Home Entertainment Archetype of an Ethical Dravidian – The Inspiring Legacy of Karsandas Mulji

Archetype of an Ethical Dravidian – The Inspiring Legacy of Karsandas Mulji

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Archetype of an Ethical Dravidian – The Inspiring Legacy of Karsandas Mulji

Karsandas Mulji, a former British agent to the princely state of Kathiawar, was repudiated by his family for his revolutionary views on widow remarriage.

By Dr. J Ravikumar Stephen G

The Pillars of Dravidianism

Dravidianism stands on two fundamental principles:

1) “All are equal at birth” (பிறப்பொக்கும் எல்லா உயிர்க்கும் – Thiruvalluvar)

2) “The place where I domicile is my native; and all are my kith and kin” (யாதும் ஊரே யாவரும் கேளிர் – Astronomer Pungundranar)

According to the second tenet, Dravidians believe that humanity emerged from a single mother: Mitochondrial macro-haplogroup. Therefore, Dravidians consider Aryans their cousins and oppose Aryanism, which divides people at birth, rather than Aryans themselves. The Dravidianism Revival Centre categorizes Dravidians into three groups:

  1. Etymological Dravidians: These include speakers of languages not listed under Indo-European, such as ancient Phoenicians, Celtic-speaking Brythons, current Euskara-speaking Basques, speakers of all Semitic languages, and those who speak Dravidian languages.
  2. Ethnical Dravidians: These are people who migrated Out of Africa and settled along the coastlines during the Ice Age, excluding those who migrated to the Arctic region and settled in Ajirika (Southern Kazakhstan) at the end of Ice-age, where the Asur Sangram happened after the Dev had their first spilt based on liturgical differences. This category includes indigenous inhabitants of India who speak Indo-European languages but excludes the priestly class of the Vedic religion who believe in the division of people at birth.
  3. Ethical Dravidians: This group comprises members of the priestly class of the Vedic religion who do not believe in dividing people at birth. I consider people like Ms. Lalitha Ramdas an Ethical Dravidian. Learning about Karsandas Mulji, I now understand there were such social reformers in the past as well.

Karsandas-MuljiKarsandas Mulji

Karsandas Mulji was a journalist, social reformer and administrator. He was an alumnus of Elphinstone College, was an English-educated Gujarati journalist with an acute dislike for institutional religious authority and a penchant for reading Christian sermons. He was born on July 25, 1832 in Vadal, India and died on August 28, 1875 at the age of 43 years in Kathiawar, Vansoj, India.

Karsandas Mulji, a former British agent to the princely state of Kathiawar, was repudiated by his family for his revolutionary views on widow remarriage. After visiting England for business related to the cotton trade, he was excommunicated from his caste due to the then prevailing notion against crossing the seas.

Mulji wrote for ‘Rast Goftar’ and ‘Stribodh’ magazines, which had a limited readership among Parsis. Dissatisfied with this, he founded the Gujarati newspaper ‘Satyaprakash’ in 1855, with Mangalbhai Naththubhai’s help, targeting orthodox Hindus. As editor, with Rustomji Ranina as publisher, Mulji addressed social issues like female education, excessive spending on weddings, and funeral rituals.

IMG-20240702-WA0003The Legal Battle

Jadunathjee Brajratanjee Maharaj (He is not a king. Maharaj is a title given to the religious leaders – Raja Rishi.), a religious leader, filed a libel case against Mulji for his article in ‘Satyaprakash’ titled “Hinduo No Asli Dharam Ane Atyar Na Pakhandi Mato” (‘The True Religion of the Hindus and the Present Hypocritical Sects’). Mulji’s article accused Jadunathjee of sexual liaisons with women followers and criticized the Pushtimarg sect in which the men were expected to show their devotion by offering their female family members for sex with the religious leaders.

The Defendant’s Case

Jadunath’s side called thirty-five witnesses, including prominent merchants, who denied any sexual immorality by the maharajas. Jadunath argued that the veneration he received was scripturally sanctioned and denied all allegations.

IMG-20240702-WA0002
Rev. John Wilson

Rev. John Wilson testified that the maharajas were uneducated leaders worshipped as incarnations of Krishna due to their lineage from Vallabha. Two physicians, Bhau Daji and Dhiraj Dalpatram, testified to treating Jadunath for syphilis, allegedly contracted from female devotees. Lakhmidas Khimji testified to witnessing inappropriate sexual behavior by Jadunath.

Judgement

Justice Joseph Arnould ruled in favor of Mulji, while Chief Justice Matthew Richard Sausse found Mulji guilty but awarded only a nominal sum to Jadunath. Sausse agreed with the defense that Pushtimarg was a heterodox sect and awarded Mulji 11,500 rupees.

Public Reaction

The case garnered significant public interest. The local English press described Karsandas Mulji as ‘Indian Luther’. While Pushtimarg devotees maintained social contact with the maharajas, some merchant devotees built new temples independent of the maharajas. In 1875, Dayananda Saraswati attacked the Pushtimarg similarly, calling it a heterodox sect.

Maharaj-MovieIn Popular Culture

Saurabh Shah’s novel “Maharaj” and the 2024 Netflix film “Maharaj” directed by Siddharth P. Malhotra are based on the Maharaj Libel Case 1862. The Gujarat High Court initially stayed the film’s release, but it premiered on June 21, 2024. Actress Shalini Pandey expressed relief at its release.

My Views on the Movie

The film piqued my interest and I watched it in one sitting. It effectively presents its theme and critiques those who exploit religion. *Like Thanthai Periyar E V Ramaswamy, the film opposes exploitation in the name of religion. Similar exploitation persists today, as seen in cases involving Swami Nithyananda, Asaram Bapu, Sant Rampal, and Narayan Sai.

Read: Echoes of Ages Past: A Saga of Dravidian Resilience and Aryan Encounters

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Bp-Dr-J-Ravikumar-Stephen-G-279x300-1-150x150Dr. J Ravikumar Stephen G., is the Founder, Dravidianism Revival Centre, Peace Coalition of the People of South Asia, and Sages of the New Covenant. He is also the Presiding Bishop of General Convention of the Episcopal Churches in Southern and South Eastern Asia.  The Dravidianism Revival Centre is located in Badlapur, Greater Thane Maharashtra, India.

 

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