Meet Thenmozhi Soundararajan: An anti-Brahmin activist who hates Yoga

Meet Thenmozhi Soundararajan: An anti-Brahmin activist who hates Yoga

On November 10, anti-Brahmin activist Thenmozhi Soundararajan went on an unhinged tirade against the ancient Indian Hindu practice of Yoga.

In a tweet, she claimed, “What does it mean to address the structural violence at the heart of yoga? I break the silence on the religious abuse that is at the heart of yoga and how healing begins with de-brahminising and decolonizing. Check it on the latest #conspirituality podcast.”

The archived version of the tweet can be accessed here. The anti-Brahmin activist participated in a podcast, hosted by one Matthew Remski and titled ‘Conspirituality.’

During the one and half-hour long podcast, Soundararajan cast aspersions on the history of Yoga and claimed that it was used by Brahmins to oppress the Dalit community.

At about 21 minutes into the podcast, she said, “The Yoga practice that we see packaged in the United States is one very particular, consumable, superficial understanding of centuries of tradition that actually has much conflict and oppression inside of it.”

She then claimed that Yoga was practised by indigenous communities in India but the rules of the practice were written by ‘others’. Soundarajan insinuated that Yoga had an in-built system of hierarchy, which supposedly made it vulnerable to abuse. However, as has been the practice, she offered little evidence to prove her claims.

“We have seen different Yoga teachers weaponising their practice to prey on their students,” she concluded. At about 40 minutes into the podcast, the anti-Brahmin activist accused white and ‘caste dominant’ Yoga practitioners of shoving ‘Brahmanism’ down her throat.

Again, her conclusion was based on the fact that several Yoga sessions began with the chanting of the Gayatri Mantra and Sanskrit hymns. “I was very deeply in a (state of) conflict for participating in those mantras,” she said.

Thenmozhi Soundararajan remarked that Sanskrit was exclusive to the Brahmin community during the Vedic period and that ‘Manusmriti’ supposedly ordered pouring molten lead into the ears of Dalits and cutting off their tongues (for listening to Sanskrit mantras).

“I would say those words (Gayatri Mantra) and wonder how my ancestors could not say them and would be in conflict…” she added. The anti-Brahmin activist claimed her Yoga teachers would insist on repeating Sanksrit slokas, even when she declared herself as ‘caste oppressed’.

She then accused her Yoga teacher of preying on students by allegedly telling them stories of ‘ancient traditions’ where Yogis had ‘sexual congress’ with Adivasi women. “There are lot of Yoga traditions that try to sexually control the body in this idea of like purity and pollution,” she further emphasised.

Bizarre interpretations of Dharma & Karma ft. Thenmozhi Soundararajan

The anti-Brahmin activist then went on to demonise Hindu beliefs of ‘Dharma’ and ‘Karma’, based on her skewed understanding of the concepts.

She claimed, “When I first found out that I was Dalit, I thought it was the weirdest thing ever. The whole idea of Dharma (duty) and Karma (consequences for your action) is that you’re born untouchable because you did something bad in your other life.”

“You did that (something bad) in your other life and you deserve to be shunned in this life, exposed to structural violence, and exploited. That is your punishment. To not fulfil that punishment is to be out of your alignment/ duty or Dharma,” she continued her outlandish claims.

She then whitewashed the gory history of the Islamic invasion and Christian evangelism by suggesting that forceful conversions to Abrahamic Faiths were in fact the fallout of Brahmanism in India.

Thenmozhi Soundararajan displays her ignorance about reincarnation & Buddhism

At about an hour into the podcast, Soundarajan said, “I actually struggle with the idea of reincarnation because of how punitively it was shared with me…I really cannot talk about reincarnation because of how it was weaponised against my people.”

Soundarajan also claimed that Buddhism was conceived to challenge Brahmanism and that it was driven out of the Indian sub-continent via political persecution, a lie often repeated by historical distortionists. She appealed to Buddhists to de-Brahmanise their rituals.

The blurb of the controversial podcast read, “In the Ramayana, a Dalit who dared to practice yoga was murdered so that the sickly child of a priestly family might regain his health.”

“In the Mahabharata, a Dalit boy is commanded to cut off his own thumb for the sin of being devoted to a guru above his station. The pious are told that these obscene retributions maintain the divine order,” it also alleged.

When Google showed the door to the anti-Brahmin activist

In April 2022, tech giant Google cancelled a talk by Thenmozhi Soundararajan, owing to the fear that it might create ‘division and rancour’ in the workplace.

Thenmozhi, who serves as the Executive Director of Equality Labs, was invited to speak to Google News employees by its senior manager Tanuja Gupta. Her talk was supposedly aimed at raising awareness about ‘caste bias’ and ‘caste discrimination’ in tech companies on the occasion of ‘Dalit History Month.’

However, Google decided to not go forward with the scheduled talk. While speaking about the matter, Google spokesperson Shannon Newberry clarified, “Caste discrimination has no place in our workplace. We also have a very clear, publicly shared policy against retaliation and discrimination in our workplace.”

In 2018, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey had once stoked a massive controversy when he held an anti-Brahmin placard that said ‘Smash Brahminical Patriarchy’, a poster designed by Thenmozhi Soundararajan.

The article was first published in Opindia on November 12, 2022.