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All non-Muslim minorities are Hindus: Puri Shankaracharya wants amendments to Article 25 of Indian Constitution

He says doing so will make Hindus the second largest religious group in the world

Sabrangindia 01 Jul 2020

puri

In a shocking display of open disregard for religious minorities in India, the Shankaracharya of Puri, a prominent Hindu spiritual leader has advocated that all non-Muslims in India identify as Hindus. This is in line with the 'Hindu Rashtra' narrative popularised by right-wing Hindutva extremists. Let us take a closer look at the evolution of this ideology, its ramifications with respect to caste and identity of Adivasis, and why it is allowed to flourish these days.

Drawing caste lines

The Article 25 of the Constitution of India grants every citizen the freedom of conscience and free profession, practice and propagation of religion. However, some like the Shankaracharya of Puri, who propound the varna system put forth by the Manusmriti term everyone outside the caste system as ‘malecha’ – a disparaging term used by orthodox Hindus to describe those who don’t follow the Varna Ashram Vedic system and wants the Article 25 to be amended so that all non-Muslim minorities to be declared as Hindus. Asserting the superiority of the Brahmins, completely subverting the core of the varna system, he also refers to those Hindus who went out in search of business, or due to war etc. as ‘malecha’ for having lost touch with the Brahmins and leading a degraded, lowly lifestyle. 

The Shankaracharya of Puri says that Buddhist, Jains and Sikhs, etc. are / were part of the Sanatan Dharma but political parties declared them to be minorities for power and votes. Referring to tribals as ‘Vanvasis’, he also says that the Indian Constitution declared tribals or Adivasis to be minorities, all this in a bid to erase the identities of the Hindus from the country. Adding that the Sanatan/Vedic/Arya system is the foundation of the structure of the society, he believes that Hinduism is the foremost religion of India and the government.

Citing various similarities in the ideologies of the Jains, Buddhists, Sikhs and Hindus – their belief in rebirth, belief in the Ganges to be a holy river and the cow to be a sacred animal, belief in the non-destruction of the soul even if the body is destroyed, among others, he says that non-Muslim minorities believe in Om, which is the origin of their faith. He said these minorities were separated from Hinduism when the Constitution was made and Article 25 should be amended to declare these minorities as Hindus.

Also a staunch opponent of religious conversion, he says that today’s Hindus, mostly secular, progressives and liberals, don’t follow the varna system themselves. Shockingly, he has also taken a dig at Mohan Bhagwat, the Sarsanghchalak of the right-wing Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) saying that even he doesn’t follow the varna system. This utterance is alarming as it depicts the hard-core purist mentality of the Shankaracharya of Puri as he considers even the apex body of the right-wing, the RSS to be impure.

His casteist mindset is also put on display as he talks about ‘roti-beti ki maryada’. This signifies that though the food of the upper castes may be shared by all, daughters of upper caste families can only be married to males of upper caste families, thus ensuring the purity of the breed. He says that there has been a breach of the ‘roti-beti ki maryada’, alleging that secularism has found its roots, sidelining staunch varna system beliefs which forbid taking food served by lower castes as also forbidding marriages between people between the higher and lower castes.

Why is this problematic?

Caste and religion lines have divided India over decades. This systemic superiority exuded by one caste above the other has had many repercussions throughout time. These beliefs go against humanism and secularism and are evident of the regressive thoughts embedded in the heads of those who follow the majoritarian religion.

For example, Sadhvi Pragya, terrorism accused BJP MP has now invoking Chanakya, albeit to rouse political feathers, used the age old purist excuse to target Rahul Gandhi and say, “Videshi mahila ke garbh se paida hua vyakti rashtrabhakt ho hi nahi sakta [A person born out of the womb of a foreigner woman can’t be a patriot].”

Another example is the reference made to Adivasis as Vanvasis, or Vanmanush, reducing their identity from being the “ancient people” to being kind of apes, unequal to human beings. The Shankaracharya of Puri also wants Adivasis to be declared as Hindus, thus imposing on them the Sanatana Dharma and annihilating their indigenous identity.

All this is being done to bring up the population of Hindus in the country and to make it the second largest population in the world. However, as Manusmriti followers rally to do this, they go against Article 51 of the Constitution which urges every citizen to develop scientific temper, humanism and the spirit of inquiry and reform. They ignore the systemic racial hatred unleashed upon minorities, embedded in every aspect of life – from food to work, to colour to marriage. They disregard the deep psychological wounds inflicted upon the lower strata of the society who suffered due to the varna system after Brahminical patriarchy took over society.

The thoughts of the Shankaracharya of Puri are frightening as they wish to silence every other school of thought that is based on humanism. For him, there is no scope of conversion in Hinduism as everyone born in ancient India were already Hindus, but were corrupted or forcefully converted by other faiths or political parties for gains. This is why, he says that whoever wishes to return to Hinduism, will be placed at the foot of the varna system and be addressed as Shudras and not the upper castes as they won’t follow the practices of the varna system. If they do wish to return to Hinduism, the term ‘Hindu’ can be attached to their names and even that is not necessary he says once the three minorities – Jains, Buddhists, Sikhs are declared as Hindus upon the amendment of the Article 25 and Hindus become the second largest population in the world.

People faced ostracism in daily life, from being looked upon as dark, with dark skin meaning a lowly life and means of livelihood to no choice in the working of one’s own life or society. The Brahminical system fed meritocracy and deeply entrenched work roles that it was and still is impossible to crawl out of its shadow. The system washes its hands off any responsibility of the ostracization of people and blames the individual for stepping away from regression and suppression. Any effort in that direction, for equal rights, is met by heavy resistance from the purists who once again want to have the stronghold over everything, from being the largest population in the country to making the decisions to restore the Sanatana order in society, thus making it a Hindu Rashtra.

Related:

Dalit, Adivasi Women, Backward Fight Patriarchy Within and Without

Mahatma Gandhi on Caste: the Varna-Ashrama System

 

 

All non-Muslim minorities are Hindus: Puri Shankaracharya wants amendments to Article 25 of Indian Constitution

He says doing so will make Hindus the second largest religious group in the world

puri

In a shocking display of open disregard for religious minorities in India, the Shankaracharya of Puri, a prominent Hindu spiritual leader has advocated that all non-Muslims in India identify as Hindus. This is in line with the 'Hindu Rashtra' narrative popularised by right-wing Hindutva extremists. Let us take a closer look at the evolution of this ideology, its ramifications with respect to caste and identity of Adivasis, and why it is allowed to flourish these days.

Drawing caste lines

The Article 25 of the Constitution of India grants every citizen the freedom of conscience and free profession, practice and propagation of religion. However, some like the Shankaracharya of Puri, who propound the varna system put forth by the Manusmriti term everyone outside the caste system as ‘malecha’ – a disparaging term used by orthodox Hindus to describe those who don’t follow the Varna Ashram Vedic system and wants the Article 25 to be amended so that all non-Muslim minorities to be declared as Hindus. Asserting the superiority of the Brahmins, completely subverting the core of the varna system, he also refers to those Hindus who went out in search of business, or due to war etc. as ‘malecha’ for having lost touch with the Brahmins and leading a degraded, lowly lifestyle. 

The Shankaracharya of Puri says that Buddhist, Jains and Sikhs, etc. are / were part of the Sanatan Dharma but political parties declared them to be minorities for power and votes. Referring to tribals as ‘Vanvasis’, he also says that the Indian Constitution declared tribals or Adivasis to be minorities, all this in a bid to erase the identities of the Hindus from the country. Adding that the Sanatan/Vedic/Arya system is the foundation of the structure of the society, he believes that Hinduism is the foremost religion of India and the government.

Citing various similarities in the ideologies of the Jains, Buddhists, Sikhs and Hindus – their belief in rebirth, belief in the Ganges to be a holy river and the cow to be a sacred animal, belief in the non-destruction of the soul even if the body is destroyed, among others, he says that non-Muslim minorities believe in Om, which is the origin of their faith. He said these minorities were separated from Hinduism when the Constitution was made and Article 25 should be amended to declare these minorities as Hindus.

Also a staunch opponent of religious conversion, he says that today’s Hindus, mostly secular, progressives and liberals, don’t follow the varna system themselves. Shockingly, he has also taken a dig at Mohan Bhagwat, the Sarsanghchalak of the right-wing Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) saying that even he doesn’t follow the varna system. This utterance is alarming as it depicts the hard-core purist mentality of the Shankaracharya of Puri as he considers even the apex body of the right-wing, the RSS to be impure.

His casteist mindset is also put on display as he talks about ‘roti-beti ki maryada’. This signifies that though the food of the upper castes may be shared by all, daughters of upper caste families can only be married to males of upper caste families, thus ensuring the purity of the breed. He says that there has been a breach of the ‘roti-beti ki maryada’, alleging that secularism has found its roots, sidelining staunch varna system beliefs which forbid taking food served by lower castes as also forbidding marriages between people between the higher and lower castes.

Why is this problematic?

Caste and religion lines have divided India over decades. This systemic superiority exuded by one caste above the other has had many repercussions throughout time. These beliefs go against humanism and secularism and are evident of the regressive thoughts embedded in the heads of those who follow the majoritarian religion.

For example, Sadhvi Pragya, terrorism accused BJP MP has now invoking Chanakya, albeit to rouse political feathers, used the age old purist excuse to target Rahul Gandhi and say, “Videshi mahila ke garbh se paida hua vyakti rashtrabhakt ho hi nahi sakta [A person born out of the womb of a foreigner woman can’t be a patriot].”

Another example is the reference made to Adivasis as Vanvasis, or Vanmanush, reducing their identity from being the “ancient people” to being kind of apes, unequal to human beings. The Shankaracharya of Puri also wants Adivasis to be declared as Hindus, thus imposing on them the Sanatana Dharma and annihilating their indigenous identity.

All this is being done to bring up the population of Hindus in the country and to make it the second largest population in the world. However, as Manusmriti followers rally to do this, they go against Article 51 of the Constitution which urges every citizen to develop scientific temper, humanism and the spirit of inquiry and reform. They ignore the systemic racial hatred unleashed upon minorities, embedded in every aspect of life – from food to work, to colour to marriage. They disregard the deep psychological wounds inflicted upon the lower strata of the society who suffered due to the varna system after Brahminical patriarchy took over society.

The thoughts of the Shankaracharya of Puri are frightening as they wish to silence every other school of thought that is based on humanism. For him, there is no scope of conversion in Hinduism as everyone born in ancient India were already Hindus, but were corrupted or forcefully converted by other faiths or political parties for gains. This is why, he says that whoever wishes to return to Hinduism, will be placed at the foot of the varna system and be addressed as Shudras and not the upper castes as they won’t follow the practices of the varna system. If they do wish to return to Hinduism, the term ‘Hindu’ can be attached to their names and even that is not necessary he says once the three minorities – Jains, Buddhists, Sikhs are declared as Hindus upon the amendment of the Article 25 and Hindus become the second largest population in the world.

People faced ostracism in daily life, from being looked upon as dark, with dark skin meaning a lowly life and means of livelihood to no choice in the working of one’s own life or society. The Brahminical system fed meritocracy and deeply entrenched work roles that it was and still is impossible to crawl out of its shadow. The system washes its hands off any responsibility of the ostracization of people and blames the individual for stepping away from regression and suppression. Any effort in that direction, for equal rights, is met by heavy resistance from the purists who once again want to have the stronghold over everything, from being the largest population in the country to making the decisions to restore the Sanatana order in society, thus making it a Hindu Rashtra.

Related:

Dalit, Adivasi Women, Backward Fight Patriarchy Within and Without

Mahatma Gandhi on Caste: the Varna-Ashrama System

 

 

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