Kancha Ilaiah

Kancha Ilaiah (born 5 October 1952) is the chairman of the political science department at Osmania University, a social activist and author. He is a Buddhist and a major figure in the ideological movement against the Indian caste system. His position is often called anti-Hindu, as noted by his critics. His field of work is in Dalit-Bahujan (Scheduled Caste and Backward Caste) movement. He is a prolific writer in English and Telugu.

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  • Hinduism has destroyed all positive elements that normally exist in a human being. During the post-colonial period their energies were diverted to manipulate education, employment, production and development subtly. Their minds are poisoned with the notion that productive work is mean and that productive castes are inferior. No ruling class in the world is as dehumanized as the Indian brahminical castes. They can be rehumanized only by pushing them into productive work and by completely diverting their attention from the temple, the office, power-seeking, and so on.
  • Hinduism is a religion of violence. All Hindu gods killed their enemies and became heroic images. This is the only religion in the world where the killer becomes god. Whom did they kill? From Brahma to Krishna, those who were killed were Dalitbahujans. Now these images and the stories and narratives and everything is out there in the civil society. Now, because of this, the consciousness of worshipping the killer or worshipping violence did not give any space for human rights. So my question is the human rights discourse must start with an anti-warrior position.
  • Hinduism always used violence as creed. For Hinduism, for Hindu dharma, resolving of a conflict is only by killing. There is no other discourse. Debate is not there. You have to kill the enemy. Whereas Buddha believed in discourse and resolving the conflict. So in a system where you have the two streams of thought, debate and discourse, human rights and anti-human rights, even the left has to take that historical tradition and examine its potential and use it for its propaganda systems. It is in this context that I have been saying that there is no use if you simply borrow concepts from the West. Christianity has a different ethic; it was an ethic of sacrifice. Christ's crucifixion is a symbol of sacrifice, it is not a killing symbol. The lamb is a productive symbol.
    • "The State of Dalit Mobilization : An Interview with Kancha Ilaiah" in Ghadar Vol. 1, No. 3 (26 November 1997)
  • I have a feeling that if a Dalitist state gets established it will be a far better Socialist model for the world than the other models which were already established because Dalitbahujan society was never so religiously fundamentalist, there is no such constructed religion like that, it has been much more spontaneous, and they have lived for such a long time with that kind of a thinking. So from that to a kind of conscious educated Dalitist socialist system, I think that the productive forces would get released a thousand times, and equality will come much better but it should be under Dalit leadership. Now if under Dalit women leadership if a Dalitist state and society is established I think we will see a very bright future for the whole country.
    • "The State of Dalit Mobilization : An Interview with Kancha Ilaiah" in Ghadar Vol. 1, No. 3 (26 November 1997)
  • Yes, I hate Hinduism. Hinduism is not ours, it is against us. If we have to become Hindus, the Brahmins will have to change the entire religious texts, our food habits, our gods and goddesses and images. I am angry at the Hindu gods.
    Look at the images of Hindu gods. They wield weapons. We read that Hindu gods killed our own ancestors. How can I worship the killers as divine? What kind of a religion is it? There are three major religions — Buddhism, Christianity and Islam. These major religions were constructed by prophets who sacrificed and struggled in life for people's liberation. All these three religions never said that the larger sections of their people were born from the feet of God.
  • Just as the Brahmins are shouting Hinduise India, we should shout Dalitise India. Shout that we hate Hinduism, we hate Brahmanism. Capture the Hindu temples by expelling the Brahmins from them. … The hated must hate. They must become powerful and organised. I want to create anger.
  • In ancient and medieval India, no Hindu priest would subjugate himself to the rule of law. That was the basic reason why no Hindu institution could evolve a spiritual democratic culture within the religion. We are now living in a borrowed system of political democracy.
  • Reform your texts, reform your history. Say leather is not untouchable to God, the barber's knife is not untouchable to God. Take a Dalit priest and a Brahmin priest to celebrations. Do these symbolic things. Let them (high-caste Hindus) come and sit with Dalits in their huts and eat with them
  • For centuries the so called goddess of education was against the dalit learning, reading and writing in any language. She was the goddess of education of only the high castes — mainly of the brahmins and baniayas.
  • The dalit's main agenda is not reservations. My way of equality is English education. Even if 10% of our children got English education, the intellectual field would have changed. This country would have changed. My hope is education, not reservation — and I emphasize, English education
  • A careful reading of the Gita would show anyone that it fully supports the enslavement of Shudras and OBCs, a process initiated by the Rig Veda itself. Rig Veda formulated the caste structure in Purusha Suktha and the Gita upheld it.
  • Large number of tribes, Dalits and Backward Castes have a historical food culture of beef. The anti-beef agenda has been in the Brahmanical fold. It began with the South Indian Brahmins and then spread to the North and became part of the Gandhian movement. My question is, how can the state impose a certain food culture on people? The state has nothing to do with food. They can give certain food to people depending on the market, but cannot impose that you can or cannot eat certain food items. If beef eating is bad for Brahmins or Baniyas or certain upper castes, then the state is imposing that on the rest of the society. So the state is actually becoming a theocratic state.
  • If the God believed by a person doesn’t have democratic values, where will this person get those democratic values from? In fact, shouldn’t they explain why they create such Gods who are violent, undemocratic and anti-women?


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