MARIA WIRTH

Common people in the west know hardly anything about India. But one thing they all know: India has an ‘inhuman’ caste system, which is an important feature of their religion, Hinduism. Most also ‘know’ that Brahmins are the highest caste, which oppresses the lower castes, and worst off are the untouchables.

I learnt this already in primary school, but knew nothing at that time about the concentration camps of Nazi Germany only a few years earlier or about the atrocities of slavery or colonialism. Yet the Indian caste system with Brahmins as villains was part of the curriculum in Bavarian schools in the early 1960s, and it still is today: some time ago I asked three young Germans in Rishikesh what they associate with Hinduism. Their prompt reply was, “caste system”.  Surely, they also had learnt that it was most inhuman. In all likelihood, all over the world school children…

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