While Sports Minister Udhayanidhi Stalin’s recent comments about “eradicating Sanatana Dharma” have snowballed into a political controversy, it was VCK founder Thol. Thirumavalavan who had enshrined Sanatana Dharma in the lexicon of Tamil Nadu’s political discourse over the past five years.
In 2019, just before the Lok Sabha election, Mr. Thirumavalavan organised the ‘Save Nation’ conference against ‘Sanatana forces’ in Tiruchi, which was attended, among others, by DMK leader and incumbent Chief Minister M.K. Stalin. While he had attacked Hindutva and Sangh Parivar politics in the past, Mr. Thirumavalavan said he chose the term ‘Sanatana Dharma’ to sidestep the problem of being painted as anti-Hindu.
“I have been speaking against Sanatana Dharma for the past 30 years. But the use of the term in political discourse began only in the public rally in Tiruchi before the 2019 Lok Sabha election. Before that, it was widely debated, discussed, and used in seminars and academic spaces. Throughout my political career I have spoken about this,” he told The Hindu on Tuesday.
“When we criticise and attack Hindutva, they [BJP, RSS and Sangh Parivar] twist it to mean that we are speaking against ordinary Hindus, who merely have religious belief in Hindu Gods and Puranas,” he said.
Explaining the context in which he invokes the term Sanatana Dharma, Mr. Thirumavalavan said, “Ambedkar and Periyar [E.V. Ramasamy] used Brahminism instead of Sanatanam. It is not for the Hindu community as a whole. Vedic religion is meant for Brahmins only and perhaps extends to Kshatriyas and Vaishyas. It is not meant for Shudras and other Avarnas [Those who do not fall under the four Varnas]. No Brahmin claims that it is Brahminism. They call it Sanatana Dharma.”
Mr. Thirumavalavan recalled Dr. Ambedkar’s claim that Varnashrama Dharma is a combination of Ashrama Dharma and Varna Dharma.
“This Varnashrama Dharma, which combines the two, was later codified as Manu Smriti. It is claimed that Sanatana Dharma has been around for much longer than Varnashrama Dharma. Christianity, Islam and Buddhism began with Jesus, Prophet Muhammed and Buddha. But Sanatana Dharma has no founder and we cannot pinpoint the year or period in which it was founded. It has been around for a long time, and that is why it is being called an eternal religion,” he said.
Arguing that the words Hindutva, Hinduism, and Sanatana Dharma have different meanings, he said, “The way I see it, Sanatana Dharma is the basic concept of Aryan religion [Hindu religion in today’s context]. Inequality is at the core of it; and it has differences and social hierarchy based on birth.”
According to him, “Hinduism is a set of beliefs of Hindus based on Lord Shiva, Vishnu, Murugan, Ayyappan, Perumal and so on; and the stories and epics about them. These are Hindu beliefs. Ordinary Hindus only have religious beliefs. Hindutva is the political ideology that uses Sanatana Dharma and Hindu beliefs as capital for political gain.”
Mr. Thirumavalavan claimed reports of the BJP’s effort at renaming India as Bharat is only a temporary measure.
“They will rename it ‘Hindu Rashtra’ if they come back to power. They don’t want India to be a secular country and want to declare Hinduism as the State religion,” he claimed. “The RSS has been opposing the national flag, the official name and the constitution since the day Constitution was adopted,” he further claimed.
He believed the agenda of the Sangh Parivar is to keep political power by establishing Hindu majoritarianism by demonising Christians and Muslims by spreading hate against them.
“The Congress wanted to create Indian nationalism; not Hindu nationalism. Mahatma Gandhi wanted everyone to consider themselves Indians. RSS talks about religion-based nationalism – to rename India as Hindu Rashtra, declare Hinduism as State religion. This is Hindutva agenda. Hindutva is not about celebrating Lord Shiva and Maha Vishnu or propagating beliefs in them,” he felt.
Asked if he believed that Hindu religion can be reformed, and if not, why his words should not be considered as an attack on Hindu belief systems, Mr. Thirumavalavan said, “I don’t think so. That is why Dr. Ambedkar said that discrimination can never be abolished in Hindu religion and that leaving the religion is the only way forward. That is why he prescribed religious conversion as strategy for liberation. Around 10 lakh people converted based on his call. While we don’t agree with beliefs of Hinduism, we only oppose Hindutva political agenda.”
Defending Mr. Udhayanidhi Stalin, Mr. Thirumavalavan said, “He only explained why it should be abolished. Dr. Ambedkar said that Hinduism and casteism are contagious disease. They should be abolished. It should be understood ideologically, not as a call for genocide. It is absurd.”
#started #Sanatana #Dharma #stop #Sangh #Parivar #groups #twisting #words #attack #Hindu #beliefs #Thirumavalavan