Sarat Chandra IAS Academy

UPSC Civils Daily Mains Question 16th May-2021

Sanskritization was criticized in the twentieth century and with the growth of the anti-Brahminical movements. Examine the criticism against Sanskritization.

Sanskritization is defined as the process by which a ‘low’ caste or tribe or other group takes over the customs, ritual, beliefs, ideology and style of life of a high and, in particular, a ‘twice-born (dwija) caste’.

The impact of Sanskritisation is many-sided. Its influence can be seen in language, literature, ideology, music, dance, drama, style of life and ritual. Sanskritisation suggests a process whereby people want to improve their status through adoption of names and customs of culturally high-placed groups.

Criticism against Sanskritization

  • It has been criticised for exaggerating social mobility or the scope of ‘lower castes’ to move up the social ladder. For it leads to no structural change but only positional change of some individuals. In other words inequality continues to persist though some individuals may be able to improve their positions within the unequal structure.
  • It has been pointed out that the ideology of sanskritisation accepts the ways of the ‘upper caste’ as superior and that of the ‘lower caste’ as inferior. Therefore, the desire to imitate the ‘upper caste’ is seen as natural and desirable.
  • Sanskritisation’ seems to justify a model that rests on inequality and exclusion. It appears to suggest that to believe in pollution and purity of groups of people is justifiable or all right. Therefore, to be able to look down on some groups just as the ‘upper castes’ looked down on the ‘lower castes’, is a mark of privilege. In society where such a world-view exists, imagining an equal society becomes difficult.
  • Since sanskritisation results in the adoption of upper caste rites and rituals it leads to practices of secluding girls and women, adopting dowry practices instead of bride-price and practising caste discrimination against other groups, etc.
  • The effect of such a trend is that the key characteristics of dalit culture and society are eroded. For example the very worth of labour which ‘lower castes’ do is degraded and rendered ‘shameful’. Identities based on the basis of work, crafts and artisanal abilities, knowledge forms of medicine, ecology, agriculture, animal husbandry, etc., are regarded useless in the industrial era.

With the growth of the anti-Brahminical movement and the development of regional self-consciousness in the twentieth century there was an attempt in several Indian languages to drop Sanskrit words and phrases. A crucial result of the Backward Classes Movement was to emphasize the role of secular factors in the upward mobility of caste groups and individuals.

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