An incident in 1848 turned Phule into a social revolutionary. When he went to attend a Brahmin friend's marriage, some orthodox Brahmins insulted him by calling him a sudra and asked him to leave. This humiliation made Jotiba search for the roots of caste discrimination and the inhuman practice of untouchability. Ideas on Society and Economy 16. Jotirao Govindrao Phule In his quest for the truth, Phule read the Vedas, h e Manu Samhita, the Puranas, the thought of Buddha, Baseshwar and Tirthankar and the medieval Bhakti saints extensively. He also acquainted himself with the western thought and the Christian and Islamic religions. Phule judged the whole culture and tradition though the spirit of rationality and equality. While the principle of equality called for a total rejection of caste system, authoritarian family structure and subordination of women, the principle of rationality demanded the removal of superstitions, ritualism and the traditional whole of cultural behaviour. This called for a complete rejection of the sacred Hindu texts and scriptures which sustained the inequitous institutions. Like Dr. Ambedkar, Phule read the scriptures 5 1
Natbnrlh The Inter War Yam1 as he would read ordinary,books, the object in the two cases being to find out the truth. He had radical views on social, religious, political and economic issues. Jotiba Phule considered the caste system as an antithesis of the principle of human equality. The existing caste syskm reserved a perpetual slavery for the sudras, especially the untouchables. The untouchables were not allowed to walk on the streets during the sunrise lest their long shadows should pollute Brahmin houses. This inhuman treatment of ati-sudras by the Brahmins and the denial of the common rights of humanity made Phule rebel against the caste system. Interpreting the past history, Phule argued that the alien Aryans after conquering the original inhabitants i.e. the Dravidians, imposed the unequal caste system. They then invented the supposed divine origin of caste divisions to perpetuate their exploitation of the natives branded as sudras. Showing the egalitarian past of the united sudras, he sought to raise the morale of,the nan-Brahmins and united them to revolt against the centuries old inequality .and social degradation. Since Hindu religion justified and sanctioned caste system, Phule rejected it completely. He was an iconoclast through his satirical writings. Phule exposed the irrationalities in Hindu religion. He criticized idolatry, ritualism and priesthood, theory of Karma, rebirth and Heaven. For Phule, God is one and is impersonal. His religion rests on thirty three principles of truih which include freedom and equality of men and women and dignity of labour.