THE PROBLEM WITH ‘GHAR-WHAPSI OR ‘RETURN-HOME’

ghar-wapsi

‘Ghar Whapsi’ is now an offensive term as it connotes forced reconversions. Not the act of free conversions.
The Ghar Whapsi program has besmirched the image of Prime Minister Modi’s government. It has also besmirched Hinduism.
The Prime Minister has intervened and tried to halt the activity of the extremists. The VHP and other groups however in open defiance carry on this reconversion activity. It appears that some in the VHP want to derail Modi’s agenda of development. The Prime Minister has stated his commitment to freedom of religion even though Members of Parliament of his own party speak contrary to his position.
The term ‘ghar-whapsi’ is quite offensive to the Dalits,Tribals and low castes.
They argue that there was never any home for them in the Hindu caste fold. They are the outcastes. And even now there is no home to return to until the caste system goes. This can only happen through abolishing caste by law- a generation old Ambedkarite agenda. Abolishing caste system is critical to make India great.
Perhaps the new India is ready to abolish the caste system by law. Perhaps young India will rebel against this discriminatory system.Perhaps the Prime Minister will lead a Abraham Lincoln like emancipation and abolish the caste system by law. As a person from the Other Backward Caste background and as a Hindu he is best suited to do this.
Caste affects all religions in India to one degree or another. Caste divides India. Caste affects our attitude towards women. Caste affects our attitude to the dignity of labor. Caste affects our attitude towards a ‘swach bharat’. Caste has given birth to divisive politics.
But as of now, when the outcastes reconvert to Hinduism what ‘home’ do they return to?
Where do they land in the caste system which still dominates Indian society? Do they have a home among the upper castes? Can they return as Brahmins and intermarry and socialise with Brahmins and have all their religious rights? The Brahmins and other privileged castes have a privileged and dignified home in the caste system. The low castes and outcastes don’t. This is the issue.
In the last 9 months the extremists have defamed Hinduism and the Government and they don’t seem to care.
It appears that they want to imitate other religious right wing extremists and fundamentalists.The fanatic right wing extremists of all religions defame their respective faiths. They do it through violence, forced conversions and attacking those who don’t agree with them. And by imposing bans. Those from their own religions are not spared.

 

+Joseph D’Souza
Bishop Moderator,
The Good Shepherd Church & Associated Ministries India.
(for feedback or comments please write to joseph.dsouza@gsoim.org)

 


As a further comment we enclose Megnad Desai’s piece on the same subject in the Indian Express for your interest. Desai is a strong supporter of the Modi government.

We also enclose a BBC video link.


 Out of my mind: Being a Hindu

Written by Meghnad Desai | Published on:March 29, 2015 12:30 am

ghar-wapsi

Who needs ‘ghar wapsi’ if the ghar you are being invited back to treats you like dirt?


There is joy in heaven when even one sinner repents. So goes the Christian prayer. The Vishwa Hindu Parishad may not be best placed to be greeted as a Christian sinner, but the good news is that it has repented. It has finally discovered that the curse of untouchability may have been the reason Dalits preferred to abandon the Sanatana Dharma and migrate to other more egalitarian religions. Who needs ‘ghar wapsi’ if the ghar you are being invited back to treats you like dirt?

No one should be surprised that many Dalits left Hinduism. Indeed the puzzle is that so many remained. There is a fundamental misunderstanding among the champions of Hindu nationalism. We are constantly told that Hindu religion is so tolerant that secularism is in its very spirit. You don’t need to contrast a secular India with a Hindu India. This tolerance is something of a myth, but not too far from the truth.

Hindu religion may be tolerant, but Hindu society is intolerant and inegalitarian. One may admire the contemplation of Advaita, but then how can one reconcile the contempt for the Shudra and the ati-Shudra with the assertion of a universal abstract Brahman? Hindu society mistreats the majority of its people. Even the Bhagavad Gita displays this prejudice when it contrasts the “virtues” of the two upper Varnas with the “mundane character” of Vaishyas and Shudras (Adhyaya 18, shloka 41-48). For all the spirituality and loftiness of the Vedas and Upanishads, the unassailable facts were of inhuman treatment of Dalit men and even more so of their women, who were treated as sex objects. Shudras did not do better. The Bahujan, the majority, were the losers in Hindu society.

Much of Hindutva ideology is propagated by the upper castes, particularly Brahmins. There is no discussion about how the lowly jatis felt about the mythologies and philosophies of Brahmanism. Jyotiba Phule was the first modern writer to articulate a trenchant anti-Brahminical message. Dr Balasaheb Ambedkar wrote tirelessly in a critical manner against the pretensions of Brahminical spirituality. Read his critique of the Bhagavad Gita and you will realise how different that great text of Brahmanism looks to the lower castes. He fought tirelessly against caste and Brahmanism. At the end of his life, he gave up his efforts at making fellow Hindus aware of the defect in their society and took his followers to Buddhism.

Mahatma Gandhi tried his best to convince Hindu society of the evils of untouchability. He did not want to break up the Hindu mass support for independence by dividing it on the untouchability issue as Ambedkar wanted to. Yet he failed to persuade Varna Hindus to abandon untouchability. They all paid lip service to his Harijan Seva programme, but the exploitation

and contempt remained. India still needs SC/ST reservations even after 67 years because Hindu society is unreformed and unrepentant.

Hindu society was lucky that the Muslim rulers of India, through the six centuries that they ruled in North India, left the jati system undisturbed. They converted the untouchables but, throughout Muslim rule, Hindu society survived intact. Then the British did something much worse than conversion. They gave free access, regardless of caste, to modern education. This was revolutionary in a society where education was the monopoly of the top two jatis. A Shyamji Krishna Varma could never have been a Sanskrit scholar nor a Mohandas Gandhi a barrister if the British had not brought modern ideas and education to India. It was education more than Christianity which challenged Hindu society.

South India gained the most from this revolution. The anti-Brahmin movement, which the Justice Party launched, followed by the Dravida movement of the Periyar, has made South India very different from the North. It is the North which is still stuck in the past. It is the BIMARU states which are the strongholds of the Hindutva movement. South India has scores higher on the Human Development Index than North India.

The jati system fragments Hindu society. The VHP may dream of a Hindu nation, but to be a Hindu is to be divided and fragmented. That is what will save India from the VHP.


The growing insecurity in India’s Christian community

29 March 2015 Last updated at 23:55 BST

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Six people have been arrested in central India after a church was vandalised, allegedly by right-wing Hindu activists.

It is the latest in a series of attacks on India’s small but influential Christian minority.

The BBC’s Sanjoy Majumder reports from the central Indian state of Chattisgarh on the growing insecurity that is gripping the Christian community.