---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Shiva Shankar <sshankar@cmi....>
Date: Thu, Feb 16, 2012 at 12:18 PM
Subject: Photo book: Dalits, the untouchables of India
The Bijak of KABIR, Shabda 41
Pandit, Look in your heart for knowledge
Tell me where untouchability
came from, since you believe in it.
Mix red juice, white juice and air -
a body bakes in a body.
As soon as the eight lotuses
are ready, it comes
into the world. Then what's untouchable ...
We eat by touching, we wash
by touching, from a touch
the world was born.
So who's untouchable? asks Kabir.
who has no taint of Maya.
PHOTO BOOK: DALITS, THE UNTOUCHABLES OF INDIA
The Indian social structure is traditionally divided in a caste system
based on Hindu beliefs. There are four principal castes and many other
sub-castes defined by profession, religion, language and other
characteristics. Many Hindus believe that people are born into a
specific caste as a result of karma of a past life and spiritual
purity. The caste characteristics are inherited permanently.
Based in India’s caste system the highest caste, Brahmans, are
destined to be priests and teachers, Kshatriyas are rulers and
soldiers, Vaisyas are merchants and traders and Sudras are laborers.
According to the Hindu belief, there is a fifth social group that is
unworthy of falling within the caste system. They are outcast and
considered impure from birth, less than human and “polluted.” This
fifth group is the Dalits, often referred to as “Untouchables.”
“Dalit” is a word that comes from Sanskrit and means “broken to
pieces,” “suppressed” or “crushed.”
The book Untouchables of India is a photo-documentary book created to
tell the story of human rights abuses against the community that
occupies the lowest place of India’s social structure, Dalits or the
so called “Untouchables.”
... The 'Untouchables' of India are relegated to the lowest and most
degrading working conditions. They constantly fear being humuliated in
public, stripped and paraded naked. They are often beaten and raped by
upper caste members of their communities who seek to keep them
disempowered and spiritually broken to perpetuate the cycle of abuse.
Even walking in an upper caste neighbourhood or near an upper caste
member can represent a menace to Dalit's lives. Usually the police and
government officials support the caste system that is based on the
teachings of Hinduism and because these beliefs are so ingrained in
their worldview many crimes go unreported. Dalits fear reprisal, are
intimidated by the police or simply know that the police will fail to
investigate reported crimes or charge offenders. As a result, Dalits
prefer not to report crimes to avoid a double victimization. ...
You cannot build anything on the foundations of caste. You cannot build up
a nation, you cannot build up a morality. Anything that you will build on
the foundations of caste will crack and will never be a whole.