Latest posts by M.V.R. Sastry (see all)
- A Critical Review of Kancha Ilaiah’s “Why I am Not a Hindu” - July 8, 2003
A Critical Review of Kancha Ilaiah’s Why I am Not a Hindu
by Shri M. V. R. Sastry
[Casteism is the major evil afflicting all religious communities in India. This evil must be fought continuously till it disappears from the Indian society. Caste-based discrimination against Harijans (Scheduled Castes) and Vanavasis (tribals) has been mitigated to a great extent in the last few decades through legislation, social and religious reforms, education, affirmative actions, industrialization and urbanization. However, much more needs to be done.
A disturbing trend in the battle against this social evil is the emergence of a nexus of hate-filled Islamists, Christian missionaries, misguided and marginal/elitist Dalit leaders, Marxists, Anglophile Indian elites (still bearing the white mans burdens) and lately, western Indologists/South Asian Studies specialists. These disparate groups seem to have only one thing in common a deep hatred for Hindus and Hinduism.
Kancha Ilaiahs book Why I am not a Hindu is a manifestation of this disturbing trend. Ever since the book was published, Ilaiah has become a celebrity for various Christian missionary, Islamist, Indian Marxist and other Hinduphobic groups. The title ostensibly seeks to place the book in the league of texts such as Ibn Warraqs Why I am not a Muslim (New York: Prometheus Books, 1995) or Bertrand Russels Why I am not a Christian. Ilaiahs book however differs from the others in its undisguised hatred for the targeted community (Hindus), for its crudeness, a general lack of scholarship and academic rigor, in the abundance of cheap rhetoric, in its distortion of facts and finally, in the authors total lack of understanding of the religion it seeks to denigrate. Surprisingly (?), the book seems to be quite popular in some American and European Universities. On various Internet discussion lists, scholars such as Lise McKean, Linda Hess, Eliza Kent etc., routinely recommend it as an introduction level reading material on Hinduism! While one can understand the inclusion of critical views (provided they are scholarly) in advanced classes on individual religions, the inclusion of this hate-filled and negative text in introductory courses on Hinduism and India by Professors (often of Indian Marxist extraction) at schools such as the Columbia University, New York is simply baffling, and also disturbing. One never encounters the inclusion of Warraqs text in elementary courses on Islam, or of Russels classic in an introductory course on Christianity. Even for advanced courses on Hinduism, these learned Professors should be able to find something that is more academic, instead of relying on a hate-filled tract.
The exception made in the case of Hinduism by scholars is reminiscent of trends in Germany in the early 1900s when bashing of Jews was quite fashionable in Universities. What resulted from this scholarly hatemongering (combined with other factors) in Hitlers Germany is well known. The asymmetric, prejudiced treatment reserved for Hinduism needs to be seen in the context of the discussions on Hinduism in scholarly Internet forums and in academic South Asian Studies/Indology conferences, where the quickest way to popularity and promotion of ones career seems to be merciless, sadistic bludgeoning of Hindus and Hindu dharma. Scholar spin doctors take a vicarious pleasure in branding various aspects of Hindu dharma as Hindutva, and from there, anything goes. In many cases, the fig-leaf of scholarly distinction between Hindutva and Hinduism is also discarded, and Hindu dharma is bashed unabashedly. Even the present book is titled Why I am not a Hindu, but the subtitle says that it is a Sudra critique of Hindutva! The cause of this scholarly hatemongering against Hindus by scholars merits a separate study, and cannot be dealt with here in any detail.
The following review of Ilaiahs claim to fame (or notoriety, as a Hindu may see it), i.e., the book Why I am not a Hindu, was initially written in 4 parts by Sri M.V.R. Sastry, Editor of Andhra Bhoomi, a leading Telugu newsmagazine. The Telugu text was then translated into English by Sri K. Satya Deva Prasad, and published in two parts titled Ilaiahs howlers I and II in the ezine Bharatiya Pragna (Sept. 2000, Vol. II, No. 9 & Oct. 2000, Vol. II, No. 10). These articles have long since disappeared from the Internet. We obtained a copy of the same and are now reproducing them for wider dissemination. We have slightly modified the style of the aforementioned English version in order to make it more comprehensible. Formatting changes have been incorporated merely to make the article look more pleasing to the eye. No significant change in the substance of the critique has been made. – Editor, July 8, 2003].
What are the five great books of the millennium? It is a question that will baffle most of the learned and the intellectual bibliophiles. Why? Because enormous amounts of literature has been composed in every language, say in Telugu, over the past thousand years, in various forms like the short story, novel, poetry, social critique, etc.,. In India, there are over a dozen such major regional languages. Put together, the number of all the books produced in English, Hindi and regional languages goes into thousands. To pick up just five out of that mountain of books is a dizzy task even to the highly learned and informed.
Yet, such a daunting task was performed in a jiffy by the Delhi based English daily “The Pioneer“. The list of the five great books runs thus:
* “Annihilation of Caste” by Dr. B.R. Ambedkar
* “Gopitha” by Namdev Dassal
* “Untouchable” by Mulkraj Anand
* “Gabbilam (The Bat)” by Joshua
* “Why I am not a Hindu” by Kancha Ilaiah
Of the above, the first four books were authored and published several years ago, whereas Ilaiah’s book is quite a new entrant in the market. It has been creating its own kind of sensation since its first publication. The English original has even been translated into Telugu, Kannada and Tamil.
People are naturally curious as to what this “great” book of the millennium has to offer to the reader. Apart from being trumpeted as the book of the millennium, the author seems to be fairly convinced about the greatness of his book even before it entered the market! His pompous declaration, “My date of birth may matter little to the country but the date of publication of this book is very important. I am confident that it is going to influence the march of history.” The declaration reflects the authors mental immaturity.
The learned author informs us that his magnum opus is prescribed as a text in many universities in various countries; that historians, social scientists, political theorists, economists, philosophers and all sorts of experts are avidly reading it! It is used, according to him, by foreigners as a source book to know India! It seems one US ambassador reportedly said that the book presents Indian reality with chilling accuracy. How exciting!
But how factual is the account of India presented by Ilaiah? What kind of chilling truths are there in it? This is the mute question.
So far, hundreds of books have come out dealing with Dalits, Bahujans, weaker sections of society, their plight in the society and so on. Of these, many are penned by people who actually belong to the suffering, disabled strata of the society. But what puts Ilaiah – in his own estimation – distinctly in that class is his so-called personal experience. According to his detailed self-description, Ilaiah has the distinction of not only being born in the backward Kuruma caste in a backward Telangana village, but of actually rearing sheep while he was young.
He describes at length how meticulously he learnt the intricacies of his caste-craft and its lingo; of the esoteric techniques to distinguish various sheep like the bolli gorre, the pulla gorre, the nalla gorre; of the diseases that attack the sheep; of the rustic herbal concoctions used to cure the diseases; of the hot-iron application in case the paltry medication fails; of the task of mid-wifing the birth of sheep-lings; tending to the young and grown-up sheep; above all, the expertise to shear wool from sheep without hurting it. This is the source of the caste-based knowledge and experience acquired by the millennium author.
In addition to sheep rearing, he acquired a doctorate in academic studies and became Associate Professor of Political Science at Osmania University, which knowledge and academic expertise he has used in analyzing his childhood experiences and in formulating his “Dalit-Bahujan” theories and perceptions.
The education acquired by Ilaiah would have found its consummation had he utilized it to analyze, clarify and rectify the ideas he acquired during his childhood through mere hearsay. It would have also served the cause of the Dalit-Bahujans so dear to his heart. But that was not to be. What actually happened in Ilaiah’s case is quite different. He never verified what he saw and heard in his childhood with his immature inchoate capabilities in later years. He never seemed to consult any worthwhile source before making venomous remarks about the Brahminism and Brahmin lifestyle, much less did he observe the present actual situation.
There is not the slightest hint that he did any impartial and methodical study, however sketchy, about the Brahmins. What all we know of his knowledge about Brahmins and Brahminism is his so-called discussions with one or two of his colleagues. And these colleagues are, per his own admission, feminists well known for their pathological hatred for everything connected with Hindu tradition, notwithstanding their own Brahminical birth.
In his childhood, certain things were clear, some were not (as Iliah himself admits). Yet he never bothered to understand them even in his “enlightened” years.
Now hear certain truths right from the horse’s mouth:
(Note: The following quotations are from the English as well as the Telugu version quoted in the article by M.V.R. Sastry. Many passages in the Telugu version do not occur in the English version – Translator)
“The social structure in which I first became conscious of the world around me was a Kuruma social structure. My playmates, friends and, of course, relatives all belonged to the Kuruma caste. Occasionally, the friendship circle extended to Goudaa and Kaapu boys. We used to meet youngsters of all castes except those of Baapana (Brahmins) and Komati (Baniya / Vaishya) castes in pastures, hedges and fields. But we did not have any occasion to peep into the ways of life and work of the Baapana and Komati youngsters.” (p.4)
There was no effort on the part of Ilaiah even thereafter.
“We hear the Maadiga elders chide their children not learning to make footwear and beat a drum as unworthy of their caste. but in what manner and in what words the Baapanas and Komatis show their anger or love towards their children is unknown to us.” (p.6) “It is beyond our guess as to what chores the Bapana and Komati girls learn at home.” (p.8)
In spite of this self-confession about his ignorance about Brahmin and Vaishya lifestyles, Ilaiah lets his imagination go berserk.
“How do the Baapana and Komati youngsters learn the human and sexual relationships? Probably when they go to temples and while performing puja, their boys and girls get an opportunity to mingle. In fact, in our younger days, we did not know about the social aspect of those families.” (p.9)
“We do not know anything about the kind of words used by Baapana, Komati, Kshatriya children while learning to form the mutual social relationships within the Hindu fold. I only came to know later in my life that the Brahmin children are never sent to the field, do not ask them to tend to cattle, to look after harvest, that they are sent to school while quite young. I never knew that they hate mud, soil, cow, buffalo, sheep, oxen, etc.” (p.13-14)
He does not know the reality, yet (or therefore?) attributes sinister motives.
What Ilaiah declares as the hate-targets of upper castes are in fact icons of worship for the latter. Annam or food or crop is worshipped as Parabrahman (the highest form of God). The mud that gives food is one of the five primal elements (prithvi) worshipped. Even the urine and dung of the cow is considered sacred not to speak of the mother cow itself. The bull is worshipped as the mount of God Shiva. Yet Ilaiah’s wisdom sees hate all the way!
On his own admission, Ilaiah does not know a thing about the workings of Bapana and Komati individuals and familial and social relations. He has no acquaintance with what is happening in those families, their customs, practices at all. Yet he asserts with authority as to how disgusting the upper caste lifestyles are! Look at the following quotation where Ilaiah “unearths” unheard of truths!
“That a father in the traditional Baapana household never physically touches his children was not known to me until my Baapana mates told me.” (p.14)
This is something unheard of even to the Brahmins. If Ilaiah is right, then every Brahmin child in every Brahmin household in India should forthwith go to the police station and book a case under untouchablility crime! And we are all eager to know as to which planet the Baapana mates of Ilaiah belong!
Now more of Iliah’s wisdom:
“Child rearing is a wife’s burden. So thinks the male in the Baapana household. While the mother looks after the child, does the so-called upper caste father help in the kitchen? No. The kitchen too is a dirty place which he should not enter. But the eatables cooked in that kitchen are godly things! Baapanness never understands the dialectic relation between impurity and cleanliness.” (p.14)
Only Master Ilaiah could unravel the mystery of this dialectics in the past thousand years!
“I was aghast when I heard that the widow in a Baapana household should always get her head shaved, wear white robe, should not mingle with people in general, should not lie on a cot and so on.” (p.15) “I was also felt aghast when I came to know that the Hindu wives burn themselves on the pyre of their husbands.” (p.26)
When did he observe these customs? How often are they practiced now-a-days? – These questions never bother Ilaiah. Nor did Ilaiah care to look at the full flowing hair of Brahmin widows that he comes across in his University campus or on the road. He never cared to ascertain whether these customs are still in general practice.
Read on for more of Iliah’s pearls of wisdom:
“Baapana children pick up the inhumanness of Hindu religion quite easily. They are taught that those who love and work with soil are sub-humans; that those who eat meat are mean and so on. In imparting those venomous ideas, the Brahmin mother also plays a major role along with the father-teacher who teaches Veda. So much so that their children are prevented from loving the soil and the people. Day in and day out, the Brahmin ladies never spare any effort in moulding their children into beasts in the later years.” (p.17)
“In Hindu households, open discussions about sexual experience are totally out of place. Mothers can never discuss their sex life with daughters.” (p.17)
“No Brahmin lady could author a book. How come the goddess of learning herself remain unlettered? It is the direct outcome of the cruelty and the devilishness of Brahminism.” (p.94)
“Vishnu reclining on the serpent is an indication of his inhumanness. Goddess Laxmi has a full hand in the plots hatched by Vishnu against the Dalitbahujans. Should any Dalitbahujan individual acquire wealth, or turn against the caste system, Goddess Laxmi spies on them and informs Vishnu. Then Vishnu kills them with his Vishnu chakra (disc).” (p.96)
“Siva and Parvati are probably girijans. But Parvati also works against Dalitbahujans in tandem with Laxmi and Saraswati.” (p. 98)
“A large number of Brahmins came along with Sita, Rama and Laxmana to overthrow and usurp the Adivasi Republics and independent Bahujan kingdoms. They killed Tataka and usurped her kingdom. They also murdered Sambuka and occupied his kingdom.” (p.107)
What profound Puranic wisdom! Goddess Saraswati is illiterate; Sri Krishna “stole” Gita; Sita went to forest with the adolescent Rama even before marriage, occupied the kingdom of Tataka and after marriage she got Shambuka killed and occupied his kingdom (of a poor hut!). Well to counter these charges of murder and trespass framed by Ilaiah is beyond the capability of Gods what to speak of us mortals! They are so senseless.
It is to describe this kind of fantasies that the author of Venugopala Satakam (one hundred verses on Venugopala) aptly said “Ramanda katalella memerunganiviya, Kaatama rajuku Karnudode“, i.e.,
“We well know the Ramanda (Ramayana mis-spelt) stories – doesn’t Karna lose to Katama Raja!”
Claiming to show off his knowledge of Ramayana, Ilaiah-like intellectual declares that the Ramayana is about the story of defeat of Karna at the hands of Katama Raja. What Karna of the Mahabharata has to do with the 14th century Nellore king Katama Raja is anybody’s guess.
One can condone Ilaiah for his ignorance about the Hindu deities and the intricacies of Hindu dharma and Hindu classical literature. One can also condone his hateful, illogical, incoherent rants against Hinduism made without the least home-work. For many savants a life-time respectful study of Hindu dharma is not enough to fully grasp its intricacies, what then, to speak of the half-baked, hate-filled pseudo-scholars like Kancha Ilaiah!
That apart, does this gentleman possess even a paltry acquaintance with the village deities whom he quixotically pits against the Hindu deities? Let us examine at some length.
See this tell-tale quotation from his article of April 30, 2000
“Is it not ironical that the Hindu mythology constructed a god image like Krishna who robs butter, steal clothes of women – that too when they were bathing. While all other Hindu Gods get constructed as monogamian Sativratas (One wife worshippers) Krishna was shown to have indulged in post-modernist sexual orgies.”
His grouse is that if other Gods are conceived as having one wife (Here the word he uses to denote the husband with one wife is ‘Sativrata’ which is a travesty of the actual expression ‘Eka Patnivrata’. So much for his knowledge of Hindu idiom), why should Krishna be depicted as a Casanova? Sri Krishna might feel happy for Ilaiah siding with him. The Lord of the three worlds would definitely get enthralled for having found a staunch advocate in Kanche Ilaiah to argue against the mountainous injustice done by Hindu devotees in treating him as butter stealer, saree-grabber as also for all the insults meted out to him at the hands of the wicked Hindu Brahminical devils!
Now, it is well known that some of the other Hindu Gods also possess more than one wife. They will certainly dance with ecstasy for having given a clean chit by Master Iliah who further argues –
“As of now, the Brahmin Pundits are in a terrible mess because of the RSS men and women shout slogans like “Jai Sriram Laloo Prasad shout back “Jai Srikrishna” by reframing the image of Krishna as anti-Hindutva god. Not knowing the possibility of such a situation the nationalist Brahminism declared Krishna as the author of Gita and it was also declared to be the text of Hinduism.”
That is it! When RSS people shouted “Jai Sriram” Laloo faced them with the slogan “Jai Srikrishna”. This jostled the Brahmin Pundits into a fix. Not foreseeing such a twist to the events, the nationalist Brahmindom of yore declared Krishna as the author of Gita. Now that he is found in Laloo’s camp, the Brahmins fell in a trap. So goes Ilaiah’s gleeful daydreaming.
Ilaiah’s dreaming apart, what is so damaging if Laloo raises slogans in praise of Sri Krishna, the Jagadguru and Jagannatha? Let him also gets some religious merit. What loss does Hindutva incur? Why do Hindus need to fell embarrassed if Laloo Prasad Yadav praises Lord Krishna.
Or shall we feel happy that of all Hindu Gods who faced brickbats from Ilaiah, at least Krishna is treated as a B.C. and let off the book! On the contrary, in his Telugu version of ‘Why I am not a Hindu’, the author does not take kindly to Krishna. Ilaiah pummels Sri Krishna’s image in his own inimitable simpleton-fashion!
“Who is Krishna? Why did the Brahmins create such a god? It is the same Krishna who is said to have authored the most Brahminical text the Bhagavad Gita. At a time when the Sudras had no right to education, how did a Yadava write the Gita? How did a Yadava writer not provide any social space for Yadavas themselves, leave alone the other Dalit bahujans? (Page 82 & 83 of English version; P. 101 of Telugu version)
At a time when the likes of Kancha Ilaiah could not avail the benefit of modern education without any degree or doctorate, without occupying any post in any University, how can a Yadava write a Bhagavad Gita? This is a potent question posed by Master Ilaiah. In both the events – whether the answer is Yes or No, Krishna, and Hinduism along with him, stand convicted. To put Ilaiah’s litigation in a few words – if we say that a Yadava cannot write such a profound work at such an unfavourable time to the BCs, one should admit that Krishna is not a Yadava. On the other hand, if Krishna choose to side with Laloo and Ilaiah and declares that he belongs to Yadava community, then he should also admit that he did not write the Gita.
But if he says he is not a Yadava, he stands convicted for showing false caste certificate. Either way, he faces conviction at the hands of our grand inquisitor, Ilaiah. Here below he spells out the ‘real’ purpose of Krishnavatara –
The Brahmins needed to project a person who could rebuild a consent system to contain the Yadava revolts. The Brahmins created an image of one who was said to have been born and brought up among the Yadavas themselves. They worked out the strategy of creating a Krishna who was born in a Kshyatriya family and brought up in a Yadava family. The young Krishna grows up in a Yadava culture, but the political Krishna never identifies himself with Yadava culture. In no single incident did he stand by the Dalit Bahujans. It did not matter whether his beloved was a Yadava-Radha, or whether the other Gopikas were Yadavas. All his legal wives were Kshatriya women.” (p.84-85 Eng.) (P.103 Telugu).
And lo, our great researcher unearths the infallible secular truth that Krishna of Mahabharata mimicked Kautilya of Mauryan times!
“All the Kautilyan statecraft were exhibited by Krishna in the battle field” (P.86 Eng; P.103 Tel).
There is no better way to stand Indian history on its head! Any thing is possible with Iliah’s fertile imagination.
He elaborates the same esoteric truth in the article of April 30 in the following lines:-
“Krishna became acceptable as a hero of Mahabharat because that was a time which needed a hero who had combined qualities of Kautilya and Vatsayana to safeguard the interests of Brahminical nationalism.”
Thus, according to our ace-academician, a hero combining the spirit of Kautilya and Vatsayana was needed at the time of Mahabharata. So the Brahmin nationalists of that period (?) accepted Krishna as hero!
When did Mahabharata take place? To which period did Kautilya and Vatsayana belong? How on earth could Krishna who predates the other two savants mimic them? This is the lunatics history our Professor doles out.
By the way, Iliah also mangles and mutilates Arthasastra to press it in the service of his Dalit bahujan cause. He pompously declares-
“Brahmins infest in and around the state treasury just as fish live amidst water. So much so, no one can detect how the fishes swallow water. So also no one can doubt how much of state money the Brahmins swallow!”
Kautilya must be turning in his grave! What actually he said in the Arthasastra is this-
“Matsyaa yathanthah salile charantho
jnatum na sakyaah salilam pibanthah
Yuktasthathaa Kaaryavidhon niyuktaa
Jnaatam na sakyaa dhana maada daanaah”
Just as it is not possible to know when the fish which live in water consume it; so also it is impossible to detect when the state officials swallow public money.
Thus what Kautilya said about errant state functionaries is straightaway pasted to Brahmins! That is Ilaiah’s sleight of hand!
Now he resorts to number game which is out and out divisive.
“The fight was between the minority Pandavas (Brahmins, Kshatriyas and Vaisyas were always a minority – they constitute 15% of the population) and the majority Kauravas. The hundred Kauravas stood against Brahminical Dharma and represented Dalit bahujans, whereas the five Pandavas represented the Brahminical minority. In the fight for land (and for the kingdom) Krishna stands by the minority. The majority were not willing to give up the land they acquired through sweat and blood.
Finally, Krishna resorts to violence. After the defeat of the majority in struggle for land, the Gita was used to create a much stronger consent system to ensure that no serious revolts emerged from the Dalit bahujan social base.
Whenever such attempts were made, either by Yadavas or by other Dalit forces, Krishna’s Gita was effectively used to manipulate them into submission.” (p.85 & 86 . Eng; p.105 Tel.).
This outlandish interpretation of Mahabharat will certainly find the ardent readers of the classic dumb-struck! How come we have first cousins of whom some are Brahmins and some Dalit bahujans? What are the difficulties undertaken by Kaurava Dalit Bahujans to acquire land? (except fraud and misrepresentation). Majority reluctant to part with, chances of another revolt from Dalit bahujan camp (how many times?).What has Gita got to do with all this? What treachery and breach of trust did Krishna commit?
So far Bharata war is believed by almost all those who knew the epic to be a feud between two groups of cousins spurred by envy and greed for kingdom. Now Ilaiah’s prophetic perception tells him that it is a feud between OCs and BCs!
To understand such deep secrets, we lesser mortals should know something of Iliah’s version of Indian history and tradition! Read it in his own words:
“All the Gods and Goddesses are institutionalized, modified and contextualized in a most brazen anti-Dalit bahujan mode. All Hindu Gods were opposed to Dalit bahujans. The religion, from its very inception, has a fascist nature. To suppress the revolts of Dalit bahujans, the Brahminical forces instigate their Gods.” (p.92 Tel; p.72 Eng.)
Pray, tell which God suppressed which revolt? Which god opposed Dalits? Whence did Hinduism – which always respected all paths to God – assumed fascist nature? What is fascism and how does it relate to Hinduism? What does Ilaiah mean when he says that Hinduism produces Gods like sheep in a wolves clothing? He continues
“Indra is the chief of Brahminical Gods. Hence he is called Devaatideva” (p.93 Tel.)
If you cross ‘Deva’ with ‘Atideva’, you will get the compound word ‘Devaatideva’. But you will find no such mongrel word. In fact, one need not fear for misspelling and misuse of words. Anything is fair with Ilaiah if only it is used against Hindus and Hinduism. Probably Ilaiah thought that devaatideva is the correct form of devaadhideva.
“Probably Indra either raped or made slaves of a number of Dalit bahujan women. That is why Hindu puranas describe him as lustful person” (p.93 Tel.)
“Brahma is depicted with four and sometimes with eight hands. Brahma the God of Wisdom always bears arms to yield them on his enemies the Dalit Bahujans.” (p.93 Tel.)
“Is Saraswati, the so called Goddess of learning educated? Irrespective of her own learning why did Saraswati deny education to Dalit bahujans? because of the prohibition imposed by Brahmins on learning by women, even Saraswati had to remain unlettered.”
“The daily menu of Brahmins consists of at least 12 curries”.
“While the Brahmins and Baniyas remain lazy gourmets, our parents toil to produce food stuffs, feed others, but go without food for themselves. While the Brahmin Baniya youngsters are nincompoop eaters, our young people are contributing to the country’s economic development.” (p.28 Tel.)
“They appeared to us like young pythons with soft bodies who are brought up in the venomous Hindu culture” (p.18)
“The Baniya, with his huge belly, loose-hanging flesh looks very ugly. Thread on the upper body, ashes on the forehead complete the appearance.While the Hindu priest earns without fear of sin through free doles, the Hindu Baniya earns without fear of sin through trade.” (p.42 Tel.)
“If a Brahmin invested anything at all, it is only manthra chanting. It is well known how much a Brahmin fears work. The Brahmin’s craving for food also confirms it.” (p. 141 Tel.)
“Because they are mostly idle, the Brahmins could conjure-up sixty four poses of copulation.” (p.46 Tel.)
“When a Brahmin dies with a desire to enjoy eternal happiness in heaven, his wife has to follow him. She has to commit sati. If she remains alive, there is chance that she may cohabit with a Sudra or a Chandala. So her death settles the problem for ever.” (p.122 Tel.)
“A Brahmin’s death is so very different from that of a Dalit bahujan. The former’s death is related to planetary and stellar motions. No one should express sadness on his death. The members of his household should never weep openly. They are allowed to weep in a hushed manner.” (p.124 Tel.)
“The Brahmin’s life is not communal in life. It is not so in death. It is eternally alone-Food craving.” (p.125 Tel.)
“Probably Brahmins invented the practice of cremating the dead in ancient times. Because the Hindus massacred thousands of Dalit bahujans who revolted against Brahmin hegemony. To destroy evidence of that atrocity the practice of cremation came handy.” (p.132 Tel.)
“There is no custom among Dalit bahujans to get photographed. The credit of preventing them to preserve their past goes to Brahmins. The Brahmins of old never allowed Dalit bahujans to preserve their past in the form of pictures.” (p.132 Tel.)
Thus Kancha Iliah depends more on heresy regarding the lifestyle, customs, food habits, social family routines; fills gap rest with his own imagination without ever bothering to verify what he heard or imagined; accuses upper castes even for his fellow bahujans not getting photographed or portrayed; parades his illogical, baseless, senseless picture of society as the most authentic and authoritative one. Such writing is unbecoming of a University teacher to say the least.
Ilaiah’s ire is not just confined to Hindu upper-caste social customs and practices. It has also engulfed their deities, sacred beliefs and sentiments. But how authentic is his critique? Sadly enough, it is crude and uninformed in the extreme.
Here are some examples:
“The priest makes the newlywed Dalitbahujan couple utter the words Arthechha, Kamechha, Dharmechha. These are not only unintelligible to the couple, but inapplicable to their lives as well… Artha, kama, moksha are entwined with nature’s forces for the Dalitbahujans… Kama is not a mere act to satisfy bodily desire.” (p. 35 Tel.)
“When we hear what the Brahmin priest tells about Kaamechha, not only the Dalitbahujan couple, but even the Brahmin, Baniya couples are taken aback at first… The Dalitbahujan couple learn a lot about Kaamechha from their parents, relatives and friends.” (p. 44 Tel.)
This discourse by Ilaiah on the four ends of human life displays an abysmal ignorance coupled with superlative self-righteousness. A bit of clarification will make things clear.
In a Hindu marriage, the bride’s father tells the groom:
“Dharmecha, Arthecha, Kaamecha, twayaisha naati charitavyaa.”
It means “in matters of Dharma, Artha or Kaama (desire), you should not be unjust to her”.
In reply, the bridegroom says:
“Naati charaami” (I shall not transgress).
Just as we say Dharma and Artha and Kaama in English, we say Dharmecha, Arthecha, Kaamecha (cha = and) in Sanskrit. Kaamecha means “and kaama” (or “kaama also”). Whereas Ilaiah twists kaamecha into kaamechha with emphasis on “chha“, which means desire (more precisely, sexual desire).
Thus, kama + cha is understood by Iliah as kama + ichha and then he foams at the mouth at the wily priest!
Ilaiah twists not only words, but also the images of unsuspecting Hindu gods! In this, he does his own brand of “rival creation” (prati-srusthi) and threatens Brahma’s position! For instance, on page 94 of the Telugu version, the picture of a Hindu god with eight hands is given and the description below reads thus: “Brahma’s eight hands with weapons, aimed at us?”
Anyone with the least cursory knowledge of Hinduism will confirm that the said picture is of god Vishnu, not of Brahma as asserted by Ilaiah in his blind rage. But if you dare to differ with our learned professor, you are under the grave risk of being branded as the fascist, wily, Hindu-Brahmin agent or stooge or whatever!
What of the mere images of gods? Kancha Ilaiah is inimitable in rewriting their history and creating new Puranas! The following are some of the travails of the Hindu gods according to Ilaiah:
“The Hindu gods became heroes by waging wars… in fact, violence is ingrained in the Hindu religion at every step…”
Such violence is not in the least to be seen in the Dalitbahujan deities of South India… not one story can be picked in which violence forms the major theme.
Pochamma, maisamma, maaramma, potharaju, malliah like gods’ and goddesses’ private life (including sexual life) is not known at all to the Dalitbahujans. Such discussion is out of place in the context of those deities.
“Who is this Pochamma? Why people worship her? Because she protects them from diseases. Probably she discovered neem leaf to be the cure for small-pox and thereby saved people. Whether Pochamma has a husband, nobody knows”. (Telugu version)
Even if Ilaiah does not know (on his own admission) about Pochamma, her husband; or about the private life of Maisamma and Maaramma; or whether violence is inherent in their nature; it is known to everyone who has some general knowledge. The lives and deeds of these village deities are being known for hundreds and thousands of years to the village folks and sung by them in the form of folk-art forms like oggukatha, jamukulakatha, gollasuddi and other narrative media.
Let us take a look at the story of Pochamma in brief.
Goddess Parvati had a desire to have a child. She begs Sankara. Sankara says that all those born in Kali Yuga are their progeny and hence there is no need for more kids. But Parvati persists saying that one should have one’s own children and there lies the fulfilment of motherly instinct. But Sankara refuses again. Meanwhile, Laxmi and Saraswati come to Parvati and offer her their own children for adoption. They have an eye on Parvati’s wealth. But Parvati refuses the offer saying that I myself should give birth to a child and bring it up in seven mansions with silver swings. She again approaches Sankara and pesters him for the boon of a child.
Sankara plans to cajole her for the time being by giving her a jasmine flower and went away to turn the wheel of creation. Parvati ate the flower and within a few hours suffered labour pains. She sent for Sankara who learnt the truth and went to Parvati’s parents. He chided them for Parvati becoming pregnant in his absence. Then he went to Parvati, tied her limbs, made her walk on a caltrap (Palleru Kayalu).
They arrived at the burial ground where a pyre was arranged with eight carts of sandal wood. Siva made Parvati lie on the pyre and lights it.
Then the foetus in the womb of Parvati speaks out: “Do not weep, my mother. I am your support.” Meanwhile, the pyre burned out but no harm came to Parvati. Born in Kaadu (cremation ground in Telugu), the child was named Pochamma.
Sankara then realises, “My wife Parvati is chaste. The child born in cremation with wood shall thereafter be called Karrapochi.” (karra = wood) The child came of age and desired to be worshipped by one and all.
She demands the same from her father which displeases him. Sankara curses that Pochamma shall not have sexual enjoyment. Later she was married to a “forest recluse”. Pochamma becomes the presiding deity of small-pox. She assumes a fearsome appearance when angered. She makes all suffer alike – near and not so near.
This is the story of Pochamma in short.
This is one of the many stories which are in vogue among the common people. As already admitted by him, a few like Ilaiah may not know much about the private (including sexual) life of Pochamma, most of the people who worship her knew all these facts of her life. Moreover, she does not owe her popularity to the imaginary role attributed to her by Ilaiah, namely, the role of a rustic doctor ‘who might have invented the cure for small-pox’. At least the common people who worship her do not do so because of what the likes of Ilaiah imagine.
Hindu deities and Dalit deities do not turn antagonistic overnight because the great Ilaiah said so. The origins of Dalit deities are inseparably linked to the Hindu, Brahmanic, Puranic deities however much Ilaiah may deny it. As shown in Pochamma’s story, none other than the prime Hindu deities Siva and Parvati are the parents of the so-called Dalitbahujan deity Pochamma. Not only to her, they are the parents of Ellamma and Poleramma too.
Ellamma’s story goes like this:
Once Trimurtis (Brahma, Vishnu and Siva) started on a world tour.
Parvati wanted to accompany them. So she was taken into cart. After covering some distance, sweat appeared on Siva’s face. A drop of sweat fell on the earth in a termite mound. It was swallowed by a snake in the mound and gave birth to a girl child. Unaware of this, the gods went on their way.
On return, Parvati heard the girl’s cry and wanted to lift her up. On Parvati’s request, Siva dropped a lock of hair to help the child crawl up. But the mischievous child started swinging in the mound with Siva’s hair. Siva felt pain and told her to come up. She refused asking that she needs water, goat, rice, fruits and many other articles for food.
To satisfy her, Vishnu assumed the form of Pothuraju, Siva as Baindla, Brahma as Kinnara, Parvati, Laxmi, Saraswati, Arundhati, Savitri as “muttaiduvas” went to the mound and requested the girl to “Ellu Amma” (Come out, mother). She came out and thereafter called as Ellamma.
Should we consider Ellamma as a Hindu deity because of her origin and close relations to Hindu deities or shall we consider as antagonistic to Hindus simply because an Ilaiah said so? Here is the story of Ellamma –
Ellamma is also called Maahuramma, Akkali Devi, Renuka Devi, Ekaveera. Parvati and Parameswara marry her in her twelfth year to Rishi Jamadagni. Parasurama was born to Jamadagni and Ellamma. Once Ellamma or Renuka was immersed in watching the passing Gandharvas and displays her temptation. Jamadagni orders Parasurama to cut down his mother. Knowing the plight of Renuka or Ellamma, a maadiga woman embraces and weeps. Parasurama cuts both of them. Pleased by Parasurama’s obedience, Jamadagni grants a boon. Parasurama asks for his mother’s life.
Jamadagni bids his son to join the head to the trunk and sprinkle sacred water. In his hurry, Parasurama joins the wrong trunk to his mother’s head. Both the dead ladies come alive but one with a Brahmin trunk and maadiga head as Ellamma, the other with a Brahmin head and maadiga trunk as Maaramma.
Poleramma is another village deity born out of Siva’s sweat. She takes revenge on Prataparudra in the most fearsome way by spreading epidemics, killing people and so on. Another deity called Ankamma is considered to be the mother of Trimurtis. The origin and lives of almost all these deities is replete with violence, bloodshed, spitefulness, etc.
Yet Ilaiah remarks about them:
“One who encourages killing is not a god. He is a devil. Pochamma, Kattamaisamma did not become deities by killing someone. They became deities because they protected us from disease and hunger.” (p. 27 Tel.)
“We do not find one story in Dalitbahujan tradition realting to violence.”
“That the Dalitbahujan deities are the symbols of production oriented cultures has never occured to the Communists. They did not know that Kattamaisamma invented construction of tanks; Pochamma invented herbal medicines for all diseases. They did not and do not intend to know.” (p. 79 Tel.)
Beside exerting to divide the present day society and pit Dalitbahujans against other members of the society, Ilaiah has tried hard to divide gods into Dalit and Hindu classes with no connections whatsoever. He has also attempted to present Hindu gods as bearing arms to massacre Dalits and Sudras even though there is not an iota of evidence to that support. He has tried to paint Dalit deities as peaceful, non-aggressive benefactors in the form of tank builders and herbal healers. By the way, he might as well recommend a professorship to Pothuraju!
“I do not know, did not try to know, do not intend to know,” says Ilaiah.
Had he the slightest sense to get informed before abusing those whom he hates, he would not have considered the paltry information he acquired from his fellow sheep-rearing friends of childhood as encyclopaedic. He would have tried to inform himself better through those who really know about the deities of Dalitbahujans. If Brahma, Siva, Vishnu. Parvati, etc. are Brahminical gods, then are not Ankamma, the mother of Trimurtis, Ellamma and Poleramma born to Siva and Parvati equally Brahminical? Do not all Hindus worship these latter class of deities with equal reverence? Had he been better informed, questions like this might have occured to Iliah and removed the thick veil of ignorant prejudice blinding him. Had not Ilaiah laboured under chronic Brahmin-phobia, he would have opened his eyes and ears to those Christian missionaries whom he likes very much.
Had he tried, he would have obtained the copy of a book named “The Village Gods of South India“.
Even the most cursory perusal of that book might certainly have convinced him that it was not written to purposely mislead the great Ilaiah because it was published in 1916, at least three to four decades prior to his birth. He might have also realised that it was authored by one Reverend Henry Whitehead with formidable credentials a Bishop of Madras who roamed all over South India with the sole aim of converting Hindus to Christianity by making an in-depth study of Hindu village deities, festivals and fairs, sacrifices and other customs. The book might have offered a mine of authentic information as it comes not from a Hindu agent. The book, on its 119th page describes an interesting account of the origin of the custom to sacrifice he-buffalo to the village deities.
The story goes like this:
In ancient days, the story runs, there lived a karnam, i.e. a village accountant, in a village to the east. He was blind, and had only one daughter. A Pariah, well versed in the Vedas, came to the village in the disguise of a Brahmin. The elders of the village were deceived and induced the blind karnam to give his daughter to him in marriage, that he might succeed to the office of karnam in due time. The marriage was celebrated by Brahmin rites, and the karnam’s daughter bore sons and daughters to her Pariah husband, without any suspicion arising in her mind as to his origin. After a time a native of the Pariah’s own village came to the place where they were living, and recognised the Pariah disguised as a Brahmin. Seeing however that he was a man of influence he said nothing to the villagers, but went and told the Pariah’s old mother. As he was her only son, the old woman set out in search of him, and came to the village where he lived, and sat down by the well used by the caste people. The Pariah happened to go there, and recognised his mother; so he took her to a barber, had her head shaved, passed her off as a Brahmin widow and brought her to his house, telling his wife that she was his mother and was dumb. He took the precaution strictly to enjoin her not to speak, lest her speech should betray them. One day the wife ordered a meal with a dish made of wheat flour baked with sugar and made into long strings. During the meal, the mother, forgetting the injunction of silence, asked her son what the preparation was, saying it looked like the entrails of an animal! The wife overheard the remark, and her suspicions were aroused by the fact that her mother-in l-law could speak, when her husband had said that she was dumb, and did not know a common Brahmin dish like the one prepared by her; so she watched their conduct, and felt convinced that they belonged to a low caste, and were not Brahmins at all. Accordingly, she sent their children to school one day, when her husband was away from home, managed to get rid of the mother-in-law for a few hours, and then set fire to the house and burnt herself alive. By virtue of her great merit in thus expiating the sin she had involuntarily committed, she reappeared in the middle of the village in a divine form, declared that the villagers had done her great wrong by marrying her to a Pariah, and that she would ruin them all.
The villagers implored mercy in abject terror. She was appeased by their entreaties, consented to remain in the village as their village goddess, and commanded the villagers to worship her. When she was about to be burnt in the fire, she vowed that her husband should be brought before her and beheaded, that one of his legs should be cut off and put in his mouth, the fat of his stomach put on his head, and a lighted lamp placed on the top of it. The villagers seized the husband, stripped him naked, took him in procession round the village, beheaded him in her presence, and treated his leg and fat of his stomach as directed. Then her children came on the scene, violently abused the villagers and the village officers, and told them that they were the cause of their mother’s death. The deity looked at her children with favour, and declared that they should always be her children, and that without them no worship should be offered to her. The Asaadis claimed to be descendents of these children, and during the festival exercise the hereditary privilege of abusing the villagers and village officers in their songs. After being beheaded, the husband has born again as a buffalo, and for this reason a buffalo is offered in sacrifice to vuramma, the village goddess.
What lessons can be drawn from the above story may be left to Ilaiah’s discrimination. He being born and brought up in India says: “What have Dalitbahujan gods to do with Hindus? Do Hindus worship our gods?”
To this, the person (Rev. Whitehead) born in a foreign land comes here, undertakes thorough research and declares:
“For the most part, the same people in town and village worship the village deities and the Brahmin gods. In the vast majority of the districts, the worship of the village deities and the worship of Siva and Vishnu go on side by side.”
To the jaundiced eyes of Ilaiah, the mere presence of weapons in the hands of Brahma, Vishnu and other Hindu gods is a proof enough of the violent blood-thirsty nature of those gods. He conjured up shivering visions of those weapons being aimed straight at the Dalitbahujans!
Killngs of hundreds of animals to propitiate the so-called Dalitbahujan deities and the blood-curdling rituals do not perturb our angel of peace and non-violence!
Look at this graphic account of a typical sacrifice to the village deity described by Rev. Whitehead:
“The worship of the village deities contains much that is physically repulsive. The details of a buffalo sacrifice are horrid to read about, and still worse to witness, and the sight of a pujari parading the streets with the entrails of a lamb round his neck and its liver in his mouth would be disgusting and doubtless, there is much drunkenness and immorality connected with the village festivals…” (Village Gods of South India, p. 141)
“It is the kind of offering that is made to the local policeman or a tyrannical government official to secure his favour… The village deity is nothing more than a petty local spirit, tyrannising over or protecting a small hamlet. Occasionally renting her spite or her ill-temper on a handful of poor villagers… Taking the system as a whole… we can only condemn it from a moral and religious point of view as a debasing superstition.” (p. 154-155)
What the foreign missionary Henry Whitehead condemned as the practices in no uncertain terms some eighty years ago, our great intellectual Kancha Ilaiah goes into raptures while describing “to these (village) deities yellow-rice, curd-rice are not the offerings. In a year of plenty, a well-fed buffalo is offered in sacrifice. Its blood is sprinkled around the harvesting fields… once in five years, a buffalo is killed in the temple of Polimeramma and cooked rice mixed with the blood is sprinkled on all houses in the village. What we eat is also eaten by our gods and goddesses. Our gods eat chicken, meat, fish and drink toddy.”
Per Ilaiah’s scale of culture, offering curd-rice and yellow-rice to the god is sinful. But beheading buffalos and goats is meritorious. This is what the learning of Ilaiah taught him.
“In the history of this country, the date of birth of this book is more important than my date of birth,” boasts Kancha Iliah in his preface to the Telugu version.
Maybe. But he does not know his own date of birth!
“While the author was tending to cattle, teacher Rajalingam took him to school and there registered the date of birth as October 5, 1952 on the basis of the crude guess of his grandma” – so declares the author towards the end.
He does not know his date of birth, but takes for granted its momentous significance to this ancient society! This is but a small sample of his inscrutable ways! He rarely reveals the details about his life experiences, but whatever he reveals has no rhyme or reason!
Take for instance his personal details given above. The only person that has anything to do with the great authority, is his teacher Rajalingam apart from the unnamed grandma. If what Ilaiah emphatically and frequently says about the hatred possessed by teachers towards Dalitbahujans is true, then how come a teacher takes special interest in taking a Dalitbahujan boy like young Iliah to school? But Iliah never desists from showering abuses on teachers at the slightest provocation. According to Iliah, the teachers of his time used to say that they were teaching the Dalits reluctantly and ill-treated them as useless Sudras!
He pompously assumes that he belongs to the first generation Dalits who acquired modern learning. He declares,
“We, who are the first to hold the slate and chalk in the Dalitbahujan history, plunged headlong into school studies by leaving our daily labour.” (p. 21 Tel)
“From the meagre learning we had in our village single teacher school until obtaining a M.A. degree from University, the myriad experiences enriched us… had not the Dalitbahujan mind possessed the supple adaptability, the first generation Dalitbahujans like us would not have…” (p. 83 Tel.)
In reality, by the time Ilaiah took birth, five years passed after we had got our Independence. By that time, a number of persons who belong to Ilaiah’s Dalitbahujans were educated for some generations and occupied important positions in various fields. Poets like Joshua, politicians like Damodaram Sanjivaiah have already illumined public life as beacons of Dalits. Even in Ilaiah’s own Telangana, the oppressed peoples like Dalits, barbers, washermen, farm-labourers have acquired awareness through adult schools, revolted and led an armed struggle against the tyrannical Nizam several years before Ilaiah’s birth. Yet, Iliah claims that he belongs to the first generation of educated Dalits!
He declares with all the confidence and enthusiasm of a neophyte:
“Hinduism with its Brahmin hold prohibited education to us, change in times and the spread of modern education, and also due to the reservation system that came due to Dr. Ambedkar’s efforts. Until then there was no educated class in these castes.” (p. 20)
Such wise men like Ilaiah should know better before making an accusation or levelling a charge. Prior to the formation of Andhra Pradesh State, the Telugu speaking area was a part of the Madras presidency. The indigenous education system existing at that time was vividly described in books like 1. The Beautiful Tree – Indigenous Indian Education in the Eighteenth Century, 2. One Teacher, One School, etc. These books detail the information gathered by British officials submitted to the British government of that time. It reveals that under indigenous system, education was not the monopoly of any one caste. It was within the reach of all castes and classes of people. Both teachers and students came from all castes. For instance in the Madras Presidency, of the total number of students, 22% were Brahmins, 10.4% Vaishyas and the rest were Sudras and other castes. Even though the number of Dalit students was much less compared to their population, their number was not as low as it is made out by the likes of Ilaiah. There were both students and teachers from the Scheduled Castes. These facts show that there was some education among the Dalits much before Iliah. But he never cares for such truths.
Ilaiah does not respect Ambedkar’s findings on the origins of Sudras and Brahmin-Dalit relations, yet he quotes Ambedkar when it suits him.
“We do not come across a social thinker like Ambedkar for the past three thousand years… who forms the backbone for the Dalit struggle against the age-old caste system.”
Yet our professor does not care to know what Dr. Ambedkar spoke or wrote about caste system and the slavery of low castes.
Had Iliah the least knowledge about what Ambedkar’s writings on these issues say, he would not have asserted that “Rama was an Aryan invader and Ravana, a Dravid saviour” (p. 11); “the Aryans massacred the Adidravidas (Ilaiah’s Dalitbahujans) in thousands” (p. 93); that South India was occupied by Aryans after the death of Ravana; that South India until then was casteless until the Brahmins from the North established it there; that Brahminism was imposed from above in South India, i.e., an external imposition (p. 107-108).
Ilaiah may as well know what the Dalit savant Dr. Ambedkar said before mutilating history to suit his quixotic formulations. In his book, “Who were Sudras“, Dr Ambedkar disproved the Aryan Invasion Theory with sound logic. After explaining at length that the caste system has nothing to do with the Aryan invasion, he comes to the conclusion that:
1. The Vedas do not know any such race as the Aryan race.
2. There is no evidence in the Vedas of an invasion of India by the Aryan race and its having conquered the Dasas and Dasyus supposed to be the natives of India.” (Dr. Ambedkar, “Writings & Speeches”, Vol. 7, pages 74-85)
Not only that “caste existed much before Manu. It is incorrect to say that Brahmins created caste. The Brahmins might have committed many sins but to impose caste system on the whole non-Brahmin people is beyond their capacity.” (Dr. B.R. Ambedkar in “Caste in India”)
Ambedkar declares: “Brahmins and the untouchables belong to the same race. From this it follows that if the Brahmins are Aryans, the untouchables are also Aryans. If the Brahmins are Dravidians, the untouchables are also Dravidians.” (Dr. Ambedkar, “Writings & Speeches”, Vol. 7, pages 302-303)
Are not the Aryan-Dravidian, Brahmin-Dalit equations conjured up by Ilaiah shattered by his mentor’s words? Not only that Dr. Ambedkar has the following firm convictions as to who Sudras are:
1. “The Sudras were one of the Aryan communities of the Solar race.
2. There was a time when the Aryan society recognised only three varnas, namely, Brahmins, Kshatriyas and Vaishyas.
3. The Sudras did not form a separate varna. They ranked as part of the Kshatriya varna in the Indo-Aryan society.
4. There was a continuous feud between the Sudra kings and the Brahmins in which the Brahmins were subjected to many tyrannies and indignities.
5. As a result of the hatred towards the Sudras generated by their tyrannies and oppressions, the Brahmins refused to perform the Upanayana of the Sudras.
6. Owing to the denial of Upanayana, the Sudras who were Kshatriyas became socially degraded, fell below the rank of the Vaishyas and thus came to form the fourth varna.” (Dr. Ambedkar, “Writings & Speeches”, Vol. 7, pages 11-12)
According to Ambedkar, the reason for downfall of the Sudras in the social scale is the oppression and humiliation they inflicted on the Brahmins. How come Ilaiah, an ardent follower of Ambedkar says “three thousand years Brahminism tortured us more than Hitler’s gas chambers”?
Again Ilaiah pontificates, “I am writing this book only for those who do not shut out their minds but read it with open minds… those who refuse to face new questions and learn new answers will perish.” This pontification applies more to Ilaiah himself. If he has anything of an open mind left in him, there is one book which Iliah should read.
The book is recently released and the author is an American. The subject of the book is also Hindu Dharma.
While Kancha Iliah poses the question “Why I am not a Hindu”, David Frawley answers through the book “How I became a Hindu” in 200 pages.
David Frawley is more or less of the same age as Iliah. If Iliah’s parents are born in a sheep-rearing caste, David’s parents belonged to a dairy farm. His father is Irish and mother German. Like Ilaiah’s family, David’s family is not much educated either. Ilaiah realised the greatness of the Christian Church only after being educated. But David was born into a pure Catholic-Christian family. His uncle worked as a Christian evangelist in South America. David’s mother desired that her son should follow the same vocation.
Thus, a middle class, West American (Wisconsin) born Christian, David Frawley was not satisfied with the Christianity he imbibed since childhood. He started on an intellectual journey studying Communism, Taoism, Zen, Buddhism, Islam and many other schools of thought, posed questions, sought answers and finally came to the conclusion that only Hinduism withstood all tests of logic and is capable of showing the way to the highest spiritual fulfillment of man. He disproves the current intellectual fad that the Vedas are crude appeals to natural forces by aborigines and only Upanishadic teachings are the essence of Hinduism.
He rediscovered that the profundity of Hinduism stems from the Vedas only. He learnt Sanskrit, toiled to study Vedas. For twenty years, he propagated the sublimities and modernity of the Vedic tradition in America and India. Much applauded and respected for his knowledge of Hindu Dharma, David finally adopted it and was given the name Vamadeva Shastri.
One who was destined to be a Christian preacher, not only left that religion and adopted the Hindu religion which the so-called secularists considered as the cess-pool of superstition and polytheism, full of inequality and ignorance. The circumstances that led and the influences that paved the way for this transformation were picturesquely dealt with in the book “How I became a Hindu“. The book is brought out by the Voice of India Publications, 2/18, Ansari Road, New Delhi – 110002. Priced at a modest Rs. 120/-, the book is an eye opener to the half-baked critiques of Hinduism.
Frawley explains his journey towards Hinduism as follows (p. 11-12 and 81-83) – Born in America, traveled widely, studied most religions, David Frawley comes to the conclusion that Hindu Dharma is the path-finder to the world and answer to all questions. Having concluded so, he joined the Hindu-fold and proudly declares that he is a Hindu. But Kancha Ilaiah, born in India, brought up in Hindu civilisation and occupying a professorship in an Indian university declares, “We hate the Hindu religion, we hate Brahminism still more.” He raves that the Hindu religion destroys all that is lofty and sober in man… ‘Charity and kindness are not to be found anywhere in Brahminism. Brahmins and Baniyas never even thought of the good of other people’. But, according to him, to split open the belly of a cow is not himsa. Again, ‘all those born in the Brahmin caste should be prohibited from the vocation of authorship for at least one hundred years. It is a historical necessity to augur a time when Brahmins in hundreds are made to sew footwear and sweep the roads. Hindu temples should be captured, the Brahmins be driven away and their gold, silver and land should be confiscated.’ He is infected with Brahmin hatred and is exerting every nerve to spread the infection. Thus the likes of Iliah mistake their own intellectual delirium for a commitment to some cause. Only Hindu dharma can save him.