Trads vs Raytas? Understanding the caste-varna battle on RW Twitter
Trads vs Raytas? Understanding the caste-varna battle on RW Twitter
Screen-grab/ Upnishad Ganga

While the popular perception of the commentariat in India is to paint those on the right side of the divide as a monolithic block which loves Hindutva, BJP and PM Narendra Modi, the non-left in India are quite diverse if one were to treat Twitter as any sort of playing field.

That being said, treating Twitter as a playing field is full of its own moral compunctions, and one should always remember that one’s Twitter feed is not one’s country. While the RW agrees on a host of topics including nationalism, security and liberalism, there are also battles on other issues.

Among such few issues are the debates on caste-varna. Varna systems in India is one of the most controversial topics in Indian society. The term is used to describe the social class divisions made in the Vedic period in India. Four basic categories are defined under this system - Brahmins (priests, teachers, intellectuals), Kshatriyas (warriors, kings, administrators), Vaishyas (agriculturalists, traders, farmers ) and Shudras (workers, labourers, artisans).

Whereas the caste system is a multilayered extension of the varna system. According to Anderson and Parker, “Caste is that extreme form of social class organization in which the position of individuals in the status hierarchy is determined by descent and birth.”

The last few days on Twitter over what one calls the Rayta Vs Trads battle. For those living under a rock or blessed not to be on Twitter, the term ‘trads’ is used to refer to a host of individuals who are deemed to be conservative within the right-wing ecosystem.

The traditionalists and their counterparts have been fighting over a video on Puri Shankaracharya which appears to justify atrocities against Shudras.

The video led to some angry reactions from people considered intellectual within the right-wing sphere. Defence analyst Abhijit Iyer-Mitra wrote: “If caste is based on genetics, would someone please explain to me how Dr Ambedkar, was by far & away the most intellectual man of his era? Much smarter than a certain “pandit”. Also how was it that a Baniya & a Patel were much better at Rajdharma than said “pandit (sic)”.”

Author Harsh Madhushudhan observed: “People should see this thread and honestly reflect over it. The fact is that in some ways we are creating a new "Hinduism" or "Dharma" today. The challenge is to keep the best of the past without being overly apologetic either. "Sanatana" had a trad connotation a century earlier (sic).”

Reacting to an individual who claimed it could be mapped to 'nature-nurture principle', Swarajya Editorial Director R Jagannathan wrote: “Yes, this completely unacceptable. ?Doing huge damage (sic).”

Advocate Nikhil Mehra observed: “So the logic is that varna was karma based but because the same people were constantly efficient at karma it became birth-based by merit? And now their is genetic rigidification so society is most efficiently served by observing birth-based caste? Is my understanding correct? (sic)”

Meanwhile, podcaster Kushal Mehra wrote: “You can keep spinning yarns of apologia for Jati Varna all the time. But let me tell you, the more we urbanize the lesser it will matter. Some of you can resist the slow but gradual effect of Poonjivaada but you cannot stop it. Jati Varna will eventually die its own death (sic).”

To quote Bob Dylan, the times are a changing and your sons and daughters are beyond your command. Perhaps, the conservatives within the RW will eventually realise that.

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