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indias' 'untouchables' turn buddhist !

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posted on Oct, 14 2006 @ 06:53 AM
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i found this a fascinating story.

tens of thousands of dalits (aka the 'untouchables') and other lower-caste groups in india are to attend a mass conversion to buddhism ceremony as a means to escape their assigned fate under the caste system and stop being treated as the lowest of the low.

the caste system has been around for centuries and assigns people a hierarchical level of social order which they can never rise above. by becoming buddhists, they would be under the protection of anti-discrimination laws and no longer subject to the normal discrimination and prejudice they face by being dalits.

story

good luck to them




posted on Oct, 14 2006 @ 07:12 AM
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that is fantastic. All the best to them.

I have never understood the caste system. Really quite sad when you think about it...well hopefully Buddhism will treat them kinder



posted on Oct, 15 2006 @ 03:45 AM
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a short video about the conversion ceremonies can be viewed here

they are also converting to other religions, not just buddhism.

its sad though that they still have to go to such lengths just to be treated as an 'equal' in a so-called democratic country.



posted on Oct, 15 2006 @ 11:43 PM
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After I posted I wondered if society would accept the change. Like would they treat them differently? I hope so, but surely, those set in the beliefs would not change their view? I truly hope that is not the case.




posted on Oct, 16 2006 @ 12:52 AM
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As far as I am aware, it has been illegal to discriminate against people based on caste in India for decades, so unless I am mistaken on this point, I don't really see how this will help any. Although, my understanding was that, despite the law, the lower castes, like the 'untouchables' are still not treated very well, anyway.

It is an admittedly sad fact of history (and current policy, in some places) that some races and peoples are or have been treated like [insert word meaning 'crap' here] for no other reason than who they were born to be. Blacks in the US and South Africa, Jews in Nazi Germany, the Untouchables in India, Tutsis in Rwanda, and so on and so on.

While I understand the Indian caste system to a certain degree (it is based on heredity), I am curious, is it possible to tell just by looking at somebody what caste they are from? Like, are the Untouchables a lighter or darker hue of skin or have different hair or bigger noses or anything like that? As far as I know, the caste system was based anciently on what kind of jobs people did, like those who tended and cleaned up livestock were amongst the 'untouchables', since they did jobs that were considered unclean in that culture, while people like priests and nobles were way higher up. If two people of different castes married, they and all their descendants became members of whichever of the two castes was lower on the totem pole.

I don't really see how switching religions is going to magically make the bigoted people suddenly have respect for those peoples unfortunate enough to be labeled untouchable, though. A bigot isn't going to change just because a new law comes into effect. As one can well imagine, there are ways to fully comply with the law, while still acting like a bigot. Otherwise, all the bigots would be in jail...



posted on Oct, 16 2006 @ 11:31 AM
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Originally posted by justyc
by becoming buddhists, they would be under the protection of anti-discrimination laws and no longer subject to the normal discrimination and prejudice they face by being dalits.

There are already laws in place eliminating the caste system. People will almost certainly still recognize them as dalits and discriminate against them.
What it might mean is that in a few generations, the descendants of dalits that converted to buddhism and the like might not be recognized as dalits. Though, i would think, that dalits are ranked higher than non-hindu buddhists and christians in the first place no?


dragonsdemesne
While I understand the Indian caste system to a certain degree (it is based on heredity), I am curious, is it possible to tell just by looking at somebody what caste they are from? Like, are the Untouchables a lighter or darker hue of skin or have different hair or bigger noses or anything like that?

In general, and from what I understand as a non-indian, no, the dalits aren't necessarily darker, and the nobles aren't necessarily lighter. But, people in the north, overall, tend to be lighter skinned, and people in the south overall tend to be darker skinned. Also, with the invasion of hte british, its probable that the ruling caste mixed with the british, thus producing a tendency to become lighter skinned amoung them.


There are also native groups in india that are outside of the caste system entirely.

It is interesting to note that people, for millenia, accepted and even enforced their own position within the caste system. I mean, the dalits of a thousand years ago and more could've also converted to buddhism, jainism, etc, but largely didn't.
Even this 'mass conversion' doesn't signal any real death knell to the caste system, these people will be in the minority of dalits.



posted on Oct, 16 2006 @ 12:11 PM
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This is why, on a theological level, I disagree with the overall Hindu religious system. It's not a big deal to me or anything, and I treat people that practice Hinduism with the utmost respect in the person. I also don't speak ill against them, just my disagreement with most aspects of the religious system of Hinduism and the caste system.

polytheism + caste system = 2 ultimate disagreements with me that could never be resolved to the point of me being a practitioner of that religion and caste system. I guess I am glad to not live there and be subject to it..



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