Peace and Justice
I've not only been intrigued by the untouchables, but India's entire cast system;; it has always baffled me how people could refuse to interact with someone based on their social status. Thankfully, there was a man powerful and influential enough to persuade the thoughts of many and change how Indians viewed these untouchables;; Gandhi believed it was unfair and wrong to treat people this way. I’m glad there are people like him in the world who are willing to stand up and work towards a good cause.The book we are reading in class, Gandhi: His Life and Message, by Louis Fischer is an eye opener to whom Gandhi was and what he believed in. Gandhi was apologist against the caste system of India and the British government, he truly believed in abolishing the caste system. In this essay I will talk about the untouchables and how Gandhi fought for them to be equal.
“Gandhi never sought to humiliate or defeat the whites in South Africa or the British in India . He wished to convert them. He hoped that if he practiced the Sermon on the Mount, General Jan Christiaan Smuts would remember he was a Christian.” (Fischer, pg. 35). Gandhi was a Christian who advocated for the Brahmins and the Untouchables to wed, he hoped that it would demolish the caste system. Even though he was raised Hindu, Gandhi did not view the caste system this way, he died believing that the Untouchables deserved equality.
“In the early years of his Mahatma Hood, Gandhi favored the case system. ‘I
consider the four divisions to be fundamental, natural, and essential,’ he said in 1920, and on October 6, 1921, he wrote in Young India, ‘prohibition against intermarriage and interlining is essential for the rapid evolution of the soul.’ This defense of an ignoble aspect of Hindu orthodoxy stands as a quotable charge against him, but he actually reversed himself in word and deed. ‘Restriction on inter caste dining and inter caste marriage,’ he declared on November 4, 1932, ‘is no part of the Hindu religion. Today, these two prohibitions are weakening Hindu society.’ ’ (Fischer, pg. 111-112). Gandhi died believing that all Hindus deserved to be treated equal.
An “untouchable”, also known as a Dalit, is the lowest you can be in India's caste system;; it deems anyone impure and less than human. There are currently more than 160 million people in India that are considered Untouchable’s. These people work the hardest and are given the lowest jobs, such as, dealing with human and animal waste. Untouchables have almost no human rights;; Dalits may not drink from the same wells or attend the same temples as the upper castes, nor are they permitted to wear shoes in the presence of an upper caste or drink from the same cups in tea stalls. Dalits are beaten, raped and publicly humiliated just because of the family they were born into. Daily, three Dalit women are raped, two Dalits are murdered, and two Dalit homes are torched. It is scary to think there are places in the world where they could treat anyone this way, Gandhi felt the same way.
It was Gandhi who first called the untouchables “Harijans” ,which translates into “children of God”. This really struck with me because it makes me think of my grandmother
who always used to call mentally handicapped people “Gods children”. It takes a lot of courage to stand up for what you believe in, but Gandhi believed in equality for all...