Hindutva, Asabiya and Apostacy

This particular blogpost is triggered by the following thread

It has been fashionable for long to use historic Hindu pluralism as a defense against claims of rising intolerance. The above Twitter thread was spawned by comparisons (premature IMO) of Hindutva rage at Beef eating by “members of the one’s tribe” to the Islamic practice of Takfiri and apostasy. The fears of liberals like Dhume may be exaggerated, but the potential of Apostacy and Takfiri memes arising in Hindutva needs to be inspected.

Historically, Hinduism (especially Brahmanical) had a concept similar to Takfiri. However, unlike Islam, this concept in Hinduism was mostly associated with Ritual purity and orthodoxy and rarely had political manifestations. I am naturally talking about social ostracization. This ostracization was not only limited to the Untouchables, but also to those Savarnas who went against the prevailing orthodoxies and customs. About this, we have a good number of examples in the Medieval period (especial Bhakti movement) but not many in the ancient period. Dr. Ambedkar in his book on Shudras claims that beef-eating was weaponized  (and hence political) by Brahmins to make the defeated Buddhists or Broken men “Untouchables”. As these claims are unsubstantiated or out of date with the current scholarship, it’s safe to assume Hinduism had no equivalent of political apostasy, unlike the Abrahamic faiths.

It is one thing to hound, oppress and kill the Other but to justify in-group political violence needs the emergence of concepts like Apostacy and blasphemy. However, it is important to note that the emergence of Apostacy in Islam cannot be understood without the concept of Asabiya (In group solidarity/ brotherhood) and the repercussions of the overthrow of the Ummayads by the Abbasids. Without strong Asabiya and its political implications, it is probable that strong defense mechanisms in Islam like Apostacy and blasphemy would not flourish. All cultures and systems which have strong Apostacy like memes tend to have strong Asabiya – even in non Abrahamic faiths, as such examples are rife in Medieval and Modern China. Closer to home, the secular Marxist-ish LTTE also came up with ideological justifications for hit jobs against Tamil “traitors”.

It must be noted that the Indian revolutionaries had by and large avoided the “traitoring” of the brother during its long years of fight against the British. Designs at assassinations of political moderates (like Gopal Gokhale) were almost always given up on principle. This was only to change with the biggest assassination of Modern India, that too under the guise of protecting India and particularly its Hindus. However, most of the Hindu population vehemently condemned the actions of Godse and co. Incidently this assasination also resulted in a huge setback to the attempts of developing an Asabiya which were gaining traction among the Hindus since the late 19th century.

However, the Hindutva of the 21st century, especially after the rise of the Modi and RSS is no longer a movement with insignificant Asabiya. Over a century ago, the greatest Indian leader of his time, Lokmanya Tilak had once said something along the lines of this – “What would the son of an Oil-presser do in the parliament ? Pass laws ?” Today such a person is not only THE leader of the nation, but also the Hindu Hriday Samrat. Changes in the fabric of Hinduism have been fantastic and Hindus have achieved some sort of Abasiya which they never had at any time. If the latest voting patterns show us anything, it’s that at least in national elections, Hindus are increasingly voting over caste lines in favor of a strong Hinduva leader. One of the cores of Hindu traditional society, the Varna system has changed much more in the last 100 years than it did at any such period in the last millenia.

At such a dynamic time in the history of Hindu society, claims of “over the past millenia” hold less water than they did even a few decades ago. There exist far more incentives to have strong Asabiya in modern democratic nation-states than ever before. As a result, it is only fair to extrapolate that far more incentives and mechanisms exist today which can select controls like Apostasy and Blasphemy to a degree. That doesn’t mean that Hindu(tva/ism) will become like Islam and India like Pakistan, both material and philosophical constraints will continue to prevent this IMO. But its not insane to expect the Apostasy and Blasphemy will NOT remain irrelevant in the Hindutva project. Especially given the sorry state of the Rule of Law in the country, it is not very paranoid to be vigilant about such trends. To what degree is this justified, we cannot comment today. Five years ago, I would have been more alarmed by the potential of such norms getting established given the killings of rationalists (Dabholkar and co), which took place in a span of 3-4 years. Even though these murders did not result in a spree of killings as many had feared they were a rude awakening nonetheless.

Hence I argue that to assume such norms would NOT take root in the coming decades with increasing Hindu Asabiya is unwarranted. And this can be argued only because the norms “over the past millennia” have changed drastically in the recent times.

45 thoughts on “Hindutva, Asabiya and Apostacy

  1. @GauravL

    I followed the “beef” debate on Twitter and to me it seemed like a discussion about culture and not religion. Razib pointed out in one of his essays that Islam will always be alien to China because their much loved pork is forbidden. Here food turns out to be the perfect proxy for the Other.

    In the Indian context, things are a bit inverted. Beef is forbidden out of an affinity for the animal (not disgust). Whereas in Islam, there is no positive sanction for the consumption of beef. This apparent insistence on beef as a religious preference for subcontinental Muslims is driven perversely by its “offensive value” to heretics!

    The Marxist-Islamist bonhomie has ensured that this preference is adopted by gullible liberals for its virtue-signalling potential. Hence the obsession within some Right circles on the weaponisation of food by Indian liberals. This then plays into the hands of people like Dhume who can now claim a goal after shifting goalposts.

    P.S. – Throughout your article you have only discussed apostasy, blasphemy using either English or Islamic terms and frameworks. Are there Sanskrit or Marathi words for these concepts? If not, what does that tell you?

    1. “This apparent insistence on beef as a religious preference for subcontinental Muslims is driven perversely by its “offensive value” to heretics!”

      Incidently some scholars say that beef eating was never widespread among subaltern muslims – though no doubt Muslim armies committed cow slaughter on mass to hurt the hindus (Apparently Afzalkhan force fed beef to the priest at Tuljapur)- Even Akbar seemed to have banned cow slaughter at one point. It apparetly picked up to serve the tastes of the Gora sahib and was weaponized by Muslims in the decades of Hindu Muslim strife pre partition.

      Anyways no one is willing to look up this bit of conjecture it seems

      1. Beef is a just a cheaper source of meat in the subcontinent, especially before broiler chicken farming. Mutton/lamb is still more expensive than beef even today. Cows are not that common in Arabia or Central Asia so goat/sheep is more commonly eaten. Even today.. most Mughalai dishes in North India/Pakistan are beef centered.. whereas Afghan dishes are more mutton centred.

        1. Its cheaper as there is almost no demand.
          yeah – but British records show than even among Muslims the Beef eating taboos persisted till 18th century only to pick up later.
          Mughlai dishes are “Elite” dishes mostly developed in kitchens of north indian nawabs and co.

          There is a book/thesis titled British origins of cow slaughter – but the topic isnt well explored

        2. @S Querishi

          Pork is cheaper than beef throughout the subcontinent including Pakistan and Bangladesh. The human-pig interaction in societies is a well established fact since millennia. This is a symbiotic relationship that is cost-effective. You are re-iterating a well known Indian liberal talking point that has been demolished to pieces.

          Subcontinental Muslims prefer to pretend that they are somehow indulging in economic and rational choices. The reality is that it is masked religious prejudice. Liberals have been aiding that deception.

          1. @Ugra why are you wasting words and energy on such people who’s society is based on Iqta system since 13th century? Don’t waste your efforts on dumb people

          2. @Ugra: Pork is forbidden in Islam, beef isn’t.
            So even if it’s free, it’s not commonly consumed.
            I think you are having trouble combining economic choices with religious choices. But I guess.. carry on.

            @ Gaurav

            Not sure about your reference about beef being uncommon even amongst Muslims.. that may very well be so due to cultural sensitivities or just plain old poverty (meat is barely eaten by poorer Muslims because it was more expensive than daal and rice)
            The demand for beef was always high in Pakistan and up until 20 years ago, it was similar in cost or cheaper than even chicken. It’s still substantially cheaper than goat/mutton.

          3. I am talking historically – due to cultural sensitivity or taboo.
            Independent pakistan/Bdesh data doesn’t work against the point i am making. Ofcourse it would be consumed in abundance today since the ties with the Hindu past are completely severed.

            My point being Beef eating wasn’t very common among sub altern muslims before the arrival of British (that’s the conjecture based on weak data)

          4. @ S Qureishi

            You just gave the impression earlier that beef is consumed in Pakistan because it is cheaper. I had to correct you by saying pork is even cheaper than beef.

            To which you responded by saying pork is prohibited. Which is the correct reason why you consume beef (religious acceptability, not economic).

            This logic circle is exactly how Indian liberals tend to behave – trojanizing the meat-economics argument with Sharia-compliance. The RW goes one step further by insisting on a pork filling.

          5. @Ugra

            //You just gave the impression earlier that beef is consumed in Pakistan because it is cheaper. You just gave the impression earlier that beef is consumed in Pakistan because it is cheaper. I had to correct you by saying pork is even cheaper than beef.//

            Don’t understand your logic. Pork and Beef are not competing products for Muslims due to the obvious religious restriction. Goat/Mutton is the direct competitor and its significantly more expensive than beef here, it has always been like that.

        3. We pretty much ate beef everyday. Beef curry, greens and veggi curry with red rice. one pound or two pounds for a family of six.
          Once a week or so beef stew, potatoes and carrots and big onions.

          Chicken was very expensive, and was a treat once a month of so and with noodles. Free Range village chickens.

          The beef thingy was generally the first gen and second gen brit boarding school type, which included my parents on both sides.

          We ate fish, but my father only liked Shark and Seer/Kingfish. Also expensive and not available always.

          We ate pork but farm pork was not available where we lived when young. Seen how the village pigs are treated in the nearby fishing village.

          Now, beef and pork (farm) are approx the same price. Free range/village chicken the also the same or marginally higher. Factory Farm chicken approx half price of beef

          Thank goodness we did not grow up eating factory farm chicken full of growth hormones. Its 40 day from chick to table..
          Kids even in village schools are fat and overweight.

          1. @sbarrkum

            How far was your place from the coast or the mountains? Rural cuisine is literally living off the land with an exception being made for religious taboos. Did it have no Buddhists at all?

            I read an article about the Dalai Lama taking special pains to educate Tibetan villagers that their yak eating would not hinder their grace in the Buddhist afterlife. They cannot subsist in winters without eating yak-meat.

          2. Coast, Moratuwa 13 miles south of Colombo.
            This is the home town of the first mercantile millionaires in the late 1800’s, like the de Soysa’s and Salgado’s.

            However, about upto a quarter mile from the beach dirt poor cadjan hut fisher folk. Mid 60s to mid 70’s when we lived there.

            In the interior specially paddy farmers of old didnt eat beef because cattle were used for farming. This was true even in South East asia until the advent of hand tractors.

            Other than that Buddhist and most rural hindus/tamils pretty much eat anything, inculding wild boar, venison, peacock (all illegal as they are wild life).

            I also get the impression the Buddhists specially south and west are reluctant to rear animals for meat, let alone kill. They will eat though.

          3. My late wife was a Sinhala Buddhist from a small village. The whole extended family ate beef.
            However, no one had even chickens and they had the space.

            If you see herds of cattle, goats almost always muslims or tamils. Catholic sinhalese go for pig rearing. Faster return on investment.

            The Buddhist Sinhalese have a problem rearing animals, knowing when they are sold they go to the butcher. I too have the same problem. Apparently can make 10X or more profit in year or so from goats. Still does not entice me, and I dont believe in karma or reincarnation.

          4. @sbarrkum

            Nice details…indeed you can correctly assess a farmer’s religiosity based on his cropping and husbandry patterns. Pig farming is taking off tremendously in India. Rural areas are shaking off a slight political distaste for pork and getting into it bigly. I saw a youtube video where a cashew farmer is holding 40 animals on his grove. These hogs are supremely efficient – they eat even the rinds and pulp of the cashew-fruit which is discarded.

      2. This whole thing of trying to equate “Islamism” with “hindutva” does not have sound foundation.
        Why?
        Islamism persists even in west, people are surrendering to the Taliban rather than fighting.
        Because ideology is the same with just a few shades here and there.
        The reason the 2 cannot be equated is because of 1. Literature ( i.e the books, laws etc)
        In Islam it is v clear either the Q or H and it cannot be edited because of it having divine sanction.
        In Hindutva /Hinduism social and religious laws have wide variety and can be edited.
        No two temples set of castes priests have the same rituals and festival s . But they respect each other s boundary and are fine with that.
        Also orthodox Hindus would probably be like orthodox hasidic Jews. They may follow there rules zealously but they won’t ever force them on another, and they may disown the family member who deviates but would never kill for it.
        2. Method of transmission
        Among Hindus today, how many actually study even a single religious text or get a religious education.
        Even hindutva isn’t being in taught to folks on mass scale.
        3. So BJP is a ” hindu party” for non Hindus, but for Hindus it is just one of the many of parties.
        4 .Hence the whole idea that hindutva will lead to hinduisation is not really happening on the ground.
        So this strong Asabiya thing is hardly there. Less than 2% Indian are on twitter and maybe a few post some provocative tweets and the likes of Dhume and other whose job is to prove to the world that ” hindu extremists” exist use the anecdotal evidence.
        On the ground nothing spectacular has changed among Hindus . Except perhaps the blurring of caste lines among the city dwellers.

  2. One defeat and 70-80% of Hindutva would be decimated. Almost all the people will jump ships saying ‘I told you so…’, ‘Chup Sanghi!’, etc etc etc. On ideology, Indians are bin-pendi-ka-lota. I know this will happen because I have seen Mayawati’s million+ people rallies from early 2000s.

    Why is BJP and it’s supporters being held to a higher standard? imo they are an order of magnitude ineffective than Shiv Sena, Left or TMC in (mis)using their powers and two orders of magnitude more accountable.

    1. > One defeat and 70-80% of Hindutva would be decimated.

      शत प्रतिशत सत्य. जो आज trad Hindu बने फिर रहे हैं, वे ट्रम्प समय दौरान हुए confessions जैसा कुछ करेंगे – “I was led astray by the radical Hindutva movement. I am reformed now, I repent”.

    2. “One defeat and 70-80% of Hindutva would be decimated.”

      I doubt that. Philosophically most of the online Hindutva crowd was into Hindutva before 2014. It was just that before Modi, the Advani led BJP was in doldrums. So people may not have wanted to waste their vote by voting for them.

      “Why is BJP and it’s supporters being held to a higher standard?”
      Because the BJP is an ideological party which promises so much more. People do not expect anything from lumpen groups like TMC and Shiv Sena. These parties are only more effective than BJP in thuggery. Not in accomplishing anything positive.

    3. I always agree with Bhim, but i have this inkling that this time Hindu Asabiya is here to stay. My own family who were Congress leaning and Samajwadi leaning even in the 90s, now finds me ‘not Hindu’ enough 😛

      The BJP post Modi would see reverses, but i doubt it will fall back to its 2009 level of 20 percent. It will still clock up to 25-30 percent, which in a post Modi, fractured mandate scenario, is enough to be the biggest dog. The BJP does not need to win, it just has to ensure it beats Congress thoroughly.

      1. I agree with you. Similar things happened in my house too but people don’t understand why Indians are voting more and more and gravitating towards Modi. I see lot of discussion being made on preconceived notions with regard to social events happening in India based on what popular media reports. And the Hindu will consolidate their vote in 2024

  3. I guess Bhim is being too cynical (i am assuming he is partial to the Hindutva project).
    I agree with Saurabh – NDA going below 20% vote share in near future in unimaginable – in national front.
    It could happen if someone out flanks BJP from the right – but again TINA factor would help the centerish Modi.

    BJP needs to get less than 200 LS Seats to go out of power – that aint gonna happen for ten years i guess.
    In the states yes anything can happen though.

    1. “BJP needs to get less than 200 LS Seats to go out of power”

      Well there is a possibility of re run of 2015 Sri Lankan elections where a opportunistic alliance comes together to stop BJP which gets even more than 200 seats. But then we should keep in mind the result of 2020 Sri Lankan elections…

      1. With Modi in focus – we have seen that doesn’t work. Without Modi in 2029 maybe that can happen but without Modi there will also be less incentive to have a united opposition right ?
        So IMO NDA will get majority in 2024,
        Might fall below majority in 2029 without Modi like figure in center.

      2. I would think, our current leaders in SL too fall into the boubours category. Very Nativist and nationalistic and rejection of some aspects of globalism. Putin, Modi and Xi also fall into the boubours category too.

        Nicolas Chemla calls this social type the “boubours,” the boorish bourgeoisie. If the elite bourgeois bohemians—the bobos—tend to have progressive values and metropolitan tastes, the boubours go out of their way to shock them with nativism, nationalism, and a willful lack of tact. Boubour leaders span the Western world: Trump in the U.S., Boris Johnson in the United Kingdom, Marine Le Pen in France, Viktor Orbán in Hungary, Matteo Salvini in Italy.”

        Please read the long Atlantic article linked in Pat Langs synopsis. As Pat Lang says David Brooks has ” I see that he has learned a lot.”
        I too tuned off reading David Brooks “End of History” era .

        The links are in next comment. Comments with links seem to get moderated, and sometimes the moderation does not go thru.

      3. @Gaurav

        Just like Modi is in picture, so was ‘War general’ Rajpaksha. Still the opposition came around and defeated him. Just wanted folks to understand that Rajpaksha defeat did not sound the death knell on Sinhalese nationalism, same is true of Modi/BJP and Hindutva.

  4. I mostly agree although one part I criticize is that Asabiya in your article is vague. Asabiya for the nation state trumps asabiya for the ummah even in the case of modern Muslim nation states such as Pakistan which can be aptly applied to hindutva Indian Asabiya .

    Islam is one major identity and is often subject to the more powerful secularizing vehicle that is the nation state in Pakistan and modern Muslim nation states. As the scholar of Islam, Wael Hallaq, cargues that the modern state is not a neutral arrangement that can be transformed at will, as Islamic reformers had initially thought, but one that is essentially amoral and incompatible with any historically recognizable form of Islam.
    A nation state like India and Pakistan state
    is not an empty space to be filled by whatever ideology, but possesses one of its own. It is secularizing as the state authorizes religion rather than vice versa. The nation state is abstract and is an impersonal institution apart from any particular individuals, parties, and dynasties that hold its reigns.
    Therefore when talking about Asabiya amongst Muslims or Hindus and it’s intersection with nation states it’s important to understand that the secular and secularIZING nature of the nation state often trumps the Asabiya of the religious community.

    “It is a short step from the prerevolutionary ideological claim that ‘the state must be run by the sacred law’ to ‘whatever the state requires for its defense, preservation, and welfare is what the sacred law is’”
    – Andrew F. March in The Caliphate of Man: Popular Sovereignty in Modern Islamic Thought (Harvard University Press, 2019),

    1. Here the context is INTRA-state Asabiya. – be it of castes or religions
      For decades – Asabiya of Muslims was much higher than Hindus; Here the larger Umma is not the point, in group solidarity against the other is.

      That Asabiya is what Hindus seem to be developing. Muslim vote use to make-break elections from 90s to 2010s.
      Now on national level it has become irrelevant outside certain pockets

  5. Kudos to Gaurav neverthless on articulating something which i have pointed out in my comments, in a much better fashion then i ever could. With the rise of Hindutva, Hinduism itself will see the rise of dynamics of Abrahmic religions like Asabiyas as well as apostacy. The Southern and Eastern Hindus might think they are safe and they can take certain liberties which was ok earlier, but not for much longer. The Northen Hindus will no longer wait for other Hindus, either get on the bandwagon or be expelled.

    With Hinduism being refashioned, its just a matter of time where either heathens will be crushed or a Hindu schism will emerge. The more Abrahmic Hindutva of the North VS trad old school Hinduism of South.

    1. Well Gaurav is just Saurav with a G right.

      Anyways I don’t see major schisms emerging – some conflicts sure – N v S but nothing earth shattering unless there is reorganization of LS seats without counterweights.

    2. The southern part will face more caste conflicts than religious conflicts. It is manifesting in the form of Reddys vs Naidus in Andhra Pradesh. Hindutva though originated in Maharashtra is getting weakened here due to the presence of a congress government significantly while it’s getting stronger in Rajasthan. We don’t know exactly how these dynamics are being played out. Many in the Lutyens are fearing that Delhi will favour Hindutva in the coming 2025 elections because the kejri government failed miserably in the management of health and education as they advertised. The booster push to hindutva will come from the census 2021 readings. And the beef eaters will be questioned again on “lack of education arguements”. In Eastern India we may witness large scale violence once the census results are published.

      1. Maharstra was always less-Hindu space COMPARED to N-India. It has been ruled by right wing parties just 10 years of the last 70 odd. So its but natural that it has weakened Hindutva base. Plus for all the erstwhile Hindu pride of Maratha and Shivaji, they are more caste concious like Lingayats and Jats , then lets say Patels, who sooner or later came around to Hindutva, after their caste agitation. The Jats and Marathas are fair weathered freinds of Hindutva.

        In Rajasthan , just like different areas of the North , Hindutva will grow stronger , despite the party in power. More Hindu-Less Hindu spaces 🙂

        1. Not sure that Marathas are even fairweather friends of hindutva as they form the core of the resistance to it in MH. They, like the Vokkaligas in KA, embodied politically as NCP and JDS respectively, have anti-brahminism baked into their self-conception and worldview. Both have a compact geographic core territory that is still a redoubt in the worst of times (the upper-Krishna tracts of the Karad-Satara corridor vs the upper-Kaveri Mandya-Hassan one). Either may yet get assimilated in the hindutva fold, but they are the definition of the resistance for now, among states where the party is established. Its a curious thing because Lingayats (straddling the ethnic homeland of both off these groups), who have a long tradition of explicit doctrinal scepticism of brahminism, were quicker to ally with the BJP.

          1. I am not sure I buy the argument that Marathas and Vokkaligas are ideologically opposed to Hindutva. Or for that matter that Lingayats are so aligned with Hindutva. I think it is more of division of power between the different caste groups.
            Patels in GJ and Lingayats+Vokkaligas in KA were part of the erstwhile janata parivar along with yadavs. These groups were mostly shut out of power during the era of congress dominance. Marathas and Jats were pramatic stakeholders in the congress system in MH, HR. As expected Jats will drive the hardest bargain to be part of any new coalition/system.
            The true triumph of Hindutva or Indic polity will be when there is a duopoly established both at national and state level such that separatist tendencies + vetoes become irrelevant.

          2. bhumiputra, i don’t think the aversion of these two communties to hindutva is ideologically elaborate, although in some cases it may be like the sambhaji brigade. I think a number of things can be true at once, such as both these communities being traditionalist and devout to their own hindu concepts, see muslim appeasement as weakness, but also view the hindutva movement as a brahminical political vehicle. There is also the social discrimination they both recieve by vegetarian communties. The big religious sites in MH like jejuri, pandharpur, tulja bhavani are remarkable in how vernacular they are. Agree that lingayats aligning with bjp isn’t about hindutva, but about political circumstances. The poltical cohabiting never leaves the culture untouched though.

          3. @girmit,
            i see your point especially about discrimination from vegetarian communities. Patels, lingayats are traditionally vegetarian, although that might be changing in the latter community lately. Overall hindus need to get over the hangup with non-bovine meat.
            I have been to most of the pilgrimage sites in MH that you mentioned and agree with you. Those sites are continuum with similar sites in KA as well. Although last I heard, Pandharpur is being sanitized by Iskcon.
            Coming back to the larger point, I still think an arrangement is possible between UC and Bhumiputras, preferably a duopoly. These 2 groups have been frenemies historically. But when we look at the wider world and neighborhood, if these 2 groups don’t hang together they will be hanged separately.

        2. “The Northen Hindus will no longer wait for other Hindus, either get on the bandwagon or be expelled.”

          So, if we don’t support&cheer you guys in your petty dick measuring contests with Muslims&Pakistan, you’re gonna bully us? I wonder how that’ll work. I guess, Orange Clown Yogi will give angry bhashans to madrassis in Hindi or something lol

          1. Lol. What’s their to bully you folks about? U folks think a tab highly of urself. U folks are important, but not that much.

          2. @Enigma, I think southern India has its own demons. North faces islamic threats while South faces Evangelical threats. But caste ties in South is much stronger than religious ones. Orange clown yogi doesn’t have the heft and necessary knowledge to tell madrassis anything. He will be successful in Telangana and specifically Hyderabad if he wants to but the rest of the southern areas I don’t think so. But I hope Madrassis are equipped with necessary leaders to take down the Evangelist agenda because a rice bag once tried to convert me!

          3. Yogi or modi don’t give two hoots about southern India or their Hindus. Their primary concern is north which is where their fortunes lie.

            The south is a bonus; not a necessity

  6. “It must be noted that the Indian revolutionaries had by and large avoided the “traitoring” of the brother during its long years of fight against the British”

    That’s because there was no unified Indian/Hindu Cultural Consciousness in the first place, they had to create one. I ​agree with @ANON, Hindutva is an esoteric ideology and it has no power to dictate anything to normie Hindus.

  7. “Dr. Ambedkar in his book on Shudras claims that beef-eating was weaponized (and hence political) by Brahmins to make the defeated Buddhists or Broken men “Untouchables”. As these claims are unsubstantiated or out of date with the current scholarship,“

    I would love to know what alternative theories have been proposed, and what data contradicts Dr Ambedkar’s account. I’ve been looking for this. Did you see the 2019 book “Beef Brahmins and Broken Men” – the authors did not cite any advances in this area.

    BTW I think you mean the book “The Untouchables” by Dr A, “Who were the Shudras” is a different book by him,

    1. I have read the Who are the Shudras book and read essays on Broken men –
      And no I haven’t read that book in its entirety.

      But who are the Shudras and it’s take on Aryan/Dravidian issue is sort of a pre requisite for his thesis on Broken men and beef. That book sort of alludes to the theory (if I recollect properly) that Shudras are fallen Kshatriyas who got on the wrong end of Brahmins and it had nothing to do with Aryans per say..

      Firstly Buddhists didn’t just vanish around the turn of the millenia. As late at 7-8 century there r records of many Buddhists in the country.
      Secondly we know most of the early Buddhists were from the twice born – Ksh or Brahmanas.
      If they indeed were ostracized for beef eating in second century Ad onwards – with endogamy they would be like other Ksh or Bra today not closer to Shudra castes.

      Anyways lot more can be said and speculated on the issue

    2. I would love to know what alternative theories have been proposed, and what data contradicts Dr Ambedkar’s account. I’ve been looking for this.

      Try reading –

      From ‘Brahmanism’ to ‘Hinduism’: Negotiating the Myth of the Great Tradition
      Vijay Nath, Social Scientist
      Vol. 29, No. 3/4 (Mar. – Apr., 2001), pp. 19-50 (32 pages)

      You can read it if you have an account on Scribd. Basically Nath argues that the religion of the vedas, the Upanishads, and the Puranas, are (for all intents and purposes) 3 different religions. The religion of the Puranas, with its emphasis on bhakti, puja, gai raksha (Cow protection), etc was created by the Brahmins via the puranas with the intent of competing for converts with Buddhism and even Jainism. The Puranas co-opted (read: culturally appropriated) myths and characters from local indigenous traditions (Note the depiction of Shiva in forest attire) and integrated them into the religion that the world today recognizes as Hinduism.

      All this occurred in late antiquity (~7th century AD) when the Brahmins became one of the largest class of land lords in India on account of their new favored status with Kshatriya kings. The latter bestowed the Brahmins with land grants and other assets in exchange for divine sanction. Cow protection and the rigidity of the caste system took root at this time (Although castes existed long before this time, they just became rigid at this time). Since cows became as economic asset (to work the land), slaughtering them became taboo in this new religion (think of the story of Karan accidentally killing the cow of a Brahmin in the mahabharat). Access to labor was through the indigenous/forest dwellers who became shudras. The religion of the Upanishads was closed to all non-Brahmins, but the religion of the Puranas, with bhakti, puja, mandirs, etc was designed to have mass appeal to allow the Brahmins a steady access to labor.

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