The Moderate Hindu


The controversy surrounding the Sethusamudram Shipping Canal Project has finally brought the “Dravidian rationality” out of the closet. For decades MK’s views on Hinduism were confined to a largely apathetic population – the Tamil Hindus. But today’s coalition politics and power struggle in the centre has ensured that the core “Hindu-Nation” is exposed to his rhetoric. From a general observation one may come across some of the following being discussed in the mainstream media: profit/loss estimates of the project, ecological concerns, “Hindu sentiments” and, of course, Ram.

The BJP, who I once sympathised with, was looking exactly for this kind of an opportunity on account of a possible midterm election. It masqueraded itself, as usual, as the "moderate Hindu" whose sentiments were hurt by comments made by Karunanidhi. But there are, somewhat to my surprise, some "moderate Tamil-Hindus" who were enraged by his comments, or so they try to pretend. This crowd comprises mostly of young men in their early 20s who are on their way to joining the elite pack of half-baked, self-proclaimed critics of Tamil politics - mostly belonging to the upper castes. They have, for years, tried to sound clever and witty simply by pointing to the hypocrisy of Dravidian parties, especially MK and his minority politics.
One of the questions that appear regularly is "would he have the guts to say the same about prophet Mohammed or Jesus Christ?" For many the question is a panacea for all anti-Hindu rhetoric and criticisms alike. But the question can only mean one of the two: either they have a problem with accepting them all as fictional characters -- at least to the extent their supernatural abilities are concerned -- or they agree that Ram is a creation of fiction and they want MK to take the next step (which he can clearly choose not to). To criticise him for not being so forthright about Islam or the Bible is only a deviation.

Note: in order to disengage the polemics around 'what Hinduism actually is', I shall propose that the word Hinduism used henceforth be understood as 'social Hinduism' -- one that exists as more than an abstract entity and provides a systemic structure that is identified as culture, tradition, ethos and even "Indian sentiment." One that is at the core of the caste system.

It doesn't take a sharp mind to see through the "rationality" propaganda of the Dravidian parties. Nevertheless, it has to be admitted that underneath all the hypocrisy and sleazy politics there is some rationale in their criticisms. To question just the hypocrisy is to lose focus, quite deliberately, of the larger, critical issue: are you batting for casteist, sexist, oppressive mythical figures just because you're sick of minority politics?

Yes, "Hinduism is not even a religion"; "Hinduism has some of the most ancient, liberal, intellectual doctrines"; "Hinduism does not force anyone to do anything" and a list of other things that I myself had said several times before to cut it some, no, a lot of slack. But who was I bullshitting? Why should I turn a blind eye to all the social inequities that it has been directly responsible for? Whose face was I trying to save?
Majority of Hindus in India, I presume, are just as racist, just as homophobic, just as patriarchal, just as moralistic and just as reactionary as the Christian right wing of America and far worse in some cases. Only that "moderate Hindu's" attitudes don't emerge as often in mainstream media.

Rediff through Orkut, there's no scarcity of "moderate Hindus" who proclaim that the Ramayana happened a hundred thousand years ago and the Mahabharata a few thousand years later. Do they know how old the wheel is? The "moderate Hindu" appears to be more creationist than Christians and Muslims. For he/she believes that humans were not only "created" but with a divine, innate social, hierarchical position (how one attains the rank being immaterial at this juncture).
Even if you leave these issues aside, the ever prominent inhuman subjugation of "lower caste" people stares at you right in the face. The "moderate Hindu" is so oblivious to the atrocities committed in the name of caste, past and present, that his/her only defence is "Hindus never tried to convert non-Hindus." (Assumption: is it just a coincidence that most of these "moderate Hindus" either belong to the "upper castes" or never experienced casteism?)

The contemporary "moderate Hindu" is a right wing nationalist who has inundated himself/herself with essentialist notions. His/her shelter against minority/caste politics is not rationality but pseudo-intellectual jingoism.

It is unfortunate that the Indian voter has to choose between Italian bootlickers and "cultural" fascists. But it's even more unfortunate that this dilemma clouds his/her judgment on more socially relevant issues that are clearly disconnected from electoral politics.
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Personal statement: My loathing for Islam and Christianity have come across several times, quite conspicuously, in my posts and podcasts -- it remains the same. However, the same cannot be said about my views on Hinduism: it's been more apologetic than I would have liked. It was probably due to the "clouding" in my judgment or simply a residual effect -- the fact that I shared the 'Hindu' identity till a year ago. At this point, I think, the distinction between 'social Hinduism' and "actual Hinduism" is more than irrelevant, for the former is what forms the social reality of the present (except, may be, in elite metaphysical and theological discussions). Keeping that in mind, I would like to state that I now loathe Hinduism just as much as, if not more than, the other religions.
It goes without saying that I have been, in the past, what I have censured in this post in several instances. One can see this either as a transition informed by literature and reflexivity or simply a recent systemic bias.

49 comments:

Krishna D said...

A very rhetorical post.

Dravidian rationality is rational only to the point where it was against a caste based society. But the focus of today's dravidian propaganda seems to be throw the (minor) majority to the dogs while boot licking the (vast) minorities.

A moderate hindu in such a juncture has only two options. Either to loose the identity he and his ancestors were holding on to(which makes sense to the exploited), or create a pseudo intellectual argument for his semi-casteist stand.

"inhuman sujugation" of the lower castes is not a presently prevalent issue, but we do need to make up for all the years of sujugation they had gone thru. Does this mean that the present "upper caste" should be subjugated?

Is this a rational thought? The present minority politics seem to be exactly focused on such acts.

And why do minorities find "kicking" majorities a very enjoyable thing to do?

Is it because they want to be in the same position(of subjugating somebody) the current majority enjoys?

I said...

The point that is overlooked in this whole Ram Setu circus is this: the ASI, at best -- as things seldom are -- had the authority to comment only if the bridge was man-made or not. Regardless of how the bridge was formed, proving the existence or non-existence of Raman -- less so stating the finding in a constitutional document -- was beyond the scope, relevance and authority of the ASI, UPA or anything else.

The much cliched seperation of state and Church (Temple) was only for the limited purpose of preventing a theocracy. It is impossible to seperate politics from long-standing traditions and social constructs. That includes culture, customs and relegion. Removing majority faith from the fabric of society and embracing unconstrained (selective) rationalism is potentially impossible and unadvisable. Unfortunately, secularism, political atheism and multiculturalism want to do just that.

Not building the canal even solely for Hindu sentiments is not wholly unacceptable. (unlike say censoring a movie like Water). The Ramayanam is a folktale and among the foundations of Indian society/culture. Individuals and societies have inbuilt emotions beyond economics, rationality and commerce.

Those who are shouting 'Hypocrite' make only the mistake of stating the obvious.

P.S: Whatever is wrong with being a homophobe, pray tell.

The Individualist said...

Whatever is wrong with being a bigot, pray tell.

vatsan said...

my freedom extends until it encroaches your space. understanding this will make life easier.

nambaravan nambittu pogatum, nambadhavan nambamal pogattum. let his voice his views, let those who believe in ram also voice their views. there is enough space for everyone

murthy said...

Excellent write up suresh. Very academic yet incisive. I'm glad that you finally took a stance that is on par with your treatment of your gounder identity. But as you had mentioned in your orkut page, the comments seem to indicate that most of them just don't get it.

"is it just a coincidence that most of these "moderate Hindus" either belong to the "upper castes" or never experienced casteism?" - the people who have the left the comments above should try to answer this question. Inhuman subjugation is thing of the past? you must be living in your own little utopia. Just today a dalit girl was set ablaze by upper caste people in UP. One of the many atrocities that are never reported.

These people have little knowledge about the human rights abuse that millions endure everyday because of caste. They should either shut up and admit that they don't know what's happening or try to read at least one journal article. They will probably still say the same thing. Then there's the stupid comment that asks everybody to get along no matter what the issue is.

Krishna D said...

@murthy

Caste based atrocities do occur. But does this mean all upper caste people are to blame? Based on your anti discriminatory views, wouldn't this be considered as discrimination too?

Yes, the caste system is discriminatory. Yes, people who are a part of the top of the society will not fully understand what it means to be discriminated. But it is one of the many systemic flaws that our society has evolved to contain. We do need to address this issue, but will the present trashing of all upper castes or majority help in any regards?

My argument centers around the fact that a blame game will get us nowhere other than widening the gaps in today's already fragmented societal makeup.

The Individualist said...

Just for the record, 'Whatever is wrong with being a bigot, pray tell.' was more a sarcastic response to the comment above mine which said, 'Whatever is wrong with being a homophobe, pray tell.'
Am sure many people that read the comment'd have thought I was really trying to justify bigotry. Phew.

Suresh said...

Krishna - Your comments, both of them, have little to do with the core argument of this post. They stand as a very good example for 'conceptual blockade'. You seemed to have digressed from the flow of the post as you were reading -- probably because of reading too many poorly written leftist material -- and more so when you put your comments down.
I have strong disagreements with some of what you've said, but I'll probably address them in a more relevant post.

Sriram - Your comment suffers from the same problem that Krishna's does. It has little to with what I've focussed on. I never proposed that the state should be involved in imposing any ideology. I think I'll be able to talk about it (and other points) in a different post.

Vatsan - your comment is just too naïve and simplistic to say anything.

Murthy - Thanks. Yeah, it was about time I stopped defending something that I knew had a clearly weak case.

Sudhir - nah, don't worry. I don't think people are that stupid. I'm sure everyone got your point.

Anonymous said...

suresh-good start.. waiting to read more from you on this subject.

krishna-majority ?!?!? you think you are the majority? the politicians are always one or more steps ahead of the people.. they know who the real majority is? they know the number game and are playing it well.. the real majority in india are the people who are made to think they are hindus.. but have no clue what it really means.. they struggle to make a living and experience discrimination every day.. some of them have been pushed to the extent where they had no other option than to quit and embrace other religions..

about discrimination.. wake up.. "inhuman subjugation" is not prevalant? ask yourself a simple question.. will your parents allow you to marry a so-called low caste girl?

Prabhu S said...

Interesting to note that your views on Hinduism has changed.
Do you hold the Cho's MP in the same respect as you did earlier?


Richard Dawkins might well include the 'Ram Sethu' controvesy in his
next edition of 'God Delusion'.

Suresh said...

Anon,

Thanks. I hope to write a bit more on this topic too.

About "marrying a so called lower caste woman" (please excuse my intrusion):
While I certainly agree with your point, I don't think it's the right question to ask. It personalizes the issue and we don't know much about Krishna, let alone his parents.

(Nothing that follows has anything to do with Krishna per se.)

Some of the "upper caste" individuals who I know and share Krishna's views do so mainly because of their families. They'll be brought up in a relatively upscale suburb in Madras and their parents would be educated -- working in a bank or a private company like Spic. They'll hardly share their views on casteist oppression, racism or any kind of politically charged issue within the house. So the young individual, although experiences the live of a privileged Indian, never stops to realize it.

For him/her, his/her family never discriminated against anyone else and he/she hasn't see any of his relatives/friends do that either (to the extent he/she could understand it). So he/she is distanced from the discrimination that ever so prevalent because it's kept out of the privileged urban Indian, unless he/she ventures to know about it.
At this point, it might be a little absurd for one of those individuals to face the question "would my parents allow me marry a 'lower caste' girl/boy?". He/she may fail to understand the merit in such a question. For he/she wouldn't actually know if his/her parents would because the topic probably never came into their lives. And given that this individual has grown up thinking his/her parents "good", he/she might be led to believe that they would (and to give the benefit of the doubt, they actually might).

All that aside, I don't think something like marrying a "lower caste" woman/man explains the person's understanding of caste's role in the society. It's a token gesture that has lost its meaning in decades of Dravidian politics. A "genuine" inter-caste marriage should carry little emphasis on that, or it's just like saying "hey I'm a nice guy, look at me, I'm dating a fat man/woman."

However, for some, like myself, the question (in spite of having a relatively privileged life) isn't absurd -- it's neither complicated nor new. It has a straightforward answer: no, they wouldn't. My parents have gotten it to the living room several hundred times since I was 6 or 7. It's a part of their vocabulary. May be that's one of things that helped me in being conscious about caste's involvement in our daily lives and its rigid nature. (of course there were other, terrible and disturbing signs out of my house too.)

I didn't mean to undermine your argument, I just wanted to restructure it.

(This comment has pulled out a lot of what I wanted to talk about in my next post. I hope the overlaps don't look so bad when I publish it.)

Prabhu,

My views on Hinduism has been changing in this direction for a long time. It's just that I never really came out in the open and told how I actually felt. I probably felt that it would weaken my stance against a few things. I did come out, to an extent, last year -- when I tried to restart MP.
For over a year I've felt that Cho's MP has too much bullshit and I was finding it hard to do anything. I didn't want to criticize it end to end (which would change the nature of the podcast from its previous episodes) but the same time I wasn't able to keep the criticisms mild and go on with the story. I don't know, I still want to pick it up. It's been a long time since I got mails praising me for my "great service". :p

Yeah, it will be interesting to see how the 'online Hindu' would react to Dawkins' views on Hinduism. A lot of 'online Hindus' seem to approve of him mainly because he takes on Islam and Christianity head on. They think Hinduism can escape his assault (ex: because of all the "cosmological" BS in our scriptures). But they'll be so sorry when he picks Hinduism.

Bala (Karthik) said...

Suresh,
I was about to ask a question (similar to Prabhu's) but you have kind of answered it yourself in your last comment.

Waiting for your post/podcast on Hinduism/Cho's BS/etc.. :)

Anonymous said...

suresh - that question was not for anyone to answer.. nothing personal.. it is to think about and find an answer for urself.. it is a good start.. for people who think that there is no discrimination and they are not a part of it..

Juvvi said...

To my understanding, you are stating that the 'moderate Hindu' is no better than his Abrahamic counterparts. The deep-rooted religious jingoism is the same, but there is a stark difference in the way its expressed. Like in yesterday's match when Shoaib Malik was thanking 'all muslims in the world' for supporting pakistan. I even got the feeling that it was Allah who won the match yesterday and not India because every bugger who came to take the important trophies thanked mighty Allah.

I believe that what you wrote is true, but I am sure there is a reason for it. After all, all those 'upper caste apologists' are well educated, make rational decisions in issues other than religion and caste. It isn't hard for them to see that discrimination is present and it is based on an irrational caste system. The reason, I believe, is keeping the status quo. The discrimination is an important fabric of the society for the upper class (mostly rich) to enjoy the comforts they do. Although many individual instances of such discrimination might not have the consciousness of being a means towards the same end, I see a pattern in all these things. Did you notice how blurred or even non-existent these demarcation lines are for the rich people.

I believe these 'moderate hindus' are just trying to hold on to their source of power as long as they can offering lame excuses to and even denying discrimination doesn't exist anymore. The blame should be laid squarely on those lower caste for having taken this shit so long and ofcourse they should start jeering those 'upper caste apologists' when they talk about deep rooted religious beliefs and hurting sentiments of 'all Hindus'. Because who are they fooling? Even they know that they are talking shit and they don't make any sense, but they do it because it benefits their children and grandchildren if the same structure prevails.

Its a war out there. And its got nothing to do with religion or the caste system, because neither side fighting the war believes that shit. Its just war for survival where upper castes have the edge based on fiction stories and the tables can turn anytime. I think this 'Ram' guy or the bridge he made is a symbol of superiority of the brahmins for having interpreted the fiction story perfectly. And if the lower or middle caste guys fall for this, they are just being taken for a ride.

Bala (Karthik) said...

Juvvi,
Even they know that they are talking shit and they don't make any sense, but they do it because it benefits their children and grandchildren if the same structure prevails
FYI, "inhuman subjugation" means much more than mere reservation politics and "benefits for their children" as you put it. It's a matter of basic human dignity, life and death.

Juvvi said...

Bala,

I am not a 'moderate Hindu' but have never seen first hand any inhuman subjugation of any person. I don't even know which caste I belong to. Whatever I wrote, though naive or too simplistic, is an observation of the blogspot posts that I read because I don't interact with too many people outside of my work.

By the way, I am not supporting upper caste apologists. I am just stating the obvious reason and that it is somehow the responsibility of the lower caste people to kick out this system. But I am talking about 'moderate hindus' who haven't done the inhuman subjugation but prefer to keep the status quo because it suits them. Yeah even the 'inhuman subjugation' part by completely dismissing it as one off incidents. People like 'I saar' openly announce that they are conformist because it easy to be so. There is no need for me to take a stand on this issue because it has never affected me directly.

{It's a matter of basic human dignity, life and death.} I am sure it is. It is disgusting these things happen and the 'moderate Hindus' deserve to be jeered when they support the caste system. Or do you think they should be killed? Either way I don't care because I am interested in finding the reason and not what people intend to do with it.

I said...

Juvvi: The urge to preserve status quo is good-natured reluctance towards change rather than a conspiracy to retain the fictitious 'upper caste' label.

Juvvi said...

I saar,

You know how an ostrich hides, right? Stick its head in a bush when its entire body is out there for the predator to see.

The Individualist said...

Interesting metaphor. :p

The Individualist said...

Suresh,
Cho. Isn't he too protective of religious and mythological beliefs for your liking?

Hawkeye said...

i may be a little late in the game here but enakkum suresh kitta pesanum.

just on pure logic you either claim that rama is fictional and so the bridge was not man made. Or claim that rama represents evil of casteism and so the bridge neednt be honored. I see a 'rama does not exist' + ' rama was casteist, sexist' + bridge was not man made + bridge isnt important + non-existant rama is a kudikaran

the potpourri of contradictory statements confuses my target and I dont really understand what I should be arguing against/for.

Hawkeye said...

athavthu MKs rationalism argument contradictory'nu sonnen.

Suresh said...

Subhash,

I'll agree with most of your first comment. It's just that now I become conscious of "aandavan dhan kaapathanum," "murugaa!", "kadavul nenacha.." and numerous other religious platitudes uttered by 'Hindus' like I was with a Muslim's "Insha Allah". The Muslim man's identity with his religion has become a lot more politically enforced than before (just like that of the "moderate Hindu's"). Sachin to Sreesanth, there's no one I can remember not having said "God is great" or "thanks to God" or something like that. And Tamils! Oh my mighty Tamils! They can't stop short of saying "ulaga Thamizhargalukku.." if they get a mic.
So given the mockery they face from people like me and prejudice from, well, most of the industrialized world, I can understand (not sympathize) why Shoaib Malik said what he said. It's a forced homogenization that the primary element - the individual involved - readily accepts assuming that it consolidates the 'fight' against the very force. Just reminds me of the Hijab defending feminists of my campus.

As for other things, I think your stance is fairly acceptable -- on a general level. We'll talk about it further in the next post.

Sudhir,

Cho typifies the "moderate Hindu" I've criticized in the post. I drifted away from him in many issues long ago.

Hawkeye,

No, I haven't made any direct claims (because it's quite extraneous to the post). I have instead posited ideological deadlocks in whatever you choose in the scenarios I had given (and the ones you have added now). If you read the post again, I personally, haven't said anything about the bridge. As I say in it's beginning, this issue is instrumental, as far I'm concerned, only in extrapolating the Dravidian ideology on the unsuspecting, mostly 'North Indian', "moderate Hindu's" world view. Nothing more. There's nothing contradictory.

And my questioning wasn't confined to Rama: "...are you batting for casteist, sexist, oppressive mythical figures just because you're sick of minority politics?" I don't think any mythical figure would escape this mould.
At this point, I'll place this request to everyone who reads this comment: I am really interested in knowing if there was any Hindu mythical figure that did not have to involve himself/herself in any caste-centric incident in his/her entire life (as supposedly explained in whatever scripture acts as the source). I'm honestly interested (nothing smart-alecky).

Aside: Because the post has become old enough to suffer some damage by trivialization, I'll play Devil's advocate, i.e. MK, and address the your questions on Ram.
Ram probably did exist (minus the superhuman nonsense) and his life was probably, roughly similar to what it is said to have been in Ramayana. As for the bridge that was supposedly built by him, I want to step back and think where this information is coming from. It's the same guy who tells me that an ape lifted a mountain, crossed seas and whatever he could think of. (Dravidian pannadais note: the claim that the dark skinned Dravidians are deliberately depicted as monkeys by Valmiki, is weakened, at least a little bit, by his depiction of the super-ape, Hanuman.) So I simply don't think Valmiki is someone who one would want to learn history from.

Ram, as a some small time/big time king/warlord, *may* have existed. But it still doesn't entail that he built the bridge.

Even if the bridge is found to be man-made, why should one accept it's Ram? Why is it improbable to think that Valmiki fabricated a story around an existing strucutre(s).
Aren't these the same kind of people who explained how "Ganga was born"? Heck, river Ganga is supposed to have had sex with Santanu to give brith to Bhisma. If only people felt enraged when they pissed and polluted the Ganges because it was man made (ok, not man made, but it did have sex with a man, didn't it?).

Ram, does represent all that I said -- as a character of a what I think is either terribly exaggerated/manipulated/distorted historical record -- The Ramayana -- or a fully fictional story. Whether or not the bridge should be honored is still uncalled for because the connection between the two is still far from established.

Now to the question, 'should one accord the same value to the product as it is to its producer?' I don't know. It's complicated. We all know the history behind the 'Great wall of China'. It's supposed to be a symbol of anxiety, idiocy and oppression. It being made into a monument is just travesty (the same with the Pyramids and the Taj). But, structures that withstand time, just by that virtue, gain new respect and admiration. All this, of course, only if we can establish the connection in the first place.

There is no contradiction between "Rama did not exist" and "Rama was a casteist." The former addresses the 'real-reality' and the latter representational-reality. Yes, representation is a reality. So the question "why criticize a non-existent individual?" is not as clever. (Just to be clear: I had made only one of the assertions.)

I don't have any opinion about the "bridge" in question per se. Apart from the fact that DMK is sure to loot hundreds of crores, a lot of what is said is purely speculative. I think this 'debate' is better off with the economic and environmental effects.

Zero said...

Suresh,

Excellent post. Passionately written.

Re: "One of the questions that appear regularly is "would he have the guts to say the same about prophet Mohammed or Jesus Christ?" For many the question is a panacea for all anti-Hindu rhetoric and criticisms alike. But the question can only mean one of the two: either they have a problem with accepting them all as fictional characters -- at least to the extent their supernatural abilities are concerned -- or they agree that Ram is a creation of fiction and they want MK to take the next step (which he can clearly choose not to). To criticise him for not being so forthright about Islam or the Bible is only a deviation."

I've often been at loss of words to respond appropriately to this question. In fact, the way I see it, this question is completely irrelevant. Karunanidhi'oda personality'yavaa assess pannittu irukkom?!

That said, I am afraid that the question about what to do with this "delicate situation" can only be answered by "overall political approval" (whatever that means!) and not by simple rationale. So, whatever criticisms one may have on "the moderate Hindu," one must acknowledge that he or she is in a level-playing field, in being hypocritical, biased to a sect and what not.

Of course, the average Hindu Tamilian has been reasonably indifferent to the religion part (at least, the Ram-Shiv-Brahma-esque Hindu, which was never quite there actually!) of his identity, which to my mind is one of the most significant achievements of the Dravidian movement in retrospect. So, I think the moderate Hindu is playing a losing game, at least as far as the game is within Tamilnadu.

The Individualist said...

Ah, that's cool then. Because I recently stumbled upon an article, written by him, criticising Karunanidhi. And I couldn't stand it. All his overly defensive statements were downright annoying, to say the least.

I said...

Zero: it is only clear you want to undermine us smarthas. The believers in the Holy Trinity and the followers of Advaitham defintely belong to a higher (and no pun intended with iyer) plane.

Juvvi said...

Wow Zero,

You seem to be the only sane commenter on this post. Hurray. Are you a moderate Hindu/ostrich like 'I saar'?

I said...

Juuvi: There are no ostriches north of the tropic of cancer.

Hawkeye said...

hi suresh,

i typed a long long reply as a comment and the freaking window just closed :-). I feel like crying. I can atleast tell you computer science aint perfect :-)

i made some very good points you know :-).

I'll type it again and post. my god!

Bharath said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Hawkeye said...

(reposting it as hawkeye)

Zero and Suresh,

/ * Re: "One of the questions that appear regularly is "would he have the guts to say the same about prophet Mohammed or Jesus Christ?" For many the question is a panacea for all anti-Hindu rhetoric and criticisms alike. But the question can only mean one of the two: either they have a problem with accepting them all as fictional characters -- at least to the extent their supernatural abilities are concerned -- or they agree that Ram is a creation of fiction and they want MK to take the next step (which he can clearly choose not to). To criticise him for not being so forthright about Islam or the Bible is only a deviation." */

So let me try and disabuse you of any assumptions that you may have on why people ask this question.

We all play cricket knowing that the umpire can commit human errors. We do not get so pissed off if the umpire makes an error as opposed to when he is inconsistent.

Some sort of a consistency or fairness (real or perceived) is what is being looked at here. If MK had kept things in general terms saying "all religions are bogus there is no scientific proof Propher Mohd , rama, Peter are all kudikaran" I actually wouldnt care.

It is my susupicion that he is a closet christian that makes me doubt his 'rationalism' argument. This is not the first time I am seeing him take the "nuke the brahmins and the OBCs will convert" line. He has been pretty successfull in using that method so far. He would take a different line if he wanted "rationalism".

When Daryl Hair selectively 'no balls' Murali, I'd think bad about him even if I feel Murali is a chucker (which I do). So at level 1 I'd argue if he was unbiased or not because his role requires him to be unbiased. You may ask "erali chuck? thats the only question that is relavant here". Thats level-2 for me. Level-1 is a bigger problem. I'd prioritize and I'd only go to level-2 if he called saqlain, brett lee, rajesh chauhan, harbajan, akhthar and murali chuckers. Then I'd go to the next level of seeing if he was right or wrong. At level-1 it is always about your motives and intentions. My counter argument to you would change drastically if I knew what your motives where.

level-2 problem is easily solvable. level-1 has far reaching consequences.

and I suggest you think twice about saying that this issue is the first of its kind.

Zero said...

Hawkeye,
Speaking for myself, the level-1 problem you refer to is not a problem at all (not the core problem in this issue), it's a truth.
Democracy is solely about people's judgement about a group of people and their judgement. And, people in general are far from being rational.
The system must be dynamic and strong enough to live with these biases, hypocrisies and favouritism rather than expect people holding significant positions to be "ideal." I desist from complaining about perceived hypocrisies simply because I don't care about the bias here, but still care (as in, care to comment on a blogpost!) about opining on the issue.

On an aside note, I won't complain about hypocrisies. It is a very vague term and will not lead anyone anywhere. For example, I may claim to offer a neutral perspective here, even though I am someone who'll never think of marrying a so-called "lower-caste" woman (to borrow a "metric" from this thread!).

Juvvi said...

Zero is just superb. Hawkeye, why would you come back to the same point again and again when you are constantly being told that that was not the core argument of the post?

I wish zero wrote more on his blog.

Suresh said...

Zero,

Thanks. You're right, I think the Dravidian movement had a fairly 'positive' influence on the society till they started focusing on electoral politics.

Hawkeye,

I think Zero's reply sums up mine too (more or less). Like I had said in the post "It doesn't take a sharp mind to see through the "rationality" propaganda of the Dravidian parties." It's a reality a lot of us have learnt to live with.

(Thanks for retyping (and reposting) your comment. If it had happened to me I would have gone "ada poya" and forgot about it. Seriously, I've reacted like that fat guy who slams the monitor down with his keyboard when it has happened to me.)

Hawkeye said...

suresh,

illa i ended up typing something wolly new comment after seeing yours and zero's comment later. my first comment was on the post diectly and let me post it again soon. btw this has been one of the best responses to this issue in the mediocre blogosphere.

zero,

the trigger for my response was when you said;

/* I've often been at loss of words to respond appropriately to this question. In fact, the way I see it, */

what I wanted to post in response was;

/* Democracy is solely about people's judgement about a group of people and their judgement. And, people in general are far from being rational.
The system must be dynamic and strong enough to live with these biases, hypocrisies and favouritism rather than expect people holding significant positions to be "ideal." I desist from complaining about perceived hypocrisies simply because I don't care about the bias here, but still care (as in, care to comment on a blogpost!) about opining on the issue. */

while i focussed on 'consistency' being a response theme for the moderate hindi. you abstracted from my specific instance and said
in generic terms the summation to people's rection towards MK.

/* the average Hindu Tamilian has been reasonably indifferent to the religion part (at least, the Ram-Shiv-Brahma-esque Hindu, which was never quite there actually!) of his identity, which to my mind is one of the most significant achievements of the Dravidian movement in retrospect. */

shiva-brahma-vishnu'esque exists. but still the believers of this vote for MK due to caste politics. I still think when you go down south of madras to trichendur, nagapattinam, thanjai, kovai - ( where we assume kula deivams play an intricate part in one's everyday life as opposed to hinduistic deivams). By local folk lore or exageration - vishnu and rama are related to somany ammans and figure as support artists in thousands of legends. People willbe upset at MKs comments because MK will not face a much different audience from what periyar faced. I would say among the 1 lac tamilians thrnging thirupathi everyday only 1% are brahmins. rest are as fanatical about god as it comes.

while the media coverage shows rationalistic/MK supporters in large numbers - it is disproportionate to their real strength. i suspect without coalition/caste politics if Jaya and MK were to clash on this 1 issue then Jaya wud win hands down.

Vijay said...

Suresh,

I was confused - to say the least - by your post about the Sethusamudram Project and your argument about the moderate Hindu.

Later after a brief glance over the comments posted here, I realized that you were actually targeting a few specific bloggers who regularly comment on the politics of Tamilnadu. The fact that you hate/dislike a few individuals and/or their blog posts on the issue of the Sethsamudram project has come out as a central theme rather than the issue itself. You could have done better by mentioning those blogs instead of resorting to such sweeping generalizations. I was certainly enraged by MK's comments, but sadly I don’t fit your profiling. And I certainly don’t claim to be a Hindu at all, as Hinduism is not a religion (which you seem to agree).

I agree that the question of "Would he have the guts to say the same about Prophet Mohammed or Jesus Christ" to MK is absurd and certainly a deviation from the core of the issue. But I totally disagree with your contention that underneath all the hypocrisy and sleazy politics of the Dravidian parties there is ‘some rationale’. If the Dravidian parties really struggle for the upliftment of the lower strata of the society, why did MK give free television sets to families, some of whom do not even have toilets in their homes? Rationale, anyone? Yes! MK had his rationale right in increasing the viewership of SUN TV along with gaining an edge in the elections - Orey Kalluley Rendu Maanga - And he did win the election and let the set top box system stay in Chennai. According to you 'this' might be a deviation from the topic. But my point is that it wouldn't need an intelligent person to see that politicians all around the world are more concerned about power rather than working to fix real societal problems or being rational. And I hope you'd agree with my little generalization here.

Under your definition of "Social Hinduism", I agree that most of the Hindus are just as racist within and outside of the “social Hindu” group. The Godhra riots were an example and the very fact that there is so much diversity in terms of caste, creed, etc in India and specifically Tamil Nadu.

For the sake of the argument, if we take Hinduism and Social Hinduism as two different entities, I would agree that the inhuman subjugation of lower caste people is a direct result of social Hinduism as pointed out by you. At the same time trying to logically arrive at the conclusion that the problems faced by the lower caste people are directly due to the people’s faith in God is unreasonable. It has more to do with the current societal situation. By current, I mean the Kali Yuga, which you probably will not accept as a point of reference. [ If you had read the Vedic explanations of time and cosmology, you’d probably know the four ages of Satya, Tretha, Dwapara and Kali. ] I see that you believe in Evolution rather than Creation. I know that Creation does not provide a logical or scientific explanation but does Darwin provide one for his theory of evolution? There is a lot of speculation in his theory.

The West encourages logical thinking. It’s not difficult to see where Darwin and Dawkins come from. On the contrary, our society encouraged and still encourages holistic thinking rather than a logical one. An example is the Polachu Pogattum Vindunga (PPV) attitude, where minor crimes were/are pardoned. This worked in the past in maintaining a balance in the society. But since the last century, the same PPV attitude has lead to corruption. The PPV attitude is just an example to illustrate that holistic thinking is no more relevant when there is huge influence of the west on our culture. Infact, all the cultures around the world are mixing and there is cultural homogeneity that is arising from it. My point here is that you need a holistic view to read and understand the evolution as described in the Vedic texts.

I do not know if you are an atheist or simply an agnostic. But either way, you may say that the scriptures are either self-referential or that they are just fabricated myths. But as it is so often said, never come to conclusion before listening to both sides. Read the scriptures alongside reading Dawkins’ books. If you still insist on a logical or evidence-based explanation, read the books “Forbidden Archaeology” and “Human Devolution” by Michael Cremo. Read the scriptures in their original form, not the ones interpreted by the so-called Hindus who do not practice what they preach.

To sum up, you’ve used too many generalizations, Suresh!
And you argue against the concepts presented in the scriptures, purely because you hate the people who believe in the scriptures and at the same time oppress the lower strata of society. I’d say these are people who blindly believe in the scriptures – they haven’t read them and neither do they understand their significance. Not many of the “moderate Hindus” would have read the Bhagavad Gita. They might talk about it, but never truly understand it. Further to that they don’t practice what they preach. You might see an example in the temples where the rich devotees get to go closer to the altar and the poorer devotees are left behind. Hence as per your definition, I certainly do not support the “moderate Hindus”. But what you have done in your post (or at least what I understand) is that you’ve linked the concept of God/Creation to a topic of Hindu social class – it’s clearly tangential.

On an unrelated note, only recently I stumbled upon your blog and find most of your posts interesting - especially your podcasts! Good Work! I hope your blog continues to serve the purpose of promoting useful discussions rather than facilitate name calling by certain commenters.

Cheers,
Vijay.

Suresh said...

Vijay,

I'm glad you found the podcasts interesting. Thanks.

PS. I haven't read any Indian blogger's blogpost, except a couple of Hawkeye's in August, in the last 3 months. I haven't mentioned anything about blogs anywhere in my post or comments. I don't even who you are.

Vijay said...

This crowd comprises, mostly, of young men in their early 20s who are on their way to joining the elite pack of half-baked, self-proclaimed critics of Tamil politics - mostly belonging to the "upper castes". This was what I was referring to, Suresh.

About me, I am student in Australia and am from Coimbatore. Hope your blog is not a closed community.

Juvvi said...

saridaan poda maanga madaiya!

Anonymous said...

Its a pity that you are not fully experiencing the benefits of hinduism. I'm talking about the part of the post where you said that you loathe hinduism. So I'm not referring to your post topic. I don't like your tone on the subject and also I don't care. But I'm just stating my opinion on your post.

You have not been a true hindu. That is why you have lost interest in hinduism, while a lot of others from other races are beginning to take notice of it. I am one of them.

True form of Sanatana Dharma is dead in India. Because of people like you and those "moderate hindus" you claim. I am not saying I'm a true hindu. I'm not being condescendent. I have yet to learn more about this facinating culture of hinduism. I am in the process of becoming a brahmin, as depicted in the scriptures. A brahmin is the one who is superior to others, not by birth, but only when he has gained wisdom, knowledge and enlightenment. This is BS to u? Let it be. I truly don't care. Are u going to put this comment up on your blog? I don't care as long as you have read it first.

Suresh said...

Anon - It's a pity that you are an idiot.

Anonymous said...

Suresh - Do you know what's even more pathetic? You calling me an idiot. Hahaa.. Keep up with the posts. Update more.

Suresh said...

Whatever makes you happy.

Tamil Payapulla said...

For modest opinions,check my blog
www.tamilpayapulla.blogspot.com

Bhuvanesh said...

Suresh,

As for trying to tear apart their rationality propaganda, i would say that the majority moderate hindus of previous generations( which mostly comprised Non-brahmin middle castes) had a lot to gain socially and economically from the political success of the Dravidian movement and that is why they learned to be silent when questions on caste and faith came up but were highly sympathetic to all Tamil nationalist jargons of the movement,especially of the DMK. And the DMK's political success too depended on not encroaching upon their cultural hegemony above a limit and this reflects in the way caste dominates the party setup.
So nobody here was actually taking their rationality BS seriously. The only ones who take it seriously are the half baked Upper caste Tamil moderate Hindus of this generation, of mostly an urban upbringing as you said, who try to prove that it is BS. In fact, the moderate Upper caste Tamil Hindu's angst is a reflection of his inability to adjust to the all too common dichotomy of anti-caste aryan-bashing rhetoric and an openly casteist daily life - the dichotomy that the middle castes are very comfortable with. Most of them are too casteist (not in comparison to the middle castes)to not retort to any aryan bashing.

And your view that some may have grown up believing that the caste system has ended has only a very little chance of being true ... Truth is that they are brought up to be insensitive to softer acts of casteism which is what predominantly happens in most urban upper caste households. Add to this the reality of most lower castes being also of the lower class which makes it easy to mask casteism. A simple example of soft casteism can be found in the way they are treated in places where they work as domestic helps.These people are dumbed down enough not to realize what their parents are doing.
And many don't even read news items on such topics appearing in the dailies.

The question "Why doesn't he take on other religions?" is a perfect example of bringing the "intentions" into question while covering up the inability to come up with an explanation.Even if this question is addressed, assuming that one can go back and forth between the acts of MK to the movement he claims to belong to as they do and taking a little liberty in going beyond the semantics and taking the Dravidian rationality for its real social meaning, it would end up favoring the Dravidian apologetics as this has got a lot to do with the nature of the spread of these Abrahamic religions in Tamilnadu. This is important because barring a few leaders and an initial ideological adherence, the Dravidian movement was predominantly an anti-caste anti-aryan movement that became a jingoistic cultural movement later and is a no-movement now. During its peak in the 1930s and 40s(even when they had no votes to loose), almost all their leaders openly advised Dalits to convert to Islam (as stories of a complete reversal in the way the converted were treated were very common then and even now). And they dubbed it as a religion of Peace too, the politics of which i will not speak about here. But the nature of conversion to Islam was completely different in the north(which was under a direct rule of the Delhi Sulatanate for a long time) and it is here that a North Indian moderate Hindu may find it hard to comprehend the minority politics(which unlike what many of you seem to think has a very long history) here ... So questioning MK's inability to question Islam will once again lead to uncomfortable questions about caste and would end up hurting the moderate Hindu further. To me a hindu is either insensitive to casteism or is openly practicing it... The only moderates are those who suffer from these and unless they cease to be moderates, there is no way out.


I have been reading your blog for some time now and seeing that you once sympathized with the BJP, I believe yours is certainly a transition informed by literature. Cho is simple too ill informed and casteist to talk about Dravidian politics.

I have started digressing too much. so i will finish here ... Awaiting you next post on this ...


Juvvi,

You name is really nice.

Suresh said...

Bhuvanesh,

{{And your view that some may have grown up believing that the caste system has ended has only a very little chance of being true ... Truth is that they are brought up to be insensitive to softer acts of casteism which is what predominantly happens in most urban upper caste households.}} - I agree, and that's what I had said to and I quote:
For him/her, his/her family never discriminated against anyone else and he/she hasn't see any of his relatives/friends do that either (to the extent he/she could understand it).
--unquote--
It was qualified statement indeed.


You're right, there's a direct link between DMK's contemporary minority politics and its roots (which it still hopes to present as relevant in the party). The reason why Hindu bashing works so well, for the most part, is because it brings out seething casteist sentiments of the OBCs and directs it towards to the Brahminic version of Hinduism, i.e. Brahmins. It's an expression of false empowerment in the face of historically placed oppression. Never will MK say anything about 'amman' or karuppana sami'.

Will talk more on this later sometime. Thanks for the comment.

Anonymous said...

People are lonely because they dont build bridges.

Sudha said...

cool article.I don't want to involve in the debate about cast coz that's the only thing which is dividing Hindus after the skin color.

Anonymous said...

Dude, caste has got nothing to do with hinduism, in the real sense. However, people today embrace their castes as if they are so proud to be born in it. What the hell!! Caste system was created to segregate people according to their occupation, as everyone knows. It was very well appropriate in the ancient times. But now, it's not anymore. A lot of things in hinduism were very appropriate in the ancient times, but not now.

And this is no reason to hate hinduism!! How can it be caste-loving, when it says clearly "yemmathamum sammatham"? Even in the scriptures, where it is mentioned about brahmins, it is said that brahmins are not superior by birth. They only become superior. Brahmins are only made. This is in the scriptures. You have to be proud of being a hindu.

You are wasting time and energy makin podcasts on stupid movies. Why not use this time to change people's mindset in the issues you deem to be important? It's very clear you have influence among the podcast community. Why not put it to a good use, rather than commenting about useless and stupid movies like Sivaji or some crap? No wonder you are such a loser, man!

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