Thiruvalluvar in Saffron spooks Dravidian chauvinists
   18-Dec-2019

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Thiruvalluvarin Saffron 

 As DMK and Dravidian bigots try to remove the Hindu identity of Tamil saint Thiruvalluvar, scholars and available proofs debunk their attempts to re-appropriate the great saint to push their agenda

 
 
 

TS Venkatesan 

 
 
PM Narendra Modi has been promoting one of the world’s oldest and richest language, Tamil, on all forums within the country and outside. Instead of expressing solidarity with the PM, paranoid Dravidian parties, so called Tamil activists and self anointed champions of Tamil cause have been up in arms against him, BJP and Home Minister Amit Shah. They have opposed PM Modi and BJP for whatever step they take even if their opposition is without merits or rationale.
 
 
The latest reason for these forces to rally against the BJP is the image of Saint Thiruvalluvar portrayed with Rudraksha beads and sacred thread (Janeu) and draped in saffron robes. Thiruvalluvar has given 1,330 fascinating two line couplets in his Thirukkural which is famous across the world.
 
 

PM Modi dumbfounds Dravidian parties

 
 
Opposing PM Modi, central government projects, schemes and BJP is the pass time for many in Tamil Nadu. In a recent interview, VCK leader Thriumavlavan had admitted that they had succeeded in building a anti-Modi infrastructure in the state and all parties (DMK, DK, VCK, Left parties, Muslim and Christian outfits, Tamil activities) are reaping its fruits to pursue their own agenda.
 
 
Prime Minister Modi has put great efforts to take Tamil and its rich literature to world. He spoke in Tamil at the UN Assembly by quoting ‘Purananooru’ poem and praising Tamil in his ‘Mann Ki Baat’. Finance Minister Nirmala Seetharaman had quoted versus from ‘Purananooru’ in her Budget presentation and Parliament speeches. When PM Modi informally met Chinese President Xi Jinping recently at Mahabalipuram, he was dressed in the typical Tamil dress of dhoti, shirt and a top shawl (angavastra) on his shoulder. He welcomed the Chinese President in Tamil.
 
 
The Dravidian parties which have been exploiting the masses in the name of Tamil, and rallied people against Hindi all these years, have now realized that the ground beneath their feet is being pulled away by PM Modi’s actions. They have realized that the BJP is paying them in their own coin to win over the people of TN. All these years, the Dravidian parties have hoodwinked people of the state and divided them on the basis of caste, language, creed and colour.
 
 
Dravidian parties in the state, which have been doing politics over death, are now resorting to the use of Hindu gods, and saints like Thiruvalluvar for their politics. BJP state IT wing functionary CTR Nirmal Kumar had posted a tweet with the image of Thiruvalluvar in question on 1st November from the party’s official handle. The image of Thiruvalluvar was draped in a saffron robe and Vibuthi (sacred ash) which showcased his true Hindu identity. It also undid what Karunanidhi and other Dravidian forces had done to Thiruvalluvar by removing the Hindu identity of the poet saint four decades ago by removing his sacred thread, Rudraksha Mala and Vibhuti from his images. “Now, we are projecting the real Thiruvalluvar with facts,” says Kumar.
 
 

Thiruvalluvar’s image petrifies DMK

 
 
Thiruvalluvar urged people not to eat meat, consume liquor, advised against polygamy, grabbing other properties and killing people. But DMK leaders have never followed any of these principles in their lives.
 
 
The latest image of Thiruvalluvar used by PM Modi and BJP has stirred up the hornet’s nest. Dravidian parties and others termed this as Saffronization of saint Thiruvalluvar. BJP spokesperson Narayanan Tirupathi asked whether DMK’s Stalin knew that a temple for Thiruvalluvar exists at Mylapore which is managed by the state government’s HR&CE department and the status quo was not altered even during the DMK regime. DMK chief MK Stalin said BJP is using the Tamil saint for their “saffronisation agenda” and is a “betrayal”. He advised BJP to learn from Thiruvalluvar’s writings instead of painting him saffron. The BJP replied and challenged Stalin to recite a stanza of Thiruvalluvar’s couplets without mistake or retire from politics.
 
 
Another BJP leader Shanmugam said saint Thiruvalluvar believed in the existence of God whereas DMK is against God and believe in their own form of rationalism and anti-Brahminism. Thiruvalluvar through his couplets urged people not to eat meat, drink liquor and advised against polygamy, grabbing other properties, killing people to achieve their political ambitions. But the DMK leaders have never followed any of these principles in their lives. If they respect Thiruvalluvar, their newly elected MPs would taken oath in the name of Thiruvalluvar and not in the name of Periyar, he said.
 

Thiruvalluvar urged people not to eat meat, consume liquor, advised against polygamy, grabbing other properties and killing people. But DMK leaders have never followed any of these principles in their lives

 
BJP national secretary H Raja has questioned DMK whether they agree to Thiruvalluvar’s belief in god. There are 40 temples for him and people worship him as god. But there is only one temple dedicated to him in TN and hence DMK cannot fool people for long. They are now exposed. During their rule, DMK changed him image to suit their ideology and even date of birth was changed. DMK was not concerned about the disparaging statements made by Deivanyagam who said Thiruvalluvar was inspired by Saint Thomas and wrote his couplets based on his interactions with him. When Thiruvalluvar was born 50 years before Jesus, how could he have interacted with his disciple, asked H Raja. Deivanayagam even got a PhD for this research which was done using state government funds. He tried to establish that Thirukkural was based on Christian principles. As absurd as this so-called research was, Thirukkural is a Universal principle for better living and way of life. Karunanidhi wrote the commentary on Thirukkural with his biased and distorted thoughts, said H Raja.
 
 
BJP general secretary and TN in-charge, Muralidhar Rao said Thiruvalluvar was a saint and not a DMK leader. The ‘saint’ poet lived for universal values that apply for the entire humanity and never favoured sectarian values. He said the DMK leaders must desist from narrow interpretation of the poet saint. “DMK always betrayed Tamilians in the last few decades only to retain power”, he said. “We have been using relevant couplets of Thirukkural regularly for the past few months. We are doing it to unmask the DMK and its Dravidian ideology and put an end to the DMK’s false propaganda aimed to fool the people”, said Muralidhar Rao.
 
 
Meanwhile, police have registered a case and formed special teams to nab those who vandalized the statue of Thiruvalluvar at Pillaiyarpatti near Thanjavur. Some villagers had noticed that the statue was smeared with cow dung and also ‘blindfolded’ with a black cloth and informed police. Villagers and members of political parties staged protests for the immediate arrest of the culprits.
 
 
DMK was quick to blame BJP for the incident. MK Stalin said that the statue was vandalized after the BJP released a photo depicting Thiruvalluvar in a saffron cloth on social media. Ironically, the police arrested two including a Muslim youth for the vandalism and is alleged to be a cadre of DMK.
 
 

Confused Dravidian chauvinists on back-foot

 
 
DMK which is concerned about depiction of Thiruvalluvar, did not say anything when Hindu gods and Bharat Mata were depicted in despicable way in the name of art and freedom of expression.
 
 
A BJP functionary KC Samy has asked that if the DMK and its allies consider ‘right to express’ as absolute, why should they be troubled by the way Thiruvalluvar is portrayed by BJP? Those who are concerned about Thiruvalluvar’s portrayal today, were nowhere to be seen when Hindu gods, Bharat Mata were depicted in despicable ways at an art exhibition at Loyola College in 2018. The Left leaning artist Mugilan defended his paintings in the name of freedom of expression. TN Minister K Pandiarajan has said Thiruvalluvar is either a Vaishnavite or a Shaiva saint but definitely not an atheist.
 
 
Defending the Dravidian narrative, few media houses quoted Dravidian scholar Sivalayam J. Mohan where he says that in Tamil tradition all saints including Shaivite saints are dressed only in white attires and saffron has no place in Tamil culture and tradition. He further said that the only saint who wore saffron was Sakkiya Nayanar, who converted to Shaivism from Buddhism. Saffron is a new phenomenon and even Tamil Mathas have embraced it.
 

DMK which is concerned about depiction of Thiruvalluvar, did not say anything when Hindu gods and Bharat Mata were depicted in despicable way in the name of art and freedom of expression
 

 
K. Thirunavukkarasu, a historian of the Dravidian Movement, has mentioned in detail about the transformation of the portrait of Thiruvalluvar in his book written on the history of the DMK. He writes that the picture of the Thiruvalluvar widely used by DMK and Dravidian ideologists, depicting him in a white robe and without any religious marks was drawn by one Venugopala Sharma in the late 1960s. This image was first used in a stamp released by the former Union Minister Dr. K Subbarayan. Even during the release of the stamp a question was raised about the absence of the “sacred thread” (Janeu) in the picture. Subbarayan had explained that either it would not be there in the picture or covered by the robe on the poet’s body.
 
 
However historical accounts, caricatures and scholars prove that he is wrong. Images and caricatures of Thiruvalluvar which were created decades before DMK came into existence, show him with Janeu, Rudraksh and even Vibhuti. The change which DMK did to his depiction to suit its agenda now stands exposed. n