About the Author
Kancha Ilaiah Shepherd, a well established & renowned scholar, author, Professor and retired Director, Centre for Study of Social Exclusion and Inclusive at Maulana Azad National Urdu University, Telangana. He is a Dalit Rights activist & political theorist in India. One of the vehement speakers on Indian political thought in specific. A respected awardee of
Manyawar Kanshiram Smriti Mahanayak Puraskar & Mahatma Jyotirao Phule Award. The name of the book which is being reviewed here is Post-Hindu India: A Discourse in Dalit-Bahujan, Socio-Spiritual and Scientific Revolution, originally published in 2009.
Post Hindu India ( Hindutv Mukt Bharat ) is the creation of the intellectual genius of Kancha Ilaiah Shepherd. He also authored another Magnum Opus Why I am Not a Hindu: A Sudra Critique of Hindutva Philosophy, Culture and Political Economy (1996) The book has its multidisciplinary critique & reflections. At the macro sphere, One can learn about the staunch critique of not only Brahmanism but also of the theological tapestry of Hinduism altogether. Furthermore, he brings forth the nature of the very religion. Which he says, directs us towards a very irrational “anti-scientific” & “anti-nationalistic” path at large.
A Brief awareness about the book’s context is that we learn that content in the book broadly talks about the Discourse of Dalit-Bahujan on their socio-spiritual & Scientific revolution realm. As the subtitle of the book itself suggests & reflects. However, other than exposing the catastrophic nature of Hinduism, it also includes the trajectory of religions like Christianity, Buddhism, Islam, etc.
The book is divided into a total of 13 chapters. Where each chapter has a precise Discourse stating about the different caste- communities’ ancestral profession contributing in either way of means of production or intellectual labour. Book’s most intriguing feature is that it illustrates & elaborates the Varnashrama – the caste system of India as an inverted pyramid system.
The first 5 chapters talk about caste communities like Mala (Mahars in Maharashtra) Madigas, Chakalis (Washerfolks), Mangalis (barbers) of Telugu. Chalking out their ancestral professions. Their logical scientific productions & engineering skills.
Similarly, Chapter dealing 6 broadly states about the ancestral professions contributing to science & technological development. Caste- communities like (pan Indian name): Yadava, at some part of the country belonging to backgrounds of “cattle grazers” or Shepherd/pasture. These sub-caste social categories have contributed a lot to the “cattle economy”, says the author. A crucial contributor in the agrarian economy of India at present as well.
Chapters 7 & 8 brings forth more “sudras” and “chandalas” sub-castes and their contribution to the field of technical & scientific developments. Examples of Toddy tappers(Gouds, Nadars & Ejavas of South India) are elaborated within the book. Similarly the role of Gold, Silver & Ironsmiths as well as the carpenter communities. Broadcast their contribution into purely Engineering skills and the Agrarian economy of the country.
In the last chapters 9-11, as we move down into the inverted pyramid, in general, the book catches the reader’s attention. Where Kancha Ilaiah Shepherd blatantly discusses exploitations done by the privileged Hindu- castes of Indian societies at both micro & macro level. Book illustrates the corrupted pathways, being carved by certain communities. The intriguing coinage of terms like guptadhana compliments the entire business model described in the chapters. Furthermore, in a somewhat similar method, the author gives a detailed description of the ancestral profession of “Brahman civil society” & their mode of capital, intellectual productions.
The last chapters of the book largely chalk out the course towards an understanding of a discourse, which aims to provide a better picture of alternative rationality & reality; which can persist among Indians. Which openly rejects the notion of imposed graded slavery under the umbrella of religion like Brahmanical Hinduism. Which in its approach do not adhere to the idea of fraternity among its citizens. Which is broadly “anti-scientific” & “anti-production” as well as stand against the very development project of the nation altogether.
The author’s work immensely reflects upon the intertwining of religion with science. Elaborates more upon how other religions other than Hinduism, mediate with the scientific & technological development of humankind. The book has an ample number of nuances such as talking about the practices of “Circumcision” in a religion like Islam serves the purpose of health benefits of individuals. Chapter such as Social Doctors emphasises scientific approaches of certain caste communities in the field regarding health and science.
It would be unjust to define the crux of the book already. Because it has to be read upon into its entirety. However, to touch upon the ideas about the author’s critique & writing, one must grasp the tone of discursive interpretations which the book in its detailed introduction already talks about. It elaborates on how the Dalit- Bhaujan’s labour, intelligence, creativity & intents have at large contributed to the process of nation-building historically and community building at macro & micro levels respectively.
Furthermore, the book highlights & covers the “knowledge” production system of the Dalit- Bahujan community in India. Meanwhile drawing a parallel analysis with those at the privileged rungs of the societies. It tells about a mechanism through which the “cultural, scientific and economic knowledge system” has prospered within these communities over centuries. It reflects upon the detailed analysis of daily scientific-technological processes & events made possible by the individuals of particular caste communities. But at the same time also highlights the fact about the lack of due acknowledgement of their contribution. Therefore, the larger critique put forth by the author in the book is a witness to all that.
The author talks about the “technological” & “productive knowledge system” & their advancements among Dalit-Bahujan communities. The author again & time critiques the “anti-production” & “anti-scientific” methods & foundations of Brahmanical Hinduism through thought-provoking chapters like- Spiritual Fascists, Social Smugglers & Intellectual Goondas.
Chapters such as – Subaltern Scientists, Social Doctors, subaltern Feminist not only in-depth explain & discusses the production process of indigenous communities/masses of Indian society and their ancient cultural past; it also digs deep into the rationale and scientific endeavours of ancestral art, production, creativity, gender neutrality of specific caste- groups, intellect & labour.
The crucial discursive narration of the book deals with highlighting the injustices that prevailed due to the rigged & fatal caste system. It’s justification in varna dharma(spiritual justice) and overall backwardness of Brahmanic Hindu religion & culture. Kancha Ilaiah Shepherd warns through his words and sentences about the fatalistic outcomes which are highly likely for the future of the Indian state at large. He also asks the reader and his audience to ponder more upon the question of nation-building as a constructive process together. By refusing to bow down to such a segregating & decisive structure of Indian society. For which he explicitly, “dissects” the structural framework of the Hindu cultural system.
At the nub of the macrocosm of the book, one would encounter thoroughly investigated, wide-ranging subjects such as religion to socio-political thought. Intellectual scientific descriptions of events to mechanical production processes. Nonetheless, the work is an insightful read indeed.
Book quality & availability
This book’s availability is in both Hindi and English language. Sage publications published the book and is available both in paperback as well as hardcover. It is easily available on Amazon for your purchase.
Book Review of Post Hindu India ( Hindutv Mukt Bharat ) written by Shilpi Kishore