INDEPENDENCE DAY MUSINGS: ‘KODAVAME’ (COORG WAY OF LIFE) IS MY RELIGION
By P.T. Bopanna
As a born Kodava (Coorg), I feel the Kodava belief in ancestor and nature worship, is nearer to rationalism, than the mainstream Brahminical Hinduism.
Because the Kodava faith was transmitted orally down generations, it was not frozen in time and remained flexible to adopt to changing circumstances.
Kodavame, or Kodava way of life, is a precious heritage handed down to us by our ancestors. It should be practiced and preserved for generations to come.
But I cannot understand why the modern day Kodavas, especially the women, try to follow outdated Brahminical rituals and go after swamis of dubious reputation.
Being a rationalist, I have always admired physicist Stephen Hawking. The same goes for philosopher Bertrand Russell, Charles Darwin, Karl Marx, and our very own E.V. Ramaswamy Naikar, popularly known as Periyar, the leader of the Dravidian movement. All these geniuses advocated scientific reasoning, instead of blind belief in dogmas.
I was always stumped when a believer wanted to know as to who created this universe, if there was no God.
Finally, Hawking provided the answer in his book ‘The Grand Design’. He argued that the Big Bang was the consequence of the laws of physics alone and there was no need to invoke God to explain the origin of the universe.
In response to criticism, Hawking had said; “One can’t prove that God doesn’t exist, but science makes God unnecessary.” When pressed on his own religious views by the Channel 4 documentary Genius of Britain, he clarified that he does not believe in a personal God.
Because there is a law such as gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing. Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist. It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper and set the universe going.
We should be thankful to our first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru for advocating scientific temper, even though he may have failed as an administrator.
I admired Periyar, the Dravidian icon, for fighting against the blind belief of people, though I did not approve of his beating up Hindu idols with slippers.
Caricature of P.T. Bopanna by cartoonist Nala Ponnappa
Source: ‘Round and About with P T Bopanna’, Rolling Stone Publications, 2022. Buy paperback book at Amazon:
But a visit to Swami Iguthappa shrine in Padi is no display of boring brahminical rituals. The faith is palpable, the blessings give the devotee goose bumps and the visitor feels he’s home where he belongs and there is a super power overseeing your life. Miracles are wrought through prayers…. something that can only be experienced not promulgated! So there ….