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Today I am invited to address on behalf of the Philosophy department of Salem College. Students, teachers, and many other citizens have assembled here. I do not deem it an easy task to address such an august audience. I do not know how far I would succeed in making you all understand and feel satisfied. Moreover, it is essential to talk about philosophies and doctrines first and foremost. I feel that it is not an easy affair to discuss philosophies and doctrines.

periyar 468Philosophic understanding and philosophic expressions are true. To explain it further, it is an urge to see things as they are and understand them in their proper perspective. Shortly, it may be called the knowledge gained from natural experiences.

We are accustomed to differentiate philosophy from nature. It is hard for us to seek the truths as they are, and it is challenging to understand the meaning behind things. Let me illustrate it with an example. When we see a man, we see him and judge him by appearance. The real man, by nature, is not seen. To see the man as “created” by nature is to see him without any changes and concealment as a naked man. Such an appearance, though true, will not be liked in the modern world. Moreover, it will be a source of repulsion and hatred, causing many inconveniences in life.

Similarly, if you try to see other things also in their true and real state, it will be hateful, uncomfortable, and displeasing. That is why some people say that man has to attain a certain stage in life to understand philosophy.

That is the reason why I mentioned that my interpretation of philosophy would be unpalatable to many people. There is a famous adage that he boldly tells the unadulterated truths will become the arch-enemy of many people. By this, it is not meant that all people should be liars. It only indicates that the real truth and philosophy are prevalent in society in a different form by nature and name. On account of this, many truths are found to be unconvincing.

Naturally, the task of explaining any philosophy to the people is more or less a very delicate and challenging one. Moreover, the President of this meeting, while introducing me, stated that I am an atheist, a hater of religions, and an opponent of politicians. After all, I am only an ordinary person. It is much more difficult for a man like me to interpret realities in philosophic thoughts and doctrines.

Yet, I shall try my best to interpret philosophic realities, as a sort of my humble explanation to my critics. As I was deeply contemplating what to talk in this august gathering, the President referred to certain opinions about me, and I deem it more than enough to deal with them in my speech.

Comrades! Anything may be considered either as insignificant or as a vital importance. I will tell you how! For ordinary people, god, religion and politics are not of much importance. They overlook the real significance of the philosophic doctrines behind them. But to the learned people, they are of very great importance. So they take pains to understand even the minute details and propagate them.

We find all sorts of people attending the vocal recital by great musicians. Ordinary people listen to the words and ideas in the song and dispense with the music, stating, “He sang in praise of God, or He sang about ladies.” They are content with that and feel satisfied with the music performance they attended. But those who know the science of music would be keener in listening to the musical performance, they attended, to assess the extent to which the songster had mastered the minute details about music. Because of their presence, the songster would be very careful regarding his performance. That is why I stated in the beginning that whatever I talk may be considered as trivial by some and as most vital by some others.

GOD

The President referred to God and explained that he is capable of doing anything and everything. Referring to religion, he said that religion is like a bridge to link man with God. This is not a religious meeting. This is a meeting to discuss the philosophy in general. We have to discuss the philosophy of God and religion in detail, and I wish to speak about it threadbare. I like to make a clean breast of all matters.

Many people think that I am an atheist and a non-believer in religion. Many have exposed it openly. I would be really happy if the atheists expressed so. If the theists feel like that, I can only pity them. Not only that. I would indeed be sorry to live amongst such people. If I am to feel delicate to express my views frankly in this meeting, which is convened to discuss the true philosophy, it will amount to my deceiving the truth seekers.

So I wish to state plainly that it is on account of ignorance that the theists call me an atheist. I would say that it is more on account of their irresponsibility.

Let me cite an example to clarify it further.

A Brahmin who ekes out his living came to a place where there was an auspicious function. He asked for alms. The patron of the house gave four annas (now 25 paise) to him as he gave others. The Brahmin asked him,

“I am one who does not blame others. I have no pride. I have no lust for money. I have renounced all these. Is it justifiable to give me four annas knowing pretty well that I have studied the four Vedas, six shastras, eighteen Puranas? You gave the same four annas to the uneducated donkeys. Is this your dharma?”

Similarly, these theists blame others as atheists. Now let us see how these theists came to believe in God.

The believers in God say he is all-powerful. They say that he is everywhere. They say that he is peerless. They say that everything is going on with his consent. If it is conceived that I deny such a god, I would say that it is what the Brahmin also said. Brahmins proclaim that they are unselfish. They are said to be renouncers on one side. Again they talk high of their mastery or Vedas and sastras. This itself reveals their self-flattery.

Further, asserting that they do not abuse or hate others, they call others as uneducated fools. They envy others sharing four annas like them.

Further stating that they have renounced everything and do not lust for money, they say, “ you give me only four annas!”

All these clearly indicate that the Brahmins are not true to their claims. Their actions belie high qualities attributed to the Brahmins. We don’t find them to be true Brahmins. There is a vast difference between what they say and do.

Similarly, when the believers in God say that God is omnipotent and omniscient, how could it be possible for a man to deny it. When an ordinary man denies God, it proves that no god is omnipotent and omniscient. Further, it proves that the qualities attributed to God by Brahmins are baseless. They are mere imaginary concoctions about God. That is all.

To say that those who deny God are atheists is based on ignorance. It is senseless to call a man as an atheist.

If God truly exists, what is it that an atheist is going to gain by denying God? If God is omnipotent, what will he gain by making an ordinary man deny his existence? Under this situation, it is evident no man will foolishly deny the existence of God. Similarly, no god will foolishly undertake to create man as an atheist.

You will have to think of all these. If you really ponder these things, you will realize that it is not right to blame anyone as an atheist or non- believer in God.

It is those who have not known God, who call others atheists and non- believers in God. That itself is atheism. It is the theists who have created atheists. It is out of their ignorance that atheism is spreading. Please think over whether it will be possible for a man to deny God if God really exists? So we come to the natural conclusion that the terms atheism and atheists were the outcomes of Brahmin ignorance, or it must be that Brahmins created them to carry on their profession profitably in the name of God. So God is meant for those who trade in his name. Others need not worry about God at all.

Investigating the philosophy of God really means to expose all matters related to God in full and in detail. We have to research to find out the naked truths about God. The fundamental for conducting any research is to find out first what it is. Then find out why it is and then see how it is and then ask where it is and finally decide when it came into being. We will have to put these queries and ascertain the convincing replies. We need not hesitate to question. We must study things without any restraint in an unbiased way. Probing into philosophy means arguing matters. Both are correlative for our purpose. So to establish beyond doubt that there is a god, which is really omnipotent and omniscient, it is not enough if these six or seven questions are put. It is essential to test by any number of operations.

A blind believer in God may ignore this aspect. He may think it unnecessary and unwarranted. But for a researcher of philosophy, it is a must. God should not exist out of blind belief. He should not be recognized as God by mere ignorance. Moreover, for rational human beings, particularly to the researcher, God should not exist by mere hearsay or ignorance or blind belief.

What for God?
Why God?
Which is God?

One who researches the philosophy of God must know the answer for such queries and that too in detail and quite convincing.

Every human being is rational – Man is endowed with reason to think deeply. It is for ascertaining the truth in its proper perspective. As such, a man should not degrade himself as a mere animal. He should eschew blind beliefs. Man has involved himself in many difficulties by misusing his rationalism. He has created gods to find relief from his vexing problems.

What for a ruler and the ruled? Why a rich man and a poor man? Why high and low castes?
What for a toiling worker and a lazy fellow? What for a slave and a master?
What for a begger and a lord?

Now you think over all these. What for God? Don’t you think that God is created only to protect all these? Apart from this, what has God done to man? Did God do anything good to humanity so far? Do we need such a god to protect the evils only?

Who is responsible for the absence of peace, love, and satisfaction in society? Who is responsible if men endowed with rationalism die in disgust and worries? Is it not due to the belief in God?

If we attribute foolishness as the basic reason for all these, what for a man is gifted with rationalism? Could it be said that man is endowed with rationalism to act foolishly, to believe foolishly, and behave foolishly?

Man is said to have rationalism, yet all the bad qualities are in him, all the worries he faces, all the defects and drawbacks in him, his hatred towards others, his betrayals are not found in the case of other beings, which are considered to be devoid of rationalism.

Why should a rational man display bad qualities, which are not seen even in wild animals? Is it because of the creation of a god? Is it because he believes in a god? Is it because he has misconceived great powers in God? If we are not able to study and find out what exactly is the reason for this state of affairs and suggest a solution; what else is the purpose of rationalism?

What for a god? Was God recognised by a man naturally? Did others make man recognize and believe him? If others did not create God, how is it that he is not seeable for all. Even to those who profess to have recognized him, he appears in many ways and different forms. Why should God’s functions, powers, and behaviours too differ in many ways?

If God was a created thing, why was he created? For what reason was he created? Did the creators of God succeed in their attempts? Did God solve the problem or fulfill the reason for his creation?

Whether he came into being or was created by others, how is it the people can go against his wishes and dictations?

God is said to be all-powerful. He is said to be everywhere. He is said to be controlling anything and everything in the world. If all these are true, tell me anything that God has done so far. In the name of God, it is the man who does everything. Not only that, but man can also disrespect and ignore God and yet do many things. Things that are detrimental to the interests of man are taking place! Things that are not useful and helpful to society are also taking place! We are not able to see everything done perfectly, to the satisfaction of one and all. There is nothing that takes place without the efforts of man. There is nothing in our life to be proud of God. It is the hard work of the man that can do laudable things. If the world is safe and humanity is sound, it is based on the efforts taken by men. Everything is protected and safeguarded by the efforts of man only. We could say that even gods are safe because of the efforts of man.

RELIGION

Now let us consider religion.

Today, people are of the opinion that people created all religions. In society, you find good people as well as bad people. Similarly, you can classify the society into two categories. Those who are serving the society and those who are self-interested. It is not possible to divide the society as those who have divine powers and those who do not have divine powers. That sort of differentiation will not be possible as there are no substantial grounds based on knowledge, proof, and experience. Whatever religion you may take, you cannot assert that it had come into existence on account of divine powers. You will only come to the conclusion that it was created by some learned people who evinced deep concern about society. That is the only truth, a researcher of philosophy could find out. What is meant by philosophical enquiry?

A learned scholar who has a foreword to (a Commentary Book on) ‘Kural’ - rational literature of Thiruvalluvar in Tamil, has written that false has become false, whereas truths devoid of false have remained as truths. So anything false must disappear any day. Truths must be reckoned as truths someday or other. Otherwise, it will be derogatory to scientific research and investigation. Seeking the truths is the purpose of research. Distinguishing the truth from the false is the purpose of research. If you deviate from this and attempt to make the false as true in the name of philosophic research, it will end in giving a false image to falsehoods and lies. If the research of philosophy adds strength to falsehood, it will be belittling the rationality of man.

When you consider about religion and enquire as to what for a religion is created for man, the religious people reply that religion is needed to link man with God and to make the man reach the kingdom of God. Religion was created for this purpose by divine people. This is what the President of the meeting also said in his speech. Do you think that this is acceptable to philosophic research and scientific investigation? If it is true that divine men have created a religion for creating a relationship between man and religion, it only shows the weakness of God, who is considered to be all-powerful. Man needs another man or divine man to relate him with God. What is meant by such a relationship?

If it is true that God is everywhere and is endowed with supernatural powers and if it is true that He only controls all actions in the world, why should there be an intermediary to create a relationship between Him and man? What is the need for such a relationship? Further, I like to ask who links the plants, worms, germs, and birds with God. Why is anyone needed to link all those living beings which are devoid of rationalism? They do not need a god!. They do not know anything about God. They don’t require an intermediary or a religion. But, for a man endowed with rationalism, a divine person and religion are essentially needed to realize a god. Man has to depend on these for a relationship with God. What do you think of these? Is it acceptable to the reasoning talents of a researcher of philosophy?

As I said before, you may sort out good people, learned people, and benevolent people. But to sort out some people as divine people and say that God alone created them is unfair, unjust, and unbelievable. If it is true that God created such men as divine persons, I like to ask as to who created other people. If God is the creator of humanity, why should he create crores of people as ordinary beings and create only a few as divine persons, to get himself related to the man? Is it necessary to do so? Why should he labour many times so hard to create humanity? Could he not do it in a simple and uniform method?

It may be said that it is his will and pleasure, and it may be accepted by some people blindly. But we are today discussing philosophies. We can not exempt anyone or anything from the purview of research. We must go from the grassroots in every matter. Moreover, we are discussing philosophy, and so we have every right to question anything and everything. It is our duty to conduct an inquiry about God, religion, and their philosophies. The interpretation of philosophy is inclusive of God and religion. We can not leave it. For other matters, we need not make much enquiry. Most of them are self-explanatory. We don’t take much pains to research gold, copper, silver, and other metals. We don’t accept the metals for use without touching them and testing them. But as we have chosen the philosophy of God and religion as the subject for the day, it is a difficult matter for investigation, and it needs a lot of thinking and reasoning. We have to seek the truths about them. If the thinking and reasoning qualities in the man are forbidden to probe into this matter, we will never realize the truths about God and religion. It will result in giving an eternal life for false religions. God and religion would ever remain as tools of mere blind belief. That is why I appeal to you to think over whether an intermediary is needed to realize God.

Next, if it is true that God could be realized and reached by man only with a religion, why should there be so many religions. Is there no limitation for religious and divine persons? Why should there be controversies, irregularities, and contradictions between the religions created by men who are said to possess divine powers? Why should there be religious wars? Why should a massacre take place in the name of religions? Why should sufferings and miseries overtake humanity on account of religions? It may be said they are not due to divinity but because of human ignorance! The argument does not hold water. If a man endowed with rationalism is not able to understand, other men cannot. If a rational being falls victim to hatred and ill feelings, resulting in riots and quarrels, how is it for a man to realize and reach a god that is not physically cognizable?

Moreover, God is said to be not visible and understandable for ordinary men. How is it possible for men to recognize God? Please think over. How do we consider the creators of these religions as divine personalities, when there are so many quarrels, man-handling, riots, loss, and damage in society? You will have to think about all these.

Is not the existence of religions responsible for differentiation and disunity amongst the people of the world? Aren’t the religions to be blamed for the hatred in the society? Aren’t the religions responsible for man swindling and exploiting the other man?

How are we to believe that men with divine powers created all these religions? We have to deeply ponder over these issues. Because the creators of religions are credited to be men of divinity, many others, later on, came to be revered as divine persons. Their number is going on increasing day by day. No one cares to think of it. Buddha, Jesus, Mohamad, Nayanmars, Alwars, Swamijis, Mahatmas, Rishis, Sai Babas, and umpteen of others are parading themselves as divine men. There are many controversies, agitations, fights, and differences of opinion about them.

After the advent of rationalist propaganda, there is an awakening. A large section of the people is now able to exercise their thinking faculties in an unbiased manner. With the result, you find the divine men dwindling. For many centuries back, Alwars, Nayanmars, and Dasars were not born. What have these divine people achieved to emancipate masses? How many can realize god and research god and reach him on account of their preaching? As things stand today, people are not prepared to accept all sorts of fellows as divine men. Rarely do we find efforts taken to create one or two divine personalities here and there. Even such creations met with an early end as an exotic plant. The more and more you aspire to realize the truth about God and religion, they go far away from you in gallops.

My interpretation of the philosophy behind God and religion might cause you to surprise. Some of my views might be different from your views.

Why should there be so much bewilderment about God and religion, which are repeatedly emphasized as important and indispensable for humanity? Many considered these as true and necessary for man. In fact, many believed these versions, with the result god and religion, gained a vast influence and importance in the life of man. Why such a planned propaganda is being carried on even now to substantiate God and religion by these different divine men? How does any urgency arise for it? What is the result? Who can gain by this?

Above all, are we to think that Jesus and Mohamed, who were unselfish and who sacrificed a lot, were not able to understand the real philosophy behind God and religion as they are preached today?

Comrades! Man cannot see or feel God directly and independently, even though God is said to be all-powerful and capable of controlling all things in the world. He is still dependent on others called the divine people.

God has to be denoted as God by others. Similarly, religions did not crop up of their own accord. They were simply created by others. Man has to be forced to act according to religion and their regulations.

What is the logical inference?

God and religion are confusing society. They are to be indicated to humanity by someone else. They are unable to establish themselves. They need others for that purpose. They still need strong propaganda. This is what we can understand clearly.

Whatever it be, we cannot totally condemn all the so-called divine men. We cannot also suspect all their actions. Jesus and Mohamed come under this category. It cannot be denied that there is no wisdom in everything they said. We cannot say that all were selfish.

Since God and religion are created exclusively for the rational human beings, and so no god or religion is created for other living beings, we are led to believe that they are created for the wellbeing of humanity only.

Such a necessity arises only because of the fact that of all the living beings, it is only the human beings who live together, forming a society of their own.

Generally speaking, all living beings look after themselves. They are eager to get their desires fulfilled. It is their natural instinct. They do not worry about the comforts of others.

Man is wiser than other living beings. If a man is induced by unlimited selfishness, it may endanger the interests of others. It might result in causing danger to society. It is this concept that justifies the creation of God and religion. For a man living isolated, there is no need for a god or religion. But a man who lives with others as a part of the bigger society, certain restrictions were naturally imposed on him from various walks of life. He has got to live unnaturally. Only then society can exist. Otherwise, you will find men behaving as mere beasts in society. To enable a man to live against nature and for the general welfare, the learned elders ought to have created and preached about God and religion.

To understand this clearly, please think over what for the institutions like a king, government, laws, and punishment were there. If there is no kindness, law, and punishment, there will be no peace. There will be no adequate protection. There will be no order. We can lead at least this much of life because of such arrangements as king, laws, and punishment. These are, of course, helpful to enable people to live together. Yet we cannot say that nothing more is needed. Much more is needed to enable the society to be completely peaceful. Much more is needed to prevent man from harming others. The mere promulgation of the law cannot achieve certain things. All men should have mutual love, to receive help from others. There must be discipline, love, sympathy, honesty, indebtedness amongst all people. They should think of the good and oppose bad things. No one should covet the belongings of others.

All these and very many other things cannot be achieved by merely passing laws. In short, if a man is allowed to live with natural freedom, he cannot be disciplined. He will not stop harming others. Regulations and compulsions are found to be necessary. Such regulations cannot be imposed on humanity by laws. So God was created to make the people submit to regulations by force. The very purpose of creating God and religion is merely to make the people think and act in a particular way. Is there any other reason for such creations.? God and religion are exploited to teach that the dictations of God and religion alone have the right to go to heaven. Such propaganda in the name of God makes the gullible public pray to God for his blessings. The greed in man and the fear in man are the two things that are used as more powerful weapons than the ruler’s laws and punishment. God and religion are helpful to society in this manner.

There is another vital issue which I like to discuss. In these days of advanced scientific development, you find the religious propaganda geared up; you may ask why it is so. To be brief, the need for more religious propaganda is more keenly felt now. It is due to various reasons. The right to hold property individually has increased against nature. Society is in the grip of communalism. There are increasing signs of high and low discrimination.

The agitation against exploitation and domination is in the ascendancy. Demands are increasing, seeking justice and equality. Mere laws cannot curtail all these. A grave situation is fast developing. No ruler could rest with the present laws to overcome the danger, even though the high caste superior community had created the ruler and the laws. Those who defy laws have to be seriously dealt with by law by the people. But if the poor and the degraded people rise in revolt, there can be no ruler. Laws cannot function in chaos. No one would be afraid of punishments. In case such unnatural situations are created, it is necessary to seek adequate protection, and it is for that, God and religion are found to be necessary. If there is no god, there cannot be rich and poor. Similarly, if there is no religion, there is no place for high and low caste discriminations.

So we conclude that God and religion are created to safeguard the interests of the rich people, exploiters, high caste people, Mahans, and other vested interests. The ruler and laws of the land and the punishment system thrive safely because of God and religion. Is it because of the fact that society could be controlled in the name of God and religion much better? What can not be forbidden by law could be easily forbidden by religion.

To be more explicit, I would say that God and religion are necessary to solve things that are against nature. The divine persons desire that people should live under unnatural surroundings and unnatural conditions. That is why they entrusted themselves to the task of creating more and more gods and religions.

If we succeed in the task of destroying rulers, caste, and differentiation in society, all these gods and religions would go into oblivion and become insignificant. So we conclude that God and religion hold only this much of impact in philosophy.

NATURE OF MAN

Now let us see why God and religion were created? To whose advantage were they created? What is the motive of the divine men in creating God and religion? All these took place because man alone was endowed with rationalism.

Even as the creation of God's philosophy and religion are not understandable and un-realizable for man, there is another creation by the god-men. You cannot see or touch or feel it. They call it a soul. Let us now look into that philosophy.

What is a man, and what is a soul? Man is considered as one of the many beings you find in the world. Of the various things in the world, some are animate, and others are inanimate. In other words, they are called living beings and non-living beings. All these are the outcome of the combination of various things. They are assigned names according to their particular shape and form. If you separate the parts of a thing, it loses its name, and the separated parts attain different names. Finally, the original shape and form are destroyed. Man is considered to be one like that.

Look at a man. In appearance, he resembles a man. You touch any part of his body. It has a different and specific name as head, hand, leg, chest. But supposing you are asked to touch your head, you may touch the hair or face or neck. It is so in the case of other objects as hose, lamp, water, chair, footwear, broom, vessel, cart, ship, etc. So we realize that any object or article is merely the combination of many things. That means the combinations of various things with their different qualities. The combined things give a definite shape, and the combined form derives a specific name.

A carpenter creates various articles out of timber with iron. The created objects derive different names as chair, bench, box, cot, bureau, cart, train, ship, and so on. With two raw materials, wood and iron, one creates thousands of articles, with different functions. Now, what is man? He is also one like other objects made out of very many raw materials. Man can move about and exert himself. Animals as cow, bull, pig, ass, horse, elephant, lion, tiger, fox, snake, scorpion, birds, worms, germs, and other living beings are also a combination of various other raw materials. Man is also like other living beings. Why? It is because he can talk and express himself clearly. So man has made himself great. But you see birds fly very high in the sky and show that they are greater than other living beings in this respect.

As such, we see there is nothing peculiar or great in man. We could only say that man can strikingly surpass other living beings in respect of thinking and expressing and doing things alone.

One must unhesitatingly accept that rationalism and thinking ability are found to a greater extent only in man. This quality in a man is an accepted factor, but we find greater strength in certain living beings, which a man does not have. But we will have to think over whether such a greater strength found in them is helpful to other living things or the men. It is because man can think rationally, God, and religion were created to regulate orderly life. The promoters of God and religion say that man will not pursue a straight path without them.

I wish to point out that rationalism in man has made him much worried. There is no end for his desire. He is made zealous and envious of others.

His thinking talent has made man exploit another man, degrade another man, hate another man, and swindle another man.

You cannot say that man endowed with rationalism and thinking ability does not do anything bad, as other living beings. Animals harm, give trouble, and cause misery to other living beings! What about man? Could you say a man does not harm others or cause misery to others? No! Yet we say a man is endowed with rationalism and power of thinking.

Some people call themselves greater than other men because they can paint pictures or compose poems or produce gold or go to London and return in one day. Are they really great? Please think over. Even as every living being has its own quality, the man also has some qualities. Are we to call a man great, because he is alive without facing death? Are we to call a man great because he can do deceitful acts?

We find all living beings having almost the same character, thoughts, and ways of doing things. In nature, they are almost similar. Even in the aspects of birth, reproduction, and death, there is almost uniformity amongst all living beings.

But in society, man is considered as a separate individual.

We attribute different qualities to different persons. We call some good persons. We dislike some bad elements. We consider some as rude by nature. We see some as Sadhus, kind, frugal, honest, tyrannical, grateful, betraying, wise, foolish, and curious. Why do we attribute different qualities to different persons? What is the reason for these differences? Are they responsible for their character? Or their form, the combination of different parts in the body, is responsible for their actions and nature. Please think about this aspect deeply.

What do you find in a dog? It is grateful, and it guards the house. It is faithful to the master.

You find a fox having almost the same appearance as a dog. But what about its behaviour? You find it having contrasting qualities. What is the reason for this?

Even amongst dogs, some are biting dogs. Some dogs do not bite. Some dogs steal food. Some dogs are always close to the master. Some dogs do not come near unless called. Some dogs are very intelligent. Some dogs do not understand anything. What is responsible for these differences? Are they natural? Are we to say it is all due to the different raw materials combined in the body by birth?

Some bulls always injure men with horns. Some do not react even if you beat.

One elephant refuses to carry the rider and kills him. Another elephant submits quietly for everything. It is always mild.

Are the animals responsible for all these? Are they by nature like that? Do they imbibe these qualities by birth? Could we say that the raw materials composed in the parts of the body are responsible? Think over.

Now let us consider man. Look at his behaviour. Why some people are thieves? Why are some always ungrateful, unkind, haughty, and selfish? Why are some fond of uttering lies.? Why some are betrayers and envious elements? Man’s behaviour, nature, and actions are related to the various components in his human body.

You know the musical instrument called a flute. It is one object. The musician is the same person. The hole where he places his mouth is also the same. But how does he produce different sounds? It is due to the different holes he plays with his fingers in the instrument.

Similarly, in the case of living beings, particularly man, his nature, behaviour, and actions are related to the parts and components in his body as the brain, the nerves, and so on. So man is not responsible for all the prevalent differences. There are his contents in his body, which are responsible.

Men endowed with rationalism have failed to understand this and act accordingly. Simply blaming a man for all his actions is inapt and illogical. A man was denied the scope to understand the nature of man fully.

Even as appearance is the effect of eyesight, even as a sense of hearing is the effect of ears, you find wisdom, friendship, ability to invent and investigate and other qualities such as anger, laughter, love, and vendetta are the effects of cells, nerves, corpuscles, etc., ingrained in the body of a man.

I speak about this in detail to stress that man is not directly, solely responsible for all these actions and behaviours.

You find the dog faithful. A cat acts stealthily. Owl can see in the night. An eagle can spot out things from a long distance. All these are possible, and they are based on the tendency of the cells and other parts of the body in them. One’s actions are based on the set up of the parts of the body and the nature of the ingredients of the parts composed of into one living being. So I do not think it justifiable to punish a thief with God or religion or sastras or laws.

How could God punish a hen for eating the worms? How could God punish a cat killing a rat? How could God punish an eagle for lifting away cocks and hens? If God is capable of punishing all these, he must also be capable of punishing white ants that eat away and destroy wooden things. God must also be capable of punishing the mud for rusting away iron parts in an object.

Now I believe that I have made myself very clear about the formation and functions of the human body. Now I take up a soul.

SOUL

You have seen that while we discussed the human body and its parts, there was no need to mention anything about the soul. Whatever was found in the human was revealed. Parts of the body can be seen and felt. Our experience helped us a lot to understand everything in the body clearly. They were acceptable to our reason.

But if we take up the soul for consideration, we can neither see it nor touch it. We have no experience with it. So far as our knowledge is concerned, we are not able to recollect anything about it.

‘Soul’ is simply based on blind thought and belief. Intellect or experience has no role to play regarding the soul. Then what is the soul? It is created as imaginary as God. God is not a thing with a definite form or appearance. The soul is also like that. God is neither visible nor touchable. So also is the soul! God has no fixed and definite limbs or parts as eyes, nose, ears, mouth, hands, and body. So also is the soul. One cannot conceive or realize God. You cannot assess its powers or see its functioning. No one can establish the existence of God by convincing methods and reasonable ways. The soul is also like God. Why do we need a soul? Why was it created? Who created it? Who is benefited by it.? You get no reply from any source for all these. You will have to simply believe that there is nothing called a soul. ‘Soul’ is something that cannot be questioned or tested.

But, ‘soul’ has been accepted, as most people do in the case of God and religion, due to certain circumstances. Others, the non-believers in God and religion, who are accustomed to rational thinking, have nothing to do with what is called the soul. An inquiry into the philosophy of the soul is necessary.

Body, mouth, nose, ears, and eyes are called Pancha Indiriyas (Five Senses). Thinking, speaking, and action are called Mukaranam. If anything is not established as true by all these senses, it cannot be really existent. Some people say that God is beyond proof. But to say that anything and everything is beyond the test for finding the truth would amount to erasing the word truth from the dictionary.

The word ‘ Athma’ (Soul) is not a Tamil word. It is clear from this that Tamilians of the Dravidian race were not aware of the soul's philosophy. You find the soul described only in the Northern Indian language Sanskrit. The word ‘soul’ in English does not connote the meaning and interpretation given by the Brahmins.

You don’t find a place given or allotted to the soul in the human body. The soul is not assigned to specific work related to the body. You find that every part of the body is doing a definite work. Soul has no work in the body. All the parts in the body function. Our organs of senses enable us to feel things. Everything is found to be natural. But what about ‘Soul’? Where is it? What is it? What is its function?

‘Soul’ is something unnatural, unwanted, and unrelated to the human body.

How does the machine work? It is because of the various parts assembled together. Look at a clock. It shows time. It wakes up a man by ringing the alarm. There are many kinds of arrangements inside. Accordingly, it performs different functions.

If we are to further probe into the matter, we will accept the fact that there is a clock with different parts arranged suitably to perform different functions. What else could be said? Who will believe if we say that there is some miraculous ghost or thing inside the clock that enables the clock to perform all these functions? Would anyone blindly believe?

Once, say fifty years back, a villager came to our shop. He looked at the big clock. He saw the pendulum oscillating. He heard the ringing sound. He was surprised. He inquired as to where the man was who moved the pendulum? He wanted to know where the man was ringing the clock and producing sound. I jocularly remarked that men were standing on the other side of the wall doing all these things. He believed what I said and began to flatter me. “You are a lord! A big Maharaja! You can afford to have any number of people”.

Why do I tell this about that villager? It is to make it clear that only those in the stage of that villager would believe in gods, religions, and souls. There is no other concrete reason to believe them. You can see a lot of machines doing wonderful things which a man cannot do. Yet the machines do not have any ‘soul’ said to be the pride possession of man.

The Christian religion and the Islam religion do not speak of any soul. ‘Buddhists deny soul. Original Dravidians, too, did not have any belief in ‘soul’. Then how did it come to predominate over us now? Is there any sensible reason for creating the fantastic imaginary thing? Is the meaning given to the soul convincing? The philosophy about the soul applies only to a particular religion. In other words, without this soul, there is no Hindu religion.

‘Soul’ is not true. It has been created only to protect a particular religion. To hush up a lie, many lies are needed. Similarly, to protect a false religion and God, a false ‘soul’ has been created. To establish the baseless Hindu philosophy, many baseless philosophies have been created as soul, heaven, hell, fate and karma, etc., by the Brahmins.

What do we see of a man? He is born. He grows. He does things according to the abilities of his body and development. He dies. After death, he is either cremated or buried. He is no more in the world. This is what we see in the life of a man. What is the need to believe blindly and unnecessarily any other philosophy?

Why should the creator of the concept of the soul, take so much pain? The soul is said to be smaller than an atom. It is said to be a very minute and delicate thing unperceivable. The work of the soul is said to take into account all the thoughts and actions of an individual and assort the good separately and then bless good things for the good deeds. Are you able to understand anything?

It is like saying that a man who is neither born nor found in any place is to undergo unbelievable punishment for the misdeeds he has not done. What do you understand by this comparison?

Supposing a watch does not show the correct time whose mistake is that? It may be the man who made it. It may be the negligence of the man who took care of the watch. It may be the fault of the person who saw the time. Leaving all these persons who have a connection with the watch, if one is to throw the blame on the ‘soul’ of the watch and further refuse to show or point out or explain what the soul is and where the soul is, how could it be the right to blame the soul for anything and impose punishments? Won’t you think it a big fraud? Similarly, it is a bigger fraud to link the soul with the actions of a man, and subject the soul for suffering any punishment.

What is a soul for a man? What are the responsibilities and duties of living beings? Take into consideration even the green vegetation – plants – shrubs. Anything that is born goes out of existence. Observe anything born. It lives for some time and dies ultimately. The life and action of living beings are based on the formations of the body and its nature. Living beings, whatever they are, are not directly responsible for their actions and ways of life.

In man’s behaviour we consider some as good and some as bad. Why should a soul be created to suffer for the deeds and misdeeds? How do we term certain action alone as good? Is there any universal standard or accepted scale to measure the actions as good or bad. Then how to say that our souls beget good things for good acts after death. How to believe that a soul undergoes punishment for the bad acts after death? How fantastic all these are! Please think over. Where is the proof for all these? How to believe in ‘soul’ and its work? How to believe that ‘soul’ attains ‘moksha’ (Release from the birth of worldly life) only on account of his good deeds? Is there anyone to prove it in any manner? So I think you now understand that the philosophy about the soul is false and absurd. Think in any manner, there is no need for the creation of a soul.

In short, it is a castle built in the air.!

To identify one’s belongings, man has the convenience to call ‘mine’ ‘my own’ and ‘belongs to me’. If he says, ‘My soul’, it is because he has that facility to identify without knowing himself what his soul is. In fact, it is meaningless to say ‘my soul’

See what life is. It is also a mere thought. There is nothing called life. Some say life is the soul. Others say the soul is life. Some others say that life is nothing. Some conceive life as something that functions independently.

LIFE

Life is not an object. If it is an object, it can have movements. We can compare it to a machine that works. By its movement, other parts also function. Similarly, life's function is to make all the parts of the body do their respective work. If life is the energy needed for the people to do work, it is the food we take that is most important for the body to exert itself. Whatever be the formation of the body and its parts, there can be no function, if people do not take food. So we may say that life is the result of the food we consume.

If there is any damage to the parts of the body, life is extinct. If there is no food, life will be extinct. The movement of the body will stop. Where there is a movement, we call him a man. He is said to have life. When the movements stop, man becomes a corpse. He is no more a man. What is meant by death? If the body is unable to breathe in and breathe out from the lungs are said to have lost their power. When the lungs fail to perform its duty, man is not able to breathe.

Since man has this kind of life, he can express and point his belongings personally. The other living beings are also able to understand themselves.

If you have a dog named ‘Rose’, it comes to you when it is called by name. Many dogs do things as we like. They understand our orders and carryout. Other living beings also understand their belongings. They know their nests, yards, and young ones. If you ask a man what he means by life or soul, he cannot explain. Why? Because it is not a specific object or part of the body. He is unaware of the chemical reactions in his body, which changes him and makes him feel different things. If saffron is mixed with lime, red color is formed. Blue and yellow mixed together become green. Oxygen and hydrogen become water. Similarly, poison is also a combination of certain elements. Some chemicals lead to boiling. When boiled, certain things become hard. When heated, certain things evaporate.

So we find that by a combination of certain things, various changes occur. It is this natural law of change that our people call by names.

For example, you take a musical box (record player). Simply by winding the key, it can produce different songs and ragas. When we hear the sound, we can recognize the tunes, ragas, etc. How do we decide? If it is a mere sound, we will take it as a natural sound. But the musical box correctly produces the sound converted into a raga. You hear the Pallavi, Anupallavi, and Charanam of the songs. How is it? The musical box is set up with such arrangements. Yet the box has not the feeling of self.

Similarly, a man can speak, think, see, hear, command, laugh, cry, sing, jump, quarrel, beat and invent, on account of the set up of the various parts in his body. Such an arrangement found in the human body can function together for various functions. If we understand this, we will refuse to believe that life or soul is a separate object. It is merely a false notion and blind belief.

If we probe further to discover the origin of ‘soul’, you will find that it was created by religion and the belief in God.

Generally, the soul is linked only to mankind and not to other living beings. Vedantis who have mastered Vedas also express that God, soul, life, and other living things are merely feelings. That is the reason why philosophy is deemed equal to Vedanta. Generally, the vedantis say that he who understands himself first will be able to understand the Lord. What is meant by such a saying? If a man realises what he means by his self understands his ego, he will realize what God is.

Man lives with desires. He is a slave to temptations. He must do good or bad to others in society. To emphasise the importance of doing things, the creation of imaginary things as soul and life was created. To induce a man to do good things only, he is made to believe that his soul will have to face terrible punishments after death if he does bad deeds. It is also a mere myth. Logically speaking, a man who does not do anything good or bad need not have any fear about God. He need not worry about heaven or hell.

Every living person is bound to do good deeds as well as bad deeds. So long as he is alive, his actions are bound to be based on the mode of functioning of his parts of the body. His actions are bound to be either good or bad. Moreover, a deed that is considered bad by some might be good for others.

God, religion, and soul were invented to regulate a man's life with a good intention.

It is the selfish exploiting people who consider them as if existing.

Before concluding, I wish to stress the importance of man leading an unselfish life.

What I express are my personal views. I don’t say that you should believe what I said.

It is for you to come to a wise judgment. Please think over all these things.

Thank you all.

***

Speech delivered by Periyar E.V. Ramasami, at the Salem Arts College, in 1947. Prof. Thiru. Ramasami, Principal of the College presided.

(From 'Collected Works of Periyar E.V.R.', compiled by Dr. K. Veeramani, published by 'The Periyar Self-Respect Propaganda Institution')


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