The 26 position papers prepared by the committee constituted by the Government of Karnataka to guide the way for the implementation of the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 have come out. The last to be published in the series was the article on “Knowledge of India”, which is also the key to understanding the orientation of the other articles.
This position paper aggressively examines the program to reaffirm the Brahminical ethos, intellectual streams and social order as the only “authentic” Indian knowledge system. And this campaign is portrayed as the civilizational project of decolonizing the Indian mind. Even though NEP-2020, which had 19 paragraphs on promoting Indian knowledge systems, hinted that this “Indianization” would come mainly from Vedic and Brahmanical literature, it also mentioned the Buddha and Mahavira in passing. But the position paper makes no such claim.
This re-Brahmanization is presented as “Bhartiyata, Bharatiya Dharma Parampara” against the systems introduced by “the invaders and colonizers”. This is achieved by promoting Brahmanical literature, tradition, personalities, authors and history as “Indian” and equating Sanskrit with “Bharatiya”. Sanskrit” (Indian culture).
Thus, it is stated that Sanskrit or Saṁskṛta is the “language in which the overwhelming majority of Indian knowledge is available” and the article recommends that Sanskrit should be taught from early childhood as it will help students understand the concepts of “Knowledge of India”. ‘. It is also suggested that Sanskrit should become the compulsory third language.
No in-depth study is necessary to trace its inspiration in the doctrines of Hindutva. In The essence of HindutvaVD Savarkar says:
“Hindus are bound not only by the bond of love we bear to a common homeland and by the common blood that runs through our veins and keeps our hearts beating and our affections warm, but also by the bond of homage which we return to our great civilization – our Hindu culture, which could not be better rendered than by the Sanskriti word for this language, Sanskrit, which has been the chosen medium for the expression and preservation of this culture, of all which was the best and most to be kept in the history of our breed. We are one because we are a nation, a race and have a common Sanskrit.
No monopoly on knowledge
No one can deny that the ancient Indian civilization produced great indigenous knowledge systems in many fields. Students should be aware of this. But knowledge production is a historical and collective enterprise where the confluence of different knowledge systems leads to new or improvised knowledge. This process is not unidirectional or devoid of vested conflicts of interest.
The first beneficiaries of this human labor are the social elites. This is evident in the history of all countries including India. The history of democracy also shows the resistance of social elites against the democratization of knowledge. In India – before and after, Brahminical elites were the source of such controls. While Indians should be proud of the accomplishments of their ancestors – despite these obstacles – these position papers want students to appreciate the obstacles as benefactors.
Knowledge is also the reflection of the synthesis of different cultures and no culture can claim a monopoly. But these positions privilege Brahmanic wisdom as innate and inert and deny the contribution of other currents in the “Indian”. Thus, the pronouncements not only blatantly erase Islamic influences on many disciplines, but also systematically undermine non-Brahmin sources of knowledge like the Buddhists, Jains and many other Shramanic knowledge systems.
The position paper derives the meaning of Indian not from the India described in the constitution but from the Vishnu purana, Sri Ramachandra and Bankim Chandra. The “Viṣṇu Purāṇa (2.3.1) defines Bhārata as the land north of the oceans and south of the Himalayas”, he says while “the idea of Bhārata which really resounds in the hearts of his children is that pronounced by Śrī Rāmachandra as ” [Janani Janmabhumschya Swarad Hi Riasi] and reaffirmed by Bankim Chandra Chatterjee as … the idea of Bhārata-mātā”.
India’s lack of understanding of such cultural idioms is blamed on the decades of educational systems that have been followed, “which, under the guise of secularization, have systematically brought our impressionable minds into the zone of rootlessness and ignorance. achievements of their own ancestors.
The position paper also picks up the age-old RSS narrative of Indian history when it states: “For a nation that has been colonized for almost a thousand years, it is only in the recent past that it has awakened to the concept of decoloniality.
Thus, in one fell swoop, it authenticates the Hindutva narrative that Muslim rule is seen as the colonization of Hindu India along with British colonization. Second, by implying that those who arrived in India before these thousand years are the “first inhabitants” of the region, it also attempts to erase the Aryan migration debate. Thus, decolonizing also means de-Islamizing – for which the best way is to re-Brahmanize.
Thus the Indianization of history from early childhood (3-6 years) is envisaged through the teaching of Sanskrit, where Sanskrit substitutes for words “can be captured and taught are animals, birds, flowers, professions, verbs, family” so that students become familiar with the language that carries Indian culture.
Even in other secular fields like economics, geography, botany and administration – where there are many pioneers and contributors from non-Brahmin communities – the suggestion in the position paper is to learn from texts like Arthaśāstra, Pañca mahābhūta, tridoṣa theory, development, etc. He adds :
“The Idea of Good Governance from Śānti Parva of Mahābhārata, Lessons in Corporate Governance from Arthaśāstra of Kauṭilya, Defense and War, Concepts of Indian Knowledge Management, Administration and Social Life under Vijayanagara [can be incorporated].”
He also mentions the Gupta Empire, during which the Varnas degenerated into the most oppressive caste system, as having helped “shape the Bhāratīya civilization (intellectual achievements and social organization; social stability which gave rise to harmony , peace and prosperity for a period of at least three centuries)” and that it has not been sufficiently highlighted.
While he cites the invasion of Muslim rulers as the cause of the decline of Buddhism and the census introduced by the British as the reason for the proliferation of the caste system, he absolves the Manusmriti of propagating any social stratification based on birth. The position paper on social science relies heavily on the writings of S.N. Balagangadhara as its source, who completely rejects the existence of the caste system under Hindu rule.
The position paper also asserts that the Devalaya-centric school system that prevailed before the British had no caste-based discrimination and that in future the Devalaya premises could also serve as a “great center of education for multiple disciplines ranging from art, sculpture, architecture to cultural practices”.
Interestingly, the position paper says the student should develop a critical mind and should encourage “a questioning attitude and not just accept everything the textbooks say as infallible truth”, it calls the Pythagorean Theorem, a apple falling on Newton as “fake news”.
But the position paper in the same vein demands acceptance of everything written in the Smritis, including Manusmriti and Puranas, and calls any criticism of the oppressive Brahmanical social order a “colonial construct”.
In discussing the promotion of the “Indian way” of understanding history, the document calls for intellectual bravery to speak the truth about “events such as the genocide of the Malabar Hindus (known as the Moplah riots), the genocide of the Maharashtrian Brahmins, the Genocide and the Exodus of Hindus from Kashmir” and they should be taught in traditional school textbooks. Although these three events are important, the Brahminical bias is evident when the massacres of Dalits by savarna Hindus are not even mentioned.
Additionally, the position paper on health and wellbeing states that eggs and meat should not be served to children as they lead to “lifestyle disorders”.
Thus, decolonization serves as an alibi for the re-Brahmanization of the Indian spirit. Any curriculum based on these stances inculcates hatred towards non-Hindus and promotes the internal enslavement of non-Hindu Brahmins since all Brahmins would be taught not only as great and virtuous but also “authentically” Indian.
Author Bhanwar Megwanshi unveils new RSS strategy in his book I Couldn’t Be a Hindu: A Dalit’s Story in RSS. Brahmanical supremacy is promoted not by directly denigrating non-Brahmins as inferior, but by advocating all things Brahmanical as superior. It is for this reason that Ambedkar referred to Brahmanism as internal colonialism. There is no decolonization without de-Brahmanization.