Dr.Ambedkar, Sanatan Dharma and Dalit Politics

ambedkar dalit jai bhim

At present, the entire country is discussing the remarks made by Udhayanidhi Stalin, son of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin, in a meeting about Sanatana Dharma. In this, he has criticized the caste discrimination and system of high and low prevalent in Sanatan Dharma, compared it to a disease and has talked about eliminating it. BJP has projected it as an attack on Sanatan Dharma and a call for the genocide of 80% of Hindus. Regarding this, it has also called the opposition alliance ‘India’ as anti-Sanatan Dharma.

It seems that at present DMK in Tamil Nadu and BJP in North India are going to start politics in the name of Sanatan Dharma. In South India, the anti-Sanatan Dharma Dravidian movement had already been a vocal movement through which Periyar had mobilized the backward castes and driven out the Sanatani Brahmins from there. It seems that this statement of Udhayanidhi is to revive the politics of backward classes which has been defeated at the national level. It is known that in the past, Udhayanidhi’s father MK Stalin, the present Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, has been making such efforts to mobilize the politics of social justice. This is DMK’s next step in the same sequence. Similarly, BJP, which has already been doing politics of religion, wants to intensify the polarization of Hindu votes by showing a strong reaction to the opposition to Sanatan Dharma and by making Sanatani Hindus fear that religion is in danger and Sanatani Hindus are in danger.

In fact, the politics of Dravidian identity and Hindu identity is a major part of the old politics of these two parties. Even in Tamil Nadu, the anti-Brahmin movement has not been a movement to break the caste but has only been a movement to establish the supremacy of the backward classes. At present, Dalits are being subjected to maximum atrocities by the backward castes. There is tremendous caste discrimination against them. This makes it clear that the opposition of these castes to Brahmins (Sanatan Dharma) has been only a movement to gain power and not to eradicate castes. That is why Dr. Ambedkar, while criticizing their anti-Brahmin movement, had said, “It is not clear what is the difference between their ideology and Brahminical ideology. How much Brahminism is there in them? Their only objection is that the Brahmins consider them second class.” (“Dr. Ambekar on the Justice Party of Madras,” Thus Spoke Ambedkar Vol I, by Bhagwan Das, page 107-109) That is why power in Tamil Nadu came into the hands of non-Brahmins but there was no difference in the social system, especially in the condition of Dalit castes. They have not even created any alternative non-Brahminical ideology/system. In North India, Sanatan Dharma has been a proponent of caste discrimination and the system of upper and lower caste for centuries and even today BJP is in favour of maintaining the same Sanatan system. RSS preaches to maintain this system as it is through the formula of harmony.

It is well known that Dr. Ambedkar has called Sanatan Dharma, Brahmin Dharma, Vedic Dharma and Hindu Dharma as synonyms of each other. He also said, “Anyone who has fully understood Brahminism need not be sad. For Brahmins, religion is just a cover for doing politics of greed and selfishness. Brahminism has ruined the Hindu society.” (Revolution and Counter-Revolution in Ancient India, p. 247) That is why Dr. Ambedkar favoured the destruction of the caste system propounded by Sanatan Dharma and not Sanatan Dharma. For this, for Hindu social reform, he launched the Mahad Talab Movement for the use of untouchables and the Kale Ram Mandir Entry Movement for them, but due to strong opposition from Sanatani Hindus, he did not get any success. Ultimately, being disappointed with this, he left Hinduism and accepted Buddhism. He not only gave Buddhism as an alternative but also created alternative politics. For this, the Independent Labour Party, Scheduled Castes Federation and Republican Party of India formed by him also had a revolutionary agenda through which they wanted to ensure the economic, educational and political development of Dalits, workers, farmers and women. But what is the difference between the economic policy of DMK and BJP? Does DMK have any program of caste annihilation? Therefore, instead of doing politics in the name of religion, shouldn’t the so-called attackers and defenders of Sanatan Dharma come forward to eradicate the social evils prevalent in Sanatan Dharma like the caste system, as Gandhiji did? But RSS/BJP do not seem to have any intention of doing so and neither does DMK.

In the above situation, when in the name of opposing Sanatan Dharma and BJP in the name of protecting it, DMK and BJP are only doing the politics of religious polarization and diverting attention from the real issues of the people, then what should the political parties doing secular pro-people politics do? In such a situation, it is necessary that these political parties should bring the major threats and challenges facing the country to the centre of politics. The biggest threat to the current politics is the nexus of global finance capital, corporate and Hindutva forces, without defeating which it will not be possible to save democracy and the indigenous economy. Along with this, society and institutions will have to be democratized to destroy the remnants of Brahmanical feudalism. But it is also a tragedy that even the mainstream political parties are playing politics only to get power. There is no fundamental difference visible between their policies and the current policies of the BJP.

Nowadays, this fashion has started, especially in social media, that people who neither understand Dr. Ambedkar in the true sense nor use his ideas in any particular field, club Periyar, Jotiba Phule, Dr. Ambedkar and Kanshi Ram in the same breath are engaged in an anti-caste campaign. Dr. Ambedkar neither accepted the thesis of Tamil Backward Castes nor their ideology nor did the so-called Bahujan politics of Kanshi Ram and Mayawati have any place in it. The basic question is the annihilation of caste and without an all-round democratic agenda and its carrying power, caste cannot be destroyed nor can a new human being be born. In this context, without being prejudiced, a lot can be learned from the struggle of Periyar, Ambedkar, Mahatma Gandhi, and the Communist and Socialist movements to create a casteless society.

Therefore, it is necessary to defeat the nexus of global finance capital, corporate and Hindutva forces, defeat BJP, save democracy and indigenous economy, stop unemployment, agricultural crisis and MSP and privatization, democratize society and institutions and promote class politics. Pro-people, secular and progressive forces should be brought together on one platform by making a common minimum program and the opposition alliance ‘India’ should also be motivated by this. All India Peoples Front has been working on this for a long time. A new experiment of All India Peoples Front is going on at present, not only that of the communist and socialist movements but also of Anand Teltumbde, who like me served jail without committing any crime and who interprets the relevance of Dr. Ambedkar to present times., his ideas can be incorporated and taken forward. I hope that the true friends of social justice will not take my views differently and instead of strengthening the BJP by getting involved in unnecessary debates, they will develop their principles and field of work. This is the opinion of me and my national political unit (All India Peoples Front).

S R Darapuri, National President, All India Peoples Front

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