APPOLOGY FOR HINDU UNTOUCHABILITY
The following is an apology forwarded by ‘Navya Shastra Organisation’ to the untouchables (avarnas) of India, as I found in the Hindu Press International (HPI), December 21, 2006. Navya Shastra Organization Apologizes for Untouchability - http://www.shastras.org/ www.shastras.org
Hindu reform organization, has issued an apology to the Dalit communities of India. The organization issued the apology after consulting with Hindu activists and its own Dalit members. It reads:We, at Navya Shastra, deeply regret and apologize for the atrocities committed on the sons and daughters of the depressed communities of India, including the tribals, the "untouchables" and all of the castes deemed as low. We shamefully acknowledge that the ideals of varna and its practical manifestation in castes (jatis), promoted and encouraged the notions of inequality, lesser and greater, high and low, superior and inferior among human beings. An ideal that does not aspire for equality of human beings is not worthy of being an ideal. Caste and varna have relegated many to a degradingly low status. This was a divisive, inhumane and a ruinous social construct. Navya Shastra fully recognizes this and rejects unequivocally as heinous and despicable varna and caste together with all Shastras and theories that endorse them or support the unjust and demeaning social hierarchy that these imposed on the Indian society. Navya Shastra understands that all Hindus cannot be equals when such theories are still amidst us. We ask for forgiveness for what our forefathers did in the past to directly and indirectly contribute to any and all indignities heaped by one human being upon another in the name of Dharma and God, and which some among us continue to do even in this enlightened era. The depressed and lowest castes have been the keepers and protectors of our oldest and most ancient traditions and wisdom. They have kept in practice the traditions that have become foundational to what we call "mainstream" Hinduism today. Some of the tribal languages, spoken even today, have provided the substratum for many of the spoken and classical languages of India. Most of our mainstream indigenous medicinal, agricultural, craftsmanship and other knowledge systems owe their origins to the knowledge and practices that have been propagated and retained within these castes over millennia. The folk performing arts were and are the main sources of input into the classical and popular art forms. We want to celebrate and fete all these traditions on this day, and pay homage to them. These traditions form the very foundation on which the Indian civilization stands today.
Navya Shastra(NSO), apparetnly functions in the west as a neo-Hindu organization is trying to come clear off an age-old Hindu uppercaste legacy, to denigrate India’s majority as ‘untouchables’. As the first of this kind, the apology deserves attention and the offer should stand until the untouchables of India find this proposed change of heart felt in their real life.
The following are some of the concerns in this regard:
NSO is apparently an academic reformation waged on the electronic and print media. How can it bring a change of heart in those who have no access to such gadgets and opportunities? Both the perpetrators and the victims mostly live in Indian villages where such gadgets have little access. Even if they have access, how can the NSO's academic appology-call make a change in their thinking?
The following recent news-clips are proof that the uppercaste's discriminations against Dalits (untouchables) in India are still live.
Educated Dalits Speaking Out ( http://www.rediff.com/news/2006/dec/06spec.htm):
Dalits All Set To Enter Orissa Temple (http://www.ibnlive.com/news/dalits-all-set-to-enter-orissa-temple/28195-3.html)
Orissa High Court Rules for Dalits http://www.newindpress.com/NewsItems.asp?ID=IEQ20061205115441&Page=Q&Title=ORISSA&Topic=0
Dalit Statue Attack Sparks Hindu Riots in Mumbai (today.reuters.co.uk)
Dalits Threaten to Convert After Being Denied Temple Entry (http://www.dnaindia.com/report.asp?NewsID=1061243)
If Navya Sastra Organisation should be taken seriously, then their reforms should show results. For that they should have foot soldiers to carry out their reforms, where the discrimination is still live and kicking: in the minds of millions of Indians.