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Freedom from God: Periyar and Religion

Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta (CSSSC), Kolkata 700094, India
Religions 2020, 11(1), 10; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11010010
Received: 19 October 2019 / Revised: 27 November 2019 / Accepted: 19 December 2019 / Published: 24 December 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Dalits and Religion: Ambiguity, Tension, Diversity and Vitality)
This paper looks at South Indian rationalist and anti-caste leader Periyar EV Ramasamy’s approach to religion. Periyar saw Hinduism as a fundamental degradation of the non-Brahmin community in general, the Dalits in particular. Here, I draw parallels between Periyar and Russian anarchist Mikhail Bakunin, especially with regards to their radical readings of religion and social power. Similar to Bakunin who inverts Christianity to look at Satan as the original free thinker, Periyar inverts Ramayana to consider the asura Ravana as a Dravidian hero and a victim of Brahminical supremacy. A militant atheist and an avowed enemy of God, Periyar was nevertheless aware of the importance of religion in social life, and I briefly explore his qualified support for Islam and Buddhism and his rationale for urging the lower castes to convert to these religions. I conclude that reading Periyar in the anarchist tradition might open up new ways of understanding his political thought. View Full-Text
Keywords: anarchism; Bakunin; caste; conversion; Dalits; Hinduism; Periyar anarchism; Bakunin; caste; conversion; Dalits; Hinduism; Periyar
MDPI and ACS Style

Manoharan, K.R. Freedom from God: Periyar and Religion. Religions 2020, 11, 10.

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