The Cause Of Inter-Caste Marriages: Hindu Organisations Losing Space To Marxists In Tamil Nadu

Aravindan Neelakandan

Jun 22, 2024, 11:23 AM | Updated 12:18 PM IST

A CPI(M) office in Tirunelveli was attacked for supporting an inter-caste marriage. A party demonstration against the attack. (Photo via X)
A CPI(M) office in Tirunelveli was attacked for supporting an inter-caste marriage. A party demonstration against the attack. (Photo via X)
  • It is extremely hazardous to let a group antithetical to Dharma champion a cause of Dharmic unity.
  • On 15 June 2023, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPI(M)) office in Tirunelveli district of Tamil Nadu was ransacked after party officials helped an inter-caste couple get married.

    The bridegroom was from the scheduled community (SC) and the bride was from the Pillai community (most probably Vellala).

    According to a statement issued by the party, Madan Kumar, 28, and Udaya Dakshayini, 23, tied the knot in a "self-respect marriage ceremony" with the help of the CPI(M) and the Untouchability Eradication Front on 13 June, after eloping from their house.

    The couple, now in hiding, are clearly not newly turned adults or infatuated youths used for party politics or social revolution. The marriage seems to be a well-thought-out decision by two thinking individuals. That they had to approach the CPI(M) party office is an indicator of the failure of Dharmic society.

    Tamil Nadu has witnessed honour killings and riots in the past because of inter-caste marriages, particularly if one of the partners belonged to the SC community.

    In 2012, Illavarasan, an SC community youth, married a girl from the Vanniyar community. The father of the girl committed suicide.

    The young couple faced enormous pressure. A year later, the boy was found dead on a railway track, allegedly having committed suicide.

    In 2016, Shankar from the SC community married a girl from the Thevar community. Shankar was killed in broad daylight.

    In both cases, the young couples married in Hindu temples. And in both cases, their families, communities, and society at large should have come forward to help them, morally and psychologically.

    Instead, a propaganda campaign claimed that these were cases of 'pseudo-romance' (naataka kaathal), where boys from the SC community lure upper-caste girls, abuse them, and extort money from their parents through blackmail.

    Meanwhile, in 2014, the Madras High Court exposed a racket. Within a year, 3,496 marriages were solemnised by 168 advocates at just two marriage registrar offices. Shockingly, the court found there were many cases where the registrations were carried out without the presence of the bride and groom.

    This racket, too, was linked to the alleged phenomenon of naataka kaathal, where the marriage certificates were supposed to be used to blackmail the woman's family.

    In January this year, a case of honour killing was reported in Thanjavur. A 19-year-old girl was murdered for marrying a youth from the SC community. The parents of the girl have been accused of the murder.

    While Hindu organisations in Tamil Nadu often pay lip service to inter-caste marriages, many members oppose them in personal conversations. Unfortunately, they fail to realise that inter-caste marriages are in the interest of sustained and deeper Hindu social unity and health.

    Indeed, organisations rooted in Hindu Darshana and concerned with Hindu social harmony and justice, particularly the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), hold a unique and beneficial stance towards inter-caste marriages. Upholding the principles of Dharma, they should welcome such unions.

    They are exceptionally well-positioned to facilitate such alliances. Such inter-caste unions of romance and mutual attraction are inevitably born of democratic social evolution. And the RSS, as an organisational network, has the capacity to understand this with grace and sensitivity, ensuring the happiness and harmony of both families and the couple at the heart of such unions.

    Some radical 'Dalit' political parties and organisations have not helped the cause of social justice and harmony by frequently delivering highly objectionable misogynist rants.

    Thirumavalavan, the leader of the Viduthalai Chiruthauikal Katchi, for example, made a speech to his cadre, the video of which went viral.

    Supposedly made after the alleged suicide of Illavarasan, the leader told his cheering and applauding cadre that if the girls of the so-called 'upper caste' community were shunning their own men and coming to the SC, it should be inferred that the males of the other community lacked the vigour and style of the SC males.

    Thirumavalavan even criticised the other community for re-accepting girls who had initially eloped and returned later. In the SC community, he asserted, girls who eloped would not be accepted but only be lamented.

    What's at play here is a deep patriarchal sense of victory over the other community.

    With such dynamics, Hindu organisations have a duty to come through in such scenarios. It is unfortunate that two adults belonging to whatever caste should live in hiding because they chose to marry each other.

    A legal marriage under the Constitution of India should be respected, and the right to live should be safeguarded. This should be an inviolable principle in a civil society.

    Yajnavalkya in the Upanishad says a husband is dear to a wife not because he is a husband, but for the Self, and the wife is dear to a husband not because she is a wife, but for the Self. This is a seed message whose time has come. The marriage should happen for the Self, not for caste, property, status, or other social factors.

    This principle in marital relations, recognised in the Upanishad, makes a wife an equal partner, with her dignity and her decisions for her growth.

    What is true in marriage is also true in the selection of the partner. At least that is what we teach our children from the story of Rukmini marrying Krishna or Krishna facilitating the eloping of his sister Subhadra with Arjuna.

    We cannot teach our children these divine and sacred stories and then expect them to crush their own hearts for the undemocratic rigidity of the caste system.

    Societal walls created by caste and creed are artificial. They will necessarily fall. The more inter-caste marriages are calmly accepted as normal, the more spiritually and democratically mature society becomes.

    In India, Marxism allies with anti-Brahminism, which is not very different from anti-Semitism. In this universe, support for inter-caste marriage is not a cause for individual freedom but a clarion call against an imagined Brahminism.

    Hindu organisations should recognise a fundamental flaw found in all societies that ultimately fail and disappear: Nothing is more dangerous than allowing a non-righteous force to take up a just cause.

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