Justice Chitambaresh, an alumnus of Government Law College, Thiruvananthapuram made a speech in his personal capacity at the Tamil Brahmin’s Global Meet held on the 19th of July, 2019.
He said, “Now, who is a brahmin? A brahmin is dwijhanmana – twice-born… Because of poorvajanma sukrutam, he is twice-born. He has got certain distinct characteristics – clean habits, lofty thinking, sterling character, mostly a vegetarian, a lover of Carnatic music. All good qualities thus rolled into one, is a brahmin.”
This statement of his, in his personal capacity, was enough to make a lot of people feel disgusted. Really? Why? Is it because we Bharatiyas have come to a state today where anything which is presented to us with a skewed perspective makes us outrage so badly, that we lose sight of anything good in our culture?
Right from the time the British decided for us as to how to divide us into 4 castes + ‘harijans’ (now called Dalits) and told us that our castes were fixed and that we used the caste system to trounce upon people, we have got into this mode of thinking that we Hindus have only 4 + 1 ‘castes’ where Brahmins were the biggest villains in our country.
These are the same British who also are responsible for no less than 4 genocides in their 200 years of cruel rule. And they are the same people who are responsible for the spread of the now-infamous “Aryan Invasion Theory” which caused an almost permanent rift between the North Indians and the South Indians, not to mention between ‘Gori chamdi’ (fair skinned) and ‘Kaaley’ (dark skinned).
For those who would love to state how the caste system existed even in Shivaji Maharaj’s time and before, I accept that yes, the caste system or the Varna system existed. But what one has forgotten is that people were so bound to that system that they became experts in what they did.
Tell a city fellow to go and collect honey and see if he can do it! Tell an accountant to go and make a good statue and see if he can do it! It takes years and years of skill training to do well at any job, and that is what our Varna system did.
Yes, after the 15th century, this became rigid, but this was probably more because invasions and ruthless conversions forced people to protect their skills. And it is not as if it had become totally inflexible – for example, a Vaidya (doctor) could be a Brahmin just as much as he/she could be a tribal person. But once the ‘modern’ education system was implemented, this became impossible.
What our ‘modern’ education system effectively did was make us feel guilty about belonging to ANY caste. If you were a Brahmin, your ancestors tortured others, so feel guilty. If you were a Kshatriya, your ancestors had become cowardly and/or treacherous and gave in to the Islamic invaders, so feel guilty. If you were a Vaishya, your ancestors were greedy and miserly, so feel guilty. If you were a Shudra, your ancestors were lowly, so feel inferior and guilty. If you did not belong to any of the above, feel guilty for sure, because you were a low-life, who was trampled upon by all of the above and you never revolted.
Surprisingly, not once in our entire history do we have something like the ‘Storming of the Bastille’ or the French revolution, where the have-nots rioted and guillotined the higher class. Why? If we were really so bad with our caste system, should we not have rioted? Obviously, we are missing something here.
The fact is that the so-called caste system was the one system exploited the most, for CONVERSIONS. And the other thing this was exploited the most, was for discouraging MERIT. From a merit-based society, we have become a society depending on Reservations, Doles and Subsidies. Could any of our discoveries in our ancient Bharat have been made, if there was a Reservation system for becoming a Rishi?
Coming back to Justice Chitambaresh, he is being panned for the use of the word, “Dwijanma”. Dwijanma means ‘being born again’. Every Hindu actually is supposed to go through the Janeu Sanskar and wear the sacred thread. But for a variety of reasons, these days it is only the Brahmin who still follows the Janeu Sanskar. Even Brahmins are these days foregoing this Sanskar, mainly because it has become a hindrance to drinking alcohol and eating meat (Brahmins are not supposed to drink alcohol or eat meat, especially not with the sacred Janeu touching their ‘vaksha-sthal’.) Also, a Janeu wearing Brahmin (actually any Janeu wearing Hindu) is supposed to bathe twice daily and do his Sandhya-vandan at least twice a day, after his bath. These days, very few Brahmins want to do this either.
Brahmana literally means ‘one who is on the path to discovering Brahma’ ie. one who is on the path to discovering the Divine within. So it is mandatory that he has clean living, lofty thoughts and sterling character. Else how can he attain the knowledge of Brahma?
So obviously, what Justice Chitambaresh said is nothing but an exhortation for the Brahmins (at least) to cultivate their innate values and become better people. They are supposed to be the guiding light for society. Note: Anyone who follows these points, irrespective of the ‘caste’ he/she was born into, attains Brahmn – this has been proved down the ages, throughout Bharat.
What is also imperative to note is that Muslims also become “Dwijanma” when they undergo circumcision – which is necessary for them to be accepted as a Muslim. Christians have to undergo Baptism to be accepted as a Christian and that is their “Dwijanma”. Parsis become “Dwijanma” when they have their Navjyote ceremony. Obviously, all religions of the world have their own version of “Dwijanma”. So why the hue and cry when Hindus talk about it?
Justice Chitambaresh is also being called out for referring to Reservations. He said, “It is time for you to deliberate as to whether reservation should be on the basis of community or caste alone.” Frankly, the time has come for Bharat to stick to a lower percentage of caste/religion reservations and have reservations based on economic considerations. Even in these reservations, merit has to be considered. To exhort people to raise awareness on this cannot be wrongful.
He also said, “It may be noted that a Brahmin is never communal, he is always considerate, he is an ahimsavadi (a proponent of peace). He loves people, he is one who liberally donates for any laudable cause. Such a person should always be at the helm of affairs for which this Tamil Brahmin meet will definitely be a turning point.”
These words are also being misused to direct the attention of the people only to the ending part – surprising that people do not want to note that he is referring to wonderful qualities that are to be promoted in people who want to be leaders. If the word “Brahmin” were removed, one would be applauding his speech. But since we are trained to only put down our own Dharma and make ourselves and others feel inferior, we can only see one word – Brahmin. This reflects poorly on our own thinking process.
It is rare these days for people to speak out the truth and speak their mind clearly, in an open manner. Instead of criticizing Justice Chitambaresh, we could use the opportunity to rethink our cultivated conditioning and biases and all work towards becoming Brahmins – a race of people who want to discover the Self and the Supreme One and work towards Harmony and Peace.