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Mr. President, Sisters and Brothers:

       periyar 509     I have been saying that the so-called politicians and nationalists in the name of politics, have been cheating and ruining common people for their selfish interests: no less than these politicians, people belonging to the priestly or Brahmin community cheat us in the name of religion, break our unity, loot the wealth we have earned through hard work, ruin our society and country and has made us live like lifeless bodies without any self-respect.

            Without understanding this secret, we ourselves have been helping them in this diabolical system, and are creating sufficient sources for perpetuating ourselves and our posterity for a very long time to be under their authority. When this is explained, it is possible your hearts will be greatly agitated. But please patiently hear what I have to say and then if you use your rational thinking and objectivity, you will definitely come to know the truth about what I have been saying, whether it is right or wrong.

            Again, remember that I do not say like veda, sastra and purana “Believe what we say! It is God’s words! If you don’t believe it, you will go to hell! You will become atheists!” and try to control you. What I say is “If my words are not acceptable to your intelligent search, mind and experience, leave them aside. If acceptable, please begin to try to follow some at least of what I have been saying. Tell your brothers about this and liberate them too! Also try to understand that I do not have any selfish gains out of this.

            I am not an agent for any religion; also, I am not a slave to any religion. I follow two tenets, love and intelligence. Therefore, in explaining my ideas to you, I think it is my duty and desire to tell you this and it also gives me happiness. Otherwise, I leave it to your will and pleasure to do what you think should be your duty—that is, leave it to your rational thinking.

Why should there be a religion for an individual, society or a country? Is it to discipline and unify a country or society? Or divide them? Is it under the control of an individual’s conscience or does it control the individual’s conscience? Is religion for man? Or man for religion? Please think about these.

            In this context, first think about the nature and quality of our religion. First, how many people know about what constitutes Hinduism? How many, among the Hindus, have knowledge about it? How many accept that there is such a religion as Hinduism?

            First, to what language the word ‘Hindu’ belong? Can anybody say this word is found in any language of the world? When did this word come into our country? If you think about this, have the words ‘Hindu’, ‘Hinduism’ occurred in our Tamil literary and grammar works, or in the ancient works of Sangam times, or in edas, sastras, agamas, smrithis, puranas or ithihasas, stories based on Aryan language and Aryan culture? Or does it occur in the biographies or works of great Nayanmars and Alwars (Saivite and Vaishnavite devotees)? Or can it be found in the works of people who are reputed to be Siddhas, Sages and Saints or in their writings and utterances?

            Even if we try to find the meaning of the word ‘madham’ (religion), researchers tell us that a religion consists of doctrines or principles. Even if we accept this, what is the principle of Hindu religion?

            If we accept that it means ‘Hindu principles’:

            What is the meaning of the word ‘Hindu’? Except in Hindu religion, unlike this, the word religion is prefixed or affixed with a man’s name, ; like the Religion of Christ (‘Christianity’), ‘Mohammedanism’ (Islam, religion of Mohammed, the prophet), ‘Buddhism’, ‘Ramanuja madham’, ‘Sankaracharya madham’, etc. By this yardstick, Hinduism is associated with which person? Whose doctrines does it embody? Except mere pronunciation and without any meaning are we not adopting the name for the religion we have? Please think about this.

            Secondly, like other religions, who created Hinduism? What is its age? What are its doctrines? What is the source or authority for it? At least think about them.

            Some say, “Hinduism is Vedic religion. Vedas are revelations of God.” Think about this obscenity as well. If it is uttered by God, it would be a single commonly acceptable one for all people--Not the one that is acceptable to some, rejected by some, not comprehensible to some, and bound within some limits. If it has been uttered by God, would it be only in one language? If it is meant for us, would it not be in our mother-tongue? Is there any relation between the language of the Vedas and us? Moreover, if it has been uttered for our edification by God, would it not be easy for us to hear, see, read and understand it? Will it be one, two, three, four, five or six as conditioned and classified by some? Also just like the proverb 'wife for whoever chooses', will it be susceptible to different explanation given by different people? And also susceptible for different people to gather followers for different interpretations? If you think along these things, naturally you bent to question whether there is Veda? Even if it is there, whether it is truthful? Even if it is truthful, whether it is binding on us? Think about these things. Also think deeply about religious, vedic and matters relating to God.

How many Gods are there in the world? How many Vedas in Hindu religion which is just one among the religions of the world?  How many Gods propounded in the Vedas? How many differentiations among people who worship God? For each God, how many types of symbols? How many quarrels over these symbols? How many types of food? How many marriages? How many children? How many dishonest activities? Discern all these things. How many differences among the devotees of God? How many castes? How many distinctions of superiority and inferiority? And among all these, why a small percentage, very few should be considered as holy, great and privileged? What justice is there in it?

If the concept God is common, he is omnipresent is accepted for the God of our religion too, why should there be atrocious practices like some of us cannot go near the statue of god, should not enter the temple, only some people can touch the statues of gods, bathe it, dress it up, etc.?

We have accepted this religion; we have also accepted Gods mentioned in it; We have constructed temples for these gods: endowed them with properties. Daily also offer our worship. Please think what we have gained out of all these?

Having spent one lakh, five lakhs or ten lakhs for constructing a temple, maintaining it for 100, 1000 or 10,000 years, think patiently what have maintained over these years! "I am a lowly placed person who cannot go near the God installed in this temple! I belong to a degraded caste which cannot offer direct worship to this God! There is a higher caste than me! As I belong to an inferior caste I have to stand outside only in this place!---like these, we have degraded ourselves in many ways, accepted that degradation; As long as this stone and temple and the God within the temple are there, my degradation, inferior status and low level will persist. My descendents also are bound to these practices! Spending lakhs of rupees on constructing temple, doing purification ceremonies for it, to accept that a person belonging to some other caste is superior to mine, to see to it that he does not die of hunger and starvation, to be useful to him, in the name of God we give so many lakhs of rupees. This is eaten by only his kith and kin, will be had by his descendents for generations and generations and for ever and ever: this practice will continue so long as there are stones and river Cauvery, flora and fauna: And they will continue to remain higher caste people till the end. This is what goes on. Think and you will find that nothing else goes on. Also we ask others also to spend money for such temples. Consider how much expenditure is incurred by all for upkeep of the temples.

"Government collects taxes from us; loots us: but it does not do this or that. They are wasting money. People are not given education. There is no order anywhere." We shout like this. Do we bother about the looting done in the name of gods? At least, do we thing about how these can be stopped?

Just take into consideration 4 or 5 temples in Tirunelveli district. The temple in Tirunelveli has a collection of Rs.70,000/-per year; in Sankaran Koil it is Rs.50,000/-: In Courtallam it is Rs.40,000/-: In Tiruchendur, it is more than one and half lakhs per annum. So these four temples earn more than Rupees 3 lakhs per annum according to Devasthanam authorities. Besides this, the devotees who come to these temples spend on transport, coconut, fruits, ghee, curd, bathing the deity with fruit mixture, pipers, drummers, women servant, dancers, music concerts, festivals, etc. How much money is spent on these?  Think about how all these monies are used? "You belong to lower castes. People who perform worship and a few others belong to high caste. So you must give. The others must eat." Only for that the money is used. Which God asks you or commands you to do this?

      Some stomach-filling men are fooling you; you are being fooled. The 'Gods' in the temple

laugh and think, "Do we have such foolish devotees!". Excepting these, no other benefit is there at all.

 Translated by Prof.T.Marx

(Lecture in Courtallam, 27.8.1027 Republic, ( kudiarasu) 11.9.1927)

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