National Hindu Students Forum (UK)

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Caste within the Single Equality Bill 2010

By Chirag Patel
Current Affairs Officer

The Single Equality Bill proposed to the government has created many concerns amongst the Hindu community due to the fact that some lobby groups with vested 'anti Hindu' agenda are pressing to include caste discrimination within the bill. This is due to the fact that references used by these groups are targeted at Hindus and Hindu scriptures.

NHSF (UK) firmly believes that the Bill in its present format is sufficient to deal with all types of discrimination, including caste. Any form of discrimination is frowned upon by Hindu Dharma and such views are also mirrored by NHSF (UK). The opposition to the caste amendment is not about inequality, but setting the record straight about Hindus and the principles followed within Hindu Dharma. NHSF (UK) would like to clarify the inaccuracies and misconceptions which are being spread against our Dharma by the lobby groups, as it should be the duty of every organisation to present to the general public the truth, and only the truth.

One such misrepresentation to mention is the story of Eklavya in the Mahabharata epic.

It was stated in a letter by Castewatch UK that "This brutal mistreatment of young Dalit children have been in existence from pre-historic times e.g. "The story from Mahabharata when a Dalit pupil called Eklavaya acquired fighting skills that no higher caste person could match. Eklavaya's martial abilities, competence and fighting skills were brutally taken away from him by a higher caste teacher by amputating his body part." The situation in schools in India is no different today and newspapers are full of atrocities and humiliation of young Dalits in schools and universities."

Hindu Interpretation

Eklavya cut off his thumb as Guru Dakshina for his teacher, Dronacharya. 'Guru Dakshina' translates to mean 'honorary voluntary offerings to the one who imparts knowledge and who is a guide and philosopher'. With this in light, Dronacharya had asked of his pupil for his greatest possession as Dakshina. Taking that to its full extent, Eklavya cut off his right thumb, as for him that was his greatest possession. Eklavya was a forest dweller with high archery skills. Even today this skill is found amongst those who live in the forest. The only gold medal won by India in recent history of field sports was in archery by a forest dweller. There are many incidents cited in the epic Ramayana where Lord Rama has raised a huge army of forest dwellers and all common citizens to defeat the evil Ravana. Hence, Eklavya cannot be defined as Dalit.

Misrepresentation of the Brahmin community

Some lobbyists also claim that you can only be born a Brahmin and they falsely allege that Hindu organisations and temples are run by those from higher castes. They have also stated that the Hindu Varna (management of society) system does not have four castes but five, the fifth being untouchables. These allegations are completely false.

Hindu Scriptures say that you cannot be born a Brahmin as you can only attain this status through character, good actions and gaining knowledge and not by birth. This view is supported in the Bhagavad Gita Chapter 18, Verse 41 which states "The fourfold varnashram (misinterpreted as caste system) has been created by Me (the Almighty as Krishna) according to the differentiation of Guna (attributes) and Karma (actions)". In fact several of the UK's prominent spiritual and community leaders can be regarded as Brahmins for the selfless service they give and the knowledge they impart. Such examples can be found all over the UK in temples and organisations. There are over 250 Hindu Temples in the UK, and to say that they are all run by high castes is not only untrue, but is evidence of mischief by lobbyists against Hindus and Dharma.

A Director of Voice of Dalit International (VoDI, one of the lobby groups) has made some very objectionable remarks about Hindu Dharma.

He has said that "Hinduism is a political strategy of Brahmins; all the scriptures are written in favour of them." This is clearly not the case; the equivalent of this would be to say that Christianity is the political strategy of Vicars. It is not appropriate for a body, which claims it is 'not Anti-Hindu' to make such a baseless statement. He also goes on to compare Brahminism to Nazism. It is quite clear that since Brahmins (scholars by merit) are an integral part of Hindu Dharma, his views are an indication of the 'anti-Hindu' agenda of VoDI and its allies. These are quite serious and intentional defamations.

Hindu Dharma is Sanatan (universal, tolerant, inclusive, plural), one without a beginning or an end and has survived because it is forever reforming. This shows that it is a logical, natural and scientific way of life. It has the power and capacity to reform and reject any of the principles that were found to be non-conducive to social living, just as in science theories propounded by Newton or Einstein are continuously experimented upon, challenged and upgraded. For example Manusmriti, which is not a Scripture and has been used by anti-Hindu caste lobbyists as a tool to degrade Hindu Dharma with, has been reformed many times.

Hindu Scriptures do not sanction any form of discrimination including caste. In fact the Rig Veda, (5.60.5) which is considered the oldest Hindu Scripture, states, "In eyes of the Lord, no one is big, no one is small; all are alike; all are recipient of Godly love and blessing for prosperity". Also Mahabharata, Shanti Parva, 188 "There is no superior caste. The Universe is the work of the Immense Being. The beings created by Him were only divided into categories (sections or divisions) according to their aptitude."

The Varna Vyavastha - Management of society was put in place to create a better functioning of society. It can be compared to the functioning of a body, placing the most knowledgeable and spiritually aware members of the society as the brain of a body; warriors to protect society as strong arms; businessmen to sustain economy as abdomen and digestive system; servicemen as strong feet of the body. Without any of the above parts the body is rendered disabled. So how does discriminating between these individual parts of a body be conducive to proper functioning of the whole body? This exposes the malicious intentions of the 'Anti-Hindu' lobby groups.

NHSF (UK) endorses the fact finding reports of Hindu Council UK (HCUK) and Hindu Forum of Britain (HFB) on caste as true and in-depth research and stands by them. The researches have been accepted by the government; the solicitor-general during the sitting at the House of Commons on June 11th 2009 said, "The Hindu Forum of Britain and Hindu Council are the two largest and the best we could do in terms of representative organisations in that field. They were, and to this day remain, totally against caste legislation."
It is clear from all this that the lobbyists have made the issue of caste simply a matter of business, that justifies their propaganda against Hindus.

It is even more interesting to learn that in an email dated 2nd December 2009 received by NHSF(UK), Robin Greenwood of Christian Aid states, "Christian Aid does not support and has not supported Voice of Dalit International and has consistently requested that the organisation (VoDI) not to associate itself with us." This is clear evidence to prove that previous claims of VoDI that it has strong support from Christian Aid are false.

Hindu Dharma does not approve of caste discrimination and NHSF(UK) reject any claim that British Hindus practice it here in the UK as evidence has been presented by HFB and HCUK.

There are over 500 Hindu organisations serving Hindus in Britain, and NHSF(UK) and its members are in contact with many of them and have not come across such an alleged practice, or have any evidence to show it or prove it.

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