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Why I Am Not a Hindu
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Why I Am Not a Hindu

3.82  ·  Rating details ·  447 ratings  ·  66 reviews
In this manifesto for the downtrodden, the author examines the socio-economic and cultural differences between the Dalitbahujans (the majority, the so-called low castes) and other Hindus in the contexts of childhood, family life, market relations, power relations, Gods and Goddesses, death and, not least, Hindutva (ideology of the Hindu Right).
Paperback, 164 pages
Published December 1st 2005 by Bhatkal & Sen (first published April 23rd 2001)
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Dec 22, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: theory, south-asian
The following is indisputable: 1) Caste oppression is ubiquitous in South Asia and concentrated against SCs and STs; 2) The form of this oppression is both material and cultural, with the latter forms being found in virtually all intellectual and literary creations; 3) South Asia has remarkably local and heterogenous religious beliefs -- a heterogeneity that is found primarily in SCs and STs; 4) The persistant ability of upper caste Hindus to dominate economic in political power in India has bee ...more
Feb 02, 2015 rated it did not like it
Casteism is an evil that has been prevalent in our country for ages though this has mostly likely come down in recent times due to increasing awareness and reforms.
This book however talks nothing about casteism per se and in no way speaks anything about the oppression faced by the 'lower castes'. Instead the author is solely focused on spreading extreme hatred and malice towards anyone or anything that is "Hindu" by criticizing anything and everything that is remotely related to the religion. I
Feb 19, 2013 rated it really liked it
Hindu ideologies has never been humane or egalitarian the book is a thought provoking critique of this ideology and worldview.
Jul 16, 2018 rated it did not like it
While writing this review I was wondering whether I should or should I not,nah I thought at the end that I should. Do read this book but before you do so, keep your minds open to both criticism and skeptism- how much of it is true, biased and how much is fabricated?

Edit: Because someone thought I dismissed this author’s life. I did not, I have worked and helped Dalits and those who are poor but are of any caste even Brahmins who are below poverty line. I only mention the roots of the caste syst
Durgesh Deep
Jan 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Now, I have understood after reading this book, why this book along with the other two books of Kancha Ilaiah has been removed from the syllabus of Delhi University under BJP government whereas this book has been part of syllabus of Columbia University since decade.

This book views Hinduism from a Dalit's perspective, which is completely different from what we had been knowing about Hinduism and Hindu Gods & Goddesses. Kancha Ilaiah has also compared Hindu culture with that of Dalitbahujan cultu
Aug 13, 2018 rated it it was ok
Interesting but profoundly flawed. While the author’s anger towards upper caste Indians is probably quite justified (I can’t imagine the level of discrimination that he must have endured through his life), it has blinded him to the point where he regards all non Dalitbahujans (to use his term) as the evil Other. He presents extreme and unsubstantiated claims as fact and ends by calling for a non-violent cultural revolution, thereby undermining some of his more interesting and relevant points. It ...more
Raghu Pavan
Sep 14, 2017 rated it did not like it
I have given one rating to this book because there is no zero rating option. This book portraits the personal views and opinions of author. The book in its content per se is so malicious and irrational. It shows the great level of ignorance with which the book was written ignoring the facts about the Hindu Dharma/religion. It takes a great deal of intellect and self control/self knowledge to understand the Hindu dharma. Those who are materialistic and over whelmed in passion can never understand ...more
Feb 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
A radical take on caste, class, culture and religion from the viewpoint of oppressed classes. An essential read, no doubt. This book is very relevant for its take on contemporary political and class conflict. Also gives a brief historical critique of the role Brahmanical Hindu religion and its philosophy has played in class oppression. Particularly, this book shows the arrogance and the inherent fallacies of the steamrolling of culture under the grand Hindutva project. It speaks of deep apathy a ...more
Kshitij Chaurel
May 12, 2020 rated it it was ok
The writer shows the clear distinction between 'Upper Caste' (Hindu) and 'Dalitbahujans' in the context of South Indian society. His some ideas are thought provoking. He has initiated the new kind of discourse regarding caste system.

However, it lacks depth analysis of all the aspects that form a society. The harsh tone reflects the rage within oppressed people, born from hundreds of years of exploitation.
Ela Priyanka
Aug 21, 2012 rated it really liked it
Thought provoking touching experiences beautifully scripted.
Jul 17, 2018 rated it liked it
Amartya Sen's Nobel lecture started with "A camel is a horse designed by a committee." Indeed social choices have maligned the true essence of human beings from time
immemorial (which is 1189 by the way) but really there are no more devastating effects of it than the Hindu caste system.

The only reason I give this book a three star is because I strongly agree with the hypothesis and the energy of this book.

From the title anyone can tell the book is a criticism of the caste based Hindu society an
Kolagani Paramahamsa
Apr 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
It is always interesting to read history and society from an individual's point of view, more so when it shows things from an entirely new perspective. History is usually written by and for the people in power; this treatise is written from a point of view of people who are a majority, but not in power.

The parts in which author describes his childhood experiences are true to the word and was a great read as I personally saw these instances in childhood. Although one might criticize the author's
Vadassery Rakesh
Sep 29, 2013 rated it really liked it
Gets into the sad reality of our ancient culture, and how horrendous it is to know that the Aryan hegemony of caste still rules over the vanquished Dravidians even after 5000 years. Let there a hundred Ambedkars to rescue and put an end to the longest oppression in the human history. What to say author, I wish I could give you a hug, at least.
Naveen Kumar
Sep 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Lack of research and solid facts in some parts of the book are backed by common sense. This book will definitely make you rethink of the brahminical society that we live in. Over all it was a powerful , anger filled dichotomy.
Oct 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2020, indian, non-fiction
An interesting and illuminating book about social/cultural/religious differences between the Hindu/brahminical way of life and Dalitbahujan way of life.

Ilaiah covers a surprising amount of ground in a fairly short read, and many parts of it were definitely eye-opening to me. He outlines and details (and valorizes) a part of Indian culture that has been historically oppressed to two outcomes - it has never been allowed to be recognized as a distinct and alternative way of life, and it has been d
Nov 18, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: bookclub
Oh oh oh the emotional upheaval this book has caused
Extremely provocative, Ilaiah bars no words and lays it all out there in stone cold fury. Which is to say, this is a terrific and an absolutely essential read.
But while I acknowledge and appreciate the book for detailing valuable insights into one of the most oppressed sectors of society by Hinduism, I also found his assumption that all communities belonging to a lower caste being homogenous, quite reductive. Nevertheless, the most shocking pa
Rishab Katoch
Dec 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
A thought provoking and passionate critique of Hinduism and Hindu culture from a Dalit perspective. According to the author the Hindu brahminical culture and dalitbahujan culture are not only different but antithetical to each other, hence claiming that the dalitbahujans are not Hindus. He further goes on to argue that while the Hindu brahminical culture is fundamentally inegalitarian and inhumane the dalitbahujan culture is an egalitarian one. And that for a humane and egalitarian society we mu ...more
Although I disagree with the major thesis of this book, I actually think its a great read, and that every Hindu should read it. The author gets a lot of things wrong about upper caste beliefs and practices, but it is a good insight into Sudra culture. Ilaiah denies that Sudra religion is a part of Hinduism, or that Sudra culture is a part of Hindu society, but that is almost self evidently false. As he observes, the Gods of the Sudras and Dalits are acknowledged by the rest of Hindu society, tho ...more
Spoo Rthi
Mar 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Brilliant book and so utterly important to have writers like him that come from dalitbahujan background to write from that perspective, that has long been ignored. It is definitely eye-opening even to people who are well-aware of the caste differences that exists in India, because the book details how in every aspect these differences exist and how these differences are used to humiliate and oppress dalitbahujan communities.

The personal narration makes it more realistic for the reader. The parts
Sainath Sunil
Feb 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
One of the most definitive works on presenting the dalit bahujan way of life. the author has gone to painful lengths to make the distinction between dalit bahujans and hindus clear, and most if not all, is backed by evidence. Kancha Ilaiah's book is a must read for anyone who has not understood the crippling role that caste and brahminism play in india, and how brahminism has increasingly co-opted more and more upper caste shudras who are helping to keep the rest of the dalit bahujans deprived o ...more
Swaraj Dalmia
Jun 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
It is a must read book for all savarna's. Has some brilliant insights and critiques. ...more
Soumya Mondal
Jul 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
An excellent piece of writing unraveling the dichotomy of caste in India and a must read for understanding the roots and future of dalit movement.
Mridula Garg
Dec 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is a book that made me deeply uncomfortable about my position in the Indian society. It makes me question all that I have grown up with and known to be the Indian "Hindu" culture. It is a MUST READ if you were accidentally born into an upper-caste, especially brahmin-baniya family: a lot of unlearning awaits us. The unapologetic tone of the book is bound to put you on the defensive position now and then, but one must overcome such petty instincts and listen to what our lived experiences and ...more
Vivek Gothwal
Jan 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
A must read for every hindu. it's an amazing critique of hinduism and hindu society. There are minor flaws in the book to which author has admitted in the afterword. it's high time we acknowledge the flaws in our society, it would be the first step to improving things. ...more
Nandakishore Varma
Apr 12, 2014 rated it did not like it
Review up on my BLOG. ...more
Ronald Antony SJ
Aug 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A must read..
Mar 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
"Our birth into a particular caste is accidental. We may have little control over our upbringing in caste-culture. After a certain age we continue to live in the culture of own caste through a conscious decision. Having been born into caste, very few - we can count them on our fingers - consciously move out of their caste culture" (Ilaiah 102).

This was an incredible read that must be on every person's, born and raised in upper-caste culture, shelf. As people who are born and brought up in privi
Aug 01, 2020 rated it liked it
I had read a section of this book for a class assignment and was excited to read the rest of it. I thought it would provide a unique approach and critically examine the issue of caste inequalities. And while Ilaiah does bring in some interesting perspectives, I find his arguments could have been better presented. The dichotomy between the dalitbahujan-culture and the culture of the upper castes, which he puts forth, lacks the deep scrutiny I was expecting - instead it is presented in a very blac ...more
Nehal Drago
Jul 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
It's 4:54 am in the morning, and I have finally finished reading the book.

Though the book was only 164 pages long. But it took me 3-4 days to finish it.
Because the content was intense as well as informative, so I needed to do some research on my own.
The arguments that the author raised were thought-provoking and in some cases left me speechless.

Though I do not agree with all the points in the book, as some of it seems to be a bit biased. But that does not discredit the authors' fundamental i
Nov 23, 2018 rated it it was ok
I have a lot of feelings, albeit confused, about this book. As much as I want to be accepting of the experiences that the author mentions, I definitely feel a (more-than-healthy, I suspect) dose of unexplained skepticism. I mean, I do accept that I live a fairly cushioned life and my disbelief stems from the rose-tinted glasses I wear. But despite all the "inhumane" treatment, the author claims, that the upper castes mete out to the DalitBahujans, I have a very minor bone to pick in the way he h ...more
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Kancha Ilaiah (5 October 1952) is an Indian activist and writer. His books include Why I am not a Hindu, God As Political Philosopher: Budha's challenge to Brahminism, A Hollow Shell, The State and Repressive Culture, Manatatwam (in Telugu), and Buffalo Nationalism: A Critique of Spiritual Fascism. He is a member of the Dalit Freedom Network and a major figure in the movement against the Hindu Cas ...more

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