Sunday, January 30, 2011

Misc update (caste)

Previous entries related to caste:
Education emancipates? - Jun 26th, 2010
Misc update (caste) - Aug 29, 2009
Updates - #3 - Aug 25th, 2008
Frame of Reference - June 27th 2008
Caste - May 26th 2008

Previous blog entries decried the pernicious and corrosive practice that is casteism in India... The article, 'Caste, Hinduism, and Human Rights', references 'Hinduism: Not Cast in Caste' by the Hindu American Foundation and argues that caste-based discrimination is not an intrinsic feature of the Hindu religion...

"In "Hinduism: Not Cast in Caste," HAF acknowledges that while caste-based discrimination represents a failure of Hindu society to live up to the essential spiritual teachings of the tradition, the solution, in part, lies in the proper practice of these teachings (and on better enforcement of existing anti-discrimination laws in India). It also recognizes that while caste arose in Hindu society, and that some Hindu texts and traditions justify a birth-based hierarchy and caste-bias, many Hindu scriptures and Hindu religious and spiritual figures, throughout history, have vehemently opposed caste-based discrimination and a birth-based hierarchy. And lastly, it explains that caste discrimination and caste-based violence affect all of India's religious communities and is today driven significantly by political and economic factors.

But the single most important point to take home from this pivotal report, I believe, is that even though caste-based discrimination may have arisen in Hindu society, it is not intrinsic to Hinduism. Contrary to the wide academic and media conflation of caste and Hinduism, the practice of caste-based discrimination is in direct contradiction to the quintessential Hindu teaching that each individual is equally divine and has the potential to realize God based on his or her own effort."

This may be entirely correct... However, given the multiple caveats in the report, this blogger is not entirely convinced, and this may be a distinction without much meaning...

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