Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) Vice Chancellor Santishree Dhulipudi Pandit said that the status of women in ancient text Manusmriti makes it regressive.
Pandit also said Hindu Gods "anthropologically" do not belong to upper castes and Lord Shiva can either be a scheduled caste or scheduled tribe as "he sits in a cemetery with a snake and has very little clothes to wear".
Delivering the Dr BR Ambedkar Lecture Series titled 'Dr BR Ambedkar's Thoughts on Gender Justice: Decoding the Uniform Civil Code', Pandit said the "status of shudras given to women in Manusmriti" makes it extraordinarily regressive.
She said, "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."
Pandit's remarks come amid a slew of caste-related violence in the country. Talking about the recent death of a nine-year-old Dalit boy, she said that "no God belonged to the upper caste".
She said, "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 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.
Pandit further said, "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."
She also said that Hinduism is a way of life, not a religion.
"Hinduism is not a religion, it is a way of life and if it is the way of life then why are we scared of criticism. Gautam Buddha was one of the first to wake us up on the discriminations which is embedded, structured in our society," said Pandit.
(With PTI inputs)