Wednesday 16 August 2017

Book Talk: Riddles in Hinduism

Riddles in Hinduism by B.R Ambedkar is a scathing remark on the well-established tenets of Hinduism. 

The introduction by Kancha Ilaiah sets a good base for the book. He talks about Ambedkar's life, different roles he played and his critique of Hinduism. He also talks about the current context and how ironical it is for the right to appropriate Ambedkar as a Hindu figure despite his hatred for Hinduism.

Ambedkar has delved upon various aspects of Hinduism. The first riddle digs into the question of who is a Hindu? Ambedkar says that there is no definite answer for that owing to the diversity in thoughts and practices among Hindus. He also looks into the characterisation of Rama and Krishna in the popular narrative and questions the sanctity of their actions. He is also critical of Manu's explanation of the Mixed Caste.

The most interesting read for me was the riddle of The Four Varnas: Are the Brahmans Sure of their Origin?. In this riddle, he explains how different scriptures suggest a different origin of the caste system. There is no coherence among Vedas and Shashtras.

Ambedkar's writing is hard hitting. He raises right questions and views them with an objective lens. He has deeply researched all the scriptures and dissected them for us to see their internal contradictions.He makes you question your own deep-rooted prejudices which were fed to you by the popular narrative. No wonder when Maharashtra Government printed this book, Shiv Sena sought a ban. 

In a nutshell, if you have to read one book this year, it ought to be this one.

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