Universal varnas? -- a response

Ruth Laila Schmidt r.l.schmidt at EAST.UIO.NO
Sun Mar 7 16:38:38 UTC 1999

Dear members of the list,

I for one am getting weary of polemics on this list.

Best regards,

Ruth Schmidt

>>>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

Ruth Laila Schmidt
Dept of East European and Oriental Studies
University of Oslo
P.O. Box 1030 Blindern
N-0315 Oslo, Norway
Phone: (47) 22 85 55 86
Fax: (47) 22 85 41 40
Email: r.l.schmidt at east.uio.no

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