Reports from Kerala say that after some families of high-profile Marxist leaders were found to be ritually reading the Malayalam Ramayana of the first Malayalam poet, Thunjath Ezhuthachan, at home during the high monsoon month of Karkatakam (July 15 to August 15), the Marxist party was so embarrassed that it launched a media campaign to distance its cadre from such religious practices.
The Marxist bosses, who are also leading the state’s Left coalition government, did not want to give the impression that the party cadre were beginning to come under the influence of religion and Marx’s assertion 150 years ago that religion is the opiate of the masses was being quietly dropped.
The background of this ritual is interesting.
Ezhuthachan is revered in Kerala as the father of the local language and giver of Malayalam Ramayana
Thunjath Ezhuthachan was a 16th century epic poet who not only wrote the local version of the Ramayana, but also in the process invented a whole new language using prevailing Malayalam words and importing words from Sanskrit where he could not find the local equivalent.
This new language called manipravalam, later developed into Malayalam with its own grammar, almost following Panini’s grammar rules for Sanskrit, and enriched the literature with contributions of many great writers, poets and literary critiques.
Ezhuthachan is revered in Kerala as the father of the local language and giver of Malayalam Ramayana (his translation is called Adhyatma Ramayana, thereby emphasising not only literary but also spiritual value of his text).
Though the anti-Hindu and Left movements in the 20th century eroded its spiritual regeneration aspect, recently there has been a revival of this epic being read by the head of the family (usually a grandmother) and at some places even explained to the second generation present at the reading.
Thunjath Ezhuthachan was a 16th century epic poet (Photo: WikiPedia)
The revival of the Ramayana family readings has caused concern among the diehard Marxists and many anti-Hindu forces (masquerading as ‘rationalists’) in the state.
They apprehend that such revival, particularly in the context of political fallout, might begin to tip the scales in favour of a Hindu renaissance and finally benefit the BJP. The Kerala economy was once known as a “money order economy” when migration was largely within the country; now it is known as a “remittance economy”, says a recent survey.
One outcome of the remittance economy has been a reassertion of the religious identity and public demonstration of the religious rites among all communities. Thanks to gulf money, the number of various denominations of churches too has multiplied in the last few decades.
There has been a revival of this epic being read by the head of the family (Photo: rajathathas.blogspot )
While the Catholic Church in Kerala has recently been in news for wrong reasons, prosperity among Muslims has been accompanied by an increasing radicalisation of a section of the community and its share in the total population of the state has also been rising, while that of Hindus and Christians has since declined.
During 2001-11, Muslims in Kerala have grown 12.8 per cent, Hindus by 2.2 per cent and Christians by 1.4 per cent. Muslims in Kerala do not lag behind other communities in literacy, urbanisation or prosperity.
The role of rising religious fervour among Muslims is the obvious reason for their rising numbers. The Left has been dishonest on the issue of religion.
In the name of promoting “rationality and scientific temper”, it has come down heavily on Hindu rites and practices. In contrast, Marxists in the state have been promoting Muslim separatism and Islamic fundamentalism.
The creation of a Muslim majority district of Malappuram in June 1969 by the then CPM government is an example of such divisive politics. Several radical Islamist outfits have enjoyed the overt and covert support of the communists of various hues in the state.
In a state where Marxists had an early grip, this return to religion is a strong challenge
Such blatant duplicity on the part of the established political parties of the state over decades has obviously created a backlash among other communities, particularly Hindus, cutting across ideological and party lines.
With the BJP in power at the Centre, many Hindus are no longer apologetic about their religious identity and practices.
In a state where Marxists had an early grip, this return to religion is a strong challenge to their anti-religion pretensions and consequently to their political influence, power and income.
Despite the Marxist contamination, the Hindu devotion to their texts and temples, rites and festivals have continued to receive mass support.
In their heart of hearts, the Marxists realise the growing devotion to religion would also deflect Hindus from devotion to foreign ideology to more native thoughts. The rush of reading of Ezhuthachan’s Ramayana is a sign of this change. That explains the internal apprehensions in the ruling Marxist party.
After all, they know how Russians upturned Soviet regime and drove the Communists out of power after 75 years of communist indoctrination.
(Courtesy of Mail Today)
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