I stumbled upon a nice book recently. Pick it up if you can. It is called “Castes of Mind: Colonialism and Making of British India” and is written by Nicholas D. Burks, an American professor of history and anthropology.
The author argues that it is actually the British who invented the caste system in India through social engineering and that the caste system as it exists today has absolutely no resemblance to the caste system before the British came to India.
As a side note, the Brits are also credited with doing the same thing to the tribes of Africa as a way to divide and splinter the society on ethnic lines and keep various groups pitted against each other.
This also explains the excessive obsession about caste system in Westerners even today. They overstate its existence and keep pretending as if Hindus are nothing but a bunch of castes. This is nothing but a hoax, of course, and this behaviour is driven by some religious and political objectives that the Westerners are trying to achieve in India. Hindus should be careful not to fall into the trap.
I am noticing more and more scholarship — most of it written by British and American scholars — which throws light on the British mischief in creating Hindu castes as they exist today. This is a step in the right direction. It is the Indians which are lagging behind and for some reason do not want to go into this aspect of the Raj. How come the Western professors are able to find so much material about this to write books, but Indian scholars keep groping in the dark? Or is it that since most of Indian historians are leftist liberals, they do not want to go this route at all lest their own propaganda about Hinduism be punctured.
Some reviews of the book from Amazon:
From Library Journal
Is India’s caste system the remnant of ancient India’s social practices or the result of the historical relationship between India and British colonial rule? Dirks (history and anthropology, Columbia Univ.) elects to support the latter view. Adhering to the school of Orientalist thought promulgated by Edward Said and Bernard Cohn, Dirks argues that British colonial control of India for 200 years pivoted on its manipulation of the caste system. He hypothesizes that caste was used to organize India’s diverse social groups for the benefit of British control. His thesis embraces substantial and powerfully argued evidence. It suffers, however, from its restricted focus to mainly southern India and its near polemic and obsessive assertions. Authors with differing views on India’s ethnology suffer near-peremptory dismissal. Nevertheless, this groundbreaking work of interpretation demands a careful scholarly reading and response. John F. Riddick, Central Michigan Univ. Lib., Mt. Pleasant
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Massively documented and brilliantly argued, Castes of Mind is a study in true contrapuntal interpretation. Nicholas Dirks is a subtle unraveler of the dense, many-layered fabric of India’s colonial and modern history as they converge in the idea and practice of caste. Even for the nonspecialist, the results of this gripping book are remarkable to behold. No one before Dirks has examined the ways in which caste gathers from as well as ignores the complex realities and hierarchies of Indian society. Neither reductive nor schematic, the notion of caste that emerges here is genuinely original.
(Edward W. Said )
This books needs wider dissemination and publicity. There is a conspiracy of silence in India and the West about such books. Buy it, read it and gift it to others if you can. Let this hoax of caste sytem perpetrated by the cunning Britisher administrators on the hapless Hindus be well exposed to the world.