
Gandhiji is also quoted as saying: “Yes, they do follow roti vyavhar in the Asharam but that is because it is not possible to follow the rule of not eating roti together… You are gruhasthi (people with families), you have the right to follow the rules of eating and marriage that arise due to varna bhed (difference in caste). The only thing you need to do is to not consider untouchables as untouchable and they should not be looked down upon – that is all you need to do…”

Comments

ALSO READ

India failing to dictate diplomatic preferences of Nepal, Bhutan, is unfairly blaming Beijing: Chinese daily

By Our Representative
In a sharply-worded editorial, a top Chinese media outfit, described by BBC as state-run, has said, commenting on India's foreign relations with its neighbours, that "speculation and suspicion" is "certainly not diplomacy". Published in "China Daily", the largest circulating English Monday-to-Saturday newspaper with branches across the world, the editorial notes (September 20) that "several recent events" in Nepal and Bhutan, are "gnawing worrywarts in New Delhi".
The editorial -- which comes close on the heels of a sharp critique of India's foreign policy in a state-supported Russian media outfit, Sputnik International, calling India's anti-Pak diplomacy as having "gone awry" following Prime Minister Narendra Modi's "half-baked" push for anti-terror drill down "others' throat" -- says, the " worrywarts" include "Nepalese troops taking part in a joint…

Ahmedabad, GIFT, Adani city get 1.68 lakh acre ft Narmada water; Gujarat's rural areas just 4.27 AF: Letter to CM

Counterview Desk
Well-known farmer rights leader Sagar Rabari, in an open letter to Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani, has demanded a transparent account of Narmada water, saying, while he has received a "routine reply" from him to his earlier, the data emerging from his RTI application show huge quantity of water being directed to Ahmedabad, the 10 km stretch of Sabarmati for the Ahmedabad riverfront, and nearby elite urban areas, including the Adanis' Shantigram township and GIFT City.

Accused of being RSS plant, Modi man, Hyderabad Urdu varsity chancellor asks President to probe "irregularities"

Counterview Desk
Refused entry in the Maulana Azad National Urdu University (MANUU), the central university's newly appointed chancellor Firoz Bakht Ahmed, who claims to be grand nephew of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, has, in a letter to the President of India, said that MANUU vice-chancellor (V-C) Dr Aslam Parvaiz has accused him of being an RSS plant and a Modi man, whose sole aim is to "interfere in the working of the university".

17 lakh Jharkhand elderly, widows, differently abled do not receive pension: Public hearing told, aadhaar is a hurdle

By Our Representative
Hundreds of elderly, widows, single women and differently-abled persons from different districts of Jharkhand gathered near the Raj Bhavan in Ranchi for a public hearing organized by the Jharkhand Right to Food Campaign and Pension Parishad demanding the right to universal social security pensions ahead of World Elderly Day on October 1.

Ethnocide in Caribbean island filmed following award winning docufilm on Jamaica's anti-colonial Indian roots

International awards winner for Best Feature Documentary Linda A├»nouche for “Dreadlocks Story” (2014), which shows how Indians are entangled in the Jamaican society, and how Hinduism was a source of inspiration for the Rastafari movement, is all set to release her new documentary, “Marooned in the Caribbean”, which aims at documenting the awful desolating living conditions that Raizal people, the native inhabitants of San Andres Archipelago, endure.
Sons of slaves, these islanders have fallen prey to what the Colombian government calls Colombianization. “It’s a process”, according to her, “which kills the Raizal culture; it’s the killing of the Raizal soul. Colombianization subjugates Afro-descendants of San Andres to an ethnocide.”

Explorer, director and producer, Linda Aïnouche writes exclusively for Counterview: ***
Nobody escapes from blood and thunder in Colombia, and definitely not in the archipelago of San Andres, situated closer to Managua and Kingston than Bogota. The Raizal p…

India to deport Rohingya refugees, as the world moves towards prosecuting Myanmar for genocide

By Tapan Bose*
Seven Rohingya Muslims refugees who were held at a detention centre in Assam since 2012 will be handed over to Myanmar. The Supreme Court of India has refused to stop their deportation. The new Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gagoi said, "We are not inclined to interfere on the decision taken".

An elite Kutir set up by Modi far from the "madding" crowd: This Gandhi museum is formal, unapproachable

By Rajiv Shah
Have you ever heard of a Gandhi museum, sough to be projected as the “largest” on the Mahatma, yet totally inaccessible, in sharp contrast to Ahmedabad’s humble, approachable and unassuming Gandhi Ashram on the banks of Sabarmati, set up by the Mahatma during the heydays of the freedom movement? It exists about 30 kilometres away, its idea was conceived by none other than a person who has today become even more inaccessible than he ever was: Narendra Modi, India's Prime Minister.

Gujarat BJP MLAs, youth leader "incited" attack on North Indians: Cong releases video

Counterview Desk
Senior Gujarat Congress leader Shaktisinh Gohil, currently in charge of Bihar and national spokesperson, All-India Congress Committee, has sent a legal notice to chief minister Vijay Rupani threatening criminal case and civil defamation suit for accusing him with "baseless statement" that he was responsible for attacks on north Indians in Gujarat.

History less known: Kasturba's role as an independent woman and a freedom fighter in her own right

By Nandini Oza*
Even the most deserving of women do not find a place that equals their worth in history. Kasturba is one such woman whose contribution to India’s struggle for freedom has been exemplary, and yet, it has not received the recognition it deserves. Kastur Makhanji Kapadia was born in the year 1869, the same year and in the same town of Porbandar in Gujarat as Gandhiji. In fact she was older than Gandhiji by a few months.

Poor response to tenders for Gujarat's bid for the world's tallest statue, no international firm shows interest

By Our Representative
The Gujarat government’s claim that its decision to build the world’s highest statue in the world, in the memory of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, would attract “tremendous” response top international construction companies, has gone phut. The state government floated international tenders in August to build the statue, which is slated to be 182-metres high. Despite the “international” character of the tenders and big claims, well-informed Sachivalaya sources close to Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi say, “not one international firm has come up to offer to carry out the construction activity.”