Often history, as told especially in India, is the story of the powerful,their contribution and opinions. In recent years there has been attempts to rewrite history from the perspective of the subalterns. Braj Ranjan Mani's book, "Debrahmising History" is one such attempt. In author's own words, the book is a historyof India fromperspective of those at the bottom strata of the society. India has history of over ten thousan years of caste segregation and oppression of the lower caste people. With the independence of India from British colonialism these caste groups, both higher and lower, are further divided on caste-based politics. The brings together all the politically charged polemic of Hinduism.
The book examines the oppressive caste hierarchy of Hinduism and the counter revolution withinit. The book attack the tyrannies of Brahmanis on the lower castes. This oppression gave rise to Buddhist challenge of Brahmanic social order, and the consequent re-emergence and reassrtion of the Brahmanism. He further examines the contributio nof the saint-poets like Kabir, Ravidas, Tukram et. al. in promoting class harmony and equality within Hinduism. But these according to the author, did not challenge the existing caste-system, rather they tried to accomodate it as social reality. In examiningg India's struggle ofr independence from the British colonialism, the author finds that nationalist movement had elistist cast and feudal bias. The also talkes stalk of the reform movements of the learders of lower castes such as Dr Ambedkar, Jyotiba Phule, Ramaswamy Periyar, et al.
His analysis of Gandhi-Ambedkar debate on caste is also interesting. While Gndhi did not stand against the caste system, and tried to interpret caste system in socially acceptable terms, Ambedkar wanted a complet abolitionof it. The author has served a blow on many pet idols of Indian national movements and social reformers like Rammhun Ray uncovering the caste bias in which they worked.
This book may not be platable to many of the upper caste Brahmins in India, who have already taken a militant stand in the recent history of India. But then, truth cannot be hidden and has to be told. Braj Ranjan Mani has done just that. However, author's analysis of certain leaders of the national movement for independence calls for depth. He clubs them together as all caste biased, which perhaps is not true. Though they may be of high caste birth, they had a vision beyond the ghetto of caste.
The author also should have brought in the contribution of socialistic political movement in India. The book is a prase worthy contribution in rewriting history of India from the perspective of the oppressed of the Indian society.