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History of MEGHS:Rattan Lal Gottra

We read history to know about our ancestors, their physical form, their culture, professions, thoughts, beliefs, religion, and those matters of the past, which directly or indirectly enter into the present and effect our current life.

Historians have mostly found that in the middle of the Sixth Millennium B.C., man relinquished the unstable hunting life, learnt the art of agriculture, and adopted a permanent settled rural life. Copper Age marked its beginning during the 5th millennium B.C. After that the most ancient great civilizations of Mesopotamia, Egyptian and Indus civilizations started flourishing.

However, in respect of pre-historic India for the years before 3000 BC the evidence is stated to be lacking. Therefore, the Indian history taught to us during schooling generally consisted of 'Ancient Period' containing of the history of Kshattriyas, Brahmans and Rajputs, followed by the history of Muslim emperors in the 'Medieval Period' and in the end the history of British lords. Pre-historic India gets insignificant coverage.

For ancient Indians the sole purpose of history was to explain Vedas and Puranas with the help of legends and mythology that are dated precisely back into pre-history. However, the mythology and legends created by them mostly depended on what the Aryans (Brahmans & Kshattriyas) felt it to be in their best interest. Therefore, they do not actually present the correct picture about the Non-Aryans.

The Non-Aryans comprised of the artisan classes (called as 'Shudras'), and aboriginals of India. The castes engaged in agriculture were possibly the descendants of the agriculturalists of the Indus Valley. All of them are currently comprising 85% of India's total population and engaged in the entire production of the nation. They were the founders of the Indus Valley Civilization, many of whom were also great soldiers killed in combat with Aryans. Scholars having colonial views oppose this concept and create obstacles in the powerful flow of history.

INDUS CIVILIZATION AND THE MEGHS:

By an analysis of the facts revealed by Archaeological Survey of India, Aryan literature (myths, legends, Vedas, Puranas, Smritis, etc.), chronology of events, and tallying them with the information available from other sources outside India, we come to the conclusion that the history of Indus Valley Civilization was linked with the Meghs. They were the Mediterraneans belonging to Mesopotamia, Assyria, and Sumer and had permanently settled in the Indus valley area. They were an agglomeration of tribes who came over here in two phases. They came to Punjab via Iran, Kandhar (Afghanistan), and Baluchistan. Like other tribes relating to various races, they settled here along with the aboriginals of India. The Mediterraneans in short used to be called Meds and later on as Meghs. The words Med and Megh have been used interchangeably at some places in the ancient literature including the Rig Veda and Vyas Smriti.

The term 'Civilization' hereby relates to a society, in which town life is a central feature. Urban societies developed out of agricultural communities giving birth to the Indus Civilisation. The Indus Valley Civilization was the result of Mind of the Mediterraneans and the physical efforts of Caucasians. The Meghs played a prominent role in the development of Indus Valley Civilization. These people had good knowledge of the utility of cotton and metals. Reflection of this knowledge is found in the industrial economy spread over Sapta-Sindhu area during the fourth and third millennium BC. It was the time when the Aryans used to live nomadic life in Southern Russia or Central Asia. The Meghs had their own language, culture, and traditions different from the Aryans. They ruled over the ‘Sapta-Sindhu’ area.

The Meghs lived a prosperous life. According to Rig Veda (I-104-3), the citizens of that country led a very luxurious life, their ladies used to take bath with milk. The Meghs were so wealthy that even their sworn enemy, Kautilya said, "They are most prosperous and invincible". Their wealth paved the way for urbanisation of Indus Valley towns. It seems that Vratra, a Megh repeatedly mentioned in Rig Veda was their emperor who enjoyed suzerainty over the Sapta-Sindhu city-states.

DESCRIPTION OF INDUS CIVILIZATION:

Life span of urban revolution in the Indus Valley Civilization has been fixed by scholars between the later part of fourth millennium BC and 1700 or 1600 BC. It has been connected with the advent (1700-1500 BC) of Aryans.

The old roots of this civilization have been found by the archaeological findings. The first proof of early Indian Civilization dates back to about 4000 years back. Its discovery occurred, when a pair of contractors in Sindh, in the late 19th century, supplied the builders of a major road with bricks from a desert trove. The bricks turned out to be more than 4,000 years old. This got the Archaeological Survey of India interested, and in 1922, the British and Indian archaeologists dug up the source of bricks. It led to the discovery of two complete cities buried under the sand some 400 miles apart. These cities viz. Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa were situated on the banks of Indus and its tributary Ravi respectively. Therefore, it has been named "The Indus Valley Civilization". Because, it was first traced out at the site of Harappa (15 miles in the South-West of Montgomery, Pakistan), so the Archaeologists also initially named it as "The Harappan Civilization".

Subsequent excavations - within a region of some 500 miles on either side of the Indus and about 1000 miles along its course - unearthed remains of other ancient cities and goods of the same pattern, all contemporaneous with the other great valley civilisations of the world, the Nile, Tigris, Euphrates, etc.

At Mohenjodaro, no fewer than nine layers of buildings were excavated, thereby leading to the evidence of a city that had been built and rebuilt for centuries. The evidence speaks of a rich and well-developed culture, well in advance of its time. The cities were located on huge platforms having 56-60 feet height, having fortifications, town planning, pucca two-storey houses of same type and size, public baths, straight roads and streets, intersecting each other at right angles, covered pucca sewerage and drainage system and septic tanks, latrines having English bond seats and bath-rooms and wells in every house. No Indian city possessed anything of the sort till modern times, far too many still lack these amenities. Gold, silver, copper, bronze, and lead were used and garments of cotton spun and woven some 3000 years before westerns wore them.

Archaeological findings in India and Pakistan reveal that after settling in Sapta-Sindhu area, Indus people were the first who established a vast city-state system by uniting different types of people. They were the earliest growers of rice in the world. They were economically prosperous due to good agricultural and industrial production. Harappans had trade (land and sea routes) relations with Bahrein Islands, the Euphratis-Tigris Valley, North Syrian ports and the Island of Cyprus and Babylon. The discovery of Artificial Dock of Lothal proves that the Indus people used sea route more than the land route for foreign trade as far back as 4000 years.

Excavations to search for more details carried out at many sites in India and Pakistan have proved that the Indus Valley Civilization had spread in the North, from the Russian border to Bombay in the Southeast. In the Southeast it had extended up to Saurashtra, Surat and Lothal in Gujarat. Its boundaries had touched the banks of Narbada River, and sea-shore of the Arabian Sea. It extended from almost entire North-West of India including the existing Pakistan, Punjab, Haryana, some parts of Rajasthan, and in the East its area covered up to Bahadurabad in Distt. Saharanpur, Bhatpur, and Manpur in Bulandshahar and Kosambi near Allahabad.

Remains belonging to Harappa period have also been found at Shartgai Town of Tarbar Province (about 800 Kms. from Pakistan border) in the North-western region of Afghanistan. The articles found from that site date back to 2500 to 1500 B.C. The present day Pakistan was the centre of Mohenjodaro-Harappa Civilization and from the geographical point of view this Civilization was four times larger than the Egyptian Civilization.

The cities of Sumeria, Akkad, and Babylon were also pucca like those of Indus Civilization, but they were not planned at all. They had just developed. The Indus cities show town planning of a truly amazing nature. If the measure of the greatness of a civilization is to be determined by the standard of living of common man, the availability of facilities of life and prosperity of the people, which were certainly available to the common folk of the Indus Valley, then this civilization was truly richer in its greatness even than that of Mesopotamia and Egyptian civilizations respectively.

The founders of this civilization had casteless and classless society, as both rich and poor lived together. No evidence of the practice of slavery or casteism has been found about them. Who were these people responsible for all these great achievements? They are the great sons of this Indian soil, called the Meds / Meghs or Pre-Aryans, now living the life of non-entity.

Lord Cunningham in his book "Archaeological Survey of India" mentioned that Meghs were Pre-Aryans who came to Punjab from Mediterranean countries like Assyria and settled in Sapta-Sindhu area very much earlier than the Aryans. As explained by Buddha Prakash, Ph.D., D.Litt., before the advent of Aryans, the Meds (Meghs), Mede or Mada (Iranian word) or Madra were having their capital Salaka (modern Sialkot) that lay between Ravi and Chenab.

Research done by Buddha Prakash also reveals a full picture of conflicts of Aryans with the pre-Aryans called Asuras, Dasas, and Dasyus. The word ‘Asura’ in early Indian literature was derived from ‘Assyria’ that is located in the Mediterranean area and it does not mean an evil being or enemy in general. It signifies distinct and particular people having their own culture, religion, literature, language, etc.

ROUGH ESTIMATE OF THE POPULATION OF INDUS CIVILIZATION:

Until now, about 450-500 sites belonging to the Indus Civilization have been excavated in India. If we take into account the sites excavated in Pakistan and other places to the West out of Pakistan to be 400, the total number of cities and towns goes up to 900. Whereas the correct figures are not available, even then the number of these sites and the area of Indus Valley civilization increases progressively. Because in the Northwest, this limit has touched the Russian border. If we take the average population of these places to be 5000, the total population of these places comes to 900 x 5000 = 45,00,000. If the population of rural areas is also taken into account, the population of Indus country comes one Crore and even more than that.

However, if we take into account the Sapta-Sindhu area only, then according to an estimate (appearing in 'Frontline' magazine Dt. September 4, 2003), the population of Indus people was roughly four million in the whole area of Indus Civilisation, or six persons per square kilometre. (In 1901, the same area supported 50 persons per square kilometre). The combined population of Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa was 150,000 and total urban population including tiny towns not less than 250,000. It may be added that there were several towns within the Indus culture zone wherein the population of Meghs dominated in good strength.

CURRENT POPULATION: Due to the Aryan invasions, and other historical reasons, the Meghs were scattered to different locations. They normally remained widely spread over the whole of Sapta-Sindhu area particularly including Harappa (Punjab, Pakistan), Mohenjodaro (Sindh, Pakistan), Punjab, Haryana, J&K, and Lothal (Gujarat) in India. Since the Government after 1931 has conducted no caste-wise census, the figures of current population of communities / tribes or castes that constituted the Indus Society are not available. Moreover, these Pre-Aryan permanent settlers are now well divided in different sects or religions. Centuries long impact of caste and region has created many divisions among them. Consequently, to the census operation staffs, in addition to the term ‘Megh’, they speak differently stating themselves to be Arya Bhagats, Kabir-Panthies, Weavers, Bunkars, Meghbansi, Meghowal, Meghwal, etc. It is due to the centuries old adverse effects of Aryan culture. Here are some of these effects-

(1) Fear of unequal social status.

(2) Inferiority feelings inherited out of old oppression.

(3) Mental slavery duly imbibed and accepted by them through the Aryanisation or Hinduisation process.

(4) The lack of revolt against this Aryanisation process, because of the ignorance that they have been victim to it.

(5) Belief in the concept of fate, as imprinted on their minds by the Aryan mythical theory of 'Karma' and ‘rebirth’.

Under such a mind-set, they have been also categorised as OBCs in states like Rajasthan, MP, Gujarat, etc. Consequently, their identity gets blurred resulting into incorrect figures. However, in addition to J&K, Punjab, Himachal, there is a good scattering of these people in Haryana, Delhi, Rajasthan, Western UP, Gujarat, MP, etc. The blood group analysis (survey) by historians reveals that Meghs belong to the artisan castes of North and North-Western earstwhile India. Though, blood groups are mixed up by now in India, and nothing can be proved with high precision, yet these classes reportedly possess a high frequency of Blood Group ‘B’, as compared to the high frequency of Blood Group ‘A’ among the Aryans.

Those who call themselves only as Meghs are about 3,50,000 in the Jammu Province, and about 1,25,000 in Himachal. In Punjab (India), Their reasonably estimated population including Kabirpanthis is roughly stated to be about 5 Lacs. About 40,000 Meghs converted to Islam after the Partition of India are learnt to be living in Pakistan.

COLLAPSE OF INDUS CIVILIZATION:

Investigations carried out in India in the last eight decades have revealed that prior to 600 BC two distinct cultural traditions Non-Aryan and Aryans existed in North India. There are various stories for the collapse of Indus Civilisation. But the most forceful and persuasive is the story that before the Indus collapse the Helmand Civilization (which existed in the present-day Afghanistan between 2600 B.C. and 2100 B.C.) came to a sudden end, with evidence of arson and violence in the historical record. A little later than 1600 BC up to around 1500 BC There was widespread expansion of a new people (Aryans) in Swat, Kab, NWFP, Northern Punjab and the Bolan region in Pakistan. These new people had no genetic relationship with the Harappan, late Harappan or the later Chalcolithic cultures. Thus after first overwhelming the Helmand cities, then the Kor-Diji culture, the Aryans finally took control of the Indus cities. There are signs of violence in the later stages of Mohenjo-Daro where 38 skeletons were found in unnatural situations, suggesting that they were victims of acts of violence.

An examination of post-Indus scenario reveals that there was slide-back from the achievements of the Indus culture. Cities and towns practically disappeared. The archaeological evidence - heaps of skeletons - signs of disarray and sudden death. Some cities show signs of disrepair followed by abandonment. The figures of deities, sacred animals, and writing on seals disappear. There are changes in burial practices.

The change was then so complete as to bring about a withering of commerce, illiteracy, and alteration of religion. The pre-Aryans were adept in some crafts that also largely vanished. It suggests some sort of brutal invasions, with the advent of hordes of Aryan nomads who earlier lived somewhere in Russia. They came to Punjab via Hindukush Mountains. In fact, North India was colonised by successive migrations by people with different cultural identities.

IDENTITY OF INDUS PEOPLE IN VEDAS:

Much more than any other race or tribe, the Meghs frequently figure in the Vedic hymns, wherein they have been mentioned as enemies of the Aryans. The Meghs and their associate Pre-Aryan tribes being the permanent settlers resented and resisted the advent of Aryans. The Aryans intended to annihilate the Meghs due to deep hatred against them than any other tribe as given in the Vedic Hymns –

VEDIC HYMNS REFERING TO MEGHS:

(I). Rig Vedic Hymns: I / 32-1,2&4; I / 51-4; I / 54-10; I / 55-5; I / 57-6; I / 61-7&9; I / 103-1; I / 130-3; I / 135-6; V / 32-1; VI / 18-14; VI / 30-4&5; VII / 33-3; VII / 83-4; VIII / 14-5&7; VIII / 32-25; VIII / 66-5; VIII / 82-2; VIII / 85-5; X / 30-7; X / 43-8; X / 111-9&10; X / 133-2; X / 139-6; I / 59-6; V / 32-4; and V / 83-9.

(II) SAM VEDA: II / 3; VI / 12; XIII / 3; XIV / 32; XVI / 27; and chapter XXXXI.

(III) ATHARV VEDA: I / 21; II / 5; and chapter IV / 24.

Analysis of these hymns, archaeological evidence, and information from prominent historians stand witness to the fact that the Meghs a long tiff with the Aryans, but were ultimately defeated and annihilated. Rigveda is full of narration of the killings of thousands of Meghs / Pre-Aryans by Indira who destroyed their forts and committed heinous crimes against the Asuras, Dasas, and Dasyus.

The priest-kings of Harappa culture were the Vratras described as Meghs in the Vedas. Aryan war hero Indira (worshipped as Indira Devata) killed Vratra who was the master of 'Saptasindhu', the land of seven rivers encompassing the present East Afghanistan, erstwhile Punjab, and J&K. In Rigveda, Vratra is said to be a cloud demon, which obstructed the rainwater. In fact, the cloud is a harbinger of rain, rather than its obstructer. Therefore, the view that Indira killed Vratra to release rainwater (mentioned in R.V. verses) does not carry conviction. However, the rivers of Indus valley were utilized for irrigation purposes after constructing temporary mud dams on them. These dams naturally obstructed water in some areas that were of interest to the pastoral tribes like the Aryans.

The Aryan civilization was perfectly a rural civilization, while Non-Aryans had mostly developed the urban civilization and dwelt in city-state towns. Therfore, Indira appeared to be enemy particularly of the urban dwellers of Indus Valley (R.V.- IV-16-13, I-103-3, VI-18-5, II-19-6, III-12-6, VI-34-4, IV-30-20, II-20-8, VI-20-7, II-31-4, I-33-12). It also stands confirmed by Mahabharata (Page-208, Part-ii of “Sankshipt Mahabharata”, 24th Edition, Geeta Press, Gorakhpur), wherein it has been mentioned that Indira had killed the 99 tribes due to their sins. In fact, these tribes were the city-states established by the people of Indus Valley Civilization, as revealed in the Rigveda.

Slowly and gradually, the Aryans had routed out the Meghs or Pre-Aryans from the city-states. After various battles, the Indus Civilisation came to an end in the basins of Indus, Sarswati, and Ganga-Yamuna Doab. The Vedic culture showed continuous expansion following the protracted struggle in the Sapta-Sindhu region. The Aryans further penetrated into the central and lower Ganga Valley and Central India. It was not merely a struggle between two nationalities, but a conflict between two types of civilizations. Around 1200 BC, Bhardwaj, Vashisht, Vishwa Mittera, etc. wrote their verses of Rigveda containing the description of struggle between Aryans and old settlers of Sapta-Sindhu and killings of original inhabitants like Meghs by the Aryans.

This struggle is confimed by many others including Pt. Jawahar Lal Nehru’s "Discovery of India", Valmiki’s Ramayana (Yudha Kanda, Chapter-30), F. KOROVKIN, USSR historian at page: 81 of his book ‘HISTORY OF ANCIENT WORLD’ and K.C. Mishra at page: 383-388 of his book ‘Tribes in Maharshtra’, 1987. All of them come out with the truth about Aryan’s long drawn struggle with old pre-historic settlers in India. However, adherents of the 'Hindutva' ideology have viewed Indian society and culture as a monolithic Hindu nation with Aryans being their ancestors. They have viewed the mosaic of cultures of India's past not as it actually was, but as what they wanted to see in it due to their political interests. Otherwise, no true historian and archaeological expert could find the "Vedic Roots" in the Indus culture.

DESCRIPTION OF ARYAN INVASION IN RIGVEDA:

Rigveda was first of all got edited and written by Maharaja Vijayanagarama Hare Krishna Rai under the supervision of his learned Brahman Sayan towards the end of the 14th century A.D. and no body knows how many changes must have been affected therein by that time.

In Rigveda, the Aryans themselves admitted that they were the different people. It has been clearly stated (R.V.—X-22-8), "We live among the Dasyus. These people do not perform Yajnas and do not have faith in any one. They have different customs. They are not worthy of being called human. O destroyer of enemies Indira! Destroy these people." For more such details to prove that Dasas and Dasyus were different and Indira fought against them, we can read Rigveda - V-29-10, IV-16-13, I-130-8, VII-5-3, IX-41-1, V-29-10, VII-18-9, VII-18-13, VII-6-3, V-32-8, etc.

There is repeated description in Rigveda that its composers and their followers attacked the Sapta-Sindhu or 'Hapthindu' (VIII-24-27) region i.e. cities and citadels of original inhabitants. The cities were burnt to ashes and the inhabitants massacred. These cities are called 'Pur' i.e. a word of frequent occurrence in the Rigveda and later meaning rampart, 'fort' or stronghold. The forts in that region were occupied either against external attack (as by Aryans) or against inundation caused by overflowing rivers. Forts with 100 walls are also spoken. Clear-cut references to the destruction of forts are contained in Rigveda (II-19-6, VI-31-4, VI-20-10, I-51-5, etc.). Indira put many cities to fire. Therefore, the composers of Hymns praise / worship 'Agni' (fire) for this act (R.V. - III-12-6, II-15-4). At many places, Indira massacred Dasas/Dasyus (R.V. - I-51-6, I - 103-4, X - 99-7, X - 47-4, II - 20-7).

KILLINGS OF PE-ARYAN DASYUS/DASAS BY ARYANS:

Repeated descriptions of Indira and Dasyu/Dasa/ Meghs indicate that invaders had to struggle for long (about 500-600 years) in order to gain perfect control on the Indus people. Some of the incantations insinuating at this struggle are mentioned in the hymns (R.V. II-12-4, II-11-4, II-11-5, II-11-19, VI-16-15). The following Rigvedic hymns reveal the massacre of Dasyus, Dasas or Meghs.

R.V. HYMN NO. PERSONS KILLED

IV-16-13 50,000

IV-30-15 50,000

IV-30-21 30,000

VI-26-6 60,000

VII-18-14 66,000

VII-99-5 10,000

TOTAL=_________ 2,66,000

An internal political crisis, caused by disaffection among the Indus state people appeared to have weakened them. These people were mostly Mediterraneans ruled by Meghs, who mostly lived in Western part of the Sapta-Sindhu geographical area. Their old associate tribe known as Yadavs lived side by side peacefully mostly in the Eastern part during the beginning of Rigvedic period. The Meghs In Rigveda (X-62-10) have been dubbed as Dasas. The position of Yadavs or Yadus was similar to Med or Meghs. In Mahabharata (Adiparva Sect. 85, Verse 3533), it is clear that Yadus of Rigveda are the Yadavs of Puranas. While following the policy of divide and neutralize the enemy, the Aryans selectively developed alliances with original settlers of Sapta-Sindhu, as is the case of their good relations with Yadus (Yadavs) and Sudas who allied with Aryans and are figuring in the battle of ten-kings. Otherwise, the population of the Non-Aryans in the Indus Valley was hundred times more than that of the Aryan invaders. According to Sir Heine Geldren the strength of invaders must have been between fifty thousand and one lack.

Before confrontation with the Aryans, there were also two major floods in the Indus Valley area around 1900 BC that had already devastated the Indus civilization. After this period, the Aryans had appeared in the Swat Valley (Dir, Chitral) or Gandhara graves in the North Indus Region and had started ruining the Indus cities one after another, clear reference to which is available in Rigvedic hymns that appear to have been composed to narrate what happened in the Sapta-Sindhu area upto 1500 BC.

The Aryans appear to have rudely and ruthlessly interrupted the long established cultural traditions of North-Western India as is implicit from the evidence from Manda (on the right bank of Chenab, 28 Kms. North-West of Jammu), Dadheri, Nagar, in Punjab, and Bhagwanpura in Sarswati Valley. If the excavation work is done further, there will be more and more sites in the West of Distt. Sialkot and beyond to the North to establish continuity upto Swat valley. Rigvedic accounts of Aryans and Non-Aryan’s war at ‘Haryupeeya’, defeat of ‘Panis’ and release of cows at the hands of Indira is evidence to the above-mentioned invasion on the harappan cities.

The ten kings war was fought at the bank of Ravi, near the city of Harappa, whereat, Aryans achieved victory over the Meghs / Asuras. Non-Aryan king Sudas was the follower of Indira and hence allied with Aryans during this war. Sudas was chief of Bharatas tribe. The modern official name ‘Bharat’ (India) means 'land of the Bharatas’. Obviously, the early Aryans followed the policy of dividing the Non-Aryans to achieve victory, in stead of sticking to the racial purity. The cause of the battle was that the ten-kings tried to divert the river Parushni (Ravi). They were led by ‘Vratra’, a Megh who seemed to enjoy great influence over the ten-kings. That stretch of the river is known to change its course right since the olden times till date. Rigveda sings the victory of Sudas in its verses (R.V.-VII-18-5, VII-18-8 & 9, VII-18-15). This war was a fetal blow for the Harappans (Meghs).

CAUSES OF WAR:

(1) The Aryans were tempted by the wealth of the inhabitants of Indus Valley to invade them time and again. The Sages and Rishis motivated Kshattryias to attack the Dasyus and Dasas to gain wealth for performing the rituals (through fire worshipping) as is evident from Rigveda (IV-30-13, X-69-6, I-176-6, III-53-14, II-12-4).

(2) To gain victory over Non-Aryan Dasas and Dasyus (R.V.- I-33-9), and to enhance the power of Aryans (R.V.— I-103-3), Indira took upon himself the task of subjugating Dasas/Dasyus (R.V.— V-34-6).

(3) It is believed that Indira defended the Aryan community by killing Dasyus and the Dasas (R.V.- III-34-9, VII-6&7).

(4) To deprive the Dasas and Dasyus of their virtues (R.V.- IV-28-4). Indus people’s virtues (skills) comprised of industrial occupations, trade, properly organised cultivation, etc. which had made them prosperous. After subjugating them, the Aryans debarred Meghs from doing any such work (industrial artisanship,etc.) so that they might die of their own death. It was a naked conspiracy of Aryans against the Non-Aryans. G.S. Ghurye writes, "social trend and circumstances banned them by hatching a conspiracy". This view is also corroborated by laws enacted by Manu against the Shudras.

(5) The battle took place on the bank of Parshuni (Ravi river). The rivers of Indus valley were utilized for irrigation purposes after constructing temporary mud dams on them. This possibly converted the land into swamps, which hindered the Aryans in their taking the cattle herds for grazing over distances. The destruction of dams by Aryans might have flooded the cities making it impossible for the inhabitants of Indus Valley to dwell in them. That is how the cities looked deserted after the war.

(6) The Aryans intended to annihilate their enemy, as is evident from Rigveda (VIII-39-8, X-47-4, II-11-4, X-95-7). Due to deep intoleration and hate against the Non-Aryan Asuras and Dasas, the Rishis often invoked Aryan gods and the army chiefs to annihilate them.

In Rigveda, Indira is repeatedly praised for the 'freeing of the rivers' that had been 'brought to a standstill' by 'artificial barriers'. It has been stated in Rigveda that the ‘demon’ Vritra lay like a snake across the hill slope. When Indira, caused the stones rolled away like wagon wheels, smashed this demon, 'the waters' flowed over the demon's inert body. This can hardly mean anything except the destruction of a dam, for all the figures of speech. The word Vritra as analysed by good philologists means obstacle or barrier but not demon as such. Indira was called Vritrahanta i.e. Vritra-killer, for this spectacular feat. It can be proved from Rig Vedic account (iv-19-8, ii-11-5 and ii-20-7) that regime of Sapta-Sindhu was under the control of Vratra, who was a Megh, an Asura and a Naga King. He was stated to be an Ahi or serpent (ii-19-2). Ahi-Vratra was chief of Sapta-Sindhu Meghs and lord of citadels and towns that were destroyed by Indira. He was also God-King (Raj-Rishi) of Indus Valley.

Indira was perfectly a human being, a military chief or war-hero of Aryans than a venerable god who faught against Indus people. Indira had devastated Hariyupeeya (Harappa) for Abhyavarti, the son of an Aryan chief named Chayaman after killing Vrichivan (R.V.—VI-27-5). The entire Rigveda is replete with eulogies for Indira.

ORIGINAL HOME OF ARYANS AND THEIR CIVILIZATION:

Aryans lived somewhere near the South-West Russia. Reference to Russia has also been made in Rigveda (V—30—12 to 15). They moved to Central Asia and settled in the region South of Russia, around the Caspian sea. From there, they moved to South-East and further reached Swat valley. According to Rapson and Isaac Tailor, the Nordic Aryans were semi-civilized savage shepherds. They lived in villages, in huts made of grass, etc. They were not aware of the pucca brick pieces. They were semi-nude and wore animal hides. They used the skulls of their enemies for drinking water.

They had high frequency of 'A' Blood Group. Aryans specialized in philosophical and intellectual studies and did not develop inclination for manual professions. Hence, industries and handicrafts remained in the hands of Non-Aryans whose technical skill was magical. Aryans did not establish urban life even after passage of 1000 years since their arrival in India.

According to Piggot, the Victory of Aryans over the great Indus Valley Civilization can be termed as the victory of uncivilized people over the civilized ones. As Changez Khan, a militant leader of uncivilized Mongols did in Asia during historic age, so did the Aryans during the pre-historic period.

Aryans did not reach South India before the period of Ashoka. In South India, the Aryan element first reached during the ruling period (269-232 BC) of Ashoka, when orthodox Aryans (Hindus) ran away to save their religion from the alleged excesses of Budhists. Some people also went to the South as missionaries of Buddhism and Jainism.

According to Puranic traditions, the first person, who crossed Vindhya, was Aryan Rishi Pulishtha, who married Lopamudra, daughter of a Non-Aryan King of Vidarbha. After a regular process of hybridisation of few generations, the offshoots of Pulishtha would have become physically more Dravidians than Aryans.

The 'Early Vedic Age' lasted down to 1500 BC. It was followed by a second 'Mature Vedic Age' during which the compilation of hymns into Samhita took place. This may have lasted for two/ three centuries. Thereafter, we enter the third or the 'Late Vedic Stage', which continued from 1300 BC to 600 BC. The famous Rigvedic Kings were Devdasa Sudasa, and Trasdasyu. The third king of Puranic dynasty is Pururva the Aila, who immediately followed the two mentioned above.

Among the subsequent invaders from outside India, Messodonion Alexander came in 325 BC. Kushans and Scythians (a long-headed race belonging to an ancient region of SE Europe or Ukraine) in the earlier centuries of Christian Era. Huns and Muslims came to India in a much later period. Definitely, none of these people were resident of Harappan towns, which had already decayed or ended. Harappans were the Mediterraneans having wheatish or copper skin colour, black eyes, and hair, while the Caspeans (Aryan Type) had red-white colour, blue eyes and grey or yellow coloured hair. It may be added that skin complexion also depends upon the climate of the place to which one is exposed continuously for generations together.

MEGHS WERE HARAPPANS:

Re-appraisal of studies from Harappa and Meghs as descendants of Indus Valley reveals that the Harappans were once the undisputed lords of the then Punjab (Sapta-Sindhu). They are still concentrated at some of places particularly in areas between Ravi, Chenab and Jhelam in addition to some pockets in Punjab (including Pakistan). Due to historical reasons, they were also scattered in other parts of India, like Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra, etc. In Madhya Pradesh, they had mostly converted to Islam and are currently called as ‘Bunkar’ (Weavers). They had their two other families or blood relatives - Malavas and Madras. As stated by Lord Cunningham, the Meghs (weavers) and Takas (fullers, dyers or rangrej, etc) both have been forerunners in North India. With Aryan pressure, migration of these people took place towards Maharashtra and Vindhyachal region during Megalithic Age and later to Bihar and Orissa.

At later stages, in North India they also came to be known by other names, as is evident from the examination of "TRIBES AND CASTES OF THE PUNJAB AND NORTH-WEST FRONTIER PROVINCE" based on the ‘Census Report for Punjab’ compiled by H.A. Rose, in 1883. An independent examination of the information given by Rose reveals the other names by which Meghs lived at various places in North India as under:--

1. BHAGAT: Sialkot, Shahpur, Paharpur, Dera Ismail Khan and Rawalpindi (all in Pakistan). In accordance to the provisions of Manu Smriti, the Meghs were originally made Dasas and later on, as a matter of giving them punishment, they were treated as Antajyas (untouchables). But, according to the same provisions, there is also the advice of Manu Smriti that Antajyas could be admitted into the Hindu fold if they deserved so by virtue their devotion (Bhagati) towards the Aryans. Under these circumstances, they were admitted to Hinduism through the process of ‘Shuddhikaran’ by the Arya Samajis, after a prolonged dialogue through Lala Ganga Ram, who advised them that they should call themselves as Bhagats and not as Meghs. It was on the similar lines as had been done by the Hindus in respect of the Medieval Saints like Kabir, who were also called as Bhagats by the Hindu society.

2. JULAHA: An important artisan class of weavers found more in numbers especially in the Western Districts of erstwhile Punjab. The word 'Julaha' is derived from the Persian 'Julah', a ball of thread. The weaver appears to be ‘Golah’ in Peshawar. However, in South-East Punjab (Haryana), the Koli or Chamar Julaha and Dhanak take his place. A few among them are Sikhs, later on also known as Ramdassia Sikhs. They take 'Pahul' from Chamars and drink 'Amrit' at their hands.

About 92% of the Julahas were converted to Islam during the reign of Aurangzeb. The Hindu Julahas are divided into sectarian groups, such as Ramdasias, Kabirpanthis, and lately as Aryas, etc.

Ramdasias claim descent from the Saint Bhagat Ram Dass, who was a 'Chela' of Lakhmir. Having abandoned his calling as a shoe-maker, he took up weaving and followed the teachings of the Granth. The Ramdasia did not intermarry with the Chamars. They perform the wedding rites according to the 'Anand Bani' of the Granth Sahib.

Kabir Panthis are the followers of Bhagat Kabir who was said to have born in Benaras and adopted by a Muslim Julaha during the reign of Sikander Shah Lodhi (1488 - 1512 AD). Kabir's doctrine and precepts are embodied in the 'Sukh Nidhan Granth', the 'Bijak' and other books.

 

3. KABIR-PANTHI: There are fourteen (14) persons who have been classed by the Hindus as Bhagats or Saints viz. - Beni, Bhikan, Dhanna, Shaikh Farid, Jaidev, Kabir, Namdeo, Pipa, Ramanand, Ravidas, Sadna, Sainu, Surdas and Tarlochan whose lives are, for the most part, given in the ‘Bhagatmala’, or ‘The Northern India - Lives of Saints’. Kabir-Panthis consist of the artisan classes, which prominently include Meghs. They refuse to worship idols like that of the followers of Ramanand (Founder of Ramanand sect of Bairagis). Some associate Kabir's name with Ramanand. However, a careful examination of Kabir’s philosophy proves that he was in fact opposed to Ramanand’s religion and was not a disciple of the latter.

There is considerable number of Kabir-Panthis from among those originally belonging to Sialkot (Pak) and Gurdaspur. During the 19th Century, it was said that the Meghs were generally Kabirpanthis, who described themselves as Hindus. However, a few of them considered Kabirpanth as an independent religion. A very few think it to be a sect of the Sikhs.

4. KASBI: A synonym of Julaha in Hazara (Pak.), who later converted to Islam.

5. MED: According to the author of 'Mujmal-ut-Twarikh' written in 1126 AD, Meds were reputed descendants of Ham (Arabs). They dwelt in the Indus Valley from modern Mianwali down to the mouths of the river Sindh. Meds used to be owners of sheep. Both Sir Alexander Cunningham and Col. Tod agreed that the Meds (Meghs) and Mands and Jats were Indo-Scythian immigrants from North-West, who moved into the Punjab, much more long-time before Christ. During the 7th Century, a Brahmin Dynasty ruled over them in Sindh.

6. MEDH: Balochi boatmen, who later converted to Islam.

7. MEDHO: A Gujar clan found in Amritsar during the 19th century. They had converted to Islam.

8. MEG: They used to live in the tract immediately below the Jammu hills. During the 19th century, they worked much as farm-labourers, weavers, coolies and a few as shoe-makers. General Cunningham in his book viz. 'Archaeological Reports' (at page 11ff, vol. II) decribes them as caste of low-level cultivators who inhibited the banks of the upper Sutlej at the time of Alexander's invasion. It is also learnt that among the fighting armies of Porus, they gave such a stiff fight to Alexander that ultimately, the latter was compelled to change his further plans of conquest.

9. MEGAL OR MEGLA: Agriculturist clan found in Multan (Pak.).

10. MEGH OR MIHNGH: H.A. Rose describes they were found mainly in Sialkot and along the Jammu border, Amritsar, Gurdaspur, Gujrat (Pak.), and Lahore. The Basith, a sub-caste amongst the Mihnghs lived to the North of Jammu Province in a tract extending for 100 miles. They owned and tilled land and some of them also entered the State services. Another sect among Meghs was the Dhian, that was also found in Jammu hills.

By occupation, the Mihnghs were largely weavers. Indeed in Gujrat (Pak), they used to be called as 'Mengh' that appeared to be merely a synonym for Julaha or weaver. They also used to follow various other persuits like service as field labourers or domestic servants. They remained followers of Kabir.

11. MEGWAL: They were found in Sirsa.

12. MENG: In Rawalpindi, the Mihnghs were called Meng.

13. MEN: An agricultural clan found in Multan, who used to call themselves as ‘Arains’. It appears that the word ‘Men’ originated from the word ‘Mengh’.

14. MENGHWAL or MEGHOWAL: The Dhedhs of Bahawalpur preferred to be called as Menghwals. By occupation, they were generally weavers, manufacturing blankets. The term Menghwal is undoubtedly only a variant of Megh. Meghowals claim descent from 'Megh Rish' who was said to have been created by Narayan.

15. METHA: A Balochi fisherman, later converted to Islam. See Medh.

16. PANGWAL: They included Meghs, Halis, Lohars and Dakis in the Pangi 'Wizarat' of Chamba state. Pangwal is the generic name for them. The family traditions of the Pangwals point to their having emigrated from the lower Chenab, Ravi, Beas valleys, and Lahul.

17. PAOLI & BHAKRI: At Pakpattan in Montgomery, there were two castes of weavers, one called 'Bhakri' whose women weaved and the other was called Paoli.

SLAVERY OF MEGHS / DASAS:

After initial victories in the war field, the Aryans initially used to annihilate the natives completely. Thereafter, the policy was softened and instead of killing them, most of them were made slaves. The widows and children of those killed were made Dasas or Servants.

In Rigveda, references have been made about the sale and purchase of Dasas, gifting them by Kshattriyas to Rishis and doing jobs of cleaning, plastering the houses, etc. of Aryans by them. Some examples are contained in hymns of Rigveda - VIII-56-3, I-92-8, VI-27-8, VIII-19-36, VII-18-22, VIII-68-17, I-126-3.

WOMEN SLAVES: Existence of women slaves (Dasis) is also found in the Atharvaveda (XII-3-13, XII-4-9). In Mahabharata (Calcutta edition - II-33-52), it is described that hundreds of Dasis from Magadh were gifted away to Suta king Karna of Anga who were also kept in dancing and singing. Likewise in Mahabharata, king Shantanu of Kuru dynasty brings a Dhibari Dassi named Satyawati to his palace as a keep, who later gave birth to two sons Chitrangda and Vichitravirya.

GROWTH OF CASTE SYSTEM AND MEGHS:

The victors, called as Aryan Varnas (R.V. - III-34-9), claimed superiority and defeated one (called as Dasas, Dasyus, Asuras) suffered from inferiority. This fundamental difference prepared the basis of caste system. The Aryans being the conqueror class, enjoyed full rights and developed a tradition of exploitation of the vanquished class. The gulf between Aryan and Non-Aryan went on widening till it became unbridgeable. Another bases of caste system was born out of the word ‘Varna’ which means colour. Patanjali wrote in 150 BC, "The Brahmins were of a fair complexion, pale brown hair which was their natural feature, while the Non-Brahmins were of dark complexion (Vyakaran Mahabharat Sutra 2-2-6)". The view that two groups became quite distinct from each other is supported by the opening verses of Rigveda — "He who created the universe and settled the Dasa Verna in caves, He is Indira" (R.V.- II-12-4). The ancient writers did not use much the word ‘Varna’ as a synonym of ‘Caste’. The use of word 'Caste' is of a later origin, which is a class membership that is based on birth. The literal meaning of word ‘Caste’ (Jati) is 'born into'.

Originally, in the vedic hymns the word 'Dasa' or ‘Dasyu’ was used for the enemy or a slave. The Aryan class was mentioned as the Aryan Varna — for instance: "They by killing the Dasyus have always provided defence to the Aryan Varna" (R.V. - III-34-9). Initially the Vedic Society evolved had into three classes viz. Brahman, Kshattrya and Vaishya. According to Sayana, the Aryan 'Varna' means the upper three varnas. In Satpath Brahman, it was mentioned that only the upper three Varnas were the Aryans. Only they can perform Yajna. As per Rigveda X-22-8, "We (Aryan worshippers) dwell amidst Dasyu Caste. Their customs are different. They are not fit to be called human beings. Therefore, 'O' Indira, the destroyer of enemies, destroy these people”.

Therefore, the first step taken by Aryans in this direction was to segregate the Shudras from worship by banning their entry into 'Yagyashala’. Though there was not strict bar against inter-caste marriages during the ealier stages, yet the Aryans did not encourage them. Later on, while thinking of racial purity, they banned marriages with Shudra women. A Sudra marrying a Brahman woman was considered the greatest racial sin. The Shudra class grew out of those people who had accepted the mastery of Aryans over them and out of the section of aboriginals.

In the Pursha Sukta (R.V.-X-90-11 &12), the four varnas were mentioned for the first time. The Aryans thus created Varna (Caste) system, and the origin of Non-Aryans, termed as ‘Shudras’, was declared to be divine. Thus, the Non-Aryans were were admitted to Aryan society, but only after subjugating them completely both physically and mentally. Under this provision, the Meghs alongwith other aboriginals were grouped with the servile class and made a part of the 'Shudras'. Gautam Dharam Sutra (X-6 & 9) confirms that the Shudras were Non-Aryans. According to Taitreya Brahman, the Shudras are descendents of Asuras (DEVO VAI VARNO BRAHMANAHI ASURA SHUDRA). The view of divine origin of Shudras was accepted by many others including Taitreya Brahman (I-2-6-7 & III-2-3-9). During the Manu's period the ‘Shudras’ were made to live outside the village. The condition of ‘Ati-Shudra’ like Chandals (progeny of a Shudra male and Brahmin female) was much worst (Manu Smriti —X-51-52) . Even today, the houses of Shudras in many localities were generally located on the outskirts of the main village.

During the pre-historic world, the victorious races used to enslave the defeated ones and out of the humiliation felt by the latter, there used to be unending enimity among both. It gave birth to the master and slave groups. Still, in other countries including Europe, the principles of fraternity preached by religions like Christianity rendered such policies as utterly meaningless and human slavery was wiped out. But in India, slavery came to be rooted permanently, due to the strongest religious sanction provided to it by the Aryan Hindus.

The second main cause for perpetual slavery was the adoption of a policy by Aryans with the object to ensure that Non-Aryans like Meds/ Meghs could not get rid of slavery even during their unforeseeable future. This conspiracy was actually born out of reaction against Indus people like Meghs, who gave a long stiff resistence to the Aryans. However, it was all camouflaged by declaring divine the origin of fourth Varna as the will of God. In the Brahmanical classification, the hostility between the Aryans and Dasas was also transformed into the twice born and the single birth. Later on, the twin theory of ‘Karma’ and ‘rebirth’ was also added to it. Thus, the truth about origin of Indus people/ Meghs was consealed in a foolproof manner. Even today, the scholars who support colonialism are trying to veil this greatest historical truth.

Through the policy of writing in the ‘holy’ scriptures, the Aryans have been repeatedly urged to defeat and destroy their enemies (Non-Aryans) both physically and economically and weaken them by snatching their virtues like business and artisanship. It also called out to them to augment their own power, strengthen their defence, rob the Non-Aryans, and rise in prosperity. Such information contained in the early Vedic literature was confirmed to be of divine origin through writings like Mahabharata including Geeta, Puranas, Smritis including ‘Manava-Dharma-Shastra’ of Manu, Kautalya’s Artha-Shashtra, etc. More and more writings were added to it, so that gradually this established the ‘intellectual victory’ of the Aryans over the Mediterrannean tribes like Meghs.

IMPACT OF ARYAN LITERATURE:

The Aryans were still in Punjab when Vedas were composed. Composition of Shraut Sutras and Brahmanas took place before Buddha from 1000 BC TO 600 BC. The Dharam Sutras of Gautam, Baudhyan, Vasista and Apastamba have been placed between 600 BC to 400 BC.

It was upheld during this period that Shudras were Non-Aryans who had nothing to do with 'Yajna'. According to Panch Vimsa Brahmana (VI - 1-11), the Shudra originated without a God and Yajnas. According to Maittriyani Samhita (code), the cattle could be taken away forcibly from the Shudra for Yajna i.e. they could be made economically weak.

Gemini Brahmana (1 - 68-69) states that Shudra originated from the feet of Prajapati. They were without Gods and therefore, they earn livelihood by washing Brahman’s feet (i.e. by serving him).

Baudhayan Shraut Sutra (XXIV-31), Taittreya Brahman (III-2-3) and Maitrayani Samhita (VI -1-3) say that no Shudra milk from any cow be meant for Agnihotra. The Brahman Rishis in due course of time also ousted Shudras from their personal life. Later on, The Kshattriyas and Vaishyas also started copying them (Brahmans). In this manner, the infectious disease of 'untouchability' gradually spread in society or to all corners of the country. All persons started hating Shudras. The people not only started taboos regarding eating, drinking, having company, etc. with them, but also were afraid of becoming impure even from their shadows. In this way the walls of castism had become stronger that endure even up to this age.

Many of the Sutras touching various aspects of life were written during 600 to 300 BC. Dharam Sutras contain religious customs and rituals. Griha Sutras contain rules and regulations pertaining to domestic life. According to Apastamb Dharam Suttra (1-1-1-6&7), the duty of Sudra is to serve other three castes. This is the only source of their freedom.

According to Apt. D.S. 1-9-27-11, dark complexion castes (Shudras) are opposed to and against the Brahmans. Up to this period no land or any other form of property was left with the ‘Shudras’. As per Gautam D.S. - X-51 to 59, Shudras should live in a humble way and speak the truth, wash the feet of Brahmans, do service to them and take whatever is given to them by Brahmans i.e. old clothes, umbrella, carpet, and left-over food-stuff, etc. Gautam D.S. X - 62 means that the Shudra can make both the ends meet by doing the job of an artisan with the help of tools.

BAN ON EDUCATION: According to Apastamb Dharma Suttra (1-3-9-6) and Gautam Dharma Sutra (XVI – 19), Shudras and Chandalas should not be caused to hear Ved Mantras. Gautam D.S. (XII - 4-26) says that if the Shudra deliberately hears Veda, melted lead should be poured into his ears. If he recites Ved-Mantras, his tongue should be chopped off. If he learns Ved-Mantras, his body should be cut into two pieces. The Shudras should not learn about the conspiracies hatched against them in the Ved-Mantras (R.V. - IV-28-4). That is why there was a complete ban on the hearing and learning of Ved-Mantras by the Shudras. Due to this reason, the Shudras were not allowed to participate in the Yajna, where Vedic hymns were recited. This later on became the strong base for untouchability. According to Gautam Samhita — XX, the teacher who teaches the Shudra will be born as a Shudra in the next life.

A man was given respect according to his caste. If he is a Brahman, he was seated on a raised seat and served food, etc. according to his status. If he was a Kshattriya, he was given respect less than that given to a Brhaman and if he was a Vaishya, he was given even lesser respect. In case of a Shudra, he was shown no respect.

The Brahmanical literature produced miraculous results for the Aryans, particularly because of the following reasons—

1. The Aryan literature, both religious or otherwise like Vedas, Upnishdas, Puranas, Smritis, etc. was continuously declared to be of devine origin. Hence no body could dare to go against it or commit heresay. This divine origin of literature demanded blind faith that made the caste system strong and stable.

2. The Shudras were segregated from the Vedic rituals like 'Yajna' and worship. It was inculcated into the mind of the Aryans that the sanctity of the ‘Yajnas’ could be ensured only if the ‘Shudras’ were excluded from the right to conscience or worship.

3. In the later Vedic period, the Aryans attemted to ensure racial purity. Therefore, they successfully evolved and strengthened the Caste system.

4. Legal sanction was provided by the Aryan (Hindu) rulers and provisions of caste system were ruthlessly implemented, as done by characters like ‘Lord Rama’, who killed Rishi Shambhook.

5. Because of the philosophy of ‘Karma’, Re-incarnation of souls, Rebirth, Swarga, Narka, etc. propagated by the Brahmans, the ‘Shudras’ were successfully made to re-consile to their fate and accept it as the divine dispensation.

6. The Shudras were snatched the right to conscience, write to education, right to property, the right to take up arms in case of injustice, and right to become aware (through listening or otherwise) of the information contained in the ‘holy’ books like Vedas, etc. to ensure that they do not become aware of the conspiracies of the Aryans.

7. The Aryans successfully inculcated into the minds of intellectually empoverished Shudras that their ‘salvation’ lied only in blindly serving their high-caste Hindu masters. For physical survival they must accept, without any question and doubt, whatever was given to them by their masters. Through this step, the Aryans achieved their object to snatch all the virtues of Non-Aryans, who spiritually and completely accepted the sub-human treatment and forgot what they were. Consequently, their fate became worst even than the animals.

8. The bitterness in caste system was further enhanced when the institution of untouchability grew out of notions of purity and impurity, or holiness and unholiness and it has no parallel in the world history. Lord Krishna proclaims himself as God-Reincarnate (GEETA — IV / 6) and whatever he said is widely accepted by the Hindus. He implied in Hymn IX — 32 in GEETA that Women, Vaisyas, Shudras and social out-castes (Pariahs) were unholy.

9. The concepts of untouchability or unapproachability were developed out of the superstitious ideas of ceremonial purity or impurity and the said impurity of certain occupations. It resulted into the division of ‘Shudras’ as —

(I) TOUCHABLE: They included the servile class, tillers, cattle-rearers, oil-crushers, distillers, carpenters, copper-smiths, gold-smiths, metal workers, wood-workers, weavers, bamboo workers, dyers, painters, corn-poachers, tailors, etc. In English language they are currently termed as depressed classes.

(II) UNTOUCHABLE (Ex-Communicated): They are termed as Maha-Shudra or Ati-Shudra and in English as Scheduled Castes. They were mostly those Indus people or Dasas like the Meghs who were the most hated by Aryans due to historical reasons. Those engaged in filthy professions like leather-work, scavenging, etc. were also included among them.

Other reasons for growth of Untouchability:

(a) Augmentation of literature aimed at confirming and justifying the divine origin of caste-system and demanding blind faith from all. The wide-spread blind faith became a social trend. It influenced the thinking and behaviour of even those belonging to other religions. Consequently, even the converts to other religions could not get the desired results against the caste system and untouchability.

(b) The needed enlightened society, as per demands of successive ages in India could not develop due to merciless implementation of ‘Manu Smriti’. Consequently, there was alround decay in various spheres of life. The Aryans monopalized education, and used it mostly for their selfish ends.

(c) Development of colour discrimination consciousness led to road-blocks for inter-caste marriages. The Aryans were of fair (rosy) complexion, while the Non-Aryans or natives were of brown or dark complexion. Propagation of this through Aryan literature further helped this consciousness.

MANAVA DHARMA SHASTRA: During the Post-Mauryan period (200 BC to 100 AD), Shunga kings massacred the Buddhists. To again make the foundation of the Aryan-Brahman rule much stronger, the most famous book of the Hindu Code 'Manava Dharma Shastra’, popularly known as ‘Manusmriti’ was composed by Mahamuni Manu in which the most stringent laws were framed against the Shudras. Consequently, the freedom achieved during the Maurian Empire by Non-Aryan communities like Meghs, was ultimately lost by them due to Manu’s discriminatory laws that were implemented mercilessly by the Hindu rulers.

Through Manu Smriti, the Aryans Hindus constructed and evolved an ideology of politics in the garb of religion that did not split religion into faith and ideology. Reading of 'Manu Samriti' clearly gives you the picture how they mixed up religion, faith or spirituality, morality, ethics, and law into politics to cleverly evolve the caste-based structured human existence based upon their spiritual philosophy. They philosophise that the soul is eternal and goes through birth, death, and rebirth in the form of a cycle based upon a person's good or bad Karma in the previous birth. Though nothing is eternal about an individual, they justify it by answering various questions. They explain: Why god is partial? Why are some born rich (High Caste) and some poor (Low Caste)? A person's Karmas are responsible for it and not God. They say that human beings take birth in four castes based upon the proportion of their good or bad Karma. If you do 'Karma' (good deeds) in this life, probably in the next, due to Punya (credit), your life becomes comfortable and enjoyable in proportion to your good deeds. If you act wickedly now, in the next Janma (birth), you will suffer accodingly. Through this philosophy, the four walls of casteism were definitely developed to be permanently based on birth.

Practically, with the process of time, different professions, barriers of provinces, varying ways of living, diet, superstitions, customs are said to have broken the main four castes and further led to creation of more than seven thousands of sub-castes in India. Thus the social divisions created such distortions that led to terrible consequences including slavery of the whole country at the hands of foreigners.

It has been said in Manu Smriti VIII - 418 that it is the duty of a king to compel the Vaisyas and Shudras to perform their duties, otherwise the structure of the whole world will stagger. A few of the inhuman cruel laws contained in ‘Manu Smriti’ are given below.

SOME OF THE ECONOMIC CODES (LAWS) OF MANU:--

Manu X - 129 - Shudra should not be allowed to amass wealth, otherwise he will harm the Brahman.

Manu VIII - 417 - The Brahman can have the wealth of the Shudra slave with full confidence, because the latter has no right to property.

Manu XI - 14 - If a Kshattriya is dying of hunger then he can not take the money of a Brahman, but he can take the money of a Dasyu (Shudra).

Manu VIII - 142 - The rate of monthly interest should be charged according to Varna i.e. from the Brahman, Kshattriya, Vaisya and Sudra — two, three, four and five percent respectively.

Manu VIII - 179 - The man with whom money is to be deposited, should be an Aryan.

Consequent upon these laws, the Sudras were reduced to extreme poverty. They did not get anything as remuneration for their services, except left-over food stuffs and used clothes. They were barred from becoming owners of land and property, because of fear that they may not become prosperous and equal to Aryans in status, etc. This is the only historical reason why in modern age the Govt. is compelled to provide reservation for all Shudras in government services.

SOME OF THE DUTIES OF SHUDRA:--

Manu-X - 123, & IX-334 - Service of the Brahman is propitious religion of Shudra. Any thing else done by him is useless.

Manu-VIII - 414 - Even if the master terminates the services of a Shudra, he can not be relieved of his duties, because this is natural calling.

Manu - X-122 - Shudra should serve the Brahmans in order to attain a seat in the heavens or for prosperity in both the worlds. His birth is successful only if he says that he is the servant of such and such Brahman.

Punishment for Violation: According to part VIII - 273 & IX - 224 of Manu Samriti, if a Shudra tries to change his caste, he should be fined 200 Panas and death punishment. Manu Samriti also reveals worst kind of discriminatoy laws applicable to all castes, in all other spheres of life. But they are particularly favourable to Brahmans. Thus, as a result of the conspiracy of Brahmans, the Non-Aryan Indus people were reduced to the position of animals under the guise of a Varna System.

In the Third-Section of his code, Manu has compelled the Shudra to become a slave by making him a devotee or showing him the fear of God. As the law is said to have been revealed by the almighty God, who will revolt against it? This is the unique example of human cleverness in the world in making others one's devotees (Bhagats) or slaves. The theory of re-incarnation was also a part of the same chain (technique).

Even today, the entire country is devotee of Lord Rama. Not to raise a fingure against any of his wrong deeds (murder of Shambook and cutting of nose of Sharupnakha) every one including even the Non-Aryan Shudra bows his head on hearing his name. All the historians have in one voice said that this was the spiritual victory of Aryans over the Non-Aryans, instead of saying that it was the worst kind of mental slavery or worst crime against humanity, never seen elsewhere in the world.

Puranas were re-written (100 AD to 500 AD) to strengthen the Caste System from all aspects. Vishnu, Narad, Brahaspati and Katyayan Smriti were composed. The Shanti Purva and Anushasan Purva were also added into the Mahabharata during this period. Those chapters of Vishnu, Markandeya and Bhavishya Puranas, in which the duties of Varnas have been detailed, appear to be of Gupta period.

According to Markandeya (25-7-8) and Vishnu Purana (III-8-32), the duty of the Shudra is to serve the other castes.

According to Shanti Purva - 60-27 of Mahabharata, Prajapati has created Shudra as the slave of other three castes.

It may be noticed that earlier, the Shudra was described as the servant of Brahmans only, but the authors of this later period declared him as servant of the three Varnas / Castes i.e. the whole society. According to Shanti Parva (60-29) -- The people of the three Varnas should keep the Sudras as attendants or servants.

IMPACT OF BUDDHIST MOVEMENT:

About 2600 years back, Gautam Buddha, preached that a person could attain salvation from his miseries only after he finds out the causes behind it, removes those causes and be his own light. The great Buddhist and Jain religious thinkers launched the ideology of human fraternity in India. Such teachings had a good impact over the people.

Consequently, the Meghs and other Pre-Aryan tribes felt re-juvenated. As the story of a Buddhist king Meghwahan reveals, they came under the influence of non-violence preached by Buddha.

The Jammu and Kashmir King Meghwahan figures in 'Chachanama' and 'Rajtarangini' written by Kalhan whose historical description is considered very authentic. According to 'RAJTARANGINI', Meghwahan was born in Gandhar (Kandhar, Afghanistan). He was a Buddhist believing in non-violence and administered justice and peace to his public. Such was the greatness of Meghwahan that some of the Meghs in J&K even still trace their origin from this Buddhist King.

NON-ARYAN BUDDHIST KINGS: A few centuries before the beginning of Christian Era, as a result of the discriminatory structured existence created by Aryans, many among the descendants of Indus Valley embraced Buddhism. Among the Buddhist religious books written in Pali language during that period, Dirgha-Nikaya, Majham Nakaya, and Vinay Patika, etc. are the prominent. These books reveal much information about the Non-Aryans.

Before the Gupta period, the foreigners (Murundas i.e. Kushanas) ruled for more than 200 years, who left deep influence on the political and social life. They created a new ruling class out of the Shudras. They were the ardent followers of Buddhist religion and terribly opposed to Sanatan Dharma. The capital of Kushana Empire was Pushap-Pur (Modern Peshawar). They deputed Kshatrap Vanaspar to rule over Patliputra (Magadh). There were 13 Kings of Murunda Dynasty who ruled Patliputra.

In the book entitled Angutara Nikaya of Buddhist literature, a mention of 16 states ruled by famous kings has been made. These states were called Maha Janapada. Majority of these states were the kingdoms of Non-Aryans. These kingdoms were - Kashi, Kosal, Anga, Magadha, Vajji, Malla, Cheti or Chedi, Vats, Kuru, Panchal, Matsya, Sursen, Asaku, Avanti, Gandhara, and Kamboj. Prominent among the Buddhist kingdoms were – Lichchhvi, Vajji, Kosala, Magadha and Kashmir that were governed by Non-Aryan kings.

Buddhism had spread like fire throughout the country. A best, glorious, economically most prosperous, politically powerful and invincible 'system', was developed by by then Buddhist India (500 BC-500 AD) consisting of various generations of Non-Aryans including the Meghs / Meds. There was the rule of ten kings (called Aryans as ‘Shudra’ Kings), who were under the Buddhist influence. Buddhism also spread to Tibet, China, Japan, Burma, Indonesia, Ceylone, Afghanistan, and Central Asia.

But in India that light of humanity also gradually vanished after the decline of Maurya dynasty (300 BC TO 200 BC). The Maurya rulers could not shake the faith of Indian society in Varna-Vyavastha due to conspiracies of the Brahmans.

In Arthshastra, Kautilya wrote a complete chapter (Sangha Vrata Adhikaran XI of 78 Sutra) with an object how to destroy the powerful 'republics' or guilds established by the Non-Aryans. In short, Kautilya stressed, "Divide the different associates of Sangha, make them fight and destroy". The killing of last Maurian King (191-184 BC-a Buddhist & grandson of Ashoka) named Brahdratha at the hands of his own army chief named Pushyu Mittra Shunga (a Brahmin), was a part of the same conspiracy in 184 BC, following which the Brahmanic rule of Shunga Dynasty was established in 185 BC. Pushyu Mittra burnt all the Boddh Viharas at Patliputra and Mihirgul, while the Hindu king of Punjab had ordered the murder of Buddhist Monks.

It is very interesting to note that the great emperors like Chander Gupta Maurya (Jain) and Ashoka (Buddhist) have been insulted by calling them ‘Kula-Hina’ and ‘Shudra’. There are many other examples of the conspiracies of Brahmins against the Buddhists and Indus Civilisation people. We may quote the case of Nand Dynasty that ruled over Magadh. King Nand was son of a Shudra. Chanakiya Brahman is considered instrumental for the fall of his rule. Chandergupta, the son of King Nand, born from the womb of a low caste woman named Mura (a Dassi), was put under the guardianship of Chanakya right from 7-8 years age of innocence. As the child grew under the close care of Chankya, he brainwashed him and made him to strongly believe that he was a high-born, while his father King Nand was low-born. Therefore, he could be deprived of the throne due to not being the son of the elder queen. The child's mind was filled with great hatred against his father. King Nand was famous for his enemity against the Brahmans. Therefore, Chanakya incited the son of 'Dassi' Mura and got King Nand killed.

Similarly, Vishnu had changed the mind of Prahlad against the latter's father Hiranyakashyap. The example of Sugriv and Bhabhikshan can also be quoted in this respect. It appears that the Brahmans might have declared Chandergupta (a Shudra) as a Kashatrya, as they did in case of Chhattarpati Shivaji.

It is quite strange to note that every Non-Aryan King has been said to be the son of a Shudra wife (Dasi) of a king, though the king himself may have been a Non-Aryan Shudra. Mahapadamnanda has also been said to the son of a Shudra wife, and Sisunagas themselves were Non-Aryans. Similar is the case of King Ashoka. According to a story given in the Divyavadanam (26-Panshupradanam), he was the son of Bindusar from a barber woman. At the same time, he has been said to be the progeny of Nandas. It can be said that all the kings of Magadha and the Mauryan family were Non-Aryans. The greatest among Buddhist kings was Ashoka, who after coming under the influence of Buddha's teachings tried his best to rejuvenate the similar egalitarian system of society as established by the Indus people.

Pt. Hari Prasad Shastri at page-284 of his book, 'Ashok Samraj Da Patan Kiyon Hoiya' has mentioned the following reasons for the fall of Maurya Empire.

1. Brahmans opposed the egalitarian policies of Ashoka and his successors. They actively participated in the movement against Mauryas, as the latter condemned the practices like animal sacrifices by the Aryans.

2. Brahmans considered Ashoka a Shudra. Therefore, they undermined, and at times flouted his orders by not complying with them.

3. In the Shila Lekhs (stone-carvings), Ashoka dubbed the Brahmins as 'false Gods', while the latter wished to be called as 'Bhoo-Deva'.

4. Pro-Buddhist religious policies of Ashoka.

5. The Brahmins felt that their privileges in social matters were curtailed due to the egalitarian social system proclaimed by Ashoka and followed by his successors.

6. Through a proclamation, Ashoka abolished slavery, which was resented by the high caste Hindus.

DECLINE OF BUDDHISM: During the Gupta Era (beginning in 319-320 AD or in 284-285 AD), because of the miracle of theories of 'Atma-Parmatma', 'Lok-Parlok' and 'Swarg-Nark' created by Brahmans, every body became blind to such an extent that even the utter-most lie or falsehood became the truth and only truth. Under these circumstances, if a king was declared by the Brahmans to be a Non-Aryan Shudra, then even a common man turned against him. Consequently, Gupta kings pursued the policy of compromising with the Brahmanism instead of opposing it. They tried to please Brahmans, so that the latter could not dare to call them of low birth.

The Vedic Aryans relentlessly continued to counter the Buddhist influence through all possible means. Consequently, towards the decline of Gupta Empire, Caste System got established again firmly. Buddhism was pushed back and Hinduism revived. Samudra Gupta killed 13 Naga princes. He destroyed the decendents of erstwhile tribes (classed as castes under the Varna System), whose forefathers were the founders of Indus Valley Civilisation. He did it with the thinking that once these free communities were wiped out, the recruiting ground for future heroes, patriots and statesmen amongst them would disappear.

The Village Craft guilds or Sanghas were ruthlessly broken; their members (Shudras / Meghs) were made to disperse and pressed to settle in different villages or far off isolated places. Though under earlier pressure, people like Meghs had been already scattered in various states of the North and Western India, they further spread to unknown or unrecorded places in small numbers. At some places they were called Meghwal, at others Meghowal, etc. But in Sapt-Sindhu area, they continued to be mainly called as Megh, except as Med in Sindh area. Those who were a very few in number even lost their identity and merged into the other tribes at the respective places of their permanent settlement.

In lieu of Sangha, the orthodox Hindu Varna and feudal system was introduced forcibly. As such, the backbone of Indian economy and the defence system was broken for ever. Henceforth, the nation lived a life of slavery, poverty, and humiliation. The real dark age of Indian history began.

To get rid of the atrocities committed by the Aryans, the Meghs had embraced Buddhism. But, during the subsequent Hindu rule they were again persecuted ruthlessly. Thus, they again came into the iron-grip of Aryans who, at many places in India had massacred the Buddhists. The Aryan Hindu rulers mercilessly enforeced the caste-wise tasks repeatedly prescribed in their religious books. The punishment for their violation was death. Such circumstances were created under which it had become quite impossible to change the task fixed for every caste. Under this cruel reality, the Meghs completely forgot their history and lost their identity.

EXCEPTIONS FROM THE ARYAN WRIT: Aryans made rigid social and religious laws leading to stability in the caste system. They did not allow the other races to rise above them. Those races who settled here after defeating the previous Indian races were called the Rajputs (Gurjars and Huns) and Jats (Kushans). Though Brahmans had declared them as 'Shudras' (Brahad Dharam Purana—Uttar Khand, Adhyaye XIII), they have been living in society as Kshattriyas. According to Bhavishya Purana (VIII - 27-28), they were declared to be Varna-Sankara and Malechchhas, but in fact they are living like Kshattriyas in the society. They continued to be exceptions from the Aryan writ. Nor did the Aryan kings find sufficiently long time opportunity to achieve intellectual and spiritual victory over them, as they could get in respect of Indus Civilization people like Meghs.

Similar is the case with Yadvas. While commenting over Lord Krishna, D.D. Kosambi, "Krishna is really foreign to Mahabharata, a later intruder in the epic."......Krishna of Bhagwat is perhaps a modified form of Krishna of Rigvedic description, who was the Non-Aryan Chief of Yadu Caste. Nevertheless, he was shown an incarnation of Vishnu. He was the great-grandson of Aryaka, a naga chief (Nag means serpent). The term ‘Naga’, was applied to those who worshipped serpents and who were mentioned in Sanskrit literature as Asurs, monsters, Danavas and Dasas. He was son of Vasudeva & sister of Kansa, the king in those days in the city of Mathura. He was from a low-born Shudra-Shepherd family. Even the Madras High Court in 1927 had given the judgement that the Yadavs were a Shudra Caste.

Brahmans under the leadership of Moropant Pingley who was Shivaji's Prime Minister refused to recognise Shivaji as Kshattriya. Balaji Avaji, Shivaji's friend and secretary was of immense help to him. He gave some money to Brahmans and got prepared a pedegree table of Shivaji which was connected with the Sisodiya dynasty of Mewar. He procured the services of a famous Brahman named Gaugbhat from Benaras in exchange for a large sum of money, and it was then that the coronation ceremony of Shivaji could be effected.

Some other Non-Aryan castes also turned Rajputs after giving away charity generously to Brahmans. Among the Indus Non-Aryans, there was a section called 'PANI' figuring in the Rigveda. They were a brotherly tribe of Indus people Meghs. They were a trading class since the Harappan age. Gradually, these ‘Panis’ started intruding into Vaisya class and were partially mixed with them by the advent of the Muslims. It was mainly due to the reason that they became a good source of income through bribery of alms-giving to the Brahmans.

However, Meghs had been dealt mercilessly and made to forget their identity and reconcile to their fate. Therefore, they could not make themselves to be exceptions as is evident from the writing of the Muslim historian Alberuni, a contemporary of famous Muslim invader Mehmud Ghaznavi (997-1030 A.D.). Alberuni has written at page 87 in his book, 'Albaruni Ka Bharat' that eight (8) castes freely establish mutual messing and marital relations, because other people (high caste Hindus) do not accept to deal with them. “These eight castes are: Dhuniya, Mochi, Madari, Basket and Shield Maker, Sailors, Fishermen, Aherians (hunters) and Weavers (Julaha / Meghs). These people live near but outside the village and towns where people of four varnas reside.

HE LIFE OF MEGHS UNDER THE ARYANS:

Under the Aryan Hindu rule, the life of Meghs and all other Pre-Aryan tribes remained worst for centuries. Because, they lived cruel structured existence created for them by the Aryans. Under the Aryan / Hindu social structure, there was no freedom of the conscience, and equal treatment in seeking justice. Egalitarian human values remained crushed. There was subjugation of the individual to predetermined social value judgment created by the Aryans. The refusal of Aryan society to allow individual space and its efforts to pre-judge every psychic interaction between the self and the other and also within self led to a total destruction of individuality among Meghs.

Since most of them have not even yet renounced the mental slavery, so except some wise among them, they continue to believe in the ideology constructed by the Aryans / Hindus. Even a slave is apt to revolt the moment he comes to know that he is a slave. But, they did not realize that through the Aryan religion their subjugation that was worst even than slavery had been perpetuated.

In the modern world, by religion we mean the sense of public duty that includes morality, ethics, spiritual concepts, and faith in these concepts. The present day civilized society splits religion as faith and as constructed ideology. Faith is subjective related to concepts, ideas, feelings, perceptions, etc. imbibed in the mind about conception of God and is meant for satisfying ones personal spiritual needs. Constructed ideology is objective dealing with the way in which the Society is run to fulfil the aspirations of human beings. When faith and religion as ideology are not separated, as it existed in the then India, it gives rise to various distortions in the socio-political structure resulting into terrible consequences.

As the Meghs were condemned as Untouchables, they were compelled to follow devotedly the 'Kartavya Dharma' consisting of service to the Brahmin, Kshatriya, and Vaishya to earn their livelihood without condemnation, jealousy and without proud in rendering that service to them. They were told that it was necessary to achieve ‘salvation’ from the cycle of life and death.

To ensure unquestionable and blind compliance to 'Kartavya Dharma', not only its sanctification was explained in the Hindu religious books; but also the Shudras were denied the right to education, the right to liberty, equality, justice, economic freedom, right to property and even the right to worship. The entry of a Shudra into temples remained banned, because his very presence polluted the Aryan Deity/God. He was considered impure due to alleged bad deeds in his previous birth. They also snatched the right to bear arms, so that the Shudra may not revolt against injustice done to him.

With this process under the rule of Aryans for centuries, the Meghs like all other Shudras were maimed, killed, their culture, and history was destroyed. Their property was plundered and pirated. They were treated with much cruelty, injustice, hatred, and inhuman brutal behaviour. Under such a servile status, they were made to forget their own identity. They have evolved to become very defensive and suspicious of other's motives, because of centuries of servility.

However, they have survived, because their survival was in the best economic interests of the high-castes.

Following crushing of Buddhism, the religion of graded castes, placed one above the other, considered God given, was strictly followed. The violation of the provisions of 'Manu Samriti' was considered a sin. This division of people made Indians a sick society.

Consequently, the hordes of foreigners like Muslims, Mongols, Mughals, etc. started attacking, and plundering the Indians and this process continued up to the fourteen century.

RELIGION AND UNTOUCHABILITY OF MEGHS:

Meghs were Mediterraneans who used to be the Naga-vanshis. The Indus Valley people also worshipped the mother goddess as the Universal Spirit. They loved animals as shown in the worship of Pashupati (later as Shiva). They embraced Buddhism during the Buddhist period. They buried their dead in graves and did not cremate them like the Aryans. Under the various Hindu holy scriptures, they were declared as ‘Shudras’ and later also classed as ‘untouchables’.

According to Manu Smriti (8-415), there were seven forms of Dasas:--

1. Dasa-won in the battle-field.

2. One who becomes Dasa by virtue of his devotion.

3. Dasa son of a maid-servant.

4. Dasa who has been purchased.

5. Dasa obtained by donation.

6. Dasa who has been serving as such from the time of his ancestors.

7. Dasa who has been made so by giving him punishment.

Meghs were actually the vanquished people who used to be hated and discriminated by the Aryans. Due to this hate, the dichotomy of Arya and Asura/ Dasa already had been replaced by that of Arya and ‘Shudra’ (Yajurveda — XXVI — 2). In Rigveda, the Meghs are repeatedly described as the enemies of Indira. They were called Dasyus, Dasas, and Asuras. During the later Vedic period, they were included among the ‘Shudras’. Subsequently, they were also classed as ‘Ati-Shudra’. It was done, because they had a long tiff with the Aryans for some generations lasting about 500 to 600 years and had not yet forgotten the memories of atrocities committed over them by the Aryans. Futher, after embracing Buddhism, they had also remained on the forefront for propagation of Buddhism under the regime of King Meghwahan and his son. Therefore, it again resulted into deep hatred by the Aryans agaist them. Consequently, with a view to severely punish them, they were classed as ‘Ati-Shudras’ or ‘Maha-Shudra’ or ‘untouchables’ during the rule of Hindu Kings.

The fact of their having been classed as ‘untouchables’ also stands confirmed by by Dr. Dharmveer, I.A.S. (Kerala Cadre) in his book "Kabir Ke Alochak" published by Vani Prakshsan, Delhi. Dr. Dharmvir has explained from the Vyas Samriti (Adhiyaye-I, Shaloka 10-12) that among others the Meds (modern Meghs) were Antyajas (lower caste). After talking to them, the high caste people should take bath and after seeing them, they should see towards the Sun to purify themselves.

Having been considered as ‘impure’ or ‘untouchables’, the Meghs were not allowed entry into the inside premises around the temple deity to pay obeisance to the Hindu Gods / Goddesses. Their said ‘impurity’ has also been confirmed by Lala Ganga Ram, Secretary, Arya Megh Uddhar Sabha, who ran a “mission for the uplift of Megh-Untouchables”. Lala Ganga Ram observed (8-2-1931) that Hindus were accustomed to treat the Meghs “as something very inferior, sometimes even as low as animals”. He added, “They cannot draw water from the wells used by Hindus and are not permitted to share the same carpet with the Hindus.”

During the period of Hindu kings, they were discouraged and punished by Aryan masters for showing inclination towards Buddhism. Consequently, to satisfy their spiritual needs, to commemorate their great ancestors and console themselves, the Meghs developed the practice of worshiping personal Gods — making their images and erecting temples in the honour of their ancestors, etc. Ancestral worship is still practiced by many of them at 'Deries' or 'Deras' mostly located in Jammu and other places. Under the influence of Aryanised psychology, a few of them also practiced animal (goat) sacrifice at such 'Deras'. It may be mentioned here that the old Aryans practiced animal sacrifice, as is evident in the verses of Rigveda. Pre-Aryans (Meghs) also worshipped 'Naga' Gods. Serpent was the symbol of proto-Indian people who had its exact analogue in Western Asia.

Under such circumstances, the Meghs also came under the influence of medieval saints like Saint Kabir whose message was accepted by the Guru Gaddis belonging to various Deras in Jammu and Sialkot. Later on, it appears that Kabir,s philosophy of formless God was instrumental in bringing the Meghs closer to Lala Ganga Ram led Arya Samaj movement in Punjab, which also accepted the concept of formless God.

MEGHS UNDER MUSLIM RULE:

The new masters maintained an indifferent attitude towards the fate of Meghs and other Shudras because of their own vested economic and political interests in exploiting the masses. Moreover, through generations by this time, the Shudras like Meghs had developed some element of addiction to mental slavery linked with constructed ideology of ‘Karma’ and reincarnation of souls. It resulted into the faith that every thing was pre-ordained by God and the structured existence created by the Aryans / Hindus was not responsible for it.

They did not visualize any reason to be different from the birds held in captivity in a cage. Human beings with such mind-set accept the fate and do not struggle. They do not try to break the cage or escape. They have not known the world outside the cage and fear the unknown. The cage seems to be amazingly familiar and secure even if it is a bit close and suffocating, which fills them with a serene joy.

Therefore, the life of Meghs and other Shudras under the Muslim rulers remained the same with the exception that in the matter of conscience, they were free to get converted to Islam. Many of them did convert to Islam. However, historians are of the view that much of the conversions including some high-caste Hindus took place during the regime of Aurangzeb. Under such an atmosphere, Megh families scattered in Kashmir, Muzafferabad, Mirpur, etc. were learnt to have converted to Islam. Even after the Partition of the country, some (about 40,000 as per current estimates) of those who could not migrate to India also converted to Islam and are living in Pakistan. As per the estimate of some knowledgeable persons, about 90% of the total Muslim population of India belonged to those whose ancestors converted from Hinduism to Islam, mostly because of miserable or cruel treatment they got under the Brahmanistic laws of society.

MEDIEVAL SAINTS: Hindus should be very grateful to the medieval period Dalit Saints who to a greater degree have been their saviours. Because of these saints, quite a considerable number of people were saved from Muslim persecution.These saints challenged the Brahminic Hindu religious tenets and a few of them like Kabir did not spare even the role of Mullahs. Dalit Saints preached that both the temple and the mosque were man-made. They stood for a religion meant for Humanity, that was different from the cruel caste-based structured existence created by the Aryan Hindus.

Dalit Saints in fact were the religious rebels, who included Namdev (belonging to Chhimba community), Kabir (a weaver belonging to the Hindu religious centre, Benaras), Ravidass (Chamar), Sadna (Kasai), Sain (Barber) and Dhanna (Jatt). Their rebellion mostly went unchecked due to changed overall politican scene by then in India. Dalit Saints preached social equality, brotherhood of mankind, righteous means of living, education through 'self help', etc. Such was the greatness of humanistic teachings of these Saints that in addition to Hindus, Sikhs, even a great numbers of Muslims were also affected by their teachings. That is why many of the ‘Shabads’ of Saint Kabir were included in ‘Sri Guru Granth Sahib’, the sacred book of the Sikhs and many among the Muslims, particularly the ‘Bunkars’ follow him.

The backbone of casteism could have been broken by the Dalits, provided they themselves did not lay the walls of caste around teachings of Dalit saints. The teachings have been got divided, as it has been done to Baba Namdev by Chhimbas or the Tank-Kashriyas, to Kabir by the Bhagats, Julahas or Meghs, to Ravidass by the Chamars, to Sain by the Barbar community and to Rishi Valmik by the Valmikis. It has all been due to ignorance and illiteracy of the Dalits, who even today, are unable to understand the relentless movement of Hinduisation process, which imperceptibly goes on unchecked.

It indicates that there has been a conspiracy with History by Brahmin writers who have depicted these Saints as the followers of Ramananda who believed in the teachings of Adi-Shankeracharya and Ramanuj. However, throughout their life the medieval saints fought against the demon of Untouchability i.e. the by-product of 'Varnya Dharma' and everybody knows that Ramananda never discarded 'Varnya Dharma'. Medieval Saints like Kabir knew that the Brahmins had waged a war against the Dalit Society, right from the Vedic times. Therefore, Kabir replied in the warlike spirit by saying, 'PANDITVAD VADANTE JHUTHA' or "PANDE KAUN KUMATI TOHI LAGI".

With a view to neutralise the forceful teachings of Dalit Saints, as well as to undermine their personalities, the pro-Brahmanistic thinking writers, alleged that these saints were semi-educated or illiterate. However, it is evident from the literature of these Saints that they were well aware or well read in Non-Sanskrit language. They used such a language, which could be understood by the common person among the Dalit Society. To Hinduise all these saints, they showed ‘Malas’ in their hands, in spite of knowing well that Dalit Saints were against ritualism. It is deplorable that the historians have not projected these saints as social and religious revolutionaries. Instead of doing that they have rather created false stories about their character. They mentioned Baba Namdev as a 'dacoit' and a slaughterer.

Due to their irritation against Dalit Saints, the Brahmin writers even held that Saint Kabir and Saint Ravidass were Brahmins in their previous births. To further pull down their personalities, they have not only connected some mythical stories with the lives of Saints, but have also attempted to subvert their teachings by managing to change or interpolate some portions or words in their ‘Vani’ or ‘Shabads’, so as to suit the fundament Hindu philosophy. In the Hindu literature, the saints, as well as their followers have been shown to be as ‘Bhagats’ (devoted to spiritual achievements) within the Hindu fold, so that the overall tone and tenor of their philosophy may look to be in consonance with Manuwadi thinking.

Under such propaganda relentlessly carried on till date, the common Dalit does not possess true knowledge about the teachings of his historical heroes like Buddha, Valmik, Namdev, Kabir, Ravidass, Ambedkar, etc. and lacks true faith and love for them. It is because he has been brought up in an environment created by those ring classes, which have ever controlled the social, and cultural propaganda carried on the lines of Brahaminical ideology.

Further, the common Dalit has failed to realize that propagation of caste-based Brahaminical Karm-Kanda, re-incarnation of Gods, concocted theories of salvation or attainment of "Nirvana" through chariy, etc. (Daan-Punya) were just fraudent weapons to perpetuate the enslavement of depressed classes. In fact, the Dalits cannot find God either in the temple, or in the worship, or in the historical shrines. Because, God lives in the sacred heart i.e. in the observance of equality of human beings and in the ways and means to raise humanity.

FAMINES, PARTITION AND MIGRATIONS:

Our country was gripped with major famines of all-India character in the late 18th and the 19th century and there was no parallel to our poverty in any part of the world. Dr. Ambedkar described, “In the first quarter of the 19th century … there were five famines with an estimated loss of 10 Lakh lives. During the second quarter there were six famines with a recorded loss of life of 50 Lakh”. And during the last quarter of the century there were “ eighteen famines with an estimated mortality which reached the awful total between 150 Lakh and 260 Lakh” (Dr. Ambedkar — Life & Mission, By Dhananjay Keer) Many of the poor masses (like Meghs, Meghwal, Meghowal, Weavers, etc.) in the North and North-Western India gradually migrated to to various places considered as less famine prone, due to hunger, forced labour, unemployment and tormenting poverty.

The situation became more terrible for weaver's who were already rendered unemployed due to the England's trade in fine-cloth that threw out of market the course cloth produced by the weaving communities like Meghs / Meghwals and ‘Bunkars’ in the country. Under such grim conditions the human survival was so difficult that people at a few places, inaccessible for any relief, even ate the dead animals. In J&K, their exploitation through forced labour during the regime of earlier Dogra Kings also remained the major factor behind migrations from that area.

As revealed by the history of famines during the 19TH century, because of hunger and tormenting poverty, many people among the communities like Meghs had even started eating the flesh of animals, dead or otherwise. Hunger also compelled them to eat the left-over food of both the Muslims and Hindus. However, Basith and Dhian (sub-castes among Meghs in Jammu province) did not develop such habits. Because of this reason, they started keeping aloof from the other Meghs or Mihnghs.

However, the issue was resolved through the efforts of Baba Bhagata Sadh r/o Vill. Khairi, Dist. Jammu, who later on came to be known as ‘Guru of Keran’. Consequently, by a contract which was concluded and signed in 1879, through the influence of a ‘Guru of Keran’, the the representatives of Meghs hailing from different areas pledged themselves to total abstinence from it. A breach of this agreement made a man liable to pay Rs. 25 to the Government, Rs. 5 to the headmen of village, and a sum, fixed according to the means of the offender, as a penalty was to be paid to the brotherhood (Biradari). In default of payment, he was liable to exclusion from the caste. This contract did have a good impact over the people and since then the Meghs have generally believed in vegetarian food habits.

During the Partition of India, Hindus, and Sikhs of Western Punjab, living in areas like Sialkot, etc. migrated to Indian part of Punjab, and other places in Northern India. Through the appreciable role played by Bhagat Hans Raj Advocate, Bhagat Gopi Chand, and Bhagat Daulat Ram Advocate (who at that time worked as an officer in the Union Government's Rehabilitation Department, Delhi), about 2000/2500 families of Meghs were rehabilitated on the agricultural land holdings through the Union Rehabilitation Department in Dist. Alwar. The Meghs living there, just to avoid inferiority feelings, recorded their caste as "Jat" in the government records and are thus, being treated as OBCs in Rajasthan. However, for social intercourse, they have dealings only with the Meghs living in other parts of India. Though, much lesser in number, yet similar migrations did occur from Sindh area to Gujarat and Rajasthan during the Partition.

RECENT HISTORY:

The Government of India First Census Report of 1882 revealed that millions of people called as ‘Untouchables’ were nominally Hindu. Shudras lived in hutments in separate Mohallas inside the village, while Ati-Shudras (Untouchables) used to live outside the village settlements. These nominal Hindus lived a life of servitude and abject poverty. They did not even enjoy the right to conscience and education. To take advantage of this situation, the British started promoting the activities of Christian Missionaries and lured the ‘Untouchables’ to convert to Christianity.

In the pre-Partition Punjab and J&K, the Hindus hemmed in by Muslims and Sikhs, did not enjoy an easy majority that they had in other parts of India. In Punjab, earlier in 1901, the proportion of the Non-Muslims to the total population was 53%, while the proportion of the Muslims was 47%. However, in 1941, Non-Muslims sank down to 47%, while the Muslims rose to 53%. Further, in face of activities of Christian Missionaries, there was a considerable threat to the Hindus. More or less, similar was the case in J&K.

Simutaneously, the Muslims and Sikhs also made their efforts to attract the depressed classes towards their own religions and allowed them education in their Madrassas, Gurdwaras, etc. The Sikhs, with the help of 'Guru Singh Sabha', attempted to convert Meghs into Sikhism; but failed to achieve the desired results except in a few villages of Shakargarh and Gul-Bahar area in District Sialkot. However, the Muslims and Christians were not successful to attract the Meghs. The scheduled castes in general were essentially bystanders in this competition among upper caste communal groups who, it seemed, suddenly wanted to claim them as their own to serve their motives.

Meanwhile, by 1889, Arya Samaj was established in Punjab. Dr. Gokul Chand Narang, Minister for Local Self-Government, Punjab happened to visited Sialkot on Feb. 8, 1931. On this occasion, Lala Ganga Ram diclosed him that in 1890 “The Meghs applied to the Sialkot Arya Samajists to be reclaimed and raised in social status.” “The question came up before the Sialkot Arya Samaj”. However, there was “bitter and relentless opposition from the Hindus.” By citing the example of Christians, Muslims and Sikhs and after a lot of logical persuation by Lala Ganga Ram, “The Executive Committee of the Sialkot Arya Samaj resolved on the 21st April 1912 to entrust the work to the Arya Megh Uddhar Sabha, which was registered under the Charitable Societies Act XXI of 1860 on the 13th day of June 1912.”

It is worth noting that Arya Samajists took 12 years to accept the request of Meghs, because in the words of Lala Ganga Ram, there was “considerable hesitation” on the part of the Sialkot Arya Samaj for this task. Moreover, the Arya Samaj took time in deciding about some efficient procedures for 'Shuddhi' ( a process of purification or re-conversion to Hinduism), by means of which it could bring Meghs into Hindu acceptability. Only after finalizing such things, the Arya Samaj could take action to ensure that they were not lured into the orbit of Islam and Christianity or Sikhism.

Consequent upon the conversions and their entry into Arya Samaj temples, a good number of young Meghs began to attend seven Primary Schools and one High School run by the Arya Samaj, as revealed by Lala Ganga Ram. The Arya Samajis were stated to have claimed that over 36,000 Meghs from Sialkot area became Arya Samajis through the said 'Shuddhi' process.

In para-8.(a) of his report to Dr. Narang, Lala Ganga Ram has stated “The caste designation ‘Megh’, which is regarded as disreputable by the higher castes and by the community itself, associated as it is with their degraded condition, is discarded; after ‘purification’ (Shuddhi), they are known as ‘Arya’ Bhagats (noble devotees) and are entered as such in the census and other papers”. Meghs also readily accepted the this nomenclature, because in general they possessed a deeply religious nature and thus felt elevated. But, consequently, the official census results did reduce their strengh, because ‘Arya Bhagats’ were never recognized by the Government as Sheduled Castes.

Now the question arises why the word ‘Bhagat’ was used? It is because they were not to ignore the Aryan tradition set during the medieval period when they preferred to call Shudra or Dalit Saints like Namdev, Kabir, Ravidass, etc. as ‘Bhagats’ instead of ‘Saints,’ in spite of their very high spritual achievements and service to the humanity. Moreover, some of the Meghs under the influence of 'Kabir Panth' already used this term among each other.

Secondly, according to Manu Smriti (8-415), there were seven forms of ‘Dasas’ (Shudras) and and under one of these forms, one could be admitted to the Hindu fold, ‘by virtue of his devotion (Bhagati)’. These appear to be the real logical arguments through which Lala Ganga Ram could persuade the Arya Samajists to accept his proposal for applying the ‘Shuddhi’ process to Meghs for their convertion to the Aryan Society.

This is the typical example of ‘Manuwad’ in the interpretation of the word ‘Bhagat’ to promote Hinduisation. Thus, by aligning themselves with the Aryan’s Society, the Meghs in ground reality or from the traditional viewpoint of Aryan Hindus progressed from the status of ‘Ati-Shudras’ or ‘Mahashudra’ or ‘Untouchables’ to the status of ‘Shudras’. Otherwise, in modern times the Indian Government has considered most of the ‘Untouchables’ as Schduled Castes and most of the ‘Shudras’ as Other Backward Classes (OBCs).

The British Government exacerbated the competition for convertion among communal groups by enacting prejudicial legislation. An example of this was the Land Alienation Act of 1900, which limited the right to own land to a set list of agrictural castes. Through this Act, the Untouchables including Meghs were excluded from the right of owning land, because they were not considered to be a traditionally land owning caste, because they worked as weavers and farm laborers.

The British Government's Indian Council's Act (Minto-Marley Reforms) followed by the Govt. of India Act of 1919, prepared the theatre for further political competition in the undivided Punjab by establishing provincial legislative councils. It stipated people’s representation communally in accordance with the respective strength of Sikhs, Hindus, Muslims and other groups to be found in the population at large. The way, in which one divided the Scheded Castes population under those headings, then became a sensitive and critical matter.

The first provincial elections held in Punjab in 1920, indicated two things to the Scheded Castes. First, they learnt that by virtue of their sheer numbers, Muslims had a preponderance of electoral power. This made the Muslims potential allies for Scheded Castes support. Secondly, they became aware that the Scheduled Castes, if united, could use their numbers as a bargaining leverage among political forces.

One of the most critical issues over the spread of Arya Samaj movement by persons like Lala Ganga Ram was precisely the need for political mobilization of Scheduled Castes. Therefore, the Arya Samaj turned its attention increasingly to the problem of numbers, census, and elections for legislative councils. It was thus, a ripe time for the political movement within the Scheded Castes who at that time constituted 10 to 25% of popuation in various districts of undivided Punjab.

Marginal groups have the opportunity to act meaningfly only when the dominant structures of the society are under stress and change is possible. Further, a new consciousness was also emerging among the Untouchables themselves throughout the subcontinent. To quote an example, in Punjab, a three-day conference (Oct. 10-12th 1920), was organized by the Scheded Castes and Backward Classes at Jallianwala Bagh, Amritsar, demanding equal status in Sikh religion and society. At the end of the conference, they marched into the Golden Temple and the Sikh Sangat were allowed Karah-Prasad at the hands of the Scheded Castes. Earlier to this incident, the Scheded Castes were not allowed to serve Karah-Prasad to the Sangat. It was historic step of 'self-help' concept by the depressed classes, which ushered into 'Gurdwara Sudhar Lehar'.

During 1925, Babu Mangu Ram, r/o Vill. Muggowal, Teh. Garhshanker, Dist. Hoshiarpur formed an organization named Ad-Dharam Mandal, which proclaimed Rishi Valmik, Saint Ravidas, Saint Kabir and Saint Namdev as their Gurus. This organization was started to reveal the historical aspect of the Untouchables, who it explained, belonged to the Pre-Aryan people inhabiting the then ‘Sapta-Sindhu’ or the Greater Punjab.

The Ad-Dharam movement tried to undercut the influence of Arya Samaj Movement by questioning their motives and sincerity, particarly while the latter kept intact the foundations of Hindu caste system. The Ad-Dharam leaders added the theological concept of well being of humanity based upon the teachings of many of the medieval saints, who condemned caste-system, or practices leading to superiority or inferiority.

Arya Samaj actively opposed the Ad - Dharam and tried to make it fail. A good deal of Arya Samaj energy was spent on fighting the Ad - Dharam by preaching against the latter. Consequently, the Ad - Dharam could not attract the Meghs, who by that time had already been much influenced in favour of Arya Samaj due to the hard work done by Lala Ganga Ram, an advocate of Sialkot (Pak) who belonged to the Gold-Smith community and had a good legal practice, in addition to his family's ancestral profession. He had established ‘Arya Megh Uddhar Sabha’ for social and educational uplift of the Meghs.

Lala Ganga Ram got allotted to the Megh Uddhar Sabha, on instalment basis some barren land from the Govt. at a place falling in the jurisdiction of Teh. Khanewal Dist. Multan and named it as Arya Nagar. Small Holdings of this land were distributed to a few of the Megh families who reclaimed it for cultivation based on 50% share in the crop. Later on the Megh tenants pressed him to accept their demand for 2/3rd share in the crop for the tillers. Lala Ganga Ram showed reluctance and consequently, was reportedly manhandled during his visit to Arya Nagar. Later on, Bhagat Hans Raj Advocate r/o Vill. Dalowali, Dist. Sialkot secured the rights of ownership to the Megh tenants through the court.

It is worth mentioning here that Bhagat Hans Raj r/o Vill. Dalowali had got finacial support from Arya Samaj for his education (BA, LLB) till 1935 and practiced as a lawyer at Sialkot. He had settled in Delhi after the Partition and died during the year 1966.

Though, he was thankful to the Arya Samaj for his education, but by the time of winning over the court case, Bhagat Hans Raj had developed inclination towards the ideas of Dr. Ambedkar and also sympathised with the Ad - Dharam Movement of Mangu Ram. It was all to the much dislike of Arya Samaj leaders who in their earlier dreams had thought him to be a captive Arya Samaji activist in exchange for support during his education.

Among the persons educated with the support of Arya Samaj schools, Bhagat Hans Raj was perhaps the exception who favoured inter-caste marriages just like Dr. Ambedkar. Therefore, he got married with an Ad - Dharam woman. However, some of his Arya Samaji friends, in-spite of having been invited, boycotted to participate in his marriage ceremony on the plea that the Meghs were relatively a higher caste than the Ad - Dharamis among the Scheded Castes and they hitherto, were not having blood relations with them.

But, Bhagat Hans Raj wanted the depressed classes to rise above the caste considerations in their practical life and his own life was an example for the same.

It is interesting to note from the Writings and Speeches of Dr. Ambedkar (published by Ministry of Welfare, G.O.I., New Delhi, Oct. 1966 Edition) that Aryan Hindus in Punjab did not agree that communities like Meghs were Untouchables. However, due to the personal efforts of Bhagat Hans Raj supported by Dr. Ambedkar, the Megh community was considered for reservation under the Scheduled Caste category. Had the Aryan Hindus succeeded in pressing for their viewpoint, the Meghs would not have got the benefit of reservation.

By this time, the “Shuddhi” movement had lost its effect. It proved the truthfulness of Dr. Ambedkar’s observation that ‘ Shuddhi’ was impracticable, because where there is a Caste, there is no "Shuddhi".

Therefore, Dr. Ambedkar advised the Aryans that to save Hinduism, a new doctrinal basis must be given to Hindu Society - a basis that will be in consonance with liberty, equality and fraternity, in short with Democracy. As the Hindus failed to do it, Dr. Ambedkar provided this doctrinal bases in the shape of new Constitution of India that we may call as the “New-Dharma” for all religions or for the whole nation.

Bhagat Hans Raj was also aware that traditional India had remained political and a political competition was taking place between rival groups - castes, regions, and religious communities. Moreover, the Poona Pact (Sept. , 1932) followed by the Govt. of India Act of 1935 had set the stage anew for that competition in electoral politics. In view of it, Bhagat Hans Raj had got the support of Ad - Dharam and the Unionist Party of Sikander Hayat and became member of the Punjab State Assembly to represent the Scheduled Castes form Sialkot. The Unionist Party was against the Partition of India.

Whatever progress has been made by Meghs and their associates in education, and various economic fields, it was legally made possible due to the unflinching efforts made by Dr. B. R. Ambedkar, a great social revolutionary of the world. Through his grand strategy, he got cooperation from all the national level leaders to adopt a new constitution, which, when sincerely put into practice is truly a ‘New Dharma’ that guarantees social, economic, and political equality. He revealed to us that religion in India remained mixed with the state politics, morality and ethics, all of which must be separated. He advised that only by removing ignorance through education and following the principle of 'Self-help', the Dalits have to safeguard against the bad politics, bad morality and bad ethics of old Aryan culture.

Meanwhile, during the elections of 1945, on the crucial stage of Independence, Bhagat Hans Raj contested the State Assembly elections from Sialkot, as a Unionist Party candidate. But he lost the seat to Chaudhary Sundar Singh, a Congress candidiate, due to division of Megh voters; caused by the irritated Arya Samajis who had fielded Bhagat Gopi Chand r/o Vill. Pothan (Dist. Sialkot) as one of the contesting candidates.

SITUATION IN J&K: In Jammu and Kashmir, the occupational and social status of the Meghs remained almost the same as in Punjab and they remained ‘Untouchables’ particarly at the hands of Rajputs and Brahmans who had complete control over the administration till the regime of Maharaja Pratap Singh. They had similar religious ideas like ancestral worship and attraction towards Saint Kabir.

During the Arya Samaj movement in Jammu region, Swami Nityananda carried over the "Shuddhi" ceremonies after taking into confidence Maharaja Hari Singh s/o Maharaja Amar Singh. An Arya Samaj activist named Lala Ram Chand, who used to perform such ceremonies, pressed the high caste Hindus to allow the Meghs to draw water from the village well, and specifically attempted to open a school for the education of Meghs. Because of such attempts, the High-Caste Hindus at Village Batehra in Jammu killed him mercilessly. His martyrdom day is incessantly observed in a memorial established in Vill. Batehra.

Similar on the lines of Arya Megh Uddhar Sabha of Sialkot, an organization named 'Megh Mandal' was formed under the patronage of Bhagat Chhajju Ram (Ex-Minister, J&K) during the mid-thirties to propagate in favour of Arya Samaj. It worked well in propagation of Arya Samaj, both before and after the Independence.

Meanwhile, Maharaja Hari Singh held modern ideas about civilization due to his education abroad. He was in favour of social reformation and sympathetic towards the constructive work shown by the Arya Samaj movement during his regime in J&K. Further, Maharaja Hari Singh also could not be left untouched by the events accelerated in other parts of India like Poona Pact and Mahatama Gandhi's call for removal of Untouchability. Under these circumstances, he paved the way for Temple-entry by accompanying a group of Untouchables including the Meghs into the famous Raghunath Temple at Jammu. When Pandit Dev Raj, Head Priest of the Temple objected to it, Maharaja immediately removed him and appointed on the spot, the brother of that priest, who consented to the philosophy of Maharaja Hari Singh.

Through elections as well as through nomination, Maharaja gave representation to the Scheduled Castes in the 'Praja Parishad' (State Assembly). A few Meghs were also recruited into the Army. He made provision for free education to the Scheduled Castes. It resulted into joining various Government jobs by them.

Maharaja Hari Singh was in favour of "land to the tiller". Further, when Shiekh Abdlah implemented the land reforms based on Revenue Girdavaries of 1971, the Meghs benefited greatly in the ownership of land tilled by them.

SITUATION AFTER INDEPENDENCE:

The Arya Samaj and other such social movements failed to produce concrete results, to the desired extent, in reforming the Hindu Society. Therefore, their overall hold among the Meghs and other Dalit communities has declined much recently in the Northern India including Punjab, and Jammu-Kashmir. It is because of the imperceptible influence of the ‘New State Dharma’ of secularism under the Constitution of India and the free play of various cultures resulting into gradual development of modern civilized thinking that religion or spirituality were personal matters. Therefore, such personal things need not come into way of the individual liberty.

Under such changing situation, the conditions of social acceptability in India in the long run, are generally difficult to be achieved, if not altogether unattainable. It has shown that in the absence of real worthies, the Hindu Society creates fictitious institutions or personalities and accepts them. In these circumstances, the people love institutions for being something, which it is not. In addition, every institution to attain social acceptance feigns to be something, which obviously, it is not. Pretence and hypocrisy are the inevitable consequences of such a situation in the present day India.

Therefore, in matters like religion, many people including the Dalits have recently been changing their preferences to satisfy their personal spiritual needs. Barring some exceptions, in general, they are now becoming comparatively more tolerant in their attitude towards the religious sects followed by others. Consequently, the Meghs have also switched over to exercising their preferences in favour of sects like ‘Kabir-Panth’ containing the teachings of Saint Kabir, or the ‘Radha Swami Satsang’, or the ‘Nirankari Movement’, or other minor sects, all of whom do not stand for caste-based discrimination, and preach for belief in truth, peace, non-violence, communal harmony, tolerance, fellow-feeling, mutual goodwill, respect, understanding and co-existence for the betterment of humanity.

Gone are the days of old generation when some of the Meghs also used to worship traditional Hindu Gods and Goddesses about whom there have been different mythical stories about their lives. The modern educated generation does not believe in different irrational and mythical stories about the 'Vaishno Devi' or Goddess Durga recorded in the 'Vamana Purana' and elaborated in 'Devi Bhagvata Purana'. It is because a rational study of the same does not induce the young generation to believe in them.

The Scheduled Castes like Meghs in the Northern India have their own reasons for wanting to join all such movements. It provides religious solution for persons who feet that their problems have indeed been religious. It has separated them from traditional Hinduism and put them in a society ostensibly without caste, giving them new friends and somewhat altered social status with a new dignity and self-respect that is more important than material gain.

The failure of institutions of social and religious reformation in ensuring the human cause is in effect the success of the psycho-social obsessions of the aggregate Hindu community, which prefers to call itself rather pompously a civil society. In view of it, all these institutions failed to press for an early amendment to Untouchability Offences Act, 1955 for inclusion of more stringent measures resting in the passing of Protection of the Civil Rights Act and subsequently in passing of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 by the Parliament. It is a pity that the enactment of such legislation took 42 years since Independence and reformist Hindu organizations or other sects remained silent in-spite of their avowed objective for the removal of Untouchability and for creation of social equality.

EMERGING NEW TREND: The young intellectuals of the new millennium feel enlightened to understand the distinction between faith and religion. They have rationally tried to understand the scientific theory of the Universe, which reveals that Nature is automatic and autonomous. The Universe is without beginning or end. Though, the theologians have put forward different theories of creation, yet Nature moves itself from within. Any external “God” or “Goddess” does not move it. The Universe is indestructible and everlasting. It is continuously changing, but it can never disappear or shall never perish through a "Pralaya". Therefore, they understand and accept the modern gospel of Rationalism. While studying religions carefully, the intellectuals try to understand their origin, history, and present position.

We should discard superstition, but not throw away ethics with superstition. All those religious utterances that are against democracy, liberty, equality, and fraternity in social, political, and economic aspects in our practical life should be rejected in the interest of betterment of humanity. The doctrine of 'Salvation' is based on the notion that certain portion of human personality called the 'Soul' survives death. Ethics has been defaced and degraded into supporting this doctrine. The hope of 'Salvation' has filled the coffers of the Priest-Parasites with more gold and silver than Mahmud Ghaznavi extorted from India or Spaniards from America. The Priests belonging to various religions have reduced ethics to ignoble commercial arithmetic. Priests of many religions have prospered on fraud and superstition particularly in India. They act as sanctimonious thieves who bless your soul and pick your pocket. We should liberate ourselves from the superstitions created by them under the pretext of 'Karma-Kanda', rituals, wrong traditions or ceremonies, etc. under the pretext of custom or ‘Mariyada’.

We should try to learn that, Evolution, Nature's unfolding Actuality, and growing civilized human personality rule the Universe. Virtue is its own reward here in this life, as you and the society grow by it. Vice is its own punishment here on the Earth, as it arrests individual growth along with that of the society. The object of scientific ethics is the complete and harmonious development of the human beings in all aspects. Any religion, which militates against it, must now be forgotten, as religion is for man and not man for religion. Therefore, religion is good so long as it preserves and promotes humanity; beyond that, Rationalism compels us to reject it.

CHANGING TO GROW:

During the twentieth century, the Meghs in Punjab adopted new professions in the small-scale industries like sports, hosiery, surgical and metal goods, etc. after learning the requisite skill sets. Since the implementation of land reforms by the J&K government, many of them have been petty agriculturalists, but a few are still agricultural labourers. A negligible number of them who possessed literacy, also used to be ‘Pujaris’ for the low caste people as mentioned in “Duggar Desh” written by Journalist-historian Nar Singh Dev (Proprietor - Chand Press, Jammu) and confirmed by Prof. Hari Om Sharma of Jammu University in his book on 'History of J&K'.

With reservation in the services following incorporation of the Poona Pact Agreement (Sept., 1932) in the Government of India Act 1935 and spread of higher education in the second half of the Twentieth Century, some of the people among Meghs and their associated communities are engaged in government jobs. A very few among them have been serving in higher positions in the IAS, IPS, medicine, engineering, bank management, and other class-I services. Recently, some are also placed in the multinational companies and other private jobs. A negligible number of them are running micro-business units or the small-scale manufacturing enterprises.

However, with vast economic and technological changes, the workers in possession of old skill-sets are gradually losing the employment opportunities. As such, without modern technical education, and development of skill as per demand, the employment opportunities would definitely remain on the waning side for them. Higher education among Meghs has recently suffered due to poverty, its higher cost, lesser budgetary provisions by the Government and the privatisation process in education.

Recently, on page-11 of Times of India Dated 10-5-08, the findings of a Parliamentary Standing Committee on Social Justice and Empowerment has revealed that many states did not allocate funds for implementing various schemes for the Sub-Plans as per the percentage of the population of SC/ST/OBCs. We may safely add that even the ‘Planning’ has generally been faulty.

The masses belonging to the said communities must hold their semi-educated or unenlightened representatives (MP/MLAs) responsible for such government inaction. They can mercilessly through them out during the elections and elect the wise or highly educated to replace them. They must also not cooperate with all such political parties that field such candidates who simply serve as pawns in the hands of self-seeking political bosses.

The way out to achieve their objective is that the Dalits should develop some unifying force in the form of secular and casteless NGOs to exert pressure, as well as to promote the cause of ‘self-help’. They fail to unite, because in spite having been bitten by the demon of caste, they themselves are practically divided on the caste-lines that reduces them into scattered small minority groups and limit their options, particularly when there is lack of cooperation among each group.

What they need is the necessary will, imagination, determination, courage, actionable strategy full of initiative, consistent effort and sacrifice like that of Shaheed Amar Nath r/o Vill. Chhampa (near Batot), Teh. Rambun, Dist. Doda, J&K. The young Amar Nath (40/45 years) without the support of any political party, through his “Fast-Unto-Death” by refusing to take even water (Jammu—May 23 – June 1,1970) compelled the Government of J&K to accede to the demands of Dalits in that state. His demands, among others, included reservation in state services for the Scheduled Castes that remained denied to them on the pretext of different situation in J&K.

Through the platform of NGOs, they also need to fight ignorance and awaken the masses against the sectarian policies followed by the votaries of old structured existence, aimed at sabotaging the process of acceleration of social change in India. Awakening is direly needed, because of the fact that the conservative elements still sanctify or ennoble poverty through their cultural strategy, which lays excessive stress on the Subjective Faith than on the Objective Life. It serves their olden times 'Hindutva' philosophy, which is used to realize their narrow political ends.

The minority communities like Meghs today are in need of such young leaders who understand that neither God, nor ‘Bhagati’ for soul has saved them in the past. In the words of Dr. Ambedkar, they should know how to awaken and activate the masses towards their objective and stop not till the goal is reached. Therefore "educate, agitate and organize" for reclamation of human personality and develop an open mind to change all the time. It is only by examining and re-examining their opinions and ideas about economic, political, and social needs that they can think of progress. Tomorrow's winners will be the organizations with highly educated, smart, and creative leaders who know how to communicate effectively within the concerned quarters and outside the organization to create positive situations. Such leaders, who understand that service, sacrifice and human relationships are going to be a great differentiator in success.

Modern India rests on an ancient edifice of deep-rooted religious beliefs, elaborate social customs, etc. However, the young India today is evolving faster than at any other point in its eventful history. Changes have been witnessed in the economic sphere, social mores, and religious practices. Consequently, due to evolution in human intelligence, and development of scientific humanism, traditional beliefs are not static entities now. Every thing is subject to growth, which brings changes in the fundamental mind-set leading to emergence of new social and economic forces. It ultimately percolates down to the lives of the common man. However, this growth may be stunted if education and knowledge lag behind, as has been amply proved in the past.

(Courtesy: Bhagatnetwork)