RELIGION OF THE DALITS
Hinduism is not the religion of the Dalits. To understand the religion of the Dalits, we must understand the religion of Mohenjodaro. They had and have to this day the strong concept of a personal transcendent creator God. However their popular religion gradually degenerated to the worship of malevolent spirits and demigods. They also worshipped the spirits and Mother-goddess. They believed in sorcery. The Aryans worshipped the impersonal phenomena of nature, viz., Prithvi, Varuna, Indra and the Sun. Hermann Goetz states that the Dravidian Siva and Parvati link up with the cult of the moon god and the 'Lady of the Mountain' at Ur. K.M.Munshi says that Shiva, the Dravidian father god with his bull, was known to Harappan civilization as the lord of creation and Ma, the mother of goddess of the Mediterranean people with lion as her mount, was worshipped in many parts of Asia, though unknown to Vedic Aryans. The Sumerian moon god, Nannar, is the Sivan of the Dravidians and the multi-armed Ishtar of Ur with her lion is the Kali of the Dravidians. Scholars are now finding that the Sivan of the Dravidians is none other than Adam of the first man.
The trantric forms of worship, human sacrifice, walking on fire, are of Dravidian origin. Besides the above, the Dasyus worshipped demi-gods, demons, trees, animals, etc. The Chamars of northern India, to this day worship as gods, Saliya, Purbi, and as demons Vetal, Baital, Chural, Gayal, Paret, Pisach, Masau, Dund etc. The Untouchables of South Bihar have as their gods Surjahi, Barachi Vir, Basumit, Masana and Kunwar. Dr. Vidhyarti, the famous anthropologist studying the religion of untouchables, says they follow their own native festivals of Karam puja, Sohrai, Phagua Kadleta, Nawan, Jitaya, Chhat, etc. It must be noted that all these are etymologically Dravidi gods and Dravidi words.
According to the Smritis, the Untouchable is prohibited from hearing any Sanskrit scriptures, much less reading or writing them. Molten lead must be poured into his ears if he does - decreed Manu. Basham, the great historian, records, "It was with the conscious motive of preserving ritual and religious purity that all contact with the untouchables was avoided." That is why, the Dalits were not allowed into any temple in India for the last 3000 years. The reason was clear racial and religious distinctives. The recent opening of some Hindu temples for the Scheduled Castes (dalits) is purely a political action to get the votes of the Dalits. Such move was vehemently opposed by honest Hindu saints like Puri Sankarachary who are bold enough to tell the truth.
The Vedic Aryans and the Dasyu slaves had distinct religions of their own. There was no chance of mixing the two faiths, at any time of history, because of the most stringent rules of untouchability and isolation. To put it more exactly, it was out of the greatest concern to keep the two faiths separate, that untouchability and isolation were stringently maintained. Therefore, to call a person as Hindu Scheduled Caste is absurd and irrelevant.
Dalits' Quest for other Religions
Siddharta, when under the pipal tree in Gaya became Buddha, he started profound upheavals in India with his new faith. Buddhhism attracted many untouchables because it practised no caste and no untouchability. The Buddhists rejected the authority of the Vedas and condemned blood sacrifice. The egalitarian outlook was viewed with great alarm by the Brahminical writings of the time - Yuga Purana, Mahabharata, Patanjali Bhasya, Bana, Manu and others. In spite of the Brahminic elimination of the Buddhism from India, the aspiration of the Scheduled Castes for an egalitarian faith did not end. The Neo Buddhist movement of today, when started from Nagpur in 1956 with Dr.Ambedkar and five lakhs of his followers becoming Buddhist must be understood in the light of this background. The quest continues equally into other egalitarian faiths like Kabir Panth, Nanak Panth, etc. Kabir made a great impact on the religious pursuit of the untouchables.
Kabir, while powerfully appealing to the untouchables, equally influenced Sur Das, Tulsi Das and Guru Nanak. The untouchables as a result joined the Kabir Panth and Nanak Panth in great numbers. Another significant impact of the monotheistic bhakti movement among the untouchables was initiated by Jagjivan Das of Lucknow, who was himself initiated by a Fakir. The movement, Satnami, as it was later called, euphorised monotheism with the abolition of all symbolism and castes, though later symbols and castes made partial re-entry. The above monotheistic pietistic egalitarian faiths in a personal God and brotherhood of classless believers are close to the Christian faith.
Thus the untouchable slaves in India, who are non-Aryan by race and religion have in the past 2500 years, voluntarily chosen several egalitarian faiths, that gave them religious and social satisfaction.