Buddhists and others, wasRe: RAJARAM EPISODE

nanda chandran vpcnk at HOTMAIL.COM
Tue Oct 10 11:55:08 UTC 2000

>I think, it is long shot to claim that the arrival of ShankarAchArya or
>Ramanuja catalyzed the re-conversion back to Hinduism.

>It is more due to NayanmAr (especially Sambanthar, Appar and
>Manickavasagar) and AlwAr (especially three muthal Alwars).
>This re-conversion was at the end of KaLappirar rule and the start of
>Pallava rule. History is more clear on that.

I wouldn't be too sure about that. For this assumes that the whole of
India or say southern India was conversant with Tamil. Though I wouldn't
contest this in case of TN and Kerala, but upwards North, I'm sceptical.

Apart from this, four points why I think Shankara and RAmAnuja would have
played a major role in this reconversion than the Sangam poets :

1. They were brahmins and brahmanical effort in those days of yore had
   its own weight.
2. They wrote their main works on VedAnta in Sanskrit which has its
   countrywide appeal.
3. Though the Sangam poets were indeed the catalysts, it is my opinion
   that the bhakti movement gained momentum as a country wide movement
   only after the emergence of RAmAnuja - the brahmanic endorsement to
   the cult and also backed by a fully developed metaphysical structure
   - VisishtAdvaita.
4. Buddhism is principally a religion of reason and logic - hence
   they're hardly the bunch to be swayed by religious songs - you would
   need dialecticians of great ability to subdue them. Though the
   Sangam poets engage in dialectic, it is hardly the quality to
   counter the abstract dialectic of NAgArjuna, VAsubandhu, Dharmakirti
   et al.

>Again, it is an un-supported accusation. Can you please define "linguistic

Linguistic chauvanism in my understanding would be where the superiority
of a language and its speakers is asserted over other languages and their
speakers. And TN politics has seen a lot of that - the strategy seems to be,
"belittle Hindi/Sanskrit, praise Tamil",
"belittle North Indians/brahmins, praise Tamils". We have even had
occasional glimpses of this attitude on this very list. I remember reading
in school in my Tamil book that Tamil is older than Sanskrit! What's the

Like most his mistakes, Nehru's imposition of Hindi was only on good
intentions to forge unity amongst the people. OK, Tamil needn't take a
subordinate place to Hindi which can neither compare in age or richness
to Tamil and that fight is justified. But why direct the salvo at

And a few months back some posters on this list even had the gall to
try peddle Tamil, which is neither spoken by the majority of the
population nor does it have great relation with any of the spoken
languages, as the national language!

Such "unreasonable" demands only heightens concerns about linguistic

>You said "let go of it and Brahmins themselves will fight for your cause".

>If you are a Tamilian, who stopped you from fighting for that cause? Why
>are you mixing politics and scholarly debate?

When the "Dravidian" movement itself is a product of linguistic and caste
politics, why try to isolate it and try to give it a scholarly hue?

Well, the substance of an article by Bhagavan Das a couple of months back in
the Indian Express against fundamentalism in TN sums up my case quite well.
According to him brahmins are an "endangered species" in TN, due to the
steady discrimination aimed at them for the last three decades. The
reservation in the state is aimed only at brahmins and the linguistic
minorities. If you are a non-brahmin Tamil, irrespective of whether you'd
been classified as upper or lower caste by the TN government, you can still
avail the benefits of reservation. How can this be so? Because, every Tamil
caste from VellALar to Paraiyar has its own subdivisions of upper and lower
caste. So even if a
Gounder or Thevar actually belongs to the upper caste category, he can still
get a certificate from the Thasildar office that he actually belongs to the
lower caste part of his caste. That way, all non-brahmin Tamils enjoy the
benefits of reservation. Actually this itself is only partially true because
only a small section of the upper caste Tamil community enjoys the
advantages and the poor still remain poor with no hope in sight - which only
proves that the so called "Dravidian" movement is nothing but a power
struggle whereby upper caste Tamils - VellALar, Thevar, Vanniar - used lower
caste Tamils to wrest power from the brahmins. They used Tamil as a tool to
create a mythical
identity amongst non-brahmin Tamil speaking peoples against brahmins. But in
reality the upper and the lower caste Tamil have very little in common and
the former will never share wealth/power or treat equally a lower caste
Tamil. This is the reason social equality is still a dream for certain
sections of lower caste people in TN.

OK, if the Tamil ire is at the brahmins for their "exploitation", why
deprive the linguistic minorities of educational and employment
opportunities too? Isn't this linguistic chauvnism?

People who lived alongside the Tamils for milleneums and have contributed
substantially to their beloved language, are suddenly viewed as "Aryans" and
discriminated against. Living upto the ideals of Thiruvalluvar and
MAnikkavAchagar, aren't we? The so called "Tamil" movement present even
today in TamilNadu, is only a tool used by various political leaders to get
to power. For we are all aware that Karunanidhi, Vaiko and Ramadoss educate
their own children in the best English colleges money can buy.

Brahmins ARE an endangered species in TN. In the apartment blocks where I
grew up in Madras, which is predominently housed by brahmins, today in
almost every house there are only aged parents and the youth are all gone -
in the modern day the Tamil brahmin community has found a new home - the
Silicon Valley of California. Give a few more years and I doubt if any Tamil
brahmin under 20 will be found in TamilNadu.

Inspite of all this, even as witnessed on the list, Tamil brahmins bear
little ill will towards the Tamils or their language, which is their
mother tongue too. That's the reason I said if Tamils stop being chauvnists,
brahmins themselves will fight for their cause.
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