Annihilation of Caste

Annihilation of Caste: The Annotated Critical Edition, by B. R. Ambedkar, with an introduction by Arundhati Roy, published by Navayana.

Annihilation of Caste is an audacious denunciation of Hinduism and its caste system. In 1936, a Hindu reformist group invited Dr B.R. Ambedkar to deliver its annual lecture. When it read an advance copy of the text of the speech, the group found the contents “unbearable” and rescinded its invitation. Ambedkar published the text on his own.  It offers a scholarly critique of the Vedas and shastras—scriptures the Hindus regard as sacred, scriptures that sanction the world’s most hierarchical and iniquitous social system.

The world’s best known Hindu, Mahatma Gandhi, responded to the provocation. The hatchet was never buried. This extensively annotated edition of Annihilation of Caste is introduced by Arundhati Roy. Her introduction, The Doctor and the Saint, looks at the ways in which caste plays out in modern India, and how the conflict between Ambedkar and Gandhi continues to resonate into the present day.

It takes us to the beginning of Gandhi’s political career in South Africa, where his views on race, caste and imperialism were shaped. It tracks Ambedkar’s emergence as a major political figure in the national movement, and shows how his scholarship and intelligence illuminated a political struggle beset by sectarianism and obscurantism. Roy breathes new life into Ambedkar’s anticaste utopia, and says that without a Dalit revolution, there cannot be any other in India.

In our Dalit Studies section, Rs. 525, in hardback, 416 pages, ISBN: 9788189059637