Return Of The Timeless Sceptre

Return Of The Timeless Sceptre

by Aravindan Neelakandan - Wednesday, May 24, 2023 06:27 PM IST
Return Of The Timeless Sceptre An artists's illustration of the handing over of the Sengol in Chola era.
  • The Sengol symbolises the roots of the Indian state and the values of the Indian nation.

    It is entirely appropriate that it receives a place of high honour in India's new parliament.

Whenever this nation has been subjugated there has been a Saivite revival and an overthrow of the tyrants.

Perhaps the earliest Saiva revival, which infused a national defence against invaders, was when Mihirakula invaded India. He called himself a devotee of Rudra but massacred Buddhist monks.

Though the Buddhist monks were not Saivites and a sectarian religionist culture would have celebrated such an event, the Saivite kings of India did not. They formed a confederacy and drove away the invaders.

The Mandasor pillar inscription of Yasodharma (also called Vishnuvardhan) who defeated the Hun Mihirahula, states that he achieved it by 'a coalition of Indian kings'. The victory inscription proclaims this:

May the long flying banner of Shulapani (Trident wielding Shiva) destroy the strength of your enemies; the banner with the Nandi (Shiva’s bull), marked by the five fingers (dipped in Sandal and vermilion) of the daughter of the mountains (Parvati, the consort of Shiva), that bull whose bellowing causes all the quarters of the worlds shake and grips the demons with fear, whose horns shatter the rocks of the mountain Sumeru!
Hans Bakker, The World of the Skandapurāṇa, BRILL, 2015, p.37

That was the sixth century. Thousand years later in the year 1645 CE, a teenager stood before a Shivalinga in a fort temple. It was in the Shiva temple of Raireshwar that Shivaji took the oath to establish Hindavi Swarajya.

Then, under the British, the modern Hindu renaissance and the spiritual basis for the national awakening and freedom struggle came with Swami Vivekananda. Swami Vivekananda too was a great devotee of Shiva.

His Guru, Bhagwan Sri Ramakrishna, attained one of his major mystic experiences when he was play-acting as Shiva in a Shivaratri stage drama. Strictly within the Sri Ramakrishna tradition there is a belief that Swami Vivekananda had Rudra-amsha - an emanation of Shiva's attribute.

Thus one can say that India is indeed a Shiva-bhoomi and because it is Shiva-bhoomi it is the home of all sampradayas.

Hence, it is only appropriate that the Sengol, the sceptre from a Vedic Saivite Adheenam—Thiruvavaduthurai or monastery associated with Gomukthieeshwar temple—becomes the symbol of sovereignty of this land.

The book, Freedom at Midnight, by Dominique Lapierre and Larry Collins, is a highly sensationalised, Indo-phobic account of India's Partition and freedom.

In this book, the authors have given an account of the handing over of the sceptre from the Adheenam in their own way.

The account, which is cringeworthy, needs to be read only to know how much ignorance of Indian culture and society existed in the minds of those who considered themselves an authority on Indian culture and society. This is how they describe the giving of the spectre to Nehru by the representatives of the Adheenam:

... delegates from an India that venerated superstition and the occult had a rendezvous with the prophet of a new India of science and socialism. As once Hindu holy men had conferred upon ancient India’s kings their symbols of power, so the sannyasin had come to York Road to bestow their antique emblems of authority on the man about to assume the leadership of a modern Indian nation. They sprinkled Jawaharlal Nehru with holy water, smeared his forehead with sacred ash, laid their sceptre on his arms and draped him in the Cloth of God. To the man who had never ceased to proclaim the horror the word ‘religion' inspired in him, their rite was a tiresome manifestation of all he deplored in his nation. Yet he submitted to it with almost cheerful humility.

In reality the representatives of Adheenam bestowed upon Nehru—who was entrapped in the attractions of modern polity—a timeless blessing. And that blessing came in turn from Thirugnana Sambandar, the Saivite child-prodigy who sang of the greatness of woman - as part of the Divinity.

Thirugnana Sambandar broke social stigmatisation. He made a couple, considered defiled because of their profession, sleep in a Brahmin's house; that too by the side of the household fire altar, which was the holiest place in a Brahmin house. Sambandar symbolised gender equality, Dharmic renaissance and social emancipation.

What could be a better blessing for a new India than timeless values which bring inclusive justice and happiness to all?

Talking of superstitious India, let it be known that it was Nehru who personally followed astrology, using astrologers to note correctly the birth of his grandchildren for astrological charts. But to the outside world, he crowed about scientific temper.

On the other hand the chant with which the representatives of the Adheenam blessed Nehru called Kolaru Thirupathigam was about the needlessness to bother about the influences of planets and stars in one's life. Because Sambandar declares 'the One whose half is Goddess; who drank the poison itself; who delights by playing Veena; who wears the moon and Ganga in His matted hair - He having entered my mind, why should I bother about the days and the shadow serpentine planets?'

Thus the blessing on Nehru came through a tradition of gender equality, intellectual renaissance, social emancipation and true scientific temper.

May the return of the spectre of Sanatana Saiva Dharma make the nation dedicate itself to these timeless values again.

Aravindan is a contributing editor at Swarajya.

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