Ambedkar's ideas on caste system

The role played by Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar has left its imprint on the social tapestry of the country after independence and shaped the political and civic contours of India today. It would have been a different India without him, probably a much more inequitable and unjust one. He had the highest academic credentials for an Indian of his time. He is the bearer of the modern idiom, the language of the social sciences. He rose to the deeply regarded and most widely acknowledged leader of the untouchables and beyond death, his stature has grown larger over the years. We will see why he advocates for the annihilation of caste. Let’s try to know what was Ambedkar’s ideas on Caste system in Hinduism?

“Caste is not a division of labour, it is a division of labourers.”

Civilized society undoubtedly needs a division of labour but caste system is not merely division of labour, it is division of labourers. It is a hierarchical system. The division is based upon natural aptitudes. The individuals are not selected on the basis of their capabilities, It is based upon the social status of parents. In this division of labour there is no place for individual’s sentiment and preference. There is no readjustment of occupation in the Hindu caste system. It is based on the dogma of predestination. Also, Hindu caste system highlights some occupation as degraded, this provokes the people involved in that occupation to evade and escape from such occupations. So that’s why as an economic organisation caste is a harmful institution.

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Caste cannot preserve a non-existent “racial purity”

It is said that the object of caste was to preserve the purity of race and purity of blood but the ethnologists are of the opinion that men of pure race exist nowhere and that there has been a mixture of all races in all parts of the world. The Brahmin of Punjab has racially of the same stock as the Chamar of Punjab. Ambedkar believed that caste system is the social division of people of the same race. Caste prohibits persons belonging to different castes from intermarrying which is a negative thing. Caste has no scientific origin, it is just a social system which embodies the arrogance and selfishness of a perverse section of the Hindus.

“Caste prevents Hindus from forming a real society or nation”

Ambedkar argued that caste has demoralized and disorganised the Hindus. The name Hindu itself is a foreign name it was given by Mohammedans to the natives for the purpose of distinguishing themselves. Hindu society does not exist, it is a collection of castes. Every caste dines and marries in itself. They do not have any contact with others. There is no Hindu consciousness of kind, there is only consciousness of his or her caste. That is the reason why Hindus cannot form a society or nation. The similarities in habits, customs, beliefs, thoughts are not enough to constitute men into society. Men constitute society because they have things in common. Society can exist only by communication. The caste system prevents common activity and by doing so it has prevented the Hindus from becoming a society with a unified life and a consciousness of its own being.

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“Caste system has an anti-social spirit”

Ambedkar mentioned that the anti-social spirit is the worst feature of the Hindu caste system. The literature of Hindus highlights the noble origin of one caste and ignoble origin of others. This anti-social spirit has also poisoned the mutual relations of the sub-castes. Castes in Hindus have different interests, in an attempt to protect its own interest the different castes have isolated from each other. So, therefore, the Hindus are not merely the assortment of castes but are so many varying groups, each living for itself and for its selfish deals. Also, the existence of caste and caste consciousness has served to keep the memory of the past feuds between castes green and has prevented solidarity.

“Caste dominance of higher caste”

The higher caste in the Hindu caste system has always prevented the rising of the lower castes. The Brahmans have always exploited the untouchables in the society. The Brahmans use the sacred and holy books which are all written by them for justification of their tyrannical dominance over Shudras and Atishudras. Ambedkar also mentioned that the cunning Brahmans benefit themselves by taxing the lower castes and they use god as a symbol for their rule. They are educated and keep lower castes and women away from education. They also acquire significant positions in administration, law etc. They remain powerful and never let the lower castes rise in cultural level. Ambedkar criticised the Hindus that they do not spread the light of knowledge and endeavor to keep others in darkness. He mentioned that if Mohammedan has been cruel in spreading their religion by the sword, Hindus have also been mean and meanness is worse than cruelty.

Ambedkar’s dream of an ideal society:

Ambedkar clearly mentioned that his ideal society is based on Liberty, Equality and Fraternity. An ideal society should be mobile, should be full of channels for conveying a change taking place in one part to other parts. In an ideal society, there should be many interests consciously communicated and shared. Men should not be forced to accept others choices. Equality is one of the most important principles in Ambedkar’s society. The social body must make all its member equal before the race. The most important and crucial step to attain this ideal society of Ambedkar’s dream is the annihilation of the caste system.



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