Thursday, May 09, 2002

Dalit purohits break upper class bastion in UP

Rahul Shrivastava

Thursday, May 9, 2002 (Lucknow):

A silent revolution is unfolding at the Sanskrit Sansthan in Lucknow. A three-month course in Purohitya or specialists in Hindu rituals has just ended and those who have gained the expertise are set to break the traditional Brahmin hold.

"In this, non-Brahmans and people of the backward castes have also participated. There is a lot of enthusiasm as this has been a secret till now. Knowledge was limited but now they have the opportunity to learn," said Sachchidanand Pathak, Director, UP Sanskrit Academy.

The academy ran these courses through 100 centres in 60 cities. Out of the 3,000 students, more than 40 per cent were Dalits and backwards. Those who trained the participants believe these students showed keener interest.

"For the backward classes, there is a lot of enthusiasm as now they will be able to know the rituals properly, practice them and be part of the mainstream," said a teacher at the academy.

The brahminical hierarchy might smirk at the concept of a Dalit purohit and it will probably be a long way before Dalit purohits become regular practitioners. But right now knowledge is potent power.

"The youth are studying Sanskrit. It is not always possible to get a Brahmin everywhere. If there is no Brahmin in our village, what can we do? Now our boys are learning Sanskrit. Now, we can do pujas and even get marriages performed by them," said a student.

Interestingly, the course run by the academy was funded by the Central Human Resource Ministry. Though the cause might have been creating greater Hindutva consciousness, it has ended up triggering some kind of social engineering.

Source: NDTV, May 9, 2002

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