“A Hinduism Without Caste” by Sunita Viswanath

I want to live in a world where caste is a shameful vestige of the past. I cringe when even here, in the States, I hear people identify themselves as TamBrams or Vaidiki Brahmins. But then, in a way, this is no different to a Dalit person referring to their status with pride.  How do we work towards the annihilation of caste when so many people of all castes, high and low, consider their caste a central part of their identity?

So, as Hindus who aren’t ready to turn our backs on Hinduism but who believe in equality and justice, the question is: what exactly do we do? We can’t change history, and we can’t change the world overnight, but we can act to address these issues.

  • We will stay true and committed to the principle of oneness at the heart of Hinduism, the idea that the same divinity is inherent in each one of us, regardless of caste, gender, race, religion.
  • We understand the privilege that comes with being born a caste Hindu, and what that status means and does to those who don’t have it. We are committed to working against such hierarchy and its toxic effects.
  • We will disseminate progressive readings of Hindu texts.
  • We will stand in solidarity with Dalit movements for justice, and opposed to all forms of caste discrimination.  Truth-telling is core to our sadhana (the practice of our faith) – and we will speak up every time we see injustice and oppression.
  • We in Sadhana reject any personal affiliation with caste or the system of castes. We realize that this is a privileged choice, but it is the starting point for our journey into a world where we are all free from the mechanism of caste. Others can identify as they wish, and if caste is an important part of someone’s identity, we respect their choice so long as they do not see themselves as higher or lower than others, and so long as they do not perpetrate abuses based on caste.  
  • We will try to worship in temples where all castes participate equally.  We may need to help create more such temples that see all as equal, and where anyone can be priests, regardless of caste at birth or gender.
  • And most importantly, we dream this dream with humility.  In small ways, every day, we will do our part to build a lived Hinduism where all are truly equal. (source)
Reading is everything. Reading makes me feel like I’ve accomplished something, learned something, become a better person. Reading makes me smarter. Reading gives me something to talk about later on. Reading is the unbelievably healthy way my attention deficit disorder medicates itself. Reading is escape, and the opposite of escape; it’s a way to make contact with reality after a day of making things up, and it’s a way of making contact with someone else’s imagination after a day that’s all too real. Reading is grist. Reading is bliss.
—  Nora Ephron, I Feel Bad about My Neck