Sep 21, 2023
Sep 21, 2023
Although an outright insult and use of the hateful and derogatory language against the world’s oldest and only surviving culture and religion the Sanatana Dharma (more common term Hinduism now) is not a new phenomenon or development in India or elsewhere abroad but the largely Tamil speaking southern state Tamil Nadu’s Chief Minister MK Stalin’s son and a minister in the state government, Udhayanidhi Stalin, has triggered a fresh controversy few days back by creating an analogy of the Sanatana Dharma with obnoxious and fatal diseases like Dengue, Malaria and Covid-19 and giving an open call for its eradication. The Hindus are ordinarily known worldwide for their socio-religious tolerance and peaceful living and the Sanatana Dharma is the only religion that has actually put forth and pursued the concepts like the Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam (Entire World is one Family) and Sarva Dharmah Sambhav (All Religions are Alike) and Sarve Bhavantu Sukhinah (Let everyone live in happiness and peace).
How the Controversy Started!
While addressing the audience in a conference titled “Sanatana Abolition Conference” on Saturday, the 2nd of September 2023 organized at Kamrajar Hall, Chennai, Udhayanidhi Stalin inter alia compared the Sanatana Dharma with deadly diseases such as the dengue, malaria and covid and stated that it should not just be opposed, but eradicated. The reason given in support of his controversial averment was that the said Sanatana Dharma is against social justice and equality. The conference was organized under the aegis of the Tamil Nadu Progressive Writers Association with the participation of the members and speakers from the DMK, Congress, Communist Party (Marxists), and other like-minded parties/groups/individuals covering the topics “Deadly History of Sanatan”, Caste Theory & Conspiracy Theory”, “Weapon to Destroy Sanatan Dharma”, and so on. As expected, the remarks instantly invited a nationwide social and political controversy and uproar from the followers of the Sanatana Dharma but the minister remained defiant over his earlier remarks while talking to Asian News International (ANI) further adding after two days, “Day before yesterday I spoke at a function about it (Sanatana Dharma). Whatever I said, I'll repeat the same thing again and again...I included all the religions and not just Hindus...I spoke condemning the caste differences that's all...”
According to the Stalin scion, there are a few things which shall not be opposed, instead be abolished only. As the dengue, mosquitoes, malaria or corona cannot be opposed but be eradicated; that is how the Sanatana also need to be eradicated. The name Sanatana comes from Sanskrit and is against social justice and equality. Here, it may not be out of context to mention that Udhayanidhi Stalin is currently a minister for Youth Welfare and Sports Development in the Tamil Nadu Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) government, and his father MK Stalin is the chief minister of Tamil Nadu. The two represent the generational pedigree of Muthuvel Karunanidhi, a self-described atheist and rationalist, who dominated the state politics for several decades and served as the chief minister of Tamil Nadu for nearly two decades over five terms between 1969 to 2011. At the national level, the DMK is among the important political parties of the opposition block and a close ally of the main opposition party the Indian National Congress aka the Congress. The paradox which is more shocking is that most of the organizers and participants are from the Sanatana fold only, merrily followed many customs and rituals but stand for abolishing the same Dharma and Culture.
Udhayanidhi asserted that his statement was in support of the marginalized communities which are suffering due to Sanatana Dharma and in this endeavour he was prepared to face any legal challenges. This was probably his reaction to the news of FIRs being registered against him for the hate agenda. He further added that, as followers of Periyar, Anna and Kalaignar, their (DMK) government is committed to fight for upholding social justice and establish an egalitarian society under the leadership of MK Stalin (His father & CM). Later, yet another DMK leader and former union minister Andimuthu Raja likened the Sanatan Dharma to the dreadful disease leprosy carrying social stigma. According to him, Udhayanidhi was soft because he talked only about eradication of the Sanatana Dharma like dengue and malaria; instead, it should be regarded like the HIV and leprosy, which carry social stigma too. Incidentally, the current offensive remarks by A. Raja are not the only controversy associated, he had earlier threatened the Central Government about raising a demand for the separate nationhood for Tamil Nadu, and in 2G Spectrum Scam, he remained in jail for fifteen months on corruption charges for his dubious role as the union minister.
As it usually happens, once someone in politics triggers some social or religious controversy, the politicians of all ilk join it as per their choice and convenience while media and some self-proclaimed intellectual liberals too make use of it as an opportunity. Several ruling and opposition leaders at the Centre and states have spoken in favour or against the Sanatana Dharma ever since Udhayanidhi stoked controversy on the subject. The main opposition political party Congress remained somewhat ambivalent and ambiguous in that a minister in Karnataka state and son of the current Congress national president, Priyank Kharge endorsed it without naming it in saying, “Any religion that does not promote equality or does not ensure you have the dignity of being human is not religion, according to me... Any religion that does not give equal rights or does not treat you like humans is as good as disease..." Sometime back his father and Congress president Mallikarjuna Kharge was caught on camera stating if Narendra Modi is allowed to have more power, then the Sanatana Dharma and RSS will rule this nation. While father and son duo spoke against, some other minister moderated calling it as personal opinion and freedom of expression.
The Controversy has a Long History
In the current piece, the author would not delve or divulge in details of the long history how the British treated Hindus or what harm they did to the Sanatana Dharma to promote Christianity and Islam in India during the colonial era but like to briefly trace the ongoing bias and malicious propaganda tirelessly carried on by the inheritors of the colonial legacy following the independence. In 1940s, when it was pretty clear that the British would have no option but to leave India after the 2nd World War, the post of Congress President became very crucial as after the transfer of power, the incumbent was to form the government (as prime minister). Gandhiji’s personal fondness and preference to Jawaharlal Nehru was well known but 12 out of 15 Provincial Congress Committees, the only legitimate bodies to nominate and elect the Party President, favoured the nomination of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, who was not only senior but also well known for his administrative acumen, organizing ability, effective leadership and love for the Sanatana culture; besides, none of the remaining three committees favoured Mr Nehru’s candidature. Notwithstanding the aforesaid facts, Gandhiji persuaded Sardar Patel to withdraw his nomination paving way for Mr Nehru’s elevation as Party President (an obvious choice for Prime Minister in the event of the transfer of power). An icon of ethics and morality, Sardar Patel gracefully accepted to take a position next to Nehru due to latter’s keen desire that he would either take number one spot or stay away from the government formation.
The country was partitioned a day before the grant of Indian independence on 15 August 1947 on the basis of ‘Two Nations Theory’, as the Muslim League under the leadership of Muhammad Ali Jinnah believed that the Hindus and Muslims represent two separate quams (nations) that cannot peacefully live, co-exist and survive together. It was agreed that the transfer of population on the religious lines would also be simultaneously implemented with the partition. However, riots broke out in parts of Punjab and other areas transferred to Pakistan almost immediately leading to massacre, arson and loot of Hindu & Sikh families, largescale rape and killings of their women; similar violence also erupted in parts of the Indian territory in retaliation; and unable to effectively manage and contain the situation, the two countries finally forged an agreement (Liyaquat-Nehru Pact, 1950) which inter alia allowed people to stay at place of their choice irrespective of their religion. Now if we describe the long-term outcome without mincing words, the Muslims achieved an Islamic state where minorities have now shrunk to just about two percent owing to constant socio-religious persecution and living even without basic freedom and security, while India opted for a secular democracy with now almost as much of Muslim population as in Pakistan with a tag of the fastest multiplying community. As if this is not enough, many bigot and radicalized people on either side of the border are actively pursuing the ideology and goal of Gazwa-e-Hind to established Islamic rule in the India, thanks to the policy of appeasement followed by the successive legacy governments post-independence under the misconceived interpretation and notions of secularism.
The Indian Constitution, boasting to be as the longest ever written national constitution in the world, is the supreme law of the land which was ratified on 26 November 1949 and implemented with effect from 26 January 1950 through the great effort of many selfless and visionary leaders associated with the freedom struggle. The Article 15 of the Constitution prohibits any discrimination on grounds of the religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth. The Article 44 unambiguously provides for the Uniform Civil Code for the citizens – “The State shall endeavour to secure for the citizens a uniform civil code throughout the territory of India.” Everywhere in carefully worded English, the use of ‘May’ denotes a possibility or probable action while ‘Shall’ represents an emphasis and clear intent of a future action. Thus, so for as the constitutional provision is concerned, there is absolutely no ambiguity about a uniform civil code for all the Indian citizens irrespective of their religion, race, caste, sex, birth, and so on, in the Indian Constitution.
However, when the issue came up for the implementation in 1950s, the former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru was willing to codify and reform only the Hindu Personal Law, abolishing religious laws applicable to Hindus in favour of a common civil code despite opposition from many cabinet colleagues and law luminaries like BR Ambedkar, who was the chief architect of the Constitution itself. His cabinet colleague Shyama Prasad Mukherjee even resigned in protest of growing differences with Nehru and constituted the Bhartiya Jan Sangh (now Bhartiya Janta Party) in 1951. The Congress Government under Nehru continued with their resolve to reform only Hindu religious laws and several bills were passed in 1950s to become Hindu Marriage Act, Hindu Succession Act, Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act, and Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act. These laws now uniformly apply to all Hindus and, expansively, applicable to the citizens of other Indian religions too, viz. Jains, Sikhs and Buddhists. The religious personal laws of Muslims, Christians and Parsis were left by the Nehru regime untouched and subsequent legacy Congress or its allied governments followed Nehruvian model despite the raging controversy on the subject till date.
For the last several decades, the following quote has been circulating in the print and electronic media ascribed as Mr Nehru’s statement at some point of time, “I am an Englishman by education, Muslim by culture and Hindu only by accident”. Ever since many sources, including some so-called fact-checker websites, have attempted to vindicate or deny it, usually his critics claiming it as true while the followers calling it a false propaganda of the Hindu Mahasabha and other Hindutva elements. Whatever may be the truth but it’s a fact that Nehru openly criticized many Hindu customs and traditions at occasions but avoided doing same for the Muslim evil practices like triple talaq, polygamy, halala, purdah system, etc. Besides, the minority appeasement policy, in violation of the constitutional provisions, was started and encouraged by him in providing subsidy to Haj pilgrims, grants-in-aid for madrassa education and other religious institution, and so on so forth. The same Nehru legacy was carried on by his successors with the former Congress Prime Minister Manmohan Singh even formally going to the extent of endorsing it in the National Development Council that the minorities specially Muslims have first right on the national resources. Needless to mention, this appeasement mainly for the minority votes to stay in power caused more harm in national integration by dividing communities and strengthening a case against the Sanatana customs and traditions in India.
Even after more than seven decades of independence, the Muslims continue to be governed by Shariah, the religion based Muslim Personal Law. The All-India Muslim Personal Law Board (1973), a non-governmental organization, represents the interests of Muslims mainly in matters related to marriage, divorce, inheritance, and other personal matters. Similarly, the Indian Christian Marriage Act of 1872 and such other miscellaneous laws deal with civil matters relating to people following Christianity. The fallacy of the Nehruvian legacy and height of appeasement could be learned by any truly secular person from the famous Shah Bano Begum case. Shah Bano was divorced by her husband in 1978 after he tied nuptial knots with another woman and later on, he refused to give any subsistence money for the maintenance to Shah Bano and children. Finally, she won her case for alimony of Rs 179 per month from the Supreme Court but the then Congress Government under Rajiv Gandhi’s premiership used this party’s overwhelming majority in the Parliament to reverse the apex court’s decision by enacting a retrograde law Muslim Woman (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act, 1986 denying her alimony under the pressure of the conservative Muslim clergy and radical Islamic elements.
The card of socio-religious appeasement and freebies to minorities at the cost of the majority Sanatani Hindus and, in turn, garnering their en mass support during elections successfully worked in favour of Congress Party for nearly five decades. However, the party simultaneously kept talking about the social and economic equality with fascinating slogans like Garibi Hatao (poverty alleviation), Congress ka Haath, Aam Admi ke Saath (Congress hand in hand with common man), and so on, but did little on ground for the actual development and progress of the country’s common people. On the other hand, several regional and local political parties came up in various states, particularly during the last three decades, hijacking the same agenda of the social justice and equality, and appeasement of minorities (mainly Muslims), although parties like DMK and AIADMK have dominated Tamil Nadu politics for long on the same social and economic plank. In fact, the majority of these parties are dominated by the pedigree members of the same family, and the creator or prime mover in most cases was one way or the other associated with the Congress Party at some point.
Initially, most of these regional or local parties were raised to oppose the policies and programmes of the Congress Party. To mobilize the popular support, popularity and success with the electorate, they have used the same ploy of the “social justice and equality” that DMK leaders talk about as also appeasement of mainly the Muslims minority. Their success too has been largely linked with their quantum and magnitude of freebies and other concessions in the name of social justice and minority appeasement. As collateral damage, these developments in Indian politics have simultaneously also triggered a large-scale corruption, nepotism and appeasement. On the contrary, the Bhartiya Janta Party with Narendra Modi in lead is focused on the integrated development and revival of the nationalism and traditional cultural traditions (Sanatana Dharma) of the country. This is a new experience as the Congress and some other socialist parties now feel threatened. After all, many of them including the Congress have been so far avoiding even the use of the terms like nationalism or national symbols fearing it might ward away their traditional minority vote bank. Hence, ironically, the traditional opponent and adversary political parties are now coming together to dislodge Narendra Modi and BJP by hook or crook and the recent criticism of the Sanatana Dharma by the leaders of some political parties is seen by the political analysts as part of the same larger strategy and agenda.
The political leaders in the South India and some of their compatriots in the North as well are attacking the ancient Hindu culture and religion in the name of the social justice and inequality with now the caste system being blamed for this quandary. In fact, ever since the human civilization grew in various parts of the world, the discrimination and differences have always existed in different forms on the considerations of social status, religion, economics, power, and so on, even among all other nationalities. At microlevel, the same is reflected in the form of rich and poor, have and have nots, sects and sub-sects in religions, regional biases, and the caste system. The caste system in the Sanatana Dharma has a past but, as of now, any discrimination on the basis of caste and untouchability is a punishable offense in the modern age. The majority of political parties and leaders in India, which now claim to be champions of social justice and equality, are, in fact, themselves serious violators. If their own assets are reckoned, many of these self-proclaimed messiahs of social justice are billionaire now, at times, even without known sources of income along with cases of crime and corruption progressing or convicted, many of them also are also found engaged in perpetual nepotism, cronyism and appeasement.
Recently, some twenty-eight such national and regional parties have forged an alliance named I.N.D.I.A. (Indian National Democratic Inclusive Alliance) to fight and remove the incumbent Prime Minister Narendra Modi led coalition NDA by hook or crook at the central and states. The leader of the largest opposition party of the aforesaid alliance is well known for the last few years for running his “Muhabbat Ki Dukan (The Love Shop) and spreading across the world, particularly the democratic West, the message that India is at the brink of the collapse of democracy, minorities (particularly Muslims) are under attack and Hindutva (term associated with Hindus) is a big threat for the nation, particularly minorities. In fact, the DMK and Congress are close partners in Tamil Nadu government and the current (hateful) speech against the Sanatana Dharma by a few DMK leaders, supported by at least two state Congress leaders, appears to be a sample of the same larger strategy and plan. In fact, the opposition of Hindus, Hindi and Hinduism has a long history in South, particularly Tamil Nadu. The Dravidian Movement was a British and Christian missionaries inspired agitation started in the 19th century itself with apparent objectives of social reforms by eradicating the dominance of Brahmins and prevailing caste system, but the real motive was to pave way for conversion to the Christianity. In this British endeavour, Irode Venkatappa Ramaswami aka Periyar emerged as a great Tamilian leader who, reportedly, not only regretted/ mourned independence in 1947 but also constantly condemned Hindu gods/goddesses and raised voice for an independent Tamil Nadu.
This author must admit that he had not even heard Udhayanidhi Stalin’s name before this controversy and only now he knows that the self-proclaimed champion of social justice and equality, Stalin scion, is actually chief minister’s son, a minister himself in the state government, film producer & distributor, actor and inheritor of vast wealth and political power. Politicians like him and many others talk about eradication of the Sanatana Dharma citing it an evil for its caste system but at the same time also want to forever enjoy the benefits and concessions granted under the Constitution and laws of the land in terms of reservation of jobs & educational institutions and various social schemes, including the very success and survival in politics by exploiting same caste sentiments in a hierarchical society.
The derogatory and hateful words that the politicians like Udhayanidhi and A. Raja have used with such an ease against the Sanatana Dharma, can any of them also dare to speak similar language against the customs and beliefs of the Abrahamic religions such as the Islam and Christianity? People may not have forgotten the last year’s gory incidents when Nupur Sharma merely repeated in a television debate what the Islamic clergy and controversial Islamic scholars like Jakir Naik routinely mention in their discourses. The incident turned out to be a major flare up among the followers of Islam in India and abroad, including the Arabs and other Islamic world. Ordinary people like Kanhaiya Lal and Umesh Kolhe were hacked to death for supporting Nupur Sharama while the party had to tactically suspend her. As of now, she is still underground living under multiple threats to her life and issued a gun license for safety. The Hindu culture is traditionally known for its accommodation, inclusiveness and tolerance yet a constant propaganda is run by the vested interests in India and abroad that the Sanatana Dharma and its followers (Hindus) pose a threat for other communities.
Sanatana Dharma is Not Just a Caste System!
The detractors and belittlers in I.N.D.I.A. so often attack the Sanatana culture and dharma with allegations that it endorses and encourages the caste system and casteism. Similarly, many of them have time and again alleged that the Hindus and Hindutva pose a threat to other communities, particularly Muslims, in the country. The author is not going into the genesis but terms like Hindu, Hinduism and Hindutva were assigned to the followers of the Sanatana Dharma much later during the post-Vedic era. Now the Congress, left parties and some socialists in the opposition alliance (I.N.D.I.A.) very often oppose ‘Hindutva’ with allegation that it denotes Hindu hegemony or majoritarianism to instill fear and insecurity among minorities, particularly Muslims – sizeable vote bank in the country playing a decisive role in many parts. During the early 1990s, several litigations were made in the higher judiciary against the use of the term by Hindu candidates (BJP and Shiv Sena) during the election for the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly.
After due deliberations combining all the appeals arising out of the litigations in the Bombay High Court relating to the validity of the elections of certain candidates, a three-judges bench of the Supreme Court delivered a candid and unambiguous judgment on 11 December 1995, which inter alia read:
"Ordinarily, Hindutva is understood as a way of life or a state of mind and is not to be equated with or understood as religious Hindu fundamentalism ... it is a fallacy and an error of law to proceed on the assumption ... that the use of words Hindutva or Hinduism per se depicts an attitude hostile to all persons practicing any religion other than the Hindu religion.”
The Supreme Court further ruled that "No precise meaning can be ascribed to the terms 'Hindu', 'Hindutva' and 'Hinduism'; and no meaning in the abstract can confine it to the narrow limits of religion alone, excluding the content of Indian culture and heritage."
Subsequently, in yet another petition of the controversial social activist Teesta Setalvad suggesting the devastating consequences of its 1995 judgment defining Hindutva or Hinduism as a "way of life" and nothing to do with the narrow fundamentalist Hindu religious bigotry, the Supreme Court constituted another bench comprising of seven judges which after due examination upheld its earlier judgment in October 2016, simultaneously ruling out any further need of re-visiting its 1995 verdict on ‘Hindutva’. Despite this legal position, the Congress and other opposition parties merrily continue to attack the Sanatana Dharma calling Hindutva as a threat to minorities and national integration.
Actually, the term ‘Hindutva’ is formed with the fusion of two words ‘Hindu’ and ‘Tattva’, which literally means ‘Hindu Elements’ or ‘Hindu Principles’. The evolution of the Hindu civilization (Sanatana Culture) has been natural and continuous based on the teachings of scriptures, primarily Vedas and Upanishads, and sages and ascetics, since the ancient time. As interpreted and explained by the sages and scholars from time to time, the Hindu civilization or Hinduism or Sanatana Dharma is a sum total synthesis of the material and spiritual wisdom and knowledge addressing all aspects of human lives of which the religion (in modern literal terms) is only one aspect. In that sense, it’s a kind of living idea that has grown, proliferated and improved with the time imbibing and assimilating any contemporary thought or practice found useful for the mankind. This is how the apex court of the country too have interpreted it.
In the context of the religion (in a literal sense as interpreted), among umpteen great quotes describing the nature of the God in the Vedas and Upanishads, the following quote from the oldest Hindu scripture Rig Veda (1.164.46) is relevant:
Ekam Sat Viprah Bahuda Vadanti
(The Truth (God) is one, scholars call it (Him) by different names)
Renowned Nobel laureate and scientists in physics/quantum physics such as Robert Oppenheimer, Nils Bohr, Erwin Schrodinger, Werner Heisenburg, Carl Sagan and Nikoka Tesla are known to have had great respects for the Hindu scriptures; the Upanishads, Bhagavad Gita and Vedanta philosophy. Some of them are said to carry books on Upanishads and Bhagavad Gita in one hand and physics in the other. Carl Sagan, a famous astrophysicist of the Cosmos series fame is known to have stated that the secrets of universe are hidden in the Hindu scriptures, with special recognition and praise for the Nasadiya Suktam – Rig Veda verses about the origin of the universe. One of his famous quotes about Hindu religion is “Hindu religion is the only one of the world’s great faiths dedicated to the idea that the cosmos itself undergoes an immense, indeed an innate, number of deaths and rebirths. It is the only religion in which the time scales correspond to those of modern scientific cosmology.” Bohr’s famous quote reads “I go into the Upanishads to ask questions.” Schrodinger, another Nobel laureate said, “The Bhagavad Gita is the most beautiful philosophical song existing in any known tongue.”
Just mentioned a few, there is, in fact, a long list of scientists and scholars in the world having acknowledged virtues of the Sanatana Dharma and immense knowledge contained in scriptures. The author would like to mention a few internationally acknowledged practices of the Sanatana Dharma. Currently, over 175 countries in the world have formally acknowledged importance of Yoga and 21 June have been declared as the World Yoga Day with an estimated two billion people practicing it across the world. Besides, the Sanatana Dharma is the only culture and religion in the world which is verily so methodical, rational, logical and cogent in defining key spiritual and material knowledge of life in terms of the universal concepts like Satya (truth) and Ahimsa (non-violence), Brahman (God) and Self (soul), Karma and reincarnation, Ashram System and Purushartha with Moksha (liberation) as end goal.
In essence, the Sanatana Dharma (Hinduism) is much more than just a Religion like the other creedal religions originated in the West. Besides spirituality, the Hindu scriptures also carry at length many other secular and cosmopolitan pursuits like social ethics and codes, economics, science, medicine, mathematics, astronomy, engineering, and so on so forth. therefore, it becomes more cultural than simply remaining creedal, assimilating and evolving right ethos in terms of the beliefs, customs and practices of all contemporary groups or society since Vedic age. Similarly, the terms Hindu, Hinduism and Hindutva with their specific nuance are not against any other community or religion. A Hindu is one who is an inheritor or adherent of the social and spiritual parampara (lineage or tradition) with its origin in Bharat or Bharatavarsh (the Indian Subcontinent); Hinduism indicates the composite synthesis of all cumulative practices, rituals, beliefs and scriptures, including deities and mode of worship; and Hindutva represents the aforesaid attributes among the adherents.
This analysis will remain incomplete if the existing caste system is not touched upon. As for the ancient Hindu scriptures and teachings of ancient rishis and scholars are concerned, the existing caste system finds no mention anywhere. Instead, terms like Varna System, Savarna and Avarna were prevalent in the Sanatana culture and find a mention at many places. In the ancient times, the society was broadly divided into four classes Varna (classes) namely Brahmins (teachers and scholars), Kshatriyas (administration and security), Vaishyas (traders and farmers) and Shudras (i.e., artisans and labourers) strictly based on the division of work. People belonging to any of these four classes were called Savarna while certain tribes and outcasts including sinners were called Avarna (untouchables). However, during the long civilizational history, this work-based recognition was degenerated and replaced by the birth-based recognition in certain span of time (exact period decisively not known) giving origin to the birth-based caste system that kept multiplying into layers and numbers.
From time to time, various theories have been put forth to explain the origin of the caste system. For instance, some scholars hold the Aryan invasion from the north-central Asia responsible for the introduction of Jati (Caste) System as an effective tool of controlling the native population. Some others suggest that the Brahmins started this in the post-Vedic age to maintain their upper hand in the society. Similarly, a British Anthropologist JC Nesfield put forth an occupational theory for the caste system in India. However, none of the theories convincingly explain the exact origin in terms of when, or even pinpointing a watershed period, and how the caste system was evolved. Although it appears pretty certain that the ancient Varna System and current Caste System have originated and evolved separately in different time capsules, but the possibility cannot be completely ruled out that the prevalent Caste System may be a distortion of the Varna system,
The Caste System is, however, more of a social and cultural issue rather than being a religious point in the Sanatana Dharma; in Sanskrit, Sanatana translates to eternal and Dharma denotes righteous duty and action. In the modern age in India, a lot has been done by the government, NGOs, social reformers and responsible citizens to improve upon the social fabric through greater interaction and convergence among different groups through legislation, empowerment, economic packages and reservation including in job opportunities, institutions, etc. Any caste-based discrimination is legally a punishable offence in the society and places of occupation, working, dining, travel, sharing leisure time, and so on. The government and several institutions encourage and even incentivize inter-caste marriages which in many cases are now taken with relative ease in the society. With all these measures taken, it is grossly unfair to pursue a hate agenda against the Sanatana Dharma.
As for the social justice and equality is concerned, this is not unique to the Sanatana Dharma alone. Ever since the human civilization started in various parts of the world, inequality, exploitation and conflict in various forms have existed due to negative human attributes. While pursuing hateful agenda against the Sanatana Dharma, people tend to forget or consciously ignore that the Hindu scriptures do not endorse or encourage any discrimination. The Puranas and Itihasa texts quote umpteen instances and stories of kings (like Ram) and sages freely mixed and dined with people of lower echelons in the society. Besides, the said inequality in the social hierarchy and order is not unique to Hindu society alone but prevalent in different forms in all ancient and contemporary societies (pursuing different religions) in the world. Even in western societies where religion has lesser bearing on the social order, inequalities on account of the social status, financial position or even by birth exists everywhere. The communist nations like China or North Korea do not accept any religion and the communist ideology seeks to create a classless society yet the citizens have not been granted even basic fundamental rights in these countries. The leaders of Muslim League in India fought for a separate nation for Muslims but Indian Muslims migrated to to Pakistan are still dubbed as Muhajirs and discriminated in all walks of life. In fact, this story is endless and singling out the Sanatana Dharma on such count nothing but a devilish and preposterous act.
In the end, the author would only leave a little food for thought for the rational and well-meaning people. In India, the leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, Acharya Kriplani, Jaiprakash Narayan and Vinoba Bhave were true icons of social justice and equality with their selfless contributions in the modern India. They also represented ethics and conduct of the highest order without caring for the money and other assets for person luxury and comfort. On the other hand, the political leaders like Udhayanidhi, A. Raja and many other so-called socialist leaders in the South and North India fashionably talk about social justice and equality but do not apply it to themselves, which is evident from their accumulated personal wealth and assets worth billions, and many cases even without known credible sources. When they say they are atheist, this reminds me of a celebrity couple of the particular minority community who too claim to be perfect atheists, but their heart still beats only for the same one community as is seen from their socio-political interventions and outburst from time to time.
The personal lives of these political leaders, journalists and intelligentsia (writers) too would reveal that most of them are part of the same Sanatana fold, they merrily follow many Sanatana rituals, customs and traditions then join hate agendas and organize conclaves to abolish the Sanatana Dharma, with eyes closely fixed on chemistry of the vote bank. Evidently, there is no dearth of hypocrites be it politics or any other walk of life. Truth is, the Sanatana Dharma is the only religion which is truly based on equal consideration to all religions as also social order, sans a few aberrations which crept in with time. In fact, the Hindu scriptures viz. Upanishads, Shastras and Bhagavad Gita represent highest form of social justice and equality when they mention at places that the virtues of life and Moksha (liberation) are available and attainable by all living being through good karma i.e., self-control, following truth, and right duty and action; and that all living beings (souls) are part of the same Brahman (God).
More by : Dr. Jaipal Singh