அறிஞர் அண்ணாவின் கட்டுரைகள்


Here we are again – after a lapse and lull of some weeks. We admit that, unable to control the difficulties that usually threaten honest ventures, we thought that we would have to announce an extinction. But friends, far and near, came forth to awaken us from the stupor assuring us, that their assistance would be henceforth continuous and handsome. Strengthened thus by the hope generated by such abundant good will and promise, we have resumed our task – the task of pleading for a just cause.
Do away with embellishments – the cost would naturally be prohibitive – give us a clean journal – be it but the vehicle of the new message that millions are getting for the past ten years and more some – some of our patrons have argued. There are still others who say, that the journal ought to have presentable garb and competitive cosmetic, if it should have a chance of survival. We find that there is some amount of truth, in both these arguments, and hence unable to decide one way or the other, we have come to a simple conclusion and that is this: we have placed the future entirely in the hands of our readers - and with this assurance, that whatever be the shortcomings you are bound to face, poverty of thought would not be one of them.

With this note of assurance, we place in your hands, ‘Homeland’

And that leads us to an interesting problem, we should term it the raging problem – how should anything be taken or given – is it as if in the nature of Master and Servant, and Benefactor and a Mendicant or is it to be in perfect accord with the noblest of principles, Dignity of Man.

Doles could be got they say, if only the art of Docility is practised. Slices could be got, still others say, if only we know how to sneak in and smile, at the proper time and there are still others who say, that fat sums could be got, if one is prepared to sacrifice cherished objectives at that altar of opportunism.

We are not confining ourselves with the aspect of how best to get financial help to run a journal – we are interested in the larger problem, what ought to be the nature of asking for and getting help, be it for a journal – or for a party, big, small or indifferent.

And to dilate further, what ought to be the manner to be shown by the giver and by one who takes – be it a cheque or cash or even ‘Prasadam’.

‘Prasadam’ has of course top-priority, however much the world is changed – especially ‘Prasadam’ from a temple.

As if to lay much stress on the importance of this point , an incident has taken place, in which Ministers and Deputy Ministers, Barristers and Presiding Deities, have had to take leading parts.

We do not know whether this is the first time that the Union Deputy Minister of Railways, Mr. S.V. Ramaswamy, has gone to invoke Kanyakumari – she stands in solitary grandeur facing the blue sea! And we do not know also, the other and perhaps the more important aspect, what prompted the Hon’ble Minister to undertake that mission.

Anyway, the Minister went to pray but found himself thrown in a fray! Thanks to the Goddess representing resplendent virgina! Purity, there was no affray!

The priest in that temple, it is stated, did not show ordinary courtesy, while giving ‘Prasadam’ to the Deputy Minister. It was thrown – says the Deputy – fortunately in his hands, not on the face!
That treatment would naturally make any sensible person to revolt – unless senses are benumbed by acts of divinity or stupidity. That a temple priest should throw the Prasadam, as if it were part of a ‘refuse’, and that before a pack of beggars or worse, is extremely sickening, whatever be the scriptural quotations trotted out by interested parties.

Divinity is defined as perfection, while human beings are imperfect. If the manner in which the priest at Kanyakumari has acted is an exhibition of that Divinity, well, such a thing needs a quick and thorough cremation.

Enraged naturally, the Deputy Minister raised that issued before a Lawyers’ Conference. Poor humiliated man that he is, why should he think that of all places, the forum where lawyers met to discuss, the niceties and intricacies of law, is the most fitting to voice forth his view, or ventilate his grievance?
A good democrat would have placed the matter before the public. Of course the public do not have the means of quoting case laws or codes, but they know how to call a spade a spade. They would have certainly offered their sympathy to the minister concerned and would have requested him, to use his power, prestige and political influence to eradicate such and more savage practices that are in vogue in the name of religion.

While the dignitary concerned was deeply shocked, those who met to discuss law and those who have donned on the garb of rulers of the land seem to be shocked as well.

Perhaps, the only two persons not at all shocked, seem to be the priest and the deity – the former because of his inherent faith in the superior powers and prerogative that he is allowed to enjoy and the other perhaps because of the fact that having seen still worse injustice and cruelties meted out by man to his own fellow-human beings, the divine damsel has learnt to keep only stony silence.
“Is this the way in which I should be treated?” – asks the Deputy, and hastens to add, that by ‘I’ he means not the minister in him but Man!

And the Minister for Religious Endowments, Hon’ble M. Bakthavathsalam, argues – he had had no chance of proving his ability as a lawyer before any court of law, though he happens to be a bachelor of law – that Man, whether a Minister or a commoner should conform to certain well-established procedures, and should not question the validity, nor should he arrogate to himself superior airs by questioning or reprimanding the priest in a temple.

“Smashed!” – some of the friends of the Minister, especially those who fanatically cling to the old ways of life would have exclaimed with glee, and naturally the Minister who has enjoyed the ‘Sathabishekam’ would have been highly elated, by this unique “Abhishekam,” But the one word that would come upper-most in the minds of any unbiased, rational human-being, is ‘shameful!’

When a state of affairs at once disgusting and mean, is pointed out by one, who has had the painful experience of being the actual sufferer, should the Minister come forward to argue, in defense of certain procedures?

Is that all that he could offer as an explanation? That such an explanation is not needed anybody knows. The question is not whether the priest insulted the Deputy or not – but the real question is whether the procedure referred to by the Minister and exhibited by the priest, is not an insult to the Dignity of Man.

Is the temple to be an abode, wherein any uncouth and unlettered babbler, arrogates to himself superior airs, and administers insults in the name of custom and procedure? Is the Minister going to defend it? Is he convinced about the necessity for and sanctity of such barbarous procedures? And is he going to be the defender of any scheme, born out of muddle-headed or even pig-headedness of a by-gone age?
If, as Minister for Religious Endowments, Hon’ble Mr. Bakthavathasalam is going to become the custodian of not only the coffers, but also the crumbs of a falling system, well, one has only to pity his lot. Scavengers at least have the satisfaction of cleaning, but to reign supreme over a domain, wherein, carcasses and crumbs, refuse and rubbish, are to be the only goods, well, one has but to pity the lot that happens to be his!

Perhaps he is happy about it – and it is not for us to deny him that pleasure. Tastes do differ!!

But we would like to ask this simple question, not of course the Minister, but those who still; believe in the Dignity of Man – ‘are these injustices, insults, degradations, to be allowed to exist?’ Are we not undermining religion itself – and spirituality more than religion – by persisting in clinging to such awkward and ugly practices and procedures?

No! The thinking section of the public, regardless of caste, do feel today that we have been carrying on a ‘farce’ for too long a time, allowed atrocities to remain unchallenged, and by an asinine patience have allowed the priestly hold to have sway. And all in the name of religion.

While laying the foundation stone of ‘Gandhi Bhavan’ in the campus of the Delhi University, Prime Minister Nehru said, that he did not belong to the religious variety of human beings. “I have something of spirituality in me, but I am not moved by things that move men of religion.”

Religion is not repression of the soul but most of the things that take place in the name of religion, is soul-killing.

Despite the Deputy Ministership, the Man in the Minster, attempted to assert, but assailed on all sides by many, we are afraid, the insulted has, after licking the wound, succumbed to scare.

Perhaps he has got to attend to more pressing problems. But an issue has been raised and it is not, whether a Deputy Minister could be treated in such a way, but this; should human dignity be destroyed, in the name of religious procedure and practice?

It is entirely in your hands – tens and thousands of young men and women, of a new generation – to keep barbarity garbed in an attire labeled divinity, or to annihilate it once and for all, and raise the status of Man.

(Editorial - 10-01-1960)