Comment of the Moment: Originally Posted Here by Dinesh Koirala (Courtesy: Sano Baje)
[UWB: We do not necessarily agree with the following piece but decided re-publish it here mainly for two reasons: One, we respect voices from all sides. Two, the article cites two of UWB posts as "excellent examples of Bahunists in action" though the word "excellent" doesn't come for us as something to be proud of. We are strongly against any discriminations based caste and ethnicity. We support the empowerment of all communities in Nepal.]
For those of us who have lived with this phenomenon all our lives, what is described below is no big revelation. However, for the benefit of those who think Nepali politics boils down to a struggle between Royalists and Maoists, or democrats and autocrats, or centrists and extremists, they are only partially correct. There is one other critical grouping that serves as chief sponsor of the political turmoil in Nepal – the Bahunists.
Who are the Bahunists?
So who (what) exactly are the Bahunists? Well, those who believe in Maoism are Maoists; those who believe in the Royal tradition are Royalists. Similarly, those who believe in the “Bahun-baad” tradition, are the Bahunists.
What is the “Bahun-baad” tradition and who precisely are the Bahunists? Ask any Janajati, Dalit, Newar, Madhesi (or non-Brahmin individual) – he or she will provide you a dissertation on what “Bahun-baad” is and exactly how much damage the Bahunists have done to the idea of liberal democracy in Nepal.
Ask the Chhetris, the Thakuris, the Ranas, the Thapas, the Mallas, the Shresthas, the Tamrakars, the Kayasthas (etc.) the same question, and it is likely they will give you a different answer. Members of these groups are sure to know who the Bahunists are, but they probably don’t understand the phenomenon that well.
Why? Because for centuries, Bahunists have successfully performed as the mechanism that enables (and amplifies) Nepal’s feudal traditions; at the same time, the Bahunists have been successful in portraying the non-Bahunists as either the face, or the victims of feudalism.
Why are the Bahunists so Angry and Dangerous?
It is important to note that not all Brahmins are Bahunists. Just like not all Chhetris are Royalists and not all Janajatis are Maoists. This being said, all Bahunists (like other minority extremists), are bad news. Just like the hard-core Royalists give the Chhetris a bad name, the hard-core Bahunists give the Brahmins a bad name.
At least when Royalists have disagreements with other Royalists, all they do is publish trashy articles about each other in the media. When Maoists argue with other Maoists, the one with the bigger balls puts the other one in detention and then India steps in and sorts things out.
When Bahunists have arguments with other Bahunists, all hell breaks loose – look at what happened when the Bahunists in the Nepali Congress and the Bahunists in the Maoists disagreed – the whole country suffered for 12 years!! This is one of many reasons why Bahunists are bad for Nepal, just like their extremist friends from other camps.
To put it plainly, the Bahunists have functioned for ages as priests and “purohits” (mostly in the houses of high-caste Chhetris, Hindu temples, etc.) during times of unrest and war. During times of peace, they have operated in the shadows, for example, by completely Sanskritizing the exam to enter the Nepali Foreign Service, by excluding members of other ethnic groups and castes from politics, by monopolizing the state’s political beaurecracy, by inserting key Bahunists in the Nepali Police, etc.
The Bahunists’ fathers and forefathers accomplished the process of monopolizing state power (from within government), but some Bahunist off-spring are still angry. Why are Bahunist off-spring so violently against the idea of Monarchy? Because they are now accomplished in their own fields and find shame in the fact that their ancestors were preists in the Palace.
It’s all very simple. Bahunist off-spring feel entitled to respect because of their accomplishments, but are unable to let go of their ancestral pasts and earn the respect just like everyone else. Shame is a powerful driver of hatred, as anti-Americanism flourishing the Arab world has shown. But Bahunists are embarrassed and angry for the all the wrong reasons.
If Bahunists (who have enjoyed privileged existences their whole lives) are angry, how should the Janajati and Madhesi and other minority groups feel at being repressed by the Bahunists all their lives? Remember, it may be a stupid individual like Gyanendra who sits at the wheel of the “ship,” but read history – it has always been Bahunists that have guided and assisted idiots like Gyanendra, navigate the “ship.”
What do Bahunists, Illiberal Democrats and the Ku Klux Klan, have in common?
In Nepal, Nepotism, sycophancy and exclusion all have one thing in common – the Bahunists. With the exception of a few “token” members from other caste groups, Nepal’s politics, Nepal’s education system, Nepal’s public sector, Nepali media, are all completely dominated by Bahunists and their circle of semi-slaves.
When examined according to the dimensions of elite-ness and exclusivity, the Bahunists in Nepal behave much like the Ku Klux Klan (at their height), in the United States of America. The Bahunists look down on other castes, they feel superior to other classes and they advocate Bahunist supremacy, non-stop.
The “beauty” of how the Bahunists operate is that they do so under the idea of democracy, inclusion, equality and social harmony. They project the image that they are for the rights of minorities, that they are for the weak and downtrodden, that they are the most democratic of all groups.
But truly, nothing could be further from the truth. Bahunists act in favour of other Bahunists. They elevate the status of only Bahunists. They represent the very core of what is rotten in Nepal’s democracy. The “Bahun-baad” phenomenon (as propagated by the Bahunists) is the single biggest threat to social harmony, to liberal democracy, to equality, and peace in Nepal.
What do you think Dor Bahadur Bista was talking about when he wrote “Fatalism and Development in Nepal?” Who do you think the International Crisis Group is referring to when they issue statements like: “Control over the peace process has not increased confidence; that all decisions were made behind closed doors by a handful of Brahman men leaves sceptics wondering if ten years of conflict has done anything to change underlying structures.”
Here’s another (more recent) quote from ICG: “So far the (peace) process has concentrated on building elite consensus at the expense of intense political debate or extensive public consultations.”
If you guessed the Bahunists (in response to all three references above), you’re absolutely right.
Who are some of the more prominent anti-Bahunists and why is their struggle not providing results?
What makes the Bahunists particularly destructive is that they are found at the top layers of every political entity in Nepal. They are at the top of the UML, they are at the top of the the Maoists, they are entrenched in the judiciary. In fact, the very core leadership of the Nepali Congress right now, are all Bahunists.
If you ever wondered about why people like Gagan Thapa, or Rabindra Shrestha (or even the JTMM) are so very annoyed with their mother organizations, it’s because they resent being subdued by the Bahunists.
If you’re still wondering why the Madhesi community’s spontaneous uprising has been so full of passion, it’s simple. It’s because the Madhesis resent all decisions of political importance being made by a congregation of Bahunists. It’s because they are sick and tired of Bahunists playing games with the future of Madhesis.
Like the Janajatis, the Madhesis know from experience who runs the mechanics of Nepal’s feudal structure. There might be an idiot at the top of the pyramid of feudalism, but the entire base of this pyramid is full of Bahunists and their sympathizers. Thank goodness Jana Aandolan-II has clarified this beyond any credible doubt.
How do Bahunists react when they face a common threat?
When Bahunists face a threat to their powerbase, they come up with conspiracies. And not just small conspiracies, but elaborate theories that span many years and multiple dimensions. To the Bahunists, any threat to their undemocratic, exclusive, power-base is explained by a sophisticated conspiracy.
Fortunately, over the past few months, Bahunist conspiracies have gotten them into more trouble than they would care to admit.
For example, when the Bahunists came up with conspiracy theories about the Madhesi uprising being part of an elaborate Royalist design, this added anger and fuel to the Madhesi uprising.
When the Maoist Bahunists (yes, the Bahunists are at the top of the pecking order within the Maoists as well) and the Bahunists in the Nepali Congress schemed to discredit the Madhesi movement, the Madhesi movement gathered even more momentum.
When the Bahunists refused to ask one of their own to resign (in order to start negotiations with the Madhesis), naturally, the Madhesis understood exactly how much “respect” the Bahunists have for the Madhesi population.
It is hilarious when Bahunists make statement about how much they have given to the Madhesi community by “allowing” them citizenship rights. This is the Bahunists’ attempt at gaining sympathy from the Madhesi community. Even more hilarious is when the Bahunists claim stake to being members of the Madhesi community (for electoral reasons).
Everyone knows that the biggest threat to continued Bahunist domination comes from movements that demand ethnic assertion, equality and proportional representation – you know, movements like the Madhesi movement and the Janajati movement.
There are thousands of examples of Royalist conspiracies that are outlined by the Bahunists (from within the Maoists and other political groups). In fact, anything that even remotely threatens the Bahunists’ hold on power, is framed as a conspiracy against democracy.
Here are some excellent examples of Bahunists in action:
“Janajati Nepal Banda: Royalists in Charge (and Other Headlines)“
and “Surya Bahadur Thapa Interview: Hidden Messages?“
How do Bahunists react when they are under public scrutiny?
In the old days, if attacked, Bahunists would run back to their priestly duties and seek protection from Hinduism – “respect your priest, do not harm your guru, feed him well, clothe him well, bull shit, bull shit, bull shit.”
In recent times, Bahunists tend to throw money at whatever problems they are having. But when half the country’s population is rising against the Bahunists, they are finding that spending money alone, isn’t getting them relief. This is making the Bahunists extremely nervous.
Another technique Bahunists use is that they immediately mobilize their global Bahunist network, Bahunists in the media, and Bahunists across the political spectrum, to spread misinformation, to sensitize issues and to manipulate (detract) the Nepali public’s mood. As technology has grown and access to information along with it, the Bahunists have mastered the means to amplify their Bahunist cause.
What Royalists failed to understand is the distinction between love for the institution and hatred for the individual; What the Maoists understand (but intentionally ignore) is that one does not have to be a Royalist to oppose Maoist tyranny; What the Bahunists fail to understand is that whether the Maoists come to power or not, whether Nepal becomes a republic or not, the Bahunists are exposed once and for all!!
Forecasting the Future of “Bahun-baad” and the Bahunists
Of course, all “good” things come to an end. With people across Nepal awakening from the Maoist nightmare, ethnic assertion and demands for equality are at the very top of every agenda. People are demanding their rights in the most democratic way possible and such demands have caught the Bahunists off balance.
Being caught by surprise is what is bringing the Bahunists in the Nepali Congress and the Bahunists in the CPN-M together. The merger of the Bahunists from different political leanings is what is fuelling the ethnic movements across the country.
Slowly but surely, the games, the politics, the conspiracies and the machinations that underpin the “Bahun-baad” philosophy and elevate the Bahunists in Nepal, will come to an abrupt end. The days of the Bahunist democracy and Bahunist candidates representing regions that are home to other ethnic groups, are numbered. Just wait till the Constituent Assembly elections roll around.
How will the Bahunists react to this writing?
When the Bahunists read this posting (and they will most certainly read it), I am sure they will come up with one conspiracy theory after another to discredit the ideas embodied in the writing. In reading Bahunist responses, look out in particular for the following themes:
* This is a Royalist conspiracy to bring about ethnic disharmony in Nepal – Right, everything that challenges Bahunist domination is a conspiracy of some sort.
* The writing is completely flawed – it is the Chhetris, the Ranas and the Shahs who are the root of feudalism in Nepal – “238 years of the Shah dynasty, etc. Sure, that is, minus 238 years of Priests and Gurus forecasting the future of the Shah dynasty.
* The ideas captured in this article are designed specifically to derail the Constituent Assembly elections – Why in the world would we want to do that? The CA elections are guaranteed to destroy Bahunism once and for all. If anyone, it is the Bahunists who are eager to sabotage CA elections. Loss of power for the Bahunists, is a certainty.
Watch out particularly for the non-Brahmin authors who comment on the ideas articulated in the writing above. Those will be the most Bahunist responses of all.