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Mixing Religion With Politics And Invoking Ram's Name

Hinduism

Mixing Religion With Politics And Invoking Ram's Name

Hinduism is now going through a tectonic change, becoming more Abrahamic in its nature, invoking god’s name as an aggressive slogan, insisting on one holy place and the supremacy of one expression of god

Picture of devotion?: A Hindu with Ram inscribed on his head in Ayodhya Photo: Getty Images

When Gandhiji was asked who Ram is, he responded that Ram is the name of the truth in his conscie­nce. There is no name in Indian culture, reli­gion and civilisation that evokes so many emotions and meanings as his name. Before modern-day politicians hijacked the term and used it as a tool to grab power, Ram was never a divisive figure in Indian culture, until Periyar Rama­swamy Naicker and his Drav­id­ian movement made him into one. The Dravidian movement identified Ram with Brahminical dominance and the Ramayana as a propaganda tool of Brahminism to rule over all other castes.

On August 1, 1956, Periyar planned a march on Chennai’s Marina beach to burn pictures of Sri Ram. He was arrested, and his followers were lathi-charged. In 1974, Ravan Leela was organised by the Dravidar Kazhagam, under the leadership of Periyar’s widow, according to the wishes of Periyar, who died in 1973. Periyar wanted to conduct Ravan Leela in response to Ram Leela. It is ironic that Ram, a kshatriya prince, became associated with Brahmanical hegemony and the Brahmin king Ravan became the victim in Periyar’s Dravidian movement.

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