KATHMANDU, Sept 6: Former prime minister Baburam Bhattarai has urged Dalits to renounce Hinduism, describing it as the source of atrocities being committed against the so-called untouchables in the name of the caste system.
Speaking at a function in the Capital on Thursday, Bhattarai asked Dalit activists why they were following the religion which is "humiliating and discriminating against them on the basis of birth."
“Why do you embrace a religion which insults and discriminates against you saying that you were born from someone's feet?” Bhattarai questioned Dalit activists and leaders present at the event.
Manusmriti, considered one of the most authoritative and often controversial scriptures on Hindu laws, has it that Sudra (Dalits) came from the feet of the Lord Brahma, where as others higher castes — Baishya, Kshetriya and Bhramin --- came from the upper parts of Brahma.
Bhattarai claimed that the Rig Veda, one of the four Vedas considered to be the most sacred scriptures in Hinduism, had divided people on the basis of caste.
Bringing reference of Dalit icon Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar, an Indian freedom fighter who inspired Dalit Buddhist movement, Bhattarai said that Dalits should dare to renounce the religion if the defenders of the caste system did not correct the scriptures.
“Why follow a religion that doesn't accept improvement. Ambedkar was born a Hindu, but embraced Buddhism in the final days of his life,” said Bhattarai, while criticizing the international community for doing little to end the caste system. Addressing the program after Bhattarai, former Prime Ministers Pushpa Kamal Dahal and Sher Bahadur Deuba stressed the need for Dalit unity in the fight against inequalities and discrimination.
Bhattarai's appeal to Dalits to renounce the Hindu religion soon took the social media by storm with some accusing him of trying to disturb religious harmony after unsuccessful attempts to instigate ethnic conflict in the country. Many other praised him for speaking in favour of 'one of the most discriminated communities in the world.'
Bhattarai's appeal to Dalits to renounce Hinduism is the latest in a series of critical and often controversial remarks he has made in recent weeks in favour of the marginalized and excluded communities.
Addressing a mass assembly in Tikapur last month, Bhattarai had urged Tharus to launch a fresh struggle for their rights. Last week, he sparked a political thunderstorm as he accused royalists and Hindu activists of killing cows in Surkhet.