Sri Aurobindo on the treatment of outcastes

The courage to defend our culture against ignorant occidental criticism

and to maintain it against the gigantic modern pressure

comes first, but with it there must be the courage to admit not

from any European standpoint but from our own outlook the

errors of our culture. Apart from all phenomena of decline or deterioration,

we should recognise without any sophistical denial

those things in our creeds of life and social institutions which are

in themselves mistaken and some of them indefensible, things

weakening to our national life, degrading to our civilisation,

dishonouring to our culture. A flagrant example can be found

in the treatment of our outcastes. There are those who would

excuse it as an unavoidable error in the circumstances of the

past; there are others who contend that it was the best possible

solution then available. There are still others who would justify

90 “Is India Civilised?”

it and, with whatever modifications, prolong it as necessary to

our social synthesis. The contention is highly disputable. The

excuse was there, but it is no justification for continuance. A

solution which condemns by segregation one sixth of the nation

to permanent ignominy, continued filth, uncleanliness of

the inner and outer life and a brutal animal existence instead

of lifting them out of it is no solution but rather an acceptance

of weakness and a constant wound to the social body and to

its collective spiritual, intellectual, moral and material welfare.

A social synthesis which can only live by making a permanent

rule of the degradation of our fellowmen and countrymen stands

condemned and foredoomed to decay and disturbance. The evil

effects may be kept under for a long time and work only by

the subtler unobserved action of the law of Karma; but once

the light of Truth is let in on these dark spots, to perpetuate

them is to maintain a seed of disruption and ruin our chances of

eventual survival.





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