DMK Tries To Woo Hindus But Ends Up Reviving A Bitter Memory

DMK Tries To Woo Hindus But Ends Up Reviving A Bitter Memory

by Aravindan Neelakandan - Dec 1, 2020 06:00 AM +05:30 IST
DMK Tries To Woo Hindus But Ends Up Reviving A Bitter MemoryKarunanidhi poster in Tamil Nadu (DIBYANGSHU SARKAR/AFP/Getty Images))
  • What Stalin listed down as pro-Hindu deeds of Karunanidhi were actually assaults on sacred Hindu spaces, traditions, literature, and on the sacredness of Tamil itself.

With Hindu unity becoming more and more vocal and apparent in Tamil Nadu, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam is now caught between its anti-Hindu dogma and the necessities of real politics.

Just like the temple run of the other princeling Rahul Gandhi during the Gujarat elections in 2017, M.K.Stalin, the dynastic supremo of the DMK has decided to flaunt a pro-Hindu identity.

With elections coming in a few months, the DMK looks as if it wants to send a message that it is not an anti-Hindu party.

In a meeting at Thirunelveli, Stalin came out openly and stated this:

Hail the grace-abundant Vinayaka; Hail the grace-abundant Muruga; Hail the grace-abundant Sivan; Hail the grace-abundant Thirumal; Hail the grace-abundant Nataraja; Hail the grace-abundant Kothanda Ramar; Hail the grace-abundant Ma Durga; Hail the grace-abundant Hanuman; Hail the grace-abundant Navagrahas - such Tamil worship books were released by Karunanidhi.

In the entire speech, Stalin listed various schemes that were supposedly enacted during the time of Karunanidhi and DMK rule and which allegedly benefitted the Hindu temples under the Hindu Religious and Charity Endowment Board. He also claimed that various Hindu seers praised these deeds of the DMK.

The video has gone viral and has been trolled by many in the social media.

Many Hindus may feel that this is a symbolic victory for the emerging Hindu unity in the state ahead of the elections next year.

DMK seems to be playing soft-Hindutva. Or is it?

In reality, there is an aversion to Hindu dharma and its institutions at a deeper level here.

Incidentally, when the DMK first came to power, the body of all the religious leaders in Tamil Nadu - the traditional adheenams, Jeeyars and Madathipathis, called Deivika Peravai, formed by the previous Congress government to monitor and guide government management of temples and also spread Hindu Dharma, came to be headed by Thava Thiru Kuntrakudi Adigal.

Adigal was said to be close to the DMK. He was even considered a ‘Sarkari’ Adheenam. But even he expressed his discomfort and displeasure over the allegations that the DMK government was planting its party people inside temple administration.

In his speech delivered in the Upper House of the state legislative assembly on 4 December 1973, Adigal had this advice to give to ‘our’ government, as he called the DMK administration:

Even as we take into consideration the fact that while in appointing the temple trustees our government is taking the necessary care, the general feeling and accusations that those appointed are not believers of the temple worship should also be taken care of. Right in this house itself the concerned minister said that the belief is different and administration is different. In reality only those who have an emotional attachment to a principle, a belief in a concept can alone do justice to proper administration in that domain. . . So as far as possible those appointed should be those who have faith in the Holy temples, their worship and in their rituals. It is not only the responsibility of the government to see to it that those who believe in temples are not offended. It is also the government’s duty. ... Even for appointing the last level government employee there are public service commissions. So to choose the trustees of the temple a commission should be appointed and through it the trustees should be appointed.

Even Thava Thiru Kuntrakudi Adigal, one of the strong supporters of the DMK, was forced to not only to caution the government but have his word of caution published in the magazine of the Peravai six months later.

Such was the government interference and party nepotism in the temple (mis)administration under the DMK regime.

What Stalin probably meant in his speech was that under his father’s regime, Tamil Nadu government replaced the original Agama rituals with their Tamil translations.

Such an imposition is not only anti-Hindu but it is also against the most sublime Tamil values cherished by those who made seminal contributions to Tamil and its sacredness.

The demand to change the mode of worship inside the temple sanctums into Tamil has been more a political demand fuelled by the colonial view of Dravidians being a different ethnic, even racial, category. In this view, the presence of Sanskrit is deemed as a kind of imposition by ‘Aryans’.

But this demands the question: why did the great Saivaite Adheenams never care to replace Sanskrit with Tamil, even though their love for Tamil and their contribution to Tamil are well known?

The answer is that to them the term 'Tamil' itself was a spiritual term and in that definition it accommodated Sanskrit, whose essence and functional responsibility was to take the jiva towards liberation.

As colonial linguistic chauvinism started taking over the sacred veneration Hindu tradition has for Tamil, many great Tamil scholar-seers warned against this tendency.

Great seers and scholars Sri Pamban Kuamaraguru Swamigal, Thirumuruga Kripananda Vaariyar had condemned the tendency to hate or remove Sanskrit-based worship. They all had contributed more to Tamil than all the Dravidianist ideologues put together.

Pamban Swamigal categorically stated that the ritual mantras should be in Sanskrit. Varriyar Swamigal also cautioned against linguistic chauvinism in the matter of mantras.

Another great Siddhanta scholar Sabaratnam PhD explained in detail what Tamil actually meant for Saiva Siddhanta:

It is important that we understand in true spirit in what meaning Thirumoolar (the great systemic synthesizer of Saiva Siddhanta) had used the term Tamil. It is as synonymous with the Nadhatheetha-Hamsa-Yoga path to achieve supreme consciousness that he has used the term Tamil. When in Siddha tradition Kalangi Siddhar uses the term ‘Nadhatheetha Tamil’ , he means the very subtle Para-Vak. When Arunagirinathar uses the term .... it refers to the Nadhatheetha vibrational experience. ... Those seeking to walk in the path of Siddhanta should shun away from linguistic divisionism. In fact no divisionism is good for anyone walking the Path of spiritual sadhana.

Thus, far from being a mere linguistic category, Tamil should be seen as an expansive sacred space accommodating Sanskrit for rituals, which in itself does not and cannot lower the sacredness of Tamil. But making politics out of it and substituting Tamil for Sanskrit actually diminishes the sacredness and greatness of Tamil.

In fact for domestic use - for personal puja, devotees who desire to do Ashtothra in Tamil, Saiva Siddhanta Kazhakam (Association for Saiva Siddhanta) had long before published small booklets and not only that, it had released even record discs performed by leading musicians.

But these were done for devotion and not because of animosity or competitive spirit towards another language. So even here Karunanidhi was not a pioneer but just a copycat with malicious intention towards Hindu temple institutions, born out of the arrogance of his power as chief minister.

In fact, anything born not out of love for the deity and spiritual sadhana, but out of pure animosity can only bring negativity and ill-effects. The same is true for this Tamil ‘mantras’ also.

During 1996-2001, Mr. TamilKudimagan who was the HR&CE minister in the then DMK government imposed the Tamil worship in the hallowed Kapaleeshwarar temple.

The devotees who heard the chants were horrified and hurt beyond belief. Among the chants were names surreptitiously introduced to hail the Chief Minister Karunanidhi and the HR&CE minister himself. This led to a strong protest from all the devotees and taken aback by the protest and its intensity, the DMK government hastily withdrew the imposition.

In fact, this is what happens when linguistic separatism and politics enter the sacred space of pujas and Agamic traditions. By unwittingly reminding Hindus of these incidents, M.K.Stalin has also given Hindus some strong reasons why they should not vote for the DMK.

Aravindan is a contributing editor at Swarajya.

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