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Archives for : July2018

India and Fascinating Manu

It is easy to see the linkages between Manu, Nietzsche, Hitler and the worldview of Hindutva supremacism

Manu and his ‘magnum opus’ Manusmriti keeps hogging headlines in the 21st century as well.

Thanks to the fascination it still holds among the Hindutva supremacists of various kinds even around seventy years after the promulgation of Constitution, which in the words of Dr Ambedkar, had “ended the rule by Manu”.

The latest to join the ‘mission glorification’ of Manusmritihappens to be another stalwart from the Hindutva brigade, called Sambhaji Bhide, the leader of Shivpratishthan Sangathan, who also happens to be an accused in the Bhima Koregaon case. Addressing his followers known as dharkaris (believers of violence) – as opposed to varkaris(who go to Pandharpur from Pune on foot), he exhorted them to disseminate Hindu religion and form Hindu Nation. He also added how ‘Manusmriti was superior to the teachings of saints Dnyaneshwar and Tukaram’. 

Looking at the sensitive nature of his speech before dharkaris, which extolled Manusmriti and in an indirect way humiliated the great saints of Bhakti movement, demands have been raised to ‘arrest him’ and as usual, the case government has formally promised to look into the case. 

Perhaps, it is a foregone conclusion what will happen to this particular case. 

The importance of Sambhaji Bhide can be seen from the fact that he is considered a ‘guru’ of PM Narendra Modi and a ‘mentor‘ of Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis.

Anyway, fascination for Manusmritiextends across the Sangh Parivar.

It was only last year (2017) that a leading ideologue of the RSS Indresh Kumar had participated in a programme held merely 15 days before the 90-year celebrations of Mahad Satyagrah in Jaipur and showered fulsome praise on Manu and Manusmriti.

Mahad Satyagrah (December 25, 1927) is considered a historic juncture in Dalit movement, when Dr Ambedkar had symbolically burnt Manusmritiin a massive public programme in the presence of thousands of people unleashing an all-out attack against Manusmritifor its anti-human core, which denied any rights to the shudras, atishudrasand women. 

Coming back to the public meeting held in Jaipur, one can note that the theme of the meeting held under the auspices of some Chanakya Gana Samitywas ‘Adi Purush Manu ko Pehchanein, Manusmriti ko Janein’(Know Adipurush Manu, Understand Manu Smriti) and the invitation described Manusmritias mainly ‘opposed to caste discrimination and caste system’. In his detailed speech, Indresh Kumar told the audience that Manu was opposed not only to the caste system, but inequality as well, and historians of yore have presented a ‘wrong/confusing’ picture of Manu before the masses ‘under pressure’. He also called Manu the first jurist of the world in the field of social harmony and social justice.

The significance of open invocation of Manu by a senior RSS functionary in Jaipur was not lost on people, as it happens to be the only city in India, where a statue of Manu has been installed in court premises around two decades back when another Sangh veteran Bhairon Singh Shekhawat happened to be the chief minister of the state. 

No doubt, the move to legitimise Manu or presenting him in a new light is not restricted merely to building statues, and has taken many forms. 

Perhaps few people would remember how Uma Bharati’s (then a senior leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party) Madhya Pradesh government promulgated an ordinance for banning cow slaughter with an official statement which extolled the virtues of Manusmriti. ( Janurary 2005) It said: 

Manusmriti ranks the slaughterer of cow as predator and prescribes hard punishment for him’. 

It was for the first time in the legal history of independent India that a law was being justified for being in tune with Manusmriti. It had no qualms in declaring its commitment to Manusmriti, although it was very well known that this act was in contravention to the basic principles of constitution.

Individual choices apart, why does Manusmriti still mesmerises the Hindutva brigade en bloc?

Thevalorisation of Manusmriti, which is an ongoing process in the ‘Parivar’ circles, serves a double purpose.

– It absolves Manusmiritiof all those ‘blames’ for which it has been at the receiving end of a broad spectrum of people/formations, right from the radical Dalits to the rationalists.

– Secondly, it thus prepares the ground for a further dubious/devious move by the Sangh Parivar, namely ‘searching’ the ‘real enemies of the Dalits’ and herein, it ‘discovers’ Muslims. 

Today, articles, pamphlettes and even books can be easily spotted which tend to further glorify Manusmriti. A book by Prof K V Paliwal, Ph D, Manusmriti aur Ambedkar(Hindi) can be cited as an interesting example to illustrate the point. Published by some ‘Hindu Writers’ Forum’, New Delhi (March 2007), the author’s ideological closeness to the worldview of Hindutva supremacism is clear by merely browsing the list of more than twenty books authored by him published by this same Forum. 

It would be opportune here to share an extract from the preface of the said book Manusmriti aur Ambedkar to know how the author addresses the issue of revisiting the ancient text. Titled Yeh Pustak Kyon? (Why This Book? Page 3) It says:

“This book has been written for those people who are rather confused about Manu’s Manusmritiand feel that it supports the present caste system, upper class-lower class and untouchability. The second aim of the book is remove this confusion that Manu was opposed to Shudras and women and was a supporter of Brahminism. Its third aim is to remove the mistaken understanding spread by modern era social reformer and Dalit leader Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar. Here all quotes have been excerpted from Babasaheb Dr Ambedkar Sampoorna Wangmay Volume 1 to 14.” 

The preface further tells us that the around 56 per cent of the sholkas/stanzas in the Manusmritiout of total 2865 shlokas, are later additions/mixed and referring to some, Dr Surendra Kumar, has supposedly revised the Manusmrititaking into consideration these so called ‘adulterations’ and even published a Vishudh Manusmriti(Pure Manusmriti) in 1985. According to Dr K D Paliwal,

“If this pure Manusmriti, would have been available in English by 1935 itself. Then, Dr Ambedkar would have considered differences among varnasas natural and there would have been no opposition to Manusmritithen.” 

Would it be correct to state that Dr Ambedkar misread Manusmriti,as he did not know Sanskrit language as claimed by Dr Paliwal? 

Definitely not. 

Such a baseless claim is nothing but a humiliation of a great scholar and author and limiting his vast repository of knowledge to a particular book. 

Dr Ambedkar’s own understanding of Manusmritican be seen in his incomplete work Revolution and Counterrevolution in Ancient India

According to Dr Ambedkar, Manusmritiis a ‘record of the greatest social revolution that Hindu Society has undergone’. He sees it not only as a law book, but part ethics and part religion as well. It is important also to note that whatever may be the understanding of a section of the elite about these edicts, which still feels enamoured about it, Dr Ambedkar is clear about its aim. He terms it as ‘gospel of counterrevolution’.

It is not widely discussed how Dr Ambedkar had unravelled the unholy ideological link between Manu, who inspired Nietzsche, who in turn inspired Hitler. 

And it is common knowledge how Hitler and Mussolini have in turn inspired the Manuwadis of Hindu Mahasabha and RSS: Savarkar, Munje, Hedgewar and Golwalkar.

Communalism Combat(May 2000 issue)  had collated extracts of Dr Ambedkar’s writings (From Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Writings & Speeches, Volume 3, published by the education department, government of Maharashtra, pages 72-87) to show how Nietzsche had felt inspired by philosophy of Hinduism which, 

“..[i]s not founded on individual justice or social utility. The philosophy of Hinduism is founded on a totally different principle. To the question what is right and what is good the answer which the philosophy of Hinduism gives is remarkable. It holds that to be right and good the act must serve the interests of this class of Supermen, namely, the Brahmins.”

Quoting from Manusmriti, he said how these 

“..[t]exts from Manu disclose the core and the heart of the philosophy of Hinduism. Hinduism is the gospel of the Superman and it teaches that what is right for the Superman is the only thing which is called morally right and morally good.

Is there any parallel to this philosophy? I hate to suggest it. But is so obvious. The parallel to this philosophy of Hinduism is to be found in Nietzsche. The Hindus will be angry at this suggestion.”

According to him, Nietzsche had praised Manusmritiin his book Anti Christin glowing terms, and had said that he is merely following the scheme of Manu:

“When I read the law book of Manu, an incomparably intellectual and superior work, it would be a sin against the spirit even to mention in the same breath with the Bible. You will guess immediately why; it has a genuine philosophy behind it, in it, not merely an evil-smelling Jewish distillation of Rabbinism and superstition — it gives something to chew even to the most fastidious psychologist.”

Ambedkar had emphasised how the Nazis 

“..[t]race their ancestry from Nietzsche and regard him as their spiritual parent. Hitler has himself photographed beside a bust of Nietzsche; he takes the manuscripts of the master under his own special guardianship; extracts are chosen from Nietzsche’s writings and loudly proclaimed at the ceremonies of Nazism, as the New German Faith.”

Perhaps, it is easy to see the linkages between Manu, Nietzsche, Hitler and the worldview of Hindutva supremacism.

Manu inspired Nietzsche, Nietzsche further inspired Hitler and Mussolini, 

Hitler and Mussolini inspired RSS and Hindu Mahasabha, and 

RSS and Hindu Mahasabha have kept their ‘umbilical cord’ with Manusmriti alive.

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Jharkhand – Activist Swami Agnivesh Attacked Allegedly By BJP Workers #WTFnews

I am against any sort of violence. I don’t know why I was attacked,” Swami Agnivesh told NDTV


JHARKHAND: Social Activist Swami Agnivesh was thrashed allegedly by BJP Yuva Morcha workers in Jharkhand today. The alleged BJP workers had shown black flags and raised slogans against him.

Swami Agnivesh, was attending an event in Pakur, about 365 km from state capital Ranchi. He was flanked by tribals who were holding bows and arrows. He was attacked by a group as soon as he came out of a hotel there. The alleged BJP workers were chanting “Jai Sri Ram” as they thrashed the 80-year-old activist.

Agnivesh was there to attend an event in a hotel. The moment he came out of the hotel, he was attacked. The assaulters were reportedly upset with Agnivesh’s recent statement defending consumption of beef.

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Activist Swami Agnivesh was thrashed, allegedly by BJP Yuva Morcha workers in Jharkhand’s Pakur, earlier today. More details awaited.

They thrashed him and tore apart his clothes. He was also shown black flags.

The BJP, however, distanced itself from the incident saying its workers were not involved in it. “They weren’t workers of our party. We condemn this but his track record is such that this reaction doesn’t come as surprise. Pakur has recently been in news for religious conversion,” said P Shahdeo, Jharkhand BJP spokesperson.

“I am against any sort of violence. I am known as a peace-loving person. I don’t know why I was attacked,” Swami Agnivesh told NDTV. We have asked for investigation, he said.

Swami Agnivesh said there were no policemen around. Local reporters said BJP youth wing’s workers were outside his hotel to protest his visit, but he was completely taken aback when he was attacked, he said.

“I had offered to hold a dialogue with them. But nobody came to speak to me. I was going to a sammelan (seminar) with my tribal friends when they launched an attack. They were carrying black flags and without any warning pounced on me. They punched, kicked and dragged me on the ground. They also used cuss words,” Swami Agnivesh told NDTV.

The activist likened the attack to mob lynchings that have been reported in several states in the past one year. In all the cases, the blood-hungry mobs had consumed rumours about cow smuggling and presence of child kidnappers on social media, especially WhatsApp.

Swami Agnivesh is injured and the doctors are running tests at a local hospital.

The attack appears to be pre-planned and the police have detained 20 men for the violence.

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Remembering Karamchedu: The brutal massacre which spurred Andhra’s Dalit movement

The 1985 episode was a brutal assault on the Madigas of a village, resulting in the death of six men and rape of three girls.

One way of marking history is by the anniversaries of events of injustice, of suppression, of pillage, and of loot. It is certainly more moral than marking history by the anniversaries of coronations; and more rational than marking it by the birth, death, revelation or flight of a prophet or a leader.

This year, July 17 marked the 31st anniversary of an event that has done much to shape political awareness in the history of Andhra Pradesh. The Karamchedu killings of 1985, when close relatives of the then Chief Minister’s son-in-law, Daggubati Venkateswara Rao, led a brutal assault on the Madigas of the village, killing six men and raping three girls. The assault is remarkable for its brutality that is not captured by the figures of casualties.

You can knife a man to death, or you can smash his skull with an axe, break his limbs, dig a spear into his groin. The two are equally effective ways of committing murder, but when the latter is preferred, the choice conveys a message independent of the fact of the killing.

Karamchedu was a large, prosperous village of Prakasam district in coastal Andhra. Like the other coastal villages of this district, it was a major cultivator of cotton and tobacco. The Madigas and Malas, the two major Dalit castes in Andhra Pradesh, of the village together comprising about 450 households, lived in conditions reminiscent of the cruel age of serfdom of ancient India. Most of the wealth was concentrated in the hands of a few Kamma landlord families, like Daggubati Chenchuramaiah, the father of NTR’s son-in-law and the then TDP’s youth wing leader, and Daggubati Venkateswara Rao, the husband of Daggubati Purandeswari, former Union Minister in the congress-led UPA government. Among the others were well known film producers in the film business. While not all the kammas in the village were rich, the fact that their community was about 6,000 strong in a village of 10,000 people had imbued the dominant sections of the community with tremendous power. And they have indeed put it to good use.

There were two drinking water tanks in the village, one for the Dalits and one for the caste-Hindus. On the evening of July 16, a Kamma youth named Srinivas Rao was feeding bran to his buffalo near the Dalits’s tank. Some of the bran dribbled down into the tank. A Madiga woman named Suvarta, who had come to fetch water, objected to it, and there ensued an altercation between the two. Srinivas Rao took out the thickly plaited rope used for beating buffaloes, and beat Suvarta with it. The girl grabbed at the rope and beat him in return. Some more people joined the issue on both sides but the quarrel was soon settled. That night, however, Kamma youth came to Suvarta’s house and dragged her out. But the neighbouring women interceded and sent the youth away. The Dalits thought the issue was closed, and, therefore, did not anticipate what would happen the next day.

That night, the Kamma youth gathered at a brandy shop in the village and took a decision to attack the Madigas. The other Dalit caste, the Malas, were deliberately spared. They mobilised their fellow caste-men from the neighbouring villages through openly communal and provocative slogans, such as ‘if you are born to a Kamma you come out, if you are born to a Madiga, then don’t’. A mob of about 2,000 Kammas then gathered in tractors and on motorcycles, and surrounded the Madiga houses from all sides.

The surprised Madigas ran for their lives. Some ran into houses, some hid under haystacks, while others ran into the fields. But their pursuers were unrelenting. They ransacked the houses and hacked at the doors and walls with axes. Duddu Vandanam and Duddu Ramesh were caught running out of their houses, and were attacked with axes. Vandanam died on the spot and Ramesh four days later in hospital. Vandanam’s mother Duddu Alisamma who was an eyewitness to his death, was found dead under mysterious circumstances a year later. Those who ran into the fields including Tellu Yevasu, Moshe and Muthaiah were chased and murdered there.

The manner in which Moshe, a 70-year-old was killed is illustrative of the gruesome massacre that took place that day. He first begged with them to spare him, as he was an old man. When they started beating him, he ran into the fields. They caught up with him, hacked him with an axe, and as he fell down on his back, they dug a spear into his groin and twisted it. Mutaiah and Yevasu were also beaten with sticks, axed and speared to death in a similar manner. Duddu Yesu was another person who had been axed and died in a hospital five days later, taking the death toll to six. About twenty other were hospitalised with severe injuries to the heads and limbs.

The women were treated equally brutally. They were dragged out of the houses, stripped and molested. Three young girls, Mariamma (11), Victoria (13) and Sulochana were raped and after raping them, the molesters dug sticks into their private parts and twisted them. Sulochana, who was married and pregnant, had an abortion in hospital.

The killings gave birth to a strong organised Dalit movement in Andhra Pradesh. The Dalit Mahasabha was formed as a direct consequence of the Karamchedu killings, and was inaugurated formally at Chirala on September 1, 1985 with the leadership of Katti Padma Rao and Bojja Tarakam. Due to the Dalit Mahasabha’s relentless struggle, the guilty were punished twenty-three years after the incident by the Supreme Court. One person was sentenced to life and twenty-nine others to a term of three years’ imprisonment on December 19, 2008 providing justice, albeit incomplete.

In conclusion, looking back, the Karamchedu massacre shook the conscience of the entire nation. It raised unsettling questions about the ugliness of caste in our society 38 years after independence then and which continues to structurally hollow out our society even to this day.


Note: The views expressed here are the personal opinions of the author.


My history with football is a tale of love, loss and longing

From playing in school to living in a sports hostel for two years, the author details his special relationship with the game.
Image for representation only

“Perhaps we are in this world to search for love, find it and lose it, again and again. With each love, we are born anew, and with each love that ends we collect a new wound.”

These immortal words by Isabel Allende perfectly describes my relationship with football.

The FIFA World Cup has ended after witnessing several twists and turns. Much to the shock and amusement of fans the world over unlikely contenders moved ahead in the tournament and France reclaimed the Cup finally.

Despite controversies and allegations of betting, and the lack of zeal so evident in club matches, millions of people continued to watch the World Cup. They rejoiced. They cried. They celebrate with all their hearts.

Watching a football match is a visual treat. From the blood-soaked gladiator games of the ancient Roman civilization to the VAR-enabled football matches of today, people love massive, direct visual experiences. Governments love them too. It’s completely different when you play the game yourself. It’s similar to the pains and pleasures that are a part and parcel of any human relationship.

My relationship with football is one such story.

Love at first sight

My first memories of football start in the Madurai Race Course grounds. I must have been about 7 years old then. My father took me there for a football match, and the clamour and evident joy for the game left me awestruck.

After several years, I began playing football. Small cricket ball-like rubber balls were all that we had. Slowly, I became good at scoring goals in rubber-ball football. The joy and the pride that I felt then convinced me I was on the right path.

Later, our physical trainer (PT) brought a proper football ball to school. The goals we scored and the shots we struck when our school girls passed through the ground goaded us into believing that we were the future of Indian football. The thought of making football one’s occupation thrilled me. In my journey of realizing that dream, I forayed into a new world. A different world. A world unknown to many.

The world of colorful trunk boxes

The Sports Development Authority of Tamil Nadu, vested with the responsibility of ‘developing’ young talent in football, basketball and other games, runs sports hostels across the state. I got placed in the Madurai sports hostel.

Carrying a trunk box, I entered the hostel to join Class 8.

Trunk boxes like mine that came from Madurai, Melur, Salem, Dindigul, Erode, Coimbatore, Nagercoil, and Kanyakumari would be placed by the walls next to the occupied cots. I couldn’t grasp for a long time that the sizes of these boxes, their type, colors, quality and the quality of the contents inside belied the person’s caste and class.

Each trunk box had a story. Opening and listening to them may help you open your own trunk box.

It wasn’t a mere sport for almost 90% of the under-18 children who were at the hostel with me. It was their lone trump card to escape the grinding poverty haunting their homes and their only way to a better future.

Free stay, free food, free sportswear, free education – all of this along with the opportunity to learn football and clinch a government job somehow. This was the only window to somehow set foot in the world of middle-class confort.

So, hours and hours of training and running happened both in the mornings and the evenings. At our actual classes, we’d all be fast asleep. Most of us had by then understood the futility of school education. The opportunity to play at least in the sub-junior category was the only ambition we harboured.

Most of the trainers did a mechanical job. Breaking from the norm, came a new trainer, out of the blue (I forget his name today) and created in us a true love for football. He was a brilliant man, who played us like puppets, completely overhauling our training methods and created a team spirit amongst us.

We were quite angry with him in the beginning. However, we slowly realized that he had improved our game exponentially. We went to many places and started winning matches.

Suddenly, one day, he was transferred. And we had no choice but to go back to square one. It was only much later when I realized that this is how all systems work and how those who work sincerely earn the wrath of the system.

Socialist economism

We used to play for two hours every morning and evening, and the one thing that haunted us throughout was hunger. However, the quality of food wasn’t excellent. Since we weren’t communists to find fault with free food, we found a way to fight amongst us to increase the quantity of the food.

It was quite simple.

We gambled with the eggs we got every day and the once-in-a-week beef serving. That way, we established a form of socialist food distribution system that we understood; from each according to his ability, to each according to his gambling victories.

In all other respects, the hostel flourished like any government hostel on ‘developmental’ aspects such as a lack of sanitary facilities, filthy bathrooms, thuggish seniors acting like typical jail wardens, violent attacks and sexual confusion.

The article is too short to explain the authority that the coaches, hostel warden and District Sports Officer had on us, and their individual corruptions. But one can see all that only in hindsight. In those days, we waited eagerly for that one mutton biriyani that we would get once in a blue moon. And since it used to be cooked and served by the warden himself, we would look at him like he were an angel on earth.

Since we were too naive to understand the ‘boundless love’ that was the driving force behind that free biriyani, or the free television or free laptops offered by elected governments, we consumed the biriyani rather selfishly.

Many years later, I happened to visit the Government Tribal Residential Schools run for the development of Scheduled Tribe children. Seeing the conditions in which those little children lived, I realized that our ‘mercy homes’ were far better than theirs.

And to think the social system is constructed such that tomorrow these children will grow up and compete with children who studied in private schools, with the best facilities on offer, in competitive exams, such as NEET

Childhood that dances in my memories

I wonder where my hostel pals are now – Gandhi from Erode, Sivakumar from Coimbatore, Lordwin and Rufus from Nagercoil, and Jayaprakash from Dharmapuri. I don’t know whether they continued their sports journey. I used to believe that Jayaprakash, in particular, would become a great footballer one day. He loved playing defense in the center-back position. If he’s on the field, the rest of us, along with the goalkeeper, can go forward with absolute confidence. No ball could ever get past him into our goal post.

During my stay of two years in the hostel, I came to a realistic conclusion about my abilities in football. Moreover, the hostel wasn’t the right environment to further my interests in studies. So, I took the call and quit the hostel.

Later, I was well appreciated whenever I played football in my high school and college. However, I knew in my heart that I was only a novice when compared to my sports hostel-mates. I used to think about those fearless Thoothoor boys who hailed from the fishing community or Sivagangai Logu Annan, who ran like France’s uncatchable Mbappe, or Thoothukudi Amirtharaj, who would dribble the ball single-handedly to the goalpost with his left foot like Messi.

These days, it’s has become difficult for me to even run with thanks to my ever-increasing weight. However, I often play football with my kid.

Even now, when I touch the ball, it plays with my feet like a fond puppy. How can I explain the joy I feel while passing the ball with complete abandon, without the pressure to prove anything to anyone, except for my love for the game perhaps?

Football: Not merely a game

“You will be nearer to heaven playing football than studying the Bhagavad Gita”: This quote is attributed to Vivekananda, and I could not concur more.

When you play football, you experience something like heaven. Football is a struggle that you wage against yourself. But you can’t do it all by yourself. You need to join your team and accommodate the pros and cons they bring with them and, at the same time, confront and conquer your own inability, pain and fear in this struggle.

Even if the opposing team disregards all the rules of the game, plays brutally and injures your teammates, even when the well-learned referees declare offsides, siding with the opposing team, playing relentlessly until the last whistle is the essence of the struggle.

And this is the essence of nature itself: Only the fittest survive. And, until the last second, the idea of the fittest is relative.

(Translated from the Tamil article originally appeared in The Hindu-Tamil. Includes minor changes in content.)

Translated by H.S. 

The author, an IT professional, lives in ChennaiHe can be reached at [email protected]

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