Once again Prime Minister Narendra Modi has swung into action against the INDIA partners. Attacking actor Udhayanidhi Stalin, son of Tamil Nadu chief minister M.K. Stalin for his opinion about the need to “eradicate” sanatana dharma during his talk at a Sanatana Abolition Conclave organised by the Tamil Nadu Progressive Writers and Artists Association in Chennai,, the PM has initiated the process to lead a campaign against the INDIA alliance that this block is opposed to the Hindus.
True to the adage “habit hardly dies”, Modi tried to project Udhayanidhi’s remark as INDIA block’s attack on the culture of Bharat, faith of Bharat, and a design to finish the thoughts, values and traditions that have united the country for thousands of years. Being a senior politician, he ought to have realised that his attack lacks a substantive base. It is like swinging sword in the air. Udhayanidhi is son of Stalin, but he certainly cannot be said to represent the ideas and ideology of INDIA.
Modi lapping up the remark of Udhayanidhi does not show his concern for preserving the ethics of Hinduism. Modi has been simply feeding the opinions of his Hindutva politics and brigade. He while ridiculing Udhayanidhi accused the opposition bloc INDIA of plotting to “finish” Sanatan Dharma and urged watchfulness on the part of “every Sanatani”. Question arises who are these Sanatanis? He should have specified the audience, for whom he meant to deliver his message. Interestingly his attack came at an election meeting in Madhya Pradesh. It obviously makes clear that he was simply trying to arouse the Hindutva feeling for electoral gains.
Modi’s attacking INDIA block for Udhayanidhi’s remark underscores the lack of understanding of the cultural and historical ethos of the diversities of Bharat. There are some organisations christened as “Sanatan Sanasthas”. They swear by Santana Dharma. But at the same time, they preach violence and have been found to be involved in the killings of some secular and democratic academics and intellectuals. It is a known fact that neither RSS nor the BJP publically oppose their activities and actions. One would certainly like to know what is the basic character of their Sanatan Dharma?
Though Modi did not directly name Udhayanidhi for the “eradication of Sanatana Dharma” that had triggered the controversy, he was nevertheless indulging in his game of speaking lies and twisting the facts. Modi ought to realise that an ideology cannot be eradicated (implying killed). But certainly, its ill effects can be eradicated. True enough Udhayanidhi has clarified he merely wants an end to social discrimination. Unfortunately, the spectre of losing the Lok Sabha election is so intense that the BJP leaders have accused him of calling for “genocide” of Hindus and charged the INDIA coalition with being anti-Hindu. This is nothing but the worst nature of untruth.
BJP leaders are simply indulging in the game of arousing the passion of the people who believe in ultra-Hindutva. It would not be wrong to say that this is purely an attempt to instigate violence against non-Hindus, as was witnessed in Nuh of Haryana. This observation simply reinforces the belief that BJP and RSS are busy preparing grounds for large scale disturbances across the country ahead of the Lok Sabha elections.
Modi has been trying to push the panick button amongst the Hindus and make them retaliate. By attributing it as the hidden agenda of INDIA, he was purely turning a small mole into hill. His message has ominous content. While he intended to tell his bhakts to fight against the opposition’s “hidden agenda”, he wanted to portray the BJP as the sole saviour of the country’s majority Hindus. Modi categorically said; “In the days to come, they (the Opposition) will step up their attack on us. Every Sanatani, every person who loves this country and its people, has to stay vigilant”.
Modi’s call; “They want to finish the Sanatan tradition and push the country back into a thousand years of slavery. We have to stop such forces together.” It obviously implies that Santana Dharma could be resurrected during his rule. Before his becoming the prime minister, India does not have Sanatan Dharma. If the remarks about Sanatan Dharma are not countered, India would be pushed back to the days of slavery. His statement was reiteration of the RSS and BJP accusation that Hindus had been enslaved under Muslim rule as well as British rule.
His call for stopping the anti Hindu forces contradicts his own statement; “The strategy is to attack the culture of Bharat, attack the faith of Bharat, and finish the thoughts, values and traditions that have united the country for thousands of years.” If the Sanatan Dharma, the core of the Hindu and Bharat faith have kept united the country for centuries how could then Modi claim that these forces will push back the country into slavery? .
Undoubtedly Udhayanidhi’s statement has come as the God send opportunity for Modi and his lieutenant Amit Shah to practice their divisive politics and communalise the Hindu society. Amit Shah also said Udayanidhi had insulted the country’s “culture, history and Sanatana Dharma,” and in Delhi an advocate filed a complaint with the police commissioner, saying that the comments presented a clear case of hate speech.
In the conundrum of marketing of the anti-Hindu sentiment, Udayanidhi has come out with his clarification; “I never called for the genocide of people who are following sanatana dharma. Sanatana Dharma is a principle that divides people in the name of caste and religion. Uprooting sanatana dharma is upholding humanity and human equality.” He reiterated; “I stand firmly by every word I have spoken. I spoke on behalf of the oppressed and marginalised, who suffer due to the Sanatana Dharma. I am ready to present the extensive writings of Periyar and Ambedkar, who conducted in-depth research on Sanatana Dharma and its negative impact on society in any forum.” He also added that he was prepared to face any legal challenge that came his way.
Sanatana is an adjective meaning eternal or unchanging, often employed by Hindus who view their faith as timeless, universal and immutable. To them it describes the essence or core of Hinduism as timeless and universal. Hinduism is a modern term (from the early 19th century) that accommodates a vast diversity of religious and cultural phenomena. It is not a single or unified religion but a collection of various sects, schools, philosophies, and traditions that share some common elements such as belief in reincarnation, karma, and the Vedas. Sanatana dharma and Hinduism are terms that are often used interchangeably.
Udhayanidhi in his speech even referred to E.V. Ramaswami Naicker, or Periyar, and Dr B.R. Ambedkar. Obviously he was seeking to indicate the lineage of his views. This is not the first time that the idea of sanatana dharma has been at the centre of a political argument. Often the reformers and activists have spoken against the oppressive and discriminatory aspects of Hinduism. The truth cannot be denied that social and cultural exploitation of the lower caste people have taken place behind the façade of Hinduism. It is significant that Periyar and Ambedkar, one from Tamil Nadu and other from Maharashtra, had challenged the hegemony of Brahmins and upper castes in politics, culture, and religion; and advocated the rights and dignity of the oppressed castes, especially the Shudras and the Dalits. Both these leaders had rejected sanatana dharma, as according to them it was the source of injustice and inequality. Incidentally RSS and BJP rever Ambedkar. Naturally it is expected from the two that they would properly evaluate Ambedkar’s observation on society based on equality, the dignity of every individual, and democracy.
Periyar held the idea that sanatana dharma was used by Brahmins to exploit and oppress the lower castes, he denounced the concepts of karma, reincarnation, varna, dharma, and moksha as a means to justify the caste hierarchy and to keep the lower castes in perpetual servitude. To that end, Periyar challenged the authority of the Vedas, Upanishads, Puranas and Manusmriti, among others, saying those texts were the result of human output, and biased.
Periyar opposed the Brahminical influence in education, administration, media, literature, art and language in Tamil Nadu, demanding equal rights and opportunities for all in every sphere of life. At the political level, he was strongly anti-imperialistic and anti-fascistic. Interestingly, Periyar gave a call in 1922 to renounce the Manusmriti, while Ambedkar burnt the Manusmriti in 1927 during the Mahad satyagraha, to signify his rejection of the religious underpinning for untouchability. “What is Sanatana? Sanatana means nothing should be changed and all are permanent. But the Dravida model calls for change and all should be equal…”.
Sanatana dharma encompasses the list of duties and practices that all Hindus must comply with. This list of practices includes virtues like honesty, goodwill, patience and generosity. But unfortunately neither the RSS nor the BJP preaches this. Instead they have been preaching the politics of hatred and divisiveness. (IPA Service)