What Chandrika Prasad Jigyasu wrote on India’s indigenous socialism

Chandrika Prasad Jigyasu’s first book, ‘Bharat Ke Aadi Nivasiyon Ki Sabhyata’, was published in 1937. It is based on historical research on the identity of the Shudras, and their literature and philosophy. Kanwal Bharti reviews the book

Caste-based discrimination and untouchability have been the cornerstones of the Indian social order. The religious sanction accorded to the twin practices has been opposed time and again. In the 19th century, Jotirao Phule pioneered the tradition of deconstructing the myths to extract the truth from the mass of disinformation. Many people, notably Dr Ambedkar, took this tradition forward in the 20th century. Chandrika Prasad Jigyasu was one such truth-seeker. Here, Kanwal Bharti reviews Jigyasu’s writings. This first instalment is a review of the book Bharat ke Aadi Nivasiyon ki Sabhyata, which was published in 1937. 

The Dalit-OBC castes began to have a yearning to unearth their past at the beginning of the 20th century. Their quest for knowledge about their past culminated in the Aryan Invasion Theory. Dalit thinkers arrived at the conclusion that their history, literature and philosophy were inextricably woven around the conflict between the Aryans and the non-Aryans. This theory formed the basis of Swami Bodhanand’s treatise Mool Bharatwasi Aur Arya published in 1930. Bodhananand was the progenitor of the backward-class movement in Uttar Pradesh. In the same decade, Swami Achhootanand launched the Aadi Hindu movement. He contended that the Shudra and the Ati-Shudra castes were real Hindus while the dwijs were non-Hindus. Achhootanand wrote many plays and poems on the ancient history of the Hindus. Chandrika Prasad Jigyasu was a friend of Achhootanand and a devoted disciple of Bodhanand. Jigyasu’s worldview underwent a radical transformation after coming in contact with the two Swamis because earlier, he had been an Arya Samaji. Jigyasu took the indigenous inhabitants theory forward and through his literature, laid the foundations of India’s very own socialism. His first book Bharat ke Aadi Nivasiyon ki Sabhyata delineates this Indian version of socialism. The book’s first edition was published in 1937, the fourth revised edition in 1956 and the fifth revised edition in 1965. In the foreword to the first edition, Bhadant Bodhanand, says that the book, though complete in itself, is only the fourth chapter of Jigyasu’s voluminous treatise. The other three chapters of this treatise were published under the title Srishti Aur Manav Samaj ka Vikas. Only one edition of that book was published and is unavailable now. In the revised edition of Bharat ke Aadi Nivasiyon ki Sabhyata, Jigyasu writes, “As soon as the third freedom struggle began, we found ourselves in a difficult situation that forced the closure of not only the national publications but all else too. Today, in the year 1956, the question that still begs an answer is: why are the castes that form 80 per cent of Indians socially, economically and educationally backward? Who is throttling them? And what is the identity of the oppressed, backward castes? On the other hand, the educated members of these oppressed, backward classes seem to be keen to see through the strategies of their decadent exploiters. Against this backdrop, I hope this new revised edition of this book will prove useful.” 

The book begins with a short poem:

“Aadi niwasi bandhu! Lijiye, yah nij gaurav ka itihaas,

Arya jati ne chal-kaushal se jiska kar diya tha sab nash,

Padhiye ise mitakar man ki sab durbalta, bhram, tam, traas,

Hriday kamal yah khila karega navjivan ka divya prakash”  

 

(O’ my indigenous inhabitant brothers, here is the history of your glory

Which the Aryans had obliterated through deceit,

Read it and get rid of the weaknesses, misconceptions, darkness and the pain of your heart,

Your heart will bloom under the divine light of this new life)

These lines speak of the book’s aim to answer questions like who the Shudras are, what was their past, their literature and their philosophy by delving deep into history. Jigyasu found that the history of the Shudras was hidden in the encounter between the Aryans and the non-Aryans. He wrote that the Vedas and other Brahmin scriptures essentially talk about the struggle between the Aryans and the non-Aryans and hail the victory of the Aryan kings in this struggle. The question that arises is: Who were the people described as Asurs, Daityas, Danavs, Dasas, etc in these texts? Quoting from them, he says that they were Asurs, the devotees of Shiva; their towns and their forts were made of stones; in their state, religion stood on four columns and humans lived a long life.

What brought about the downfall of these highly civilized and cultured Asurs – the ancient non-Aryans? Why has their literature disappeared? Jigyasu writes, “From what we can glean from the Vedas and Puranas about their advanced civilization, it can hardly be said that they were incapable of producing written literature. The inescapable conclusion is that their literature and their history were destroyed. The victors have always been destroying the civilization and history of the vanquished or leaving their imprint on it. The Brahmin pandits have a long tradition of extracting what suits them from the literature of their rivals and destroying the rest by setting it afire or dumping it in water.” There is no doubt that if today, we cannot locate the writings of the Aajivaks or the Charvaks or the out-of-the-world interpretations of misery by Buddha, it is because the Brahmins destroyed the literature of their rivals. What they could not destroy, they distorted. They not only destroyed and distorted the literature of their rivals but also indulged in the character assassination of their opponents. The proponents of Brahmanism argue that the Daityas and the Asurs were of Aryan descent and if their descendants do not survive today it is because they were blasphemous and sinners and hence were destroyed. But Jigyasu doesn’t agree. He counters that even if it is conceded that they were destroyed, “the question is that if Ram, Krishna, Yudhisthira and many other Suryavanshi and Chandravanshi Kshatriyas could survive Parshuram’s 21 rounds of cleansing this Earth of the Kshatriyas, why the descendants of Daityas, Danavs, Asurs and others could not survive the ethnic cleansing.” He writes, “They must have survived the onslaught against them. Experts say that the 80 per cent intermixed touchable-untouchable Shudras are the descendants of the virtuous pre-Aryan Asurs who have been given various names like Dravidians, Damal-Tamal and Kol.” Jigyasu notes that in the Brahmin scriptures, the Shudras have been declared as bastards or offspring of the Anulom-Pratilom unions. He brands this as humiliation of the Shudras and quips, “They gave birth to so many bastards, kept an account of them and then branded them as lowly.”

Jigyasu believes that these people were the ancient indigenous inhabitants of India, whose civilization was superior to that of the Aryans. To substantiate his point, he quotes a shloka from Amarkosh, which says that the Asurs and the Daityas were enemies of Indra and the disciples of Shukra and that they existed before devas like Diti and Suta and disliked the Surs.

Asura daitya daitey danujendrari danvaah

Shukrashishyah ditisuta purvadeva suradvish. (1-12)

Jigyasu says that this shloka is proof that the Asur, Daitya, Danuj, etc inhabited this land prior to the arrival of the Vedic devas and that they did not welcome the Aryans. They were the rulers of this country, and according to Jigyasu, their names were Raja Vikram, Vairochan, Muchkund, Bhairav, Nandak, Andhak, Hiranksh, Hiranyakashipu, Bali, Kapilasur, Sahastrabahu Kartavirya Arjun, Tripur and Jalandhar. Jigaysu says they had a presence in all the three worlds. 

Quoting Brahmapurana (chapter 73), Jigyasu says that the non-Aryan king Bali was a protector of his subjects and a religious man. In his kingdom, drought and immorality were unheard of and there were no ruffians or miscreants. This made the devas restless. They went to Vishnu and pleaded, “You tell us how we can bow our heads before the Daityas?” Jigyasu writes, “This is proof that the Aryan devas were not concerned about righteousness or unrighteousness. It was all a question of race. Otherwise, why should the devas have a problem bowing to Bali Raja, a just, religious and an excellent ruler? Bali was a ruler of the Vedic era. Clearly, even in the Vedic age, the word ‘Aryan’ didn’t mean supreme or the best but referred to the Aryan race.” 

How did these valiant kings suffer defeat? According to Jigyasu, it was not easy for the Aryans to defeat them in a war. So they employed deceit and conspiracies to kill them and usurped their kingdoms. Jotirao Phule has given a detailed description of these campaigns in his book Gulamgiri. According to Jigyasu, Hiranyaksha, the king of the daitya, overran the entire Earth. He was killed by Varaha, an incarnation of Vishnu. Hiranyakashipu was opposed to Vishnu and was killed by a creature who was half lion and half man. That creature was also designated as an incarnation of Vishnu. Virochan was an accomplished scholar and a munificent ruler. Disguised as a Brahmin, the devas sought his longevity in alms from him. Bali attacked the swarga of the Aryans, forcing Indra, the king of the devas, to flee. Bali was also a person who did not say no to anyone seeking anything from him. A deceitful Brahmin deprived him of all his possessions in the name of alms and later killed him. According to Jigyasu, the same stratagem was used to do away with Tarkasur and Tripurasurs. Jigyasu concluded that the Vedic Aryan devas were deceitful, devious and sinful and they had no qualms about completely ruining even the most magnificent rulers to serve their own interests. Jigyasu ends this chapter with the following words: “Thus, instead of accepting the 80 per cent people to be bastards, in keeping with what the Brahmin Smritis say, it would be more honourable and vital to describe them as the progeny of the righteous Danav.” 

Other important evidence 

Jigyasu writes that the crores of forest-dwellers are the descendants of those who were exiled by the Brahmins from the cities and pushed into the forests. According to him, after wiping out the non-Aryan kings, the Brahmins founded states based on the Varna system. “Anyone who dared to open his mouth against the social order established by the Brahmins was subjected to all kinds of hardships and torture and the state power was used to crush them.” He writes, “Those who questioned Aryan hegemony or the brahmanical rituals and practices were ostracized from society by the Kshatriya kings and were exiled from human habitations … such ‘ostracized’ or ‘exiled’ ancient inhabitants of India made forests their permanent abode and never returned to the cities. They included the Gond, Kol, Bhil, Santal, Oraon, Pani and Munda. Those who begged to be allowed to live in the settlements were permitted to dwell on the outskirts of the villages and were mandated to perform tasks involving hard physical labour.” According to Jigyasu, the Aryans and dwijs forced them into unpaid labour and they had no right to seek wages for their work.

Once the hegemony of the Aryans was established, Jigyasu writes, “The Brahmins destroyed the ancient literature and languages and fashioned their own language – Sanskrit. They closed the doors of education to the common man. The Brahmins effaced the history of their rivals, which remained buried for thousands of years. The European scholars, who had reached India after crossing seven seas, dug it out and that was how the history of the great civilization and culture of the non-Aryan Asur saw the light of day. The European scholars took up the onerous responsibility of unearthing the real history of India using disciplines like anthropology, linguistics and geology. They excavated ancient ruins, dug out inscriptions, copper plates, coins and other objects and translated ancient books into English. They prepared catalogues and undertook comparative studies. This endangered the web of lies so assiduously woven by the Brahmins over thousands of years.”

Chandrika Prasad Jigyasu’s first published work, ‘Bharat ke Aadi Nivasiyon ki Sabhyata’

In this connection, Jigyasu refers to an interesting incident. “In 1795, the archaeology department managed to lay its hands on some specimens of the ancient Brahmi script. At the time, there was no one who could read or decipher that script. Major Belford went to Kashi with the specimens and requested the pandits to read them. The pandits deciphered the texts in no time. They told the Englishman, “These were written by the Pandavas when they were moving from one forest to another during their exile. To keep their associates informed about their whereabouts, the Pandavas had etched messages in an unknown script on the walls of caves and on rocks. The pandits even supplied the enquirer with nonsensical meanings of the texts and managed to extort a substantial sum of money from him by showing him a book on ancient unknown scripts.” Thus, the Western scholars, too, had to face many problems in their quest for the real history of India. That was because they were unaware of some well-kept secrets. The Brahmins tried to hinder these scholarly pursuits because they did not want their exploitative and unjust ancestors to be exposed and the oppressed and the enslaved to get an opportunity to walk with their heads held high.

In the third and fourth chapters, Jigyasu lists the characteristics of the indigenous inhabitants based on anthropological and linguistic studies. According to him, the anthropologists have divided the people inhabiting the Earth into four races on the basis of the complexion of their skin – Ethiopic, American, Mongolian and Caucasian. A study of this classification by the scholars has led to startling conclusions. Jigyasu has made a brief mention of these conclusions. According to him, “In modern India, only the residents of Kashmir, Punjab and Rajputana are of the Aryan race. The non-Aryan Dravidians occupy the rest of the country.” He adds, “This country belongs to the Dravidians” and “those who are called Dravidians by the historians are the ones who have been branded Daitya, Danav, Asur, Rakshas, Vanar, Reech and so on in the brahmanical Sanskrit literature and the Vedas address them as Dasyu and Dasa.” 

What language did the ancient inhabitants of India speak? Jigyasu has answered this question with the help of the linguistic studies of Prakrit languages: “Linguists say that there are 13 Dravidian languages, of which four are main – Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam and Kannada.” Quoting Yogechandra Pal, he says that Tamil was the first language to strike roots in India and that the corpus of Sanskrit literature is nothing before that of Tamil literature. Thus Tamil is the language of the Dravidians, which pandits refer to as “Paishachi” or “Pishach Bhasha”. Jigyasu goes on to quote the views of the Mishra brothers: “Prakrit languages are close to the Vedic languages, not to Sanskrit. Scholars of Prakrit say that the language has four versions – Prakrit, Apabhransh, Paishachiki and Maagdhi. Most of the literature is in Apabhransh, which subsequently developed into Hindi. The main dialects of Hindi include Maithili, Maghi, Bhojpuri, Avadhi, Bagheli, Chhattisgarhi, Urdu, Rajputani, Brij, Kannauji, Bangru, Dakshini, Khadi Boli, etc.” Quoting Purushottam Das Tandon, Jigyasu writes, “If we slide down the evolutionary tree of Indian languages, we won’t find Sanskrit at their root. We will first encounter Apabhransh, then Prakrit and then Mool-Prakrit. Sanskrit will be seen as a stream emerging from Prakrit fairly high up on the evolutionary tree. It flows to some distance with a great momentum and ultimately reaches a desert where its water, though not entirely lost, falls into a deep gorge and loses its capacity to flow further.” 

Jigyasu contends that a substantial part of the Sanskrit literature is simply a copy of the literature of the Prakrit languages. In this context, he cites an interesting story in Katha Sarit Sagar, which has been stolen by Pandit Somdev Bhatt of Kashmir from Vrihatkatha, a treatise by Mahakavi Gunadya in Paishachi language. The story goes like this:

“Gunadya went to King Satvahan with this work. But the king humiliated him at the instigation of the Brahmins, following which Gunadya went to a forest and dug up a pit. He lit a fire in the pit and, convinced that the Earth is devoid of respecters of merit, began throwing the pages of his work into the fire one by one after reading them aloud. But the poetry was so enchanting and so sweet, that all the birds and animals of the forest, forgetting even to eat their food, gathered around Mahakavi Gunadya. Meanwhile, the king fell ill. The royal Vaidyas concluded that consumption of contaminated meat was the cause of the king’s ailment. Enquiries revealed that some sadhus were camping in the forest from which the meat was sourced and that all through the day, the sadhus related such mesmerizing tales to the birds and animals that they had stopped eating food and instead wept the whole day. Further enquiries revealed that the sadhus are Mahakavi Gunandya and his disciples, whom the king had humiliated.” 

Jigyasu further writes that having realized the villainy of the Brahmins, King Satvahan went to the forest to seek apologies from the Mahakavi. But by then, the Mahakavi had burnt seven lakh shlokas in the fire. The king managed to save the remaining one lakh shlokas. Katha Sarit Sagar was written in Sanskrit based on these one lakh shlokas. The original epic by Mahakavi Gunandya, in the Pishach language, has been lost forever. Jigyasu says plagiarizing and then destroying the original sources was a regular practice of the writers in Sanskrit.

The gist of Jigyasu’s argument is: “The Vedic Aryans could not make Sanskrit the original language of India, the Muslims could not do the same vis-à-vis Persian and Arabic. The British, too, failed to win that status for English. They all just added their words to the existent language which absorbed the Vedic, Sanskrit, Arabic, Persian and English words. Ultimately, left with no option, the government of independent India had to accept this Hindi (that is, the language of the ancient inhabitants of India) as India’s official language.” 

In the fifth chapter, Jigyasu introduces us to the civilization and the culture of the indigenous inhabitants of India through archaeological findings. In the sixth chapter, he seeks confirmation for his views from the evidence gleaned from the Rigveda. He writes, “Till now, archaeologists all over the world believed that Egypt was the cradle of human civilization. However, the material unearthed in excavations undertaken by the Archaeological Survey of India in Harappa in the Multan district of the Punjab and Mohenjo-Daro in the Larkana district of the Punjab have altered this view.” On the basis of what the excavations have revealed, “The archaeologists have been forced to reconsider their view and concede that the civilization of the people who built these things was different from and older than the Vedic, the Egyptian and the Roman civilizations.” Excavations at Mohenjo-Daro were done under the leadership of Sir John Marshal. According to Jigyasu, Marshal has written: “The civilization which we encounter here is the oldest civilization of an era, the indelible impressions of which are visible on every particle of sand in India. It could attain its final shape due to the incessant labour and endeavour of lakhs and crores of people over a long period of time. Hence, from today, along with Iran, Iraq and Egypt, we will have to count India among the leading ancient birthplaces of civilization – the places where human civilization first sprouted.”

Jigyasu writes, “When Aryans set foot in India, this great civilization had already matured and aged. So, those who say that savage and uncivilized people inhabited this land before the Aryans came to this country and civilized it are liars and nonsensical.” He points to history, which says that the ancient inhabitants of this country were civilized and their civilization was so advanced that it could be compared with any contemporary civilization of the world. According to Jigyasu, the most astonishing finding from the excavations at Mohenjo-Daro was that there was no difference between the dwellings of the king and the subjects in the ancient city. They were identical. This has bewildered the archaeologists. They conjecture that the residents of these cities were “communists”. Jigsayu says that this is not a matter of conjecture. The original inhabitants of this land had a panchayat and republican system in place. As the panchas were selected from among the common man, there was no difference between the ruled and the rulers. 

Jigyasu sought to validate the nature of the ancient civilization of India, as revealed by the excavations in Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa, with what the Rigveda tells us. According to him, several verses of the Rigveda introduce us to the civilization of the ancient Indians. The Rigveda (Fourth Mandal, Shloka 20-30) says:  Thou, Indra, also smotest down Kulitara’s son Sambara, The Dasa, from the lofty hill….For Divodasa, him who brought oblation, Indra overthrew a hundred fortresses of stone. Jigyasu writes, “Shambar is the caste which historians have described as ‘Shabar’ and according to the Ramayana, Shabri, the compassionate mother of the same caste, had offered sweet berries to Ram.” Rigveda (Third Mandal, Sloka 12-5) says, Indra and Agni, ye cast down the ninety forts which Dasas held, Together, with one mighty deed.” Jigyasu says that this shows there were hundreds, even thousands, of Dasa rulers of the cities. And these Dasas were definitely very civilized. Similarly, Rigveda (First Mandal, Sloka 104-4) says: This hath his kinship checked who lives beside us: with ancient streams forth speeds and rules the Hero, Anjasi, Kulisi, and Virapatni, delighting him, bear milk upon their waters. In the same vein, Shloka 22-8 of the Tenth Mandal of the Rigveda says: Around us is the Dasyu, riteless, void of sense, inhuman, keeping alien laws. Baffle, thou Slayer of the foe, the weapon which this Dasa wields. Jigyasu argues that this shows that the ancient inhabitants, the Dasas, had surrounded the Aryans from all sides. The Dasas did not perform yagnas. The Aryans considered them their enemies and urged Indra to destroy them. 

In the seventh chapter, Jigyasu seeks to demolish the contentions of the historians who have spread misinformation about the ancient inhabitants of India. He exposes the well-designed conspiracies of the Brahmins. These conspiracies are evident in the way ancient Indian history is presented in academic curriculums. Jigyasu has divided such historians into three categories. First, those who dismiss the “ancient history of India by simply declaring it ‘pre-historic’. They portray the ancient inhabitants of India as an uncivilized lot, barbarians, Kol, Bhil, Santhal and so on and glorify the Aryans and their victory. As for the Jain-Buddhist era, which exposed the misdeeds of the Vedic Aryans, these historians find ways to sidestep it. With reference to the Muslim rule, they delight in describing the atrocities of the Muslim rulers, who they portray as the sworn enemies of the Indian people. They claim that the Kshatriya kings fought against the Muslim rulers only for protection of Dharma and the wellbeing of the masses and they were totally unconcerned with their own luxuries and enjoyments.”

The second category of chroniclers of the past, according to Jigyasu, assert that Aryans have been living in India since time immemorial and they were created by the Almighty at the dawn of the Human Civilization. They say that the Almighty equipped the ancient forefathers of the Aryans with his wisdom in the form of the Vedas, but some of their unworthy descendants acted against the Vedic stipulations and were declared decadents. According to these chroniclers, the present touchable and untouchable Shudras are the descendants of these fallen Aryans. 

The third category of historians believes that no one can claim the status of original inhabitants of this nation. All Indians are aliens. Such historians contend that before the arrival of Aryans in the Indian subcontinent, “People of two alien races forayed into India. The first were Kols or Kolarians, who had come from Tibet and Tatar and second, Dravidians, who came from the area around the Mediterranean Sea. The Dravidians, making Punjab their base, fanned out to all parts of the country and drove the Kols into the forests and the hills. They mixed with the ancient inhabitants of this land and eventually came to be known as the original inhabitants … Aryans overran the Punjab and pushed the Dravidians southwards. The Dravidians accepted the suzerainty of the Aryans and adopted the religion of the Aryans.” But these historians also say that the Dravidians call the original inhabitants of India “Aadi Dravidians”. Jigyasu quips: “Great! What a sheepish mentality. These historians vomit fire and water simultaneously.” 

Jigyasu goes on to quote the conclusions of some expert historians about the Dravidians, which not only confirm his own views but also throw light on the civilization of the ancient inhabitants of India. He has quoted the views of five such scholars – Jaychandra Vidyalankar, Raghunandan Sharma, Subalchandra Mitra, Manmathnath Roy and Rakhaldas Banerjee. Quoting from Bharatbhumi Aur Uske Niwasi by Jaychandra Vidyalankar, Jigyasu writes, “South India is the original and the only home to the Dravidian dynasty or race. Some say that the Dravidians came from another country and settled in India. But there is no satisfactory evidence to prove this. Some people opine that the people of this race are the original inhabitants of south India. This race was civilized and prosperous in the ancient period.” According to Jigyasu, in his treatise Bharat Ka Itihaas, Manmathnath Roy has written: “The Tamil race was indeed a major civilized race. They used to make weapons from iron. They encased their dead in clay vessels and while burying them, kept food items, clothes, weapons by their side … they were tillers and used to consume wheat, jowar, etc. They were adept in the art of weaving dhotis. They wore gold ornaments, including gold crowns, bracelets, earrings and necklaces. Men sported long beards while the women groomed their hair with great care. They knew the art of writing. The Tamils were good traders. They used small ships to carry out trade with far-off countries, including Babylonia and Syria. They were divided into small states, each ruled by a king. They used copper coins. They had their own religion. They were theists and worshipped Shiva, Bhumi and Nag.” 

Bangalar Itihas is a monumental work of Rakhaldas Banerjee. According to Jigyasu, Banerjee has written, “The shape of the mouth and other body parts in idols of the ancient Sumerian race found among the ruins of Babylon, match those of the Indian Dravidians. When Dravidians captured Babylon, they were more civilized than the Babylonians … the conjecture that like the Aryans, the Dravidians, too, had come to India from central or northern Asia is entirely baseless. The race which ruled the entire stretch from the Bay of Bengal to the Mediterranean Sea before the advent of Aryans in India seems to have been described as Dasyu or Dasa in the Rigveda. The ancient Dravidian race was also the original inhabitant of Ang, Bang and Saurashtra.” 

On the basis of the writings of these scholars, Jigyasu concludes, “The Kol and Dravidian races were original inhabitants of India and not immigrants. When Aryans arrived in India, the Dravidians used to live in cities with hundreds of gates and had an excellent system of governance.” 

Descendants of original inhabitants 

In the last chapter, Jigyasu dwells on the distinguishing features of the original inhabitants and their present population. According to him, 16 features distinguish the original inhabitants from the others. The key ones among them are: they have caste Panchayats; Brahmins have no role in their rituals; Hindu Smritis describe their origin through Anulom-Pratilom marriages; they were not allowed to build pucca houses; they worshipped Nag, Shiva, trees, rivers or Bhuiya Bhawani; their primary occupation is agriculture and making different items from iron, silver, gold, bamboo, stone and wood; they do other productive work; they rear cows, buffaloes, goats, sheep, pig, etc; and they are deprived of higher education. 

In this chapter, Jigyasu has also talked about the population of the original inhabitants in present-day India. He writes, “Our population estimates are based on government figures. But they were doctored. The 1931 Census was conducted during British rule. The census form had 22 columns including religion, family deity, old and new name of the caste, rituals, customs, education etc. This was a momentous, eye-opening exercise that revealed the composition of the Indian population.” The next census was supposed to be conducted in 1941. The British wanted it to be an even more detailed exercise because “they wanted it to become the basis of transfer of power to the Indians. But the exploiter community (Brahmins), who wanted to keep the levers of powers in their hands, created so many hurdles in the conduct of the 1941 census that neither the counting nor the analysis of data could be done.” 

India became free in 1947 and the 1951 census was conducted by the government of independent India. According to Jigyasu, “In this census, the column on caste was deleted and religion, too, was not given much importance. The result was denial of the very existence of the original inhabitants.” 

For the 1951 Census, the government of the Brahmins deployed another stratagem. Driven by its imaginary nationalism, Jigyasu writes, the government drew up a list of professions and tried to find the number of people pursuing each. “Darzi, halwai, bhurji, patwa, lohar, badhai, etc are all different professions. One who stitches clothes is a darzi no matter whether his caste is Khatri or Brahmin and whether his religion is Islam or Christianity or Sikhism. One who makes furniture is a badhai – no matter whether he is a kayastha, a chamar, a Muslim or a Sikh.” Why was this new stratagem adopted? According to Jigyasu, “In 1950, speaking in Parliament, Dr Shyama Prasad Mukherjee said that 90 per cent of the Hindus were Shudras and challenged anyone to disprove him. This sent a shiver down the spine of the savarna Hindus of the ruling party. To ensure that the Census did not throw up figures showing that an overwhelming majority of the Hindus are Shudras, they opposed caste-based counting and instead demanded that people in ‘selected occupations’ be counted.” According to Jigyasu, the Census revealed that India had 23,20,31,784 people pursuing “selected occupations” while the total population of India was pegged at 35,64,29,487. Jigyasu writes that those in these selected occupations were designated as “backward classes” in the report of the Commission for Backward Classes. 

Jigyasu’s final conclusion very interesting: “My contention is that if Dr Shyama Prasad Mukherjee believed that 90 per cent of the Hindus were Shudras and Pandit Nehru, in a speech at Meerut, supported Mukherjee’s claim, it means that among the Christians, Muslims, Sikhs and Buddhists, too, more than 90 per cent are original inhabitants of India. Look for them from this angle and make proper enquiries. You will discover that more than 90 per cent of the Indians are the descendants of the original inhabitants and just 10 per cent are descended from the victor, exploiter races.” 

Jigyasu has ended his book with the following comment: “It is a matter of anguish that the natural owners of the land have been rendered voiceless and forced to lead a life of slavery, deprivation and misery in their own country while the alien infidel victors have become the masters and are making merry. And the helpless are not even allowed to breathe freely.”

Ham aah bhi bharte hain, toh ho jaate hain badnaam,

Woh katl bhi karte hain, toh charcha nahin hotee

(We are given a bad name, even if we take a sigh,

They commit murder but no one talks about it)

Be that as it may, Bharat ke Aadi Niwasiyon ki Sabhyta introduced the Dalit-Backward castes to their history and identity and infused them with new energy to struggle unitedly. 

(Translation: Amrish Herdenia; copy-editing: Anil)

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