The caste system we know today is a gift of the British Raj. The Varna-Jati-based Hindu social order was brutally mutilated beyond recognition to pave the way for the Christian missionaries to harvest the millions of dark heathen Indian souls. The Hindu society is still reeling from the devastating effects of their machinations.
Caste in a Nutshell
Like any successful civilization, the Hindus had a variety of occupations and lifestyles, which led to occupational identities open to everyone, subject to talent, aptitude, and inherited wealth. Most social decisions were made at the family and village level, but individuals decided for themselves how to visualize and worship God. Priests provided guidance and conducted ceremonies. Education was especially valued.
According to genetic evidence , the transition to endogamy, indicative of caste, began about 70 generations (1500-2000 years) ago, during challenges to Hinduism from invaders and the rise of Buddhism under Ashok. Thus, caste isolation probably emerged as a tactic to preserve Hindu society. Muslim rule intensified the threat and expelled Hindus from urban areas and professions to highly-taxed subsistence agriculture. This explains why 15th-century Europeans found the Hindus divided and living in poverty.
The British greatly increased the division and impoverishment of Indian society but started modern education to produce proper servants. With their high regard for education, the Hindus excelled at it and filled most of the Raj’s jobs. But the same people, despite being open-minded and educated, balked at converting to Christianity.
Evangelicals were willing to use any means, fair or foul, to trap Hindus but were stopped by the dizzying variety of religious practices in India. There was no uniform set of fixed beliefs, clergy, or scripture they could go after. What to attack and how?
Their answer, it seems, was to create a surrogate of “Hinduism” that could be cast and exploited to their advantage. They would invent a tyranny of Brahmin priests and call it the essence of the Hindu religion, and as an insurance policy, stop talking about the glorious and lofty teachings of Hindu dharma.
The Caste System, imperial style – was this invention. Named after the Spanish “casta” or breed and patterned after Britain’s rigid classes and hated minorities, it was justified nonetheless via a translation of Manusmriti, the so-called Laws of Manu. The Laws, said the British, provided divine sanction for Brahmin supremacy, caste assignments frozen at birth, and no possibility of changing them in this life. Just like race.
In the 19th century, following British theories of race, castes were extracted from the people, cataloged, ranked, and classified according to aptitude. A hierarchy of thousands of castes was created and used for various government purposes. Separately but in concert, Anglican and evangelical missionaries floated disgusting fabrications about the Hindu religion. By the early 20th century, the repulsive caricature of Hindus orchestrated by imperial Britain had acquired the status of truth the world over.
Two centuries later, however, this imperial carcass of a glorious religion is still taught in British and American schools, including to Hindu children. Hindu parents are shooed away. Western propaganda continues to demonize “Hinduism,” finding new pastures such as Dalit “apartheid” and other horrifying lies. It almost feels as if the still-powerful evangelicals continue to debase and script the image of Hindus.
Hinduism vs. “Hinduism”
The current Western ideas of caste contradict the reality of caste in Hindu society – and this is true of almost everything about Hindus. The reason is that these fields of study were created by the British and remain the monopoly of the incestuous Anglo-American academy. They have no reason to and do not include Hindus. “Hinduism,” as defined, characterized, taught, propagated, studied, and researched by the West for its own use, must never be confused with Hinduism as lived by Hindus.
In this set of articles, we will enclose the Western (mis)representation of Hinduism and related concepts in quotes, e.g., “Hinduism” or “Caste System.”
“Hinduism” is privileged over Hinduism. Its purveyors control the world’s information flow, and the typical uninitiated non-specialist accepts it as a settled truth. According to “Hinduism” the “caste system” is a mandatory practice enforced by cunning Brahmins, who claim it is divinely sanctioned and eternal. This system:
- Assigns people certain privileges and occupations based on birth alone
- Imprisons everyone lifelong into the social position they are born in
- Prevents individuals from achieving their potential based on their ability
- Privileges certain castes to control, divide, exploit, and humiliate others
- Presents 1 to 4 above as divinely revealed, insurmountable religious obligations
- Irrevocably dehumanizes the “Dalits” or casteless Hindus, excludes them from civilized society, denies them basic rights, and treats them worse than animals.
Unfortunately, this allegedly divine creation has no agreed-upon origin or propagation mechanism, and it contradicts both Hindu theory and practice. It also fails to explain similar divisions outside Hindu society. Nevertheless, Hindus educated in British India accepted it as fact, and its elements remain in Indian law and Constitution. As of now, “Hinduism” is the global establishment view.
A few cracks are emerging in the Establishment. Wikipedia admits a more accurate view of caste as a relatively recent and fluid social practice, as do Dirks of Princeton and Bayly of Cambridge. According to a large all-India survey, four-fifths of Indians, including all religions and castes, report no “widespread discrimination” on the basis of caste. No such survey validates the claims of “Hinduism.”
How “Hinduism” Hurts the Hindu Ecosystem
Despite its evangelical roots, “Hinduism” is the standard believed by the public in the West and to some extent in India. Schools, universities, researchers, mass and social media, and elected bodies swear by it, and major media censor Hindu voices. Publicly supporting the rights of Hindus is a career-ending move. Hindus may run the world’s biggest corporations but are afraid to be openly religious.
Hundreds of millions of schoolchildren in the West are taught a vicious lie, reinforced by mass media who were taught the same lie. Powerful, wealthy religions sworn to annihilate idolatry are allowed free rein to vilify Hindus. And the fake stigma of caste is leveraged by various Indian separatists, terrorists, militants, communists, and other vested interests, to propagate and perpetuate hate against Hindus.
Consider some specific ways in which “Hinduism” harms Hindus.
A major impact of “Hinduism” is the Stalinesque silencing of dissent. By the standard technique of inventing horrible accusations while censoring the positive reality, “Hinduism” has turned a century-old volunteer and character-building movement called Hindutva into a genocidal Muslim-killing monster invoked any time a Hindu or Hindu sympathizer disagrees with “Hinduism.” The charge of Hindutva is an instant dialog killer, which precludes a better understanding of the truth.
“Hinduism” impacts families of the Hindu diaspora. Children learn it in school and look down on their “insider” parents who follow this abomination of casteism, untouchability, monkey worship, sati, and so on. The terrible deleterious impact of these phenomena on the future of Hindus cannot be overestimated.
Another major impact of “Hinduism” is the censorship of normal news about India and Hindus, such as economic, cultural, social, or travel subjects. There is no news about millions uplifted by gargantuan affirmative action programs or the ethnic cleansing of Hindus in India’s Islamist neighbors. A one-sided, hateful, anti-Hindu narrative pervades the Western world, and it’s getting worse. Automated computer monitoring of social media shows a growing number of “bots” that fan the flames of hate against Hindus
A larger loss to humanity is the suppression and denial of India’s exemplary levels of religious freedom, tolerance, and mutual respect – confirmed by the 2021 Pew survey of 17,000 respondents in India. But the lies of “Hinduism” prevail. The US Commission on International Religious Freedom calls India a “country of particular concern” – along with Saudi Arabia, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, and China!
Lastly, foreign investors and tourists considering India hesitate because of the media’s portrayal, influenced by “Hinduism.” Indeed, they flock to Vietnam in similar volumes. In the 70s, American leaders raised on “Hinduism” despised India in spite of its democracy, rule of law, legal system, English language, and free press. They wooed totalitarian China, and it became a toxic co-dependence. Turning to India instead would have led to a transparent win-win relationship, but “Hinduism” precluded it.
- “Genomic reconstruction of the history of extant populations of India…” by Analabha Basu, Neeta Sarkar-Roy, and Partha P. Majumder, PNAS Vol. 113 No. 6, January 2016. https://www.pnas.org/doi/10.1073/pnas.1513197113
- “Caste System in India” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caste_system_in_India
- “Castes of Mind: Colonialism and the Making of Modern India” by Nicholas Dirks, Princeton University Press, 2001.
- Caste, Society and Politics in India from the Eighteenth Century to the Modern Age, by Susan Bayly, Cambridge U. Press, 1999 https://ia801304.us.archive.org/18/items/iB_in/4-3.pdf
- “Attitudes About Caste in India”, in Pew Research Survey of Religion, 2021 https://www.pewresearch.org/religion/2021/06/29/attitudes-about-caste/
- “Anti-Hindu Disinformation: A Case Study of Hinduphobia on Social Media” https://millercenter.rutgers.edu/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/Hinduphobia-NC-Labs_6.22.22.pdf