Ever since I joined Twitter, about 4 months back, I have frequently stumbled upon the term “Brahmanical Patriarchy”. And I have never understood what it stands for.
So, I asked what Brahmanical Patriarchy means –
on my Twitter account a while back, only to have a few left liberals tell me that it essentially meant ‘oppression of women and the role of caste in the same.’
Basically, an intersectionality between caste and gender leading to women’s degradation in the society.
India, like all other societies, is patriarchal. I have myself encountered sexism and misogyny innumerable times in the 21 years that I have lived for.
India also has a painful history of casteism and caste-based atrocities.
But to mix up the two forms of oppression, to create a term which is categorically targeting only one section of the society, reeks of hate towards Brahmins to me.
It will take multiple articles for me to explain that the concept of ‘varna’ was not birth based, rather work based. It will take me hours to explain that ancient Hindu literature never believed in caste identity being permanent, caste groups being endogamous, or certain castes being ‘upper’ or ‘lower’. And I can probably never convince people that Hinduism never called for discrimination, segregation, and untouchability.
That casteism became so rampant in our society is a painful reality of our past (and the present in some areas) and one should never attempt to whitewash the same. The so-called ‘upper’ castes left no stone unturned in suppressing the so-called ‘lower’ castes, thereby pushing them to the fringes of the society and depriving them of social, educational and employment opportunities.
Brahmins, like all those castes which identified as ‘upper’, were equally complicit in perpetrating cruelties upon the Dalits.
But does it justify attaching all negativities to Brahmins today? If we ask descendants of those Brahmins to remain apologetic for caste crimes today, are we not essentially reiterating the caste-system by attaching their caste identity to them? Is it fair to bring up their ‘Brahmin’ credentials as per our own convenience? Can we shame them for what their ancestors did?
I have often seen people toss the caste identity in discussions about politics and privilege. This is fairly common in universities, where, owing to years of brainwashing and cultural Marxism, we love to view everyone of one group as ‘victims’ and the other group as ‘perpetrators’.
I have myself been accused of making certain political choices only because of the economic facilities my family enjoys, ‘which we only received thanks to our caste.’ Now who is going to tell the brainwashed fellow that my parents were from low-income families, who made it big just due to determination, hard-work, and a desire to give their children a life they were deprived of.
In any case, this article is not about me.
This article is about those who think it is justified to accuse one caste group for everything evil that happened in the past. A group that makes up less than 5% of the total population today. A group which is bereft of all benefits emanating from government schemes or legal mechanisms meant to ‘uplift the downtrodden’. A middle-income Brahmin household today has a lower per capita income when compared to other middle-income households.
Oh, how I hate talking about Brahmins or non-Brahmins or any other caste group, primarily because I consider these caste identities so irrelevant.
But I feel that this is one hateful concept we have allowed to slip by without any outrage because it targets a group of people, we are taught to dislike right from our elementary education days.
I don’t believe in blaming present-day Muslims for what Mughals or Khiljis or Khilafat-sympathizers in the 1920s did. I don’t agree with blaming Christians today for incidents such as the Goa Inquisition, or proselytization through force or fraud, which took place during the colonial era. They are innocent people and they do not deserve hate for incidents which they may not even be aware of.
Those who preach acceptance and tolerance towards these two faiths are quick to jump on the ‘Brahmanical Patriarchy’ narrative as soon as any girl from a so-called ‘lower’ caste falls prey to rape or assault. They love to talk about caste identities when the victim and the accused belong to two different castes, as it allows them to reiterate the anti-Brahmin rhetoric. Even if the assaulter is not a Brahmin.
Last year, a college student casually called for a Brahmin Genocide; yes, his exact words were ‘Time for a Brahmin Holocaust’. That it was supported by another user further infuriated netizens.
Such inflammatory, bigoted statement against any other community in India would have invited so much outrage, that the commenter would have probably gone into hiding. That it attacked Brahmins allowed him to get off without any ramifications; rather, he was lauded for his comments.
A famous author who identifies as an “anti-Brahmin activist”, has time and time again insulted Brahmins. Every day she makes at least one incendiary comment, dragging in the caste-identity even in the most unrelated matters. Replace the word ‘Brahmin’ with any other group and watch Indians have a meltdown.
I can go on and on about this. But I don’t wish to. Because I know there are casteist, supremacist people even today. And on the other side, there are hateful bigots who will not stop at anything to bash anybody born in a Brahmin family. The aim is to shun the extremes. The past was harrowing because it was built on hateful and supremacist undertones. The present is equally disturbing because it thrives on odious singling out of a group of people for no fault of their own.
Women empowerment is about fighting the inherent patriarchy, the desire to subdue women and routine sexism that we are today used to. However, if we start attaching caste identity to patriarchy, if we blindly embrace the Western concept where Black women are actually oppressed owing to their race (I am in no position to comment upon the institutionalized racism in the USA, but I understand the intersectionality owing to their race and gender identity.) and if we do not give the society a chance to evolve outside the narrow confines of caste groups, we will always remain backward. About time we started fighting real issues ailing our society, instead of branding each issue with a caste identity.