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The Untouchables!!

Who are the untouchables??

Over the centuries ,there have been many debates, interpretations, conflicts about touchable and the Untouchables; However, decisions and rituals observed never attempted to arrive at a consensus to mitigate change in some one’s distressing situation.

This write-up is on the current situation ,which is trying to bring the entire humanity under only one parameter-“HUMAN BEINGS”. (even if this thinking is felt to BE ONLY temporary)

That, to achive shift in the perception, we had to wait for this date is an irony as well as a grim truth!! Yet , there appears no other way except to accept the truth. People from diverse society have reached that point of shift , willingly or otherwise.

My personal experience a few days back;

I walked over to the foot path vegetable vendor; He shouted ! “hello! Hang on, stay there !Stop right there in the circle! Don’t cross it! What do you need, how much? Tell me, I will give.”

For a moment, I was taken aback and shocked at the tone and attitude of the vendor!

“Alas!! Am I Untouchable!!??!”

Although it took a moment for me to come out of the irritation, I was immediately satisfied with his behavior in the current situation!

Even after reaching home the same incident totally preoccupied my mind.

Yes! During our school days, when we returned from school , tired and out of energy, grand ma or Mother would either force or direct us with a loving order; With an unwilling mind, we would wash hands, feet, face and change our dress. Each one of us were provided with our own plates and tumblers. Before serving food , it was mandatory to wash hands and use our own plate and tumbler. Later, we had to wash the plate and tumbler and keep it in the designated place for next use.

Did WE!! Who had been accustomed to such unlimited good childhood practices fall prey to the so called modern practices & etiquette, as feelings crept in making us feel ashamed of continuing the age old practices and to dump them under the lame excuse of unscientific, illogical, blind rituals?. Our so called busy schedule further justified our feelings and made us to feel to that we are modern.

Every modern parent took pride in the fact that , by not imposing family traditions they have been more liberal with their children and have afforded them with the utmost freedom. always !

However, the feeling of self-defeat was very much within us, as we knew the values of the old good practices but could not impose it or pass on to the next generation due to our so called busy schedule and short of time to explain and answer their queries to their satisfaction.

It really is a period, that cannot be identified with a definite accurate timing!! Because, it is not a change that was accustomed or adopted overnight.!!!

It is a diluted ritual adopted over a period of time slowly but steadily.

But! We had a hard-hit on all these feelings forcing to relook and re think; . . ”No! Our forefathers had so much scientific forethoughts but may be they did not want to explain it adequately nor entertain any question/reasoning; Probably they wanted us to learn and explore on our own as we grew.

But, when did we start realising this? this thought process we can surely fix the accurate time frame!!!

Yes, that accurate time started recently , when the so called or at least portrayed as an evil called invasion of CORONA – the deadliest virus started spreading across the Globe.

Now the realisation started!!!

While the visual and print media devoted more time on this pandemic, the social networking sites were abuzz with the same corona pandemic but strikingly started recalling our forgotten and given up old practices which were the same as anti-corona protective measures now advised
Thus, Singing and praising the practices of our ancestors!

Suddenly groups started discussing on the old given up practices and exchanging their views.

Has this made us to feel guilty again? When we are reminded repeatedly about the same age old practice/mere rituals by our own children through distant education ( in the sense they are away from us geographically and advise and insist us to follow the newly prescribed anti corona practices during their repeated online interactions). This is a question to which we must answer ourselves honestly!

From the sudden enlightenment , the blur of the forgotten ritual – the confusion, the ambiguity of identifying the so called touchable and the Untouchables! is now cleared.

As a result – we are untouchables to many,and for us they are more so…. (it is a totally reciprocal situation)

All right! How is this going to end and where?

As our Kannada renowned poet DVG said:

hosa chiguru haLE bEru kUDiralu mara sogasu|
hosa yukti haLe tatvadoDagUDe dharma||
RuShivaakyadoDane vijnaanakale mELavise|
jasavu janajIvanake — maMkutimma

A blunt translation of above verse is :

”old roots and new shoots enhance the elegance of a Tree ;
Righteous practice is a culmination of Old principles with new approach ;
The integration of Science with old wise words enhances the value of the life “.

When we adopt this principle into our life style and move forward, it’s not just CORONA, even any most feared epidemic shall surrender to us. There is no doubt in it.

But, such a decision should not be a temporary one, it should rather be an integral part of our changed lives! Only then ,surely the victory against any such disease is ours!

ಕೋಮಲತನಯೆ

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Illustration by Radhika Krishna

Read the original kannada version here

Lakshmi Simhan ಕೋಮಲತನಯೆ

32 Replies to “The Untouchables!!

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  4. A timely article yet with a harsh title. There is not much in the article to actually substantiate the heading. Being clean is definitely scientifically declared as good practice. But considering others “Untouchables” is cruel for any society. If the practice of cleanliness was explained and taught to others, the same would be appreciated by the society even in those days. Whereas, it became a dogmatic principle where certain groups/clans of society would have such practices and others were viewed very cruelly which is not something that we can be PROUD of.

    The heading of the article is a pointer to glorify that act of the “Haves” and to substantiate the practices that the “Have-nots” were not even made aware of in those days. It is very clearly pointed out in the article itself that even family members were not correctly explained as to the importance of “Madi aacharane” and they were left to understand themselves. Hence, to some extent there was a failure in education system of those days.

    In a society where reasoning and logic is not passed on to the next generation, there is every chance that the new generation would be deprived of the knowledge of their elderly or either they would be forced to just follow without even questioning them, When there is no questioning or seeking of answers, then coming generations who are born become illogical and meek people and later then become regressive in their thoughts.

    I personally feel that our previous generation were snubbed and never were given real reasons for any of the practices. That way, younger people are better. They get exposed to the knowledge from various means and do try to find their answers in very short time. In case the young ones are advising us to follow the same old practices with a slight modification, it is a real welcome.

    Subject is good. Very Relevant. But the Heading could have been given a better thought in my personal opinion, for the reason being the subject is just regarding maintenance of cleanliness and how it could help our society as a whole. We should not glorify the practice of “Untouchability” and justify that there was huge reasoning behind that practice. At any point of time i.e Past, present or future , such acts have never been considered as “Dharma”.

    “Aatman” is pure and the direction of moksha would never see these practices as a pride. In kannada they say “Appa haakida Alada marakke netada baradu”. A rough translation means, just because the banyan tree was planted by forefathers, we should not hang ourself to that. To glorify all acts of our ancestors may not also be right. Hence, in my opinion, the stress should be on the “Lifestyle of Cleanliness & practice” and not on the cruel word “Untouchables”

  5. The untouchables.

    The article on the untouchables narrated excellently by Komalthaneye with reference to beliefs, forethoughts of our forefathers and their orthodox principles and rituals observing from Vedic periods to as of date.

    Rituals(madi) is one of the important means to perform prayers of God. In other words, madi includes the cleanliness which enhance the physically strengthens and to ensure to prevent diseases particularly like Corona.

    The rituals have been followed by the have- ones and have-nots deprived of from rituals due to economic condition which tends to upper caste and lower caste underlines disparity between two segments of touchables and untouchables .

    However, our Spiritual gurus prominently Purandara Dasaru, kanaka Dasaru, Basaveswararu, Allama prabhu are preached to the society through their Kheerthnas and vachanas about discrimination. Our puranahas describes Lord Shiva praised for innocent Beda’s true bhakhti.

    Our preamble of constitution highlights about the “Fraternity” which symbolises we are all one ( consensus )despite of we are all have different beliefs among us. People who having broader spectrum of knowledge and experiences may not be any barriers.

    Ultimately, in my opinion, the tag untouchables is only social stigma.
    I hope our Indian culture integrates we are all one having consensus.

    I’m grateful to writer and thinker (Kamalathaneye).

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