In this great country of ours called India, the caste issue is a major cause of concern. While there are many progressive steps which are being taken to further develop and modernize our nation, such a sentiment and mentality poses as a major hindrance. On the 12th of February 2023, Darshan Solanki, a promising eighteen-year-old student of IIT Mumbai, met with an untimely demise, which is being investigated as an unnatural death.
According to reports, it is caste discrimination, which is believed to be the cause of his death. The tremors of despondency and depression spread by such deaths go far and wide. Also, it setbacks the progress and development of the country. This must stop as this kind of thinking is unhealthy.
The following reasons should be taken into consideration seriously:
1) Discrimination: The caste system is inherently discriminatory as it assigns people to different castes based on their birth. This leads to discrimination against the lower castes who are often deprived of access to education, healthcare and employment opportunities. This further leads to...
2) Social inequality
3) Lack of social mobility
4) Violation of human rights
5) Issues of discrimination against women etc.
Again, people born in such a family have an inherent negative feeling in their minds right since childhood. As a result, they lack a progressive vision or they don't harbour such kind of a desire.
So, when they demand their rights, it creates a vexing issue for the entire country.
The very word caste has its origins in the Spanish and Portuguese word "casta", meaning "caste, lineage or tradition". The Portuguese used cast in a contemporary sense when they applied it to the traditional Indian social groups known as 'jatis' in India. 'Jati' is derived from the root word 'jan' which means to be born. Thus, caste has been related to birth. Hence, It is all a game of words.
The Nyaya Sutra declares समानप्रसवात्मिका जाति "Samanaprasvatmika Jati" : those who possess a commonality in their source of birth become one 'Jati' or caste. No such mention is found in the original Vedas. In the Vedas, it is declared that:
Oh God! Grant the light of knowledge to our Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas and Shudras. Bestow on me the same light so that I may see the truth. (Yajurveda 18 | 48)
O humans! As I, the Lord, preach this knowledge of the Vedas to you, human beings without any kind of partiality, so do you impart this knowledge to all Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Shudras, Vaishyas, women. (Yajurveda 26 | 2)
Thus, why should there be any kind of conflict in the field of education or in any other field? That is why Mahant Swami Maharaj has suggested in the 16th verse of his self-written book Satsang Deeksha Granth that no one is superior or inferior by way of caste. So never indulge in any caste based issues and do satsang happily. When one follows the bhaktimarga by performing satsang, one gets rid of such discrimination.
At this juncture, an incident comes to mind. Makarand Mehta, a renowned historian of Gujarat visited the tribal area of Selwas. Here, he came in contact with the B.A.P.S. Swaminarayan temple. Knowing that this organization is involved in the work of tribal welfare, he expressed his desire to inspect a village to know what kind of work has been done by the organization. A worker of the organization took him to the chosen place. Here, this historian observed that the simple huts of these tribals were as clean as any house of a wealthy person. In one of the huts, a tribal woman was making rotis made of rice flour with great pleasure. On seeing this, the historian requested to the woman, 'Would you let me eat this Roti?'. Smilingly, the woman replied, 'Yes. I will give it to you, but let me first offer it to God.' Hearing this, the historian was taken aback. It was a very humbling experience for him to see the spirit of offering food first to God in the life of an adivasi. (At that time one of the tribal youth even convinced Makarandbhai to give up his addiction!) God is beyond discrimination. Devotees are also beyond discrimination. Their devotion takes everyone to an equal role where there is no caste conflict. Otherwise, as sage Bhartrihari has said: ज्ञातिश्चेदनलेन किं? Where is the need of fire when there is caste difference? So don't play with the fire.
This article is written and submitted to The E Today by Sadhu Amrutvadandas. We thank swamiji for his research and analysis and hope to see the awareness about life and peace being spread ahead to larger mass of our citizens