Westerners supporting Caste System by pretending to be Hindus – 20 Sep 11

Caste System

Yesterday I mentioned how Hinduism advocates the caste system in old traditions that then turn in some way ridiculous when Brahmans do several ceremonies a day in order to get more money for them. You see, the caste system is still very deep in this society. Where does the caste system come from though? It came into existence because of religion.

There we see again, religion divides people. Not only do different religions divide people but even this one religion divides people into different classes of people. They created the castes. Whoever was in charge in that time decided that he himself would be a higher caste person. They wrote scriptures according to that and divided the population into groups which had to serve them, the highest caste. This is how some people had to become untouchable so that they could do the dirty work for the others.

Nowadays you can see many people of other religions fascinated by Hinduism. They come from everywhere around the world to India and sometimes try to behave like Hindus and try to accept this religion. They don’t seem to realize that this caste system is part of the religion and comes from religion. So the same religion that you admire and try to imitate is dividing people into higher and lower persons.

It is sometimes really funny how westerners try to become Hindus. It is actually not possible. Hinduism defines its members by birth. If you are born a Hindu, you are a Hindu, you cannot convert to Hinduism. Here in Vrindavan we see many devotees of ISKCON who follow many Hindu traditions. They shave their heads and only keep only one strand of hair in the back of their heads, a Shikha or Chutiya, just as higher caste Hindus would do. They wear the Upanayana or Janeu, a thread hanging from their left shoulder which is also a sign of being a higher caste Hindu. If real Hindus see that, they think it funny and it seems like a joke to them. Even lower caste Hindus are not allowed to wear these items, how come you, a person who is not even a Hindu, wear these signs?

The founder of this sect told his members to wear that and according to him it is fine but many people wonder about this. How can that work? You are not a Hindu and cannot become one but you wear the sign of belonging to a higher caste. Higher caste Hindus are proud of wearing the Upanayana and keeping one strand of their hair longer than the rest of the hair. By imitating that, you actually support the caste system! Westerners, who in their developed countries usually loathe the idea of a caste system, imitate Hindu traditions and thus further support it.

We say the caste system is inhuman but millions of people still believe in it and this is why it exists. Even some people who follow the caste system say it is not good but they walk with the masses. The fact that millions of people follow something is no proof that this action is good. Many people followed Hitler, too, but you cannot say that he was right! There are many examples in the history of mankind where things are going wrong mainly because people support what the masses support. Think about what you do and if you can really approve of it.

In order to really get rid of the caste system, people need to realize that it is wrong and stop supporting it in so many ways. I am sure most ISKCON devotees don’t have an idea of the meaning of what they are doing and this is also why I am writing this. Should you follow ISKCON or any other sect or movement that tells you to behave like a Hindu, make an effort to understand everything you are asked to do and think about it whether you really can support the message behind that! Don’t support the caste system through your actions. It makes some people untouchable and it makes others stand higher than everyone else. Realize what you are doing and change it.

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  1. Frederica

    Thank you for explaining that ridiculous piece of hair that this man has on its head ;)It is really strange to see someone take up a fully different tradition and religion and I often wonder if that is possible at all. Can you fully adapt a culture and a religion with all its rules if you did not grow up in it? Is it possible for you to leave behind your deepest roots?
    I don’t think so, it will always remain a bit of a drama.

  2. Dita

    In Europe in middleages there was also some sort of slavery sistem based on taxes which a peasant had to pay for belongign to his lords community. After industrial revolution it vanished. However there are some traces of aristocracy left in few surnames and lifestyles. If we consider that womans rights (as they are in West) were established only in the last century, the middleages feels closer. So, no wonder, visiting India felt like skipping timeline back to middleages. And not in a bad sense – there are many good things gone lost since then in industrial societies also.
    I remember I saw you earlier wearing those cotton threads. Then I thought there must be some posotive symbolical meaning in it, kind of reminder to do some ritual, just like many people wear rings to remind themselves that they are married.
    As regards that funny hairstyle I have my own explanation – my hairdresser pointed to me once that hair on the top of my head are darker than average and I concluded this is just because the body is transfering some more energy there and probably uses hair as transmiiter. So I see some point in not shaving them off.
    An ISKCON member told me once that by wearing this hairstyle they hope that God will hold them by hair when rising to Heaven.

  3. E. Marie

    I think it is interesting that Hindu scriptures claim that you can only be born into Hinduism, and you can’t convert. Clearly that rule is being challenged as Westerners and people all over the globe are learning about Yoga, Ayurveda, and Hindu gods, chants, and spiritual traditions. It is a belief system, and if someone believes in it, you simply can’t stop them! Religions are so globalized now that people all over the world can learn about Hinduism. If they connect with it, then they can live by it, regardless of if they’re born into it or not.
    But it is true that they should be very aware of the reasons behind certain Hindu traditions. I think if some of these converters understood the meaning behind Hindu traditions that support caste separation and discrimination, they wouldn’t be participating in them. To each his own… with awareness, clarity, wisdom, and love.

  4. Annie

    These ‘foreign Hindus’ are such a joke. If they really read about the religion the supposedly follow they would know what you have said about being born Hindu. It is like they are doing an act, but they haven’t even read the script.

  5. Subramani

    The caste system is a misappropriation of the Varna system. The British with their limited knowledge of Sanskrit and looking at Indian systems through their narrow lens, decided to interpret it as the “class system” of England. No Hindu scriptures (shruti ) says that a Brahmin has to be the son of a Brahmin. As per the Agamas, mantra initiation, sivia pooja initiation HAS to be GIVEN to ANY ONE REQUESTING it when the DIKSHA is being given. This is regardless of Age/Sex. Certain ceremonies are open to “ALL BEINGS”; so it is funny to have a conversation about LGBT in Hinduism as Sadashiva(knows as Narayana in Vaishnavism) has opened it to “ALL BEINGS” The only pre-requisite is that one maintains integrity. I.e. no Non-Veg, daily pooja etc. Let us not confuse with what many middle class Hindu’s practice to be what the scriptures actually say. Veda=Theory Agamas = How/why (the context). The issue with many Hindu’s is that they have lost the context. When the context is given, all the traditions you learnt as a child will come alive. The other thing is that Hindu’s should not feel apologetic about any conflict with western notions of society/Human rights. Let westerners criticize, say what they want (it is their right), but let us not change ourselves for their sake as their is no contractual obligation that Hindu’s need to change themselves to make the westerner at ease.

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