B. Pradeep’s report for The Hindu about a murder that took place in my city made sad reading:
“Peramalla Pranay Kumar, 23, belonging to a Scheduled Caste was killed here for honour, his caste Hindu wife Amrutha Varshini, still in hospital, said the murder was hatched by her father Tirunagaru Maruthi Rao and uncle Sravan.
“Both of them are accused one and two, and the attacker seen in the CCTV footage is a hired killer, the police said.
“On many occasions, my father said I should forget him (Pranay), or else he’d kill him. My uncle also manhandled me,” she said.
“Amrutha and Pranay eloped in January and married at Arya Samaj Mandir in Hyderabad on January 30, 2018, and returned here in February after seeking police protection. They were leaving a hospital after her pre-natal check-up on Friday afternoon, when an unidentified man attacked Pranay from behind.
“I will not call this honour killing. It is a murder motivated by caste pride,” Mr. Srinivas asserted. Members of Revolutionary Writers’ Association said the incident was due to police failure, that “only gave free advice to the couple but did not ensure protection.”
“The last rites of Pranay will be performed on Sunday as per Christian customs, after his brother, pursuing medicine in Ukraine, arrives. (‘My father, uncle hatched my husband’s murder’, The Hindu, September 15, 2018).
How do I respond to this as a Christian Youth Evangelist? I feel so sad. I feel so bad. This is really terrible – what has happened.
I am not sure if Pranay who hailed from a Christian family was a believer. If he was, if he honoured Jesus as his Lord and the Bible as the final court of appeal for all matters of belief and behaviour, he must not have married someone who was not a believer. He could have married a believer from another caste (like I have done – I will come to that in a bit). But the Bible is clear in I Corinthians 7 – the longest New Testament passage on Sex, Love, Marriage in the Bible – that even if a believer married a non-believer, God wants them to live together for life. Again this is no excuse for believers, still not married to marry non-believers.
But let’s get to the crux of this horrific matter – caste pride resulting in murder. What I am going to say here will ruffle a few feathers but I am not bothered.
The Bible teaches us that we are ALL fearfully and wonderfully made (Psa. 139:14). Each one of us are indeed a handiwork of God. God was at His brilliant best when he fashioned the skins of different people, red and yellow and black and white; He did not have an off-color day when he fashioned the nose of the Mongoloid race or the skin of our Negroid brothers. Yes, each race is precious in His sight!
Jesus healed 10 persons with leprosy at one time, you may recall (Luke 17:11-19). One of them happened to be a Samaritan; a mixed race the Jewish people of Jesus’ time hated with all their heart. (The Jews referred to them with derisive names like “dogs”. These folk were seen as perfect fuel for hell.). All these 10 guys were healed by Jesus. However, the only person who came back to Jesus to fall on his face in an act of worship was a Samaritan. Jesus applauded him. Jesus went “wow” when he saw what this man did. By doing that, Jesus took a strong stance against racism.
You cannot have a skin that is more unattractive and repulsive than a skin that is ravaged by leprosy, speaking in a purely worldly terms. But Jesus chose to draw close to such folks even though they tried to keep the distance between them and Jesus (Luke 17:12). They shouted to Jesus from far away. But Jesus drew near them and spoke to them. He did not shout back making sure that the distance was maintained.
This particular Samaritan, who had leprosy, was doubly disadvantaged; he belonged to a hated race and he had disease-damaged skin. (You may recall that Jesus was nice to a triply disadvantaged person; the Samaritan Woman [John 4] who was almost a prostitute). When Jesus saw a quality in him that deserved appreciation, He did not hold back his praise. Jesus was objective and unprejudiced here.
Is Jesus speaking to you through this story? You, who is adamant in never even considering a believing person from a so-called lower caste when it comes to life partner choice. You, who ensure that your close associates in business or even otherwise are always from a caste you are cool with. You, who always ensure that you always eat with people from your geographical region in the corporate company you work for, in the dinner break. You, who tell your kids not to associate with kids from a different caste than yours. You – double-standards-following, You – who will go against the caste-crazy elders in your family, when it comes to many matters but NOT in matters such as which person to marry! You who keep saying ‘no’ to one proposal after another purely on the basis of caste considerations!
In Christ’s family “there is no longer Jew nor Greek…for you are all Christians – you are one in Christ Jesus” (Gal 3:28)!
Don’t quote from Genesis 24 (story of Abraham sending his servant to find a ‘same’-caste wife for Isaac) to support your caste-first criterion when it comes to marriage. The issue here was faith – not caste. The message there is this: “travel as long as you need to find out a believer wife for Isaac”. If you are quoting Genesis 24 to justify the keeping of caste in mind for life partner choice, why don’t you quote it to say boys must give gifts (dowry) to girls before a marriage (which this chapter also records)? Why are you getting selective, brother? The Lord was very upset with folks who looked down upon Moses’ other-caste, but more-believer-than-him wife, remember!
Let’s repent from all forms of the sin of racism we may be into. Let’s do that before it is too late. I am not trying to be politically correct by writing an article like this. I am not passing out fancy Bible lessons that I don’t practice myself here.
Against all odds, I, by God’s grace and His enabling power, married a girl who did not belong to a caste I belong to – a caste with whom my caste people had a strong repulsion to, historically speaking (This is not to state that all folks must necessarily marry outside their caste). Let me tell you that story in brief: From June 1998 I was at Southern Asia Bible College, Bangalore, studying for my M. Div. I started getting proposals for marriage from well-meaning family and ministry friends through my parents. It was at this time I rushed to the jungles opposite to the Bible College and started praying about my life partner very seriously. At the end of those seasons of supplication God wrote in my heart that Evan was His chosen girl for me! Before knowing that, I made sure she fulfilled some of the criterion I had for the girl I would marry: a believer, involved in the ministry, part of the Google generation – the generation I was trying to reach, but outside my caste, a caste so notorious in Tamil Nadu for marrying only within itself!
Will you as a Reddy get rid your derision and scorn for the so called ‘low’ caste Mala or Madiga?
Will you as a Naidu say ‘no’ to looking down upon and mixing freely with the so called ‘low’ caste Mala or Madiga?
Will you as a Chowdhary show Christ-love and embrace and keep close to your heart even those from the so-called ‘low’ caste, including those from the Mala caste and Madiga caste?
Will you from the Coastal side of Andhra stop talking badly about those from Telangana?
(Duke Jeyaraj is the founder of Grabbing the Google Gen from Gehenna Mission. Find out more by liking www.facebook.com/dukebook).