This is my first post and I just want to post a preview/advertisement of (what seems to be) a very exciting and groundbreaking research program on the caste system done by the research team in Kuvempu university.
I would appreciate it if members can take a look and provide some feedback. you may find it interesting.
ps. there is a missing page from the main document. i've attached it separately
I became a member of this group, but apparently, this group has been extremely dormant. Do you think this group can be revived somehow or a new group started for Indian atheists? I skimmed through the document. If I understand correctly, it questions the tie up between Hinduism and the Caste system. I should read it in detail when I get time I guess.
I was a Hindu and I became an atheist 10 years back. I guess I was never really that religious. SOmehow it has also seemed interesting to me that atheism in India is mostly against one religion (Hinduism) and against one sect (Brahmins) and not true atheism. Any thoughts on that?
Oh the article makes a far more radical claim than that.
According to the research, there is no 'caste system', there is no 'hinduism' either.
First of all, no one denies there are jatis in India. This is a basic fact. There are conflicts, violence and discrimination among jatis. But none of these facts taken together show that the different Jatis in India constitute a coherent totality, and that such a totality forms the social structure of the Indian society, and that Hinduism provides the ideology that supports this social structure.
The article talks about how, even though everyone seems to talk about 'caste system' and the evils of caste in India, up to this point no one has proven its existence. No one has laid bare the structure of such a system.
The same thing applies to Hinduism. There are different practices in India, like going to the temple, puja, sati, yoga etc. But all of these taken together, do not constitute a systematic whole: a religion called Hinduism with its own doctrines, belief system etc. What makes these practices 'religious' practices?
This seems like a very radical and crazy claim, and it begs the question: If these entities called 'Hinduism' and 'caste system' do not exist then why is has it now become an accepted truism among all the indian intellectuals, most of the Indians (especially the urban ones), and westerners too.
This study examines this question in further detail, and talks about where this idea of hinduism and caste system came from and how it developed.
Basically what it says is that we have simply accepted the European/western experience of Indian culture and society as 'facts' about India. You should read the article, it goes into further detail than what I just did and explains it beautifully.
I have always had the same feelings. To me, Hinduism is not a religion. We Indians, before any western influence must have led a truly atheistic life and would have had some customs. We would have just invented some rituals to respect the forces of nature, and westerners in their infinite urge to always define and name things would have given the name Hinduism to it.
I don't think Hinduism is a religion either. And most of the urban Indians (including me) have no original thought. Educated by a system that's predominantly influenced by the Western/British system of thoughts, they identify with the "religion" called Hinduism.
I think I should read the article. Just like the British have a class society, but don't call it a religion, Hinduisic varnas are just a way of social classification depending on the main occupation and nothing to with castes. This is my personal belief. But try saying that to a Westerner or an urban educated Indian :)