No Respect for lower Castes in Hinduism? Become a Buddhist! – 3 Oct 11

Caste System

Last week I wrote about people who want to convert others to their belief. I explained why I believe it is not a good idea to even try. I also mentioned that I think more and more people leave religions because of the attempt to force them into a belief. But there are people who absolutely want to convert to another religion and there are of course religions that are happy to accept them as new members.

This happens in India with many people who, in Hinduism, are seen as lower than others. Dalits, people of the lowest castes happily convert in thousands. I read an article about Buddhist events in which thousands of Hindus, most of them of the lower castes, convert to Buddhism. We actually hear about such events quite often.

The reason for this is clear in my eyes: Hindus treat them as humans of second grade, worth less and made to do lower and dirty work. People of higher castes don’t want to eat with them, they think of them as untouchable and try to avoid them whenever possible. They are not respected, face a lot of restrictions within their own religion and that just because they were born into their families! I can understand their anger!

Hinduism is often proud of the fact that you are born a Hindu and I also mentioned that this is a good thing as Hindus thus usually don’t try to convert others. But imagine you are born a Hindu, but a lower-caste Hindu. Would you enjoy being a Hindu? Would you be proud and happy to be a member of this religion? Or would you be happy if a Buddhist monk came to you and offered you to become a Buddhist with all rights and full respect?

I believe everybody would agree that Buddhism here offers a better deal to them! That’s what Hinduism created itself! The caste system is inhumane and does not fit in today’s world. People don’t want to be suppressed by their own religion, especially not when they grow up in a free country, a democracy where they are told that they have a right for free speech, a right to have their own opinion and a right to decide for their lives themselves. Why, if they have the choice, should they choose to live in suppression and as a second grade human?

These ‘lower-caste people’ actually follow the example of B. R. Ambedkar, a man of big importance in the history of India. He, born into an untouchable caste, was one of the first lower caste people to receive university degrees and he is today known as the Chairman of the Drafting Committee of the Indian Constitution – the main writer of our constitution. Ambedkar did exactly the same thing: he converted to Buddhism and fought his whole life long against the discrimination of lower castes. He understood with own experience what it meant to be lower and worse than others because of your birth and in his lifetime already encouraged thousands of lower-caste people to convert, too.

It is a logical consequence to suppression by a religion.

(5)

  1. Emily

    Well said, Swami Ji! It pains me very much to see humans discriminated against so severely for something that is completely out of their control. During my travels to the ashram, I passed by many small towns that have been struck with poverty. I saw children with no shoes or clothes and very little to eat. It occurred to me that these children are confined to their poverty because of the caste they were born into. What a tragedy for such beautiful little minds who could do such amazing things in the world! Fortunately, they can look to such figures as B. R. Ambedkar as an example of someone who transcended these religious traditions and social structures in order to create positive change in the world.
    In America, where I live, I see similar types of discrimination based on sexual orientation. Very few U.S. states allow the marriage of two homosexuals, primarily due to religious institutions. Though it may be breaking traditions, I believe that every human should have equal rights to marry as they please, practice religion as they please, and so forth. There is an old saying taught in many cultures that you should “Treat others as you wish to be treated.” It is as simple as that– equality for all.

  2. Steven Vogel

    Very sad that the caste system drives their own Brothers and Sisters away…

  3. Ken Cuyler

    It makes me insane that the faith of Hinduism has been altered so much over the generations that the truths of it are not seen anymore. It has become a way of making and deciding our way instead of meditating on the way. Nothing against Buddhism (although that faith has been extremely altered as well), but Hinduism at its true and high principles has nothing to do with Caste. Lord Krishna speaks of the Caste in the Bhagavad Gita but if the ones who practice it truly read it they would see it is a process of evolution in ones life not a set thing of birth. http://www.eaglespace.com/spirit/gita_castesystem.php Again it makes me insane that people are held to such poor quality of life because of Bad Brahman, False Gurus and power hungry leaders from Generations. I PRAY to Goddess Durga today and each day (today especially since its her day), that she comes in form and stops this craziness that is hurting so many.

  4. Marina

    I can’t find the sense of the religion then. I thought, religion exists to unite the people, to share the love and tolerance…

  5. Tricia

    I know that for the most part many believe the caste system to be over, but there are so many who still believe in its power…I met a priest the other day who told me that he was Brahman, and part of the highest caste in India…that his sons would be priests when they grew up too…he seemed to be so proud of this fact. While I respect that he is a priest, do I respect that he believes In a system that berates and belittles individuals? No.

Leave a Comment