Notes from Annihilation of Caste by B.R. Ambedkar
This is the convention being followed for all reading notes exported after January 31, 2023 (and some previous exports):
|Lighten/Normal||Yellow||Quotables, concepts, and general ideas.|
|Underline||Orange||Farther thought is required on this for clarity.|
|Highlighted/Bold||Blue||Something strikingly novel/Deeply moving/Highly thought provoking.|
|Pink||In discord with this opinion.|
by B.R. Ambedkar, Arundhati Roy, S. Anand
The Doctor and the Saint: Arundhati Roy
Page 31 @ March 30, 2018
among Delhi’s twenty High Court judges, not one belonged to the Scheduled Castes, and in all other judicial posts, the figure was 1.2 per cent; similar figures were reported from Rajasthan; Gujarat had no Dalit or Adivasi judges; in Tamil Nadu, with its legacy of social justice movements, only four out of thirty-eight High Court judges were Dalit; Kerala, with its Marxist legacy, had one Dalit High Court judge among twenty-five. 37 A study of the prison population would probably reveal an inverse ratio.
Page 38 @ March 30, 2018
The trouble is that Gandhi actually said everything and its opposite. To cherry pickers, he offers such a bewildering variety of cherries that you have to wonder if there was something the matter with the tree.
Page 38 @ April 4, 2018
Caste is another name for control. Caste puts a limit on enjoyment. Caste does not allow a person to transgress caste limits in pursuit of his enjoyment. That is the meaning of such caste restrictions as inter-dining and inter-marriage … These being my views I am opposed to all those who are out to destroy the Caste System.
Claps for Gandhi!
Page 40 @ April 4, 2018
In 1931, when Ambedkar met Gandhi for the first time, Gandhi questioned him about his sharp criticism of the Congress (which, it was assumed, was tantamount to criticising the struggle for the Homeland). “Gandhiji, I have no Homeland,” was Ambedkar’s famous reply. “No Untouchable worth the name will be proud of this land.”
Page 43 @ March 30, 2018
“Constitutional morality is not a natural sentiment. It has to be cultivated. We must realise that our people have yet to learn it. Democracy in India is only a top-dressing on an Indian soil which is essentially undemocratic.”
Page 43 @ March 30, 2018
“To leave inequality between class and class, between sex and sex, which is the soul of Hindu society, and to go on passing legislation relating to economic problems is to make a farce of our Constitution and to build a palace on a dung heap.”
Page 47 @ March 30, 2018
As the earth warms up, as glaciers melt and forests disappear, Gandhi’s words have turned out to be prophetic. But his horror of modern civilisation led him to eulogise a mythical Indian past that was, in his telling, just and beautiful. Ambedkar, on his part, was painfully aware of the iniquity of that past, but in his urgency to move away from it, he failed to recognise the catastrophic dangers of Western modernity.
Page 66 @ March 31, 2018
Gandhi was not deterred. A few years after the South African War, he once again volunteered for active service.
A dog Gandhi was.
Page 74 @ March 31, 2018
The irony is that while Gandhi was performing the rituals of poverty in Tolstoy Farm, he was not questioning the accumulation of capital or the unequal distribution of wealth. He was not holding out for improved working conditions for the indentured, or for the return of land to those it had been stolen from. He was fighting for Indian merchants’ right to expand their businesses to the Transvaal and to compete with British merchants.
Page 79 @ March 31, 2018
A man is not necessarily happy because he is rich or unhappy because he is poor. The rich are often seen to be unhappy, the poor to be happy. Millions will always remain poor … Observing all this our ancestors dissuaded us from luxuries and pleasures. We have managed with the same kind of plough as it existed thousands of years ago. We have retained the same kind of cottages we had in former times and our indigenous education remains the same as before.
Page 85 @ March 31, 2018
So the Mahatma who promoted homespun khadi and the wooden charkha was sponsored by a mill-owner. The man who raged against the machine was kept afloat by industrialists. This arrangement was the precursor to the phenomenon of the corporate-sponsored NGO.
Page 91 @ March 31, 2018
If a Shudra listens intentionally to the Vedas, the Gautama Dharma Sutra says, his ears must be filled with molten tin or lac.
Page 126 @ March 31, 2018
Ambedkar was only echoing what a fourteen-year-old Untouchable Mang girl, Muktabai Salve, had said long ago. She was a student in the school for Untouchable children that Jotiba and Savitri Phule ran in Poona. In 1855, she said, “Let that religion, where only one person is privileged and the rest are deprived, perish from the earth and let it never enter our minds to be proud of such a religion.”
Page 133 @ March 31, 2018
It was extraordinary that, through all the chaos and prejudice, the first law ministers of both India and Pakistan were Dalits. Mandal was eventually disillusioned with Pakistan and returned to India. Ambedkar was disillusioned too, but he really had nowhere to go.
Annihilation of Caste
Page 173 @ April 1, 2018
But the world owes much to rebels who would dare to argue in the face of the pontiff and insist that he is not infallible. I do not care for the credit which every progressive society must give to its rebels. I shall be satisfied if I make the Hindus realise that they are the sick men of India, and that their sickness is causing danger to the health and happiness of other Indians.
Page 216 @ April 2, 2018
A tree should be judged by the fruits it yields. If caste is eugenic, what sort of a race of men should it have produced? Physically speaking the Hindus are a C3 people. 49 They are a race of pygmies and dwarfs, stunted in stature and wanting in stamina. It is a nation nine-tenths of which is declared to be unfit for military service. This shows that the caste system does not embody the eugenics of modern scientists.
"অন্নপায়ী বঙ্গবাসি(পড়ুন ভারতবাসি) স্তন্যপায়ী জীব।"
Page 224 @ April 3, 2018
The question naturally arises: From where does the Sikh or the Mahomedan derive his strength, which makes him brave and fearless? I am sure it is not due to relative superiority of physical strength, diet or drill. It is due to the strength arising out of the feeling that all Sikhs will come to the rescue of a Sikh when he is in danger, and that all Mahomedans will rush to save a Muslim if he is attacked.
Page 235 @ April 3, 2018
Interdependence of one class on another class is inevitable. Even dependence of one class upon another may sometimes become allowable. But why make one person depend upon another in the matter of his vital needs? Education, everyone must have. Means of defence, everyone must have. These are the paramount requirements of every man for his self-preservation. How can the fact that his neighbour is educated and armed help a man who is uneducated and disarmed?
Page 246 @ April 3, 2018
You must not only discard the shastras, you must deny their authority, as did Buddha and Nanak. You must have courage to tell the Hindus that what is wrong with them is their religion—the religion which has produced in them this notion of the sacredness of caste. Will you show that courage?
Page 263 @ April 3, 2018
these views are the views of a man who has been no tool of power, no flatterer of greatness. They come from one, almost the whole of whose public exertion has been one continuous struggle for liberty for the poor and for the oppressed, and whose only reward has been a continuous shower of calumny and abuse from national journals and national leaders,
Page 333 @ April 4, 2018
As a matter of fact, a Hindu does treat all those who are not of his caste as though they were aliens, who could be discriminated against with impunity, and against whom any fraud or trick may be practised without shame. This is to say that there can be a better or a worse Hindu. But a good Hindu there cannot be. This is so not because there is anything wrong with his personal character. In fact, what is wrong is the entire basis of his relationship to his fellows. The best of men cannot be moral if the basis of relationship between them and their fellows is fundamentally a wrong relationship. To a slave, his master may be better or worse. But there cannot be a good master. A good man cannot be a master, and a master cannot be a good man.
Page 339 @ April 4, 2018
of the child, with the child’s capacity for self-deception. Like a child, he can believe in anything he wants to believe in. We must therefore wait till such time as it pleases the Mahatma to abandon his faith in varna, as it has pleased him to abandon his faith in caste.
Page 340 @ April 4, 2018
As a Mahatma, he may be trying to spiritualise politics. Whether he has succeeded in it or not, politics have certainly commercialised him.
Page 342 @ April 4, 2018
The Mahatma is no exception. The Mahatma appears not to believe in thinking. He prefers to follow the saints. Like a conservative with his reverence for consecrated notions, he is afraid that if he once starts thinking, many ideals and institutions to which he clings will be doomed. One must sympathise with him. For every act of independent thinking puts some portion of an apparently stable world in peril.
A Note on the Poona Pact
Page 362 @ April 4, 2018
Significantly, the Congress, despite its financial muscle, lost out to non-Congress Untouchable candidates in Bombay and Bengal, where the Dalit movement was strong.
Bengal was doing great.