Amid an acrimonious debate on the significance of a Sengol being gifted by Thiruvavaduthurai Mutt in Tamil Nadu to the country’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, an article by DMK founder and late Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu C.N. Annadurai containing trenchant criticism is being circulated and read with great interest.
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In an article ‘Sengol, Oru Vendukol (Sceptre, A request)‘ published in Dravida Nadu on August 24, 1947, he had questioned the motive behind the head of the Mutt in handing over the gold sceptre to Nehru on the eve of Independence.
“It is unexpected and unnecessary. It is not only unnecessary. If you think about the deep meaning behind it, it will be crystal clear that it is dangerous,” said Anna, who was still part of the Dravidar Kazhagam then and had not formed the DMK when the article was published.
Wondering whether it was a gift or donation or a share or fee for licence, Anna, as he was known in Tamil Nadu, quipped, “We do not know what Pandithar (Pandit Nehru) thought about the Sengol or letter the Adheenakarthar (head of the mutt) might have sent along with the Sengol.”
He had also a piece of advice for Nehru, who was well-versed in world history and “knew that the King and cohorts of nobles, who were fattened by the labour of the subjects and had free access to the golden forts, actually had religion as their capital.”
“You know they must get rid of it to pave the way for the blossom of democracy. The heads of the Mutts, who are afraid that you might seek to implement what you have learnt, will not only give a golden sceptre, but even a sceptre embedded with navaratnas to protect themselves,” Anna wrote.
He said the sceptre was not a piece of iron that was transformed into gold by the power of a pinch of holy ash in a manner similar to how foxes were made into horses by a saiviate saint (Manickavasagar). “He (head of the Mutt) has appropriated the labour of others, and it is inappropriate to call it a Sengol,” he alleged.
Anna also said the head of the Mutt wanted to be in the good books of Nehru, and through the present, he wanted to convey the message he had a close relationship with the new government and keep the people under his spell.
“All this gold is just a part of the wealth of a saint, who has renounced all worldly affairs. In the Mutt, in the boxes of navaratnas, in the fertile paddy fields capable of producing crops more valuable than the navaratnas, languishes the working class,” he said.
The DMK founder said if the government confiscated the wealth of the Mutt and used them for ameliorating the living conditions of the people, the Sengol would not just remain a decorated object, but lift the people’s lives. “Have a close look at the Sengol every now and then and keenly listen to the lesson it offers,” he said.