Why The Dravidian-Periyarist Establishment Presented A Hateful Pamphleteer With Dubious Academic Credentials As A Serious 'Scholar'

by Aravindan Neelakandan - Aug 31, 2022 04:34 PM +05:30 IST
Why The Dravidian-Periyarist Establishment Presented A Hateful Pamphleteer With Dubious Academic Credentials As A Serious 'Scholar'Kannabiran Ravishankar with CM MK Stalin
  • Why was a person who regularly engages in propaganda through obscene and perverted posts hailed as a 'Tamil intellectual'?

The latest controversy that has engulfed the digital politico-ideological landscape of Tamil politics is the sudden prominence that has been given to ‘Dr’ Kannabiran Ravishankar.

The controversy relates to an honorary doctorate given to him by ‘Periyar Maniammani Institute of Science and Technology’, which is an institution run by Dravidar Kazhagam (Dravidian Federation) supremo K Veeramani.

Already, many online sleuths have raised substantial questions against the veracity of many of the so-called academic qualifications of this dubious personality.

Writer-Blogger Reality Check India has brought out a comprehensive compilation of the obscene and perverted writings of this person. Rather than showcasing any love for Tamil, the writings reveal an unstable personality filled with animosity for Brahmins and Sanskrit as well as for Hindu Deities and Puranas.

Reality Check India has also written an excellent analysis of the hatred that is integral to the worldview and writings of 'Dr' Kannabiran.

It is interesting that a person who indulges in such open bitterness, which has a chilling parallel to Nazi loathing for Jews, could get an endorsement from a reputed Tamil scholar in the US, like George Hart.

When Hart was asked to explain his endorsement, he came up with a response that can, at best, be described as curt.

Who is 'Dr' Kannabiran?

‘Dr’ Kannabiran can provide us a case study of how 'Breaking India' forces work in the digital-cultural context. He started blogging on spiritual and cultural aspects of the Tamil language in the first decade of twenty-first century.

He amassed quite a following with his attractive-yet-shallow depictions of spiritual literature in Tamil – particularly concentrating on Vaishnava Bhakti literature.

Oscillating between a moving, Bhakti bhava-dominant account and sensationalised shallow writings, he tried to pass himself off as an authority in the field.

And he was quite successful in the project. The tyranny of mediocrity, in conjunction with a Dravidianist stranglehold on the Tamil blogging realm at that time, helped him substantially achieve his goal.

But slowly, steadily and purposefully, he moved away from his pretensions of cultural-spiritual persona to the abusive personality that he is today.

A good comparison would be with with an author who started out as a pop mythologist and soon became an abusive Twitter troll.

The lesson

Hindus need to understand this methodology. More often than not, Hindus, including those in influential positions, fall for superficial cultural stunts.

For example, Jegath Gaspar Raj, a Catholic fundamentalist masquerading as Tamil activist, used to speak on spiritual fora, and praise the sacred texts of Tamil. However, the ultimate goal here was to culturally detach the Hindus of Tamil Nadu from their pan-Indian spiritual matrix.

In this context, one can say that the Hindus suffer from what can be called as the ‘GU Pope Syndrome’.

Even today we see well-meaning Hindus quote GU Pope (1820-1908), an Anglican Christian missionary who did quite an impressive translation of the Thiruvachagam and the Thirukural.

In his introduction, he clearly stated the purpose of his translation and his view of Saivism, both of which were not benign. Yet, Saivaites go on praising him and the anti-Hindu Tamils ride on the wave of this praise.

The scholarly-yet-intentionally-wrong translation of crucial passages from the two books was not intended to make the West appreciate the loftiness of Saiva tradition. Rather, it was intended as an academic scout effort to undermine Saivism.

Pope's aim was to show the genuine love and search for God in Manichavasagar and to proclaim that this search could not reach the Almighty, which to him was the Christian god.

Because of this, Pope declared that while "in some not unimportant respects the Saiva system approximates to Christianity" yet "some of the corruptions, to which it has led, by what almost seems a necessity, are amongst the most deplorable superstitions anywhere to be found."

Through his ‘translation’, Pope was taken to be an authority in academia and in popular imagination, while in reality he was disingenuous in his intention towards Saivism.

This is the model that is sought to be copied by many people today. They tend to become an authority through shallow works and then use that clout to propagate their anti-Hindu views.

‘Dr’. Kannapiran is just the latest addition to this list. But he is not going to be the last.

Fortunately for Hindus, there are quite a lot of signs such propagandists provide in their early works. Here are a few:

  • a propensity to highlight only the superficial literary aesthetics of the sacred literature; usually they parade their inability to be a 'sa-hridya' of the poet or poetess as their secular virtue, though in reality it is their ineptitude and nothing more.

  • a tendency to cut off sacred literature from the Vedic and Upanishadic matrix.

  • a tendency to sensationalise what they project as erotic and amorous elements in the Bhakti literature, by removing the spiritual elements which form the core of the texts.

Thus, while ‘Dr’ Kannabiran should be studied for understanding the dissemination of propaganda, we also need to study our own psychology to understand how much we suffer from the ‘G.U.Pope syndrome’.

Also Read: The etiology of hate: Anti-Semitism and anti-Tamil Brahminism

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