Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Vegetarian Vigilantism

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat

Vegetarianism is basically considered to be a ‘nonviolent’ approach towards nature and our food habits. People who did not like ‘animal slaughtering’ and ‘cruelty’ on them would often turn vegetarians. Many people are vegetarians because of their taste for the food others are because of basic cultural values they inherited but it is a fact that a majority of India is not vegetarian and that vegetarianism is basically belong to the values of caste Hindus in Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan regions. Mostly vegetarians in India are becoming highly illiberal and contemptuous towards those who are ‘different’ than them in food habits. It was not true several years back. My mother was a devout vegetarian but she did not stop us eating meat. Many of my friends even today may not eat non-veg but they are cook non veg and perhaps delicious than others.

The war in India is not just being vegetarian and non-vegetarian but gone further. It is a well thought action to isolate Muslims and Christians on the basis of their food habits even when the facts are that not all of them eat it. Contrary to this, a very large number of caste Hindus eats beef.  It was never a taboo with communities of Dalits and Aadivasis. But the politics behind the whole debate actually intend to communalize the matter further for ulterior political profits.

The debate now is not between vegetarianism verses non veg loving people but it further aim to divide the non-veg lovers and hence those who eat beef are sought to be isolated in this entire game plan. Frankly speaking cow slaughter was banned in India since 1947 and various states too had enacted different laws towards cow protection hence raking up that issue is nothing but purely political. Fact right now is that they have further expanded the ‘cow family’ and hence decided that they are not just contend with cow slaughtering but even beyond that and hence the slaughtering of buffaloes and others animals of cow family is legally prohibited in Maharastra and other states. The hidden agenda of the Sangh Parivar and its various offshoots is visible with state after state amending their laws and including more ‘progenies’ of the cow family, which was not there earlier. So, it is not merely that you are satisfied with Cow but now the Maharastra act has extended the ‘protection’ to the progenies of cow. In fact, India’s home minister openly said that he would ‘starve’ Dhaka of its basic diet, as police would be more vigilant to stop smuggling of cows and its progenies.

So the distortion of the news is that we are talking against cow slaughtering, which is already prohibited under the law, but its progenies, which was never, and no religious sanctity was given to them at any point of time. In fact, slaughtering of buffaloes has been one of the major rituals in Nepal as well as in several temples in Assam and Uttarakhand in India. 

Historically cow and its progenies were useful animals for people for not just milk and other produces but also for the purpose of farming. There are proofs of Brahmins eating beef as said by Prof D.N.Jha in his famous work. The Dalits and Aadivasis too eat beef and other wild animals, which were the biggest source of protein for them. There is no Yjna in the ancient text without killings of animals. The gods and goddess that are displayed in today’s time have a violent track record and non-talked about nonviolence. Hence it would be a travesty of truth to suggest that vegetarianism is part of India’s culture.

Nonviolence was a Buddhist doctrine while Bhagwat Gita and Ramayana’s stories are not just full of violence but ‘adharma’ too as Dr Ambedkar exposed in his skillful analysis of ‘Riddles of Hinduism’. It is not a hidden fact that all the ‘rakshasa’s and ‘evils’ in these ‘epics’ are either people of black color or Dalit-Adivasis. So ‘dharma’ became a doctrine to create and impose a brahmanical supremacy over Dalit Bahujan masses.  When Buddhism was spreading in entire country and became the philosophy of life for millions of people here the brahmanical forces retaliated violently against the same and the result was Buddhism was thrown out of its land of birth. Jainism too was a nonviolent doctrine but unfortunately it has completely coopted by the Hindutva and their business interests today. The Aryan Supremacy was established ‘mythologically’ to kill the spirit of the asserting Asuras or anaryas so varnashram dharma and its ‘divine’ philosophy became the biggest weapon.

Over the period the struggle for human dignity and human rights are part and parcel of India’s social as well as mythological structure. The mythological structure that denied the vast majority basic human rights and human dignity actually continued to humiliate them till the oppression gave rise to different new philosophies of life which provided a window of opportunity to all the oppressed. Buddhism, Jainism, Sikkhism, Kabirpanthis, Ravidasis provided the opportunity further. That apart, Islam and Christianity too came as a liberator for thousands of people who were treated as untouchables. The vast working masses of Indians belonging to Dalits, aadivasis and backward communities were actually protectors of natural resources, environment and animals. But at the same point of time animal meat of any variety was a source of protein for them.

The Brahmins realized this and used ‘nonviolence’ as a tool to make these powerful communities virtually ‘vegetarian’ and ensured that their ‘assertion’ and ‘rebellion’ is dumbed through ‘divinity’ of these acts. Brahmanical ‘nonviolence’ therefore was nothing but a multipronged strategy to defeat Buddhism philosophically on the one side and develop an alternative where its supremacy remained intact. Hence throughout the history brahmanical vegetarian violence has played a dangerous game in dividing communities. When Buddhism was reaching the masses the Brahmins used all kind of violence to stop its growth but after the Mughal rule in India the priorities shifted. They were the first to compromise and adjust with the power but once the British arrived in India these same forces formed groups and associations to be associated with them. Cow Protection and vegetarianism gained currency during the British period when the Muslims were on the receiving end and Indian civil services were being replaced by the caste Hindus however the influence of Muslim remained powerful as ever and they fought against the British regime with much vigor and power. In the 1920s when Congress was attempting to bring Muslims in its fold to fight a joint battle against British, the Rastriya Swayam Sevak Sangh was also taking shape in Nagpur, a land of revolution and revolt of the Dalit Bahujan against Brahmanical hierarchy. Islam and Christianity was proving to be a liberating ground for the Dalits to get rid of the untouchability and further an alliance of these forces would have made the statusquo difficult to maintain. The politics of symbolism began from here to mobilise people under ‘Hindu’ identity and for that an artificial construct of India as ‘pitrabhumi’ or father land came handy to create an impression that only those who have India as their fatherland are actually the rightful inheritor of this country. The Dusshera festival and using the brahmanical symbolism became a fashion for political mobilization as from Tilak to Gandhi all used these symbolism for their own political purposes resulting in deep division among the society.

The problem with such divisive Hindutva politics was to deliberately blame Muslims for all the ailments of India to legitimize their vicious communal agenda. Hence after the partition when we had the national government under Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru, RSS continued with its divisive legacy of Hindu Rastra as a counter to political Islam. As Pakistan was created in the name of religion, RSS wanted a Hindu Rastra, which according to their own theology was ‘brahmanical’ in nature. There is no history of the RSS fighting against caste system, untouchability, dowry system and other evils of Hindu society. Their focus was Muslim and Islam so that they can cover up the whole inequality and dirty caste system of the Hindu society. Assault on Muslim was also necessary to arrest the ‘conversion’ and keep the Dalits with in the Hindu caste framework. Initially, they provided the cheap services and later with assertive Dalits with Ambedkar’s vision became the real cultural threat for brahmanical Hindutva and hence all efforts were made to coopt and assimilate them in broader agenda of Sangh Parivar.

As the Muslims and Dalits along with OBCs and Aadivasis were coming together and forming rainbow coalition to fight against Brahmanical hegemony the worries of Sangh Parivar were inevitable. While they condemn Congress party for ‘appeasing’ Muslims and not acknowledging Dr Ambedkar, it need to be checked if our memories are not faded that Dr Ambedkar was given Bharat Ratna by V.P.Singh who is the most hated figure for the Sangh Parivar and their upper caste followers. In fact, if V P government had survived in 1990, the political landscape of India would have been absolutely different than what it is today. That government fell in the house of people on November 7th, 1990 for fulfilling a constitutional obligation to protect religious place of fellow countrymen in Ayodhya. Yes, Singh acted toughly against Hindutva elements who tried to demolish Babari Masjid in October, 1990.

The biggest challenge for the Sangh Parivar led brahmanical Hindutva was to break the alliance between these diverse segments. Their number increased in Parliament and state assemblies. The issue of Ram Mandir flopped and slowly Dalits have fascinatingly adopted Dr Ambedkar’s way of life and embraced Buddhism. All the Babas and corporate attempt to bring them to Hindu fold failed and hence it became essential to divide them further aliening with Muslims. Today, the Sangh Parivar is celebrating Dr Ambedkar’s birthday but don’t we know one of their ideologue Arun Shourie wrote ‘ Worshipping the False God’ in the 1990s. Sangh Parivar is trying to use Ambedkar from 1990s but it never condemned Shourie’s writings on Ambedkar and his attempt to denigrate Ambedkar and make him look a petty politician. There are many dalit ‘scholars’ at the disposal of Sangh Parivar who compared Ambedkar and Jagjivan Ram. Two mouthpieces of Sangh namely ‘Organiser’ and ‘Panchjanya’ devoted its whole issue on Dr Ambedkar and his ‘association’ with Hindutva. His term ‘reclamation’ of our inheritance is being misinterpreted and his differences with Congress are being highlighted. One has to understand that Dr Ambedkar fought against Congress because he felt that it was serving the upper caste Hindus interest and is least bothered about Dalits and other marginalized. If Sangh was that powerful those times, he would have fought against them too. Ambedkar’s writings are selectively being used against Congress and Muslims. As mentioned earlier Ambedkar’s fight was against inhuman brahmanical system and he wanted a dignified solution to the issue of Dalits where they participate in power structure with their head high and ensure that benefit of this participation reach to the poorest of the poor.

The vegetarian vigilantes today have made life of law abiding Indian citizens difficult. Understand it how they are intruding in your personal lives right from your right to freedom of expression to food habits to who should be your soul-mate. They have become extra-state actors at the moment though acting at the behest of state and using its absolute freedom towards them. They started with Vandemataram and Ram Mandir movement and realized that they have to move ahead and hence used corruption as an entry point. Today in power, they want to control everything. So it is not merely what you should eat but who you should stay and who you should love.  Every day hundreds of their ‘philosophers’ and ‘guides’ are looking for new issues to humiliate and intimidate the Muslims and Christians and create an artificial threat to others. It is important to understand the designs of such forces that India will have to run through the preamble of its constitution and all the international charters that we signed.

It is important to understand their modus operandi and why beef has now become the major issues and it will remain as long as we have ‘democracy’ and ‘elections’ to win but every issue that the Sangh Parivar raises have not just politics but ‘economic’ interest too and therefore ignoring the vast business interest of their ‘client’ would be detrimental for them.


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