HAF report on caste discrimination
#1
The report: Hinduism: Not Cast in Caste

Quote:Hinduism, or Sanatana Dharma, is a rich and dynamic collection of hundreds of spiritual and philosophical traditions that are based on certain essential, core tenets. Its transcendent insights into the existential questions of humanity -- the meaning of life, why we are here, fate versus free will -- have led to a profound and global embrace of such Hindu concepts as religious pluralism, yoga, meditation, ayurvedic healing, reincarnation, karma, environmentalism, the celebration of the divine feminine, and vegetarianism. Yet, even as Hindu precepts are ascendant in contemporary discourse, Indian citizens, Hindus in the diaspora, and many Western seekers eager to immerse themselves in the Hindu way of life, see a glaring dichotomy in the vast gap between the religious teaching of divinity inherent in each being and the continued social reality of discrimination and inequality in parts of Indian society predicated on the “caste” of one’s birth – a striking contrast between Aham Brahmasmi (“I am that Divine”) and untouchability.

An article on the report:

Quote:Swaminathan Venkataraman serves on the board of the Hindu American Foundation, which recently released a long-term study of caste-based discrimination in India. The report argues that so far from being a Hindu concept, caste discrimination is actually in direct conflict with Hindusim. Swami Venkataraman answered some questions about the scope of the report, the ongoing problem of caste-based discrimination, and resources within Hinduism for widespread social repair.

I haven't read the report, but read the article and found some good old fashioned Hindu apologetics:

Quote:This isn't entirely incorrect in today's context, but varna was originally not birth-based and individuals and even entire jātis changed varnas in ancient India. Caste-based discrimination arose after society over the centuries ossified jātis and their affiliated varnas into a birth-based feature rather than one of aptitude. Still, this hierarchy was only sacerdotal, with political power and wealth notably not residing with the "highest" brahmin varna.

And later:

Quote:We have already seen that the mobility of the original caste system was lost over time. The reason for intense criticism directed by many critics at brahmins (as interpreters of Hindu texts and advisors to the king) in the context of the caste system lies in their inability to prevent the ossification of caste into a birth-based feature as well as in their failure to oppose and eliminate untouchability, which has no basis in Hindu texts.

That what a person becomes is heavily dependent on the environment they grow up in and the opportunities they get. That is an obvious fact we know today. Given that the logical conclusion to be drawn is a system which relies only on "aptitude" without providing a system which gives equal opportunity for everyone to develop "aptitude" will necessarily become birth based.

Venkataraman laments that the "mobility was lost" but fails to see the reason for it. Classification based on gunas is an obviously wrong idea. He wants us to accept that the Vedas, Upanishads consist of truths and at the same time wants us to believe that the truths do not lead to the logical conclusion of Varna becoming birth based.

Also from the article:

Quote:The millions of westerners who identify as Hindu obviously have no caste identity. Given this dynamic, we are really only talking about the persistence of caste in South Asia.

A good test for the above would be to take a poll from "The millions of westerners who identify as Hindu" how they picked their life partners. Then we can determine how obvious this phrase is "obviously have no caste identity"
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#2
(01-Sep-2011, 12:57 PM)Lije Wrote: Also from the article:

Quote:The millions of westerners who identify as Hindu obviously have no caste identity. Given this dynamic, we are really only talking about the persistence of caste in South Asia.

A good test for the above would be to take a poll from "The millions of westerners who identify as Hindu" how they picked their life partners. Then we can determine how obvious this phrase is "obviously have no caste identity"

Reading it again, I think he means people of non-Indian origin. But still, they are a minority compared to people of Indian origin who have settled in the west and identify as Hindu.
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