On Saturday, 22nd July 2023, an FIR was registered against Mukesh Machkar – editor of Marathi Cartoon Weekly Marmik – for inciting hatred and violence against Brahmin women over the recent Manipur issue. Mukesh Machkar said in his Facebook post that he would contribute money to those who pack the women with surnames Bhide, Gadgil, and Nadkarni in a sack and send them to Manipur. He also added that he will sponsor a half-litre of petrol if anyone wishes to do “something else” with them.
The FIR was filed in the Cyber Police branch of Pune City at the Alankar police station in the Erandwana area of Pune and it is based on the complaint filed by noted Marathi writer Ashwini Kulkarni. While Mukesh Machkar represents the so-called “moral compass” of the progressive ideology of Maharashtra, it is necessary to first understand the history behind such attacks on Brahmins which constitute 5 to 6 per cent population of the Marathi state.
Why Brahmin bashing is considered cool in Maharashtra?
For the past 200 years, Maharashtra has been a torch-bearer region in the social renaissance of the country. Activists like Jyotirao Phule, Chhatrapati Shahu Maharaj, and Dr BR Ambedkar are often glorified here as a stepwise legacy of social reforms mainly revolving around fighting caste discrimination and gender discrimination. The root causes of these social problems are often attributed to Hindu Dharmik beliefs.
Brahmins by nature of the inheritance they have and by the definition of that particular caste are known for being the traditional custodians of Dharmik know-how and are held responsible for the whole mess with the onus kept immune to time and space. This surrounds Brahmins of the pre-renaissance period with malicious claims legitimised as authentic history and puts Brahmins of the post-renaissance period into a perpetual vulnerability to public violence for no reason despite adherence to the moral compass set by the progressive movement.
Mukesh Machkar wrote in his Facebook post, “I will give a contribution of rupees one thousand to pack Bhide, Gadgil, and Nadkarni women in a sack and send them to Manipur. Also, will give half a litre of petrol if there is any other plan!” Notably, Bhide, Gadgil, and Nadkarni are the surnames commonly found in the Marathi Brahmin Community. Peshwas of the Maratha empire, Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Veer Savarkar, and many other eminent Marathi personalities belong to this community. Nathuram Godse who shot MK Gandhi dead also comes from this community. What Mukesh Machkar incited is nothing but a genocide of this community like the one witnessed by Maharashtra in 1948 after MK Gandhi’s assassination.
It started with the genocide of Chitpavan Brahmins in 1948
The genocide of Marathi Chitpavan Brahmins took place in Maharashtra in 1948 after MK Gandhi was shot dead by Nathuram Godse – a Chitpavan Brahmin. It was the Gandhian Ahimsa-Vadis themselves who resorted to mass violence as a tool to avenge his murder. The Congress leaders who took part in the genocidal violence continued to keep their strongholds in parts of the newly formed state, with their actual heirs and political successors holding ministerial ranks in the state cabinet.
The local politics continued to propel the narrative of a ‘progressive Maharashtra’ lead by the ideals of ‘Shahu-Phule-Ambedkar’ while leaving no space for leaders from the Brahmin community. The aftermath of the violence also explains the plight of the Brahmins from the villages and their rapid migration into the cities, as many families succumbed to threats during the 1960s. Even today, the Maharashtrian Brahmins as a minority community do not hold much say in the politics of the state dominated by the Marathas and the Kunbis. Maratha-centric scholarships were slowly brought ahead to replace the perceived hegemony of Brahmins in academics and intelligentsia as well.
The other side-effect of this intellectual and political boycott can be seen in the quasi-socialist narrative set by Congress during the 1970s and 1980s. The same thread was taken ahead by the Sharad Pawar-led NCP when it was in power from 1999 to 2014. “A progressive Maharashtra of Phule Shahu and Ambedkar” became a common jargon of any public meet so much so that even the BJP cannot refuse to exclusively adhere to it now.
Discrediting of the historic contribution
This approach wiped out many Brahmin social reformers and thinkers from Marathi social discourse. Lok Hitwadi Gopal Hari Deshmukh is forgotten because he is Brahmin. Gopal Ganesh Agarkar is comfortably ignored despite his thought-provoking writing on social reforms. Lokmanya Tilak who was earlier seen as the manifestation of the Indian dissent against British rule and a mass leader across caste barriers is feared to remain as just another political leader from the Brahmin community. Defaming Veer Savarkar and getting away with it is not new to the Marathi state now.
These Marathi stalwarts are purposefully presented as Brahmin-limited persons by the left-leaning and Islamoapologetic progressive liberal seculars of the state. The thought behind this is essentially that Hinduism is the root cause of social evil and Brahmins are presented as representatives of it and others who followed the same Dharma for centuries are given an alternate history to fight against each other within Hinduism.
It is quite fashionable to peddle that Brahmins are Eurasians, and Bahujans are the Mool Niwasis and Adivasis can not be called Hindus. Very few people take cognizance of the fact that the Aryan Invasion theory is already proven wrong. Marathi writer Shahu Patole wrote an article on the Manipur issue for the same Marmik edited by Mukesh Machkar where he categorically said that Adivasis are not Hindus. Therefore, after creating so many rifts in the Hindu community along caste lines, while criticising any so-called social evil it is made a norm in Maharashtra to either criticise Brahmins or to keep them at a distance or at least keep taunting them.
Impact on history told and the politics
While Brahmins were gradually losing their political representation as the so-called progressive movement started spreading its roots deeper, the community made sure that their later generations stick to their core competencies including knowledge and education. The genocide of Brahmins in 1948 was not limited to Chitpavan Brahmins. Many other Brahmins were persecuted and forced to leave their properties in villages – especially in the Western Maharashtra and Vidarbha region – never to return and they settled in cities like Pune, Thane, Mumbai, Nagpur, and Nashik.
History writing was also seen through casteist lenses and the glorious story of the Maratha empire was also given different perspectives based on the caste of the narrator. After a well-identified gap between Savarnas and Dalits, dedicated attempts were made to sow the seeds of hatred between Brahmins and Marathas through perverted versions of medieval history. In an attempt to separate Brahmins from Marathas, these enthusiastic historians and academicians exerted to pull Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj away from Hindu Dharma. The two streams in history achieved nothing but a widening rift in Marathi people on casteist lines. History defines one’s identity and issues one takes pride in. The social divide in Maharashtra cleverly utilised history as a tool to make people hate each other.
There are two popular streams of Maratha historical discourse in Maharashtra. One of them is led by the likes of Babasaheb Purandare who gave his whole life the research about Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, his Swarajya, and its further development. Followers of this thought line see Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and Chhatrapati Sambhaji Maharaj as the kings who reestablished a Hindu state in the nation amidst the tyranny of the Moghuls in the north and various Shahis in the Deccan.
The others, however, try to separate both the Chhatrapati from Dharmic notions and try to portray the Swarajya to be like any so-called secular, progressive, liberal state in the contemporary era which Swarajya was not. The ‘Sambhaji Brigade’ is one such organization propagating this view in which the great kings are seen from the point of view that would seem to be ‘politically correct’ in contemporary times. Shiv Sena (UBT) is in a political alliance with the ‘Sambhaji Brigade’.
More about ‘Sambhaji Brigade’
The Sambhaji Brigade vandalised the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute in Pune on 5th January 2004. The Institute had hosted and helped American author James Laine in researching his book ‘Shivaji: A Hindu King in Islamic India’. Sambhaji Brigade claims that some passages in the book are insulting to the Hindu king. All miscreants were acquitted by the Pune sessions court in 2017 due to a lack of evidence. The reason for the attack was that Laine reported outright hearsay on page number 93: “Maharashtrians tell jokes naughtily suggesting that his guardian Dadaji Konddev was his biological father”! This claim by James Laine is baseless insinuation and further criticism of this unsubstantiated claim can be read here.
In Lal Mahal where Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj spent his childhood years, there was a statue of Dadoji Konddev – who is considered as a tutor of the young Shivaji. Dadoji Konddev was a Brahmin administrator appointed by Shahajiraje in his Pune Jagir to assist Rajmata Jijabai while Shahajiraje was engaged in warfare in Karnataka. In December 2010, the statue was removed by the Pune Municipal Corporation then ruled by Congress-NCP. This decision was taken after the Sambhaji Brigade made an aggressive demand for it. A committee of historians was appointed by the state government to conclude that Dadoji Konddev was not a Guru or Tutor of Shivaji Maharaj in his childhood.
On 2nd January 2017, Sambhaji Brigade members removed the statue of eminent Marathi playwright Ram Ganesh Gadkari from the Sambhaji Garden in Pune. They threw it in the Mula River. It was removed citing that his play Raj Sannyas portrays Chhatrapati Sambhaji Maharaj in a bad light. It is notable that Ram Ganesh Gadkari was a Brahmin. The references which he supposedly used to write the play in 1910 were proved to be false much after the writer died in 1919. Moreover, the play was not even being presented on the stage in contemporary times and Gadkari is credited with many literary milestones other than this play. But hatred does not register anything except hatred.
It is Sambhaji Brigade that discredited Samarth Ramdas – a Brahmin by birth – and propagated that he was neither a guide nor an inspiration to the Hindu King Shivaji Maharaj. Instead, a Muslim ‘saint’ Hajrat Yakub Baba is now presented as his Guru in the progressive Maharashtra of Phule Shahu and Ambedkar. Discrediting a Brahmin seer is progressive. Entitling a Muslim ‘saint’ the guideship of a Hindu king is secular. It is the same Sambhaji Brigade that is credited to peddle a popular lie or myth in common public discourse that Shivaji Maharaj’s army and administration included a considerable percentage of Muslims – even in officer ranks – which reduces the Hindavi Swarajya to just Swarajya. This is done to impose contemporary secular notions on the medieval Hindu king. It is done to burden Shivaji Maharaj’s staunch followers to be on good terms with present-day Islamists and ignore whatever trouble they create in the state. Historian Gajanan Mehendale has dismissed this claim and credibly proved that Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj did not employ more than 7 or 8 Muslims as administrative officers in his life. He categorically mentions that there was no revenue officer in his kingdom after 10th March 1657. All other popular secular misconceptions are dismissed in the attached video.
It is notable that Chhatrapati Sambhaji Maharaj has referred to his grandfather Shahaji as ‘Haindav-Dharma-Jeernoddharaka’ (हैंदवधर्मजीर्णोद्धारक) – the one who has restored the Hindu Dharma. On his father Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, the second Chhatrapati of the Hindu kingdom unapologetically bestows the titles of ‘Mleccha-kshaya-dixita’ (म्लेंच्छक्षयदीक्षित) – the one who is spiritually initiated to kill Islamists and has mastered the killing of Islamic invaders and ‘Gau-brahman-pratipalaka’ (गोब्राह्मणप्रतिपालक) – The protector of cows and Brahmins.
This secular portrayal of the Hindu kings also calls the first stream of historians to be a pervert. Moreover, NCP and Sharad Pawar are repeatedly accused of setting up a dispute between two influential caste groups in Maharashtra viz. Brahmins and Marathas. NCP leader Jitendra Awhad is known for the first history stream mentioned above. He has repeatedly insulted people like Babasaheb Purandare and his works. Awhad has also said that Aurangzeb was not a Hindu hater. Amol Mitkari is another NCP leader who is known as the one who made fun of Hindu rituals and Brahmins who perform rituals to solemnise marriages of Hindus.
The political impact of reverse casteism is neutralised by Devendra Fadnavis
Uddhav Thackeray often says that his Hindutva has nothing to do with Shikha, Janeu, and Ghanta. To appear a progressive liberal, bashing Brahmins is essential in contemporary Maharashtra. This is why, the BJP bringing Devendra Fadnavis as the CM face in 2014 when the demands of Maratha reservations were on a historic high was seen as a strong political message. BJP’s move was to challenge popular opinions. Likewise, a non-Jat ML Khattar was made CM in Haryana in the same year 2014 and is still the CM there.
Devendra Fadnavis is a Brahmin. His tenure as the CM saw social turbulence in Maharashtra like never before with 59 rallies of the Maratha community across the state demanding reservations. When the Fadnavis government decided to provide reservations to Marathas, the opposition incited farmers to walk to Mumbai for various demands to destabilise the government.
Devendra Fadnavis’ political intents were repeatedly questioned by Sharad Pawar either by clearly mentioning or by indicating his caste in public. Despite this, Fadnavis became the first CM of the state to complete the term of five years after Vasantrao Naik who completed the term in 1967-1972. Taking multiple caste groups and leaders from various factions and political parties together, Fadnavis made BJP the most successful political party in Maharashtra and today stands as the most popular leader in the state disproving the equations and arithmetics of caste-based politics.
Mukesh Machkar was brought to Marmik during the MVA government
In 2019, Maharashtra witnessed an ‘end of all ideologies’ situation when Uddhav Thackeray joined hands with Congress and NCP breaking the Hindutva alliance of Shiv Sena and BJP. It was during the Maha Vikas Aghadi government that Uddhav Thackeray’s Hindutva overtly became anti-Hindu with every passing day. Marmik which once used to be Shiv Sena’s mouthpiece is now published by the Prabodhan Prakashan. It is led by Rashmi Uddhav Thackeray. Mukesh Machkar – a left-leaning so-called progressive liberal writer in Marathi was brought on board as an executive editor during the MVA period only. With the given history of ‘social reforms’ and political scenarios, Mukesh Machkar’s liberal credentials were a perfect match for the changed stance of Shiv Sena (UBT), and the same has been the reason for seeding anti-Brahmin hatred in his mind. His Facebook post is just an expression of that.
Mukesh Machkar was backed by many perverts in the comments section
It was not only the post by Mukesh Machkar that represented the hatred towards Brahmins sowed by the progressive movement in Maharashtra. There were scores of other social media users who commented on the post and showcased their mentality. Someone wrote, ‘I contribute 251’. Someone else wrote ‘Add 500 from my side’. An open auctioneer for participating in the genocide call given by Mukesh Machkar started in the comments section of his post. A video screengrab of the same is attached below.
Mukesh Machkar received similar support in the comments section of his meaningless apology. People suggested he should not apologise. Some of them even copy pasted his original post. The Facebook users commenting on Mukesh Machkar’s post against Brahmins include common people following Mukesh Machkar as well as some distinguished individuals identified in the society. One of them is a manager in Daily Newspaper Sakal. Sakal is headed by Sharad Pawar’s sibling Prataprao Pawar. The list also includes a former deputy director of the finance department of the government of Maharashtra and a teacher who claims to have received the award of the best primary school teacher from the President of India.
While police action on Mukesh Machkar is still awaited, Marathi people have a long way to go before getting rid of the regressive politicians creating a divide in the community for political gains and progressive ideologies portraying Brahmins as essential villains to uproot Hindu Dharma from the land where its restoration in the later Mughal period was initiated for never to diminish again.