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Mainstream, VOL 60 No 38 September 10, 2022

Gandhian Conceptualization of the Social in Critiquing Caste through ‘Temple Entry’: Gandhi’s Satyagraha and Untouchability | Anshu Srivastava

Friday 9 September 2022

by Anshu Srivastava *

Gandhi’s entire life can be underlined by the word satyagraha as he continued fighting against racial discrimination in South Africa, the British rule in India and ugly social practices like untouchability in his own society. Perhaps the application of satyagraha tothe practice of untouchability remains unique as Gandhi was amongst the few nationalist leaders who envisioned its end. His understanding of limits of both ‘rationality and violence’ and superiority of ‘soul-force’ was path-breaking. For understanding both satyagraha and its application to the practice of untouchability, this chapter is divided into three neat divisions:

Section I: Gandhi’s theory of satyagraha

Section II: Satyagraha and untouchability

Section III: Gandhi and Untouchability in Contemporary India

Gandhi’s theory of Satyagraha 

Gandhi’s theory of satyagraha was an in-depth reading of both western and Indian texts beginning from the idea of passive resistance to finally satyagraha. Both theory and practice of passive resistance did not originate with Gandhi as they existed in the political thought of both Asia and Europe. Gandhi himself pointed out in 1908 that the idea of passive resistance was as old as the human race, that the doctrine was understood and commonly practiced in India long before it came into vogue in Europe. In ancient India, the failure of the ruler to fulfil his regal obligations (rajadharma) made him not merely morally defunct but also liable to removal by people. There were champions like Bamadeva and Bhishma in the Mahabharata and Sukraniti gave a similar concept. Apart from resistance to state authority, the doctrine of passive resistance has been widely practiced in more limited spheres. The weapon of dharna, the resort to hartal, the idea of deshtyaga or abandoning of kingdom after all methods failed against oppressive ruler.

In modern India, the doctrine of passive resistance was expounded by Aurobindo Ghose as a political tactic rather than as spiritual therapeutic. In a series of articles published in 1907, Aurobindo defended the policy of militant non-physical resistance advocated by a new party in Bengal for example armed revolt, aggressive resistance involving assassinations, riots and insurrections and lastly passive resistance. He thought in comparison to armed revolt, passive resistance was the most natural and suitable weapon for India. According to Aurobindo, “Passive resistance, while less bold and aggressive than other methods, calls for perhaps as much heroism of a kind and certainly more universal endurance and suffering”. The distinction lay in the method of the aggressive resister to cause positive harm to the government, the method of passive resistance is to abstain from doing something by which he would be helping the government- the essence lay in the general policy of boycott. Legality is not an essential condition of passive resistance and its continuance must not be counted upon. The passive resister is entitled to break an unjust law-it also remains his moral duty. Aurobindo’s doctrine of passive resistance was justified in terms of English rather than Indian precedents. Fritz Kern in 1914 argued that the doctrine was deeply rooted in primitive Christianity as well as early Germanic/Scandinavian peoples. In England, the 61st article of Magna Carta incorporated the right of resistance in the written public law of the nation. And rules for constitutional resistance were herein laid.

Although the right of resistance was recognised in Indian as well as in western political thought from the earliest times but the sovereignty of the modern nation-state backed by legal positivism and concentration of coercive power diluted it to a significant extent. Gandhi’s idea of Satyagraha addresses this modern understanding of state power who stressed that it was different from earlier notions of passive resistance. Thoreau’s idea that ‘a man cannot do everything but at least he can abstain from something wrong’ remained the guiding force. Under an unjust government, the true place for a just man is prison. Thoreau’s conception of civil disobedience was based upon the idea that the individual’s status as a human being is morally and logically prior to, and always more meaningful than his role as a member of society or a citizen of any State.

Satyagraha was coined by Gandhi in 1906 in the early phase of his South African campaign to secure the elementary human rights of Indian Immigrants, most of whom were brought as indentured labour. He felt that passive resistance was confusing and alien and searched for an appropriate term. Initially ‘Sadagraha’ was suggested meaning ‘firmness in a good cause” but Gandhi converted it to Satyagraha who by 1909 was convinced of its universality in Hind Swaraj. It tantamounted to Satyavarta (one whose life is pledged to truth), satyanistha (constant in loyalty to truth), satyadhriti (adhering firmly to truth) and satyasandha (wedded to truth). Satyagraha is therefore, ‘a relentless search for truth and a determination to reach truth’ (Iyer,2000). The story of Prahlad and drama of Harishchandra deeply influenced him. The theory of satyagraha was derived from The Sermon on the Mount, the Bhagavad Gita, Tolstoy and Thoreau. In March 1921 Gandhi declared that satyagraha Is literally holding on to Truth and it means, therefore, truth-force or soul-force.” It excludes the use of violence because man is not capable of knowing the absolute Truth and is, therefore, not competent to punish. The word was coined to distinguish the nonviolent resistance of the Indians in South Africa from the contemporary passive resistance of the Suffragettes in England. It is not conceived as a weapon of the weak, and it includes all courageous but nonviolent resistance in order to uphold the truth. Gandhi saw Satyagraha as a law of universal significance as well as a process of educating public opinion.

Gandhi came to prefer the term satyagraha to passive resistance “I do not like the term ’passive resistance,’ it fails to convey all I mean. It describes a method but gives no hint of the system of which it is only a part”. In Hind Swaraj Gandhi realised satyagraha’s universality and excellence and defined passive resistance as a method of securing rights by personal suffering. Although passive resistance and satyagraha were used as synonyms, he sharpened the distinction between them in Satyagraha in South Africa. He regarded the difference between satyagraha and passive resistance as fundamental: 

First of all, Gandhi felt that offering passive resistance on account of felt/perceived weakness will not strengthen human beings and would eventually make them give up. Offering satyagraha on the basis of belief in our strength would only make us stronger and resolve to continue with it.

Secondly, there is no scope for hatred in satyagraha-It is a breach of its ruling principle.

Thirdly, physical violence or brute force are forbidden in satyagraha. This may not be true for passive resistance

Fourthly, satyagraha may be offered to one’s nearest and dearest. This condition may be reversed in case of passive resistance.

Fifthly, in satyagraha there is no intentions of injuring/harming the opponent whereas in passive resistance there is always an idea of harassing the other party

In short, satyagraha, unlike passive resistance, “postulates the conquest of the adversary by suffering in one’s own person.” (Iyer, 2000)

The doctrine of satyagraha was meant to show how the man of conscience could engage in action in the vindication of truth and freedom against all tyranny, in his appeal to justice against every social abuse and sectional interest. Gandhi challenged the conventional notions of authority, law and obligation by appealing to his conceptions of natural law or dharma and self- suffering or tapas. Satya, ahimsa alone can secure an enduring basis for social consensus and political loyalty. Nature and society are both subject to a single law of justice and unity. Every social order required a minimum cohesive force and Gandhi argues that only collective pursuit of truth and the general acceptance of non -violence could provide this. The State cannot claim inalienable, unchallengeable authority for itself or its laws as long it is essentially a coercive agency. His adherence to satya and ahimsa led him to an unorthodox conception of relation between State and citizen, though not entirely anarchist.

In the period before the campaigns of untouchability and temple-entry from 1932-1934, there were several examples of Gandhi’s implementation of satyagraha (Knudegard, 2010). The impact of satyagraha is explained by Roudolph and Roudolph as “neither constitutional petition and protests nor violent acts of resistance and terrorism had been able to command popular support or unite nationalist leaders. Satyagraha did both.” (Roudolph and Roudolph, 1983)

Satyagraha and Untouchability 

Satyagraha and Gandhi’s vision for Indian society, ‘swaraj’ were intrinsically connected. Swaraj did not mean only ‘independence’ or ‘self-rule’ but also included solving major problems of Indian society. Three conditions namely the spinning wheel, Hindu-Muslim unity and removal of untouchability remained integral to achieving swaraj (Knudegard, 2010). Therefore, removal of untouchability and temple-entry movement were the touchstones to address the anomalies of the caste system, which existed age-old. Contradiction in Gandhi may be read who was a vocal critic of untouchability but was equally emphatic in defending the institution of caste through his commitment to varnashramadharma.

Untouchability in Gandhi’s days has been commented upon by Lavanam Gora and Mark Lindley (2007: 105) as the following four basic rules:

(i) Untouchability: to avoid touching or avoid even looking at “untouchables”

(ii) Restriction on commensality: to avoid eating with anyone of a lower caste than oneself. (iii) Endogamy: to marry within one’s own caste.

(iv) Hereditary occupation: to follow one’s parent’s vocation.

Gandhi’s position on untouchability is complex and can be understood from his ideas on caste system in India. Scholars can be divided into two broad streams: the first set of scholars believe that Gandhi accepted the caste system in toto and defended it as natural order of Indian society. The second set of scholars believe in the contrary and that Gandhi’s ideas evolved over a period.

Nishikant Kolge’s analysis of Gandhi’s personal attitude towards the practice of such caste restrictions, as well as his observance of other religious obligations may be a useful point to begin with in this regard. ‘At a conference in Ahmedabad on 13 April 1921, he narrated an incident from his childhood when he was hardly 12 years old. The story was of Uka—a scavenger—who used to visit Gandhi’s house to clean the latrines. Gandhi recounted that although he (Gandhi) had been a very dutiful and obedient child when it came to respecting his parents, he had often had tussles with them when they asked him to perform ablutions after accidently touching Uka’ (1958: Vol 19, pp 569—75). This event planted in Gandhi’s soul a seed of rebellion against the institution of untouchability (1965: 217). There is yet another story which involves his wife refusing to clean the chamber-pot of his Christian clerk born out of untouchable parents bringing to light Gandhi’s attitude towards the practice of untouchability (Gandhi 2001: 225). In his autobiography, he also writes that “In South Africa untouchable friends used to come to my place and live and feed with me” (Gandhi 2001: 360). Women treated as ‘untouchables’ during mensuration was a different kind of untouchability generally practised among many Hindu orthodox communities. During this time, they are not allowed to enter places of worship or even the kitchen. Also, their touch is considered to be polluting. In one of his letters to Mirabhen, Gandhi described his views on these practices: “I think I told you that so far as I am concerned, I never respected the rule even with reference to Ba herself”. Upon his return to India from South Africa, he adopted an “untouchable” girl, Lakshmi, as his daughter. Kolge argues, ‘Gandhi showed a remarkable irreverence towards the practice of untouchability based on notions of purity and pollution from a very young age. It is worth noting that Gandhi not only allowed his son Ramadas [1] to marry someone from a different sub-caste, but also allowed his son Devadas [2] to marry a girl who was from another varna altogether. He also, by design, married off his adopted daughter Lakshmi, who was untouchable by birth, to a Brahmin boy [3] in 1933.’ (Kolge, 2018)

Caste system had hereditary occupations as an important basis. In his autobiography, Gandhi clarifies that over the last three generations, his family has not been pursuing their hereditary or traditional duties. On 1 August 1933, asked about his occupation, he replied saying, “I am by occupation a spinner, a weaver and a farmer.”

“The work of removal of untouchability is not merely a social or economic reform whose extent can be measured by so much social amenities or economic relief provided in so much time. Its goal is to touch the hearts of the millions of Hindus who honestly believe in the present -day untouchability as a God-made institution, as old as the human race itself.”

He started his travelling campaign against untouchability in November 1933. It aimed at integrating India territorially and socially. The ultimate goal was to rid untouchables of obstacles of becoming equals. He wanted these castes to be included in Shudras. Gandhi gave meticulous instructions on hygienic ways of working with impure elements such as blood and excreta. He even promoted the construction of anti-untouchability branches of his organization. Gandhi said

“If you bestir yourselves, if you shed unclean habits, irrespective of what the high -caste Hindus do, if you reform your way of living, I assure you their superiority of birth will disappear”

Gandhi appealed to caste Hindus to give up the sin of untouchability and treat them as part of Hindu society affording them citizens’ rights. Untouchables should be allowed to use wells, roads and public transport, attend schools and enter temples.

The ideas of untouchability is unacceptable to reason. It is contrary to truth and non-violence and, therefore, is certainly not dharma. The very idea of our being high and others low is base. He is no true Brahmin who lacks the quality of the Sudra; readiness for service. He alone is a Brahmin who possesses the quality of all others, the Kshatriya, the Vaishya and the Sudra and, in addition, has knowledge. A Sudra is not altogether devoid of knowledge. Readiness for service is predominant in him over his other qualities. The varnashrama-dharma has no room for distinctions of high and low. The Vaishnava tradition knows of Bhangis and Chandals who attained deliverance. How can a dharma which holds that the entire universe is permeated by Vishnu believe that He is not present in the Antyaj ?. 

I have no desire, however, to interpret the sastras to you. I do not claim to be a man of learning. Every shastri is welcome to have the better of me in interpreting the Shastras. I know with confidence that I have had some experience of what the way of compassion means. This way can have simply no room in it for an attitude of contempt for Antyajas.’ (Source: A report in Gujrati newspaper Navajivan dated. 03-07-1921 from the Collected Works of MK Gandhi, Vol. 20, p. 319-20)

In the continuance untouchability, Gandhi saw the destruction of Hinduism itself. When Rajagopalachariar, a close associate advised him to slow down his work for harijans and against untouchability he replied: “but how can I rest? How can one have rest with a raging fire within? How can any Hindu, knowing that Hinduism is on the brink of an active volcano, afford to have a moment’s rest?” (Source: Speech, 2 January 1935, Collected Works of MK Gandhi, Vol. 60, pp. 46-7) He wrote in 1936:

‘Untouchability is a blot upon Hinduism and must be removed at any cost. Untouchability is a poison which, if we do not get rid of it in time, will destroy Hinduism.’ (Source: Harijan, June 20, 1936)

Gandhi’s conceptualization of role of untouchability in the Hinduism led him to conclude the huge disadvantage vis-à-vis other faiths. He had written:

‘And why do I say that untouchability is a curse, a blot and a powerful poison that will destroy Hinduism? It is repugnant to our sense of humanity to consider a single human being as untouchable by birth. If you were to examine the scriptures of the world and the conduct of people other than Hindu, you do not find any parallel to untouchability.’(Source: Harijan, June 20, 1936)

The important contribution of Gandhi can be gauged from the fact that he turned himself into a full-fledged program for the uplift of Harijans. He not only led by personal example embracing the people from the lower untouchable castes in his ashrams but he also set up the ashrams in harijan dominated villages where it was his endeavour to improve the quality of village life. It was important goal for alleviating them from poverty.He also started opening temples for harijans but believed it would be even better if upper caste Hindus could permit harijans to visit their own temples. Ambedkar publicly disagreed and called Gandhi’s efforts as ‘cosmetic charity’ rather than real radical reform. He adviced his fellow harijans to move to other faiths like Buddhism. On this, Gandhi opposed and argued against conversion warning it could not be genuine. He wrote:

‘But religion is not like a house or a cloak which can be changed at will. It is more an integral part of one’s self than of one’s body. Religion is the tie that binds one to one’s Creator and whilst the body perishes.....religion persists even after death.’ (Source: Gandhi to E. Menon, 5 January 1935, Collected Works of MK Gandhi, Vol. 60, p.57)

Replying to a question on untouchability, Gandhi said, “if varnashrama goes to the dogs in the removal of untouchability, I shall not shed a tear” (1958: Vol35, pg522).

Replying to yet another question

I have gone nowhere to defend varnashrama dharma, though for the removal of untouchability I went to Viakom. I am the author of a Congress resolution for propagation of Khadi, establishment of Hindu-Muslim unity and removal of untouchability, the three pillars of swaraj. But I have never placed establishment of varnashrama dharma as the fourth pillar. You cannot, therefore, accuse me of placing a wrong emphasis on varnashrama dharma” (1958: Vol 35, pg35)

Temple-Entry

Gandhi rarely visited temples. Joseph Lelyveld (2011: 194), in his biography of Gandhi, notes that “Gandhi hardly ever prayed in temples.” Gora and Lindley (2007: 91) also state that “Gandhi was not the kind of Hindu who accepts the authority of priests or even attends temple”. In Gandhi, one finds that the only caste restriction he observed was vegetarianism and the only traditional ritual he performed regularly was prayer.

However, his way of praying was his own creation and does not match the Hindu tradition-there were no images or idols used in Gandhi’s prayer meetings, which were held not in a temple or any special place, but more often than not under the open sky. Devotional songs from different religions and readings from a variety of religious holy books made up the core of his public prayers (Chatterjee,1983).

In 1933, Gandhi made it very clear that untouchables’ access to temples was the key for untouchability in India as a whole to be eradicated. He believed that temple was in the core of everyday life for millions of Hindus, whether they be caste Hindus or untouchables. His vision was therefore was of equal access to temples in a system with no high or low. It was to be concrete representation of the abstract idea of abolishing untouchability. His goal was equality among Hindus, which would in turn take India closer to swaraj. However, Gandhi first mentioned the idea of temple-entry in 1921, he appealed to people to focus on opening wells until the time was right. In 1932, he planned a fast for temple-entry of untouchables to Guruvayur in Kerala and abandoned it for a new fast extended to all temples in India thereby made a national campaign for untouchables.

“Temple-entry is a spiritual act, transforming the whole society by one single act of admission. It will electrify into a new life the whole of the Harijan population, it will purify Hinduism as no single act that I can think of can do’’(Gandhi, 1933)

Gandhi and Untouchability in Contemporary India 

Case of Swachh Bharat Abhiyan 

It is Gandhi’s utterance of sentences such as, ‘cleanliness is godliness’ and ‘sanitation is more important than independence,’ that the issue of sanitation gains special significance. In his national propaganda against untouchability, he had carried out three fasts or hunger strikes to highlight the issue out of his total seventeen fasts for various causes. On being asked if untouchables are treated differently who will do the sanitary work. He had replied once to such a question:

 ‘When untouchability has disappeared altogether, it is not feared that Bhangis will refuse to do sanitary work, if they are properly paid and well treated. Sanitary work is done well enough, if not better, in other parts of the world. But assuming that the Bhangis, on the bar sinister being removed, refuse to do or scavenging, we must be prepared to do it ourselves. The removal of untouchability implies that there is no sin or shame in cleaning for other people, even as it is no sin for a mother to clean her baby or for a paid nurse to clean her or his patient.’ (Source: Collected Works of MK Gandhi, Vol. 20, pp.261-62)

On being questioned on his suggestion of education for untouchables, ‘who will then do their work?’ His rather angry but careful response was:

‘This question itself shows the frightfulness of untouchability as we understand it today. There is nothing but scorn of untouchables in our everyday behaviour towards them. I think the very notion that education would make them give up being sweepers is wrong. The reason for it, however, lies in ourselves. We look down on the profession of a Bhangi, but, in fact, it is sacred work as it is concerned with cleanliness. A mother is regarded with all the greater feeling of sanctity because she removes the faeces of the child. We respect a woman who nurses the sick and is engaged in removing things, which smell most offensively. Should we not worship the person who always cleans our lavatories and thereby helps us to remain free from disease? By treating such persons as low, we have sunk low ourselves. Anyone pushing another into a well himself falls into it along with others We have no right, thus, to look down on the Bhangis and others like them as belonging to low castes.’

Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi Launched the ambitious Swachh Bharat Abhiyan (Clean India Mission) on 2nd October 2014.The Abhiyan was launched on the occasion of Gandhi’s 145th birth anniversary and aims at cleaning up roads, infrastructures, streets, rural areas, smaller towns and cities of the country. But what it fails to attempt is putting an end to manual scavenging. Manual scavenging is a term used (mainly in India) for the manual removal of untreated human excreta from bucket toilets or pit latrines by hand with buckets and shovels. It has been officially prohibited by law in 1993 due to it being regarded as a dehumanizing practice (if not done in a safe manner). The law was extended and clarified to include insanitary latrines, ditches and pits in 2013.

According to 2011 census of India, 180,657 households are engaged in manual scavenging for a livelihood.. The state of Maharashtra, with 63,713, tops the list with the largest number of households working as manual scavengers, followed by the states of Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Tripura and Karnataka.

Case of Sabarimala Temple-Entry 

It is well established that caste system is powered by specific forms of subjugation of women — within castes and between castes — which pose enormous difficulties and disabilities thus leading to public humiliation of women. B.R. Ambedkar in his classic 1917 essay ‘Castes in India’ opens up this gendered basis of the caste system. Ambedkar theorised on the systemic, routine and reinforced humiliation of women (of all castes) as the fulcrum on which the perpetuation and reinforcement of the caste system itself rests, citing specifically the examples of Sati, enforced widowhood and child-marriage of girls. The guardians of Lord Ayyappa in Sabarimala took this a step further and barred entry of women altogether (Kannabiran, 2018)

It is believed that, for most of history, women between the ages of 10 and 50 have not been allowed inside Kerala’s massively famous Sabarimala temple. From admitting women with age proofs and the state employing police personnel to keep women out of the temple, the clear shades of discrimination colouring the fiasco eventually sparked a national debate. One that is made difficult for this country not only because of its inability and lack of desire to move away from patriarchal believes that shackle women and hold them back from all aspects of public life, but by pitting the rights of women, in the flesh, against that of a deity, a man carved in stone. For a country that is deeply and largely religious and places inordinate amounts of importance in culture, tradition, and religious beliefs, acknowledging the rights of real women over a deity’s is absurdly, but unsurprisingly proving to be incredibly difficult. Most people in favour of keeping women out of the temple insist this is not a gendered issue and fiercely fight the claim that women are disallowed from entering the temple because of taboos and the ritual impurity associated with menstruation. They believe the roots of the practice are not in patriarchy, but in legend, which ironically, once again, is patriarchal.

It is said that the deity that resides there is celibate, meditating — now for centuries — for the well-being of those who worship him and don’t want him to be distracted from his penance by the presence of women, especially when he has promised himself to Malikapurathamma — another deity residing in the temple — the year no new worshippers visit him. It is said women are not allowed in the temple out of empathy for Malikapurathamma and also to not be a distraction to the deity and allow him to remain celibate. This claim isn’t only severely patriarchal, but isn’t the only reason women are banned from the temple’s premises. The ritual impurity associated with menstruating women is really the basis for disallowing them entry.

Most arguments for keeping women out of the temple’s premises are baseless, considering that women’s entry to the temple was only legally restricted after a 1991 Kerala High Court ruling. The arbitrary ages of 10 and 50 were decided by the court, and the court’s motivation was to keep impure menstruating women out of the holy premises of the temple. Although the practice was in place before the ruling, there is no evidence yet to suggest that the practice existed before 1950s.

On 28 September 2018, the Supreme Court lifted the ban on women’s entry (between the ages of 10 and 50) to Sabarimala Ayyappa Temple in Kerala. Women’s entry was banned in 1991 by the Kerala High Court (S Mahendran v The Secretary, Travancore 1991). The petitioners approached the apex court in 2006 based on constitutional rights to lift the ban at Sabarimala. Five members of the Supreme Court’s constitutional bench underlined the equal right of women in the temple by a majority verdict. It invited a huge amount of discontent, protest, violence, and mobilisation in Kerala (Roopesh, 2018).

Conclusion

It would be pertinent to recapitulate Gandhi’s position on caste system and untouchability. On the one hand, it was not in conformity with the basics of Hindu advaita principles and on the other that it would be indefensible if we are to ask for freedom from the British when almost one fifth of our own people are treated in sub-human way.

Bhikhu Parekh has commented on how Gandhi attempted to reorient the practice of Hinduism in the following words:

 ‘In these and other ways Gandhi profoundly, redefined Hinduism and gave it a radically novel orientation. Not God, not Man, but men were made its centre, and self-purification and their active service in the spirit of love constituted its content. Gandhi thus rationalized Hinduism and reduced it to a set of such basic moral principles as love, truth, ahimsa, and social service. He marginalised the sastras and deprived them of their religious and moral authority. He rarely referred to them to support his views, poured contempt on the endless debates about the meanings of their isolated passages and interpreted them as he thought proper. He thereby undermined the traditional religious basis of Brahmanic authority and liberated Hinduism from their stranglehold. The Brahmins had stressed the authority of the sastras; Gandhi argued that they, including even the Vedas, were subject to the test of reason and conscience. They had insisted on the eternal validity of the revealed knowledge; Gandhi contended that every yuga had is own unique dharma and periodically needed to reinterpret the eternal moral principles. They had concentrated on the ritual and ceremonial aspect of religion; Gandhi made social service its basis. The Brahmins glorified the intellectual and spiritual and condemned manual activities; Gandhi insisted that the latter were an integral part of the cosmic yajna and that whoever avoided them was a ‘thief’ and a ‘parasite’. They regarded certain activities and the people engaged in them as polluted; Gandhi rejoined that only those engaged in the ‘lowly’ activities truly served their fellow men and made the untouchables, not the Brahmins, the privileged ‘children of God’. Gandhi turned Hinduism upside down in a way no-one had done before, and did it with such consummate skill and authority that the Brahmins were thoroughly outsmarted’ (Parekh, 1989).

(Author: Anshu Srivastava is Associate Professor, NIEPA, New Delhi)

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[1On 27 January 1928, Ramdas married Nirmala who belonged to a different sub-caste

[2Devadas married Lakshmi, a Brhama girl who belonged to a different varna, in 1933.

[3Lakshmi married Marui, a Bhaman orphan boy on March 1933

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