Will ‘rationalist’ Karuna face the challenge of ‘superstition’?
Reporting on the renovation of temples at a cost of around Rs. 450 crores by the Tamil Nadu government, the Delhi-based daily, The Pioneer, said, “TN CM is full of Karuna and Nidhi for Temples.” The Chennai edition of The Times of India said, “Tamil Nadu CM turns temple patron”.
Both newspapers didn’t fail to remark about the Chief Minister’s atheistic ideology and anti-Brahmin stand. However, it is a surprise why they should hype the government’s spending of Rs. 450 crores which is a pittance compared to the revenue it gets from the temples by means of contributions made by Hindu bhaktas. After all, it is the duty of the government to spend the money on temple related projects, as the money has been contributed by Hindus only for that purpose.
Though both newspapers naively speculated on the CM’s attitudinal change, observers of TN politics are aware of his dubiousness in this regard. His political preference is exactly opposite his personal preference, but a major section of the people of Tamil Nadu has not understood his double standards.
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Karunanidhi, throughout his political career, has survived by adopting the divide & rule policy conceived by the British through distortion of our history and civilisation. He has never missed a single opportunity to make disparaging remarks about Hindus, Hindu Gods, philosophy and culture, apart from denigrating Sanskrit and Hindi, and simultaneously he has appeased minorities for their votes.
When Hindus protested against the installation of atheist EV Ramasamy’s statue in front of the famous Srirangam Temple in 2006, he asked, “When temple towers have nude sculptures and when nude Gods and Goddesses are kept inside the Temples, what is wrong in having a well dressed EVR in front of the Temple?”
On the eve of Ganesh Chaturthi in 2007, he said, “Lord Ganesha was born in Vathapi (Karnataka) and was brought to Tamil Nadu from there during Pallava period and hence he is not a Tamil God.” His TV Channel (Kalaignar TV) brazenly launched its telecast on the auspicious day of Ganesh Chaturthi. However, he has never made insulting remarks about Bhagwan Muruga, younger brother of Ganesha, as Muruga/Karthik is revered and worshipped as a “Tamil God”.
At the peak of the Rama Setu Protection Movement against the Setu Samudram Project, Karunanidhi said, “Some say there was a person over 17 lakh years ago. His name was Ramar. Do not touch the bridge constructed by him, they are saying. But then, from which engineering college did he graduate? Is there any proof for this?”
Then, touching his pet Aryan-Dravidian theory, he exposed his “knowledge” of the Ramayana: “Rama is an Aryan God and Ravana is a Dravidian King, and the communal (read Hindu) organizations working against Setu Samudram project are Aryans trying to stall the development of Dravidian Tamil Nadu”
Later, sitting relaxed at his bungalow during NDTV’s Walk the Talk program, he told Shekhar Gupta of Indian Express, “Tulsi Das had written in his Ramayana that Sita was the sister of Rama and Valmiki had written that Rama was a drunkard,” thereby exposing his knowledge of Tulsi Ramayana and Valmiki Ramayana. He has never criticized Bhagwan Krishna, and allegedly worships him in secrecy in the Krishna temple just opposite his residence!
As Chief Minister, he always conveys his official greetings to Muslims and Christians on the eve of all their festivals, but never greets Hindus on the eve of any festival. He greets the people only on Pongal / Sankranti which, thought celebrated nation-wide, is held to be a Tamil cultural festival.
Karunanidhi conveniently avoids criticizing anything connected with Tamil, be it God, festival, or culture. His selective amnesia makes his forget the fact that his ‘mentor’ EVR was a Kannadiga from Karnataka, and he himself has a Telugu ancestry and Telugu as his mother tongue. This ‘atheist’ has a ‘divine’ habit of always wearing a yellow shawl, for which he has given many ‘rational’ explanations, not one of which is convincing. The truth is that yellow is the colour associated with Bhagwan Dakshinamurthy and Karunanidhi’s original name is Dakshinamurthy; he wears a yellow shawl allegedly on the advice of a team of astrologers.
He is reputed to have stated: “I am not against Brahmins, but only against Brahmanism. Brahmanism practised by people of any caste will be opposed by me and my party.” He doesn’t hesitate to keep many Brahmins around him in important posts. Even for health care, he keeps Brahmin doctors; his Yoga teacher is also a Brahmin. But he indulges in ridiculing Brahmins, as evidenced by his party organ Murasoli spewing venom on the weekly magazines Kalki and Vikatan, calling their editors as ‘Poonal wearing Paappaans” (sacred thread wearing Brahmins; Paappaan is a derogatory term for Brahmin), because of their constructive criticism against his government.
It is relevant to view his rationalism, anti-Brahmanism, and so-called love for Tamil culture in the context of the forthcoming millennium celebrations of the Thanjavur Temple.
In 2007, when danseuse Padma Subramaniam laid the foundation for the Bharat Muni Temple, he refused to send greetings contending that only Ilango Adigal, who wrote Silappatikaram expounded the nuances of Bharat Natyam and not Bharat Muni. He added that building a memorial for Bharat Muni is a revival of Aryan oppression of Dravidians. It is true Ilango Adigal has comprehensively written about the nuances of Art and even the measurements of the arangam (auditorium) meticulously, but it is also held that Bharat Natyam is divine, founded by Bharat Muni, much before the time of Ilango Adigal, who only expounded upon an art form already in practice. It is said the real reason for Karunanidhi’s angst was that the temple was build on a 5-acre plot donated by the previous Jayalalithaa government; Padma was a good friend of Jayalalithaa.
But Kalaignar facilitated a classical dance program by Padma Subramniam and her team in the recently held DMK jamboree called World Classical Tamil Conference. On 25 September 2010, the dancer will perform during the millennium celebrations of the Thanjavur Big Temple; the massive troupe will include 1000 dancers. So the chief minister knows how to promote himself and his pet causes.
The Thanjavur Big Temple has a jinx; any VIP who enters the temple premises through the main entrance called Keralanthan gate would lose power or fall ill or lose even his life within a few days. This gained credibility when former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated and former Chief Minister M.G. Ramachandran had a serious stroke, both in 1984, after using the said entrance.
During the last kumbabishekam (consecration) of the Big Temple in 1997, when the yagasala caught fire and about 45 persons, mostly women and 5 children, died and more than 200 were injured, the then Chief Minister Karunanidhi made a flying visit to Thanjavur to see the spot and meet the victims. He never took the main Keralanthaan entrance and entered via the side entrance called the Sivaganga Park gate.
Now, for the millennium celebrations, the Sivaganga Park entrance has been enlarged by demolishing the nearby wall and removing many plants from the park and laying a special pathway for VIPs – all to avoid entering the temple through the main gate. So much for Dravidian Rationalism!
For the rationalist Kalaignar, Rama and Ganesha are mythical characters; Rama Setu is a mythical bridge; Ramayana is a myth. But the jinx attached to the Thanjavur Big Temple is a reality!
If he is a true disciple of E.V. Ramasamy, Karunanidhi must enter the temple through the main entrance.
If he is a true follower of Annadurai, Karunanidhi must enter the temple through the main entrance.
If he wants to prove to his party cadres that he is a true rationalist, disciple of EVR and follower of Annadurai, he must enter the temple through the main entrance.
If he is a product of the so-called Self Respect Movement, Karunanidhi must protect his party’s self respect by entering the temple through the main entrance.
He will be respected as a ‘Brave Tamil’ only if he enters the temple through the main entrance.
The author is a freelancer
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