An old video has surfaced which shows DMK chief M K Stalin denigrating Vedic marriage rituals and going as far as calling the mantras ‘obscene’. Apologists for the DMK try to justify Stalin’s statement by saying that this had been the stand of the Dravidian movement for the last 100 years. It may be true. But then, Dravidian movement should refrain from calling itself ‘rationalist’. Here’s why: In the video, Stalin is praising the way the bride and groom are seated in chairs in the marriage functions of another religion. He observes that as against this, in Hindu marriages, the couple is made to sit on the floor in an uncivilised manner and the purohit starts a fire between them. This fire, he says, creates irritation in the eyes of the bride and groom, making them shed tears, and it soon also creates irritation in the eyes of the people who are standing around witnessing the marriage ceremony. But the part most people found objectionable was the one where he repeats a Dravidian urban legend that unimaginably obscene mantras are said in a language that none in the crowd nor the couple understands, but only the Brahmin understands. This categorisation of Brahmins as spiritual despots who cheat masses draws from the ‘tyranny of priestcraft’ propaganda that was used by the Protestants against the Catholic church. In India, the same propaganda was unleashed against the Brahmins, who were seen as the chief obstacle to Christian proselytisation. This abuse of Hindu religion as a conspiracy of ‘Brahminical priestcraft’ has unfortunately become part of the academic, media, and political narrative. Of course, to this was added the Aryan race theory. Brahmins as ‘Aryans’ were singled out the cunning racial other. This historical understanding is necessary to place in context the Dravidian racial politician’s invention of ‘obscenity’ in Hindu rituals officiated by Brahmins. These verses, alluded by the DMK supremo as obscene, are said by the purohit and repeated by the bridegroom, which the latter is made to say to the bride, are hymns from Rig Veda mandala 10, hymn 85. The verses in question are: In the Dravidian urban legend, verses 40 and 41 are highlighted as proof for the obscenity of priestcraft cunningly created by diabolic Aryans to humiliate and subjugate the native Dravidians. In truth, what do these verses mean? In Hindu traditional science of commentaries, their meaning is well defined. The Smriti of Atri Maharishi, Atri-Smriti, explains this verse so beautifully: “Soma gives the women purity; Gandharva bestows sweet speech: and Agni gives her Sarvamedhatva genius or innate intelligence in all domains (of knowledge) So the woman is always in possession of purity and in-depth insightful intelligence (sarvamedhatva).” The flow of the verses indicates that when a girl becomes a wife, she also assumes the role of the queen of the house. She becomes a ruler. She gets the right to command over the in-laws. And she is also reminded of the biological dimension of marriage and meta-biological dimension considering the husband himself as a child. More importantly, the hymn reminds the husband the greatness of the wife. She has been nurtured by the celestial and that he himself is born of a woman now one born of woman is the fourth That the woman nurtured by Agni has in her the same fire. This has become part of the collective Hindu civilisation. So, in Hindu epics, when a woman is harassed or denied justice, the fire comes to her rescue. When Sita was suffering in Lanka, it was Agni set to the tail of Hanuman that manifested justice for the grieving feminine. When Kannagi was denied justice in the court of Pandyas, her breast milk turned into Agni and burnt Madurai, says Tamil tradition. Thus, Agni being the saviour or companion of the woman is very much an integral part of our tradition. Throughout the world, rationalists try to read poetry and symbolism in the ancient religious scriptures. On the other hand, religious fundamentalists would peddle the literal meaning of the text aggressively. In India, traditional Hindus and true humanists show that their sacred texts are profound poetry with rich inner symbolism, but the so-called Dravidian rationalists insist on damning them by twisting them and ascribing to them literal meaning in the most absurd way. This is not rationalism. This is irrational prejudice and hatred.