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Members of Lingayat and Dalit communities take objection to new textbooks- Mrit News

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‘Lessons on Basavanna and Ambedkar edited to suppress their criticism of caste-hierarchy’

‘Lessons on Basavanna and Ambedkar edited to suppress their criticism of caste-hierarchy’

The way lessons on Basavanna and Dr. B.R. Ambedkar have been edited in the new textbooks have drawn the ire of Lingayat and Dalit communities, respectively, and members of the communities have threatened State-wide protests if the “misinformation” is not removed. This comes close on the heels of members of the Vokkaliga community taking serious objection to statements by Rohith Chakrathirtha, chairperson of the textbook review committee. 

The “Bharatada Mata Pravartakaru” chapter in revised class IX social science textbook has edited out Basavanna’s criticism of caste hierarchy and that he started the Lingayat religion. Panditaradhya Shivacharya Swami of Sanehalli Mutt has written an open letter to Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai in which he has pointed out how the text has been edited. “Lines like Basavanna was a strong critic of caste hierarchy who threw the sacred thread after the ceremony, that he propounded Veerashaiva philosophy based on humanitarian values setting aside all the rituals and hierarchy in the original vaidika dharma, have been removed. Also the new text says he reformed Veerashaiva mata, which is wrong. It had to be that he established Lingayat dharma,” he wrote in the letter, warning the Chief Minister that a State-wide agitation would become inevitable if the text is not corrected. 

In another lesson “Gandhi Yuga mattu Rashtreeya Horata”, text on Ambedkar has been edited, Dalit organisations have pointed out and taken objection to the line: “Sad at the caste system, he quit the Hindu Dharma and accepted Buddha Dharma, which is a part of Indian tradition and had opposed caste hierarchies”, being replaced with: “In his old age, he quit Hindu Dharma and accepted Buddha Dharma that is part of the Indian tradition”.

Dalit organisations have come down heavily on this edit, arguing this is a clear attempt to suppress Ambedkar’s criticism of caste hierarchy in Hinduism. “Dr. Ambedkar was a bitter critic of caste hierarchy, which prompted him to quit Hinduism and convert to Buddhism. We will not allow this text to be taught to our kids. We have already launched an agitation, which will be further intensified,” said Mavalli Shankar, State convener, Dalit Sangharsh Samiti. 

Senior Congress leader K.R. Ramesh Kumar on Tuesday also said either deliberately or by coincidence, the committee is dominated by Brahmins and those opposed to the thoughts of Buddha, Basavanna, and Ambedkar. The textbook review committee has earlier come under criticism for being dominated by Brahmins and social media campaigns opposing the revision have termed the new textbooks as “Brahmin Textbooks” calling upon the government to reject them.

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