Caste system has been the scourge of Indian civilization and culture. The battle against this oppressive and inhuman is older than even some of the great religions of the world. The first warrior to wage against this system was probably Gautam Buddha who waged the war against this inhuman system in 6th century B.C. No doubt, Buddha was able to put some dents in the system, but after the Nirvana of Buddha, the system once again rose like a phoenix and gained strength to crush humanity. In fact, the system has proved to be the most agile and resilient against the liberal human traditions. According to Porter:
Caste represents the most memorable, comprehensive and successful attempt ever made by an order to oppress humanity in its own interest. Its enactments broke up the race into many fragments never to be reunited, separating Aryans from other peoples by impassable barriers, permanently fixing their occupations, interests, associations and aspirations. As men were born so they must remain. Their course of life was prescribed, their places after death predetermined. (Porter, 25)
The system not only crushed people, but also affected the history of humanity, as there were many people in the history, many unrealized geniuses who could not mature their talents and could not contribute to the advancement of humanity because they were forced to follow the professions that were predetermined for their caste. In the distant past, the system was fluid, as caste was based on individual and not inherited, that is why people like Valmiki could write a great epic like Ramayana and were respected by all and sundry. But the system became rigid in the Middle Ages when transcending the restrictions laid by the system asphyxiated the individuals and their talents died within them.
In the recent times, conversion to other religions was practiced by these oppressed people to escape the tyranny of caste, but what they could do only was to leave their beliefs; their caste traveled with them. Their hopes of a respectable life dashed and the people of other religion also treated them as inferiors. In this case, eminent social scientist M.V. Srinivas writes:
The conversion of so called low castes to Islam and Christianity in many parts of India, and to sects such as Sikhism and Arya Samaj in Punjab and Western Uttar Pradesh, was often motivated by a desire to shed the odium attached to being low. But the converts found that it was not at all easy to shake off their caste and that, in fact, they carried it with them to new faith or sect. Indian Islam and Christianity both bear the stamp of caste system; this is not to say, however, that the caste system among Indian Christians and Muslims is same as the caste system among the Hindus. (Srinivas, 80)
In fact, conversion could not provide any respite, but added to the miseries because now they were restricted by the rules of alien faith. The current paper is a study of Bama Faustina’s Karukku. Bama was born into a family of...