The Kanchi Seer Should Not Bow Down to the Prejudice-Filled Tamil Anthem
Kanchi Seer Should Not Bow Down to Prejudice-Filled Tamil ‘Anthem’

Standing up while that jingoistic song is played is endorsing pseudoscientific propagandist theories thoroughly debunked by linguistics. A refusal to honor the jingoistic song is standing up for civilized behavior and inclusiveness.

Sri Vijayendra Sarasvati, the designated successor to the current pontiff of the Kanchi Mutt, has been the target of vicious media attacks spearheaded by the Dravidianists and leftists. In a recent function which he attended, the seer stood up while the national anthem was played but remained seated in meditation while நீராருங் கடலுடுத்த (the so-called Tamil anthem felicitating the symbolic Tamil Mother) was played. His critics have lampooned him and have accused him of disrespecting the Tamil ‘anthem.’

Is Sri Vijayendra Sarasvati guilty?

Let us turn to the facts and analyses which the scholar and writer Jataayu presents:

  1. The Kanchi Mutt has explained that the seer treated it as a prayer song and remained seated in meditation.
  2. The Kanchi seers follow the convention of remaining seated in meditation whenever a prayer song is played or sung in Sanskrit or Tamil even though the rest of the audience in attendance stands up. Here is video evidence of the seer following this convention on previous occasions:
  1. In a circular dated November 23, 1970, the Government of Tamilnadu designated the Tamil ‘anthem’ as “prayer song.” So, Sri Vijayendra Sarasvati is not wrong in according it the respect which the Kanchi seers have conventionally accorded prayer songs. Please see the circular below.
    The Kanchi Seer Should Not Bow Down to the Prejudice-Filled Tamil Anthem TNG circularOne may note that there is no requirement to stand up while the Tamil ‘anthem’ is being played.
  2. In an event which the Kanchi seer attended on January 23, 2018, the Tamil scholar Solomon Pappaiyah had spoken about the close historical relationship between Sanskrit and Tamil. He highlighted the fact that Sanskrit and Tamil constitute two eyes of our culture. The Kanchi seer not only blessed and endorsed the speech but is also seen admiring it.

Jataayu thus decisively refutes the charge that the Kanchi seer disrespected the Tamil ‘anthem,’ Tamil language, or Tamil culture. On the contrary, the seer accorded the Tamil ‘anthem’ the highest respect which he traditionally accords all prayer songs in Sanskrit or Tamil. The seer stood up for the national anthem because the law requires one to do so and it is not a prayer song. So, the conventions which the seers follow with prayer songs is inapplicable to the national anthem. As the scholar and writer Java Kumar has pointed out, the Kanchi seers have traditionally sung Tamil devotional songs with the utmost reverence. One may listen to the previous pontiff, Sri Chandrasekharendra Sarasvati sing the Tevaram here. So, the accusation that the seers are prejudiced against Tamil is false and perverse.

Let us now investigate the history of Tamil ‘anthem’ and ask a more pertinent question as to whether it is respect-worthy. நீராருங் கடலுடுத்த was written by the 19th century Tamil poet P. Sundaram Pillai. As Jataayu explains here, the song has numerous admirable qualities to it. In its original version, it even paraphrased the Vedantic motif of the Brahman. However, it also had the following objectionable lines:

கன்னடமுங் களிதெலுங்கும் கவின்மலையாளமும் துளுவும்
உன்னுதரத் தேயுதித்தே ஒன்றுபல வாகிடினும்
ஆரியம்போல் உலகவழக்கழிந் தொழிந்து சிதையாவுன்
சீரிளமைத் திறம்வியந்து செயன்மறந்து வாழ்த்துதுமே!


Kannada, Telugu, Malayalam, and Tulu

All appeared from the womb (of Tamil) and became many (languages)

Unlike Sanskrit, which has become extinct and disfigured,

(Tamil) you remain splendidly youthful – I admiringly salute!

This is an ignorant, pseudoscientific, and jingoistic proclamation of linguistic supremacy. Contrary to the facts and linguistic evidence, four other Dravidian family of languages are portrayed as descendants of Tamil. These four languages didn’t originate from Tamil. As the eminent linguist Bhadriraju Krishnamurti explains in The Dravidian Languages, all these languages are cousins of Tamil and descended from proto-Dravidian. Some of them preserve linguistic fossils older than what Tamil has preserved. The ‘anthem’ addresses Sanskrit in derogatory terms. Besides, as Jataayu points out, while Sundaram Pillai was a renowned scholar in his early years, he had turned into a complete bigot in his later years and had embraced the racist theories of the fledgling Dravidianist movement. Arjun Sampath too points out in his recent interview that the ‘anthem’ fuels an anti-Brahmin and separatist mindset aimed at weakening India’s unity.

A responsible society cannot bestow the status of anthem upon a song which embodies pseudoscience, jingoism, notions of race supremacy, and linguistic prejudice. That would be tantamount to sanctifying abhorrent worldviews in the eyes of impressionable children who’re mandated to sing prejudice-filled songs as anthem. Children have the right grow up embracing an inclusive worldview. So, Indians in general, and Tamils in particular, have a duty to reject the Tamil ‘anthem’ நீராருங் கடலுடுத்த with contempt.

One may argue that my point is moot because the version adopted in Tamilnadu has left out these offending lines. However, that doesn’t redeem the song. One could always edit out a few offending lines from a Nazi song and sing it in public. However, no civilized person would even contemplate doing it. Tamilnadu has a great past and a refined culture. It cannot continue to honor songs which propagate divisiveness. It must be pointed out that many Nazi songs are noble and without prejudice. One such song is Erika. It was sung by the German soldiers in WWII. It expresses nostalgia for the home they had left behind to fight wars on foreign soils. However, its lyrical and musical appeal notwithstanding, the song is not sung anymore, because it was composed by the Nazi Herms Niel. Likewise, a song written by a racist should be shunned – its otherwise lyrical beauty notwithstanding. Besides, unlike Erika, the original version of நீராருங் கடலுடுத்த is filled with prejudices. A society should aspire for higher ideals and not sanctify songs which propagate prejudices.

Children are curious but not always discerning. Even if we give them the sanitized version of a song, we should anticipate that they would explore and find out the suppressed lines. Since they’ve been taught to venerate the ‘anthem,’ they may not always discern that the suppressed lines are filled with prejudice. There is a real risk that they may be carried away by the divisive rhetoric of Sundaram Pillai. German children were turned into Hitler’s Willing Executioners through such divisive songs written by the likes of Julius Streicher. So, only the works of deserving role models should be declared anthems or even prescribed reading for children.

It has been objected that even India’s national anthem, written by Rabindranath Tagore, allegedly eulogizes the Prince of Wales, and that Tagore also opposed the revolutionary freedom fighters. It is a valid objection. I think there is a strong case to replace Jana Gana Mana with Vande Mataram. Those who denounced our revolutionary freedom fighters cannot be our role models. However, Tagore’s song is not divisive, prejudice-filled, or racist.

Arjun Sampath, in the aforementioned interview, points out that நீராருங் கடலுடுத்த was only declared the Tamil ‘anthem’ in 1970. Before that, the patriotic song written by Subramania Bharati, “வாழிய செந்தமிழ்! வாழிய நற்றமிழர்! வாழிய பாரத மணித்திருநாடு!” was the de facto Tamil anthem. It was sung in schools and public functions. It inculcated healthy patriotism and love for the Tamil language and Tamil heritage. In 1970, during the heyday of Dravidianist politics, this ennobling song was displaced by the controversial நீராருங் கடலுடுத்த. Sampath has aptly stated that if elected to power he would undo this mistake.

An online editorial from a portal sympathetic to Hinduism denounces the Kanchi seer and accuses him of disrespecting the Tamil ‘anthem.’ It contemptuously urges him to stand up and be counted. I presume that the editorial team wasn’t aware of the offending lines of the original version of the song I have cited above. They should realize that standing up while that jingoistic song is played is showing disrespect to at least four other Dravidian family of languages as well as to Sanskrit. Standing up while that jingoistic song is played is endorsing pseudoscientific propagandist theories thoroughly debunked by linguistics. A refusal to honor the jingoistic song is standing up for civilized behavior and inclusiveness. Such a refusal is an endorsement of scientific understanding of evolution of languages. I hope that Hindus do not indulge in knee-jerk reactions and dhimmitude and instead understand the issues in-depth.

Sri Vijayendra Sarasvati, who sat in meditation and thus treated the ‘anthem’ with respect, is unlikely to be aware of the prejudices it embodies. I hope that in the future Hindu leaders would mandate that the offending ‘anthem’ not be sung, and instead, Bharati’s “வாழிய செந்தமிழ்! வாழிய நற்றமிழர்! வாழிய பாரத மணித்திருநாடு!” is sung, in the functions they attend.

In this controversy, Sri Vijayendra Sarasvati’s error is that he accorded the prejudice-filled ‘anthem’ undue respect by sitting in meditation while it was played.

Featured Image: Deccan Chronicle

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author. IndiaFacts does not assume any responsibility or liability for the accuracy, completeness, suitability, or validity of any information in this article.
Kalavai Venkat is a Silicon Valley-based writer, an atheist, a practicing orthodox Hindu, and author of the book “What Every Hindu should know about Christianity.”
  • Akaara

    Very well written and a much needed article. That the other ‘Dravidian’ languages are the offshoots of Tamil, and that Sanskrit is dead, are speculative and chauvinistic proclamations.

  • chitral

    Excellent article. People like Stalin are not fit to touch the underside of the seer’s clogs. Here you have an Acharya who left all worldly possessions when he was still a small boy and became a Sanyasi. He sleeps on the floor and eats simple food. He gets up at 3 am to pray. His service is to the people. On the other hand you have the scum like Stalin whose parentage is suspect and who has many mistresses and lives of ill-gotten wealth stolen from the masses. Yet, the stupid people follow him and let him raise his voice against the respected junior seer of Kanchi.

  • Radha Rajan

    Thank you Kalavaiji. Your article is like a breath of exilerating fresh sir after the terrible article on the same issue in a pseudo Hindu portal.

    • Kalavai Venkat

      Thank you Radha ji.

  • vedam gopal

    In many meetings when prayer song was sung the audience were asked to sit and listen.

    This is not a dis- respect in any manner. Everybody sit & sing prayer song in Pooja room.

    There is a rule to standup and respect only National Anthem which Swamy did.

    Also as per sastra sanyasi ‘s supposed bow towards GOD and his mother only.

  • Rajalakshmi J

    Svami Dayanandha of Arsha Vidhya Gurukulam rightly observed ” it is the foremost DUTY of the government to ensure round the clock protection for our SEERS , our காஞ்சி மடம்.

    But this secular shambedkar ( PANGOLIN of Sri.Suchindranath Aiyar is the most accurate description of india) konshtityooshun based india is WORTHLESS. bjp or congress or any GODDAMNED collision
    ( coalition has always been pronounced thus by decrepit communists of kolkata & gorement is also their copyrighted pronounciation of government) is only interested in protection of the respirating carcasses of their own bodies , structures like parliament , courts , five star hotels , film studios tv studios & so on.

    Twitterati are apoplectic over bhansali movie. Let anyone die anywhere. Let the parliament itself come down killing all members within. How I PINE & YEARN for Sri.Afzal Gurus & Kasabs …Why should we care when GOD has no value for these apathetic THUGS called ”elected representatives”.

    Modi is not dependable at all. Perennially screaming ”jaishRReerrrrrAAAm” modi surrounded by black cat commandos went along with defense minister to blasphemous anti RAM THUG dmk karunanidhi’s house exchanging pleasantries with stalin , kanimozhi , duraimurugan etc & entreating the doddering devil to relax & recuperate in his allotted bungalow in Delhi.

    That is modi split wide open. It is charlatans that modi runs after like art of living ssssrs , jaggi vasudevs etc etc.

    Thrusting copies of Geetha in various people’s hands & HUGGING them all. Taking selfies. That is modi.

    Absolutely no difference between bjp & congress.

  • Shreevalsan

    Excellent article.

  • Rajalakshmi J

    Much needed article. Thank you.

    This ”tamilian / tamilandAA / dravidian” special identity is actually the chicanery of christian mafia. A sinister divisive ploy that christians excel in. It all started with bishop caldwell long dead. The legacy is very much alive. This paved the way for LTTE followed by civil war in Sri Lanka. All owing to WANTON chicanery of christian mafia.

    dmk , dk , pmk , naam tamilar, vaiko , kollywood scum , the leftists , various பேச்சாளர்கள் full of bombastic rant -ALL constitute the church mafia.

    Smt.Radha Rajan has written in detail in indiafacts itself.

    Everyone should read , reread & RETAIN what Smt.Radha Rajan has written.

  • Kathiresan Sivanesan

    Hi venkat,
    That was a informative blog thanks for the information but lacks enlightment. A guru/sankaracharya is a person who has left the materialistic world activities so he is not an indian any more nor a world citizen he is far above us so he should not stand for the indian anthem as well. Sankaracharya has reviewed the hindu philosophy before 2k yrs i think this people invented the jati culture instead of varna and they shall only respect the hindu song not others. My question is why did he stand for the national anthem ?? Could you please write one more blog answering that.
    You say orthodox hindu as well as a athesit you seems confused and just remained as a orthodox hindu.
    DMK is no good agreed but atleast they prevented the further mixing of hindi in tamil culture i am proud of that.

  • Prasad

    After the 1950s and 60s when the dravida scumbags raked up emotions in the name of tamil and took a rich picking of votes, some new outfits like may 17, naam tamizhar and other such rats are trying to upstage the dravida groups and take a share of the vote pie with more vitroilic hindu bashing and tamil chauvinism. Out of a 100 guys who support this extreme tamil chauvinism, I can take a bet that 95 guys can’t even speak the language as correctly as I do ( I don’t hold any special qualification in Tamil), can’t recite even 3 poems in Tamil and quite a lot of them pronounce zha as la (ie.,Pazham as palam). It’s a bunch of dimwits, hooligans, and language terrorists masquerading as tamil language protectors. !!

    • Rajalakshmi J

      They are anything but dimwits. Extremely malicious terrorists. The terrorists are WITHIN in their guise.
      Whereas gorement of india keeps hoodwinking us all danger is emanating from the borders shared with Pakistan & China.

  • Savithri

    Whether standing up for a national Anthem (as per law) or sitting down in meditation for a State Prayer is alright. So the Kanchi seer was not wrong in sitting down in meditation. Each to his own. ‘Closed eyes and meditation’ is the operative condition. It denotes equal respect to the invocation as standing up.

    But attributing divisiveness to an accepted song just because the original version had extra lines which could point to it, is stretching things a bit too far. Those lines are not included in the formal and accepted version sung, and that’s all that matters.
    An earlier song, poem, prayer etc can be taken as source material by the state to represent their sovereignty/identity/patriotism.
    Many ancient treatises on religious, political or social protocols are still taken as guiding books with the sections which are not applicable or relevant in today’s context filtered out (Manu Smriti, Arthashastra, etc)

    Thirdly, what has the composer, or his personal life or character to do with the content and intent of the song? Ravaneswara composed the Rudra Tandavam, one of the most popular compositions in praise of Lord Shiva. It still remains one of the most loved songs performed in song and dance today with open attribution to Ravaneswara even though he was the ‘arch villain’ i our holy epic Ramayana.
    This is the Hindu way. And let it remain so. This is a needless controversy.

  • Vijay Vanbakkam

    The TN Government order applies only to government functions. Solomom pappaiya’s function was private and the Government circular does not apply there. As pointed out, even in govt functions, there is no requirement to stand up. On the top of it, the “Tamil thai vaazththu” is a Tamil supremacist song, which should have been avoided in the first place. It has no place in a democratic India which considers all Indian languages as equal. This is a typical example of the meaningless crisis spun by dravidian parties.

  • SuchindranathAiyer

    Standing for specified songs is Church
    convention. The Shankaracharyas are neither Christian nor PANGOLIN* British stooges

    What Rules? Whose Rules? Standing up for Tamil songs is for Tamils to
    do. Shankaracharya should be above loyalty to local vernaculars and
    petty politicians. He is a Jagath Guru. Not a Tamil Guru. The Supreme
    Court says that nobody needs to stand for the paean composed to King
    George VI, Emperor of India, by Sir Rabindranath Tagore for the Dilli
    Durbar. Like so many other contradictions such as words like “secular”
    and “democracy” while endhrining inequality under law, the Constitution
    forbids dual Nationality while granting privileged unique Nationalities
    and laws to Moslems, Christians, Dalits, Kashmiris and others.

    Kanchi Shankaracharya MUST NOT stand. . He is above nationality and
    people. He should not go to these political jamborees. Shankaracharyas,
    as a rule, must avoid gracing and blessing platforms where they are
    considered as “equals”. In ancient days, Kings used to yield primacy to
    them and stand in their presence. Shringeri Shankaracharya was invited
    to perform traditional presence at Trivandrum Padmanabha Swamy Temple
    and then insulted by the Devaswom Minister. They should not go where
    Politicians and other such wicked people abound

    *Note: PANGOLIN: An enemy of
    India who believes in inequality under law, exceptions to the rule of law and
    persecution of some for the benefit of others. At present, the sole purpose of
    the Indian Republic, Constitutional or otherwise, is to pamper and provide for
    certain constitutionally preferred sections of society who the British found
    useful to hold and exploit India at the cost of those who the British hated and
    persecuted. The Pangolin is a creature that is unique to India and feeds on
    ants that are known in nature to be industrious and hard working if not quite
    as fruitful as bees who flee to better climes. (PANGOLIN is an acronym for the
    Periyar-Ambedkar-Nehru-Gandhi-Other (alien) Religions-Communist Consensus that
    usurped the British Mantle and has worn it with elan to loot, plunder, and rape
    India since 1921 and re write History and laws to their exclusive benefit since

  • v.subrahmanian

    Well written, Venkat. I thank you for revealing the offending lines of the ‘Anthem’ and the ramifications thereof.

  • Ramesh Agarwal

    Excellent piece. Thank you.