Caste and Reservation in the Context of Society and Dharma

These days there is a lot of talk of reservation in the country, in states like Gujarat, Rajasthan, Haryana we have already seen the reservation fight spilling on to streets and in the eyes of some “intellectuals” from JNU, the private sector should start reserving jobs based on caste certificates. Some groups claim they are backward, some claim they have been oppressed by forwards and some just want to jump in the boat because it never hurts to get a government job the easy way.

Hindu Dharma in its essence does not, and I repeat does not, endorse inferiority or superiority of a person simply on the basis of her/his birth. Karma (actions) and Gunas (qualities) are the standard prescribed by our Vedas, Upanishads and Puranas for a person’s depth – this karma does not mean the job of a person. An honest sweeper can be considered greater than a corrupt priest. You are free to disagree but our sacred texts are filled with stories of Shabri whose half eaten fruits Bhagwan Ram ate delightedly, of Vidura whose house Krishna chose over Duryodhana’s palace, of Raikya the charioteer who taught King Janashruti the enlightenment, but we have a habit of forgetting who we are, what our base is and where our foundations lay. The caste system that is used to degrade others is a form of deviation, a removal from core Hindu principles. Having a certain surname doesn’t make a person touchable or untouchable; if we understand this message of Santana Dharma, 90% of our problems will go away.

The concept of reservation was introduced to uplift those who were at receiving end of discrimination. It was an attempt to bring those people into mainstream who are not allowed to visit temples, who are not allowed to attend schools, who weren’t allowed to fetch water from village well. Though times and situation have changed but we still have some way to go in eradicating this discrimination completely; but given the way things are, even reservation is not going to solve the problem. People with merit in right positions can make a difference and merit does not see caste. Politicians won’t say such things because their very bread and butter rests on dividing us. We as Hindus should reach out to our fellow brothers and sisters. The same divine spark exists in all of us.

Reservation is for those who don’t have anything, who don’t have the most basic means of sustenance; it’s not for those who drive around in cars or travel first class, or even those who raise slogans to divide the very country which funds their free education. No community or a person should consider itself backward; we become what we think we are. Taking is easy, asking is easy, it’s the giving that’s hard.

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