Seven shackles

According to Savarkar, the Hindu society was bound by seven shackles ( bandi ) viz. prohibition of touch (sparshabandi) of certain castes, prohibition of interdining (rotibandi) with certain castes, prohibition of intercaste marriages (betibandi), prohibition of pursuing certain occupations(vyavasayabandi), prohibition of seafaring (sindhubandi), prohibition of rites sanctioned by the Vedas (vedoktabandi), prohibition of reconversion (shuddhibandi) to the Hindu fold. Given below is an English translation of Savarkar’s assorted thoughts on six shackles. The seventh shackle viz. prohibition of reconversion (shuddhibandi) has been dealt with separately. Some of these shackles may seem unbelievable, even laughable to the reader today. The remarkable social reform that has taken place in the last 100 years is due to the tireless efforts of social reformers like Savarkar.

 

Eating and drinking

What to eat and drink is a medical issue, not a religious one. One may eat and drink as per individual preference and digestive capacity under specific circumstances. (1937, Samagra Savarkar vangmaya, Vol.3, p. 652)

Hinduism does not die by partaking of food cooked by other religionists

If the Muslim or Christian does not become a Hindu by eating food cooked by a Hindu and remains a Muslim or Christian after digesting that food, then why should your religion be flushed out by partaking of food cooked by a Muslim? How come the digestive power of your religion has become so weak?...Now brothers, eat and digest food cooked by any one in the world and yet remain Hindu! Only then is there hope (for survival). (1927, Maajhi janmathep or My Transportation for Life, Samagra Savarkar vangmaya, Vol.1, p. 495)

…The place of religion is the heart, not the stomach. (1927, Hindutvache panchapran or The Spirit of Hindutva, Samagra Savarkar vangmaya, Vol.3, p. 41)

Interdining does not destroy religion and caste

There is no harm in eating what is medically permissible with any medically fit individual, not in a common plate but as a common meal. It is insane to believe that caste changes forever simply by sitting and eating next to an individual from a different caste. (1931, Jatyuchchedak nibandha or essays on abolition of caste, Samagra Savarkar vangmaya, Vol.3, p. 480)

Be it a Hindu or a Muslim or an Andamanese -eating and drinking with any one destroys neither caste nor religion. (1935, Hindutvache panchapran or The Spirit of Hindutva, Samagra Savarkar vangmaya, Vol.3, p. 83)

Other shackles break with interdining

Just as there was a regulation in the past that at least one Brahmin should dine in a Ganesh Chaturthi meal, there should be a now be a regulation that there should be at least one Chamar-Mahar-Bhangi (* Balmiki) brother to dine in the Ganeshotsav meal
The poisonous fang of scripture-based caste distinction will be uprooted once the prohibition of interdining is violated! The breaking of this prohibition automatically loosens the shackles of prohibition of touch, seafaring, re-conversion, conducting Vedic rites and pursuing certain occupations! (1935, Kirloskar monthly, September)

Interdining is a litmus test of reformism

Many Chamar, Mahar brethren gladly break bread with Brahmins and Marathas but become Brahmins and Kshatriyas themselves and claim caste privilege when Bhangi (*Balmiki) or Maang brethren seek to break bread with them. Their reformism should also be put to test. Hence in every common meal, there should be at least one or two Bhangi or Maatang brothers in addition to Mahars and Chamars. (1935, Maharashtra sharada periodical, November)

How will caste distinction go?

Interdining is the magic sorcerer that will bury the demon of caste distinction! Caste distinction will not die with sterile arguments. Nor is it easy or even desirable to kill it by force…Oh reformer, violate the prohibition of interdining at this very instant. How easy it is; Brahmins and Mahars may together gorge themselves with sweets and you may be certain that caste distinction will vanish! The impregnable fort of caste distinction has been cursed such that while it will not fall to volleys of cannon balls, it will crumble under the onslaught of sweet balls!! (1935, Hindutvache panchapran or The Spirit of Hindutva, Samagra Savarkar vangmaya, Vol.3, p. 87)

How should the prohibition of intermarriages be broken?

Breaking the prohibition of intermarriage does not imply forcibly marrying off girls of one caste into another caste. What it means is that if a Hindu with desirable qualities such as love, character, and capacity to beget healthy offspring chooses a spouse from another caste, then such an alliance should not be condemned simply because their castes are different. Such a couple should not be considered as unworthy of cohabitation.

Permission for such mixed marriages is extremely desirable not only for the removal of birth-based caste distinction but also for the success of the re-conversion movement. It is both beneficial and essential for the consolidation of the Hindu nation. (1935, Hindutvache panchapran or The Spirit of Hindutva, Samagra Savarkar vangmaya, Vol.3, p. 85)

When does reason strike those who advocate compulsory intermarriages?

…If a hundred Brahmin-Bania girls are to be forcibly married off to Mahar-Chamar boys, then applying the same rule, a hundred Mahar or Chamar girls should be forcibly married off to Bhangi-Dhend boys. Confronted with this argument, those Mahar or Chamar hotheads who make demands on behalf of their community develop cold feet and begin to see reason. (1935, Hindutvache panchapran or The Spirit of Hindutva, Samagra Savarkar vangmaya, Vol.3, p. 85)

A limitation of intermarriages

In the present stage of human progress and the current peculiar situation in the Hindu Nation, one limit should be followed without exception as far as intermarriages are concerned. While there is no cause for concern if Hindus marry amongst themselves without any caste considerations no one should cross the ambit of Hindutva and marry Muslims, Christians and the like. So long as the Muslim desires to remain a Muslim, the Hindu too must remain a Hindu. It is extremely harmful to our Hindu nation if a Hindu marries a non-Hindu without bringing that girl or boy into the Hindu fold. It is only when the adamant non-Hindus swear by humanism and merge their Muslim identity into humanism that the Hindu too will abide by humanism and leaving aside considerations of caste, religion and country shall follow the ties of humanism only. But it will be against humanism if Hindus show such misplaced generosity at this point in time. (1935, Hindutvache panchapran or The Spirit of Hindutva, Samagra Savarkar vangmaya, Vol.3, p. 86)

The notion of ‘ritual impurity’

Most customs that have been responsible for our social and national decline have their seeds in one notion - that of ‘ritual impurity’. (1927, Maajhi janmathep or My Transportation for Life, Samagra Savarkar vangmaya, Vol.1, p. 495)

How to break the prohibition of touch

Oh, organizer of Hindus! Rise and irrespective whether others do it or not, take a pledge at this very instant that I shall use the hand with which I touch my cat and dog to touch my untouchable brother in dharma, failing which I shall go hungry. Say, I will touch! And by publicly touching some untouchable brother, show the world that as far as you are concerned, you have acquired the boon of freeing the Hindu race from the sin of untouchability! Throw your house open to the untouchable to the extent you do for the caste Hindu. Those who have houses to rent should do so to untouchables and caste Hindus alike; those who own wells should throw them open to untouchables and caste Hindus alike…in short, let not a day pass without you publicly behaving with an untouchable as you would with a caste Hindu. The ‘untouchable’ reformist should follow the same custom and publicly give the right of touchability at least once a day to an untouchable who belongs to a ‘lower’ caste- the Chamar to the Dhend, the Mahar to the Bhangi (*Balmiki)! (1935, Hindutvache panchapran or The Spirit of Hindutva, Samagra Savarkar vangmaya, Vol.3, p. 81)