Madras HC adds to Sanatan debate, says it is a set of eternal duties

The judge stressed that Sanatan Dharma was intended to be a way of life. However, down the line, the idea that it was only about promoting casteism and untouchability had spread

| Updated: 17 September, 2023 3:02 pm IST
Justice N Seshasayee weighs in on the ongoing Sanatan Debate, defines Sanatana Dharma as 'Eternal Duties for Hindus'

NEW DELHI: “Sanatana Dharma is a set of eternal duties enjoined upon those who follow the Hindu way of life,” said Justice N Seshasayee making important observations upon the ongoing debate on Sanatan.

“It includes the duty to the nation, duty to the king, the king’s duty towards his people, duty to one’s parents and gurus, care for the poor, among other things. Are all these duties liable to be destroyed?” he added, pondering over it in a judicial order for he felt genuinely concerned about the issue.

Justice N Seshasayee added important points to the “very vociferous, and at times noisy debates on pro and anti Sanatana Dharma”  while hearing a petition filed by T. Elangovan, spokesperson of the Hindu Munnani, challenged a circular issued by a local government Arts College on the issue of ‘Opposition to Sanadhana’.

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The circular asked the students to share their thoughts on the issue on the birth anniversary of former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and DMK party founder CN Annadurai.

The judge stressed that Sanatan Dharma was intended to be a way of life. However, down the line, the idea that it was only about promoting casteism and untouchability had spread.

He said “Somewhere, an idea appears to have gained ground that Sanadhana Dharma is all about, and only about, promoting casteism and untouchability. Untouchability in a country of equal citizens, cannot be tolerated, and even if it is seen as permitted somewhere within the principles of ‘Sanathana dharma’, it still cannot have a space to stay, since Article 17 of the Constitution has declared that untouchability has been abolished.”

The judge wrote “As religious practices move with time, some bad or evil practices may unnoticingly creep into it. They are the weeds that need to be removed. But why should the crop be chopped? This, in short, is the essence of the submissions of the learned counsel.”

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Although since the principal had withdrawn the circular, the judge said that nothing survived in the writ petition.

The judge still encouraged discussions on elimination of evil practices and reminded the people that free speech, guaranteed under the constitution, shouldn’t be equated to hate speech.

He said “This court still encourages the college concerned to require the students to reflect on the evils of untouchability and how they, as citizens of this country, can contribute to its elimination.”

“Every religion is founded on faith, and faith by nature accommodates irrationality. Therefore, when free speech is exercised in matters pertaining to religion, it is necessary for one to ensure that no one is injured.It would be appreciable if free speech encourages dispassionate and healthy public debates and helps society to move forward along the lines which the Constitution envisages,” the judge said in his concluding remarks.

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