There is widespread outrage across the land after Udayanidhi Stalin, son of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin, and a minister in his father’s cabinet, said publicly that Sanathana Dharma had to be eradicated.
For good measure, Stalin Jr also equated our ancient way of life with viruses and diseases.
When asked to comment on this shocking statement, many of Stalin’s political allies in the opposition either dodged the topic, equivocated, or promptly vanished from the media space. The Congress party’s Rahul Gandhi, for example, who constantly strives to stay in the public eye, has kept a low profile since Stalin Jr insulted Hindus.
But Priyank Kharge, son of Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge, and a minister in the Karnataka government, valiantly came to his ally’s defence.
He said, in a brazenly unapologetic statement to the press, that any religion which does not promote equality, does not ensure dignity, or does not give equal rights, is not a religion; “So it is as good as a disease.”
The intellectual justification for such offensive political crudity was provided by a writer who is deified in the usual circles. Taking Kharge Jr’s contemptuous defence one step further, in a lengthy column in a national daily, he rationalised Stalin Jr’s remarks with skilful literary jugglery.
But in the process, he also neatly encapsulated the actual nature of the opposition to our way of life, by the Marxian-Leftist-Left Liberal-Social Justice set (call them what you will).
This is good, because it helps us better understand how they think, how they perceive Hinduism, and the motivations for their behaviour.
This strident defence lists out a number of reasons why Stalin Jr is right in what he said, and, as surreal as it may sound, why one should support him.
First, according to the column, when Stalin Jr called for the eradication of Sanathana Dharma, and, like Kharge Jr, equated this faith with a disease, they were only asking a question.
Both the question and the answer are supplied in the headlines. The question: “What will promote moral equality?”. And the answer: “Defending Sanatan Dharma without acknowledging the horror of caste is moral duplicity”.
In one deft move, even before the arguments are engaged, the innocence of the two dynast-politicians is highlighted, and defending dharma is neatly reclassified as moral duplicity. Ergo, those who attack the duo for having insulted Hinduism are not only wrong, but are also apologists for caste discrimination.
What a leap of reason! In effect, anyone who contests the insults hurled by Stalin and Kharge are Brahminical supremacists who want to subjugate the ‘under-castes’.
In logic, this is called a strawman fallacy — a deliberate attempt to distort a statement by invoking an unrelated topic not under discussion, to show that the arguer is flawed in even raising the argument. In this case, making the topic about caste oppression when the actual topic is about an insult to a faith by two politicians.
Second, a syllogism is confected to justify the original statements. It goes like this: The caste system is vile. It is persistent. Followers of Sanathana Dharma have no empathy towards those persecuted by this system. Therefore, why should the oppressed castes identify with this faith?
So, by this logic, not only are Stalin and Kharge absolved of their sins, and those who question the duo defined as oppressors, but Sanathana Dharma is now the problem as well, rather than a solution.
This is the Marxian oppressor-oppressed-saviour victimhood triangle at its purest. In this case, the ‘lower castes’ are the oppressed, the votaries of Sanathana Dharma are the oppressors, and the parties which Stalin and Kharge represent are the saviours.
Third, the strawman fallacy is repeatedly buttressed by stylish literary fulminations against Sanathana Dharma, using the same trope of caste oppression, but ones which go beyond Stalin and Kharge’s unconscionable words.
Here is a taste of how Sanathana Dharma is viewed: ‘a mendacious abstraction’; ‘More could be said about the eradication of Sanatan Dharma as a sociological strategy’; ‘there is oppression at the heart of various versions of Sanatan Dharma’; the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) ‘Sanatan Dharma is so demonic that the only, perhaps drearily eternal, answer it has to every problem is more discord.’
We leave it to the readers to make what they will of these phrases.
Fourth, the worst victims of Sanathana Dharma are unambiguously defined: Dalits. For effect and reiteration, the Ambedkarite movement is suggested as a plausible path for Dalit emancipation; it is even evocatively called a ‘cri de coeur’ — a passionate appeal, a cry from the heart.
Here again, we see the Marxian underpinnings of the Left-Liberal movement manifest themselves in gory glory, with clear political intent.
For some decades now, the Dalit vote has been slowly gravitating to the BJP, to the extent that in 2019, over half the parliamentary seats reserved for Dalits were handsomely won by the BJP.
In state after state, Dalits are embracing their civilizational spirit with pride, rejecting the old, powerful, Muslim-Dalit electoral axis which proved so profitable to the secular parties, and exhibiting that pride by joining the mainstream in style.
This is bad news for the rest, which is why efforts like the one under discussion will persist, to foster and foment an increasingly-nonrepresentative victimhood narrative.
Fifth, the columnist has been careful to not slander Hindus. Instead, the diatribe is slyly directed towards something called the ‘BJP’s Sanathana Dharma’. This is downright absurd, since the BJP has no Sanathana Dharma of its own.
What it has, though, are the wisdom of the Vedas and the Upanishads, the moral lessons of the two great epics, the Advaita of Shankara, the Vedanta of Vivekananda, the bhakti of Tulsidas, the Mimamsa of Jaimini, the teachings of Gautama the Buddha (for, lest we forget, the great cycle of dharma rotates on the axle of his thoughts), and suchlike.
The ultimate irony is that the foundational texts of Sanathana Dharma, what we call the ‘Shruti’ literature, contain nil — repeat, nil — references to caste, discrimination on community lines, or any sanction of any sort for oppression of any kind.
The concept of a ‘Kaffir’ is not just absent, but formally abhorred. If so, can a sane human being then use an adjective like ‘demonic’ in the context of dharma?
In closing, and since it is Janmashtami, how better to rebut those Stalin-apologists who unilaterally redefine dharma as adharma, than by quoting a butter thief who gifted humanity a timeless lesson on right thought and right action?
paritrāṇāya sādhūnāṁ vināśhāya cha duṣhkṛitām
dharma-samsthāpanārthāya sambhavāmi yuge yuge
“I shall reappear eon after eon to protect the righteous,
to annihilate the wicked, and to re-establish the natural order”
This is the truth: from time to time, morals will erode. Ignobility will strengthen. Intellectualism will be misused. Absolutist binaries will fashion hate objects which push the truth to the fringe. The line between right and wrong will blur. It is inevitable because it is human nature.
And so, in response, from time to time, a majestic, collective social awakening will be engendered to contest such forces, to reinstitute a noble way of life. This is equally inevitable since it, too, is human nature.
Wisdom lies in accepting that we are passing through one such age where, like it or not, and when the churning is done, dharma will prevail once more.
Venu Gopal Narayanan is an independent upstream petroleum consultant who focuses on energy, geopolitics, current affairs and electoral arithmetic. He tweets at @ideorogue.
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