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  Brown Sahib`s Burden  


By: Venkat Lakshminarayan
June 24, 2005
iews expressed here are author’s own and not of this website. Full disclaimer is at the bottom.


About a hundred years ago there lived a white sahib in a land of brown people. The sahib had a large following who admired his colorful writing. Figuratively the white sahib was sitting on the shoulder of a brown man who carried him around wherever the sahib wanted to go. Strangely the sahib claimed that the brown man was his burden and that the providence made his fate sit on the brown man`s shoulders because the brown man would allegedly be lost without the white sahib telling him what to do. Kipling sahib coined the phrase, "White man`s burden" and his characterization of India survives to this day and some people still continue to admire his compassionate subjugation of the brown man.

Some years earlier there lived another white sahib named Macaulay Sahib. People of his time knew him to be a very pandit and some consider him to be so even today. The Pandit Macaulay sahib learned a lot about India and its people from a history book written by one Mahapandit named James Mill. (Mahapandit Mill was the first one to write a book on the history of India in English language. The book was so outrageously prejudiced that no modern Indic scholar would touch it with a ten foot pole). Pandit Macaulay sahib took one look at the brown people and told them something like this: “You brown folks have no hopes and you are absolutely useless because you do not speak English. You need to learn English for your salvation and forget your native tongues. Forget your Kalidasa and Kamban, start reading Milton and Wordsworth. You need to wear dinner jacket and tie when you sit down to eat supper. Forget your past, start aping us the white folks. Then you will be just like us”.

A revolution got started among some brown people. “What a way to go! Learn English and ape the white man, that is all to it. We too will become white with all the privileges of the white sahibs!” But there was a surprise waiting for them. They became sahibs alright but their brown would not go away. Suddenly they were Brown Sahibs! Their white masters continued to look down upon them with contempt and would not share the privileges that they had kept to themselves. The Brown had become a burden.

The new sahibs had forgotten that it was the Brown that generated a glorious civilization with some of the greatest contributions to the arts, sciences, philosophy and spirituality that towards the betterment of the human race. It was the Brown that contributed the Vedas and Upanishads and produced a Buddha and the concept of nonviolence. It was the Brown that produced a Sankaracharya who taught the world about the divine that resides within human and nurtured a faith that would respect all other faiths equally as their own. Ordinary brown people had an understanding of these but they were marginalized in the intellectual discourse and would not be listened to. The new sahibs forgot their past and began to deny their present. While aping their white masters they began to believe that nothing good could come out of their own, any good ought to come out of elsewhere. Where else, but from the land of the white! Brown indeed has become a burden to these new sahibs.

Some brown sahibs sent their children to study in England so that they would grow up without any trace of brown. One Motilal Sahib, though he had high Kashmiri blood running in his veins and ivory skin covering his body, sent his son to study in Harrow and Cambridge. Everyone in England who came across the son thought that he had become white. But the day Jawaharlal sahib landed back in India his brown returned to him and the local white sahibs would not let him enter their white club. He later became the prime minister and de-facto ruler of India but hated his own brownness and admired a whiteness to which he was denied access. He rationalized this self hatred by calling himself “Secular”. A new disease got injected. The secularism disease ran through the veins of his descendants and permeated the upper crust of the society. The result is that India has a brown Prime Minister and a white Super Prime Minister.

Colonialism did not just colonize the land but it also colonized the body, mind, thought and culture of the conquered people. Independence to the Indian people was supposed to have come over fifty seven years ago but they are not free because of the brown sahibs` surrender and denial of their self and their dominance in politics, media and public discourse. Their ignorance over the years has created insecure borders and weak defenses against aggressive neighbors. Their self hatred has resulted in the subjugation of their fellow people’s religion and culture. Their refusal to look at their own past is paving the way for impending disaster in the future. Indian civilization is in greater danger extinction today than any other time in history, in greater danger than the times of Islamic invasions and European conquest, a danger because the policies and actions of the brown sahibs. This is a burden carried by the mainstream Indian who wants to preserve his way of life, a burden imposed upon him by the brown sahibs.

Venkat Lakshminarayan

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