We, at Navya Shastra, deeply regret and apologise for the atrocities committed on the sons and daughters of the depressed communities of India, including the tribals, the "untouchables" and all of the castes deemed as low.
We shamefully acknowledge that the ideals of varna and its practical manifestation in castes (jÃtis), promoted and encouraged the notions of inequality, lesser and greater, high and low, superior and inferior among human beings. An ideal that does not aspire for equality of human beings is not worthy of being an ideal.
Caste and varna have relegated many to a degradingly low status. This was a divisive, inhumane and a ruinous social construct. Navya Shastra fully recognises this and rejects unequivocally as heinous and despicable varna and caste together with all Shastras and theories that endorse them or support the unjust and demeaning social hierarchy that these imposed on the Indian society. Navya Shastra understands that all Hindus cannot be equals when such theories are still amidst us.
We ask for forgiveness for what our forefathers did in the past to directly and indirectly contribute to any and all indignities heaped by one human being upon another in the name of Dharma and God, and which some among us continue to do even in this enlightened era.
The depressed and lowest castes have been the keepers and protectors of our oldest and most ancient traditions and wisdom. They have kept in practice the traditions that have become foundational to what we call "mainstream" Hinduism today. Some of the tribal languages, spoken even today, have provided the substratum for many of the spoken and classical languages of India. Most of our mainstream indigenous medicinal, agricultural, craftsmanship and other knowledge systems owe their origins to the knowledge and practices that have been propagated and retained within these castes over millennia. The folk performing arts were and are the main sources of input into the classical and popular art forms.
We want to celebrate and fete all these traditions on this day, and pay homage to them. These traditions form the very foundation on which the Indian civilisation stands today.
We welcome all Hindus/Indians to join our apology by co-signing the statement Here
Column by Dr. Bhaskar Dasgupta An Unqualified Apology to Every Untouchable
Ravi Sarma Says:
February 14th, 2007 at 6:50 pm
I want to congratulate you for the lead you are taking in apologising for our brethern for the injustices of the past millennia.
P. Ravi Sarma, MD, FACP
Anant Vyas Says:
February 14th, 2007 at 6:52 pm
I am particularly heartened to read about your article as I have championed equalities for as long as I can remember but more mainstreamed since my arrival in the UK in December 1970.
I have visited Jaggannathji Temple in 1957/8 & 1983. I remember how badly we (including my daughter who then were merely 5 & 3 in 1983) were treated by the pundits and the queue supervisors. I can quite imagine what sort of unfair treatment would have been meted out to so-called ‘untouchables’.
I mission statement is congruent my beliefs and I wholeheartedly congratulate you all in initiating this process of ‘reconciliation’.
Anant M Vyas
Camden Housing & Adult Social Care
London NW6 1SD
Dave Singh Says:
February 15th, 2007 at 3:25 am
I think this is a great step in the right direction for not only India but the whole world.
If anyone likes to discuss this further with mostly IITians in http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/InterIIT/ egroups, do join and the intellectuals there will be glad to spearhead human equality globally.
God bless all, Daljit (Dave)
February 15th, 2007 at 2:24 pm
I welcome this long overdue step in Indian society. I have been witness to numerous incidents of casteist( read racist) arrogance in my growing up years. I hope this leads to genuine transformation on a mass scale and does not get drowned in accusations of being false propoganda from “pseudo-secular apologists”
Ganesh Venkatesan Says:
February 15th, 2007 at 9:20 pm
This is a required first (and important) step towards a fair society where everyone gets a chance. I have witnessed numerous incidents and I must admit I am guilty of quietly letting it happen. I sincerely hope that through the actions of courageous ones like you, India will shed this societal-ill and advance towards “true equality” for all. Keep it up (and ignore nay-sayers).
Dhinakar Kompala Says:
February 15th, 2007 at 10:11 pm
I am reminded of my high school play, the Merchant of Venice by Shakespeare, wherein Portia utters this moving soliloquy:
The quality of mercy is not strain’d, It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven Upon the place beneath: it is twice blest; It blesseth him that gives and him that takes:
Similarly, an apology can not be strained out of the unwilling. It has to be truly heartfelt for it to be meaningful. Such an apology will not only bless us, but also liberate us from the sins of our fathers.
I pray to our common God Almighty (the Paramatma of our Sanatana Dharma) to shower the wisdom on us all, so that we understand (and hopefully not personally experience in this or future reincarnations) the injustices committed on our brethren.
Om Tat Sat
Boulder, CO, USA
February 16th, 2007 at 1:40 am
I do not know just signing this will do anything. We who can influence should organise the gurus of the hindu community and declare that this plague of untouchability is a big blot on Sanathana dharma. We should lead and contact Dalit community leaders and work with them every way we can at the grass roots to eradicate this inhumanity.
Dasigi B V Says:
February 16th, 2007 at 9:02 am
While I think that this virus is eradicated amngst the educated, I am prepared to believe it might still be existing in the less educated and in the villages. So it becomes important for the educated take up a crusade in this direction. This is a right step forward. Congratulations for having thought of it.
M. Ravindranath Says:
February 16th, 2007 at 10:34 am
I agree wholeheartedly with the sentiments expressed here. I wish “Navya Shastra” the very best in keeping up the good work.
February 16th, 2007 at 7:06 pm
I would like to echo Mr. V.Varadarajan’s comments. Instead of apologizing, we should do something concrete to eradicate this ‘disease’. At the same time, I do congratulate Navya Shastra for taking this bold and important step.
S.Raju alias Sankaran Says:
February 16th, 2007 at 7:42 pm
I appreciate this Navay shastra.
Every one has to participate to eradicate the Injustice.
S.Raju alias Sankaran Sivacharyar Says:
February 16th, 2007 at 7:51 pm
All are equal before the eyes of god. Indeed, any one can attain moksha by true bakthi and love without caste discremination.
For example, from periyapuranam and Sandhanacharyars life (Arulnandhi and Umapathisivam) so, we have to give importance to eradicate the injustice in our religion.
Natu Patel Says:
February 17th, 2007 at 12:14 am
The less privileged is occupied with the task of just providing a daily meal and it incumbent upon the privileged who has all the time and luxury to take on the task you promote. Well done.
A. K. Subramanian Says:
February 17th, 2007 at 1:06 am
Anybody belonging to any caste can attain GOD realization by performing selfless service to all the GOD’s creations and deep devotion to Him.
Excellent intiative by Navya Shastra! Congratulations!
Peace, Harmony and Happiness for ALL!
February 17th, 2007 at 9:04 am
I would like to applaud this initiative.
Best of Luck.
Coimbatore - Tamil Nadu
February 17th, 2007 at 6:46 pm
As requested, I forwarding the email for your action in showing solidarity to the cause Naya Shastra is launching.
In case of oppressed (Dalit) Karmajan people of Nepal, it should be the state of Nepal which must express an explicit apology to the oppresssed and compensate them appropriately. It is because, the past governments of Nepal were responsible to promote and keep untouchability for long time to oppressed what are the occupational caste people in the country.
Suresh Kumar Says:
February 17th, 2007 at 10:57 pm
To my fellow countrymen,
I Suresh Kumar, 24, apologize to everyone who has/is been/being oppressed and discriminated in the name of caste day in day out. I apologize for not protesting against it till I was 21. I apologize for pretending like it did exist once I moved to a city. I apologize for not checking my family member’s crude language that was openly casteist (till I was 21). Although I personally never discriminated anyone by caste, I was in a way abetting those who did. By being indifferent and unaffected. I hope all those who face the atrocities have the strength and spirit to keep fighting and I’ll always be a part of that fight. Thanks.
Swaminathan Venkataraman Says:
February 19th, 2007 at 4:18 am
Congratulations to Navrashastra for this effort. While only symbolic, this will hopefully be a first step in full eventual reconciliation with dalits. Hindu reform will be incomplete until all Hindus enjoy equal religious and spiritual rights.
peter masilamani Says:
February 19th, 2007 at 7:13 am
Dear Dalit brothers abd sisters,
Fifteen thousand years of discrimination, oppression and suppression is the heritage of all non-Dalits.We did a small bit in furthering the cause of corrective affirmative action by being a part of the committee at Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta that put in place a rule that a seat and eventually a degree,be given to any dalit who applies. I hope that is still true.My wife and I have adopted two children, caste and creed unknown, and they like all other children are God’s gift to humanity.
I call upon those who care, particularly so called higher castes, to adopt a dalit child and bring him up as your own but as casteless.
God bless all his children, particularly those who have been persecuted.
Keep up the fight.God,if he exists and has any sense of right, is definitely on your side.
February 19th, 2007 at 10:22 am
i totally endorse ur views hats off to navyashastra
Leela Ramadas Says:
February 19th, 2007 at 2:29 pm
I support your effort. Wishes for your success.
February 19th, 2007 at 7:44 pm
Recognizing the problem - and being unapologetic about it - puts us on the open road to a brighter future for all!
Govinda Rath Says:
February 21st, 2007 at 6:39 am
This is a novel effort to bring a justifiable transformation in Indian society. I suggest to transmit your effort to more people through print and electronic media. I have all types of cooperation with you.
Rahul Banerjee Says:
February 21st, 2007 at 4:51 pm
the only apology for untouchability is to undertake menial labour oneself and to ensure that all dalits are given education and put into top jobs.
74,Krishnodayanagar,Khandwa naka,Indore,Madhya Pradesh, India-452001
February 22nd, 2007 at 4:19 am
I am happy that Hindu society is finally coming around and dealing with it positively. We recognise that the problems lie in the Indian mass mind, in the shastras and the sampradayas that support it.
We are ashamed of this, and deeply apologise. We will strive to bring the downtrodden into our families, the kudumbam, and into the garbha.
Radhakrishna Warrier Says:
February 27th, 2007 at 3:05 am
Words do help, and in that sense a public apology is something useful. But what is more urgently needed is a heartfelt apology that comes from deep within each one of us not merely as words but as positive deeds that act as balm for the wounds of past that are still sore for the erstwhile downtrodden.
N. Sekhar Says:
March 3rd, 2007 at 6:02 pm
Discrimination is any form, be it based on race, religion, language, caste, color, or any other “excuse” is deplorable. I sincerely commend your effort and submit my sincere apologies to those afffected for what we or our forefathers have done. We must do everythng in our power to remedy and eradicate this cancer from our society.
In the same vein, may I mention that a reverse form of descrimination has been and is happening in the South for a long time. Many have experienced it, incluidng yours truly. Few, however, has spoken about or against it in the public. After all acknowledging the problem is the first step to seeking a solution. Isn’t it about time we take this first step as we are doing for the above worthwhile cause?
Rahul Saxena Says:
March 9th, 2007 at 5:55 am
I apologize for the actions of my ancestors.
I apologize for not waking up to this problem earlier.
I apologize to Bhagawati Bhai and others like him.
I apologize to Bhagawati Bhai’s children and other children, who still ask there parents “Papa why are we not allowed to use the village well”, “Papa, why is our family not allowed to enter the temple?”
I apologize to Bhagawati Bhai’s family and others like them, who wonder why others don’t even consider them worthy of being addressed by there names and are instead addressed as Chamars or Bhangis.
I apologize for not doing more to help.
I apologize to future the generations to come who will suffer the indignity of the still ignorant.
Dr. Ratnakar Narale Says:
March 17th, 2007 at 1:15 am
I, ratnakar Narale, from the bottom of my heart extend my sincere regrets and apology, I do so also on my family’s behalf and my ancestors behalf,to all people of all Castes, I also express my depest regrets and shame for the hedious act of the Government of India for sustaining, promoting and expoloting ‘caste’ mania and inflict indignity in some form or other for selfish gains. I am so very glad that eyes and hearts of some people have opened and pray the Lord to give ’subuddhi’ to others, including tohse who form and will form the Government of India. May, one day, we all Hindus discard such sinister Governments and become equal, without prejudice and divisions.
March 17th, 2007 at 4:12 pm
Thanks to all of you for your endorsement and encouragement of this apology.
An apology is neither the beginning nor the end to the solution for this horrendous injustice, but it is very very important nevertheless to admit to wrong-doing openly.
Going beyond the apology, is to sincerely accept and practice the beleif that every human being deserves the same respect and dignified treatment as one expects for onself, irrespective of the human being’s birth, profession, social and economic position.
Charity is very important, one has to put ones money where the mouth is, but the charity has to be done without condenscension, with respect and humility, with understanding of the pain that the recipient goes through in accepting charity. Even the poorest of poor will value that understanding more than the quantity of money or material given to them.
In reality, we all lead different lives of different affluence and influence, but at the bottom we must never value the basic worth of any life based on this difference.
We have to shed the basic belief in the inherent sense of lesser and greater, we must wipe out the sense of having been born from the different body parts of the Brahmma, that depending on our social position some of us were born of his head, some of his arms and some of his feet. NO. We were all born from the great womb of the Jaganmata, from the womb of life itself.
Girish R. Kamath Says:
March 24th, 2007 at 9:40 am I very much endorse your idea of issuing an apology to Dalits and join you in expressing my hearfelt regrets for the actions of my ancestors. As has already been expressed so eloquently in some of the comments listed above, this is only an expression of acknowledgement of a dark legacy. It is not a means to seek redemption for the sins committed in the past and even in the present.