My Burden Of Guilt

Posted by Gaurav Sneh in Caste, My Story
July 21, 2017

Have I evolved after weeding out the people I once connected with the most? After all, the Gods in them were fighting with those in me.

Even though I was born a Hindu, I was sent to the best Christian school in town. There, I was somehow taught to question my own beliefs. I was so busy trying to ‘reason’ the world around me that I never realised when I stopped believing in what my parents had always believed.

From my parents I had learnt love, and how to put ‘one foot before the other’. However, when I opened the books, I discovered that I had wings.

In the course of my learning and reasoning, the social structure I was born into always seemed unintelligent to me. Moreover, it was time that my ‘evolutionary psychology’ took over, to reset couple of the key arguments and ideas of this structure.

I was drifting away from my family. I knew this was coming – but I didn’t want to admit this or return back to them.

Dating back to several thousands of years, social stratification in India is based upon karma (work) and dharma (duty). It’s clearly unjust and regressive, but has remained unchanged and trapped people in fixed social orders. Rooted in religion, it was essentially a process of placing people into occupational groups.

In the modern era, people have moved ‘within’ and ‘outside’ this order. They have taken over several occupations based upon their interests and talents – and not based on some birth groups. Kshatriyas aren’t warriors anymore – nor are Brahmans the only ones who go to school. Vaishyas can choose a different profession, while Shudras can also hire Brahmans for working. The concept of caste rarely exists when one talks of a call-centre worker, computer programmer or an English teacher.

The crux of the matter is: if the right to equality is opposed by the community itself, then no law can guarantee it in its real sense. When seen in this light, what was the use of the fundamental rights to the African Americans in the US, to the Jews in Germany – and more relevantly, to the oppressed in India? After all, the upper castes have found it convenient to retain and perpetuate the social and religious distinctions for their political and economic advantages.

Why don’t people just evolve?

As India’s middle class grew, we understood that caste was still everywhere. As our society developed more occupation and skills, a complex caste system evolved – in which larger castes were divided into hundreds of smaller sub-castes. Caste rules became more rigid and social events happened within the confines of a particular caste or sub-caste.

According to India’s first caste census after independence, the respondents came up with 4.6 million names of castes, sub-castes, clans and surnames. Additionally, for the millennial generation in India, caste and class have almost become synonymous.

Traditionally, caste is identified by a person’s last name. The social strata to which I belong doesn’t allow loving someone outside my hereditary class. Nevertheless, I did. After all, ‘love’ is the functional product of natural selection in human evolution. It is not a feeling with which children are born. It’s something they learn as they grow up and are taught to be human by their friends and families within the same society.

However, ‘love’ was never my goal. Rather, my goal concerned the fight within myself.

Quietly following this unfair historical practice within the framework of traditional values was suffocating for me. I question the existence of the creator, while my family still expects changeless-ness. My return is impossible, but the burden of guilt (for hurting them) still remains!

According to our society, even though love is wonderful, it is not a necessary or even desirable condition for marriage. Forget love – I would do whatever sounds ‘logical’. But nothing does sound ‘logical’.

I fairly believe that all people, regardless of the conditions into which they were born, have an equal chance to be successful. In my opinion, success is all about how ‘evolved’ or ‘sorted out’ one is. I was sorted enough to think unlike my social parents – and thereby break the unwanted social law.

Love is unconditional, relationships are not. So I lost them. Now that I have no caste, no creed, I am no longer what I am!

Society divided us without realising our inherent harmony. It gave us nation, family, caste and creed. Religion divided us into Hindus, Muslims and Christians – whereas in reality, mankind is one and united. Hence, one who believes in groupism is bound to be unsuccessful. As Aldous Huxley famously said: “The gods are just. No doubt. But their code of law is dictated, in the last resort, by the people who organize society; Providence takes its cue from men.’’

You can’t continue being with ‘low frequency’ people for long periods of time. I am being who I truly want to be, every single day – but it’s actually extremely hard to do so, in practice. Changing your belief system and expanding your vision takes courage. It’s so easy to revert back to mediocre thinking.

It’s easy to feel uncared for, when people aren’t able to communicate and connect with you in the way you desire. And it’s so hard not to internalise that silence as a reflection of your worth!

But the truth is that the way other people operate is not related to you. And it’s okay. It does not show some fundamental failing on your part. It just means that these people are not looking beyond their own worlds. My parents and me live in different worlds now – but still love and miss each other. I have only pitted one against the other!

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Image Source: Gaurav Tyagi/Facebook

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