A week or so ago, I received the editorial of the Thuglak magazine from a friend as an email forward. In it, the magazine lambasts the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, Kalaignar M. Karunanidhi, for his (mis-)handling of and his attitudes concerning the Sethusamudram project.
Titled “Arrogance, is your name Kalaignar?“, this was a fantastic piece and took apart clinically the DMK’s bungling on the issue. For those who can read Tamil, here it is. Here is a rough translation of the same. I have tried to remain true to the editorial’s contents as far as possible.
That the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu makes a habit out of wounding the sentiments of Hindus is known to one and all. But his remarks at the recent DMK meeting in Erode is a new chapter in his anti-Hinduism stance.
The Central Government recently informed the Supreme Court of India that it was looking into ways of executing the Sethusamudram project without disturbing the Ram Setu (the bridge that Lord Rama is known to have built on his way to Lanka). This should certainly have rubbed the Chief Minister the wrong way. This is because his primary motive seems to be not the Sethusamudram project, but the demolition of the Ram Setu. Which is why the Centre’s stance angers him. But of what use is his anger?
Already the Congress Government seems to be reeling under fear of being toppled. So even if the DMK were to threaten the Congress with a withdrawal of support, it won’t really carry so much weight. The Centre’s actions not only seem to verify its respect for Lord Rama, but has also won it three months of breathing space on the issue.
In his address in Erode, the Chief Minister spewed his rhetoric: “There are some who believe that even today people will accept baseless, supersitious, even crazy beliefs. And they play on this by invoking Rama’s name. We are now in a situation where we can act in order to dispel the darkness that might surround us for ages; and it is with that view that I present before you an action-plan. The Central Government has submitted to right-wing communal forces, and is standing in the way of the Sethusamudram project. We should object to this unequivocally.”
Is it enough just to raise voices in unison? The Central Government seems to have subscribed to the “baseless, superstitious, even crazy beliefs let loose by communal forces.” Even the Union Minister for Law has commented that “Rama is an inseparable part of India’s culture. This is not a matter open to debate. Just like the Himalayas are the Himalayas, and the Ganga is the Ganga, so Rama is Rama. One doesn’t need to prove anything in this regard.”
The Centre has, in its communication to the Supreme Court, conveyed the message that it respects the sanctity of the Ramayana, and that it respects all religions; and in this matter, the Hindu religion specifically.
So the plan to plunge the country into “darkness for ages” is supported, even sponsored, by the Central Government. Then how on earth can the DMK continue to support the Central Government? How can the DMK hug onto ministerial berths in such a Government? If, as the Chief Minister contends, the Congress is shortselling the country to traitors, how can the DMK continue to be in power in Tamil Nadu with the support of that selfsame Congress party? Is this not a greater treachery on the part of the DMK? Is not the DMK compromising the lofty principles of Periyar by indulging in such treachery?
The only way the DMK can win over these traitors and their treachery is to withdraw its support to the Central Government, and also let the Congress party withdraw its support to the State Government. Why is the Chief Minister not doing this? Is he afraid of something? What reason can one ascribe to this other than his lust and greed for power?
The Chief Minister has even gone on to call the Central Government a sly fox, a chameleon. Then what can one describe him as, when he doesn’t have the guts to oppose the actions of the Central Government? The truth is that the Chief Minister doesn’t hesitate one bit when it comes to compromising the principles of Periyar in order to remain in power, and also see the members of his family remain firmly in positions of power. But he can let loose tons of rhetoric. When it comes to verbal battles, he ranks top of the pile. But when it comes to putting it into actions, he falls far short. His inaction, or rather inability to act, is because of his power-hungry attitude that helps the members of his family stay in power.
Now that he is unable to react to the Congress, who else can his rhetoric target? Yes, there is always the easy target – the sentiments of Hindus.
His eyes blinded by anger, the Chief Minister gets into his own when it comes to verbal volleys: “Who is Ram? Which engineering college did He attend? When exactly did He construct the bridge? Is there any proof?” There are some who spew hypocrisy thinking it is intelligent talk. How different is this?
If one says that the bridge was constructed by Ram, it doesn’t mean that He collected and arranged stones and built the bridge all by Himself. We read in history that a king constructed a temple, installed sculptures and so on. We don’t question, “Did he carry stones himself? Did he sculpt them himself?” Under his orders, a group of experts would have worked on the project and brought it to fruition. But we don’t mention the name of the sculptor when talking about the temples or the statues. Rather we refer to them as the work of the king. This is how it is all over the world.
The case of the Ram Setu is similar. While the Chief Minister habitually speaks ill of the Ramayana, he also doesn’t forget to misquote from the epic from time to time.
Valmiki describes the process thus:
The king of the seas aided Ram in the construction of the bridge. He even appointed Nala to help Rama. Nala was the son of Vishwakarma (who is considered the Creator of the worlds). He had not only inherited his father’s skill, but had also his full blessings. An expert, he at once ordered Sugriva to collect all the necessary construction material. Sugriva’s army of vanarars got into action immediately. (Here, it is instructive to distinguish vanarars from monkeys, which is what everyone assumes. Valmiki’s Ramayana notes that vanarars were skilled in construction work, and even used their skill to build huge palaces.)
With their help, rocks were gathered from mountains, trees felled and all the required material was brought to the coastline. The huge rocks were pushed into the sea, and the trees were placed atop the rocks. In this fashion, the bridge was built. Some commented that it looked like a constellation of stars, while some others felt it resembled the parting of the hair in the head. Over this bridge, Rama, Surgriva and his army crossed the ocean into Lanka.
So, instead of sounding like an ignoramus, the Chief Minister should at least have asked, “Which engineering college did Nala attend?” To which our answer would have been “He learnt the skill from his father, who was an expert.” Will the selfsame Chief Minister who quips, “Where did Rama learn civil engineering?” also ask the following questions?
- Legend has it that Kannagi burnt the city of Madurai by culling her breasts and throwing it at the city. Where did she learn this technique? Did she major in Biology? Or nuclear engineering?
Will the Hon’ble Chief Minister stoop to ask such a question? WE will not. Because we understand that Kannagi’s actions attest to the power of Kannagi’s devotion to her husband
- The Chief Minister himself has written an explanation to the ancient Tamil grammar text “Tholkaappiam”. Will he condescend to ask “At which university did Tholkaappiar learn grammar? Who taught him, he who devised the rules of Tamil grammer, the principles of grammar?”
WE will not. Because we realize that in ages gone by, people lived who were of such scholarly ability that we cannot even dream to match.
- We all know that Thiruvalluvar gave us Thirukkural, one of the great achievements in world literature. Will the Chief Minister deign to question “Where did Thiruvalluvar learn the art of crafting poems? Who taught him the nuances of the Tamil language? From where did he comprehend the philosophy studded in his couplets?
WE will not. Because we realize that Thiruvalluvar was a saint, a scholar whose poetry and philosophy was God-given.
Let it be. Does anyone wonder whether the Chief Minister, who questions the existence of Lord Rama, has ever commented about the beliefs of people of other faiths?
- Does he have anything to say about the Hazrat Bal mosque in Kashmir, which is known to enshrine a hair of Prophet Mohammad? Will the Chief Minister debase himself by asking if it is really belongs / belonged to Prophet Mohammad? Will he ask for proof?
WE will not. Because we know it doesn’t become of a civilized individual to speak ill about the great men held in high esteem by people of different faiths.
- It is known that Jesus Christ died on the cross, but came back to life two days after. Will the Chief Minister dare to ask “Where did Christ conduct research on Resurrection? Or if someone brought Him back to life, where did that person learn this art? Is there a proof for all this?”
WE will not. Because we consider it a savage act to mock at prophets, saints and messengers of God, even if they belong to a religion different from that we follow. Why go such lengths? The Chief Minister himself has gone on record saying that he sports a yellow towel because the Buddha wore a dress of the same colour.
- Will the Chief Minister question this: “What proof exists that the Buddha wore a yellow dress? Where did he dye his dress yellow?”
WE will not. Because we think only fools will pass demeaning comments about great men, who are considered reincarnations of God.
The DMK supremo hastens to cite that even Pandit Nehru once said that the Ramayana is just a tale, and is not real. But how can one consider the views of Nehru, or anyone for that matter, to be the final word on this subject.
Even if one were to think that what Nehru said is like the word of God, it would serve well to know what Nehru once said about the DMK. He called the DMK “nonsense”. For this utterance of his, the DMK staged mass protests condemning Nehru. Why did they do this? The DMK which considers Nehru’s words to be be of sacrosanct nature should have shut shop that same day. After all, Nehru couldn’t be wrong, right? Why persist with what in Nehru’s own words was “nonsense”?
It needs no repetition that the Chief Minister has spoken without applying his mind. But his selective rhetoric is carefully tuned to hurt only Hindus. Because he thinks Hindus are dunderheads. Else how will he stoop to pass remarks about someone who is considered God by millions of Hindus?
The Chief Minister has acted out of the combined conceit, insolence and imperiousness that his money, power and political successes have given him. It is an irony that the power that feeds his arrogance which leads him to demean Lord Rama was given to him by people, three-fourths of whom pray to Him daily.
Will the Chief Minister categorically reject the votes of those who think Rama is God? Will he do his best not to ever solicit their votes? Why wait for him? Let us do it now. We should consider it shameful to vote for this Chief Minister or for any party that seeks to affiliate itself with him.
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