Social Problems
(With friends in Kerala, Karnataka, January 1969)
Q : Some feel that they are discriminated against in religious and social affairs by being denied 'yajnopavita', 'gotra' etc. What do you say?
A : They can be given yajnopavita and gotra. There is nothing wrong in this. If they do not know the gotra they can be given the gotra of the priest. That was being done in olden days and is sanctioned by the Shastras. In the Shastras, it is also said that all those who do not come under any gotra belong to Kashyapa gotra, because all are supposed to have been born from Kashyapa. They should be given equal rights and footings in the matter of religious rites, in temple worship, in the study of Vedas, and, in general, in all our social and religious affairs. This is the only right solution for all the problems of caste-ism found nowadays in our Hindu society. This I have submitted to all the Shankaracharyas, as also the other Acharyas I have met.
Q : What about the Muslims and Christians who want to return to the Hindu fold?
A : Gotras may be given to them also, with some little praayaschittam.
Q : Seeing that 'sects' are a universal phenomena, is there any way out of their baneful effects?
A : After the person who originates a movement passes away, it develops into a particular exclusive groove and becomes a sect. Considering the psychological condition of man, perhaps, it is inevitable. All sects have started with a comprehensive view but invariably ended with 'sectarianism'. Not one of the prevalent sects started originally as a sect. But in course of time each has set up its own barriers. The way out would be a proper enlightenment and gradual absorption of the original ideas among its adherents. This cannot be achieved hastily. That will either break the institutions or throw the whole social order into chaos.
Q : Will not the word Arya, while we say 'Krinvanto Vishwamaaryam' etc., provoke reaction in the South?
A : The present argument of Aryans vs. Dravidians is very recent and very artificial. It is a modern superstition. Whatever diversity of race we might have had in this country to begin with was obliterated by time and circumstances. Two thousand years ago the country had been territorially organized into Pancha Gowda and Pancha Dravida. People in the South were never referred to as Mlechhas. They were always considered Aryans. In Bharat the word Arya has always been a measure of culture, and not the name of a race. All through our Pauranic literature, wives address husbands as 'Oh Arya!' Surely the wives were not 'un-Arya'! Right from the Vedic times, Arya has always been a term to denote a 'noble person'.
Q : Some say that the Rama-Ravana conflict was an Aryan- Dravidian struggle.
A : It was nothing of the kind. Ravana himself was a great Sanskrit scholar and devotee of Shiva. He is said to have set Samaveda to music. His father Vishravas was a Brahmin and so was his grandfather, Pulastya. If anything, Ravana was oppressing the South, and Rama only liberated the people from his oppression. He was a usurper, having overthrown his elder brother, Kuber, from the throne.
The Rakshasas are referred to as Niruti, which is derived from Nairutya (South West). They are also said to be hiding in the seas i.e., in the islands. This shows that the Rakshasas were not Ceylonese or South Indians but some other outsiders.
The North-South argument is modern power politics.
(With Pressmen at Nangal, March 1950)
Q : What are your views regarding the 'Hindu code'?
A : In the course of the natural progress of society it so happens that laws are naturally formed and confirmed, and are afterwards recognized by the ruling power. This is the way of progress. The governments' action should only be one of recognition, not path-pointing. Path-pointers must be personally aloof from mundane matters. They must be men who think, without prejudice, only of the good of the people. In our country in ancient times, men who guided the society were sages and hermits living in the jungles. The kings only enforced their guidance. Today various parties try to foist their own views on the society to mould it according to their own political preconceptions.
Q : But did not the Sharda Act (prohibiting child marriages) prove beneficial?
A : Did it? So far as I know, it had little effect upon those for whom it was meant, and those who do not need it are not at a loss without it. In certain villages, child-marriages are even today taking place. Among the educated circles the Act is not necessary, for child marriages do not take place amongst them at all.
Many things spring up in the society as necessity arises. For example, polygamy is a custom in the weaver community near and around Nagpur. These weavers require hands to work for them, but cannot afford paid workers. Hence they felt polygamy is a necessity for them.
Q : But there are many who are polygamous without any such reason.
A : Yes, but when the doors of multiple marriages are closed to them they will take to concubinage. How will you check that?
Q : Have you any other objection to the Hindu Code Bill?
A : Ours being a secular state, it is highly improper for the Government to legislate only for the Hindus.
(With Pressmen at Bangalore, February 1973)
Q : What about the protection to Harijans guaranteed in the Constitution and its subsequent extension?
A : If any one is suffering from disability, social or political, on account of what is called caste, that must be removed completely. Dr. Ambedkar had envisaged the special privileges for only 10 years from the day we became a Republic in 1950. But now we are in 1973. It is going on, being extended. We are opposed to continued special privileges on the basis of caste only, as it would create vested interests in them in remaining as a separate entity. That would harm their integration with the rest of the society. All help must be given to those who are destitute, irrespective of the caste or class they belong to.
(With the President, Akhil Bharatiya Vadar Samaj, at Thane, November 1972)
Q : The educational standards are very low in our community. Matriculates are employed as either clerks or as watchmen in offices and factories. The more educated get some higher jobs. But their earnings will be much less than those who earn by physical labor. We are appealing to the Government to lower the educational qualifications required for Government employment with respect to our community.
A : Education is, no doubt, essential. But if by physical labor, earning is more, then even the matriculates should take to such work. Education and physical labor should not come in conflict with each other. It is only when these two are combined that prosperity ensues.
It is also not desirable to demand lowering of educational qualifications for employment. On the contrary, such sections of our people as are educationally backward should take the initiative to raise their standards. If the minimum marks required are 35% this year, you should demand that it be raised to 40% after a couple of years. It is through such self-efforts that a backward section can raise itself up. Otherwise, the children in such sections will never be able to cherish higher ambitions in life. They will for ever be deprived of high positions which require greater intelligence and capacity. And people with low intelligence will also bring down the level in whatever sphere they work. The whole social life will then be endangered. For example, a pilot cannot work with a 35% training qualification. The life of so many, including his own, will then be in jeopardy. The same rule applies to doctors, engineers and technicians. In the present scientific and technological age, especially, it is essential that we increase our efficiency and capacity. Hence, it is necessary to see that our children imbibe the right ambitions and increase their capacities and educational standards. I urge that you should insist on this aspect.
The Questioner : I must confess that this is altogether a new viewpoint. So far, no one had put forward this aspect before us. I feel it is the only right attitude.
(With the Editor, The Illustrated Weekly, November 1972)
Q : My next issue will be on the subject of prostitution. Probably you will not even touch it with a pair of tongs!
A : It all depends upon how you bring out the issue, and what will be the idea behind it. If it is done only with a view to appeal to the low tastes of the public, then definitely no decent man will relish it. If it is brought out to throw light on the problem from various angles, then it should be read by one and all. It should also be recognized that this practice stems from a human weakness which has made this profession a social need for thousands of years. As such, it is well high impossible to root out completely this profession. Then, the only approach to this problem would be to improve the conditions of those women who are in this profession, give them education, make them devoted to Dharma and God.
(With the Editor, Organiser, June 1958)
Q : What are your views about the solution to the population problem of our country?
A : This much is well-known that if you give man security he does not over-breed.
Q : In that case the Indian peasant, secure in the possession of a few acres of land, should not breed much.
A : No, he is too poor to feel secure. Rains may fail; epidemics may come; he is always next door to calamity and death. It is his unconscious will to survive that makes him produce many children in the hope that at least some will survive.
Q : In Japan the indigent are given free facilities for birth control. Should we have some such thing here?
A :No. That a man should be compelled to limit his family only because he doesn't have the money to feed it, would be a reflection on the society. The remedy is not to limit his family, but to give him work. I can understand the sterilization of the incurably diseased, but not of the poor. It does not have even the excuse of mercy-killing. It is not a crime to be poor.
There is another objection. Once you encourage birth control, the well-to-do would resort to it more than the poor. The educated, well-to-do man understands these things. He practices them. But the poor just do not understand these things. There is, if anything, a fear of them. As a result, any propaganda for birth control will only affect the strength of the educated classes. On balance, therefore, it will mean a fall in the quality of the population.
Does this country or, for that matter, any other country have enough understanding of the principles of eugenics to execute a scientific planned population policy? Not very long ago they considered crossbreeding of races to be the panacea of all human ills. But already they are having second thoughts. Experiments show that while out breeding is injurious, inbreeding may not be injurious. Even these are only negative findings. It has been found that crossbreeds, after some generations, prove inferior to either of the parent species. It would need continuous selective crossbreeding to maintain the quality of breeds. The point is, are men to be treated as animals? I hope they realize that human society is not a cattle-farm.
Q : It is feared that immigrations resulting in racial discriminations may lead to racial wars.
A : I hope it does not happen. But if it does, the war will be won by those who are more virile.
(With the Editor, Organiser, 1967)
Q : The family planning programme of the Government of India is based on the assumption that the country is overpopulated. Do you agree with this assumption?
A : I don't. And I don't know why this programme should be called 'family planning'. It would be 'planning' if it not only helped men limit families but also helped them to rear children. This programme does not envisage any such thing. I also dispute the truth of Government figures. The way they are announcing the population increases is fantastic. It reminds me of the late Mr. Jinnah, who increased Muslim population figures by a few million every time he made a major speech. Even Government's own figures disprove its artificial fears of a population explosion. According to its statistics, food production has increased by 61.8 percent in the fourteen years 1952-66. This is less than Government's own estimates of population growth! So either the one, or the other, or both the sets of figures are wrong and misleading!
(With friends at Udupi, December 1969)
Q : How do you think can the affluent people like the industrialists, planters etc., play their role in social consolidation?
A : I shall give the example of the tea planters of Assam to make a few points clear. There are some plantations owned by the British. They go to the worker's houses, pat their children and personally look to their medical needs. They build chapels in their estates. They encourage the workmen to attend the church prayers along with themselves. They offer some extra benefits to those who attend. They engage a priest to give weekly sermons to the churchgoers. By such inducements and persuasion they have succeeded to a large extent in converting their workers to Christianity.
By contrast, there are many Hindu tea planters, whose relations with their workers are anything but cordial. They only try to squeeze out as much work from the workers as possible. The workers naturally revolt. The tension is not limited merely to the economic aspect. There is absolutely no social intercourse between the two. They hardly visit the worker's abodes, much less share their joys and sorrows. What a tragic contrast! It is high time that our countrymen such as planters and industrialists display a human touch and fulfill their social and religious obligations and responsibilities towards the workers under them.
Q : Some employers argue that if they show human considerations, the workers become unruly and take undue advantage of it. Where is the solution?
A : I do not think that normally it is so. If the workers feel that you are sincere and not merely exhibitive in your humane intentions and actions, then they are bound to respond in course of time. I can never conceive that our people are so devoid of inherent goodness as not to respond to human virtues.
Q : Once the workers are indoctrinated by the communist thought, they will view all the actions of the employers, however good-intentioned they may be, with suspicion.
A : Even to this I say, the communists can get a foothold only where there is no human touch. There is no 'ism' which can out-beat the appeal of the human heart. After all the workers are human beings first and then, if at all, communists.
Q : How can 'samskaars' be imparted to the nomadic tribes?
A : If we could domesticate even the wild animals roaming the jungles, can we not persuade our own people to take to better and more stabilized ways of life? Certainly we can, provided we display the human touch.