Taking cue from the divide-and-rule policy of the British, the DK party of those days kept harping on inventing an enemy by infusing a fear complex in the common man. That enemy was Brahmin and Hinduism was the target to be demolished.
EVR went to the extent of calling for the ‘annihilation of Gandhi’ and ‘annihilation of Congress’ along with Brahmins and threatened to burn his photos and statues for supporting Sanatana Dharma. In 1957, the Caste Eradication Conference was held by him where he and his followers burnt the Indian Constitution and declared Constitution Day on November 26 as “Genocide Day”, inciting cadres to murder 1000 Brahmins and burn Agraharam-s to ‘eradicate caste’.
Disturbed by this development, Nehru wrote to Kamaraj, the then Chief Minister of Madras, to take necessary steps to check this tendency, but nothing happened. In the next year around the same time, Nehru shot another letter to Kamaraj expressing that EVR must be put in a mental asylum and given treatment. Had Kamaraj taken stringent steps to check EVR then, the Periyarist cult would not have evolved and a Udhayanidhi could not have stoked a controversy now.
The Dravidian parties have had a free run all these decades, growing leaps and bounds in polluting the minds of people with anti-Aryan, anti- Manu, anti- Brahmin, and anti-Hindu ideas. In his long innings in politics Karunanidhi exploited the non-existent Aryan invasion theory to such an extent that in a veiled dig at the Allahabad court ruling on Ram Janma Bhumi, he wondered how a court could accurately pinpoint the birthplace of Ram who lived 17.28 lakh years ago and lamented that Aryan culture ‘has succeeded in planting superstitions in people’s minds, while even truthful aspects of Dravidian history remain unknown’.
According to him the Dravidian ideology stood for egalitarian society but was challenged by the Brahmin dominated Hindu culture. So, his focus was on hate-Brahmin and hate- Hindu agenda which he actively infused by dislodging hereditary Brahmin priests from temples and appointing persons from all castes to serve as temple priests. While this was going on one side in the pretext of ending Brahmin hegemony and creating casteless society, he ran into a legal trouble for having defined the word Hindu as a thief. Perhaps this required a redefining of the term Hindu with Sanatana Dharma which started appearing in their discourses only in the last five years.
The common man in Tamil Nadu does not know what Sanatana Dharma means but is being brainwashed to believe that it perpetuates caste differences and is the cause of all problems they face in the name of casteism. Sanatana Dharma is the current topic replacing Manuvadi Varnashrama Dharma. The Tamil Brahmins are the ‘Aryans’ who forced this Varnashrama Dharma on them to retain their supremacy. In this set-up all the asuras of the Hindu stories such as Ravana, Mahabali, Narakasura etc. were good natured Dravidians who were wronged by the evil Aryan Gods.
Sanatana Dharma showcased like this is different from Tamil culture, according to the DMK. Thiruvalluvar’s ‘All are born alike’ and Purananuru’s ‘All the world is our home, and all are our relatives’ (Yaadhum oore, yaavarum kelir) are often quoted as something special for Tamil aka Dravidian culture which went missing in Sanatana Dharma according to them. This narrative was taken to the next logical step by Udhayanidhi when he called for annihilation of Sanatana Dharma which in effect means annihilation of the practitioners of Hinduism.
Obviously, he doesn’t know what Sanatana Dharma stands for, nor does his cadres care to know what it means except that they are brainwashed to believe that it forces Varnashrama Dharma on them. If you ask a roadside vendor, he will say that Sanatana Dharma is a dirty word thrust on him. The word was new to Stalin himself that he was struggling to pronounce Sanatana in the initial days of introduction of this word in his discourses. But this ‘fight’ against Sanatan Dharma got a new lease of life with the gradual replacement of Hinduism with Sanatana Dharma in their speeches, perhaps thinking that a direct attack on Hinduism would hurt their vote bank.
In this context, they must be shown the mirror of the Tamil texts they take pride in. Tolkāppiyam, the Grammar book of the Tamil Sangam period has several verses on Varna divisions. It even demarcates the works allotted to different varnas and special endowments granted by the king to different varnas Manu Smriti speaks of just four varnas, but Tolkāppiyam lists down an additional three varnas, making seven varnas in all. Will Stalin as one who claimed that the first monkey of the world was a Tamil monkey, concede that the Varnashrama Dharma of Tolkāppiyam was the first of its kind with seven varnas in its fold – much older than the four varna system of Manu Smriti? Isn’t it logical to say that Tolkāppiyam was earlier than Manu’s varna, with seven varnas under its grip?
The third chapter of this text accords prime most position to Brahmins, followed by kings, vaishyas, farmers (no mention of Shudras), astrologers (Arivan), ascetics (Taapatar) and bards (Porunar) in verse 74 of Puratthinai Iyal.
Further, in another chapter named Marabiyal (about traditions and conventions), it lists down the jobs these varnas are supposed to do and the privileges bestowed by the king on each varna. The fourth varna was expected to do only farming and allowed non-Vedic education. Brahmins could become ministers and army chiefs and enjoy equal status with kings. Such status was not given to the other two varnas though they were entitled to use bows, spears, anklets, garlands, chariots, and elephants if allowed by the king.
What kind of equality is propagated by Tolkāppiyam followed for eons in the Tamil lands? When in a dispute there is a home-grown account controlling the lives of the people, how can someone accuse an external and imported Aryan culture of playing havoc with people’s life? In a place where the ordinary citizens do not even recognize what Sanatana Dharma means, we must look for local factors and Tolkāppiyam fits the bill perfectly.
Every time the Dravidian ideologues quote Thiruvalluvar on all men are born alike they conveniently forget the next line that people differ by the works they do. Similarly, they forget to remind themselves and others by the next line of ‘Yaadhum oore..’ that good or bad comes to one by one’s own activities.
It implies that what one suffers is not caused by others or by castes but by one’s own karma. Similarly, the Varna system propounded by Tolkāppiyam is conveniently forgotten by these Dravidian rationalists. Their first focus must be on the home-grown Varna ideology. They must challenge it before challenging Sanatana Dharma.
Will Udhayanidhi conduct ‘annihilation of Tolkāppiyam’ conference to put an end Varna system? Will he burn the copies of Tolkāppiyam that promotes differences among people in the name of Varna? We must seek a reply from him.