The oral arguments by all advocates on the quo warranto petitions filed by three Hindu Munnani officebearers seeking an explanation from Udhayanidhi Stalin, DMK MP A Raja and HRCE minister P Sekar Babu over how could they continue in public office after making remarks against Sanatana Dharma or participating in an event calling for its eradication were concluded on 23 November before Justice Anita Sumanth of the Madras High Court.
According to a report by The Hindu, Opposing the position taken by Udhayanidhi, Raja and Sekar Babu that Sanatana Dharma was discriminatory as it divided people based on caste at the time of birth, senior counsel G Karthikeyan said “No one is born a Brahmin, they only get initiated into the order through their deeds" and that it was the most tolerant and inclusive religious principle.
Regarding the caste system, he said that the ancient scriptures associated with Sanatana Dharma do not speak about the numerous castes in vogue today but refer only to the four Varnas.
Arguing that the caste system is not birth based, he said, “Neither Lord Rama, nor Lord Krishna was a Brahmin. Vishwamitra was a Kshatriya, but he wanted to become a Brahmin. He involved himself in deep penance and became a Brahmarishi. So, it is not by birth. If it is by birth, there won’t be any Alwars and Nayanmars. One becomes what he wants to become by obtaining the qualifications. That is what the Bhagavad Gita says.”
Speaking about 'Aham Brahmasmi', he said, “It means God is there in every soul. So, the misinformation that caste gets assigned by birth was propagated by those who had no elementary understanding of Sanatana Dharma. I really wonder if they even knew to read Sanskrit in which the ancient texts are written. Somebody wrongly translated something and all others are following it blindly.”
When asked as to when did the caste system of the present day enter Hinduism, he replied, “I don’t know. That is a mystery. Untouchability is certainly a barbaric activity. There is no doubt about it. If there is a cataract in the eye, then it should be operated upon. The entire eye need not be plucked out. A Minister cannot say Sanatana Dharma itself should be eradicated.”
To arguments made by the defendants that Sanatana Dharma discriminated against women, he gave examples such as almost all rivers being named after women, the Goddess of knowledge is Saraswati and the Goddess of wealth is Lakshmi, woman poets such as Avvayar and Karaikal Ammaiyar and women rulers like Velu Nachiyar and Rani Mangammal.
He also contended that Sanatana Dharma included atheism by citing the example of Jabali, a minister in Dasaratha's kingdom.
Justice Anita Sumanth also heard brief arguments by advocate J Sai Deepak who appeared for an NGO that filed an intervening petition, though the petition was not listed or numbered for hearing, stated the report.
Senior Counsel P Wilson, who represented Udhayanidhi said that a writ of quo warranto could not be issued as the petitioner had himself admitted to the prevalence of the caste system and untouchability. He also questioned how could calling for the eradication of Sanatana Dharma be called 'hate speech.'
“How can it be called hate speech. It is only an ideological clash that has been prevailing for many years.... What is wrong if I hold an opinion that is acceptable to a majority of Hindus who have voted us to power?”
He also asked as to why had the petitioner not filed similar writ petitions to question ministers as how are they holding public office in spite of facing criminal charges like murder, robbery etc.
The judge granted them a time of one week to submit their written arguments.
Earlier, Udhayanidhi had submitted that he had concluded that Sanatana Dharma promotes caste system based on speeches and texts written by EV Ramasamy and BR Ambedkar and a 1902 publication, "Sanatana Dharma - An Advanced Textbook of Hindu Religion and Ethics", which was also relied upon by a petitioner.
Sekar Babu stated that the case was filed because his department had recovered temple lands that were encroached by Hindutva persons.
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