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OPINION | Race Between Akhilesh and Mayawati May End up Strengthening Brahminism in Disguise

Akhilesh Yadav and Mayawati with the promise of building big statues of Lord Parashuram, a violent Brahmin icon, are setting themselves against the Phule-Ambedkar ideology.

Akhilesh Yadav and Mayawati with the promise of building big statues of Lord Parashuram, a violent Brahmin icon, are setting themselves against the Phule-Ambedkar ideology.

The two leaders with the promise of building big statues of Lord Parashuram, a warrior Brahmin icon, are setting themselves against the Phule-Ambedkar ideology that Kanshiram popularised among the OBC and Dalits of UP.

After the encounter of wanted gangster Vikas Dubey, followed by the Ayodhya Ram Mandir Bhumi Poojan, politics in Uttar Pradesh has been rapidly taking sharp turns. A competition has begun to own and build new statues in the state without any historical understanding and socio-political retrospection.

The current debate over the statue of Lord Parashuram is a classic instance for this. During the tenure of the Samajwadi Party (SP) government, Akhilesh Yadav had announced the building of a 108-foot statue of Lord Parashuram in Lucknow, but no initiative was taken. His government observed Parashuram Jayanti (birthday of Parashuram) as a state holiday.

Quite deliberately, the holiday was changed to a working day by present chief minister Yogi Adityanath, who comes from a Kshatriya background. Yogi has been a staunch Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) supporter with a Kshatriya bent of mind. But, the discussion over this change conveys differently that it was not for the convenience of governance but to suppress the Brahmins and keep them under Kshatriya control. Further, Brahmins in RSS believe that Yogi, being from a Kshatriya background, took this audacious decision in his own community's interest. They also think that instead of arresting Dubey, he was deliberately killed.

Against this background, Congress leader Jitin Prasada started organising Brahmins against Adityanath. Now both Akhilesh Yadav and Mayawati are vying for Brahmin votes by building statues of the Brahmin deity whose portrait always has an axe on his shoulder.

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Several Hindu epics narrate the tale of Brahmin Parashuram who killed many Kshatriyas. In fact, he had killed numerous kings who hail from the Mulavasi/Sudhra clans and lineages, not particularly from the Kshatriyavarna. According to Varnadharma, kings must necessarily be from Kshatriyavarna but one can find a lot many kings who were non-Kshatriyas. This is why Brahmins, Vysyas and Sudhras ruled kingdoms in epics, and even in history during ancient and medieval times.

The Kshatriyas always believed that only they should rule or become kings. However, many Shudras were given the Kshatriya status by Brahmins. But, in case of priesthood, only Brahmins were/are entitled to become priests in any temple. It’s an essential privilege for them to control the minds of other varnas through spiritual fascism.

Spiritual inequality lays a strong and solid foundation to make other people as permanent slaves to Brahminism. As a result, Kshatriyas also never aspired for priesthood in temples like other varnas. But Brahmins did hold all sorts of positions, from priest to king to minister to military admiral to a sanyasi. Perhaps Adityanath becoming a yogi may not be acceptable to UP Brahmins.

Kshatriya, as a varna, also has disadvantages in performing choice-based labour as they have been spiritually prescribed with specific duties related to ruling and governance only. However, the principles of varnadharma mentioned in epics are different from the real historical accounts. Therefore, it is time to deconstruct or reconstruct its themes and sanctions in consonance with the history, culture, spirituality and socio-political nexuses.

Parashuram is the 6th avatar of Lord Vishnu and referred to as Jamadagnya Ram, Bhargava Ram, Rambhadra, etc. He was born to the Brahmin sage Jamadagni and his wife Renuka, daughter of King Reṇu, and also considered as one of the seven immortals (chiranjeevis). Interestingly, he appears both in the Ramayan and Mahabharat. Thus, I feel that Parashuram might not be a single person. Rather, it may be a position or designation intended to hold the power and authority of Brahmins over Kshatriyas and other rulers.

It will be clear with the story of Kartavirya Arjuna's fight with Ravan and Parashuram. Kartavirya Arjuna was a powerful king who used to rule Mahishmati kingdom from Ujjayani capital – located in present day Madhya Pradesh.

Epics reveal that Kartavirya Arjuna is Kshatriya and belongs to the ‘Haihaya’ lineage. However, Kartavirya Arjuna was killed by Parashuram in a battle that took place for a celestial cow called Surabhi. According to oral history, Yellamma is the mother of Parashuram. She is also known as Mahurya as her famous temple located in Mahur of Maharashtra and this temple is considered as one of the shakti peethas.

Akhilesh Yadav and Mayawati with the promise of building big statues of Lord Parashuram, a warrior Brahmin icon, are setting themselves against the Phule-Ambedkar ideology that Kanshiram popularised among the Shudra/OBC and Dalits of UP.

Akhilesh Yadav, being a young Yadav-OBC leader and Mayawati, as an experienced Dalit chief minister, may feel that it is a strategic move to lure the Brahmin vote bank in the coming Uttar Pradesh assembly elections scheduled for 2022, but it will certainly be an ideological disaster for OBC/Dalit/Adivasi politics.

This categorically shows a lack of historical and philosophical understanding among the present day Shudra/Dalit leaders who represent OBCs and Dalits in a big state like UP and had ruled here earlier.

In fact, they are running after power politics which never offers power to the powerless and never annihilates the social and caste inequalities but strengthens Brahminism in disguise. Thus, it is time to recall the words and stands of Mahatma Phule and Ambedkar to understand what intrinsically Parashuram was and is to disseminate the subaltern ideological spectrum.

In his ‘Slavery’, Phule wrote an open letter to Parashuram by inviting him to join the struggle against colonial rule instead of engaging in mediation in the Himalayas.

Parashuram was absent but Parashuramites were present with good education and books while most of OBCs/Dalit/Adivasi were busy with their axes to cut the trees in order to make the land ready to cultivate. Ambedkar fought for his people with a pen and that pen penned the Indian constitution and changed our life considerably. Mayawati who built many statues and Ambedkar kshetras now wants to build a statue to Parashuram and undo what she has done so far.

The successors of Parashuram are not for change and decided to bring back their ‘Axe-Parashu Rajya’ and ‘Arrow Ram Rajya’ by eliminating so many modern Kartavirya Arjuna and Shambukas. Let Akhilesh Yadav and Mayawati be aware of the Shudra/Dalits who do not like these retrograde steps.

Disclaimer:Ram Bheenaveni Shepherd is an Assistant Professor, Sociology, Osmania University Hyderabad. He is an expert on Epic history and the Indian social process. Views expressed are personal.