- E.V. Ramasamy
In these days when the whole world has awakened and is progressing, when even the Muslim countries whose rulers, unequalled in their obstinacy in matters relating to religion, are trying to propagate progressive ideas even at the risk of losing their sovereignty, why is India about clinging to the past obstinately? The reason for this will be clear to all who think about it.
The chief obstacles, which prevent the people of the world from living together, enjoying universal brotherhood, are the religions, their branches, the different languages, and also the regional differences. If only the people of the world had not been divided into different religious groups as Buddhists, Christians, Muslims,Hindus and others, there would have been greater understanding and greater mutual sympathy among the nations of the world. The people will be known by the countries to which they belong; there may be differences between the people of one country and those of another country. Some may be known as Turks, some others as Afghans or Europeans or Americans. This kind of division will not divide them emotionally, making one group indifferent to the welfare of the others and developing hatred for one another.
In some religions like Christianity, though there are some branches, the followers are all united. We find the Christians of the world united. They are all one even in the matter of the exploitation of India by the Britishers. This kind of unity we find among the Muslims of the world. The different groups of Hindus feel the need to present a united front when they have to oppose Christians, Muslims or other religious groups. Whether it is right or wrong on the part of the people of one religion to consider the people of other religions as strangers, the fact is that religions stand in the way of people living together in a friendly way.
But, still, we find in European Countries the people of each country trying to ignore the religious differences among them and live unitedly. If any objection to national unity is raised in the name of religion or the deity, the people are ready to ignore or override the objection.
The credit of being the forerunners in this direction should go to the Christians in European countries. They were the earliest to set themselves right according to circumstances. They reformed the Roman Catholic church and established Protestantism with different religious practices. They revised even their scripture, the Bible. Next to Christians, we can mention the Muslims. Though in Islam there are no caste distinctions of “the high” and “the low” as they are found in Hinduism, Islam had been imposing many religious restrictions of the people. Now Muslims are relaxing some of the restrictions and a few Muslims have boldly changed the religious practices, and are coming forward to support the revolutionary and heroic rulers like Ameer and Batcha. The changes that Muslims in certain count-ries have made in their religious practices have been accepted by people in other countries. But we cannot say that any religion is free from troubles caused by the priests; al least a little trouble will be caused by them. They may act selfishly but they will not venture to misinterpret or misquote religious authori-ties, because people have become knowled-geable.
The Muslims in India move with non- Muslims also in a friendly way. Though they do not like Ameer and blame him and his wife for certain actions of theirs, when Ameer's position is in danger all Muslims sympathise with him and come forward to support him. The reason for this is their attachment to their religion. Such unity is not found among the Hindus, and there is opposition any kind of suggested notifications or changes in religious or social practices. If we look into the history for this, we will find that this religion has many divisions and subdivisions called castes and communities; some being considered high and some low and a few people getting permanent benefit from this situation. If we examine how the religious sub-divisions and communal divisions have become permanent and how people are blindly tenacious about these, we will find that these are traceable to the fact that Hinduism has more compulsive conditions than other religions. The conditions are:
i) According to the Hindu religious principles, the common people should not have any education.
ii) But the brahmins, who are in a superiority, alone have the right to be educated.
iii) The Hindus (brahmins exempted) should not learn anything about the basic principles of religion
iv) The common people (other than the brahmins who have established themselves as being superior by birth and who form about 2 percent of the population have absolutely no right to think independently or explore what is good. What is bad? what is necessary? and what is unnecessary?
Besides these compulsive conditions regarding education and religion, people have been divided into a number of high and low castes and communities and have been prevented from contact with one another. Further, each community is allotted a specific occupation which every member of that community should necessarily stick to.
The people were told that they would be punished if they neglected the community based occupations and the kings also framed laws to compel the people to follow the conditions laid down by the religious authorities.
In this situation one community alone ensured for all its members adequate permanent income by creating thousands of deities and thousands of rituals. People were made to believe that the deities in the temples should have daily ‘puja’ periodical festivals and other rituals for which whatever the priestly class wanted should be supplied. The common people were also made to believe that the priests should be implicitly obeyed and raising any question about the restrictions imposed on them was sinful and that such people were atheists who deserved to be punished by the king.
Those who openly defied the restrictions placed on the non-priestly class were called giants, monsters or rouges who were the enemies of gods and other celestial beings and who would harm the world greatly. Through such mischievous propaganda against them, they were destroyed. Even today the same religious principles continue. At present though public awareness about the unreasonableness and tyranny of the old practices is growing, the selfishness of some people does not permit them to change their policy of exploitation. For example, though intellectuals, great men, leaders and public institutions have declared that religious movements and principles should be abandoned and if they are not abandoned, the country will lose its self – respect and religion will have no value, some groups of people meet in conferences in the name of ‘dharma’ and religion and pass resolutions to suit their convenience and advantage.
For example, recently brahmins met in conferences in different places to emphasize the division of society into communal groups of which the brahmins from the top group and the other are ‘Sudras’, the children of concubines whose duty is to serve brahmins. In order to eternalize untouchability, the Saivaits in their conference have resolved that the untouchables must have separate temples for the worship
Therefore as long as Varnasrama dharma and this kind of Saivaites continue in this country, how can Brahminism be abolished? How can people live with unity and self-respect? if we think deeply about all this we will realize how far Brahminism is running this country.
Finally we will have to say that in India there is no religion without Brahminism and unless we do away with all religions and all communities, we cannot live with mutual Kindness and any kind of faith.
(Kudi Arasu 14-4-1929)