Friday, 26 October 2012

Bahunbaad: Why, When and How this term is coined ?

I am not a student of social science neither I worked in this field. I am pure student of medical science and had worked in the development sector related to public health across the nation. However, I have been active in taking part and commenting about social issues relating to socio-cultural discrimination, caste and gender based discrimination,  federalism and  state restructuring that are raising by Nepalese youths and people in different social networking sites such as facebook, LinkedIn and else. Initially when I saw the word "Bahunbaad or Brahminbaad (Brahminism) I was bit cynical because I never ever heard such term in my schooling and life till 2010. Then I tried to find out the meaning of Bahunbaad, searched, and found that the term "Bahunbaad" was coined by Late Ganeshman Singh of Nepali Congress Leader and popularised by a renowned Nepali anthropologist, Dor Bahadur Bista, who is considered The 'Father of Nepalese Anthropology' [1, 2].

In the Kantipur newspaper article written by Narayan Manandhar it says, "The fundamental problem with Nepal’s bureaucracy is the prevalence of bahunbad, a concept churned out by Late Ganesh Man Singh and popularised by Dor Bahadur Bista’s Fatalism and Development. Chicanery and chauvinism are hallmarks of bahunbad. It rests on family ties and kinships. There is close correlation between bahunbaad and corruption in Nepal. The Nepali Congress has been almost annihilated by bahunbad, while the UML is another party ruined by it." This has been quoted as well in the book written by an anthropologist, Dor Bahadur Bista titled "Fatalism and Development: Nepal's Struggle for Modernization" in 1990 [2, 3]. 

Nepal’s socio-cultural diversity emanates from various races, several religions, numerous national/ethnic/ caste groups, around 103 languages, and regional-cultures according to the national Census 2001.  In terms of mobilization and self identification, they can be broadly divided into four major identity groups. The indigenous nationalities consist of more than 93 Tibeto-Burman linguistic groups from mountains, hills, and the Tarai.  The dalit mostly consists of hill and Tarai dalit.  Madhesi consist of Tarai Hindu caste groups, Muslims, and indigenous nationalities.The caste hill Hindu elite (CHHE), consisting of Bahun, Chettri, Thakuri, and Sanyasi, have dominated Nepal since its conquest in 1769 [4]. Though a numeric minority, the CHHE has effectively excluded other social-cultural groups from the state apparatus.  Gender inequality is also rampant across the country.       
  
Perhaps the public role of Bahuns in defining political and social norms is the reason behind identification of Bahunbad or Brahminbad (Brahminism) as cause of various social ills in Nepal [3].  Here it should be pointed out that dalit and janajatis do not show as much anger against other CHHEs: Chhetri, Thakuri, and Sanyasi. 

However, in my understanding Bahunbaad practice and mentality we can find in other castes and ethnic groups as well but it is more prevalent in Brahmin compared to Chhetri and other castes because Brahmin who got an opportunity to be advisors and priests of former Kings and rulers in Nepal got the opportunity using the tactics of the Law of Manu (Manusmriti) to keep their status superior as mentioned in the Law of Manu. Interestingly, I came to know that in the context of Nepal during king Jaysthiti Malla dynasty in 14th century hiring 5 learned Indian Brahmin written the Nepal first code of conduct, Manav Nayay Shastra that had incorporated the Law of Manu "Manusmriti" verses and accordingly PN Shah and Janga Bahadur Rana had followed the law/rule and regulations slightly revising by Janga Bahadur Rana in his time written the Nepal National Civil Code of Conduct (Muluki Ain) in 1854 AD that had further incorporated religious verses on it. 

But this does not mean that indigenous (Janajati) can blame to all Brahmin and Chhetri. We should not generalize saying that all Brahmin/Chhetri are bad and all Janajati, Dalit and deprived communities people are good because poor Brahmin and Chhetri who are victims of cleaver and cunning Brahmin and Chhetri will also be suffered and that is not fair. Better not to generalize and would be wise to identify who were the advisors and priests of former kings and rulers that had promoted such ill practices and heat, beat and kick them out so that Nepal can be made prosperious nation. Well wishers of Nepal land and its people must be united and find out the real culprits that had push Nepal almost 100-200 years back in the development of both people's mind and infrastructure then the western world and Japan.


I came to know that in the context of of India Bahunbaad had been massively practice before and during Siddhartha Gautam Buddha era. They used to say Brahmanism religion. Hindu is the new religion coined after Brahamanism religion and the name Hindu was given by invaders in India. Therefore it is considered adulterated religion. Original religion was Sanatan Dharma followed by Vedic religion. It is said that: 


"Brahmanism is not the oldest of Indian religions but it represents an important starting place for the understanding of Indian philosophy and religion. Hinduism grows out of Brahmanism, and accepts most of the basics of Brahmanism, while Buddhism and Jainism are reactionary—they adopt some of the ideas of Brahmanism, yet they reject much of it, and so in a way they too are an outgrowth of Brahmanism." [5]


Therefore, from this also can be said that Bahunbaad "Brahmanism" is not the new term. It is almost 2500 years old term used in ancient India for the supermacy of attitude and practice used by Brahmin priests. 


But having said this I don't think it is wise to use the term Brahmanism because in the context of Nepal the Law of Manu incorporated in Nepal's code of conduct had promoted hegemony and monopoly of certain grrou of ruling mindset of people. Therefore, it would be wise to use the term "Manubaad" (Manuism) rather than "Bahunbaad" (Brahmanism) so that innocent and ignorant Bahun community members would not feel hurted and sad and bad since manu ideology is prevalent in almost all Nepalese community members.

References
1. Don Messerschmidt. 2009. Dor Bahadur Bista: The Father of Nepalese Anthropology http://www.ecs.com.np/feature_detail.php?f_id=84

2. Narayan Manandhar, 2011. "Between devil and sea"
 http://www.ekantipur.com/2011/10/14/oped/between-devil-and-sea/342161.html

3. Bista, Dor Bahadur. 1991. Fatalism and Development: Nepal's Struggle for Modernization. 
Hyderabad: Orient Longman.

4. Lawoti, Mahendra. 2005. Democracy, Domination and Exlusionary Constitutaioal Engineering Process in Nepal, 1990-Chapter II, accessed from http://homepages.wmich.edu/~mlawoti/documents/PDF%20Docs/ExclusionaryConstitutionalEngineering.Lawoti.CPDN.Sage.pdf

5. Brahmanism accessed from http://www.gossamerstrands.com/Asia105/lecture1.htm   


7 comments:

  1. King ruled Nepal for 204 years then Ranas Ruled ..and its not because of Brahmin and chhetri . when it came to throw down Ranas and Kings it was always Chhetri and brahmin in the fore front..and I dont agree on the meaning of Janajati in Nepal ..How can a sherpa who came to Nepal just about 300 years ago be janajati and other Brahmin and chhetri who has been living here since thousand years not. This is bullshit.

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    1. Raja ra Rana le rule garda thekdar bahun xetri thiyo bhanne ma bujhxu. Ra Raja Ra Rana le Bahun xetri lai Aaphnai dai vaiko byabahar gariyo, ra paxi ti bahu xetrile Thuldai, raja ranako rajnitik jag sidhantako jag ma rajniti gare...

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  2. Dear Anonymous ji,
    I agree with your concern and that's my point as well. We can't just blame to all Brahman and Chhetri who contributed to throw out Ranas and Kings from Nepal. However, there are nave in all communities and societies who like to blame others. Rather than appreciating what had been done good by Brahman/Chhetri and who had done bad by an individual rulers instead of generalizing everyone.

    Regarding the term "Janajati" it is a Nepali word for indigenous people.
    Indigenous peoples do not necessarily claim to be the only people native to their countries, but in many cases indigenous peoples are indeed “aboriginal” or “native” to the lands they live in, being descendants of those peoples that inhabited a territory prior to colonization or formation of the present state.

    Indigenous peoples have their own distinct languages, cultures, and social and political institutions that are very different from those of mainstream society. While indigenous peoples face the same experience of discrimination and marginalization as other ethnic minorities, there are very important differences in terms of their rights and identity.

    Definition of the concept of 'indigenous peoples'
    There is no universal and unambiguous definition of the concept of 'indigenous peoples', but there are a number of criteria by which indigenous peoples globally can be identified and from which each group can be characterised.

    The International Labour Organization Convention no. 169 states that a people are considered indigenous either:

    - because they are descendants of those who lived in the area before colonization; or
    - because they have maintained their own social, economic, cultural and political institutions since colonization and the establishment of new states.
    Furthermore, the ILO Convention 169 says that self-identification is crucial for indigenous peoples. This criterion has for example been applied in a land-claims agreement between the Canadian government and the Inuit of the Northwest Territories.

    Martinéz Cobo's working definition
    According to the Martinéz Cobo’s Report to the UN Sub-Commission on the Prevention of Discrimination of Minorities (1986), indigenous peoples may be identified as follows:

    “Indigenous communities, peoples and nations are those which, having a historical continuity with pre-invasion and pre-colonial societies that developed on their territories, consider themselves distinct from other sectors of the societies now prevailing in those territories, or parts of them. They form at present non-dominant sectors of society and are determined to preserve, develop and transmit to future generations their ancestral territories, and their ethnic identity, as the basis of their continued existence as peoples, in accordance with their own cultural patterns, social institutions and legal systems.”

    This historical continuity may consist of the continuation, for an extended period reaching into the present, of one or more of the following factors:

    Occupation of ancestral lands, or at least of part of them;
    Common ancestry with the original occupants of these lands;
    Culture in general, or in specific manifestations (such as religion, living under a tribal system, membership of an indigenous community, dress, means of livelihood, lifestyle, etc.);
    Language (whether used as the only language, as mother-tongue, as the habitual means of communication at home or in the family, or as the main, preferred, habitual, general or normal language);
    Residence in certain parts of the country, or in certain regions of the world;

    Source: International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs http://www.iwgia.org/culture-and-identity/identification-of-indigenous-peoples

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  3. This is a real bullshit. An irrational biased mental speculation based on scanty knowledge and misinterpretation of history. Brahmins have managed to rise into power only after the revolution of 2007. they rose to power not just because of so called "Brahminism". Brahmins were learned, educated class of people who took the advantage of changes in the system because most other people of that time were uneducated an unaware of the benefits they could have taken. Bahuns are always motivated to uplift their social and economical status, just like everybody wishes. Education and knowledge was the key factor in outcasting others in this race. i do not believe bahunbad (as you said, just between ties and kin) is solely responsible for the upliftment of Bahuns in country. I am a Brahmin and in contrast to your stereotyped statement i have never got any opportunity to strengthen my social economical benefits through the virtue of my cast and identity. My parents had difficult times in sending us to good school. My father had to leave and work in gulf country as a labour to support us. Surprisingly you are an individual from so called backward Aadibasi who got an opportunity to pursue medical career that most nepalese youth dream of getting it, or may be you were economically sound to pay for your education.
    Brahmins are ahead of others, its true, but this need to be seen as a social phenomena occuring everywhere, Where the one who has slight advantage over others can gain in a geometric scale while the others are still preparing their first step. In the Contemporary scenario, groups like Newars, Gurung, Rai, Sherpa, tamang are taking greater benefits from reservation policy of government than their counterparts like Chepang, santhal, dhimal, Tharu, Danuwar, Dalits. why? Although, by law, both groups have been provided equal rights. the answer actually lies in the "Human developement index" the former ones being top on the list, and they can make more out of the facility given within same time.
    My point is, the rise of Brahmins after 2007 was the first phase of social developement, just like the current rising of "Newars, Gurung, tamang, Sherpa etc, groups on the top of HDI" as a second phase. The third phase is still awaited, and the groups on the lower strata of HDI will definately outcry against hegemony by the groups like yours which lay on top of HDI.
    Therefore denigrating a race and identity of Bahun is nothing more than a hoax by few people who do not owe any political dogma but wish to rise their political career by dividing the people, or , to a much extent, by those who take this as a business to support their livelihood. History is there, Pawan chamling of sikkim used hoax to divide people between aryan and mongolian hatredness to win chief minister.

    Besides use of term indigenous is misleading at least in the context of Nepal. Present nepali definition of Indigenous nepali loudly charaterises orthodox hinduism as a point to exclude people from this group, surprisingly, people who follow orthodox Buddhist tradition are regarded as indigenous. our country has become a secular nation but the the definitions are not.

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  4. I don't believe bahuns were here long unless they hide behind the matwali Khaas Chhetri of the west Nepal. Bahuns were at the forefront of all Nepal activities good and bad throughout the ages and not only post 2007 definite. They are not extraordinarily cleaver but their religion made mandatory for them to read write Sanskrit, therefore the advantage and the tales in their religion gave them lessons on how to be successful on real life issues. Bahuns for now want to hang on to their upper hand but others are closing up quickly. Of course, very shortly the finishing line will come and all barriers will be broken.

    Bahuns on the other hand are not trouble free. They need to be modern and versatile as any breed and blend into the 21 century. To adapt to the real world they must shed their bahunness thereby weakening their stiff beliefs. Bahun – meaning wise and knowledgeable; would anyone stand to believe this fact anymore!? Bahuness or Brahamanism will slowly fade into obscurity, maybe not in our lifetime but surely one day.

    Just like the Anonymous who is more analytical and factual, we do not wish to remain on caste and religion lines. We should debate openly of the wrongs, accept the truth and search for solutions.

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  5. you people are educated with empty mind ,its person character not a cast ...u laxmi tamang who post it u should be ashmed becox you were the people who takes our society back..i am not supporting any cast..support huminity and mankind

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