The ‘Sanatana Destruction Conference’ was held in Chennai on 2 September, 2023.
A bunch of speakers graced the occasion. The star of the show was Udhayanidhi Stalin, the son of the current chief minister and grandson of a former chief minister of Tamil Nadu.
He declared that Sanatana was not merely an enemy, but a disease that needed to be eradicated - like dengue or corona.
In a striking display of hypocrisy, Udhayanidhi Stalin, who inherited his political position from his father and grandfather, criticised Sanatana for propagating birth-based inequality. In doing so, he conveniently ignored his own privilege and nepotism-fuelled meteoric rise, all while portraying himself as a champion of social justice.
The figures of Dr. Ambedkar and E.V.Ramasamy alias ‘Periyar’ were prominent in the promotional material for the conference. It also displayed the images of Iyya Vaikundar and portraits of Vallalar, Iyyan Kali and Sri Narayana Guru.
Both Vallalar and Sri Narayana Guru were strong supporters of cow protection. In the educational systems Vallalar established, he followed the three language system of Tamil, English and Sanskrit. When asked to create a prose text for the young generation, Vallalar chose the incident of Manu-Neethi Cholan as his subject, who did not hesitate to drive a chariot over his own son in order to give justice to a grieving cow.
Not only that, Vallalar gave a detailed description of the cow as the abode of all divinities.
When a follower questioned Sri Narayana Guru about consuming a deceased cow, the Guru responded calmly by asking whether the disciple's own mother was alive. Upon receiving a negative response, he inquired whether the disciple had cremated or consumed his deceased mother's body.
‘Grandfather’ Rettaimalai Srinivasan was as much a fighter for social justice as he was a devout Hindu or perhaps because he was a spiritual HIndu, he fought for social justice. He cherished his faith and its traditions, even in foreign lands.
In his autobiography, he remembered how he received a cow as an honor during a housewarming ritual in South Africa, given to him by a fellow Indian.
He carried his Hindu identity with pride and respect, even when he, along with Dr. Ambedkar, represented his community at the Round Table Conference. He refused to accept the term 'Depressed Hindus' and proposed 'Reformist Hindus' instead.
He also strongly opposed the injustice of granting benefits intended for the Scheduled Community Hindus to those who had left Hinduism and converted to Christianity.
Let us consider Iyya Vaikundar. Venerated as a Vishnu Avatar, he is regarded as the one who revitalized the essence of the Puranas in response to colonial evangelism and social stagnation.
He confronted what he called the twin problems of colonial evangelism (the "white-evil") and social stagnation (the "Kali-evil"). He embraced the saffron flag as a symbol of spiritual courage and human fraternity. He spearheaded one of the earliest 'Ghar Wapasi' movements, bringing back those who had converted to Christianity to the fold of Vishnu. He saw his chief disciples as Pandavas, the noble heroes of the Mahabharata.
Iyya Vaikundar was not only a Hindu reformer, but also a threat to the British rule. He defied the missionaries who scoffed at him and his followers. They sent negative reports back to their headquarters to discredit him. He uncovered their hypocrisy and their efforts to convert the local people.
Documentary evidence shows that the British East India Company collector of the neighbouring region was alarmed by his influence and popularity. He wanted him arrested by the Travancore government, fearing that he might incite a rebellion against the colonial power.
Or take Iyyan Kali. A Mahatma, he was rooted in Hindu Dharma. He was inspired by the Hindu Sangathanist, Sadhananda Sadhu, who spoke at a Hindu-Unity conference. His uncle, Thomas Vathiyar, was so moved by the speech that he joined the Hindu struggle for a casteless society.
Iyyan Kali’s struggle for the rights of the marginalized people was supported by the Diwan of Travancore, P. Rajagopalachari. He also received the backing of the Hindu Mahasabha and Arya Samaj, who shared his vision of a united and harmonious Hindu society.
So what is Sanatana that the Dravidianists want to annihilate?
A basic criterion of hate politics is defining the "other" using negative stereotypes. It happened with the Jews. It happened with the Gypsies. It happened with the Ahmadiyas. It happened with respect to Hutus and Tutsis in Rwanda.
And it has been happening in Tamil Nadu since the colonial times.
Here, the alibi of targeting Brahmins is just that, an alibi. The ultimate objective is targeting Hindu Dharma. And for this strike, the hands of Dravidianism are strengthened by evangelism, pan-Islamism and 'Breaking India' forces.
It is time for those who know what Sanatana Dharma is to launch a comprehensive response, with Hindu Sangathan as the embodiment of Sanatana values.
Petty comfort zones, which give a false sense of security, need to be jettisoned.
When one looks at the faces shown in the banner of ‘Sanatana Annihilation Conference’ one can also see the cardinal weakness of the ideology of its organisers. It is a weakness born out of the promotion of pseudo-history.
Iyya Vaikunadar is venerated in the line of the Avatars of Vishnu – prominently Sri Rama and Sri Krishna. A poster showing that continuity, true and fundamental to the teachings of Iyya, cannot be displayed there. They cannot display Babu Jagivan Ram. They cannot display the great M.C.Rajah. They cannot display the face of Chattampi Swamigal. They cannot display there Swami Sahajananda. They cannot display the face of Swami Chitbavananda. They cannot display there Thanulinga Nadar.
A Hindu Sangathan conference for true social justice can display them all.
Aravindan is a contributing editor at Swarajya.
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