In her column titled “Rewrite Purusa Sukta” Ms.Ghose, i believe, goes a step too far to present her case convincingly
Every upper caste child grows up with a mind’s eye image of the “achyut”, the “untouchable”, the “scheduled caste”. The imagined Untouchable is perpetually filthy just as the Brahmin is perpetually pure.
To begin with, in hindi the word for untouchable I belive is “achoot” and not “achyut”. Maybe the its just misspelt by the author. Achyut is a sanskrit word. Chyut in sanskrit can be roughly translated as fallible or destructible or perishable, and achyut means exactly the opposite. Word “Achyut” is used as a synonym for Krishna. I was an “upper caste” child, and I dont remember any image I had in mind for the “achoot”, as said by the author.
Today, many dalit writers argue that India will never be a modern society unless the Purusa-sukta of the Rig Veda is re-written.
The argument that by re-writing purushasukta indian society will change, is like arguing that by re-writing Old testament we can solve the Israel-Palestine conflict. This seems like an product of clouded thinking. Purushasukta as far as I know, is a brilliant poetry about the supreme personality. Whenever I have heard it, I have just wondered at the brilliance of the sages who wrote it.
I beleive the author is trying to bring out the dilemma the “contemporary dalit” to choose between shedding the image of “dalit-ness” and join the mainstream society or hold tight to the “dalit-ness” image and fight for more rights with that image. If the later is chosen, the mentioned progress to the “modern society” will undoubtedly be hampered.
ps: I remember couple of the beginning lines of purusha-sukta. It goes as follows
Sahasra-sheerisha purshaha, Sahasraaksha, sahasrapaad
Sa-bhoomim Vishwato vritwah, Athyathishta dasaangulam
Purusha-evedagum sarvam – yat bhootam ya-chcha bhavyam
Literal meaning translates as, Purusha is one with thousand heads, thousand eyes and thousand feet. He pervades Earth and universe and he extends 10 finger lengths beyond that also. He is everywhere, he is in the past (whatever happened in the past) as well as in the future (whatever will happen in the future). The beauty of this verse lies in its sheer poetry – they way the sages have described the indescribable omnipresent being in verses. Its just mind boggling.