Tribal women in Jharkhand capital Ranchi get ready to mark the Ram temple bhoomi pujan Wednesday | ANI
Tribal women in Jharkhand capital Ranchi get ready to mark the Ram temple bhoomi pujan | Representational image | ANI
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The upcoming Ram Mandir in Ayodhya is not just any temple structure but an assertion of Hindu solidarity. With Kameshwar Chaupal, a Dalit who laid the foundation stone of the temple three decades ago and now as an active member of the Ram Temple trust, the significant position of Dalits in the Hindu imagination is a foregone conclusion. There is much debate and distortion regarding the Hindu social order on whether it is birth based or worth based. That debate will continue because it serves India’s political class, which is in a constant pursuit of construction and manipulation of identities for electoral gains.

The presence of Kameshwar Chaupal has largely gone unnoticed for obvious reasons. Apart from Chaupal, the leaders who were at the helm of the Ram Janmabhoomi movement — Kalyan Singh, Uma Bharti and Vinay Katiyar — came from the lower caste and backward communities. However, India’s academic and intellectual class is not able to reconcile with this because it endures on building falsehood over the caste system, which is undoubtedly one of the most important civilisational fault lines.


Also read: Idea of India wasn’t demolished at Ayodhya. That happened in our ‘liberal’ homes


Deeply inclusive historical foundations 

Of the many available versions of Ramayana, the most authentic one is by sage Valmiki, who comes from the socially backward community in modern sociological context. It cannot be a mere coincidence that the authors of both Ramayana and Mahabharata — Valmiki and Ved Vyasa — were Dalits.

Valmiki will be present in this modern incarnation of Ram temple as well. Among places “important to the (Dalit) community” that have sent soil for the bhoomi pujan in Ayodhya includes Maharshi Valmiki Ashram in Sitamarhi and Valmiki Ashram in central Delhi, according to a news report.

“Dalits have been the cultural soldiers of our civilisation,” argues Kaushal Panwar, a Dalit assistant professor of Sanskrit in the University of Delhi. Speaking about the Shabari incident, she told me, “Ram, during his vanvas (exile), comes face to face with an old tribal lady living in a dilapidated house eating berries. Ram proceeds towards her in spite of the resistance by his brother Lakshman and shares the fruit and engages with the woman like an equal.” This clearly is indicative of the deep-rooted respect for the subaltern communities in the holy scriptures.

Apart from Shabari, Ahalya and Nishadraj incident also offers an insight on how Ramayana, as VHP secretary-general Milind Parande puts it, is an “outstanding illustration of social harmony”.

There are many such stories in the rural parts of India that have a great semblance to the marginalised sections of our society. Kabir, who has a massive following among the OBC, SC and ST communities in north and east India, also praises Ram unequivocally. In his devotion to Ram, he calls himself his pet. “कबिरा कुत्ता राम का, मोतिया मेरा नाम। गले राम की जेवरी, जित खैंचे तित जाऊँ”। Such is the dedication of icons who are worshipped and followed by Dalits in large numbers.

The mention of Chhattisgarh’s Ramnami community also becomes significant in this context. Its members have Ram’s name tattooed all over their bodies. A century-old movement that signifies the fact that even the anomalies of untouchability did not stop them in their worship of Lord Ram.


Also read: Only Lalu Prasad Yadav could have stopped Mandir politics again. BJP must be relieved


Emblem of Hindu unity 

For far too long, Hindus have been subject to foreign dominations. In one of my previous articles for ThePrint, I have argued how the rise of Prime Minister Narendra Modi was the manifestation of the collective subaltern. There is a special place for Dalits and OBCs in the evolved Hindutva matrix. The whole idea behind mooting a fictional alliance between Dalits and Muslims is an attempt to break the Hindu unity.

Dalits, like the upper castes, have shouldered the duties and obligations of the Hindu civilisation since time immemorial. That the majority of Dalits are unapologetic Hindus is a testament to this fact. Regardless of the overtures by the missionaries and the Marxists, Dalits are and will eternally continue to be loyal and devoted followers of Sanatan Dharma.

The author is an Assistant Professor at Patna University and Fellow, India Foundation. He is spokesperson, Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha, BJP’s youth wing, Bihar. Views are personal.

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23 Comments Share Your Views

23 COMMENTS

  1. Caste bias/prejudice is deeply rooted in the blood of Hindus. It will not be wiped out for another Century. Even those who have converted to othe faiths, they have carried the same in the new religion, which they have embraced.

    • He was never dalit but in hindu caste based system.savarn can creat story according to their future and present prifit.

  2. Dalits and other lower caste people are very useful in times of communal riots in the overall scheme of Hindutva. You will rarely find a member of upper caste Hindu actively participating in a communal riot. His role is that of an instigator, an agent provocateur. The bottom line is that their membership of the Hindu clan starts and ends with their usefulness as mercenaries of Hindu upper caste zealots. Once the job accomplished, they are send back to their god forsaken universe of lesser beings; not good enough to sit on the same table with the upper caste Hindus for any meaningful social interaction, much less for a matrimonial alliance.

    • Well said……the BRAHMANAS have always used the SUDRAS like trash…..when in need, they will make use of them…….at other times they will discard them….this is how they flourished, and continue to do so.

  3. ✔ 30 year project which claimed lives of more than 2000,
    ✔ Communal divide intensified, RDX used in attack.
    📍Hindu unity fissled out after supreme court verdict, No BC, SC ST in the trust board.
    📍 Common man on street had to sacrifice.
    📍 Forget support for “#Liberating other temples” from BC, SC, ST.
    📍 Start talking taking action on raising #Inequality, #Discrimination.

  4. Agree. The millions killed in the name of Allah throughout history and to date bears evidence to the truth of your statement.

  5. The article is ok. But there is clearly a lie in telling that both Maharshi Valmiki and Vyasa were dalits.
    Actually, NEITHER OF THEM WERE DALITS.
    1. Valmiki was born as Agni Sharma to a Brahmin named Pracheta (also known as Sumali) of Bhrigu gotra. [Ref. History Of Ancient India (a New Version) : From 7300 Bb To 4250 Bc,. Atlantic Publishers & Dist. 2006. p. 720.]
    2. Vyasa was the son of Sage Parashara and great grandson of Sage Vashistha. Even his mother Satyavati was the daughter of the Chedi king, Vasu (also known as Uparichara Vasu) and a cursed apsara (celestial nymph) who was turned into a fish called Adrika. She is the adopted daughter of a tribal chieftain, Dashraj (also a ferryman) on the banks of the river Yamuna.
    Beside these we need to remember that in the ancient time Varna was based on profession and several varnas were present in a family simultaneously.

    The Print should refrain from publishing such Casteist shallow articles if it wants to be a 21st Century portal.

  6. Really? What would you call Jehowah, Allah etc.? Was Christ guilty? was Issac guilty? so by your logic Allah, Yehowah, God etc. were not God at all.

  7. If you think it’s worth based then at least acknowledge it in writing. Stop writing lower caste, start using words like forward-backward castes. No one is superior and those who claim so only highlight historic power game of castes.

  8. Haha. Dalits are simply the foot soldiers in the militant Hindutwa’s fight with Islam. The hope they have is that Dalits and Muslims will eleiminate each other, lighting up the way for the Hindu Rashtra based on the Shastras.

  9. It quite literally resets everything- the idea of actual secularism, the debate of Islamic reforms, and collective purging of extremism, intersectional harmony has to be pursued now. But most importantly cleanse our every last bit of “Anglo-Imperialist” idealogues, have a robust discussion, and set the precedent of making narratives from some Washington D.C. cheap pasty white professors to India and its citizens. Never again. Never Forget.

  10. Blood sacrifices were made to the Abrahamic God and muslims slaughter goats as sacrifice during Eid in name of (A)llah so yes the Abramic God Allah cannot be God

  11. Dalit is not hindu. Hinduism infact exploits Dalit. Hinduism don’t respect Dalit. If Dalit want to change his fortunes , they should stay away from Hinduism and adopt another religion Christianity or Islam . Christianity is at its best

  12. I wholeheartedly welcome the assertion here that Ved Vyasa is considered as a Dalit. He was the son of Rishi Parashar and Satyavati. Parashar was a Brahmin. Satyavati was
    the daughter of the Chedi king, Uparichara Vasu and a apsara who was turned into a fish called Adrika. She was brought up as the adopted daughter of Dashraj, a ferryman on the banks of the river Yamuna. Hence if her lineage is considered from that of her foster father, it is to be welcomed.

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