While it appears the Kerala police are examining the video footage of Arundhati Roy’s recent Mahatma Ayyankali lecture to see if they can slap a case on her, Nandini K. Oza has posted on her blog a selection of Gandhi’s views on caste, untouchability and varna. From the reactions, we could draw two conclusions: either it is the case that what Gandhi said was so scandalous, it is not acceptable to many people; but what’s more likely is that this nation reveres the man especially because he said things like (in 1925), “I feel that without varnashram dharma human race will not be able to function…”. Little wonder caste is not only practised but defended in India today—in the name of Gandhi who defended it in the name of shastras.
Here’s Gandhi speaking in Pune in 1921, cited by Oza.
[In Pune and Wai: Gandhiji while addressing a mammoth Sabha in Bhavanipeth:] “…I request the non Brahmins that they should not spread any lies in my name. I do not know the Satyashodhak Mandal, but they are projecting that I deny Varnashram (Caste system). I say that is a lie. All kinds of falsehood go on in my name. I am a staunch Hindu- Vaishnav…I understand the faults in my Shastras, but I am a staunch believer of Varnashram…”
For a thorough and relentless critique of Gandhi, we recommend the Kerala police and other mischief mongers read Dr B.R. Ambedkar’s 1945 work, What Congress and Gandhi Have Done to the Untouchables. For a fine comparison of Gandhi’s and Ambedkar’s views on this issue, see Arundhati Roy’s comprehensive introduction to the annotated critical edition of Annihilation of Caste.