On what basis did you assume that Sanatana Dharma promotes caste system, Madras HC asks Udhayanidhi Stalin

Justice Anita Sumanth raises the query at the hearing of a writ of quo warranto filed against Minister Udhayanidhi Stalin for having called for annihilation of Sanatana Dharma

November 09, 2023 12:00 am | Updated November 13, 2023 03:57 pm IST - CHENNAI

Udhayanidhi Stalin. File

Udhayanidhi Stalin. File | Photo Credit: M. Vedhan

The Madras High Court on Wednesday wanted to know the literature based on which Minister for Youth Welfare and Sports Development Udhayanidhi Stalin had understood Sanatana Dharma to be the one that promotes the caste system.

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Justice Anita Sumanth raised the question at the hearing of a writ of quo warranto filed against the Minister questioning the authority under which he was remaining a legislator despite having called for annihilation of Sanatana Dharma at a conclave held in Chennai on September 2.

“Your understanding of Sanatana Dharma appears to be that it refers to Varnas or the inherent divisions on the basis of caste. What is the literature that was there? What is the research that was done to arrive at such an assumption?” the judge asked.

Senior counsel P. Wilson, representing the Minister, replied that the Minister had understood so, based on the speeches and writings of Dravidian ideologue E.V. Ramasamy, alias Thanthai Periyar, and the chief architect of the Constitution, B.R. Ambedkar.

Counsel pointed out that even the writ petitioner, T. Manohar, himself had relied upon a 1902 edition of Sanatana Dharma - An Advanced Textbook of Hindu Religion and Ethics, published by the Board of Trustees of Central Hindu College in Benares.

He said the 1902 publication states clearly that Sanatana Dharma was based upon four Smritis, including The Manusmriti, which propagates Varnas or division on the basis of caste assigned by birth. Therefore, the Minister’s speech was based on these publications, he said.

‘Public domain’

When the judge pointed out that the Central Hindu College textbook was produced in court only after the filing of the quo warranto petition and wanted to know whether the Minister had the benefit of the publication even before delivering his speech, Mr. Wilson said, “Yes.”

“It is a 1902 publication, Milord. It is in the public domain,” he said and produced a translation of The Manusmriti too before the court. He said Ambedkar had gone to the extent of burning The Manusmriti as a symbol of rejection of the text which divides humans on the basis of caste.

To a query from the Bench on how Sanatana Dharma could be equated with The Manusmriti, the senior counsel said the answer lies right in the 1902 publication relied upon by the writ petitioner himself. “The petitioner has destructed his own case. Your lordship can record it and close the case,” he said.

After Mr. Wilson wound up his arguments, the judge adjourned the matter to Friday for hearing senior counsel R. Viduthalai for Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam Member of Parliament A. Raja against whom too a writ of quo warranto had been filed for speaking against Sanatana Dharma.

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