Stalin’s Apologetic Atheism
On 31 August there was a buzz on social media as DMK leader M.K. Stalin was damned by his supporters for allegedly greeting people on the Ganesh Chaturthi via his social media accounts. Stalin’s party rushed to his rescue with members claiming it was done by some fervent people who maintain the site without Stalin’s prior permission and not as per his wish.
One would wonder why such outbursts erupted over a simple festive greeting? As it turns out, the DMK leaders who claim to be strident atheists do not extend greetings to Hindus during festivals like Diwali, Vinayaka Chaturthi, but surprisingly do greet Muslims and Christians during Ramadan or Christmas.
The logical question then: in which world do atheists wish certain religious communities while ignoring others? Indeed, many are puzzled as to why this is even an issue. But then, those who are acquainted with the history of the DMK will know the answer.
The ideology of the DMK can be traced back to the works of late Bishop Robert Caldwell, an evangelist and a linguist who provided the basics for the Aryan-Dravidian racial construct. Caldwell aggressively popularized the idea of an Aryan invasion of India, an idea which disfigured the historical glory of the Indic civilization by making it a hotbed of racial hostilities.
To begin with, both the terms originated from the Sanskrit words “Arya” and “Dravida.” In Indian traditions whether Vedic, Buddhist or Jain, these words were never used to mark racial identities. While the term ‘Arya’ stood for a person of noble character, ‘Dravida’ denoted a specific geographical region well within India. But the philologist and Orientalist, Max Muller who pursued the British colonial project, twisted the meaning of the terms and gave a racial connotation to the term ‘Arya’ and Europeanized it as ‘Aryan’. Mueller then started the whole myth of “fair-skinned Aryans” invading and occupying the land of the “dark-skinned Dravidians.” This myth among others, promoted as the Aryan Invasion Theory (AIT) proved beneficial for the British colonial rulers as it justified their unjust colonization of India.
If this theory was not enough to divide the Indian people, Bishop Caldwell, added a conspiracy theory to this racial framework. In his view, Aryans did not just conquer the Dravidians; they sent their agents, the cunning Brahmins who through their religion now known as Hinduism enslaved the Dravidian kings. According to Caldwell, the Dravidian kings naively accepted the title ‘Shudra’ when Brahmins told them that it was a title of honor. The main aim of Caldwell in projecting the Aryan-Dravidian divide was to make way for mass conversions as many in South India were led to believe that Hinduism is a racist cult dominated by the Aryan Brahmins. This became an important part of the Dravidian movement, and it is still considered a fundamental feature of the DMK ideology.
Throughout its existence, the DMK presented itself as a band of crusaders fighting for the rights of Dravidians against the Aryan occupiers. Members of the DMK even today shout slogans like ‘Our enemies, the Brahmins, should quiver in fear.’
Equally, the DMK chooses not to celebrate Hindu festivals, or for that matter any aspect of Hindu culture since they still believe Hinduism to be a racist, Aryan-Brahminical cult as per Caldwell’s diktat. That also explains their willingness to issue Ramzan/Christmas greetings because in their minds, Islam and Christianity are egalitarian movements. Except that the problem arises for the DMK because it is also vocally atheist.
True atheism treats all kinds of religions as human constructs making it open to critical investigation. How can one be an atheist if he/she believes some religions to be true while others to be false? As with secularism, even the concept of atheism has been mangled and stultified in India. It is not difficult to deduce that the DMK reserves its atheist stand only when it comes to Hinduism, quite similar to ninety per cent of India’s self-proclaimed secularists/atheists. Even their stand on Hinduism is based on the now debunked Aryan Invasion Theory, rendering it jumbled and illogical.
The hypocrisy of the media in this case was also noticeable. During the 2014 Election campaign, several debates on news channels were centred on Narendra Modi’s refusal to wear the Islamic skull cap with eminent personalities calling it a sign of bias and bigotry. But Stalin’s incident was brushed off as if it was a non-issue. So much for objective reporting and analysis.
According to this Deccan Herald report, one of the comments made on social media in response to Stalin’s alleged greeting said:
A true atheist should not extend greetings for any religious festival. If the greeting is extended for the public then it should be done for all religious festivals.
But the meaning of true atheism like secularism in India is closer to minority appeasement. And so it goes, the DMK, the atheists, the secularists, and the rest of the hoary crew.