Is it possible to humiliate some as inferior by loving people? (Tamil Book)
Author: Agathian Joseph
Reviewed by: J.N. Manokaran
This is one of the best popular style books in Tamil written for Christian audience to fight a social evil called ‘caste system’. The book is a prophetic voice calling Christians especially Tamil Christians to repent from sin of treating some brothers and sisters as inferior or lower in social status.
The author argues that Hindutva glorifies caste system. He has quoted from Manusmiriti that is written Law on caste system, discrimination, precepts and punishment for violators. The British government tried to bring Hindu Law based on this book. Those statutes are favours Brahmins and other upper castes and totally against the lower castes Shudras. He also brings to focus the incident in Ramayana in which a Shudra ascetic Shambuka for doing penance. Shambuka was slain by Rama and stopped Shambuka from entering heaven. He also points out that the world is run by gods and gods are controlled by mantras; mantras are controlled by Brahmins, hence Brahmins are gods, worthy of worship. Those who believe in caste system derive their belief from such texts.
Tracing historical caste atrocities, the author brings to focus many instances. He asserts the freedom hero Vanchinathan who assassinated Robert Ashe a British official; did it as vengeance against the official for fighting against social evils of caste system. Then he has listed several instances of Dalit oppression in many parts of India, especially Tamil Nadu including few ‘honour killings.’
The author denounces ‘caste system’ among Christians. The Government declares there is no caste system in Christianity, however, in practice it exists. The author lists caste specific congregations in some places, separate cemeteries according to caste, ‘honour killing’ of even Christian couples from different castes, riots between Dalit Christians and other Christians. Using caste surnames by Christians when Tamil Nadu government bans it betrays Christians violating biblical values and following caste system. Christians give an excuse that Dalits do not come to Christ for fear of reservation, in fact, they understand the pains of discrimination among Christians.
The author also condemns those who get ‘reservation’ when practicing Christianity are like Judas who betrayed Christ for thirty pieces of silver. Author opines that Ambedkar rejected Christianity because of caste discrimination among Christian disciples. The author brings a new opinion that many leaders and reformers who opposed caste system like Periyar would not have been in social life, if the Church had genuinely denounced and eradicated caste system. Church’s failure allowed such reformers to emerge.
The author is also concerned that even many Christians not knowing the truth and leaving Christian faith. Signs, wonders and miracles need not be the only basis for people to come to Christian faith. He brings in biblical understanding about Truth rather just about ‘power of miracles.’ The author clearly explains the death of Lord Jesus Christ, the significance and display of God’s love and justice to humanity.
The author refutes arguments like Abraham was also racist. He also explains how marrying people with same faith is important. Quoting the marriages of Rahab, Joseph and Moses, he explains only ‘faith’ was the criteria for such marriages.
The author is pained to see even Christian leaders including pastors fail to teach against caste system. He is saddened to see some even supporting caste system. Explaining harassment and threatens he faces for teaching the truth, he asserts he must preach the truth.
He appeals to Christians to be delivered about of caste mindset and fight against this social evil. The author calls all Christians to defeat the devil of caste system in our generation. He advocated Christians to fill in forms for children as ‘non caste’ or ‘Christian’ in column for caste in schools, which he has done for his own daughter.
There are one or two flaws that are minor. The author could have consulted some people to avoid such blatant mistakes. The author has used Roman Catholic bible terms which may be little difficult for Protestant Christians to understand.
A thought-provoking book. Clarion call for the Tamil Christians to repent from caste system which is Hindutva worldview and come out as models of ‘equality’ which is Biblical worldview. All Tamil Christians should read this book for honest introspection.