This article puts the spin that it is Christianity and Islam that are fighting caste (not to their credit though!), and because caste is Indian/Hindu whereas these religions are semetic and foreign, there is some detrimental civilization clash here. Hence caste (and its corollary untouchability too?) are actually good things!
These rather pedestrian views can be trivially countered. For instance Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism have great traditions of fighting caste. Buddha especially laughs at the suggestions that virtue can be inherited by birth and repeatedly avers that action is what decides virtue. True, Christianity and Islam have very cruel histories, especially Christianity in its treatment of American Indians and Africans, and good Christians and Muslims must be ashamed of their legacies. (Have not the Australian and the English Anglican churches apologised for slavery, even if it is a merely symbolic gesture? Does Hinduism not have its crosses to carry, or Buddhism for that matter? And I have not come across a swamigal, seer, jeer or mutthead who has come close to apologising for untouchability and caste.) But Christianity in India, except in Goa, has been a refuge for people considered 'untouchable'. Similarly Islam. This is especially true in Tamil Nadu. Many Dalits have made great progress after converting to Christianity or Islam. Besides, Christianity's great contributions in education, health and social service, of which the 'upper' castes themselves have obtained maximum advantage, are too well known. Why should not I as a person, and we as a people, take the good of all that is today easily available? Why should I not imbibe the egalitarian views of Islam or Buddhism or whatever it might be that I find inspiring? Just as many Europeans find, say Buddhism, appealing. Finally let each person decide. I might have decided to convert to a faith because it allowed my children education and self dignity. It might heve been doctrinal matters. Whatever the reason, let the individual decide. If Mr.J.venkata subramanian thinks Hinduism is a great religion - which might not be independent of his 'upper' caste status if that is indeed the case - why he is welcome to it. Many of us prefer Buddhism or Christianity or Islam, let us prefer our ways. Many of us who think that caste and untouchability are precisely the problems with Hinduism, we will find our ways out of the morass. Shiva Shankar.
Excerpted from A. Toynbee's 'A Study of History' (Part VI - Universal States):
....... the encounters of the religions with one another brings up the question whether they can coexist in fruitful harmony or whether one of them will eventually supersede the rest. Till recently, the higher religions have coexisted, mainly because the past inadequacy of means of communication had set limits to the propogation of even the three principal missionary religions: Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam. By harnessing muscle power and wind power, their disseminators had succeeded in capturing entire continents, but not the whole face of the Earth. Present-day means of communication make it possible for each of them, and for other religions too, to win adherents all round the globe; and for each, this raises the question of coexistence versus competition. Buddhism has always acquiesed in an amicable coexistence with the previous religions of the countries into which it has spread; and we may hope that this Buddhist tradition will prevail. Our common human nature is differentiated into different spiritual types; these different types find satisfaction in different presentations of religion; and the recent `annihilation of distance' has made it possible, now, for the first time, for an individual to choose for himself, when grown-up, the religion he finds most congenial to him, instead of inheriting automatically, through the accident of the time and place of his birth, without regard to his individual temperament. This freedom of choice would be assured to the individual in a physically united world if Buddhism were the only missionary religion in the field. Unhappily, Christianity and Islam do not have Buddhism's tradition of tolerance. Hitherto, each of them has demanded from its adherents an exclusive allegiance. Each of them, too, has been unwilling to tolerate the coexistence of any other religion except its own precusors, and these only in an inferior status and on humiliating terms. On these terms, Christianity has tolerated Judaism grudgingly and non-commitally - and at periodic intervals has withdrawn even this modified toleration - while Islam, less grudgingly and more bindingly, has tolerated both Judaism and Christianity. Are the Christian and Muslim `Establishments' capable of extricating themselves from their own traditions? Will they be able to adopt the amicable spirit of Buddhism which answers to the spiritual needs of a physically unified world? If Islam and Christianity prove unable to achieve this revolutionary change of outlook and ethos, will they lose their hold? And, if they do lose it, will their heritage pass to Buddhism, or will Mankind embrace some other religion or religions that have not yet appeared above the horizon? The `annhilation of distance' has already raised these questions, but it has not yet indicated what the answer to them are likely to be. ...........
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