Hinduism and Colonialism

N. Ganesan naga_ganesan at HOTMAIL.COM
Fri Aug 18 15:45:01 UTC 2000

>That most of the bhakti poets rejected varNAzrama distinctions is just a
>symptom of this. But if one thinks that this rejection was somehow
>egalitarian or socialistic or democratic or any other modern
>category of Western origin, one is very much mistaken.

In another mail:
>As for democracy or socialism being of Western origin, aren't
>they? I don't claim that the Western origin is something negative.
>Just that these concepts would not be applicable to pre-19th c.

Tamil data do not agree with this. Not only some forms of
democracy and ballot casting were prevalent (uttaramErUr, etc.,).
Many CT poems are highly egalitarian, and the authors - both
men and women, were drawn from all castes. Valluvar in his kuRaL
declares, "in birth, all are equal". Prof. T.P.M. wrote a
book on CilappatikAram with the title, "kuTimakkaL kAppiyam"
('kAvya of the people'). Early Tamil bhakti poetry, at the
fountainhead of a mass cult that swept all across India,
was egalitarian in intent. It too drew inspiration and poets
from all the castes. After some centuries, Ramanujar made a
bold attempt to mitigate the caste effects through democratization.

N. Ganesan

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