n.rao at rz.uni-sb.de n.rao at rz.uni-sb.de
Fri Oct 6 23:58:57 UTC 1995

Gary M. Tartokov wrote
>I want to support Banerjee's fuller development of the meaning of

>It is important not to idealise any culture in such a way that we
>suppose that all have the same experience or that only the elite
>experience is meaningful. 

I very much accept the above proposition  - that idealising "Indian Culture" is 
not desirable. 
However, how far the equation of Aryan and Brahmin on the one hand 
 and Non-Aryan and Dravidian on the other is scholarly? Apart from this 
posting of Banerjee, 
there was also the talk about Indian "caste system", in one of the 
threads on poverty ( - which I read quite late, and to which I therefore 
I did not feel like  contributing.) The jAti - is it a "system" in the sense 
that there are Brahmins restricting others from celebrating something 
as the following sentence implies?

> As long a Brahmanical ceremonies include
>serious caste restrictions we can't say this is how they are celebrated
>unless we indicate the restrictions on who is allowed  celebrate them
>and who is not.  
There is and there was certainly hierarchy in Indian society, and also
 all sort of cruelty oppression and what not. But there were and there are 
 lots of horizontal groupings with  lots and lots of rivalry. What and how 
 one understand phrases like 
> The Hindu
religion (as practised and imposed-upon by the Brahminical order)<?(Bannerjee)

How far the so called 'Hindu religion' is that of 'Brahminical Order' 
(whatever that may mean)?. I belong to 'brahmin' jAti, but in my school
 days neither I nor my father knew that we were supposed to be 'Hindus' 
(evidence: when I had to fill up the admission form to the high school,
 I asked my father, what I should write in the column, ‘religion'; 
he was not quite uneducated person, but still he didn't know the
 answer 'Hindu' for this question. At least when it comes to "caste system"
and talking about the supposed "Hindu religion", empirical issues do not appear
 to bother very much the contributors to the Indology forum!). 
>From the existence of cruelty, misery, oppression etc. in India,  it does 
not follow
that such things are due to "Caste System" - if by that term is meant the 
existence of 
the practice of jAtis in India.  jAti -  in the
 sense of self-enclosed community not having interdining and inter-marriage
 with other communities - may exist on a horizontal level, and a ritual
self-enclosedness of a group is not the same as putting
  'restrictions' on celebrating any festival  by others in their
 own milieus, as the sentence from Tartokov implies.   
One may have criticisms of the milieu and practices 
connected with  ' jAti' - ( one may, for instance, take jAti practice to task
for just living side by side without attempting a 'social integration' 
and  'social fraternity').  But that has to be on  independent grounds than 
that of  'elitism', because it is doubtful whether jAti is a system of  
'elitism' at all.

Dr. B. Narahari Rao
F.R. 5.1. Philosophie
Unversitaet des Saarlandes,
Postfach 15 11 50,
D-66041 Saarbrücken


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