The Depraved of India
January 16, 2009 3:21 AM   Subscribe

India--the country of the Taj Mehal--known for it's love. But wait, there's more sadly, a lot more.
posted by hadjiboy (22 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
hadjiboy? are you okay?
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:28 AM on January 16, 2009

Why do you ask... something wrong with the post--God I hope not!
posted by hadjiboy at 3:30 AM on January 16, 2009

no, i just care for you, that's all. i hope all is ok with you :)
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:32 AM on January 16, 2009

Oh yeah, everything's fine; I just remembered these guy's and thought about posting them.

I hope you all come and remember them... they usually tend to stick to themselves and don't bother you too much.

Thanks for the caring thought though!
posted by hadjiboy at 3:39 AM on January 16, 2009

that's not your normal tone. whereabouts are you, akhi?
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:46 AM on January 16, 2009

I'm just happy to be alive, and celebrating it with a few people who can't post here:)
posted by hadjiboy at 4:05 AM on January 16, 2009

At first the castes were not hereditary - when did they came to be so?
posted by rainy at 4:07 AM on January 16, 2009

good to hear. you had me fucking scared shitless, mate.

in which case i can say: terrible FPP. talking about Harijans without mentioning Dr Ambedkar? nor Gandhiji? flagged.
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:11 AM on January 16, 2009

You're right hadjiboy, India is known for its love and love and also has a cruel Hindu social stratification system. Love and injustice have, throughout history, co-existed in the world in every country, every culture, every social system in a variety of ways. But to call anyone "untouchable" and to relegate them -as a social group- to cleaning human feces seems despicable. Strange having to have a Toilet Summit in a country with a huge percent of the most spectacular brainiacs in the world.

It's wonderful that India is working on changing the caste system -and issues around sanitation- so that it has less of the unfairness, the injustice of the past. In my personal experience, I've found the Hindus of India to be exceptionally tolerant of others' cultural or philosophical differences, more than any other people I've ever met.

Traditionally, this is contrasted with an intolerance of caste issues and I've never understood that. However, a number of great thinkers in India have shaken things up in terms of the caste system, including Siddhartha Gautama and Mahatma Gandhi. Now with India's recent economic successes there will be, are, social and cultural changes.

Slumdog Millionaire is an interesting, Bollywood fantasy peek into the contrasts of love and unfairness in India.
posted by nickyskye at 4:21 AM on January 16, 2009

You mean the stuff about the Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaisyas and the Sudras rainy? They were always like that, as far back as I can remember, with the Achuta or Untouchables, as a fifth separate class, being the worst of the worst, which still goes on today--you should see Hindus and Muslims who believe in that stuff act around them--like they're some kind of Gods...

My fault Ubu, but I think they're mentioned in the links.:)

nicky, once again--you floor me... you are like a fucking encyclopedia here... how do I get your brains--please tell me!
posted by hadjiboy at 4:28 AM on January 16, 2009

Quoting myself:
I won't go into it at length, but the "Herrenvolk" or "Mudsill Democracy" theory says by giving poor whites Shudras a group to be "better than", more privileged than by birth-right, prevents a union of multi-racial, multiethnic caste working class against the white Brahmin aristocracy/oligarchy/plutocracy.
. . . .
So to make the Mudsill work, you have to prevent "miscegenation" any mixing.
posted by orthogonality at 4:40 AM on January 16, 2009 [2 favorites]

hadjiboy: yes, the four (plus one) castes.. I definitely remember reading that at first people would go into a specific caste according to their abilities and inclinations, but then at some point, people just started conferring their own caste on their children. But I've never seen a specific date on when this happened, or whether it happened all at once or was spread over hundreds of years.
posted by rainy at 5:30 AM on January 16, 2009

Hmmm, you know--neither have I, except here... interesting!
posted by hadjiboy at 5:38 AM on January 16, 2009

The Taj Mehal? Meh.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 6:22 AM on January 16, 2009

Muslims believe that stuff too? That's surprising, I thought it was just a Hindu thing.
posted by By The Grace of God at 6:25 AM on January 16, 2009

rainy: the mythological history was that the castes were born of different parts of the god Brahma's body - from memory, Brahmins from the head, Kshatriyas (warriors) from the arms, and so on. Dalits / Harijans / Untouchables were most likely from the feet.

There are, however, arguments that this was just a piece of revisionist mythmaking, in order to give a religious justification for social stratification.

I've also read theories that the caste system originated in a kind of apartheid practiced by the Aryans, who invaded the subcontinent from present-day Central Asia, colonising the Dravidians who preceded them. According to this theory, the Aryans nabbed the higher roles, as priests & warriors (effectively, the ruling class), and forced the Dravidians into lower roles. That wouldn't quite explain why present-day Dravidians occupy plenty of high-caste roles, but that's the theory, anyway, and we are talking about millennia ago.

It's worth noting as an aside that the caste system is fiendishly more complicated than the four (plus one) system known to most of us. Within the major castes, there are bunches of sub-castes, down to an almost infinitesimal degree of detail, eg weavers or cobblers or matchbox makers or whatever. I understand that the lowest of the low are a subcaste of the untouchables, whose job is to clear away corpses of holy cows when they die in the street, take them off to their cow mortuary (way outside of town) and tan the hides.

also, hadjiboy: sorry about jumping on your post; i was reading an emotional crisis into all this talk about the Taj & untouchables
posted by UbuRoivas at 12:52 PM on January 16, 2009

also, an anecdote from Indian travel: sometimes you just want to relax on a bus or train or public space, but Indians are naturally inquisitive & very forward, so you end up responding to the same barrage of questions hundreds of times each day:

which country? what is your education? are you in service? what is your father's name? what is your father's profession? etc etc, right down to the cost of your shoes.

one time, not being in the mood for this, the conversation went like this:

which country? - australia
what is your profession? - toilet cleaner which point, my interrogators got up, turned their backs on me & walked away in a hurry, without saying goodbye or ever looking back.
posted by UbuRoivas at 12:56 PM on January 16, 2009 [2 favorites]

The Taj Mehal? Meh.

Meh? Meh? How can you say that? The Taj Mehal is the world's greatest monument to whatever.
posted by UbuRoivas at 1:25 PM on January 16, 2009 [1 favorite]

Muslims believe that stuff too? That's surprising, I thought it was just a Hindu thing.

I assume it is just ingrained in Indian culture in general--not just Hindu culture.

For example, the caste system goes against the very foundation of Sikh religion, as explained in this Sikh take on the Indian caste system. Yet even they often won't let the Untouchables in their temples.
posted by eye of newt at 7:35 PM on January 16, 2009

Did you mean: Taj Mahal
posted by w0mbat at 9:44 PM on January 16, 2009

Yes, and see--I've already been there--bad Indian!

Or at least a bad English speaking one--The Taj Mahal.
posted by hadjiboy at 9:50 PM on January 16, 2009

and here's a bad Taj, for everybody's edification.

Bibi Ka Maqbara is a maqbara built by Prince Azam Shah, son of Emperor Aurangzeb, in the late 17th century as a loving tribute to his mother, Dilras Bano Begam. The monument's name translates literally to 'Tomb of the Lady', but has earned the nickname 'poor man’s Taj' because it was made to rival the Taj Mahal. It is situated in Aurangabad, Maharashtra.

posted by UbuRoivas at 5:13 AM on January 17, 2009

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