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Hinduism: Integration of two civilisational and philosophical traditions

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COMMENT BY PROF DR P.RAMASAMY,
FORMER DEPUTY CHIEF MINISTER II, PENANG

Hinduism: Integration of two civilisational and philosophical traditions

Recently, Tamil Nadu minister Udayanithi Stalin (pic), son of the Chief Minister MK Stalin, caused a stir when he called for the eradication of Sanatana Darma, the Vedic or the Brahminical tradition of Hinduism.

He apparently said that the Sanatana Darma was antithetical to the religious practices of Hinduism. He might have meant the holistic concept of Hindu Darma, just giving him the benefit of doubt.

#TamilSchoolmychoice

Stalin Jr might not have explicated the two philosophical and civilisational background of Hinduism as a whole; one based on the Shaivite tradition and the other the Vedic or Brahminical version.

Asking for the eradication of the Santana Darma might have been interpreted as an assault on Hinduism in general. For the right wing elements, three is no differentiation in Hinduism, it is Sanatana Darma.

This was the reason why Prime Minister Narendra Modi called for an appropriate response to Stalin Jr’s criticisms of Sanatana Darma. I am not sure what will be the appropriate response to Stalin Jr.

While those in the south might not be appreciative of Sanatana Darma given its Brahminical domination inclusive of the caste dimension, calling for eradication means that the Stalin Jr was not willing to accept the diversity of Hinduism in general, particularly its two philosophical strands.

For the past 2000 years, there have been endless opposition of the southern based religious and literary traditions having their roots in the Shavite tradition against the religious tradition of the north exemplified by the Brahminical version of Sanatana Darma.

I really wonder what Stalin Jr meant by the eradication of Sanatana Darma, it could be just a political statement in the larger context of Dravidian politics, of the south versus the north.

It is not that the politics of the DMK is devoid of Hindu Darma as regards the worship of Lord Siva identified as the Dravidian God.

The civilisational, philosophical and religious traditions of the two versions of Hindu Darma is so enmeshed in the evolution of the history of India or Hindusthan.

The beginnings of the two religious traditions might be separate, but the subsequent developments are enmeshed, integrated and interwoven.

Stalin Jr’s call for the eradication of Sanatana Darma means rejecting one part of the whole Hindu Darma. The other part is the Shaivite philosophy and tradition that have defined religious and social developments in South India.

The Tamil Nadu government under the DMK might be appreciated for reviving the archaeological research in Keeledi, near the historic city of Madurai.

It was through financial and administrative support, important findings of regarding Tamil civilisation, its connectivity to the ancient Dravidian civilisations of Harappa and Mohendrajo has been established.

A full appreciation of the diverse civilisational, philosophical and religious traditions of what constitutes our understanding of Hindu Darma is of utmost importance but certainly not calling for the eradication of one tradition, however, offensive is the phenomenon of caste or Brahminical hegemony.

Such a zero-sum game renders the various historical efforts in the removal of the offensive aspects of the social order in the name of religion or Hindu Darma as meaningless can be said about his opponents who are raising hue and cry about the remark made by Stalin Jr.