The Banality of Brahminist Evil
by Ankur Betageri
The Brahminists today are in a situation that Adolf Eichmann, the SS Lieutenant Colonel who organized the Holocaust was in, after the defeat of the Axis Powers. The Brahminists feel that they are a new generation; they didn’t start the varna system, they didn’t claim to be superior, they didn’t want to discriminate and they don’t want to be blamed, or asked to feel guilty for, the inhuman discrimination, genocide and brutalization of Dalits which continues to this day. They feel all this was thrust upon them, and because both the sense of superiority as well as the blame for killing doesn’t really hurt them, they don’t want anything to change.
The Brahminists don’t want to let go of the good fortune of being considered superior without having done anything to merit it. They think this sense of superiority is a legacy that they have inherited from their ancestors. “There is a varna hierarchy, let us respect that,” they say, “it is in fact our tradition, everything that is precious and dear to us in our civilization depends on us saving it.” This is the line that most moderate Gandhian Brahminists take. “No, there should be no untouchability – that’s inhuman, but varna hierarchy, well, that’s our tradition. Since we are all ‘Hindus’ we should do everything we could to save it.”
If this is how the ‘moderate’ Brahminists think the thinking of extremist Brahminists has a fascist undertone; ‘Fascist’, clearly a description that they are all secretly proud of. “Some people are criticizing us—let them criticize. They are doing it because they are jealous of our natural superiority and our superior cultural heritage. We are the ones who built this Hindu civilization, we have a right to rule it and treat the lesser mortals the way we like,” they say. “Name one society in the past which had equality. Everything has been going downhill in the modern world-societies after the French Revolution. There is no equality; all this talk of equality is pure bunk!” This is how the Brahminists think as a community, which is why it is described as ‘communal’.
But if you single out a Brahminist and question him about his primitive ideas and prejudices, that’s when he gets uncomfortable. He does not like to be branded backward, nor does he like to feel guilty about his prejudices and his condoning of crimes by members of his community. So he immediately adopts Eichmann’s bureaucratic stance, he tries to disappear into an ‘eternal’ system, he wants no accountability. “Yes, what I am doing or have done may be evil; maybe I discriminate and look down upon the ‘lower’ castes and treat them with contempt, but that’s not MY mistake! I am just doing what I am supposed to do; I am just following the tradition, and yes it is my duty to respect and safeguard my tradition.” He never allows himself to be blamed, or held accountable, yet he continues to claim superiority, continues to discriminate, and continues to condone the crimes, sometimes indulging in them himself.
This is what constitutes the banality of Brahminical evil; it is bureaucratic, enforced by tradition, and therefore natural. It is when you want the bureaucracy of discrimination and religious tradition torn down that the Brahminists resist – because it their culture and tradition, and it is their duty to protect and safeguard it.
Why is racism the norm in India today? Why is it okay to talk about the Dalits as “those people”? What is the ideology which normalizes and validates a racist view of the Indian society? The ideology is varna ideology or Brahminism, an ideology that is imposed on the whole of the Indian past, as if, all the texts – religious, legal, economic, scientific – support and validate this ideology.
Look at the Vedas, they have always been cited as the authority. Veda vakya, the word of the Vedas, is that whose authority can’t be questioned. Whenever the varna system has been questioned the Vedic verses have been cited as validating and sanctioning the hierarchical division of the Hindu society. Yet, when we look at the only verse in the Rig Veda, the Purusha Sukta, which talks about the Varna system it becomes very clear that in language and content it is completely different from the other verses of the Rig Veda; its language is modern and there is clear scholarly consensus that it was added just before the beginning of the Brahmana period (called the Mantra period) to give a position of power and authority to the Brahmins. Though this is something that all the Vedic scholars and scholars of ancient Indian history know it is definitely not common knowledge.
A google search for example will give you a very ideologically twisted version of both ancient history and the genesis of the Varna system. Why is this? Why does the internet not reflect historical and vedic scholarship? Why is it that we are being fed this Hindutva version of history? Why is it that everyone has heard about the Vedas yet no-one is sure what they are actually about? What does this mean? This simply means that the reality of ancient Indian history and scriptures have been made completely inaccessible to the lay person.
Real history and real scriptures have been made to disappear, and an ideological fantasy, a fantasy of the golden Indian past, has been installed so as to validate and empower the dominant discourse of racism and Brahminist supremacy – which is what Brahminism is all about. Brahminism, always carefully hidden under the empty and meaningless rubric “Hinduism”, is not a “religion”; it is a political and social ideology which naturalizes and normalizes racism. An average Hindu could be incredibly racist, and yet his racism could be seen as a sign of his pedigree, cultural embeddedness and Hindu pride. This is how something obnoxious and sick is transformed into something beautiful and admirable. And this will go on as long as truth is hidden by myth and ideology.
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