During agitation for backward reservation quota by Patidar and other communities, there was a very weak voice heard by another community which also asked for reservation for them. Their agitation was restricted to some parts of Gujarat and Kerala, but it didn’t get sufficient strength and was suppressed for different reasons! One of the important reasons for suppressing is that the community enjoyed the upper caste status once upon a time!
Brahmans are still blamed, isolated and sidelined for historical past! However, people are not really concerned to know what the present status of this community is. The same people who enjoyed highest ritual purity status are involved in public toilet cleaning works. More than 50 Sulabh Shauchalayas (public toilets) in Delhi are cleaned and looked after by them. In fact, a Brahman himself started this mass movement in the form of Sulabh Shauchalay to maintain hygiene in the country.
Brahmans are also working as coolies in Delhi railway station. They work hard and make their earning! Kripa Shankar Sharma says that his daughter is studying BSc degree. However, he is not sure about her getting a job. Brahmans have become rickshaw pullers too. In Patel Nagar area in West Delhi, more than 50 percent of rickshaw pullers are Brahmans.
Why are these Brahmans facing this kind of hardship? Because, they are not getting their space in rural areas. Brahmans are exploited by Dalits in villages where Dalits form 60% of the population. They do not get proper governmental support to build their houses even. So they have migrated to cities to find a better livelihood. However, the high living cost in cities and lack of good job opportunities have restricted their social mobility. Neither caste nor class is helping them to increase their life chances. In other words, since they belong to Brahman caste, they do not get any reservation or other benefits from government. Since they belong to poor class, they are not able to meet the needs of their lives.
75 percent of the domestic helps and cooks in Andhra Pradesh are Brahmans. According to a study called ‘Brahmins of India’ by J Radhakrishna reveals that all purohits live below the poverty line. Priests are under tremendous difficulty. They are also forced to beg for alms for survival. Brahman priests who spent a lifetime studying Vedas are being ridiculed and disrespected. Just for an example, according to Census data, at Tamil Nadu’s Ranganathaswamy Temple, a priest’s monthly salary is Rs. 300 and a daily allowance of one measure of rice. The government staffs at the same temple receive more than Rs 2500 per month. But these facts have not modified the priests’ reputation as ‘haves’ and as ‘exploiters’. Brahmans are also mocked and laughed at for their poverty and traditional lifestyle. The official data stated by Karnataka fincance minister in the state assembly shows that the per capita income of various communities are as follows: Christianity Rs. 1562, Vokkaligas Rs 914, Muslims Rs. 794, Scheduled castes Rs. 680, Scheduled Tribes Rs. 577 and Brahmans Rs. 537. Still Brahmans are deprived of all governmental support.
Why so much of negligence towards Brahmans?
Brahmans are neglected by governments, bureaucrats and politicians for quite long time. They are also humiliated by them. Most of the intellectual Brahman Tamil class has emigrated outside Tamil Nadu. Only 5 out of 600 seats in the combined Uttar Pradesh and Bihar assembly are held by Brahmans and the rest are in the hands of Yadavas. The reason for this grave negligence is due to relatively small size of the community. With all these deprivations, each Brahman finds it difficult to rear one child. So the demographic structure is becoming an inverted triangle. Though lot of politicians, business persons still depend on Brahmans for religious rituals for their wellbeing, later on they do not care much for addressing the needs of the people of this community. Brahmans are cornered with a constructed prejudice that they are well to do even though economically and socially they are struggling to survive.

Anti – Hindu attitude is more focussed towards Brahmans which is another hurdle for them. They are victimized for every blind belief of Hindu culture. They are targeted every now and then by the people of other caste and religion due to preconceived notions and jealousy of the past. Other caste people are becoming stronger by getting government jobs, venturing into business and so on. Brahmans, with restricted job opportunities, are getting weakened day by day. Only small percentage of youngsters have got into corporate jobs. But the value for those who study traditional knowledge like Veda, Upanishad are not getting due respect and are leading a very low profile life and to earn livelihood, getting into odd jobs. No job is bad. Every job has its own dignity. However, the kind of marginalization Brahman community is facing today is somewhere making us to think whether the circle has turned around to bring Brahmans down to the lower caste status socially, economically and politically!

Akshara Damle