The Hindu Munnani is observing a bandh in Nilgiris Lok Sabha constituency today, condemning MP A Raja’s alleged comments against Hinduism. The politician of 2G spectrum scam infamy had said that the religion treated Shudras as children of prostitutes.
Hindu Munnani demanded A Raja’s resignation for his offensive comments.
About 60% of shops were shut down in places like Ooty, Coonoor, Kotagiri, Kunta, Kudalur, Bandalur and other taluks in the Nilgiris district.
Members of Hindu Munnani held demonstrations near the ATC bus stand in Ooty condemning the DMK leader and demanding his resignation over his comment. Posters were put up in several places urging the Hindu population to boycott Raja.
Kadeswara Subramaniam, the president of the Tamil Nadu unit of Hindu Munnani, said its members staged a protest in Tiruppur on 19 September condemning the DMK leader and will now be sending individual letters to President Droupadi Murmu demanding Raja’s resignation.
“Raja has insulted the feelings of Hindu people by comparing them with prostitutes. He won as a Hindu from a constituency reserved for the Scheduled Caste community. He would not have been able to contest if he was not a Hindu. However, recently Raja said he was not a Hindu and Hindus were Shudras and Shudras were sons of prostitutes. He is trying to create unrest among Hindus through such comments,” said Subramaniam.
According to several smritis of Hinduism, people can be classified into four types or varnas, divided on the basis of their work or inclination and flair towards a certain kind of work. Brahmins occupy the intellectual domain including religious, philosophical and policy matters, Kshatriyas rule and war, Vaishyas do business and Shudras are into menial jobs.
In practice, however, the varnas have manifested as castes determined by birth since the time marriages started getting documented: the marriages of the daughters of Chandragupta Vikramaditya being the oldest known history of wedding documentation. All castes were for centuries largely endogamous (marrying within the caste).
In present-day India, defenders of caste say the structure helped preserve traditions and also certain industries whereas the critics say the inclusion, which gave a fellow feeling to members of a 'club', had the flip side of exclusion. This led to discrimination, with certain people being disallowed to do what they wanted to do and had the merit to do.
Ironically, while such discriminatory people are damned as "Manuvadi", the so-called Manuvad — 'ism' from Manusmriti, the smriti of Manu, son of Lord Brahma — is practised no less by the lower rung. Statistics of caste strife show that the perpetrators of violence against the Scheduled Castes have mostly been from the Other Backward Classes. Within Scheduled Castes, there are complaints of one considering oneself superior to another and discriminating on that basis.
A Raja is from a Scheduled Caste, with grandparents who were migrants from Sri Lanka. While his Dravidian or Periyarite ideology curses Brahmins, the caste group that dominates Tamil Nadu politics is OBC. The OBCs are castes that the BP Mandal Commission had listed as underprivileged despite their non-Shudra status on the basis of the 1931 census. Then-Prime Minister VP Singh had tried to unsuccessfully incorporate OBCs into the Indian system in 1990, but it was implemented during PV Narasimha Rao's rule.