Namaskar everyone! I welcome you all on behalf of Bharat Niti Pratishan (India Policy Foundation) to today’s webinar on DMK’s assault on Sanatan Dharma. As we all know, recently, senior leader of DMK, Udhayanidhi, who is son of Tamil Nadu chief minister Stalin, made some atrocious comments about Sanatan Dharma and another minister from his cabinet also made a remark that the I.N.D.I. Alliance formed recently by the opposition parties was formed to destroy Sanatan Dharma. These comments have definitely disturbed a large population of Hindus all over the world. Even people who are not Hindus are angry and disturbed by these comments which are totally uncalled for and which reflect the ignorance and prejudice of the politicians who have been making these comments.
Now, the politicians may have been making these comments to gain some political mileage in Tamil Nadu. But the impact of such comments can be far reaching. It totally weakens and harms the social fabric; the relationships between people who believe in, who trust, who have faith, who have respect for the eternal values which we call as Sanatan Dharma. Dharma itself means values. Dharma is not a kind of restricted mode of worship only. Without understanding what dharma is and what Sanatan Dharma is and what is allows, permits and encourages, there are comments coming from a few politicians. One minister from Bihar has also been making similar comments. So, today we are focussing on why this sudden assault on Sanatan Dharma has been launched by Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), the ruling party in Tamil Nadu which has a long history of making similar comments or taking political agendas which are not in sync with the eternal values, the cultural heritage of our nation, of our old civilisation. We are very lucky to have Prof P. Kanagasabapathi ji with us today. We welcome you, sir! Before starting, I will give a brief introduction of Prof Kanagasabapathi and then I would request him to address us.
Dr. P. Kanagasabapathi is a Professor, author and writer involved in India-centric research from the native perspectives. After obtaining doctorate as a UGC Research Fellow, he was initially associated with the stock markets briefly. Known for his pioneering field studies in different economic centres, he was a key member of the team that undertook the study of the Gujarat kite business on the invitation of the state government during 2003-04.
Prof Kanagasabapathi ji writes in English and Tamil. One of his books entitled Indian Models of Economy, Business and Management is considered a major initiative towards indianising the education system and is used in the premier educational institutions. One of his other books, Prosperous India, has been translated into different Indian languages. He has also written for CBSE, New Delhi. He has been associated with different universities and research bodies at the national and the state levels and was a member and Chairman in charge of the of the Indian Council of Social Science Research, New Delhi. Earlier he was the Director of the state level training and research institute promoted by the Tamil Nadu government and President of an agricultural cooperative bank. He is the Secretary and Trustee, Dr Syama Prasad Mookerjee Research Foundation, New Delhi and Director of the Tamil Nadu-based Indian Economic and Cultural Centre. In addition to that, he is Vice President of BJP, Tamil Nadu. An author, an academic par excellence who is also handling the socio-political responsibilities. We are lucky to have you today with us, sir!
Prof Kanagasabapathi ji, please enlighten us on why DMK has launched this attack, what is the history, what is the politics and what could be the implications of such comments and why they are wrong and where they are wrong. Over to you, sir!
Thank you, Dr Kuldeep ji. It is my pleasure and privilege to be part of this discussion through the prestigious India Policy Foundation. It is my pleasure to see elders like Prof Sheila Rai and others. Today we are going to discuss an important issue that is disturbing the minds of people, not only in Tamil Nadu but all those who follow Sanatan Dharma, the world over, particularly because of the recent comments made by the important leaders in DMK.
It all started on September 2, 2023. The leftist group called Progressive Writers and Artists Association organised a three-day conference in Chennai. The theme was Sanatan Dharma eradication conference. In it, Udhayanidhi Stalin, the son of chief minister of Tamil Nadu spoke. When he spoke, he said Sanatana Dharma should not just be opposed but it should be eradicated, like the way we eradicate mosquitoes, corona, dengue; we should eradicate Sanatan Dharma also. So, immediately there were responses from the public, not just from Tamil Nadu but across the world. People started questioning him. But very soon, the senior DMK MP, Mr Raja who was earlier union minister also said that whatever Udhayanidhi Stalin said was mild statement, it should be more serious. In that connection, Sanatan Dharma should be treated like leprosy or other diseases like AIDS, because it is a curse on the Indian society. Then after few days, he again said, it is a menace not just to India but to the entire world. This is how they have been saying for the last few days, as a result of which this has come up for discussion. Particularly in Tamil Nadu, there are serious discussions and debates going on.
Before going into this debate, we need to understand the background of Tamil Nadu politics. Before independence, there was a party called Justice Party. It was in power before we got our independence. Justice Party consisted of people from wealthy families but they had one agenda, i.e., anti-Brahmin agenda and, E.V. Ramaswamy Naicker, shortly called as E.V.R. was part of the Justice Party. In fact, earlier, he was part of the Congress Party. He was a Congress leader. But he came out of Congress in 1925 saying that Congress served only Brahminical interests. He came out and founded a movement called self-respect movement. This was how he started his political or public career. Then, he was part of the Justice Party, even though he was not in the government as such. In 1939, he became the head of the Justice Party. In 1944, he founded what we call today as the Dravida Kazhagam. By Dravidar, they mean all South Indians – Kannadigas, Andhra people, Malayalis and Tamilians. Kazhagam means an association. So, he founded the organisation and they called this a social movement in 1944. Their late chief Mr Karunanidhi and the first chief minister of Tamil Nadu Mr Annadurai, they were all part of the Dravida Kazhagam. They were all members and later they held some senior positions also in Dravida Kazhagam or DK. They were trained by E.V.R.
What is the background of E.V.R.? I will put it in a nutshell in about five to six points. E.V.R. was basically an anti-Indian. He was a secessionist. He wanted a separate Dravida Nadu or Dravida land. He appealed to the British not to give independence to India. He also asked them that even if you give independence to India, please see that the Tamil region remains under British rule. He was completely a separatist and secessionist. When India got independence, he announced it as a day of mourning and he burned the Indian flag. This is his background. He was completely anti-Indian. His second characteristic about which we are all familiar now is that he is anti-Hindu. He burned all our revered scriptures. He broke idols, Lord Ganesha, Lord Ram. So, this was his practice in the 1950s, 60s and all. He was a racist also because he was completely anti-Brahmin. He has said in many places, but one of his popular usages was, ‘When you see a snake and a Brahmin on the street, kill the Brahmin first, we can deal with the snake later.’ This is how he used to say and all this is on the record. He was against North Indians also. Because he said, North Indians come from the Aryan race, so we are separate. He was against Hindi also. In fact, in the present times, DMK is against Hindi because it all started from E.V.R. His fourth characteristic, if I can say so is that he was an anarchist. He never had any respect for law. He always had contempt for law. As I said earlier, he burned the Indian flag, he burned the Constitution and he never had any respect for national icons. He was critical of all the senior leaders. He was critical of Mahatma Gandhi, he was critical of Congress, he used all bad words.
As far is Tamil is concerned, Tamil culture, Tamil history, he never had any respect. In fact, we all know that Tamil is one of the greatest languages of the entire world but he said Tamil is a barbaric language. On Thirukkural which is considered as one of the greatest works in Bharat, he said, it was human waste placed in silver plate. He said just because it is on a sliver plate, he can not have any respect. Many of you may be knowing that there is a Sangam literature called Silapathikaram. This Silapathikaram speaks about Kannaki, a lady, when she came to know that the Madurai king Nedunchezhiyan made an error of judgement and sentenced her husband to death, she went to him and fought for justice. Even today, she is respected as a goddess and she is a highly venerated goddess in Tamil Nadu. A book was written on her life called Silapathikaram, it is one of the 18 Sangam literary works. E.V.R. called Silapathikaram as a story of a prostitute. This is how he respected women. He called Kannaki a prostitute. That is how he used the words. In Tamil, Ramayana was written by a great figure, Kambar. Kamba Ramayanam is very popular among the Tamilians, for the language that he has used and for the story that we study. But EVR insulted Kamba Ramayanam also. This is how he used to treat Tamil culture and Tamil literary works.
Also, he was a casteist. People say he worked for eradication of caste but he was completely a casteist as all his words show. For example, when somebody asked him why were the prices of rice increasing in Tamil Nadu. He said those from the Scheduled Caste (SC) community had started eating rice and that was the reason why rice prices were increasing. In fact, I am putting it very mildly. He used the Schedule Caste names, pallas and paraiyars. Then, later when somebody asked, why cloth prices are increasing, then he said when the women belonging to pallas and paraiyars caste started wearing the upper garments, what else did you expect. This is how he treated people from backward classes and SC community.
Not only that, he was also a misogynist. He wanted to teach a lesson to his wife in his younger days. His wife was regularly going to temples. In Erode, there is a Vishnu temple. That temple was managed by E.V.R.’s family, his parents and grandparents. Even today, if we go there, we can see the writings on the wall. His wife used to visit temple regularly, like any other Tamil Hindu women. But EVR did not like it. So, he sent his minions to go to the temple and harass her sexually so that she would not go to the temple regularly. This is what he did, to stop his own wife from going to the temple. When he lost his wife Nagammai, he married a young women Maniammai, who was with him for many years as his foster daughter. When he was 70, she was 32 or 33, he married her. This is how EVR was leading his life. No principles and whatever he practised was based absolutely on nonsense. Whatever he taught, if you read it, you will come to know that he was completely an anti-Indian, anti-Tamil, anti-Brahmin and completely anti-Hindu. But he is regarded as the father of Dravidian movement.
DMK emerged out of DK in 1959. C.N. Annadurai came out of DK in 1959 due to some dispute with organisation leaders. DK was not in favour of contesting elections; DK was always in favour of a separate land. But, the DMK leaders, led by Annadurai, Karunanidhi etc. wanted to contest the elections under the Constitution of India. They came out of DK and formed a party called DMK, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam. That means Dravidar Development Association. So, they formed this in 1959 and C.N. Annadurai became its first general secretary. In fact, they always kept the president’s post vacant because it was reserved for E.V.R.
Since 1959, they started working under the administrative constitutional set-up and Annadurai said, “we believe in one god”. He used to say, oruvane kulam, oruvane devan. There is one race, one god. Unlike EVR, or Periyar, as DMK leaders used to address him, his views were different. Today, DMK leaders call EVR Thantai Periyar or Father Periyar. But his name is only E.V. Naicker. In 1967, after eight years of forming DMK party, they came to power. They came to power for various reasons. Then Congress government led by Mr Bhaktavatsalam was facing some difficulties due to price rise and all. And Rajaji, one of the senior most leaders and one of the most respectable figures in our Indian history, because of his antipathy towards Congress joined hands with DMK. As a result, they came to power in 1967. Since then, DMK is a major force in Tamil Nadu, even though now their strength has begun to decline.
As I said in 1967, Annadurai became the chief minister. He was not completely against the belief in god. But he died in the year 1969 due to cancer. Then, Karunanidhi, superseding five of his seniors, using his cunning approach became the leader and chief minister. From 1969, till his death about five years back, he remained as the DMK chief. He was the chief minister five times. Even when his government was dismissed or lost power, he remained the DMK chief. As long as he remained the chief minister, he always used to criticise Hinduism but in a milder form. Once, he said Hindu means thief. When people started questioning him, he said, he said it in a different context and did not actually mean it. But DMK’s overall approach is largely driven by DK’s anti-Hindu approach only. Even during Karunanidhi’s period, there were times when his own senior leaders would say that whenever there is a need, we will ask for separate Tamil Nadu. So, this is how they used to say. But they were all completely against Brahmins.
If I go into history, it will take time, but during the times of E.V.R., Brahmins were harassed in many places. Harassment took place in different forms. People wear sacred thread, different communities used to wear them. Whenever they used to see Brahmins wearing the thread, DK or DMK workers used to cut the thread. Similarly, poojaris or senior priests used to grow long hair, DMK workers used to forcefully cut their hair and take pride in it, saying it openly. There were villages from which Brahmins were thrown out in the 1950s and 60s. They did not allow the Brahmin community to live in peace. They used to throw stones at their houses. When there were only four to five houses, what could they do? So, this is what was happening. But in the last 40-50 years, such kind of happenings have reduced. Even then, DMK cadre used to harass, always criticise Brahmins in public and used derogatory language for them. They don’t use the word, Brahmin, they call them as ‘parpanar’ which is a derogatory word for Brahmins. In all cinema, jokes etc., they used to use this word, parpanar. And they demean our Hindu ancient practices.
Many of you may know that students in Tamil Nadu were not allowed to study Hindi in our schools. Sanskrit was absolutely not allowed. Till today, in our government schools and colleges, they don’t allow. Even though in the last 15-20 years, things are changing because so many private institutions and schools are there and most youngsters are studying there. They are now studying Hindi and Sanskrit. But now, particularly after DMK came to power in 2021 under Stalin’s leadership, things have changed from bad to worse. Earlier, Karunanidhi being a seasoned politician used to manage somehow. Even though he was doing it openly, he also used to attend the meeting of Christians, Muslims and other communities. There he used to criticise Hindu customs, faith and beliefs. But he also used to maintain close relationship with our own Hindu seers, saints etc. That was his approach. But after DMK came to power in 2021, Stalin’s approach is very bad. In the sense, that he has allowed these anti-Hindu forces to openly denigrate Hinduism. He also goes to the Islamic and Muslim ceremonies, whether it is Christmas or other functions, he takes part in their functions regularly. There, while participating or speaking, he would criticise Hinduism and comes back.
Particularly, the Christian missionaries, they are more vocal. Some of you may be knowing, one and a half to two years back, there is a Christian priest from Nagercoil, Kanyakumari district which has largely 40-45 per cent of Christian population, he openly said, “I don’t want my feet to touch Bharat Mata which is why I wear shoes. Because Bharat Mata is not holy.” He openly threatened our prime minister and home minister using their names.
Later, then Congress president, Rahul Gandhi, when he was on Bharat Jodo Yatra, he went and met this Christian priest and spent time with him also. So, these people come and very often, they criticise our dharma, scriptures etc. And DMK, particularly after 2021, their senior leaders use every opportunity to criticise our dharma. There is an assembly speaker, Mr Appavu who while addressing a convocation in Thoothukudi said only seven per cent of the Indians were able to study earlier because of Sanatan Dharma. Udhayanidhi also, during his September 2 address, said he wanted to eradicate Sanatan Dharma. He also said, Sanatan Dharma does not want us to get educated. ‘Us’ meaning non-Brahmins. Assembly speaker Appavu, last year in another Christian college in Trichy said, it is the Christians who gave education to all the people in Tamil Nadu. He said but for Christians, we would have remained a state like Bihar. They always say states like Bihar and Uttar Pradesh are underdeveloped.
Recently, another DMK leader, who is an academic and a spokesperson of the party, said, Sanatan Dharma is prospering in only those states where education is less. You take UP, Bihar, Sanatan Dharma is flourishing because people are not educated. Mr Appavu, in his Trichy address in a college also said, it is the Christian missionaries who brought growth to Tamil Nadu. But for them, our state would not have developed.
In the last two years, DMK people are openly saying that Sanatan Dharma is responsible for all the evils in society. When we ask them, they quote Varnashrama Dharma. And we tell them that Varnashrama Dharma is not the entire Sanatan Dharma and even the concept of Varnashrama Dharma is something different, they won’t accept it. They will give all the reasons for it. In fact, a few days back, another DMK leader was saying that NEET was imposed because the central government wanted to impose Sanatan Dharma. So, they give all types of reasons whenever they criticise Sanatan Dharma.
Now, apart from the DMK leaders, all their supporters also speak against Hindus, Hindu dharma, temples etc. There is a party called Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK) whose leader is an MP now, Thol. Thirumavalavan. He regularly uses bad language against Hindus. He has made it a regular practice to go and speak against Hindus in the meetings of Muslims and Christians. Even the DMK leader Raja uses very bad words. One year back, he said all the backward community people and those belonging to SCs are ‘sons of prostitutes as per Sanatan Dharma’. According to him, Sanatan Dharma says, those who are Shudras are all children of prostitutes. This is what he has been saying. There has been no action by the state government so far. No action by the DMK chief in spite of the repeated appeals by people, Mr Stalin has never taken any action. We all know that even in these kinds of hate speeches, Supreme Court has given a direction that you need not expect affected people to come and give complaints in police stations or courts. The state has the authority to take action against these culprits. But so far, in spite of repeated appeals by many of us, by different Hindus, Stalin has not taken any action against them. In fact, you may be aware that Stalin has justified it in an indirect way whatever was said by his son Udhayanidhi Stalin.
So, the situation now is very bad in Tamil Nadu. They are attacking Hindu practices. But here, we have to see one important aspect. In Tamil Nadu, we have temples belonging to different communities, gotras etc. We have temples for different stars, different rashis, these are found only in Tamil Nadu. And there are temples with 2000-3000 years of history. There is the temple built by Raja Raja Chola, one of the greatest temples in the world. But the Tamil Nadu government does not manage these temples properly. Since the days of Karunanidhi, they have been looting temples. I will give one or two examples. Thirty years back, government itself had accepted that there are 5,25,000 acres of land that belonged to temples, donated by devotees, donated earlier by Rajas etc. Recently, government admitted that there is only 4,75,000 acres of land now. So almost 50,000 acres of land is missing, as admitted by the state. We do not know where. There is no record. These are all occupied by the Dravidian parties themselves, their leaders and their minions in different parts of Tamil Nadu. This is just one aspect. They don’t follow court directions as far as temples are concerned. In fact, the High Court has given directions on many occasions on how to manage temples.
You will be surprised to know that Rs 50,000 crore worth of money was collected from temples and spent elsewhere by the government. Its Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments (HR&CE) department collects rent from different tenants. Our temples have buildings, huge assets. The HR&CE departments is collecting the rents. One report states that Rs 50,000 crore was wrongly spent from this fund but there is no action. There are many temples that attract huge crowds like Palani temple. People give money in donations, they put money in hundis, thousands of crores of money. But this money is used by government officials and ministers to buy car for them and to do whatever they like. The DMK leaders don’t believe in god. But whenever the birthdays of their leaders come, they use temple funds to do annadanam, to give fund. This is how funds are being misused. So, here people are going to courts against this, people are fighting.
All of you may be knowing that the idols that were stolen from India, majority were from Tamil Nadu because the governments don’t take proper care of temples. We have idols belonging to BC era, but they don’t keep any records. Former Inspector General of Idol wing, Mr Pon Manickavel is now fighting for the stolen idols. Even though they say that they don’t want Hinduism, they want all the temples under their control. This is a very serious issue and the issue has gone to the extent that they don’t even respect or honour people who put vibhuti like me. We have our chess prodigy, Praggnanandhaa, he became popular because he went into the finals of the World Chess Championship. Till he went to the world championship final, no DMK leader used his name because you can always see him wearing vibhuti. This is the extent to which DMK people hate Hindus.
Once when Karunanidhi was alive, he sarcastically asked one of his MLAs who was wearing kumkum, whether it was blood on his forehead. But in spite of this, because of MGR and Jayalalithaa, the AIADMK leaders can be seen with both vibhuti and kumkum even now. Almost all the AIADMK leaders visit temples and their family members are pious devotees of different Gods. Even day before yesterday, two senior ministers, Mr Nehru and Mr Panneerselvam went to one of the ancient temples and we all saw the photographs. When people asked them, they said we went there to pray for the continuance of Mr Stalin as the chief minister forever. So even these people go to temples. We all know that the chief minister’s wife, Mrs Durga Stalin is a very pious lady. She goes to temples regularly. She makes it a practice to make offerings regularly. Even when chief minister goes out of Chennai, she goes with him and goes to temples when he is attending government and political functions. This is how they do it at the family level.
But when they come out, they claim they are against Hindus. One major reason for this is the appeasement of minorities. People suspect that they are largely under the control of minorities. Whenever they go to Christian meetings, they say, it is your government, it is because of you that we are here. We all know that since the days of Mr Karunanidhi, they are lenient towards the religious fundamentalists. Last year, October 2022, there was a car bomb blast in Coimbatore, in front of one of the ancient Siva temples. The car was apparently going to a busy street because the next day was Diwali. They wanted to blast the bomb so that it could result in the loss of lives of so many people. But fortunately, the car broke down in front of Lord Siva’s temple and the person who was driving, the main culprit, also died on the spot. When this news came out, we made an appeal to the government to see whether it was an international terrorist act. They refused and said it was a car cylinder blast. But after few months, when NIA took the case, now they say that it was planned as a terrorist attack and ISI involvement is there. Case is going on and few culprits are arrested. But DMK also remained soft to these terrorist groups. This is their natural tendency.
What is very unfortunate is now they have begun openly attacking Hinduism. Thiruvavur is Mr Stalin’s native district. It is known for Lord Thyagaraja Temple, one of the ancient temples and has the biggest ther (chariot) which we drive during important occasions annually with the Lord at the top. So, Thiruvavur ther is the largest ther in Tamil Nadu. In that district, the DMK district secretary who is the most powerful person at the district level and this person is an MLA also, Kalaiselvan, writes a letter to the principal of the Government Arts College in that district. Next day, the principal of that college asks his girl students to go and participate in a meeting organised by DMK, in their headquarters outside the college. The topic was anti-Sanatan. These girl students were asked to go and speak in DMK meeting on anti-Santan Dharma. They were asked to share their anti-Sanatan views. When we saw the letters, immediately we started opposing it. The next day, the principal withdrew the letter but no further action was taken. So, we again opposed it and now there is a news that the Director of College Education has sought an explanation from the principal. In fact, I sought the resignation of the higher education minister Mr Ponmudy.
Kuldeep ji in his introductory address said that one senior leader openly said that the I.N.D.I. Alliance was formed with the objective of defeating or eradicating Sanatan Dharma. That statement was made by the higher education minister of Tamil Nadu, Dr Ponmudy. He himself was a college teacher earlier but now he is involved in serious court cases. These DMK leaders, all of them have amassed so much wealth, beyond their expected income. As a result, his office was raided by Enforcement Directorate very recently. But he is the same person who said that the I.N.D.I. alliance was formed with the objective of defeating Sanatan Dharma.
So, this is the situation that Tamil Nadu is in today. Now, echoing the sentiment of Udhayanidhi Stalin and others, Mr Priyank Kharge has spoken in the same language. And some other leaders, as Dr Kuldeep ji mentioned, from Bihar and other places, they have also made these statements. This is a very serious issue now. We have to defeat this. Of course, in Tamil Nadu, all Sanatanis are joining together. Even DMK second-level, third-level leaders themselves are realising that this is going to prove very dangerous for the Hindu society. Because even today, more than 85 per cent of the people in Tamil Nadu are Hindus. DMK chief himself has admitted that in his party, 90 per cent of the cadres belong to Hindus. This is the position. Even when Hindus are in majority, 80-85 per cent, if they (DMK leaders) go on denigrating Hindus, day in and day out, it is not going to be healthy for society. Whenever, we ask them, they say that by Sanatan Dharma, they mean only Brahmins. We are opposing Brahmins only. We are opposing casteism only. But they are not against casteism at all. If you see the background of DMK, no SC person has occupied the top seat. Now it is a family party. But for 49 years, after the death of Annadurai, Mr Karunanidhi was the DMK president. After him, his son, Mr Stalin is the president of the party. Now even though there are many senior leaders, Mr Udhyanidhi Stalin is considered as the heir, legal heir and everybody accepts it in DMK. Similarly, at the party-level and the government-level also, they give representations to the SC community but in Tamil Nadu, unlike in the case of central government, these 2-3 people will always be given only minor portfolios like khadi and village industries or minister in charge of SC communities. They will not give finance industry, education departments or any other important departments. Even when we take the district secretaries of DMK, which is very important in their party structure, you will not find many people from SC community. This is the way they treat the SC community. But when we ask them, they say, we stand for social justice. Similarly, the way they treat women, they don’t give good representation to them. So, their foundations are built on false narratives.
Somehow, they have succeeded all these years. I think now it is going to change. There is an awakening in the minds of the people. But we also should not keep quiet. We have to educate about the motives of these people, educate about their background, only then, we can fight these DMK forces. DMK has to be thrown out of Tamil Nadu politics, public life through democratic means. Of course, their expiry period is nearing. But even before that, it is the duty of the Tamilians and all of us Hindus across the world to see to it that this government goes. If we allow it, this will be a menace to Tamil-Hindu society. They will say they speak for Tamil Nadu, but they never accept Tamil seriously. They always use ‘Dravidam’. Why Dravidam? When Karnataka people, Telugu people, Malayalam people do not accept Dravidam, why are you saying you are a Dravida man? No answers from them. Because they don’t want to accept the greatness of Tamil Nadu. If you accept the greatness of Tamil culture, greatness of Tamil as a language, then Hinduism comes there. You cannot separate Tamil from Hinduism or Sanatan Dharma. Because Tamil as a language is perhaps the oldest language in the world. It is kept alive all these years because of Sanatan Dharma. Almost all literary works in Tamil Nadu are related to deities, Hinduism etc. If you see the Tamil literary works, almost all works are related to Hinduism only. That’s why they never accept. Even E.V.R. never accepted Kamba Ramayanam, Thirrukurral, or Silapathikaram. These people, they may not say it openly but they don’t accept these works. They always do an indirect attack. When Mr Karunanidhi was alive, there was an initiative from the Christian groups saying that Thiruvalluvar was a Christian. They wrote a book and Karunanidhi gave an introduction to that book.
This Aryan-Dravidian divide was originally devised by a Cardinal in Tamil Nadu. He came to India in the 19th century, in 1818. He was a missionary who was in Tamil Nadu till his death. He wrote a book called Comparative Grammar of Dravidian Languages. He wrote many other books. In that book, he created a division between the Tamilians and the so-called North Indians; Dravidians and the Brahmins. It was he who first said that Brahmins are dominating the Tamil society, all the rest are oppressed. So, these people, the DMK, even today are parroting the views of Christian missionaries. We all know that this Aryan-Dravidian controversy is dead. Nobody accepts it. Even Europeans don’t accept it. But in DMK meetings we will see, they will be speaking about Aryan-Dravidian divide, how all Brahmins are North Indians and Aryans and how we are all different and we belong to Tamil race etc. Even today, it is happening. So, this European missionary impact is still there amongst these people.
Now, we have to tell the people that this is the truth and you have to get rid of DMK. We have to fight at the intellectual as well as the field level, which our people have started doing. I hope and pray that we will very soon get a government that protects Sanatan Dharma. This is what Tamilians want. We expect that even at the political level, there is going to be a great change. We are working towards it. But we cannot take it lightly. Our work is very important. We cannot say things will change like that. No, we have to work very hard. There are answers for everything in Tamil Nadu itself. In fact, in that eradicate Sanatan conference, Udhayanidhi said, as I had mentioned, that Sanatan Dharma doesn’t want us to get educated. I gave him all the details, I have written articles in Tamil and English saying that how after the Britishers had arrived, what was the education system here like. In fact, Britishers themselves have recorded it. In Madras Presidency, when Thomas Munro was the Governor-General between 1822-25, he himself had asked all the district collectors to give details of education. In that, if you see the details, you will come to know. He himself had openly admitted that every village in Madras Presidency had a school. Madras Presidency in those days included Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra, Telangana and parts of Odisha also. He said for every 500-1000 persons, there was a school.
They say, always education was dominated by Brahmins and no backward caste community man or no SC man was allowed. I took Tamil Nadu, the present-day Tamil land in those days, it came under nine districts. Today, we have 38 districts. In that calculation, the number of boys and girls in schools those days, in different districts, if you take non-Brahmin as a category, it varied from 78 per cent to 90 per cent. So, the students who studied in schools in the early 19th century, 78-90 per cent belonged to the non-Brahmin category. So, there are caste-wise details. Similarly, how many Muslim students have studied. We have shown them that during Sanatan Dharma period, education was available to all. It was only the Britishers, the colonialists who destroyed the education system. We are giving responses to them. But they are going to different meetings and parroting their lies.
Udhayanidhi made this statement on September 2. Till today, even after two weeks, he has not repented for it and DMK chief has not clarified for it. All are saying that Sanatan Dharma is responsible for all the ills of society. So, this is the present situation.
Dr Kuldeep Ratnoo:
Thank you, sir, for giving very detailed and enlightening analysis and information, right from the origin of Dravida Kazhagam and then, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, Karunanidhi, Stalin and now Udhayanidhi. Particularly how they are influenced by what E.V.R. preached, propagated and now they spread the propaganda, probably under the influence of Christian missionaries. I can very well understand why certain individuals were projected by the missionaries or by the British government. In the coastal towns, particularly in the areas where very important ports were located, British encouraged them to demand secession from India, to not join India as a union and it was a very far-sighted plan by the British to separate Karachi, to separate the Peshawar airport, to separate the Dhaka port from unified India. So that they could have some influence over these strategic trade centres and ports.
Tamil Nadu is at a very strategic location in the Indian Ocean. And it serves the interests of all anti-India forces to spread that kind of anti-India, anti-Hindi and anti-Hindu mentality. Somehow, they dream about succeeding in or separating or dividing the so-called Dravida land or Tamil Nadu from the mainland or what you call, the larger India. But as you rightly mentioned, the cultural roots and linkages of Tamil language, of Tamil people, of Tamil history and Tamil civilisation, those are very much based on Sanatan Dharma. It is based on Hinduism and it is based on whatever we have in all parts of India, that culture and those religious places. And why a person, whether from Kashmir, or Rajasthan or Arunachal Pradesh wants to visit Rameswaram, wants to visit the temples in Tamil Nadu and vice versa also. Why people from Tamil Nadu want to go to Badrinath or Dwarka. So, the linkages are very strong. These politicians and their masters sitting in different countries keep on instigating them, they keep on financing them and they create a divide between some Tamil people and the rest of India. We all know that there are political players in communist parties, in different other political organisations which also want to benefit by this divide. They also want to pour fuel into the fire. You have given us a very detailed picture. I would request the participants to share their suggestions or ask their questions.
Asad Ahmed: I would like to make a couple of points. First of all, this denigration of Hinduism as I would put it, is not something new. We have seen it in the North also. There is a Dalit party called Bahujan Samaj Party and I have listened to Kanshi Ram and Mayawati’s speeches denigrating Hinduism and targeting Brahmins in particular. But BJP had an alliance with them and ultimately formed a government with them in UP. But today, the net result is that politically, BSP is finished, not only in UP but across the length and breadth of north-west India. The new blood prefers to vote for BJP and not BSP. So, I feel it is better to ignore such people as they will have a few takers. In Tamil Nadu, BJP had an alliance with DMK during Vajpayee’s and Karunanidhi’s time. Today, since there are no leaders in AIADMK after Jayalalithaa’s death, BJP may need DMK at a later stage. So, things should not be stretched too far. One should not give credence to such people.
Prabhu Razdan: On 4 September, I saw an invitation in Supreme Court about a program being held in the Indian Law Institute. In that a DMK MP, Mr Wilson was spewing poison against Hinduism and against Sanatan Dharma. The organiser who claimed to be an advocate, Mr Malik, he was provoking people and those who tried to oppose him were shut down. My point is that the venue chosen was just a stone’s throw away from the G-20 summit and chief justice of India is the patron of Indian Law Institute and law minister is its vice-president. So, the point is they are confined not just to Tamil Nadu but they have reached Delhi.
Prof. Kanagasabapathi: I was told that a month back these DMK leaders had called students from Jawaharlal Nehru University, those who are from Tamil Nadu, and they have given them some direction. So, they are mobilising people, wherever possible, outside Tamil Nadu also.
Kuldeep ji was mentioning about people outside Tamil Nadu visiting Rameswaram and we in Tamil Nadu believe that once we attain the age of 60, the life ambition is to visit Kashi at least once. That is why even today, people visiting Kashi is very high. Tamilians feel that it is their sacred duty to go and pray at Kashi before their life comes to an end. Second, always Tamil Nadu and other parts of India have deep connections, religiously, spiritually literary-wise and even political-wise also. If we see the background of the Bhakti movement, it was Tamil seers who started the Bhakti movement and it spread across Bharat in those days. Similarly, if you see the saints during this period, Bhagwan Adi Shankara, Madhvacharya, Shri Ramanujacharya, they are all from Tamil region only. So, we have very deep connections. Even when we see the connection between Tamil and Sanskrit, it is deep rooted. Elders say that even 50 years back, in western Tamil Nadu, they used to teach Sanskrit in Hindu Mathas. It was happening in all kula mathas. The 1960s, the kula gurus saw to it that their wards learnt Sanskrit also. All the Tamil scholars in those days, till the 1950s and 60s, used to be scholars in Sanskrit. So, there is a deep connection. But the only thing is that with Dravida movement, they want to destroy this and to an extent, they have destroyed it. Now, we have to revive it.
Vinod Johri: Is it south centric or is it an attempt to divide north and south? Are you satisfied with the response that this assault has got across India? I got an impression that Dravida is a geographical term surrounded by three seas and Aryan is not a race but a culture. I would like your response with this background.
Prof. Kanagasabapathi: First two questions, you are very right. Dravida is a geographical term. South of Vindhyas was called Dravida. It is not connected with race. In fact, there is no race at all. It is all Bharatiya. But this is how they claim falsely and they have created a narrative like this. Now, we have to fight these evil forces. Our own sister organisations have taken this up as a serious issue after the onslaught started a few months back. We have to fight. For this purpose, people outside Bharat will all have to join together and defeat these forces. Because, Tamil Nadu is an important centre for all the anti-Bharat activities, particularly because these people are in power. If you take these DMK leaders, they have huge wealth, all of them are multi-billionaires. They have amassed wealth in the last 40-50 years. As a result, now if you take Tamil media, they keep it under their control. No voices are raised against them. Only few newspapers and few media houses give our views. So, this is the condition in Tamil Nadu. It is duty of all of us across Bharat and outside to join and fight this evil force.
Rengaiyan Rathinasamy: I recently attended an international conference on Indian Traditional Knowledge System in New Delhi. There it was explained that Dravidam is a geographical term. In Hindu University of America, Prof Raj Vedam, after testing the DNA of people all over India, concluded scientifically that there is no race called Dravidian and Aryan. In south, political parties had taken advantage of this artificial divide for their interests. In North people had to fight wars to resist the invasions but in south, people were protected from this and perhaps that is why they are soft. This was capitalised by E.V.R. to create divisions.
Prof. Kanagasabapathi: We were also attacked by the Islamic forces but not to the extent of what was seen in the northern parts of Bharat. Our Madurai Meenakshi Temple was attacked and the idol had to be kept outside for so many years. Similarly, Srirangam Vishnu Perumal temple was also attacked. On one particular day, 12,000 Brahmins were killed by the Islamic fundamentalists. Later, Tipu Sultan also destroyed some of our temples. But the attack was largely confined to the northern parts of the country up to Karnataka. To that extent, we were not very severely or regularly attacked.
Bipindra NC: What is the response of the general Hindus with regard to the anti-Sanatan Dharma statements made by the DMK ruling party members? What is the response of the DMK cadres who are not leaders of the party as the party had made use of the undercurrents that they had built over 30 odd years before coming to power?
Prof. Kanagasabapathi: First, I will start with the second question, i.e., response of the party cadre. They all know very well that 99.99 per cent of the DMK cadre are all temple going religious people. As I said earlier, almost all the ministers, their families go to temples. In fact, I have seen that in some of the senior ministers’ houses, the moment you enter, you will see big Vishnu or Siva portraits. Even the top leaders go to temples. But whenever they attack Sanatan Dharma, they don’t use the word ‘Hindu.’ Even though DMK, in its September 2 meeting, Mr Veeramani, who is its president said that there is no difference between the Sanatan Dharma and the Hindu Dharma, both mean the same. But the person who spoke next after him, Mr Udhayanidhi Stalin did not use the word Hindu. He used only Sanatan Dharma because they know fully well that when the questions come, they will say, they didn’t mean Hindus, and by Sanatan Dharma, they meant Brahmins and those who follow Varnashrama Dharma. Unfortunately, these people do not know the difference between these two. But this is how they use. As far as the party cadres are concerned, they ignore it because they don’t have adequate knowledge. And the leaders cheat them by saying Sanatan Dharma refers to Brahmins. We have to educate them. We have to teach them that the attack on Sanatan Dharma is attack on Hinduism. It is not just against Brahmins or Varnashrama Dharma as they claim.
As far as the general public or Hindu population is concerned, similar kind of views exist among them. they also feel that attack on Sanatan Dharma is attack on practices that existed earlier like Sati. They associate everything with all ills against Sanatan Dharma only. That is why they very cleverly used the word, ‘Sanatanam,’ they did not even use the word, Dharma. So, whenever questions come, they escape. But people have to be educated. Again, among the public also, even though they have understood that DMK is against Hindus largely, by the way they treat temples which because of the temple activist groups details are being brought out. Our own organisations also speak the truth about temples, how lootings took place and how smaller temples are left uncared etc. But one important thing we have to do as a society is we have to educate people. They are ill informed about the usage of these words and what Sanatan Dharma stands for. We have to educate them that Sanatan Dharma is nothing but Hindu dharma. Even though people are very religious and they go to temples regularly, they take these attacks lightly. Durga Stalin’s pooja room was shown in television a few years ago. So, the people believe that the attack is confined to certain aspects that were not suited to modern conditions. All along, the textbooks in schools were dominated by their views. Whenever, DMK government comes to power, then there will be big chapter on E.V.R., Annadurai, Karunanidhi etc. That is how children unfortunately in government schools are taught. We have to work very hard.
Bipindra N.C: What is the role of the religious bodies in Tamil Nadu or institutions which represent the Hindu community and how do they react?
Prof. Kanagasabapathi: We have different Sampradays largely confined to Shaiva, Vishnu and then Muruga also. The mathas have huge assets. Thousands of acres of lands are there. The main duty of these mathas is to protect the Hindu dharma, be it Saivism or Vaishnavism along with the promotion of Tamil. This has been their role for the last 1000-1500 years. Some of the Adheenams are very old like Dharmapuram Adheenam. The Dharmapuram Adheenam, Matha head or chief pontiff was taken every year in a palanquin around that area by the people. Last year when DMK came to power, the DK group and the communists opposed it. But our Hindu groups went and supported the Dharmapuram Adheenam. After that incident, you may be knowing that Stalin himself visited the Adheenam. They are running educational institutions, schools and colleges. Mr Stalin went to the college function, bowed before the Dharmapuram Adheenam and in that he said, we are for everybody, including Hindus. So, he has made this statement also. As far as Adheenams are concerned, particularly with regard to Saiva Adheenam which are run by non-Brahmins, backward class communities and who came to Delhi to present Sengol, they belong to non-Brahmin category. Actually, we should not classify like that because they are above caste and communities. But in the present discussion, to make the point clear I am saying this. These Adheenams command huge followers across the state. Similarly, in the case of Vaishnava sampradaya also.
I know that many of these mathas have come out with statements and in some cases, they gave interviews to TV channels also condemning Mr Udhayanidhi Stalin. But some of our people feel that this is not adequate and that they should have been more vocal. But I contacted a few mathas in and around the western region of Tamil Nadu. The told me that they have already given interviews. We have to talk to them and tell them about the political implication of these things so that they can come together and be more vocal about it.
Prof Sheila Rai: You gave us an insider’s view. We have now come to know that there are so many dimensions of it which we are unaware of. I am very happy that you gave us a deep historical insight into how this party was formed and how this venom that we are seeing now is more of a political rhetoric and full of hypocrisy rather than what was happening in the beginning. I only want to substantiate what you said about educating people. It is very important. You did mention about the role that the missionaries played in trying to create dissensions amongst the people and trying to project that education is where we were lacking behind. If you see Dharampal ji’s book, The Beautiful Tree, it is based on factual data which was collected by the British officers at that point of time. And Madras Presidency is one place where they have a lot of factual data which says that the spread of education and the curriculum also at that point of time was much wider than what it was in the so-called schools of Britian where only gentlemen’s children were educated. It was much later that the labouring class was involved and that too only for religious purposes. They were leveraged as religious instructors. So, falsehood was spread about how we were discriminatory in our education system which is not a fact. The people need to know at large.
Having said that, I want to know if the freebies culture of Tamil Nadu, whether it is DMK or AIADMK, has played a very prominent part in the kind of support they are able to garner. I do believe that even when a person like Stalin whose wife is religious and even when they have a temple in the house, they are definitely using it for hypocritical purposes to gain support. But as you said, most of the people over there are also temple going people and instinctively very religious. Yet they support this party into power. Is it also because of the kind of freebies that they are getting over there? And I can say for sure that women did benefit from it and they tried to project statistics as to how these freebies are not freebies but they are egalitarian policies that are actually benefitting the people.
Secondly, there was a mention by Asad Ahmed ji when he spoke about BSP which initially was very vituperative against certain sections of society and then they started befriending and broadening their base which they called social engineering. With that social engineering, they thought they will broaden the base but gradually, they are almost liquidated as of now. So, what I am trying to ask you is why haven’t something like this ever engineered or ever found any kind of rise in Tamil Nadu?
I totally agree with you that we need to educate the masses and make them see how they are being self-destructive if they are going to support these kinds of people who are against the basic spirit of Indianness. If that is going to happen, then we are not going anywhere. I would request you to throw a little bit light on the role of freebies in the kind of support they are able to garner. And of course, I am told that the media houses are largely controlled by them. Therefore, the kind of role that media houses can play; you can understand how one sided a role the media would be playing over there. I know it is a tough job for you Prof. Kanagasabapath ji being an academic as well as a party worker. I wish you all the best in what you and other foot soldiers like Annamalai ji are doing.
Prof. Kanagasabapathi: Thank you for your good words, Prof. Sheila Rai ji. As far as the DMK practices are concerned, particularly in the last 20-25 years, they rely on freebies. One, officially they rely on freebies. Second, during elections, unofficially, they give funds. They bribe people. If I tell you about the kind of bribes they give, it will be astonishing for a person outside Tamil Nadu. Two months back, there was a byelection in Erode district. In fact, E.V. Ramaswamy’s brother’s grandson, he was his legal heir but he is now in Congress. He was earlier a union minister and also a state president of Tamil Nadu. His name is E.V.K.S. Elangovan. He contested the election because previously his son was the MLA. He died due to some serious disease at a young age. So, his father contested and won the election. But for every vote, it is rumoured and suspected that almost Rs 20,000 was given. So, this is the kind of money that they plough back during elections. That is why this DMK people were very wealthy people. They have enormous funds. They not only bribe people through these freebies, they also bribe people during elections. In fact, we have usages like Thirumangalam formula. Thrimangalam is a place in Madurai district where when Mr Karunanidhi was the chief minister, his elder son, Azhagiri, who was an MP and union minister earlier was in charge of the southern district. He wanted DMK to win at any cost so that he could prove himself as a leader. At that time, there was infighting going on between the present chief minister Mr Stalin and Mr Azhagiri who is not in the forefront now. He wanted to win the election, so he pumped in money. That became a benchmark for Tamil Nadu. It was called the Thirumangalam formula. After Stalin came to power, they again pumped in lot of money in Erode. They gave anklets to girl children and women. Now we use Erode East formula. This is how they are bribing people. One is of course the freebies. In the manifesto, Stalin gave 505 assurances before elections. But he has not fulfilled even ten from it. He wanted to reduce petrol and diesel prices. Then they said their first measure would be abolition of NEET. But they couldn’t do it because it is Supreme Court’s decision. This is how they give false promises and win the elections. Every time they do it and this time also, they have succeeded.
You are very right. The financial situation is not in a very good condition now. In the last two years, the debt burden has already increased beyond one lakh fifty thousand crore rupees. Tamil Nadu is largely an entrepreneurial state. People are entrepreneurial. That is the reason why even today we remain the second state in terms of GDP after Maharashtra. This is not because of DMK. People are largely entrepreneurial. That is the reason why even if we take education, our gross enrolment ratio is very high, we have more number of schools and colleges. But large number of schools and colleges are owned by private people, particularly Hindus in the last 20-30 years. Earlier good schools and colleges in important cities were owned by Christians but today, it is largely under the control of Hindus. It is they who are running it and running it very well also. But the point is the Tamil Nadu DMK politicians always claim it is they who gave education. That is not the case. Late Kamarajar who was once upon a time the All India Chief of the Congress Party, he was unmarried, completely dedicated party man, he is a role model in Tamil Nadu. It was he who initiated the grassroot school education concept. In the 1950s and 60s, he was there as a chief minister for almost 10 years. It was he who started building schools in Tamil Nadu. After that, during the last 30 years, the private people have entered and as a result, today we have many colleges and schools. In fact, more than what we require also. That is the present situation today. But as a result of freebies, the state is in a difficult financial position, is in a difficult condition.
You may be surprised to know that our Tasmac sales which is the liquor sales corporation which are run by the state government of Tamil Nadu. Last year, the revenue through the Tasmac outlets alone was Rs 45,000 crores, this year, it is expected to go around Rs 55,000 crores. Every year and every month, the government fixes target and increases the Tasmac sales. As a result, 25 per cent of the government revenue comes through the sale of liquor. This is a very bad condition. But if the government is being run properly, we can earn adequate income. Because of huge corruption now, many of the entrepreneurs, you may be surprised to know are moving out of Tamil Nadu. They are setting up their plants in Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Andra Pradesh, Telangana etc.
Corruption is very high at all levels. You may be knowing that even in educational institutions and universities, Tamil Nadu has the highest corruption rate. Till the governor appointed by prime minister Modi came in 2017, all the vice chancellors were appointed by the government after getting huge sums. I remember the going rate was as high as 50-60 crore for a vice chancellor post. It was an open secret. Good and honest academicians refused to apply for the vice chancellor’s post knowing fully well that they will not get it. This was the system. Even today, if somebody wants to become a teacher, it is very difficult unless they pay money. There is too much corruption hindering the growth of Tamil Nadu. Otherwise, Tamil Nadu is a highly entrepreneurial state, hardworking people. It has the potential to emerge as the largest economic power in India. It has the potential. But unfortunately, it is the corruption that is nurtured by DMK because of which we are facing all these difficulties.
As far as your second question is concerned, about political alliance, now the aim is to defeat DMK. Because DMK should not come to power at any cost. It is not just anti-Hindu, many times, it is anti-India also. That is why I said, Mr Raja who was a union minister earlier and is a senior MP today, he himself openly admitted two months back that if need arises, we will go for separate Tamil land. Even today, they are speaking. So, this anti-India, anti-Hindu DMK should go out of power. That is the reason why BJP has joined with AIADMK. Under NDA alliance, AIADMK is there. Elections are going to happen under NDA alliance only with AIADMK as the leading partner in Tamil Nadu. But BJP is hopeful that it will get its rightful place. So, this election is going to be between DMK alliance and NDA alliance with AIADMK and BJP together.
Dr Kuldeep Ratnoo:
Thank you, sir! It was a wonderful talk and very good interaction, very insightful questions also. We learnt a lot from you today. Whatever little understanding we had about Tamil Nadu politics and Tamil Nadu society, you added a lot of valuable insights. Considering what is happening, it seems TO BE more of a political issue. Probably, Udhayanidhi is also trying to project his career and his image as a rightful heir to Karunanidhi’s and Periyar’s legacy. But unfortunately for him, I think the time has changed. Social media is there, people immediately get to know what a politician is saying and people also get to know how others are reacting and the arguments that they are giving.
So, one important issue which has arisen today in the talk and in the introduction is that there is a very strong need to spread awareness about this propaganda and who are the vested interests behind creating this divide between so called Dravidians and Aryans, Hindi versus non-Hindi, Tamil versus non-Tamil, North versus South. Rahul Gandhi also speaks a lot about it and we can understand that there is a larger design. DMK is only a part of that larger design. As you mentioned, the higher education minister also talked about the Alliance’s intent to defeat and destroy Sanatan Dharma. So, the players who are hidden or are not seen, we need to enlighten or educate people about those hidden forces which are using tools or puppets like Udhyanidhi or Stalin or Periyar or Karunanidhi to create divide in the society. I would say as Asad Ahmed ji mentioned about BSP, now Chandrasekhar is there and other elements in Kashmir, in Punjab where we see a lot of problems emerging. So, the problems are emerging from different corners and there are forces which are not satisfied, which are not happy seeing India rise, India becoming a powerful nation, India acquiring its rightful place in the comity of nations.
So, thank you very much for enlightening us about Tamil Nadu and what is happening there and how we can spread more awareness among people about the issue. I also thank all the participants for patiently listening to Prof Kanagasabapathi, interacting and asking very penetrative and insightful questions. Thank you so much. Namaskar!