Reply to Question from Mr. Ulakanathan of South Africa


​​Please can you give us the meaning of Humanism in Tamil. And then translate into English.

Usually the dictionary would give the word 

manida néyam (மனித நேயம்)  as the Tamil equivalent of Humanism.

     There are two ways of interpreting the human experience. The first is to regard it as a unique gift from the Almighty Creator of the universe. Because of this gift, we are able to appreciate, understand, and enjoy every aspect of the world. For this we must be grateful, thankful, and reverential to God. Much of religion consists in recognizing this and paying homage to the Divine through hymns, worships, and offerings of different kinds.  The religious approach is/has been enormously meaningful and fulfilling to millions of people in all cultures for many long centuries. Indeed it is necessary for most human beings

     Unfortunately, it has been subject to the eudys principle by which  all good things in human societies eventually develop some ill-effects. Thus religions (basically good in intent) have led to sectarianism. To give only a few examples, Vaishnavism and Shaivism in the Hindu world, Mahayana and Hinayana in Buddhism, Orthodox and Reformist in Judaism, Catholicism and Protestantism in Christianity, Sunni and Shia in Islam, etc. These, in turn have led to mutual hatred, persecution, wars, conversions, killing in the name of God, etc.

     The Humanist movement suggests that ultimately we must look upon the world in terms of human dignity, respect for all human beings, rejection of caste and race to assert superiority and inferiority among people, respect for woman and the handicapped, cultivation of  the ethics of caring, kindness, compassion, non-hurting fellow human beings, rejection of superstitions, and blind veneration of ancient texts, respect for knowledge acquired through science and reason, and quest for the Truth. None of this requires adherence to any traditional religion.

     I consider myself a humanist in all these ways. I also respect people affiliated to traditional religions in so far as their faith  brings spiritual fulfillment to them through their chosen ways (This is a basic Hindu perspective). I do not consider any race or religion, sect or sub-sect, language or people to be superior to any other, or a pet-child of God.

March 24, 2016

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About Varadaraja V. Raman

Physicist, philosopher, explorer of ideas, bridge-builder, devotee of Modern Science and Enlightenment, respecter of whatever is good and noble in religious traditions as well as in secular humanism,versifier and humorist, public speaker, dreamer of inter-cultural,international,inter-religious peace.
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