After her “no god is upper caste” remark stoked controversy, JNU Vice Chancellor Santishree Dhulipudi Pandit on Wednesday defended her comments as an academic exercise and said she was misquoted on her comments.
She also said she is an academic first and people should get angry with BR Ambedkar for it was he who she was “paraphrasing.” “I was asked to speak on BR Ambedkar’s views on gender justice. I was paraphrasing BR Ambedkar. You can see his writings. Why should people get angry with me? They should get angry with BR Ambedkar. Why am I being pulled into it,” she told PTI.
Delivering the Dr B R Ambedkar Lecture Series titled ‘Dr B R Ambedkar’s Thoughts on Gender Justice: Decoding the Uniform Civil Code’, Pandit had on Monday said “anthropologically” gods do not belong to the upper caste and that even Lord Shiva could be from scheduled caste or tribe.
“I am an academic first, a professor. Why is an academic lecture being politicised? I am really scared to give any lecture in Delhi. Everything is misquoted. I am not an original thinker, I am a professor. I feel so hurt, why are people politicising it?” she asked.
During the lecture, the VC had also said the “status of shudras given to women in Manusmriti” makes it extraordinarily regressive.
“Let me tell all women that all women according to Manusmriti are shudras so no woman can claim she is a brahmin or anything else and it is only by marriage that you get the husband or father’s caste on you. I think this is something which is extraordinarily regressive,” she had said.
Taking about the recent caste violence involving a nine-year-old Dalit boy, she said that “no god belonged to the upper caste.” “Most of you should know the origins of our gods anthropologically. No god is a brahmin, the highest is a kshatriya. Lord Shiva must be a scheduled caste or a scheduled tribe because he sits in a cemetery with a snake and has very little clothes to wear. I don’t think Brahmins can sit in the cemetery,” she had said.
She had also said that “anthropologically” gods, including Lakshmi, Shakti, or even Jagannath do not come from the upper caste.
In fact, she said, Jagannath has tribal origins.
“So why are we still continuing with this discrimination which is very very inhuman. It is very important that we are rethinking, reorienting the thoughts of Babasaheb. We do not have any leader of modern India who was such a great thinker.”