Failure of atheist reformer Ayyappan
#1
http://www.countercurrents.org/joems180310.htm

Just like Narayana Guru, even the Bhakti reformers coming from lower castes probably consolidated stifling Brahmanical philosophy.
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#2
(05-May-2010, 06:05 PM)manju Wrote: http://www.countercurrents.org/joems180310.htm

Just like Narayana Guru, even the Bhakti reformers coming from lower castes probably consolidated stifling Brahmanical philosophy.

I fail to see anything about any atheist- nether failure nor success- in the article. What are you talking about?
"Fossil rabbits in the Precambrian"
~ J.B.S.Haldane, on being asked to falsify evolution.
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#3
From the article:
Quote:The radical possibility in the social praxis of Sahodaran Ayyappan

The history of social reform in Kerala was not always driven in the direction of religious reform. There was a brief but turbulent period in the early part of 20th century when Narayan Guru’s own disciple Sahodaran Ayyappan and the movement he initiated, like Periyar’s self respect movement, radically broke with the soft Hindu philosophy of his master and championed blasphemous cultural rationalism in their critique of the whole social-philosophical structure of Aryavarta. Sahodran Ayyappan was in fact ridiculed as ‘Pulayan’ Ayappan by the gentry among Ezhava caste for his association with Dalits. Despite the mutual admiration he shared with Narayan guru at a personal level, his praxis was a negation of his mystique idealism , a kind of radical rupture, at the philosophical level, potent enough to reconstruct a society radically in all its dimensions.

His social praxis, was an ideological site, which had huge potential to inaugurate a programme aimed at absolute cultural liberation, with a pronounced penchant for Dravidian de-sanskritisation. If properly taken up and nurtured by the progressive forces, it would have resulted genuinely in constitution of a Malayalee identity completely contrary to the contemporary canonical one. This fact is testified by an incident which occurred in Kottayam in the 1930’s. The people assembled there to listen to Madanmohan Malavia, did not allow his extolling of Brahmanic Pan Indianism, in a Sanskritised and alien Hindi. It was a glorious epoch in the history of Kerala reflective of the impact of Ayyappan’s cultural radicalism. The possibility of such a revolutionary drift in social critique aimed at liberation from mental colonialism was high jacked and neutralised by the advent of capitalist roaders disguised as mainstream leftism on the scene.

Though I must I am bit uneasy about the whole article. The incident of Chitralekha doesn't seem to be completely accurate. Somewhere else on the web I have read the caste attacked her was different from what the author has mentioned in the article. However, I wanted the members to read the article from atheist point of view and of course the course Kerala might have taken under an atheist reformer. If the members are interested in atheist activism probably the past experiences could be helpful.
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#4
OK, Manju, here's what I think. That article is too linear in its approach and in the author's understanding of social evolution. There are way too many factors that are not being factored in, probably because many facts from the natural sciences are being ignored.

The reason atheist reform has failed every time it was tried in the past is because every time it was tried, a complete package called religion (with all its flaws) was being replaced by an economic and political ideology that had little social value and even less emotional value.

Quote:His social praxis, was an ideological site, which had huge potential to inaugurate a programme aimed at absolute cultural liberation, with a pronounced penchant for Dravidian de-sanskritisation.


I have read about such attempts before. All these attempts made the mistake of not realizing how religious culture has coevolved with human biology for so long that many of our essential behaviors are today nurtured/exploited by religion. But the tendencies that religion exploit are within us. To replace religion, we don't simply need an atheistic/rational approach towards organizing our society, we need an alternative culture and an alternative moral understanding based on reason and compassion. This sort of thing was never undertaken in the past, at least, not effectively. The understanding for this sort of change is finally here. I think that today we can consciously shape an atheistic society without underestimating the diverse and socially fulfilling roles that religion and superstitious beliefs have traditionally played in society.
"Fossil rabbits in the Precambrian"
~ J.B.S.Haldane, on being asked to falsify evolution.
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#5
(14-May-2010, 08:01 PM)Ajita Kamal Wrote: To replace religion, we don't simply need an atheistic/rational approach towards organizing our society, we need an alternative culture and an alternative moral understanding based on reason and compassion.
Alternative culture is something that I pondered over but without any concrete ideas.

Quote:This sort of thing was never undertaken in the past, at least, not effectively. The understanding for this sort of change is finally here. I think that today we can consciously shape an atheistic society without underestimating the diverse and socially fulfilling roles that religion and superstitious beliefs have traditionally played in society.

Do atheists seek social fulfillment? Or what are these aspects that we are talking about? I'm sorry I probably didn't follow your train of thoughts.

Did you mean 'fear', 'greed' when you said 'coevolution with human biology'?
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#6
Quote:Do atheists seek social fulfillment? Or what are these aspects that we are talking about? I'm sorry I probably didn't follow your train of thoughts.

Almost all humans seek social fulfillment. I believe that atheists are probably just as likely to seek social fulfillment as religious folks. The main reason that we do not do so at the same frequency is precisely because of the lack of a culture of reason for us to participate in. I'm talking about all the things that are part of popular and mainstream culture that go into making social living possible. Think about all the areas of your social life where religion exerts its influence. What I'm saying is that until we figure out ways of creating alternatives that are based on reason, these aspects of social life will continue to be dominated by religion. Here's a quote from an article I wrote a while ago. It's not a 100% relevant here, but its close enough that you might get an idea of what I mean:

"From a scientific point of view, we can define religion as a sub-group within a culture, possessing certain specific traits. The most fundamental of these traits is the strong group identity that religion strives to instill in its followers. In this sense, religion can be observed as a set of memes. The evolution of a religion can be studied through the memetic evolution of individual religious ideas, including the central meme that holds the religion together- the group label. The most successful religions are those that have managed to extend the label of the religion over the entire cultural spectrum of a population. The religions that manage to do this have achieved a stranglehold over the cultural evolution of that group of people. This is the most powerful strategy that religious memes have at their disposal. The way a culture gets out from under the burden of repressive religious labels is by denying religious memes their hunger for co-opting the knowledge attained by rational discourse. That is, religion is designated a limited status, separate from factual aspects of the culture in which it exists. In most Western countries, the role of religion has been mostly designated to non-rational affairs. This removal of the repressive influence of religion from fact-based aspects of human culture has been the greatest achievement of reason."

Quote:Did you mean 'fear', 'greed' when you said 'coevolution with human biology'?

Those are certainly part of our biology, but also the positive emotional values such as 'love', 'cooperation' etc. Coevolution is when two distinct entities affect each other's evolutionary development, often in a very dynamic process. While religious beliefs have certainly molded themselves to our biology, it is also likely that our biological evolution has been shaped by religion. Religious beliefs have had a powerful influence over the fecundity and survivorship (both terms in evolutionary biology that refer to the likelihood of passing on offspring) of individuals and populations. Therefore, these beliefs have shaped the evolution of humans more than we like to think. In fact, it is possible that without the influence of religion on our evolution towards fixing (again an evolutionary biology term) populations we may not be seeing the large number of people with the natural inclination for the belief in god. There would certainly have been a few, but not so many. Anyway, I think I have digressed. These subjects are very amorphous and its hard to stay on topic for me, as you're already witnessed on other threads. If you're interested, I have an article that addresses the idea of science entering pop culture and taking charge of our emotional lives, as religion has done for so long: http://nirmukta.com/2009/04/01/sacred-re...d-emotion/
"Fossil rabbits in the Precambrian"
~ J.B.S.Haldane, on being asked to falsify evolution.
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#7
(05-Jun-2010, 02:28 AM)Ajita Kamal Wrote: In fact, it is possible that without the influence of religion on our evolution towards fixing (again an evolutionary biology term) populations we may not be seeing the large number of people with the natural inclination for the belief in god. There would certainly have been a few, but not so many. Anyway, I think I have digressed.

Digression...hardly I suppose. That is indeed an interesting thought. Can this be said to other socially fulfilling aspects of a religion and not just god? I suppose we need comparative study of isolated religious traditions of the world.

Selecting couple of points from your post:
Group identity: Aren't there many alternatives for 'religious identity' already? Like linguistic, regional or national identities.
Love: Does this mean family life with social security?

Are you talking about an alternative to socially fulfilling roles played by the religions mainly because India is multi-religious? I mean the West has been homogenous in its Christian identity and thus didn't have problems in keeping the religion for non-rational aspects. However, in India this would still mean 'Hindu atheists', 'Christian atheists' and 'Muslim atheists'.
Manju Vadiarillat
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