Clamour About Sanatana Dharma

Udayanidhi Stalin

Udayanidhi Stalin’s declaration of war against ‘Sanatana Hindu Dharma’ has provoked a wave of denunciation and diatribe in different parts of the country.The Prime Minister has thundered that the critics of this ‘Sanatana Dharma’ whom he identifies with the INDIA alliance of the opposition is set on wrecking the whole millennia-old edifice of Indian spiritual heritage.

But what IS this ‘Sanatana Hindu Dharma’?To the best of my knowledge there has not been any attempt at differentiating Hinduism clearly and systematically from such Semitic religions as Christianity and Islam.Savarkar’s oblique attempt is patently political. There is such a bewildering variety of sectarian beliefs and rites as well as customs among so-called ‘Hindus’,as to frustrate any attempt to systematize them within a single frame.

But certain outstanding features of such rites and beliefs have repeatedly provoked rebellion.During the great upsurge of the Bhakti movement in 14th to 17th century and then again in the 18th century numerous heterodex sets arose and gained considerable followings challenging many hallowed institutions and practices among Hindus.There were quite significant protests against caste, patriarchy and priesthood as well as degradation of human dignity passing as religion..With the advent of modern European education and ideas of humanism those Indians educated In modern schools and colleges as well as those exposed to liberal Western values also launched their own onslaught against established Hindu orthodox beliefs and practices.They were broadly known as ‘reformers of Hinduism’. People like Ram Mohan Ray,M.V.Ranade.

It had been in such a context that some people emerged who identified themselves as defenders and adherents of ‘Sanatana Hindu Dharma’.They defended the orthodox Hindu rites and practices against the attacks of rebels and reformers. Clearly they had no right to claim the honour of being the sole custodians of the ‘true essence’ of Hinduism.But they labeled themselves ‘sanatanis’ in the hope that the word ‘sanatana'(eternal) will attract a transcendent aura secure against the critiques of the reformers.But at that time–‘—late twenties and early thirties of the last century—–this pretension aroused jeers among reformers.

Today RSS ideologues backed by newly won political prestige have surreptitiously revived the term and quite disingenuously imposed on it some unchallengeable and irrefutable verity.But the term’s origins and history show that it is only a claim,not the universal substance posited by that claim.

Udayanidhi has just put himself in the company of a long line of rebels and reformers from Basavanna of 12th century,Kabir of the 14th century all the way to Sri Narayana Guru and Ambedkar.They had all been critics and rebels against Sanatana Hindu Dharma,and those who share their views today may not be outlawed by simply investing on the latter some inviolable sanctity.

Hiren Gohain is a political commentator

Support Countercurrents

Countercurrents is answerable only to our readers. Support honest journalism because we have no PLANET B.
Become a Patron at Patreon

Join Our Newsletter


Join our WhatsApp and Telegram Channels

Get CounterCurrents updates on our WhatsApp and Telegram Channels

Related Posts

Criminal Justice And Freedom of Speech

In our time and country the vital liberty of thought and speech,so crucial for health of democracy,has been under severe stress for the strangest of reasons.Such freedom is being curbed…

Join Our Newsletter

Annual Subscription

Join Countercurrents Annual Fund Raising Campaign and help us

Latest News