HOME  |  Classifieds  |  USA India Yellowpages  |  Tickets  |  Write Articles  |  Business Services  |  Contact us


India, Asia and World News Headlines
Opinion, Analysis, Columns and Discussions
Business, Social and Community Networking
Free India, USA, Canada Classifieds
Business Yellow Pages Directory and Website Listing

  Politics of Sanskritization  


By: Tara Dhakal
March 19, 2007
iews expressed here are author’s own and not of this website. Full disclaimer is at the bottom.


Many of my indigenous colleagues complain that their identity and culture was lost due to the forceful imposition of alien culture which they call it Sanskritization (the imposition of Hindu culture). Sanskritization is an ethnophaulic term that is understood in negative terms. We were having a discussion on eating habits of being a vegetarian or a non-vegetarian. One of my indigenous colleague said that her parents and ancestors never ate meat and put a chandan (paste from sandalwood usually put by Hindus) on their forehead and prayed every morning. She explained that her parents and ancestors were sanskritized. What it means is that in general, many indigenous people eat meat and drink very often and this habit justified by common Nepali saying “Jaat ley paako” (Accepted due to the caste/community norms). However, she mentioned that she personally avoids meat most of the times and younger generations like hers have realized that they have to do away and have done away with sanskritization to preserve their indigenous culture and identity. Thus newer generations are indulged in eating meat of all kinds, drink liquor by confining to the cultural indigenous norms that such things are accepted in their culture. My question is “if sanskritization prescribes not to eat meat and drink liquor, and to pray in the morning (to ensure discipline and spiritual satisfaction), then is this negative prescription? Isn’t this term a dichotomy here? While doing away with sanskritization younger generations that my colleague was mentioning are moving towards another……zation called the westernization so is that a safe haven that is better than sanskritization?

Upper caste Hindus are supposedly restricted (not always) to eat meat or eat pork, beef which animist believers like indigenous people are not restricted (Jaat ley paako) in which such restrictions are based on distinct norms based on caste, community or belief systems. A case in Sikkim and may be somewhere else, where the newer generations and some older generations who are upper caste Hindus (with their neighbors, friends, and colleagues as indigenous people) have broken this restriction of not being allowed to eat meat and drink liquor (Jaat ley napaako (restricted due to cultural norms) have started its consumption and have been habituated in consuming such restricted things. In case of indigenous people who do not have such cultural consumption restrictions (with their neighbors, friends, and colleagues as Hindus) are in the process of restricting themselves on such consumption habits today. If it is true that for indigenous people this is explained due to sanskritization then how do you explain if it is about Hindus?

Let’s also take another reverse situation and think backwards. In many cases, indigenous people have animist belief systems and majority of dhaami jhaankri (shamans) are mostly from indigenous communities. Shamans come from animist belief. However, many Hindu believers who live closely with such animist believers have acculturated to this animist belief and have accepted the use of shamans in case of sickness etc. There are many incidents of death of persons who have solely relied in Shamans to cure their sicknesses. My question now is, if indigenous people can call intrusion in their belief system sanskritization then what should majority Hindus call this intrusion of indigenous belief systems on them?

What has to be understood in these cases is whether such belief system is forcefully imposed or willingly accepted. In addition, whether such belief system brings harm or benefits. It should be based on logic and understood through knowledge and not always understood through the politics of sanskritization. It is very difficult to assess the forceful imposition or willingly acceptance because it lies in an individual perspective which is however shaped by the environment in which one lives. For example, many younger generations (both Hindus and indigenous) are so much negatively influenced by western culture that they are loosing their cultural values and identity that their ancestors had preserved. Thus, where do we place this western imperialism and very often we see loss of indigenous culture in vacuum and in not in relation with politics of sanskritization. What is the ….zation if indigenous beliefs are imposed on Sanskrit Hindu people?

Tara Dhakal

       Send your views to author

Do you wish to reach our readers? submit your guest column

Copyright and Disclaimer:
The views expressed in this article are the author's own and not of this website. The author is solely responsible for the contents of this article. This website does not represent or endorse the accuracy, completeness or reliability of any opinion, statement, appeal, advice or any other information in the article. Our readers are free to forward this page URL to anyone. This column may NOT be transmitted or distributed by others in any manner whatsoever (other than forwarding or web listing page URL) without the prior permission from us and the author.


Previous articles by:
Tara Dhakal

Quota: Inequity between haves, haves-not

All articles by:
Tara Dhakal


Visit iVarta.com for a rich experience - “#1 Information Resource about India and the Indian Community"

Comprehensive Collection of India News, Articles, Columns, Analysis and Research Papers. Facts about India, Indian History, Culture, Business, Politics, and Terrorism. Religions of India, Mystery and Diversity of India. Rich information resource on India, Indians and Asia. Expert Guide, Comments, New, Views and Analysis. Indus Valley Culture, Religious life of Indians, Beliefs and Practices. Yoga, Meditation and Ayurveda. History of Indian Invasion, Hinduism, Christianity, Islam. Jammu and Kashmir: Facts, History and Politics. Terrorism in J&K, History about terrorism in India. India's international relations with USA, Russia, UK, Pakistan, China....and more....

Terms of Service | Join mailing list | Write Guest Columns | Sitemap