- Political uproar has resulted from DMK politician and Minister of Tamil Nadu Udhayanidhi Stalin’s claim that Sanatan Dharma is opposed to social justice and should be eliminated.
- This article will discuss the various aspects of Sanatan Dharma
The Debate Over Udhayanidhi Stalin’s Remarks
- A well-known DMK (Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam) politician made a statement that has generated a lot of heated debate. He compared “Sanatan Dharma” to societal injustice in his speech and demanded its abolition.
- He contended that this particular trait has caused caste-based divisions in society, implying that “Sanatan Dharma” upholds societal injustices.
The Self-Respect Movement’s Influence on DMK’s Origins
- The Self-Respect Movement: The DMK, a well-known political party in Tamil Nadu, may trace its ideological origins to the Self-Respect Movement, which was started in the early 20th century by EV Ramaswamy “Periyar.”
This movement, which intended to implement fundamental social reforms, was distinguished by a steadfast anti-caste and anti-religion position.
- Ideological Position: Periyar was a strong supporter of social reforms, especially those that addressed the pervasive caste-based disparities in India. His philosophy placed a strong emphasis on rationalism and rejected traditional religious beliefs.
- Dravidar Kazhagam (DK) was founded in 1938 as a result of the union of the Self-Respect Movement and the Justice Party, of which Periyar was a member. The DK was well recognized for its anti-Aryan, anti-Congress, and anti-Brahmin positions. It also demanded the founding of a Dravida nation on its own, though this demand finally lost steam.
Periyar’s Opinions on Caste and Hinduism
- Hinduism under Periyar’s Criticism: A key component of Periyar’s worldview was his criticism of Hindu religious rituals. He claimed that caste-based prejudice and marginalization were maintained by Hinduism. He was especially critical of social norms that mistreated women and people of lower castes.
- Religion and Caste: According to Periyar, the existence of the religion itself was directly related to the dominance of particular caste groupings in Hindu society. He perceived religion as a weapon of social power used to favor the Brahmin class and maintain inequalities.
- Support for Eliminating Religion: One of Periyar’s most extreme ideas was the demand for the complete elimination of religion. He believed that religion stood in the way of women and people from lower castes gaining true equality and freedom.
- Political Influence: Periyar’s philosophy had a significant impact on Tamil Nadu’s political climate. His opinions had an impact on DMK leaders like M. Karunanidhi, who rose to prominence. In their political careers, they persisted in supporting rationalism and social justice.
The meaning and origin of Sanatan Dharma
- Sanatan Dharma is a Sanskrit phrase that has several different translations, including “eternal law,” “eternal religion,” “unshakeable, venerable order,” and “ancient and continuing guideline.” These translations highlight the idea’s enduring and fundamental elements while illustrating the concept’s complex character.
- Connection to the Bhagavad Gita: The phrase “Sanatan Dharma” became well-known in this respected Hindu literature. The idea of “Sanatan Dharma” is associated with the soul’s eternalism and the eternal truths of life in this context.
Central Ideas of Sanatan Dharma
- Rebirth and the Eternal Soul: The idea of rebirth (also known as reincarnation or samsara) and the idea that the soul (Atman) is eternal are both core principles of Sanatan Dharma. The soul, which is said to be immortal, experiences a cycle of births and deaths until achieving freedom (moksha), according to this theory.
- Included in Several Traditions: The core ideas of Sanatan Dharma are shared by Buddhism, Jainism, and Jainism in addition to Hinduism. The idea of “Sanatan Dharma” unites these traditions since they all have the same views on the everlasting soul and the cycle of reincarnation.
- It is crucial to make it clear that Sanatan Dharma does not apply to other religions, such as Judaism, Christianity, or Islam, because these faiths do not share the notion of rebirth and the existence of an eternal soul. Theological philosophies and historical roots vary among these religions.
Sanatan Dharma’s emergence as a term
- Prominence in the late 19th century: The phrase “Sanatan Dharma” rose to prominence in that era. This change in meaning and usage can be ascribed to a number of historical and cultural developments at that time.
- Response to Reform Movements: In the late 19th century, social reformers and missionaries such as the Brahmo Samaj and Arya Samaj began to lead reform movements. As a reaction to these developments, “Sanatan Dharma” started to be employed as a representation of Hindu conservatism.
People who upheld Sanatan Dharma
- Prominent individuals: In the latter half of the 19th century, individuals like Pandit Shraddha Ram and Pandit Din Dayal Sharma were crucial in maintaining ancient Hindu customs and beliefs. They argued for the protection of what they considered to be the fundamental principles of Sanatan Dharma.
- Formation of Organizations: Groups like the “Sanatan Dharm Sabha” and the “Bharat Dharma Mahamandal” were founded in order to protect and advance Sanatan Dharma.
- These groups sought to organize and unify adherents of traditional Hinduism.
Census uses “Sanatan-Dharmi”
- Census Report from 1891: The phrase “sanatan-dharmi” appeared in old writings like the Punjab Census Report from 1891. It was used to classify people who followed traditional Hindu customs and beliefs.
- Contrast with Arya Samaj: The term “Sanatan-dharmi” was frequently used to criticize adherents of the reformist Arya Samaj, which pushed for modifications to Hindu customs.
- This division between conservative and reformist Hindu organisations at the time was highlighted by this categorisation.