All Hindus were savarnas and those who weren’t were non-Hindus, said BJP leader Bizay Sonkar Shastri during his speech at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU).
He spoke about Dalits and untouchability at an event held in memory of BR Ambedkar on his death anniversary.
He claimed that, many of the 6,500 castes and 50,000 sub-castes in India did not exist until the 12th century.
FYI: Who are savarnas?
The people or communities that belong to one of the four varnas in Hinduism are known as savarnas. They are classified as:
The top most are Brahmins, they are mostly priests, scholars etc
The second ones are Kshatriyas, who belong to the warrior class.
The third category is Vaishyas, the Merchants and agriculturists.
And, the last varna is Shudras. Shudras are mostly service providers and, labours.
“In his book Who Were the Shudras, Ambedkar said Dalits of the era are not the Shudras of the ancient or Vedic era, and that they have no association with the Shudras either… Today we see many people saying that in Hindu religion, Shudras were treated poorly.
During his speech, he emphasised on the existence and roots of Dalits.
“Ambedkar is an authority on this issue. If he has said that present day Dalits are not Shudras, then they are not. We should try and figure out who they are; there should be research on this,” Shastri said.
He said that Ambedkar had quoted professor MA Sherring of the Oxford University who said todays Dalits were most probably Brahmins and Kshatriyas during an earlier period.
“Everybody knows that Ambedkar burnt the Manusmriti but do people know that he also gave a written clean chit to Manu? In his book The Untouchables, he wrote that there was no untouchability in the Manu era,” said Shastri.
The BJP leader has been talking about the roots of Dalits since a long time.
In an interview with The Hindu (2015), he said, “Dalits were upper castes.”
Here’s a copy of his 2015 interview as well:
Rajinder Kashyap, Joint Secretary in the Ministry of Law and Justice, however, disagreed with him.
“Manu codified the system which was in place for long before him in which there was graded inequality. To say that untouchability and caste system came into practice in the 11th century will perhaps not be the truth,” he said.
With inputs from PTI