Universal varnas? -- a response

Partha Banerjee partha at CAPITAL.NET
Sun Mar 7 16:16:15 UTC 1999

>>This brand of the so-called varna system conforms only to the capitalist
>>and exploitative structure of the world [... blah, blah ...]
>Please -- must we have this? I made a simple request for facts: did Hindus
>of previous times, or did they not, view non-Hindu societies as essentially
>varna-like in structure? Your socialist sermon sheds no light on this issue.
>Martin Gansten


Some get too worked up at any hint of a political undertone. Then they do
the following.

1. They undermine the one who is bringing up politics. (for example,
suffixing an excerpt of the said poster with [blah, blah] as if it's
meaningless or inane.

2. They arouse sentimental feelings among other such "apolitical" persons
on the list by asking "Please -- must we have this?" As if, the
"this"-branded post is nothing but trivial and not worthy of such scholarly

3. They would brand the poster someone who is delivering "socialist
sermon"s. As if, those who are actively against socialist ideas are not
working against such egalitarian concepts.

Question is, why do these people get so worked up at political tones? My
own observation is:

1. Either they abhor politics and do not want to hear anything remotely
political on scholarly lists (as if scholars are not supposed to touch this
"dirty" subject);

2. They purposefully undermine and ridicule others who bring up political
discussions they believe important and necessary. Politics of religion is a
much-cultivated subject and is taught at major universities and colleges
all over the world, yet, some pretend it is not.

3. They know that exposing of certain religious and social theories and
practices that are pro-status quo and oppressive would bring in a whole
host of associated discussions that such "apolitical" scholars would find
terribly disturbing; therefore, nipping in the bud of such discussions and
discussants is a quick and effective way.

We have participated in discussions on this list on subjects such as:
Indian Children Born Abroad, and Deepa Mehta's 'Fire' and they were very
productive and educative (in spite of the usual namecalling and viciousness
around them). I am personally thankful to Indology moderators for allowing
such discussions.

We will continue similar discussions on subjects such as varna system (and
will bring in politics because varna and other such divisive systems HAVE
politicized and polarized the society) on this list as long as they are
permitted by list moderators.

I ask listmembers not to use personally dirisive language that would make
them look not so scholarly any more.

Thanks for hearing.

-Partha Banerjee

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