Staff Reporter

MADURAI: The Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court has declined to entertain a writ petition objecting to the portrayal of Ramalinga Adigal, a spiritual leader of the 19th century and popularly known as Saint Vallalar, with ‘thiruneeru’ (sacred ash) on his forehead in a postal stamp released on August 17.

Dismissing the petition, Justice V. Ramasubramanian said: “Only great scholars can interpret what such Godly men stood for. It is not within the province of a court…to attempt to interpret Saint Vallalar’s philosophy and give a judgement as to whether his picture should show him with sacred ash on his forehead or not.”

The Judge agreed that the Saint believed in oneness of Almighty, promoted ‘jyothi’ (light) worship, meditation and propagated a higher form of spirituality which could not be brought within the four corners of any religious practice. He also acknowledged that there were scholars who believed that application of sacred ash on the forehead of the Saint might confine him to Hinduism, particularly Saivism, though he was not to be identified with any religion.

“But if one looks at the biography of Saint Vallalar and his teachings, it can be seen that…his journey began from idol worship and ultimately transcended all barriers. The songs composed by him show that he had visited temples and worshiped the deities. He also appears to have composed songs, which came to be known as ‘Vennetru Pathigam,’ highlighting the importance of sacred ash,” Mr. Justice Ramasubramanian said.

Pointing out that the Saint advocated the highest of form of ‘jeeva karunya’ (compassion for all creatures) and stressed on craving, solitude and awakening as the tools for attaining spirituality, the Judge said: “Therefore the philosophy of Saint Vallalar is more important than his physical appearance with or without sacred ash on his forehead.”

The Judge gave liberty to the petitioner to raise his objections before the Union Ministry of Communication.