Tamil Nadu: Crude Attack On A Sacred Symbol Of Hindus By DMK In-House Channel Raises Troubling Questions

Tamil Nadu: Crude Attack On A Sacred Symbol Of Hindus By DMK In-House Channel Raises Troubling QuestionsIn Tamil Nadu, the DMK has pushed through with its agenda in the name of social reform.
Snapshot
  • An anchor on a DMK-affiliated channel shames children for wearing the 'vibuthi', while at the top level, the state government takes away temple gold and DMK leaders shower praises on scam-tainted, evangelist groups.

    Just what is happening in Tamil Nadu?

The video clip is from a children’s programme run by a television channel that bears the honorary name Dravidianists attribute to M. Karunanidhi – ‘Kalaignar’.

The anchor, ‘Iman’, is known for his colloquial accent from southern Tamil Nadu, which is seen as 'fancy' by the northern Tamil Nadu population and elite.

Capitalising on this 'exotic' tag, he had become quite a sensation, both in movies and in anchoring children’s programmes.

In the video clip that has gone viral, he asks the children and their parents about vibuthi, the sacred ashes made from the burning of cow dung that is worn by devout Hindus throughout southern India. Many take the vibuthi and consume a fraction of a tea-spoon of it in the belief that it will bestow protection. Emphasizing that the vibuthi is made from the burning of cow dung, Iman asks in a demeaning tone if the kids and parents would taste any dung for that matter. The child on the screen looks evidently shamed and uncomfortable.

This is thus a wholesome shaming of one of the most sacred symbols of Hindus. This is not being done in any TV debate or programme for all age groups but in a programme meant specifically for children. This is done in a channel whose ideological affiliation is definitely not Hindu and by an anchor who isn't a Hindu either.

Vibuthi or thiruneeru (auspicious ash) as it is called, has deep spiritual connotation for Hindus of southern India – particularly Shaivaites. Thiru Gnana Sambandar had sung 10 verses on the greatness of thiruneeru. Every Shaivaite child learns these verses at an early age.

The emotional bonding that Hindu Tamils have with thiruneeru is fundamental. It symbolises the pancha-akshara which is Nama Sivaya. Hence, vibuthi itself is called 'pancha-akshara'. Not many know this now.

Thirumuruga Krupananda Vaariyar in his autobiographical memoirs records how this mystic knowledge of high order has permeated through entire Tamil society. A girl in the countryside cutting grass casually asked Vaariyar Swamigal to give her ‘pancha-akshara’. Vaariyar Swami was startled to see the wisdom of ages coming from this country side girl.

What we witnessed on that TV show is an attack on Hindu Dharma and the abuse of children. But this happens at a time when there are other incidents happening in the State too.

It coincides with the participation of M K Stalin and his sister, Kanimozhi, in a function of the dominant Protestant ‘Church of South India’ (CSI). The Chief Minister called the CSI an asset for the nation. This is despite the fact that the CSI diocese has been in news for financial scandals and fraud. For example: here is the report of the CSI being under IT-scanner in 2011 in a case that involves swindling money received from abroad for Tsunami victims. Then there is this news of CSI dioceses corruption in 2014. Here is a 2021 report on the Coimbatore diocese CSI involved in financial fraud.

When a probe was ordered in June 2016, the CSI promptly approached the Madras High Court against such an investigation. The Hindu report dated February 02, 2021 simply states the following:

The Madras High Court on Monday directed the Registrar of Companies to conduct a fresh inquiry into allegations of misappropriation, mismanagement and misfeasance in the Church of South India (CSI) Trust Association, which owns properties worth several lakh crores of rupees across the southern parts of the country.

It is in this context that the declaration by the CM and his sister that the CSI as an asset to the nation, gains significance.

Imagine the kind of media scrutiny and backlash a Hindu institution would have faced in a similar scenario. But in the context of a real case of scandal, the CSI diocese gets a certificate from the same DMK which also mocks, attacks, and humiliates Hindu traditions at every possible opportunity through every channel it has access to.

One has to see this together with another development. The Hindu Religious Charities and Endowment board (HR&CE) is going ahead with its plan of melting the gold ornaments given by the devotees into gold bars for the 'state-stated purpose' of temple maintenance. In reality, if properly audited and managed, the Hindu temples of Tamil Nadu generate enough revenue to maintain themselves gloriously with all the traditional rituals and also to serve Hindu society through welfare schemes.

But the HR&CE as well as the Dravidian governments use the government control to strip Hindu temples of their assets, particularly land and gold. Further, honesty and transparency are not the traits for which the DMK in particular, and Dravidian movement in general, are known for.

So, we have here a convergence. Even at the level of the children, the hate-indoctrination and shaming regarding Hindu symbols are done in popular TV channels owned by the DMK families. Then, the DMK government openly praises a proselytising diocese, that is infested with financial scandals, as 'an asset to the nation'. The same DMK government also takes away the gold of the Hindu temples.

The question is what the Tamil Hindus and Shaiva Adheenams are going to do about it.

Aravindan is a contributing editor at Swarajya.

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