What is “Brahmanical” in Indian Patriarchy ?

By GauravL 52 Comments

In December 2018, Jack Dorsey had a photo-op with a section Indian feminists (left-leaning) holding a placard that read Smash Brahmanical Patriarchy. Naturally, Hindutva supporters took umbrage to the reduction of Patriarchy in India to Brahmanism & “supposed” targetting of Brahmins. The “Liberals” appeared consistent with their ideological framework, though the framework can be accused of being myopic. Here are some essays from both sides of the ideological spectrum – Wire & Swarajya.

When words become labels, they tend to deviate from their original meaning and end up serving just their political purpose. The word Brahmanical is in danger of becoming a catch-all term on the left to not just to attack Hindutva but also to indulge in some masochism. Like all terms in Hinduism, Brahminism is difficult to define. For the purpose of this essay, I would refer to all Hindu practices & rituals which have a basis in scriptures like the Vedic Canon, Puranas/Itihasa, Sutras/Shastras as Brahmanism. (I would welcome any better definition of Brahmanism. It is often easier to negate a Hindu practice as Non-Brahmanical than the other way around)

Similarly, the word Patriarchy is likewise used loosely as an amalgamation of the words patriarchy, misogyny, sexism, and male chauvinism. Patriarchy is a hallmark of human civilization, especially post the agricultural revolution. Just a handful of cultures have been exceptional. As a result, all strands of patriarchy in a society cannot be blamed on the predominant religious current of the culture unless there is a logical & direct link between the two – correlation is not causation. Coming to India lets focus on the different strands of Patriarchy present in the country and try to entangle each strand and investigate its potential origins in Brahmanism.

MARRIAGE

In Brahmanism, marriage is a sacred bond between man and woman(women) and hence unbreakable. As polygamy is allowed under Brahmanism, Men could move on to newer women without breaking the sacred bond and continue to lead a Dharmic life. Women had a lot of patriarchal restrictions placed on them. It is interesting to note that the Hindu marriage act of 1955 has transformed Hindu marriage customs in Hinduism. Hence wrt Marriage – Smashing Brahmanism would be equal to beating a dead ARYA horse in 21st century India. All these strands of “patriarchy” exist to almost the same extent in other native India “Panthas” in -Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism. No need to explain how Muslim personal law is way worse wrt marriage today and needs immediate attention from Feminists.

INHERITANCE

Brahmanism did not support the rights of women to inherit property, but the 1956 act meant that equal inheritance rights were awarded. On the other hand, Muslim women don’t get equal rights under Muslim personal law.

WIDOWS

The conditions of widows in Brahmanism was arguably worse than most other cultures. With Remarriage out of question (unlike Islam and Christianity), widows were treated inhumanely in Hinduism – especially in Brahmanical orthodoxy. The Brahmanical obsession with abstract concepts of purity and consequent “bad luck” blamed on the widow meant that widows were sentenced to social boycott in Hindu societies (social murder). The other option – Sati is also uniquely Brahmanical. (though its prevalence in olden times is debated). Even today, widow remarriage is less common than widower remarriage. A lot of regression and inhuman attitude towards widows continue to this day even among elite and liberal Hindus. Hence wrt Widows Brahmanical Patriarchy is still alive and needs SMASHING. 

Eg: Widows are still considered inauspicious. Even today a widow cannot predominantly partake Brahmanical rituals on her own, she always needs a male/couple (pure and auspicious) helping hand/s to carry out rituals. Typically Marriage/Upanayana/other rituals are carried out by the Uncles of her children. Though Hindu society has moved beyond the Social ostracization of earlier times, the position of widows is far from equal. 

Having said that, the overlap of these practices with Varna oppression isn’t wide. These practices are particular to the Dvija Varnas. Conditions of widows in subaltern castes & tribes were historically significantly better – with remarriage/separation allowed in many subaltern/tribal communities.

DOWRY

It is difficult to pin down the custom of Dowry on Brahmanism. By accounts of most experts, it is a sociological custom not unique to India.

FEMALE FOETICIDE

A Direct consequence of Dowry and Two child policy (along with economic hardships and some other factors) Female Foeticide – arguably the worst Anti-Female practice in India is also a deeply sociological practice with very tenuous or no links to “Religions”. (Though Christianity actively condemns all abortions and hence Female Foeticide has no existence in Christians)

RELIGIOUS ROLE OF WOMEN

All religions present in India are deeply sexist and Brahmanism (Hinduism) doesn’t stand out as a particularly bad. However, the impurity attributed to menstruation is directly an outgrowth of the Brahmanical obsession of ritualistic purity. From practices of untouchability for menstruating women to the temple entry conflict, these customs can be attributed to Brahmanism though other faiths aren’t doing a particularly great job. Even Buddha’s teachings and the role of women in Buddhist Sangha are not remotely equal. However, the position of women in a lot of Brahmanical rituals is secondary/inferior to men. One could make a logical argument from Brahmanism to the demoted the role of women in rituals. (same as other faiths)

Sabrimala – though people claim the issue in Sabrimala is due to the Celibacy of Lord Ayyappa & not ritual taboo of menstruation- the priests of Sabrimala carried out a purification ritual after the women visited Sabrimala.

SEXUAL VIOLENCE

No correlation. This problem is worse in India than some regions of the world but no coherent link between this and Brahmanism exists.

CASUAL SEXISM & MISOGYNY

Is a universal societal problem. There is an argument that some aspects this is an overreaction to the overreach of some aspects of feminism (from conservative POV- I don’t hold this view)

ENDOGAMY

While caste endogamy is often blamed on Brahmanical doctrines – and especially the notorious Manusmriti, on a deeper investigation of the texts, the link is found to be not very robust. While the DIKTATS against the mixing of Varnas is a very important part of Manusmriti (and other texts too), the jati endogamy practice in India doesn’t have many sanctions in Brahmanical texts. Getting deep into the nuances around Jati and Varna is beyond the scope of this essay. Given the fact that Varna is a salient feature of Brahmanism and Jati is an outgrowth of Varna in a sense, we can logically argue that the origins of Endogamy are Brahmanical.

However its sustenance in 21st century India is due to tribalism, pressures of families (larger caste groups) and Compatibility correlated with Jati.  

HONOR CULTURE

Honor culture is a salient part of most caste conflicts in the country, but given the preponderance of similar conflicts in other cultures (Islamic), this practice cant be blamed on Brahmanism.

CHILD MARRIAGE

The universal practice in medieval and early modern times. On the contrary Vedic canon advises post-puberty marriage for both sexes. 

EDUCATION AND OTHER FREEDOMS

Like most religions wrt education and other freedoms, Brahmanism was harsh on women. But it doesn’t stand out. Even though subaltern women faced harsh Brahmanical opposition (Like Savitri Phule), the same is true for upper-caste women reformers as well. Sub Altern women faced the double combo of Brahmanical Casteism and Patriarchy, hence the blame of this strand can be put mildly on Brahmanism wrt Christianity but not wrt other faiths.

MODESTY (PURDAH)

Practiced in North Indian Hindu cultures, but most experts believe these practices were imposed on women after Islamic Turko-Afghan invasions of 11th century.

There may be some more strands of “Patriarchy” in India which are not covered here.


Out of the 13 strands identified above a modest 5 practices can be partially blamed on Brahmanism. Even out of these 5, 2 are addressed legally and are inconsequential today with 3/13 Brahmanical strands remaining (though these aren’t the biggest problems for 21st century India). If the aim is to Smash All Patriarchy – smashing Brahmanical Patriarchy which achieves only a fraction of the aim, can’t logically be the primary objective. In other words, wrt Feminism in India there are bigger fish to fry.

Some have argued that “Brahmanical patriarchy is a conceptual framework” that has a wider meaning. But it has been a word (Brahmanism) which means something specific for almost over a century and its definition was never as broad or loose as Hinduism.

Another issue I had with the “Smash Brahmanical Patriarchy” was the lack of understanding in the general population of the term Brahmanism. Any political point being made has value only if it resonates with the masses for whom it is coined. That certainly doesn’t seem to be the case here. As a result, such a sloganeering can be viewed by a considerable population as bigotry against Brahmins (As lots of people pointed out). Having said that, had the slogan been analytically watertight it wouldn’t matter IMO.

Next time there is ideological virtue-signaling – let us hope there is robust elucidation instead of attack with language meant as a catch-all for what one opposes. (Like calling your opponent fascists)


Ironically brahmin communities (mostly due to early exposure to education) are some of the least patriarchal communities of the country. Most women wouldn’t mind freedoms enjoyed by women in these communities (especially MH and WB). Though this would be explained as Brahmanical patriarchy which aims to oppress Bahujan women while emancipating Savarna ones. An incredibly contrived discussion arguing this can be found here with which I profoundly disagree – but that argument is for some other time.

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52 Replies to “What is “Brahmanical” in Indian Patriarchy ?”

  1. “Given the fact that Varna is a salient feature of Brahmanism and Jati is an outgrowth of Varna in a sense”

    I would disagree here..

    jAti is very strong in the deep south, which is the least Indo-Aryan part of India (excepting North East)

    Endogamy is super-strong in TN, notwithstanding the Dravidian movement, and long after brahmin population has dwindled to an insignificant proportion in villages

  2. “With Remarriage out of question (unlike Islam and Christianity), widows were treated inhumanely in Hinduism – especially in Brahmanical orthodoxy”

    I would disagree here too..

    Right upto Mauryan times, Niyoga was not uncommon, as indicated by the fact that even in the Manu Smriti, the author finds it necessary to comment on Niyoga (unfavorably)
    So clearly widows were encouraged to have children through Niyoga if necessary in the earlier traditions. Evident even in the itihAsas, where Ambika / Ambalika present instances of Niyoga. Also generally speaking, the matriarchs of Hastinapura (be it Satyavati or Kunti) do not come across as hapless women at all.

    Even the proscription of Niyoga and restriction on widows in classical times, was sort of driven by the intent to avoid the abuse of the Niyoga practice.

  3. Shrikant
    “jAti is very strong in the deep south, which is the least Indo-Aryan part of India (excepting North East) Endogamy is super-strong in TN, notwithstanding the Dravidian movement, and long after brahmin population has dwindled to an insignificant proportion in villages”
    I don’t contest your view I am myself partial to it.
    My personal instincts tell me Jati might be Pre-Arya (IVC practice) which was superimposed with Arya “Varna”. Even some of the genetic data seems to wink towards such a postulation. Given what we know of IVC I would wager some hierarchies and endogamy might be in existence in IVC. But it is my hunch – so in the argument, I take the predominant view though.

    “Even the proscription of Niyoga and restriction on widows in classical times, was sort of driven by the intent to avoid the abuse of the Niyoga practice.”
    That may be feasible I don’t disagree with the practice of Niyoga being an option in Vedic times- along with many other practices till Gupta times. But unlike Purdah or even Sati – arguing Widows are inauspicious & bad omen seems to have developed without pressures (of Invaders) organically from Brahmin obsession with Purity – that could also well be the origin of untouchability which also didnt exist in Vedic times (as some have argued)

    1. It is tempting to overstate the “ritual purity” angle and demonize the evil brahmins

      But there are so many exceptions of strong, powerful queens throughout Indian history (who were widowed in many cases) that it basically disproves the rule.

      Queen Didda in Kashmir
      Queen Rudramma of Kakatiyas
      Queen Prabhavati Gupta (Vakatakas)
      Ahalyabai Holkar during 18th cen (when Brahmanical orthodoxy supposedly peaked)

      That’s why I am uneasy with the tendency to ascribe a bigger importance to brahminical ideas than they warrant.

      1. Also we must not be swayed by “externalities” when we judge the status of widows

        My own great grandmother (a v orthodox lady) had her head shaved after her husband’s death.

        But that’s a cultural practice. She remained a powerful matriarch who commanded the respect of her sons and daughters, who treated her like a queen

      2. “It is tempting to overstate the “ritual purity” angle and demonize the evil brahmins”
        Emphasis on ritual purity is a major part of Brahminical practices – from the way the daily puja is done to a lot of things. I don’t extrapolate it to “demonize the evil brahmins” – we ought to be subjective enough to be liberal while judging yesterday’s practices from today’s standards. But they don’t have to be whitewashed. No practice begins @ 100%; it takes generations to reach a practice deemed “Bad” in today’s zeitgeist.

        As is the case with Sudra kings (Nandas prime amongst them) – there are powerful individuals who are exceptional in exceptional conditions. But that wouldn’t extrapolate to there was no hierarchy in Varnas right?
        The same is true for Radhabai Barve – Bajirao’s mother who was a widow for almost 40 years. She held considerable political power right up till Panipat. If a widow accepts her diminished status in rituals she can continue to hold her family position – as attested even in the case of my Great Grandmother.

        But that doesn’t mean there isn’t emphasis on ritualistic purity and reduced status to widows. A Widow isn’t auspicious(pure) enough to participate in her children’s marriage. A widower can do those rituals by applying a Supari instead of a wife – as a symbolic life who is no more. This happens today even in families in PUNE which appear liberal to the outsider. The respect given to a “Saubhagyawati” is often to the disrespect of a “Shrimati” in the surrounding. A widow is still constantly reminded of her misfortune by a range of practices.

        1. “But they don’t have to be whitewashed. No practice begins @ 100%; it takes generations to reach a practice deemed “Bad” in today’s zeitgeist.”

          You start off with the assumption that “ritual purity” is a “bad thing” in today’s context. That’s where your liberal world view and value judgments creep in. It may be “bad” in your view. But hundreds of millions of Hindus disagree. E.g. When you go to a temple, you keep your shoes outside. That’s ritual purity.

          The idea of ritual purity is central to Hindu practice. Take out ritual purity, and you take out Hinduism from this world. This does not mean the rigors of ritual practice will remain the same over time. It will attenuate. But any religion as much focused on orthopraxy as Hinduism will never cleanse itself of notions of ritual purity

          Having said that, when we discuss matters like “status of widows” or “status of shudras”, we have to make the distinction between ritual status and social status and not conflate the two.

          It is one thing to say –
          “widows enjoyed fewer rights in ritual practices, lower ritual status”
          Another thing to say –
          “They were oppressed and wielded no influence”

          Maybe the latter is also true in many cases. But we have to make that distinction. Conflation does not help

          1. I hadn’t meant this piece as a polemic against Brahmanism – rather I feared it would be construed as a defense of Brahmanism. I tried to keep my value judgments out but maybe I wasn’t able to

            “That’s where your liberal world view and value judgments creep in. It may be “bad” in your view. But hundreds of millions of Hindus disagree. E.g. When you go to a temple, you keep your shoes outside. That’s ritual purity.”

            I don’t view ritual purity as BAD even in my liberal worldview.
            I have no qualms in my friends, relatives practice ritual purity wrt religious practices – it is part of their routines and necessary for their practice. Where personally I object is when I see the consequence of it which I deem “Bad”;
            Eg – Making your daughter-in-law/daughter stay in her room for the entirety of her period especially when there are festivals in the house and celebration and joy.
            These manifestations are what I deem BAD in my worldview, not the abstract concept itself. Cleanliness, hygiene, and some other manifestations are good in “MY” worldview. So I wouldn’t necessarily want to get rid of “ritual purity” even from a reformist POV.
            Denying the link between “purity” and its consequences “deemed” bad isn’t something I feel consistent.

          2. It’s hard to figure where to draw the line, and this varies across individuals

            Many women I know among relatives and friends (particularly in TN) wouldn’t dream of going to a temple during menstruation. They don’t see it as an imposition or inconvenience. But as a “fact of life”

            You can challenge this for sure.

            My point is slightly different. It is on the need to consciously separate discussions of ritual status from social status. Which very few of us do in public discourse…

            As I said in an earlier comment it is a slippery slope.
            So easy to move from “fewer ritual rights for widows ” to “widows are oppressed”
            That shift happens without us knowing, if we dont choose our words carefully

          3. “As I said in an earlier comment it is a slippery slope.”
            Yes, it can be I agree.
            But I would point out there is a slippery slope on the Trad side.
            I focus on avoiding the Trad slope – you might on the reformist/liberal one.

  4. I also say this wrt Endogamy
    “However its sustenance in 21st century India is due to tribalism, pressures of families (larger caste groups) and Compatibility correlated with Jati. “

  5. Hence wrt Widows Brahmanical Patriarchy is still alive and needs SMASHING.

    of late there has been a significant number of widows (in the cities) having their head shaved. this practice had stopped in almost all cases except in a few traditional families. now, some widows in so called secular backgrounds are doing this.

  6. Let jack Dorsey stand with a plackard Smash Jewish Orthodoxy in New York, Tel Aviv or Berlin and see the reaction; or he can stand with Smash Islamic Patriarchy in Lahore – if he is so keen on smashing Patriarchy , it comes in so many shapes all over the world. He though India and Hinduism is an easy touch in these matters and he has proved right.

    1. VV – he wouldn’t dare 😛 ; Hindus r easy punching bags – brahmins easier 😛
      Even in India, I would say smashing Islamic patriarchy ought to trump all other patriarchies. (That’s left in the subtext in the essay though I don’t directly say it)

    2. Jack would stand with smash “white patriarchy”
      I reckon. But he is white. Normally it is not ok to punch down, but Hindus don’t frame the conversation in this way.

      Also notice these ppl use brahminical rather than Hindu. It’s strategic divisiveness.

      Gaurav takes them at their word, in so far as a reasonable understanding of Brahminism, but I doubt anyone holding the signs has done this sort of in depth analysis.

      It’s just power games.

      1. “Gaurav takes them at their word, in so far as a reasonable understanding of Brahminism, but I doubt anyone holding the signs has done this sort of in-depth analysis. It’s just power games.”
        By some yes its just power games; but these narratives are often sincerely passed due albeit all their myopic attributes. People brought up in that thought r sincere in their beliefs and really are taught to conflate these things and justify them.
        Do read the article I have linked in the postscript.

        https://roundtableindia.co.in/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=9928:feminism-is-brahminism&catid=119:feature&Itemid=132

    1. definitely; Indian laws are very vague – anything related to or perceived as against communities/religion can be prosecuted.
      Higher courts might disagree but lower courts/ cops have no such qualms.

  7. Over interpret-ing all this. We all know who all this smash this and smash that gang targets are. Too afraid to call out Hinduism, lest it creates a backlash bigger they can handle, and then they be called on their own privilege of being UC (Arundhati redux) , they use all this fancy terms to circumvent and protect themselves.

    They are all in what i would call Pratap Bhanu Mehta syndrome, too afraid to give even more of Hinduism to the Hindu right, lest they themselves decaled a heretic. So a very middle path. Though i am not sure it will work, considering how marginalized Hindu trads themselves are.

  8. If one sees the most viewed television shows in India, one realizes how much anxiety over controlling women’s bodies and labor exists in the country. This patriarchy is more peasantish than Brahmanical though.

    The US went through an enormous surge in divorce from the 1960s as women entered the workforce. This hasnt been evident in India so far.

    1. “This patriarchy is more peasantish ” yupp
      “The US went through an enormous surge in divorce from the 1960s as women entered the workforce. This hasn’t been evident in India so far.” Yeah, wonder why though – are Indians less promiscuous? or more conservative/compromising ? or is the divorce taboo or arranged caste marriages better than love marriages wrt persistance ? or something else ! it is hard to guess

      1. I think its just the wisdom of hindsight, for American women and men, an age of true equality was truly novel, and it took a generation to figure out the new expectations and find a way to live up to them.

        Working Indian women also tend to have a lot more help from in-laws and maids.

        1. Cheap maids, I must add. I can get all the maids we can get in less than 25-30% of my wife’s monthly income including nannies with average software income(not that we have these many maids).

          Indians r much less oriented towards “individualism” too

        2. American women and men, an age of true equality was truly novel, and it took a generation to figure out the new expectations and find a way to live up to them

          If you look at marriage rates in conjunction with divorce rates it is not clear to me that if the Americans have figured out marriage or just how to not get married and perhaps raise kids out of wedlock.

          Working Indian women also tend to have a lot more help from in-laws and maids.

          Aren’t the maids predominantly working Indian women as well ? Maybe they are older past child bearing age?

  9. “Can a person be arrested for inciting racial hatred under Indian laws for displaying such playcards?”

    i’m skeptical of such laws, but it seems pretty clear to me that ‘anti-brahminism’ is pretty clearly leveraging which is ethnic/racial hatred. and that’s why i really dislike it. unlike some people on these comment boards i reject the “well brahmins weren’t ackhually privileged,” but, even if they were privileged, so what.

    jews and tutsis were in various ways privileged too. so? privileged people have the same rights to human dignity.

    and of course a lot of the anti-brahminism is by brahmins themselves. it’s fake posturing, or it’s hate masking as social justice.

    1. “i’m skeptical of such laws” yupp – but most laws in IPC are abused left right and center. Someone rightly said – the only reason i am not in jail is because no one really wants me in jail.

      “and of course a lot of the anti-Brahminism is by brahmins themselves. it’s fake posturing, or it’s hate masking as social justice.”
      There is a lot of ideological commitment in these JNU type narratives. A lot of folks who are immersed in their narratives themselves genuinely believe them. Some are charlatans but a lot of sincere albeit stupid and myopic. A significant portion of “intelligentsia” indulges in it apart from naked bigotry found on the ground – particularly in MH/TN.

      1. Congress/left intellectuals spout Sailerian (High+low) coalition of UC+Dalits with Muslims as the vanguard. Usually the Sudra castes are given the shaft unless they are well organized.
        Right wing intellectuals spout Hindu unity but in practice it is shaping out to be same Sailerian strategy while keeping Muslims out of equation while not antagonizing Sudra castes explicitly.
        Sometimes I wonder if western elites want to recreate Indian social structure to preempt any radical change. Most of the leftist intellectual (UC) against right wing Intellectuals comes from their fears about where this might end up. I think more open discussion between groups about their interests as well acknowledgement about their own shortcomings could help. But not holding my breath 😇. Reading about other histories and really understanding trade offs would be a right step .

    2. I’d say it’s more just simple dog-whistling. You realize it when they attack universal Hindu rituals as “Brahminical,” or label a Patidar as “upper caste.” Prominent Lefties recently did both these things on Twitter, which is somewhat amusing…but it also tells you their intentions.

      After reading the recent drivel put forth by Lefties (PB Mehta among them), I’ve started to speculate that there actually aren’t ANY practicing Hindus on the Left, as they don’t apparently know or care what goes on in temples or what devout Hindus think.

  10. Hindu nationalists should welcome the brahminism/hinduism distinction. It allows the cultivator castes, with varying degrees of regard for brahmins, to embrace hindu poltics on their own terms. That Modi was an OBC is a huge part of his story, and encouraged mass loyalty where that mattered. If the goalposts move, and hinduism gets a more orthodox “brahminical” framing, then there could be massive disillusionment if this pivot is too rapid.
    Note that muslims and even crypto-khalistanis stick with “hindu” as the enemy these days, because to narrow to “bamman-baniya”, as their ancestors did, would tacitly open the door for their flock to reengage with folk hinduism.

    1. lol what is with hate of baniyas. I’m a guju vania origin dude so basically guju version of it. i don’t get it.

      Is it our high aasi relative to our wealth?

      1. My guess is that in societies with a lot of ethnic specialization, it ends up corresponding to differentiation of values. Think last century jewish-irish-italian dynamics

          1. the attitudes towards Banias and Marwadis are very similar to some of the old European (MILD) antisemitism. It exists even in MH,KN – the lack of trust in the “miserly” “underhanded” merchant seems to be the commonality.
            Some of the Hindutva folks also blame the Merchants for assisting the Invaders for money. But this behavior I presume stops well short of visceral hatred of jews.

          2. “Some of the Hindutva folks also blame the Merchants for assisting the Invaders for money.”

            Have u met Bongs?

          3. Yupp; they excel in Merchant bashing;
            Those folks on Twitter SwatiSarkar and her ilk have even written long-form and well researched – ish pieces arguing their position

          4. TBF I have bleeding heart left liberals bong folks who just spew venom against marwadis. Would actually put anti Semitism to shame. I guess it’s pan bengali thing, since some of them haven’t even grown up in Bengal.

            Some of it I guess is also due to the conflation of marwadi/gujju and hindu right

          5. warlock, I think gaurav covered the negative stereotypes. Regarding the US immigrant ethnic analogy, it finds parallel in the urban setting where you have multiple types of peasant/cultivator-origin social groups and a more urban commerce adapted one that interact. Some are more inclined towards education than others. Some families see becoming defense/law enforcement, petty bureaucrat or a city council member as being a life path. Another would see a textile trading business as the way to go. The personalities are different, not they don’t opportunistically use each other, or even become friends. The land-based castes imagine themselves more valorous, and the mercantile caste think themselves more competent and accomplished. Crude analogy, but in the ny-area, although there are all kinds of enormously wealthy and successful people, a guido with clout can flex on an i-banker.

      2. For people with visceral hatred for everything Hindu, it is easy to deny any achievements of Brahmins (religious swindlers) and Kshatriyas (looser) but achievements(money) of Baniyas are in their face and tangible.

        Similar dislike for ‘the hindu’ who seemingly did better at securing and doing well at jobs and hence the formation of AMU, Jamia type schools.

        1. For people with visceral hatred for everything Hindu, it is easy to deny any achievements of Brahmins (religious swindlers) and Kshatriyas (looser) but achievements(money) of Baniyas are in their face and tangible.

          Bhimrao some of your rants are extraordinarily insightful. Pardon me for using the word rant – it is not meant as a pejorative.

          1. On ranting:
            Yes, I need to work on writing (and speaking) with greater civility and restraint. I was reading my own comments, all of them do sound like rants, the loud tone must have gotten boring for others. Some of it is because I think/verbalize in Hindi and then have to translate things in English while writing. But anyways will try to fix it.

    2. If the goalposts move, and hinduism gets a more orthodox “brahminical” framing
      I think it’s the other way around, hindutva is likely to allow for an expression of a non-brahminical Hindu framing rather than taking Brahminism as normative.

      So for eg. Baba ram dev teaches Yoga to the masses not Brahminic rituals.

      Hindu nationalists should welcome the brahminism/hinduism distinction.
      From a purely post-truth power games POV…

      Attacking Brahminism is a way to attack trad Hinduism.
      Attacking Hindutva is a way to attack modern Hinduism.

      Without pissing off all Hindus,

      their flock to reengage with folk hinduism.

      This ship has sailed. Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs have all been moving away from syncretic practices and solidifying their identity.

      1. “Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs have all been moving away from syncretic practices and solidifying their identity.”

        Hindu syncretism for Muslim practices was always a one way street. When have Muslims anywhere ever prayed/payed-respect at temples/gurdwaras/shrines?

        With urbanization and rise of atheism among Hindus, the numbers are going down but name one people in the whole world who voluntarily and genuinely ‘prays’ to the gods/ideals of so many other religions?

      2. Sumit,
        //I think it’s the other way around, hindutva is likely to allow for an expression of a non-brahminical Hindu framing rather than taking Brahminism as normative// While I agree for the near future, and i mention that the reason for the success of modi and youth hindutva in general has been because of the emphasis on “demotic” hinduism, its also the case that once political victories are consolidated, the frontier of discourse changes. The left does the same thing, they sell you with compassionate egalitarianism and it naturally accretes authoritarian features.
        //Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs have all been moving away from syncretic practices and solidifying their identity.//
        Similarly, i feel like what seem like inexorable processes are often still cycles in the cultural economy. If anything, the 80s were peak punjabi prosperity vis a vis the rest of the subcontinent, and they had the confidence to claim separateness. That has been reversed in a lot of ways, moreover, the residual separatism in the diaspora, as among canadian jatts, couldn’t be more inconsequential to motherland politics. Sikh regard and participation in hindu folk practices is not a departed ship in any sense in India. Indian muslims, being far less social developed than sikhs, have not internalised elite muslimm messaging to completeness. They are in a far more liminal state than the conversations here acknowledge.

  11. I dont think Hindu nat really care that much abt Hinduism/brahminism difference. It one and the same. The only real faultline which is raw enough to exploit is the dalit Faultline. All others fray from time to time, but they mend quicker as well.

    Though i agree that Hindu nat should welcome ‘destroy Brahminism’ and all. Its like ‘Abolish the police’ .
    Whatever few trad Hindus left in the liberal/secular space will find it tough to support that, and the slogan itself can quickly metamorphize into ‘Destroy Hinduism’ painting a world of US vs Others. And that’s what Hindu nat wants.

  12. I would be surprised if purdah was influenced by Turco-Afghan rulers given the overall resistance to Islamic influence in north India and the Gangetic plain. Purdah itself became part of Islamic culture when Syria was conquered as it was the custom of the non-Islamic urban elite there. Even now it seems common in north India for elite women to either not work outside the house or quit working when the family reaches a desired income threshold.

    1. Ali,
      I haven’t read deeply about it so can’t comment with confidence;
      But one thing for sure – none of the classical Sanskrit literature from the first millennium AD attest to the practice. It is however very common in certain Dvija communities of North India. Not practiced south of MH, MP.

      There is an agreement even among Left historians that its a 2nd Millenium phenomenon.

      https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Experts-lift-veil-off-purdah-origin/articleshow/2132555.cms

  13. “It is however very common in certain Dvija communities of North India. Not practiced south of MH, MP.”

    My paternal great-grandmother who was widowed very early in life was the matriarch of a large-ish landholding that was somewhere between a zamindaari and a princely state in central UP. She used to observe purdah even as she conducted all the business of the state from behind it.

    I have been told the purdah was an elite Islamic influence.

    Fortunately, both my grandmother and her sister went to college. Some of the first women of their generation to do so.

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