Dr. K. Veeramani
President, Dravidar Kazhagam
In the world, the present form of humans came into existence many millennia ago. The human beings, evolved from primitive living things which started their existence as single celled organisms. The evolution theory formulated by the natural biologist, Charles Darwin has been proved strongly and consistently through successive scientific findings. When scientific theory and practices remain very strong, the creation theory of human beings also remains popular among the humankind. Human beings are made to believe, as if they are the creations of ‘god’. If the creation of human beings was originated by ‘god’ what is the need of disparities among them in external appearances and to certain extent genetic variations too? Faith was imposed on human beings to believe the creation theory, failing which they were apprehended for punishment after their lives.
Faith is the precursor of superstitions. Mere creation by the so called ‘almighty’ had put lot of hurdles in the progress of humanity. The faith was not imposed as an isolated exercise, but under the binding frame of religion. Again, contrary to the common creation of humans who are of varied categories, identified and distinguished as human races, religions also became varied. Their institutional nature was different from one another. Religions were binding the so-called design of human beings who were diversified as per environment, climatic conditions, living style, food habits etc. No one came forward in a significant manner to question the diversified humans who fall under one and the same religion. When one and the same god is being worshipped in a single religion, how could the omnipotent god create diversified humans both in appearance and action? This narrative of religion will self – defeat the theory of creation. Human beings were discriminated despite belonging to one and the same religion. Majority of such discriminations within the same religion were human made. No part of the religious text, except the one advocated such discriminations among its own subjects. The discriminated sections had to fight against inhuman treatments meted out to them. The fight has been prolonging for a longer period with intermittent success but that also got weakened in course of time. Permanent liberation of humans could be possible, if only the faith in the creation theory is demolished. The faith in god has to be forbidden for the utilization of the potential in every human. This is what is required for the progress of humanity in general. The full utilization of human resources could not be made possible due to the influence of religion that keeps alive the belief in god. This is the general trend and prevalence in almost all the parts of the world wherever human beings inhabit with one exceptional territory, the territory with one religious belief, i.e. Hindu religious belief.
The specialty of Hindu religion and its multifarious gods is to look after and control (?) the various aspects of life of their subjects. Like other religious subjects, Hindu religion also discriminates its subjects. The effect of such discrimination denied many basic human rights to the fellow men. The fellow men of this Hindu religion were segregated into unequal hierarchies based on their birth. Birth-based segregation of human beings is basically against human rights, in fact inhuman. The living beings born as humans are being dehumanized both in Hindu religious texts and in practice.
The dehumanization process was enforced through the formation of caste system. The caste identity of an individual is based on his/her birth. To over- come the dehumanization of individuals as a system, the only way is caste eradication – caste annihilation. The hierarchy in the caste system is four-fold and termed varnasrama. The four-fold division is not on a single plank but one below the other and so on. It was very rightly described by the great revolutionary Dr. B.R. Ambedkar as graded inequality.
The dictum was very cunning and so malicious, that the lower hierarchies are satisfied with the prevalence of few hierarchies below them and never bothered about the privileged supreme hierarchy which is above them and all other hierarchies. Apart from these four-fold division of the subjects viz. Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas, and Shudras in the religious society, one lower stratum exists viz. Panchamas, who are dehumanized further more in the name of untouchability, unseeability and unapproachability. By the physical touch of Panchamas, by looking at them and by allowing the public path for Panchamas, it is claimed that the others get polluted. It is the worst form of dehumanization. Besides, the still worse part of it was the position of women. They are kept in the category even below the Panchamas, all castes are one category of slaves, and women the lowest of the low according to the Hindu religious dogmas.
Nowhere in the world, this sort of inhuman discriminations and unequal divisions exist in the society! Not only this is social injustice but is also gender discrimination!
If at all any revolt has to take place against the caste hegemony, it would be only between the adjoining hierarchies and not against the supreme one which subjugates the rest of the hierarchies.
Again, the scheming dictum of the Hindu social system is unique with one distinct factor which could not be found in any other religions. In the Hindu pantheon of gods, they declare that they themselves created this caste system. The annihilation of caste happens to the formidable task because of the firm belief that it is god’s creation, and not man-made. If it is by ‘almighty’, no one would even come forward to speak against it. Even if it was designed by god, there might arise some opposition to the system. With due anticipation of such eventuality, the overall beneficiary of this social system viz. Brahmins, developed scriptures even to weaken the power and authority of the popular god, as if the god possesses it.
In the religious scriptures viz. Bhagavad Gita, the god (Lord Krishna) himself declares: “I only created the four-fold division of humans in the society based on their birth. It is a permanently imposed design. I have the divine power only to divide the people into four divisions, and not to withdraw it or eradicate the design of division.”
It must be noted how the omnipotent god is made to proclaim his inability and limitation in the division, made by none other than himself. The almighty is made to become meek before the supreme hierarchy of the Brahmins for their everlasting survival.
“Devadhinam jagat sarvam
Mantradhinam cha devatha
Than mantra Brahmanadhinam
Tasmadh Brahmana Devatha
The world is subject to God
God is subject to Mantra
Mantra is subject to Brahmins
Hence Brahmins are the gods.
The above sloga (verse) clearly depicts that everything in the world is not under the control of ‘god’ but the Brahmins. So, god is a pseudo designer; only the Brahmins are the real designers of the division in the society. Not only the design of the system is like this, it was also ordained that the people of every hierarchy should perform only those social tasks that are ‘assigned’ to them. Again, it is a divine dictum and hence, no deviations from the assigned duties that are replicated in the subsequent generations of that division facilitating the fortification of the supremacy of Brahmins. The privileged brahminical sect also restricted the scriptures which are meant for popular awareness among the people for understanding and realisation. This alone would not suffice the survival of social dominance. For the strict enforcement of this ‘divine’ design and the consequent dictum, legal codes (smriti) were formulated.
Among the various smritis, Manu Smriti rules the rooster still. Its influence remains very strong in the formulated Hindu Law that is restricted to Hindus alone (again the pseudo majority of Hindus is reckoned, not through the process of preference to a particular religion, but based on the elimination of the preference of individuals to other religions). The religious influence has been well reflected through the placement of due provisions in the Indian Constitution, the governing code of the country.
The Hindu religion is unique which has this dehumanization agenda. It was extrapolated and projected by the Hindu Monk Vivekananda, as if it advocated brotherhood among humans, at the World Parliament of Religions held in 1893 at Chicago, United States of America. But it never yielded any practical result.
Throughout the history of the Indian sub-continent, many thinkers thought progressively on this line and diagnosed this social disease to a significant extent. But when it came to the course correction of this social evil, no one adopted effective modes to demolish this inhuman design in the society. Individual efforts on the part of thinkers did not bring the desired results. Many of the initiatives undertaken by them did not even start. Many a mission commenced did not reach the desired destination due to the intermittent inadequacies that were not forecast by them properly. To the extent the necessity of opposing the anti-human ideology is important, the strategic modes to combat the anti-human ideology must also be chosen to suit the mission for its sustenance and success.
The turning point in the history of social revolution is the beginning of 19th century. Among the social scientists, the one who diagnosed the social disease, and advocated not only treatment but also administered it, was Thanthai Periyar E.V.Ramasamy (1879-1973).
Periyar at the very early stages of his life, realized the need for humanism among humans. All humans are born equal; equality has to be ensured; equal opportunities must be made accessible to all, irrespective of their birth in a particular sect. Periyar, in order to bring equality for all, started to find out the suitable prescription. Instead of thrusting anything from outside, Periyar started to kindle what is already available in every human being. The trait, worthy of rekindling is Self-Respect. Self-respect is the proper medicine he advocated and the proper dose is through rekindling based on the degree of humiliation and social insult that a particular individual/group had undergone. Periyar’s methodology is unique to fight against the social discrimination doctrine which is also unique in a negative way. The main reason for the success of the Periyar Mission is, the extraordinary initiatives and endeavors towards the extraordinary religious dogmas and practices that undermined humanism among humans.
Periyar rekindled the self-respect trait, available in everyone to make them realize that they are humans. He opposed all the forces that remained as hurdles to attain the revolution. Among those hurdles, the god and the Brahminical cult were in forefront. Hence Periyar had to oppose the nonexisting god and the Brahminical cult which subjugates all of the people in the society. More than the nonexistent ‘god’, Periyar’s opposition to Brahminical dominance was very vehement. It is sometimes criticized that the Brahmins are also humans and how they could be opposed. But Periyar’s stand is very simple. The identity of a person as Brahmin, itself negates the identity of the rest in the society as humans. Brahminical identity is not a standalone term. When one stakes claim for brahminical identity, that Brahmin indirectly identifies some others as ‘Shudras’ which means ‘the children of a prostitute’ as per the Manu Smriti. Periyar infused the spirit of Self-Respect to liberate the subjugated people of Shudras, Panchamas and Women. Individual efforts on this task are arduous and a must. But such efforts cannot bring much results so, for which organizational endeavors are required very much.
The commitment for the cause of human liberation and necessity of organizational functioning compelled Periyar to found his own organization which was named after the principle he adopted, as Self-Respect League. The organization became Self-Respect Movement through meticulous functioning with unstinted efforts of Periyar and his followers. Periyar founded his organization as a social movement and not a political one. It was strongly decided not to contest in the electoral process, but to meet the public always to prop- agate for their liberation from social shackles. But the Self-Respect Movement has got specific interest in who has got political power and who rules the country according to the principles of social justice and supporting them for their victory through mobilization of votes in their favour. The support to the political rulers is based on their preference and willingness to bring suitable rules, regulations and legislations to implement the principles advocated by Periyar and his movement. The very purpose of preventing the organization from contesting the elections is to propagate freely without compromising on the principles, which may daringly find fault with the voting public by pointing at their ignorance, inculcated in their minds for centuries.
Periyar utilized the trait of Self-Respect to liberate the humans of all gender from all sorts of enslavement.
Equality and Empowerment of Women:
Women form nearly half of the humanity but are enslaved at various degrees in different territories. No religion treats women on par with men. There may be ‘women god’ symbolically but all those symbolisms are for the overall enslavement of women with denial of equal rights. Periyar fought for the liberation of women and his advocacy and approach are different from the other leaders who are for the cause of women’s liberation. Periyar was even critical about himself. He made appeal to the women folk, that real liberation of woman lies only in the leadership of women. Even though he himself propagated against women slavery, he openly admitted that a certain degree of enslaving women, may also be in him being a male hailing from the society which kept women under ignorance and slavery since time immemorial.
Due representation is not given in the governance of the State for women by which the humanity has been losing the potential of women. Periyar harshly said that the woman is not a ‘child bearing machine’. Bearing child has to be made a prerogative of the women. Even conjugal rights between husband and wife should not be as per the sole desire and satisfaction of the male partner. Female partner has an equal share in this trivial issue which was not openly discussed and emphasized by any other women liberation leaders.
The annulment of marriage is one of the doctrines of Self-Respect Movement. Many of the social revolutionary measures which came into practice with due legal sanction, were passed as resolutions in the Madras Province First Self-Respect Conference held at Chenglepet in 1929. A resolution was passed in the Chenglepet Conference in support of the annulment of marriage. Until then marriage was considered as a divine bond solemnized by the almighty resulting in the enslavement of women. A married woman has to necessarily respect the values of her husband irrespective of the deficiencies and disloyalties he possesses, whereas it is not so vice versa. Later it was legally settled that a married couple have the right to separate and get separated, the husband from the wife, or the wife from the husband.
The performance of Hindu religious marriage itself ensured the enslavement of women and insulted the bride through the chanting of mantras. Marriage is an event that has to unite both the bride and the groom. On the contrary, the Hindu religious marriage enables the marriage of the bride with the godly icons. The following is the mantra chanted by the Brahmin purohit.
to be continued in the next issue…