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  • Writer's pictureVyasa Speaking

An Atheist says he knows God ..

He was a social reformist who later became the mascot of new-age Tamizhnadu. His sigh of relief still echoes in the land he fashioned. Devoted to the model of equality, he created dents in century-old beliefs. What does such a man of action feel about the dormant presence of God?

EVR Periyar was the soul of social reformation in Tamizhnadu. He strived against unjust practises like Sati, Untouchability, Child Marriage, Casteism. Irrespective of his social vigour to make a real difference, he fought till his end as a common man and never as a politician. He spoke in Tamil, wore Khadi and preached only language - equality.

EVP Periyar ( Image Source - HW News )

Periyar was born in 1879 at Erode in Tamilnadu, Even as a teenager he felt claustrophobic by the mental rigidity of the society he lived in. He asked questions that made people and government shiver in their seats. Old habits die hard. And Periyar was trying to shake the roots of beliefs that were rock-solid over centuries.

Haunting questions troubled Periyar through his adolescence and he chose to leave his house to seek answers. He reached the holy city of Benaras. It is mentioned in his book, "Collected Works of Periyar" that he turned away from God as well. Spirituality emphasises silence and quietude. This hot blooded 25-year old had things to do, things to say, things to change. And he left the Garbagraha and entered the battlefield.

He approached every brick of a social practise with one question - Will this practise contribute to human progress? He believed religion held on to its sanctity like an oyster to a pearl. Rama doubted Sita’s purity millions of years ago. What kind of a message does it give a millennial who picks up Ramayana now?

He begins the chapter by insisting that we should not allow our emotions to disrupt our thinking. If something cannot be seen and touched, we should not romanticise it as God. He says, a philosopher should urge to see the truth in everything. Nature is the truth. God isn’t. He believes the aura around God is so mysterious because humans throw all their unanswered questions under the God blanket. Who are we to dissect the sanctity of God? Everywhere, people seem to be wearing the garb of ignorance and calling it spirituality.

Arignar Anna & Periyar ( Image Source - Indian Express )

Philosophy and nature go hand in hand. When we see a person, we judge him by his clothes, his shoes, his perfume. But, the man created by nature is hidden under all this paraphernalia. For a learned man, God is everything. But for an ordinary person, religion and spirituality merely do their bit in his routine lifestyle. God has become part of the system man created - the invisible boon giver who has chosen to remain within a frozen rock.

When it comes to religion, we are comfortable living in our own illusion. Difficult questions are always answered with prolonged silences. Periyar aims to nurture philosophy when it comes to God too. All our questions should precede with, Why, Where and How, he says. In this context, why is there a God? How is he like? And where is he? What does he mean to a ruler and what does he mean to a subject? Why did he create a rich man and a poor man?

God is always hallowed as an experience that can only be felt. If so, why Sadhus' & Gurus' conduct sermons about his virtues? If God is a personalised phenomenon that differs from person to person, what do religious cults gain by reinstating his worthiness. Why cannot they allow people to experience Him in their own way?

Has humanity progressed in a way for us to believe that man was made in the likeness of God? Have we done anything to deserve an all-powerful omnipresent ever-forgiving God? The 6th sense, the powerhouse of reason, wants an invisible entity to exist ?

An elephant is a herbivore. Tigers kill for pleasure. We understand plants and photosynthesis. But what exactly is the nature of man? Have all other creations disposed God to retain their originality and man has lost his own after inventing heaven and hell?

There is a beautiful passage that found in between Periyar’s angry and sensational words - "See what life is. It is also a mere thought. In fact, there is nothing called life. Some say life is soul. Others say soul is life. Some others say life is nothing.”

Paraphrasing a passage from the book, "Collected Works of Periyar".

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