So I was talking to a friend, a Guju bania who visits their “family temple” now and then. This person is from a very tight-knight community. We were talking about whether I am “upper caste,” and their point was that most of my ancestors were from the bhadrolok literate elites of Bengal. It seems I’m mostly Kayastha, with a recent Bengali Brahmin in the mix, and reputed Iranian (Pathan and Persian) ancestry on both sides a very long time ago.
But, as I thought through the issue and reflected, I realized why the appellation annoyed me. There is no community of people of Muslim background who are mostly Kayastha with some Brahmin and ashraf ancestry. Yes, there are Muslim cates groups, like Ismailis who are clearly from banias or literally Muslim Kayasths (though most now intermarry with other Muslims). But that’s not me or my family; we are from a well-off background, but our identity is that of generic Bengali Muslims. Our origins are upper caste, but caste is irrelevant to our social reality (class though, is).
This is worth a post because I think this is going to be the case with later generations of Indian Americans. Because of the class and caste backgrounds, Indian Americans descend from ancestors will tend to be upper caste and upper-middle class. But their identity will be a new one, unrelated to the solidities of the Indian subcontinent. In this way, Indian Americans may have upper-caste privilege, but caste as a social institution just doesn’t function as it does in the subcontinent. The privilege is carryover, not operational.
So when a lot of Lefty commentators accused me of defending upper caste people because I’m an “upper-caste Muslim” I didn’t even know what to say. That’s just not part of my identity, or that of my family, though in a heritage sense that’s true. In the near future young Indian Americans who are half-Khatri and 1/4th Iyer and 1/4th Reddy would be verbally abused as “upper caste” and be just as confused as to what that even means.
38 thoughts on “On being an “upper caste” “Muslim””
I tend to agree with you Razib. I expect caste to be irrelevant to desi life in the US in the generations to come. I also expect an identity that is woven around a mythology of what it means to be a desi – North Indian food, Bollywood style marriages, a small desi wardrobe for special occasions, nominal religiosity when it comes to attending temples/mosques/gurudwaras/churches, names that have a desi element to them and can be accepted in both US and Indian milieu, an emphasis on academic excellence, etc. I expect a constant infusion of “new blood” from South Asia – educated, high achieving, especially in the cutting edges of science and technology. This will help with the cementing of a new desi-American identity.
All this assumes a US that remains open to immigration of global talent *and* the Hindutva wave receding over time.
What u might get with “hindutva wave receding over time” is more of deracinated wokes talking more and more about caste, which led to Razib posting this in the first place 😂😂. So careful what you wish for.
Indian Americans unlike blacks, have no “civil right battles” to fight for. So they fight imaginary civil right battles of their home country.
Constantly infusing new blood seems kind of contradictory to caste becoming less salient. Despite modernization, caste identity as such (if not strict hierarchy and hereditary professions) remains an integral feature of Indian social life. Bringing in massive numbers of people from the homeland on a regular basis is likely to allow the American Desi a greater connection to their ancestral home and cultural milieu through the “India Indian” and thus to the casteist Desi culture.
The better option for the US and South Asian-Americans like Razib who want less “fake caste wars” is a 1924-style immigration restriction policy applied not only to Desis but potentially to other groups as well which will allow Desis in the US to evolve somewhat separately from those who stayed back home. This can have a sunset period in 40-50 years at which point any new Desis who arrive will find the old-stock American Desis utterly alien and distant. This will make de-assimilation into a more homeland-aligned Desi culture less likely, and instead new immigrants will be forced to assimilate into the deracinated brown identity.
The key is that American Desis need to become more American and less Desi, which means that the overwhelming cultural force in their lives needs to be that of broader American society and not that of a clannish, self-segregated Desi subsociety.
“The better option for the US and South Asian-Americans like Razib who want less “fake caste wars” is a 1924-style immigration restriction policy applied not only to Desis but potentially to other groups as well which will allow Desis in the US to evolve somewhat separately from those who stayed back home.”
Your ideas are scum and you are a bigot yourself. Fuck you!!
Here is another idea to wipeout caste. Why not blow up the entire Indian landmass with hydrogen bombs.
“a 1924-style immigration restriction policy applied not only to Desis but potentially to other groups as well which will allow Desis in the US to evolve somewhat separately from those who stayed back home.”
This is so cringe but so Indian of you. I am in, now shut the doors because yada yada.
Truth be told, I actually support the GC limits, reminds Indians of their true aukaat. Indians become unbearable ‘global citizens’ as soon as they get a new passport.
“So when a lot of Lefty commentators accused me of defending upper caste people because I’m an “upper-caste Muslim” I didn’t even know what to say.”
This thing you point out is already so muddy yet so simplified in by the left. Like I am Brahmin and I do not deny that there are certain privileges and beliefs that many in my community can hold that is casteist. I am sure you do not disagree with that idea too. What I find intolerable is how that is converted into a meta-narrative of oppression that can only see things in binary. If you merely point out something that seems to be in favour of “upper-caste Hindus” it is seen as if you are simultaneously also saying untouchability is good, Dalits should be oppressed etc.
It is ridiculous also how comfortably many Dalit activists align themselves with Dravidianism and Anti-Racism too.
What is wrong with Dravidianism? It’s just another nationalist movement. A heck of a lot more coherent than Hindutva too.
Dravidianism officially failed in 1956, its now an ugly tumour on Tamil Nadu. No one identifies as “Dravidian”, its a useless 19th CE racial identity. Dravidianism in ground reality amounts to nothing more than Brahmin Bashing and SC&OBC Victimhood, its just another flavour of the same shitty Caste victim-hood politics.
Caste is a part of Indians’ identity, and it’s not like you all ever wanted unity anyway. Sure, who identifies as a Dravidian, but who identifies as an Indian/Hindu apart from during cricket games and when it’s being used to bash Pakistanis and Muslims?
I bet most of those TamBrahms constantly whining about being “bashed” wouldn’t let their daughters marry non-Brahmin Tamils either. Seems rich to complain about others organizing around caste from the comfort of the “TamBrahm sangam”.
“but who identifies as an Indian/Hindu apart from during cricket games and when it’s being used to bash Pakistanis and Muslims?”
Its not his fault, Bhim.
NRI have these caricatured understanding of Hinduism, especially the ones who get their idea of what India/Hinduism is from reading about in NYT and WAPO
Something NRIs and honorary-NRIs like Razib do not seem to really understand is how shitty almost all of India is. Privilege/wealth of Indians is nothing when compared to even third quartile of Americans. Indian Americans claim it because they want to sound self-important and ‘equals’ of Americans, second generation ABCDs don’t have first hand experience of Mumbai local trains. I have seen Delhi folks reminiscence fondly in front of Gora ladies about how they had cooks and cleaning maids in India. Not telling how their street had overflowing sewage and their house was 5 story lighthouse with on a 400 sqft lot with 2 hour running water.
There are NO public libraries, NO role-model teachers only frustrated housewives, there are not even play grounds in most schools, villages have four-six hour a day electricity, heck my place got its first asphalt paved road when I was ~18.
What does one do with such privilege? Indian may have privilege relative to each other but it is nothing when compared to what even the lowest rungs of Americans have.
IAs are already discriminated against by the GC system. Americans are just dumping on them by funding witch hunts because they can and Indians will have to take it because they are weak.
Caste is a part of Indians’ identity,
I never implied it wasn’t, i’m just sick of all these victimhood narratives that keep cropping up everywhere. It’s draining to see millions of my countrymen perpetually wallowing in resentment&envy. I have an urge to backhand them to snap them out of their self-pity stupor.
but who identifies as an Indian/Hindu apart from during cricket games and when it’s being used to bash Pakistanis and Muslims?
Hinduism is an umbrella for various loosely tied indigenous cultures&traditions of India. So no, Indians always identify with their native culture because its their culture.
Seems rich to complain about others organizing around caste from the comfort of the “TamBrahm sangam”.
I’m not against anyone organising but if your group identity amounts to nothing more than being an eternal victim moaning about imagined grievances then yes, you need to re-think your Group Identity.
Dravidianist obsession with TamBrams is pathological. At least, Hindutva fearing Muslims makes sense because Muslims have high TFR with a global ummah/Pakistan backing them. What reasons do Dravidianists have to obsess over a group that is more politically irrelevant than Irulas? Then again, who cares? Mallus,Telugus,kannadigas&Tamils will never Unite as DRAVIDIANS. Only the OBCs of TN are uniting under the banner of this dead ideology to bitch about TamBrams.
TamBrahms constantly whining about being “bashed” wouldn’t let their daughters marry non-Brahmin Tamils either
AHahahah, you believe that we have them on a leash?
‘Hinduism is an umbrella for various loosely tied indigenous cultures & traditions of India. So no, Indians always identify with their native culture because its their culture.’
Nope. Don’t project on the rest of India. My folks go to Somnath and Rameshwaram with exactly the same devotion as to Vishwanath or Kamakhya. No ‘loose ties’ for us. This is our land and our religion. It is not like people don’t know about diversity of opinion between different ‘sects’ but they just consider everything as their own. The older the bond the stronger it becomes. I do not buy this anti-Brahmin drama either, people moaning against caste-ism it are ones who do not even understand how and where it actually happens. This guy’s thoughts betray utter lack of understanding. No one gives a shit about Brahmins marrying Brahmins, try making a Pasi marry a Chamar and watch what happens.
This ‘native culture’ bit is a problem of some Tamil and Bengalis. No Marathi or Kannada or Gujju ever says that their ties to Puri are loose.
No one feels oppressed about not marrying a brahmin or thakur.
Zero Zilch Nada.
As long as folks don’t do gross things like untouchability, or discrimination in jobs, keep your sons and daughters. No one wants them.
“What is wrong with Dravidianism? It’s just another nationalist movement. A heck of a lot more coherent than Hindutva too.”
Hindutva for people on the inside feels just as coherent, besides you can denounce both Dravidianism and Hindutva, it’s not mutually exclusive. (Maybe in your head from what I read)
The reality is that many on the left (I consider myself progressive too btw) see history, current politics, and the world at large in simplistic “Evils Brahmins coming to get everyone vs Oppressed Dalits.”
You clearly understand and react throughout the debate that ensues in this comment section with a very reactionary position of “Brahmins have nothing to complain about. They are not the victims.” Then who are you ask? “We are”
That simplistic logic of conflation of oppressed and oppressive with victim and abuser is so nasty.
None of this has to mean denying real issues that people who are labelled untouchable face but you don’t have to buy simplistic narratives for that to make sense.
“You believe that we have them on a leash?”
Your people are literally infamous within brown America for being obnoxious, snooty casteist pricks who make sure your kids only marry other TamBrahms. It’s you along with the Jatts and the Patels. You’re not getting out of that one, sorry.
I’m not even going to waste my time with the rest of your post. Just typical Manuvadi denialism and obligatory contextless whinging about caste politics in India to make TamBrahms seem like the victims.
As if thousands of years of entrenched caste stratification are supposed to have no impact whatsoever on electoral democracy and political coalitions. It’s called the will of the majority, bitch. Cry more, it’s music to my ears.
Honestly you guys are just the most unsympathetic “victims” ever. Most groups that are victimized try to emphasize how similar they are to everybody else.
You guys on the other hand complain about how it was all roses and lilies and everybody loved each other back in the good old days when everyone used to treat you like Gods on Earth, until one fateful day those uppity Shudras dared to forgo their divinely ordained duty to serve their twice-born masters.
Honestly every time you all open your mouths, you literally just prove that everything that Periyar said about you was right. The complete lack of self-awareness is truly next level. You didn’t even take the layup I offered you to admit that the “TamBrahm sangam” is cringe, proving once again that you have zero interest in actually creating a caste-free Indian society.
You’re just bitter now that other people are proudly beating their chests too, instead of just quietly putting up with it from your lot. This is why although I personally also find the current implementation of reservations in India rather excessive, I will always tell any Brahmin who complains about it to go suck a dick.
Frankly, I say good on the Chettiars, Balijas, Thevars, and Gounders for putting you all in your place. Long may it continue. God knows how you all would behave otherwise. Now we just need to do the same thing to all your cousins in the rest of the country.
Dude, who hurt you? Lol
You’re not getting out of that one, sorry.
Who we choose to marry with is none of your business, now is it?
Just typical Manuvadi denialism to make TamBrahms seem like the victims.
My entire post was about how i’m against pathetic Victimhood Identities. Let’s talk about something cool, like the Great Manu Needhi Cholan. His statue is put in front of Madras HC because to Tamils he is the symbol of Justice.
As if thousands of years of entrenched caste stratification
The oldest trick in the Marxist playbook is to smear the Golden Age of India as “Casteist Dark Ages” to gaslight Indians into being ashamed of their own civilization. The leftist goal is to make Hindus reject their native heritage.
You didn’t even take the layup I offered you to admit that the “TamBrahm sangam” is cringe
I didn’t, because we make up less than 1% of the population. What part of “politically&culturally irrelevant”, do you not understand, Smoothbrain!?
You’re just bitter now that other people are proudly beating their chests too,
Lmao since when is moaning about being victims for a millennia, a form of chest thumping? I’m the one who is proud of Muvendran legacy, you’re too busy crying about “historical oppression” to feel positive about anything.
Brahmins have no right to complain about the manifestation of caste identity
Who’s complaining? Be a Pathetic Ultra Victim Shudra all you want. If it makes you feel any better, join the ANTIFA and vandalize public property with your impotent rage.
Lol I don’t care about the fuckers either, the point is that Brahmins have no right to complain about the manifestation of caste identity when they literally ensure caste separation on a daily basis. You completely missed my point.
We aren’t one people, why would he think that everyone is going to hold hands and sing playground songs?
You are unhinged.
“We aren’t one people”
I don’t think this is true. Local dynamics matter.
You don’t know shit, and sound like a complete idiot.
I know enough about caste to see TamBram bashing is BS. Tam Brams are completely without teeth and that is why people piss on them. I challenge you to try getting a Jutt Sardarni from Moga married to a mazhabi and see what happens next.
My issue with TamBrams is limited to their ladies in the west playing native informants, and when they do ‘mah culture different, you BIMARU’ nonsense. I can’t care less about Tamil OBCs. I know for a fact that Tamil OBCs are lying SOBs, how can 97% of the population be backward? I piss on their DMK party, which along with TMC is the ML of the future.
India should let Naga Regiment loose on all Madraasis who talk about secessionism. Periyarism is cover for all sorts of anti-North, anti-Hindu ideas like Dravidianism, and a tool in the hands of missionary Muslims and Christians.
A group of people that has been strictly endogamous for 1,500 years is, anthropologically and biologically speaking, a separate and distinct population from its neighbors. Of course this applies to all jatis all across India, not just Iyers and Iyengars. This is just basic social science, whether room-temperature IQ Hindutvadis want to acknowledge it or not. The idea of a unified Hindu people is so comically absurd in its ahistoricism and selective blindness to basic ground-level realities it’s barely even worth entertaining.
Its ‘hindutva-vadis’. This makes me doubt your origin story.
“The idea of a unified Hindu people is so comically absurd in its ahistoricism and selective blindness to basic ground-level realities it’s barely even worth entertaining.”
What ‘ground level realities’? You make these American high school debate team ‘owned him!’ statements like so many other ABCDs. Sounds so silly and jaded. That’s not how world works, change takes time. Indians are doing something about it. Inter caste marriage rates are climbing. Communal as well as caste violence are falling dramatically.
Give up Bhim, not worth it…
Though Aditya has a point. If your ethnicity does not have an ‘idea of a unified Hindu people ‘, then one would of course, transpose this idea to the every other Hindu ethnicity. In a way, its their ‘ground-level realities’.
Brahmins might be somewhat worse but not by a lot and are far less caste-ist or violent than Thakurs. A lot of Brahmin and Baniya bashing happens in popular culture because they don’t have organizational strength to fight it.
For example, there is this famous web series called Mirzapur. It graphically showed a Brahmin gangster fuck his own daughter in law and do all sorts of other sexual depredations. I can guarantee had this been set in Rajasthan and Brahmin replaced by Rajput blood would have been spilt.
I don’t think highly or lowly about Brahmins. But caricaturing them for inter caste marriages when Nishad and Ahirs murder all the time about this is just factually wrong.
Less violent yes, less casteist, meh. Different groups manifest it in different ways but it’s the same ideals that they all share.
Tribal woman beaten up paraded and forced to carry her husband in MP
Dalit women body exhumed as she was denied burial in publicspace in RJ
Girl strangled to death for loving Dalit boy in Karnataka
Dalit asha worker not allowed to enter homes and collecte water samples in karnataka
Dalit youth killed in bomb blast carried out by thakurs in UP
Dalit minor girl raped by cop and 5 others in lalitpur,UP
Bihar ex mla surendra sharma held for ordering daughters honour killing bcoz of ICM
Dalit girl raped and thrown into a well by mussafar ansari and two others
Dalit girl beaten in banda,UP bcoz here hand was touched while purchasing something at the shop
Dalit boy in farrukhbad ,UP killed and cremated at night by the police
Dalit beaten and forced to consume cow dung after a brawl with Hindus in KN
Dalit delivery man spat and beaten because caaste hindus didnt like food touched by dalit ,UP
Some dalit divine prostitution devdasi news from Telengane.
Dalit women gangraped by 6 in front of husband and sons ,RJ
Dalit forced to rub nose in temple,RJ
There are literally tons of murder rape humiliation beating discrimination news from all over the country in June alone.(most of the news i mentioned are not more than a month old).Worst part is no news made it to public.And yeah many accused are from bjp or some hindu outfits.
Tell me if there is any group suffering this badly in the whole world.People consider them nothing.There women were like public property (thats how they accquired steppe ancestry).Atrocities for over 2 millenniums.Imagine continuting an evil practice which was opposed by lord Budhha 2500yrs ago.All type of rules have come and gone but there remained pretty much same.No matter you make SC,ST president everything will reamin same.Dalits should brace themselves because the battle is ending nowhere in sight.I donot wonder at all if all dalits,tribals do is talk about caste.Actually every dalit should talk about it like every Black talk about blacks.
I understand they shouldnt make wrong reasoning.Its their panaroia.
‘Kaali, to me, is a meat-eating, alcohol-accepting goddess: Mahua Moitra’
“Your people are literally infamous within brown America for being obnoxious, snooty casteist pricks who make sure your kids only marry other TamBrahms.”
my exp. is ppl who try to pair up their kid with another tambrahm end up having the kid being unmarried or marrying some white person. patels and jats seem to have better endogamy yields
The fraction of caste atrocities carried out by Brahmins in India is probably vanishingly small. But the fact that Brahmins are made the scapegoat of anti-caste folk like those in this thread and not the powerful land owning groups says that these folks are either stupid (a strong possibility) or know the real life consequences of pointing fingers at thevars, thakurs or jutts.
That caste violence stems from power imbalance through land and street muscle will conveniently escape their narrow minds, instead it’s about the Brahmin ‘ritual purity’ or not being ‘allowed’ to marry their girls, Lol.
This shit might work against deluded Americans who like simple explanations but that’s a problem the ABCD’s have to contend with.
Brahmins are like Scar, non-Brahmin dominant castes are like his hyenas. Getting rid of the hyenas and leaving Scar around is idiotic.
Anyway, it’s not incoherent at all if you are against caste itself and not just the associated atrocities, which are at the end of the day just symptoms of varnashrama dharma. Fuck off with your “separate but equal” Brahmanvaadi bullshit of preserving the tumor while giving pain meds.
If you think the atrocities are just the symptoms, that the root cause is not the crippling power and economic imbalance that the really dispossessed (dalits, adivasis) face at the hands of the landed and politically powerful groups then it must really be spacious in that empty head of yours. The fact that you shilled for the Dravidian brand of politics that promotes the communities that carry out by far some of the most egregious caste atrocities but whitewashes it by hating on the evil tambrahms shows that far from being anti-caste you’re just yet another brahmin hater. That’s understandable, rejection does strange things to a dude.
But hey, do keep bashing the brahmanvadi bogeyman. Really original stuff.
The point is that Brahmins also benefit from the same system, you Manuvadi fucktard. Pointing at the lowers for doing atrocities on the ground level while you happily watch and eat popcorn is the oldest trick in the book for you snakes. You just want us to get rid of the intermediate perpetrators and ignore you fuckers so that your varnashrama dharma remains undisturbed. Stop acting like you’re all so pure and pristine just because others are doing the dirty work for you, it’s like saying Al Capone wasn’t a murderer because he didn’t pull the trigger himself.
Dominant Shudra castes in South India have their own problems but kicking your lot around, I will always support. No one is falling for your Brahmin games anymore, we know what pathetic little weasels you bastards are. Now go take your disingenuous concern trolling and shove it up your twice-born ass.
The Khalistan movement, fundamentally a Jat Sikh supremacist movements (Jats are one of those landed castes), was anti-Dalit to massive extremes and engaged in Dalit killings. It was also highly anti-Brahmin, to the extent that its ringleader, Bhindranwale, advocated throwing all Brahmins into the sea. Are you implying that he was secretly controlled by Brahmins? Because that is absurd.
Brahmins are a dominant caste in India. They are not the only dominant caste, and they are not secretly controlling society in a Machiavellian manner.
Aditya, if not for just how blatantly ignorant you are about caste, I wouldn’t disagree with you that Brahmins are part of the caste based violence in India. But your understanding of that statement and mine are different, I was a the same a while back actually but I don’t think it’s accurate, and for me personally it drove from my own guilt. Ask yourself this, if you’re not willing to justify your own castes casteist records and point fingers towards Brahmins, aren’t you quite literally being casteist? Casteism doesn’t stem from Brahmins being casteist, it steams from on person being casteist towards others.
Brahmin are convenient scapegoats but they are few in number and lack the political power.
They may be well-off and they may be casteist, but who isn’t casteist in India? Trying to pin all the blame on them as if they are the puppetmasters of all things caste in India is simplistic to the point of idiocy.
If all Brahmins left India tomorrow, would the intermediate castes stop being casteist? This is the delusion that the anti-Brahmin discourse belabours under.
Brhams are at the top so they get blamed most.They are not on the top for no reason there is a well propogated “divine’ reason.Dalit or lower castes are lower.OK.But from whome POV?I have seen paki rjpts mocking shivaji for being a shudra.It was brahms* first who had reduced him to that status.
This psychic runs deep.Many know divodas/akshai here,I called him a patient of Stockholm syndrome when he called himself a Proud Shudra and accepted himself inferior and even accepted limitation put on nairs.Same with majority Hindus(There is a post on history of same)
Although siddharth is somewhat right. If you ask dalits of Andhra,punjab,Harayana,up-bihar,maharastra.Most likely you will end up getting a non brah caste group which abuse them mosts.Dalits of UP-Bihar equally hate Yadavs(they challenge bhumihars,brahmins,rajputs quite good there and only reason of it they accquired land,and political power).Such people abuse SC,St most (as we know most sc/st cases get filled against OBCs or V4).But again.Is it only beacuse dalits are weak or have religious reason in parallel(You cannot rewrite the puru shuktam and holy books).Yadavs even after becoming powerful are called lower on religious grounds.But you have option to not to Give a F about it.Just like jaats do.But at the end of the day you are shudras in hinduism.”jaati nhi jaati”.
And on razib,why he gets called as UC.I am no scholar but just use term lineage identification.Is a razib from former untouchable lineage?NO.Former LC?NO. hence UC.You dont identify youself as UC ,fine. But you cannot stop others and many people see the world from those eyes.Its not like religion where you can say its not you.
Just start calling yourself a bhradloki you will become one and believe me even puri shankarcharya will convert you back to your bhadralok identity.
This 2 minute clip from an Indian Netflix show is the best illustration of the caste system I have come across.
And this just covers the Western part of Utter Pradesh. The rest of India has different castes.
The translator didn’t capture the Jat bit correctly:
Jat: we used to be normal but now we are OBC.
Other cop: if you were OBC then why are you still protesting.
Jat: we aren’t protesting the Haryana Jats are protesting. They are still normal.
But even with this minor issue it is now my go to clip to send to non-browns who ask me anything caste related.
Like first watch this, then let me know if you really want to understand.
i have no fucking idea what you guys are saying on this thread, tho i get a good sense of why India is so fucked up now. closing thread.
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