i’ve been meaning to write about this for a while because it seems a new and enterprising way for religions to work:
Certain Dalits (formerly Untouchables, though that class has been ‘abolished’ by legislation – in much the same way that sexual inequality has been abolished by legislation in this country) in India have been less than impressed with the fact that the best anyone can offer them under Hinduism is the promise that if they are good this time they might get reincarnated as something higher-caste next time – like maybe a dung-beetle.
They have found a novel way out – conversion to Buddhism and its ‘you’re all equal’ philosophy. So they have been popping off to the monkish barbers in their thousands, having a quick haircut and Thubten Zopa Rinpoche’s yer uncle, rapid social mobility and a sudden freedom from some of the downsides of being untouchable like having your mother murdered and your buffalo nicked. Don’t tread on any insects and you’re as worthy a human being as the brahmin on the Seringapatham omnibus.
It really is happening; well it’s a more imaginative pitch than the rather staid old ‘eternal life’ offering from most religions.