Neo Purattasi month Tamil Hindu vegetarians through the eyes of Marx, Periyar and Ambedkar

Purattasi  is the sixth Tamil month that roughly falls between mid-September and mid-October, this year 2017 it starts on September 17th and ends on October 17th. It’s a religious custom that Tamil Hindus become vegans in this month. But what I wonder is the ratio of Tamils observing veganism in the USA for Purattasi is relatively more in number than the Tamil Hindus back in Tamilnadu. Besides personal reasons, observing such customs are forced by socio-cultural factors especially among the Indian diaspora in the USA.

One who don’t observe such customs may NOT be completely alienated BUT certainly there is a fear factor spreading about  such alienation. Some of my friends told they don’t follow such custom back at their home in Tamilnadu BUT they follow it in the USA! They are Neo- Purattasi month’s Tamil Hindu vegans.


Parotta with Mutton / Beef Curry, my all time Purattasi favorite!

Marx in his ‘A Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right’ wrote, “The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is the demand for their real happiness. To call on them to give up their illusions about their condition is to call on them to give up a condition that requires illusions. The criticism of religion is, therefore, in embryo, the criticism of that vale of tears of which religion is the halo.”

        ‘…To call on them to give up a condition that requires illusions’ does NOT hold completely true for the Hindu religion because unlike the western society where the Church exploited the multitude,  the Hindu religion’s exploitation is employed at different strata at different degree, what is popularly coined by Dr. Ambedkar as ‘graded inequality’. Hinduism has bestowed upon a great social, cultural and material advantage to the Brahmin, Kshatriya and Vaishya over Shudra and at the same time Shudra enjoys a great social, cultural and material advantage over the Dalits.

        Dr. Ambedkar’s solution to break up caste is to apply dynamite to the Vedas and the Shastras and to destroy the Religion of the Shrutis and the Smritis. He writes, “How are you going to break up Caste, if people are not free to consider whether it accords with reason ? How are you going to break up Caste it people are not free to consider whether it accords with morality ? The wall built around Caste is impregnable and the material, of which it is built, contains none of the combustible stuff of reason and morality … you must not forget that if you wish to bring about a breach in the system then you have got to apply the dynamite to the Vedas and the Shastras, which deny any part to reason, to Vedas and Shastras, which deny any part to morality. You must destroy the Religion of the Shrutis and the Smritis. Nothing else will avail. This is my considered view of the matter.”

Periyar told,  “சாதியை வைத்துக் கொண்டு தீண்டாமை ஒழிய வேண்டும் என்பதும், இந்து மதத்தை வைத்துக்கொண்டு தீண்டாமை போகவேண்டும் என்பதும் மாபெரும் முட்டாள்தனமாகுமே தவிர, சிறிதும் அறிவுடைமையாகாது என்பது என் கருத்து.” (Think to abolish untouchability by keeping caste and Hinduism is foolish, NOT a bit of sane in it ). He added, “சாதி ஒழியவேண்டுமானால் – இந்தக் கடவுள், மதம், சாத்திரம், புராணம் ஒழியவேண்டும், ஒழிக்கப்பட வேண்டும்”. (To annihilate caste , these  Gods , religions , Puranas, Shastars have to be abolished.)

        Ambedkar and Periyar have NOT only waged direct attack on religion itself BUT also mentioned about the conditions for its existence. Dr. Ambedkar calls that the system of Untouchability is a gold mine to the Hindus and enabled the Hindus to maintain pomp and ceremony and to cultivate a feeling of pride and dignity. Based on such concrete analysis Dr. Ambedkar proposed constitutional safeguard to create favorable material conditions to the Dalits to give up their illusions on religion and hence to dynamite them.

        Marx, “For Germany, the criticism of religion has been essentially completed, and the criticism of religion is the prerequisite of all criticism.”  For India, such criticism has started a long back and yet to be completed. Marxists, Periyarists and Ambedkarites will continue to criticise it till the final blow.

        Every opportunity should be used to criticize the religion and it’s practitioners,  including Neo-Purattasi month’s Tamil Hindu vegans.

S Karthikeyan, Santa Clara, California.

( Disclaimer : The opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author. The opinions appearing in the AKSC blog do not reflect the views of AKSC. The aim of AKSC blog is to promote debates by inviting diverse views on challenging oppressions and discriminations based on class, race, caste, gender and religion et al.)

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