Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Sanskritization and Vegetarian OBCs

The caste system is far from a rigid system in which the position of each component caste is fixed for all time. Movement has always been possible, and especially in the middle regions of the hierarchy. A caste was able, in a generation or two, to rise to a higher position in the hierarchy by adopting vegetarianism and teetotalism, and by Sanskritizing its ritual and pantheon. In short, it took over, as far as possible, the customs, rites, and beliefs of the Brahmins, and adoption of the Brahminic way of life by a low caste seems to have been frequent, though theoretically forbidden. This process has been called 'Sanskritization' in this book, in preference to 'Brahminization', as certain Vedic rites are confined to the Brahmins and the two other 'twice-born' castes.
M N Srinivas in  Religion and Society Amongst the Coorgs of South India

We don't know what particular castes M N Srinivas was talking about. He was more a caste apologist than an objective anthropologist.

One look at the vegetarian profile of the castes in India shows Sanskritization was just a 'wannabe'ness than a real upward movement. This is particularly true for OBCs.

When Mr. Modi makes a comment that "people who eat meat have a different character", pointing to his upper caste meat eating colleague and rival, he only shows the castiest thought process and not his elevated caste position as a vegetarian.

When I hear vegetarian OBCs gloating that many IT professionals in the US are vegetarians, I wonder whether they really understand the caste profile or do they really believe sense of brotherhood with their non-meat eating privileged castes masks the social and educational backwardness of their fellow OBCs? Hasn't the progress of meat eating societies all over the world helped to overcome their overawed reverence for the caste reference society?

I would think they have a misplaced pride about being vegetarians.

Their real pride should show in non-conformity of Brahmanical rules and not in playing by the rules set by the Brahmins. I believe they should only consider the spirit of their ancestors who didn't think they were low but not the path (vegetarianism) which ultimately served only Brahmanism.

Maybe they just don't understand that they were Sanskritized.

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