Sunday, 10 September 2017

Caste, gender and poverty related issues in Hinduism

Recently I came across a question posted on the social media. It was a good question based on caste system and other Hindu contemporary issues. Let's dissect and discern the facts related to it. The questions are given below:

"Hi strangers! I'm not a Hindu, but I'm researching about Hinduism for one of my major subjects, World Religions and Belief Systems. I have a few questions:
  1. Is the caste system still followed? Why or why not?
  2. What are the average Hindu's views on feminism?
  3. What are the average Hindu's views on poverty?
EDIT: Rephrased the questions. I'm unsure what my teacher meant and personally meant no offense to any believer. I'm just confused and would really like to know about Hindus' view on the caste system, gender inequality, and poverty.
I look forward to a constructive reply. Thank you!"

Lets answers the above three questions. 
  1.  Is the caste system still followed? Why or why not?
      Before answering the questions, one should have a clear knowledge upon the caste system. The caste system stratification was not done on the basis of wealth and power but strictly upon spiritual grounds. It was based on the hierarchy of the level of consciousness. For instance, the great sages were Brahmins, even the father of the great demon King Ravana was also a Brahmin. There are basically four caste system in Hinduism. They are Brahmin, Kshetriya, Vaishya and ksudhra.

The level of consciousness of the Brahmins were higher because their lifestyle mainly revolved around the supreme infinite, attribute less supreme god as mentioned in the Vedas, "BRAHMA (ब्रम्ह) (not to be confused with the three head god BrahmA ब्रम्हा)". The Brahmins neither used to do business like Vaishya, nor owned estates like Kshetriya nor served anyone like Kshudras. They were priestly people who practiced penances for the welfare of the other three sects and also for the society.

After Brahmin it was the Kshetriya, the ruler sect. Then it was the Vaishya, the businessmen whose main duty was to conduct commerce and lastly the Kshudra whose inert nature were to render service to the other three sects.

The untouchability started as a taboo. Back in those days when the society were stratified under caste system as per the level of consiousness, the sects had their respective society, Brahmins were given the responsibility of penances and learning Vedas, they had their own circle and they mainly used to marry their own caste so as to preserve the sanctity of their spiritual state. The kshetriya either married the Brahmins or their own caste. Similarly Kshudra only married within themselves.

Having said all these things, there were some sects in Hinduism who never gave importance to caste system. They were mainly the siddhas and the naths, the follower of Lord Shiva. Guru Gorakshnath and Mahasiddha Matsyendra nath the gurus of our kaula siddha lineage, didn't follow these rules. They even taught Kshudra the spiritual knowledge.

So basically, the caste system started as a taboo. The caste system was then prescribed so as everybody follow their own duties for the smooth functioning of the society. The Kshudra and the Vaishyas were not allowed to be kings nor Vaishya were allowed to Brahmins and neither Kshudra were allowed to do business.

The present day caste system is the declension of the primitive stratification of society. It is a well known fact that the big fishes eats the small fishes. When the godliness in Brahmins started to finish then they started to discriminate the other castes. The downfall of the penance powers and godliness in Brahmins lead to the modern day caste system. In this day and age, we are all Kshudras according to Hinduism because we render our services. We neither do penances nor rule nor do business but basically serve the few people in this world. We are directly a modern day Kshudra.

But the modern day environment, people have become more adept to change and they are trying to stop all these taboo. For instance from legal point of view, laws are made to end all forms of discrimination. For instance,

The constitution of Nepal 2015's preamble says "to end all form caste based discrimination". Furthermore, the article 24 of the constitution says "No person shall be subject to discrimination and untouchability".

The Indian constitution, article 17 abolishes Untouchability.

Therefore, this taboo is being repealed by the society itself. The modern day Hindu society are now adopting to the changes.

  1. What are the average views on Feminism?
      Feminism is the modern day idea based on the equity of the genders. There might be different type of Feminism from traditional, liberal to radical feminism. But the whole idea of feminism itself is based on the discrimination against women. Feminism advocates that there should be equity among genders. Men and women are biologically different but from socio-economic and legal perspective both are natural persons.All natural persons enjoy the same status in the society.

The Hindus are viewed to be more patriarchal. From the anthropological point of view, males are the head of the family. The society had prescribed duties to both genders based on their nature. Men were prescribed the duties to work, fight , hunt while as women were more viewed as motherly figures and were prescribed the duties of raising the family, cooking and looking after the house. The prescribed duties were not based on any sorts of discrimination but on the sole basis of ones own nature.

From a spiritual view, women were only married to the high status males, the males who were spiritually high in status. It was done so that the women wouldn't have to find any spiritual guide other then her husband who would help her attain enlightenment. Our society laid much importance on males who could guide women so men had to be strong in their character and spiritualism. 

This is true in every culture. How many female messenger does Islam have?, How many female messenger does Christianity have?, Weren't Jesus, Mohammad were the best of the mens?

The supreme feminine Goddess, Mahakali standing upon the body of the supreme masculine god, Shiva

Nevertheless, Hinduism also had some sects who would worship shakti, the supreme feminine force. The female goddess Mahakali is portrayed standing upon the body of the supreme masculine force Lord Shiva. This picture depicts the supremity of feminine force upon the dormant masculine force.

let's also dwell on the following lines of the scriptures.
"यत्रैतास्तु न पूज्यन्ते सर्वास्तत्राफला: क्रिया:।। (Manusmriti,3/56)"

The Manusmriti one of the oldest text in Hinduism that predates Bhagawad Geeta says, "Where womens are honoured, there even gods rejoice".

"स्त्रियासमस्तासकला जगत्सु।" (Durga Saptasati)

All women are in the form of the supreme goddess. 
So Hindus have always revered women's at high esteems. The supreme god Shiva is called Ardhanarishwara and since he being a supreme male, he still needs a supreme female to become complete. At the very core, for Hindus male and female are complimentary and inseparably part. Both are equal and cannot be separated.What are average view of Hindu's on poverty?

        3. What are the average view of Hindu's on poverty?

The average view of Hindu's on poverty is that the poverty is not the absence of outer wealth but inner wealth. Hindus and neither the sages of Hindus have put much emphasis upon accumulating wealth and riches. These are all illusions because these are temporary. One day when a person stops breathing, the wealth will mean nothing because the person is not in the position to enjoy it. Therefore, we have always valued the spiritual wealth more then material wealth.

We have the goddess of wealth in our religion. She is known by the name Goddess Lakshmi. Even though she bestows wealth, we worship her husband more then her not because of gender issue but because of our own spiritual priority. Her husband is the eternal lord Vishnu, one of the three supreme gods in Hindu pantheon. He is the embodiment of spiritual wealth.

Now the question arises, why are Hindu's poor and Christians rich? let me explain you why.
First of all, Hinduism doesn't believe in material wealth as ultimate wealth but spiritual wealth. Secondly, western countries are rich compared to us because they are more materialist, they have nothing to do with god nor live a spiritual life. All they care is eat, drink, sleep and die peacefully.
That is just not the way of Hinduism. For Hindus life is beyond all these material pursuits.

Now, the western countries might say Hindus are poor and they are rich as they are Christians then they have nothing to be proud of. For instance in bible, it says "It's easier for a camel to walk through the eye of the needle then a rich men to enter into the kingdom of heaven" - MARK 10:25.

According, to the bible it is the Hindus who are more eligible to go to the kingdom of heaven and i do not want to hurt sentiments but the least eligible would be the holy POPE because he has such immense wealth of the church and he can exert great powers.

Therefore, Hinduism is vast. It is not what the westerners perceive us to be. Hinduism is a lovely religion which believes in the existence of human with total harmony with nature and other beings. It says the real wealth is the spiritual wealth which wouldn't disavow you even if the body is destroyed. 

I hope my answers were helpful.


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