Hindus in South India must unite to save their collective past and shared future : Dr David Frawley

Dr David Frawley

South India has long been the most Hindu and Vedic part of India in terms of its culture and way of life. By South India we mean the States of Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.

South India has the largest, oldest, most numerous and most attended Hindu temples, particularly in Tamil Nadu, not simply museum pieces but centres of an active and devoted community.

Vedic culture is most studied and practised in South India, including Yoga, Vedanta, Ayurveda, Vedic Astrology, Vastu, Classical Indian Music and Dance, with Sanskrit Stotras and Vedic chanting. The three main Vedantic lines and Acharyas followed throughout India, Advaita and Shankaracharya, Vishishtadvaita and Ramanumujacharya, Dvaita and Madhvacharya, originated in South India and are still centred there. The main Himalayan temples like the Char Dham are run by priestly families from South India.

South Indian popular culture has the most Hindu influence, easy to see in their movies with stories and references to Hindu Deities, which are now getting acclaimed throughout India. More people in South India have Sanskrit names, including politicians like Karunanidhi or Jayalalitha, while Sanskrit loan words are common in the vocabularies of its languages including Tamil or Malayalam.

South Indian kingdoms, notably the Vijayanagar Empire, whose capital city was one of the largest and richest in the world, preserved Vedic culture from destruction by the Muslim Turks. South Indian dynasties through history, notably the Pallava, Kakatiya, Hoysala, and the famous Cholas upheld Hinduism / Sanatana Dharma and its monumental temple culture. The Cholas in particular spread it from to South-East Asia as far as Indonesia. The temple art and sculpture of these South Indian dynasties is still the most appreciated of India today, notably the Chola Shiva Nataraj statues.

Many great gurus honoured worldwide for their teachings on Yoga and Vedanta came from South India, including Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi, Swami Sivananda, Swami Chinmayananda, Swami Dayananda of Arsha Vidya, BKS Iyengar, and Tirumalai Krishnamacharya. Sri Aurobindo, though from Bengal, set up his Ashram in Pondicherry. To study Yoga, Vedanta and Ayurveda today students come mainly to South India.

Increasing political contradiction for Hindus in South India

Yet, in spite of Vedic practices prevailing in South India there is a dangerous contradiction that threatens the Hindus in the region, a new attack on its great traditions that have so far endured for millennia.

South Indians at a political level rarely vote to defend their Hindu culture, whether in State or National elections. They seldom vote to protect their human and social rights as Hindus. South India has been dominated by regional political influences which lack a National vision, many of which are staunchly anti-Hindu, like the Communists of Kerala and the DMK in Tamil Nadu.

Today, the Communist influence in India (which still has not renounced Stalin or Mao) is most prominent in South India. In addition, Conversion activities targeting Hindus are prominent in South India, both Christian and Islamic. Islamic terrorist groups like PFI are most active in the South.

Christian missionaries have tried to subvert South Indian Hindu culture by creating their own Christian Bhajans, Christian Bharatnatyam, even Christian Yoga. Some churches are made to look like Hindu temples and perform Aratis. Christian priests may wear saffron robes or rudrakasha malas. Missionaries have attempted to infiltrate and promote conversion at Hindu sacred sites extending to the most sacred Hindu site of Tirupati.

Aggression of anti-Hindu ‘Stalinism’

This anti-Hindu influence in South India has reached such a fevered pitch that a DMK leader like Udhaynidhi Stalin, with the support of his father Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin, can vocally preach for the elimination of Hinduism / Sanatana Dharma, condemning it like a dangerous disease, proclaiming it is necessary to eradicate Sanatana Dharma for the sake of human equality and social progress as if it had no merits at all. Sadly, such a brazen call to harm Hindus and disrupt their way of life is ignored or downplayed, while a call to do so against other religious communities in India would have resulted in National and International outrage.

This DMK, though calling itself a Dravidian party, has in fact tried to suppress and destroy Dravidian culture, which has been largely Hindu and Vedic since the dawn of its long history. Even the ancient Matsya Purana says that Manu as a flood figure came from Kerala.

DMK is in denial of the great Hindu kingdoms, dynasties and temple culture of South India, its extraordinary art, sophisticated philosophies, profound Vedic sciences and yogic spirituality. There is little traditionally Dravidian about the DMK, except perhaps their Sanskrit names which highlights their own Hindu family past they are trying to erase.

DMK Dravidian politics, we should note, is not Indian, Bharatiya or traditional but an extension of European Nationalism, where the different linguistic zones of Europe like Germany or France, wanted separate countries, defined according to western politics of the right and the left. Though claiming to be atheists and rationalists, it is Hindu traditions that the DMK criticises and maligns, not the others. Their main enemies they target are the Brahmins not colonial rulers and their prejudices which they seem to share.

DMK’s inspiration Periyar on India’s Independence called for a day of mourning for Tamils for not getting their own separate State apart from India. He also supported a separate State for Pakistan and encouraged the Partition of India. Clearly DMK began as an anti-India party, anti-Bharat, and so naturally anti-Sanatana Dharma, and retains that divisive mentality today. For them dictator Stalin remains a role model to be named after, not any of the leaders of the Indian Independence Movement or the great gurus of Tamil Nadu.

Challenging the danger ahead

Not bringing a Hindu spiritual and cultural Dravidian influence into politics has ceded the political field in South India and its powers to Leftists, Christians and Muslims that are more politically active, better organised and funded. It has resulted in a situation in which Hindus in South India are becoming misrepresented, marginalised and oppressed, with a declining political voice and decreasing social rights. Hindu temples remain under state control and expropriation. Public education portrays Hinduism in a negative light as regressive, while looking at anti-Hindu groups in a positive light as progressive, continuing the anti-Hindu colonial agenda in India.

This Hinduphobia is obvious in Communist-ruled Kerala like the Sabarimala Temple issue. Overall, Kerala Hindus are marginalised and can be attacked if they give themselves a political voice. They may prefer to avoid public exposure at a political level to protect themselves and their families. In Kerala Communist political rallies, we see pictures of Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin, Mao, even Che Guevara, figures who promoted violent revolution and genocide. DMK anti-Brahminism resembles European anti-Semitic movements that resulted in oppression and genocide of the Jews.

Even the Congress party in Tamil Nadu has become under the rule of the DMK as a junior part of its alliance and accepts or defends their anti-Hindu propaganda. In Andhra Pradesh, Jagan Mohan Reddy and his YSR Congress caters to Christian missionary influences extending to direct financial support.

Fortunately, to counter this danger, a new Hindu resistance is arising in South India, though still in its initial phase. Notably, we find young Hindu leaders like K Annamalai in Tamil Nadu and Tejasvi Surya in Karnataka taking up new Bharatiya activism.

At the national level, PM Narendra Modi has honoured the traditional culture of South India with the Statue of Equality dedicated to Ramanujacharya’s ideas on equality in Hyderabad, by honouring Adi Shankara’s birthplace in Kerala, and by visiting Udupi and honouring the Madhva line as well.

In conclusion, Hindus in South India must recognise that their vote is crucial in this Democratic political era, where political influence is necessary for any social respect. To not vote for those who support you is to condemn yourself to be ruled by those who are against you. In addition, Hindus need to challenge the anti-Hindu media in South India.

This call for a new political awareness is not a call for Hindus to oppress anyone, as it will likely be maligned, but for Hindus to have their right portrayal in history, their human, legal and religious rights, and freedom to live a Hindu way of life just like their ancestors did. It is very strange to find Hindus threatened in India with its Hindu majority and Hindu / Bharatiya past.

But it is a real problem that must be addressed not only for Hindu human rights but for maintaining the cultural traditions of South India in all of its diversity and splendour, which is one of the greatest and oldest cultural heritages in the world.

– Dr David Frawley
(Courtesy : bharatabharati.in, 17.9.2023)

(Dr David Frawley [Pandit Vamadeva Shastri] is the Director of the American Institute of Vedic Studies and the author of more than 30 books on Yoga and Vedic traditions.)

In spite of Vedic practices prevailing in South India, there is a dangerous contradiction that threatens the Hindus !