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Kanchi Shankaracharya Attains Siddhi

Kanchi Shankaracharya Attains Siddhi

The Shankaracharya of Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam, Sri Jeyandra Saraswathi Swamigal, attained siddhi on 28th February 2018 at the age of 82. He had earlier complained of breathlessness and was taken to the hospital where he attained siddhi. Millions of Hindus as well as his followers in India and around the world mourn his loss.

In 1954, the nineteen year old M.Subramanyam was anointed as the 69th pontiff of the Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam by his guru, the revered Sri Chandrashekara Saraswathi Swamigal. After the siddhi of his guru, he became the head of the Matam in 1994 and had since provided a unique combination of social and religious leadership that had endeared him to millions of his followers. The seer, well versed in traditional vedic scholarship, was also keenly aware of the fast changing socio-religious ecosystem in a developing India and swiftly adapted himself to the changes. He displayed from early on, a multi-faceted personality that went well beyond his traditional religious callings at the Matam.

PudhuPeriyava, as he was reverentially addressed by his followers, had shown keen interest in spreading the teachings of Adi Shankara to every section of the society. In this effort, the Kanchi Matam, like many other venerable Hindu religious institutions in India, has a glorious tradition of unmatched service to the community. His followers came from every walk of life. They included the rich and the famous, powerful politicians of every shade, the poor, Muslims, Christians, destitute folks and people abandoned by society.

Jeyandra Saraswathi Swamigal was always acutely aware of the sufferings as well as the worldly pressures on large sections of Indian society. For him, India’s true progress lay in uplifting these sections and he did his bit silently, often working below the radar.  As a Sanyasi, he was a pillar of support and succor to all of them. His demise, naturally, has saddened millions of people in India and all over the world.

During his lifetime, Sri Jeyandra Saraswathi Swamigal did not shy away from speaking out on issues that affected India at large. Obviously, this did stir up a lot of controversy. Following the footsteps of his guru, the Kanchi Seer too decided to meet these controversies headlong. But all along, he was laser-focused on serving the poor and underprivileged and did not allow the criticisms to deter him from his path of service.

Today it may be fashionable to speak of “inclusive growth”, but this Kanchi Seer had actually been practicing this for at least forty years. He had personally walked into housing communities of Dalits, fishermen, scheduled caste folks etc. in every nook and cranny of not only Tamil Nadu, but all over India. For instance his visits to the slums of Dharavi in Mumbai was well received by the residents there so much so that even today many have a picture of this great seer in their humble homes. This proved that in reality he was not just a religious leader to a small section of society as portrayed by many politicians and liberal media, but was the guru who had a pan Indian following.

The Shankaracharya was instrumental in opening innumerable free schools for children of the poor, irrespective of religion. Many of these schools also provide free food to the children. He had also established several hospitals for their welfare. Many of the super specialty hospitals he had set up now offer advanced treatments on a non-profit basis.

As mentioned, he was not a stranger to controversy. He had briefly left the Mutt in 1987, but returned shortly thereafter.  Later in 2004, much to the anguish of Hindus at large, he was arrested by the Tamil Nadu government on trumped up charges of murder. The case had dragged on, but the then state government headed by J Jayalalithaa could not prove the charges it had bought on in the court of law. Needless to say, the charges were dropped and the Seer and his disciple were acquitted.

It must be mentioned here that years later, Shri Pranab Mukherjee, the former President of India, in his memoir, has pointed fingers at the erstwhile UPA government, hinting that it was instrumental in framing the Shankaracharya for apparent political reasons. He has also written that in a subsequent Cabinet meeting he had vehemently opposed the arrest and disrespectful treatment of the seer.  The Seer’s arrest had left a deep scar in the minds of the Hindus since they perceived this as a wanton affront to their religious rights and freedom to practice their religion. Not surprisingly, the mainstream media in India had never raised a hue and cry about religious freedom or tolerance then.

The Seer was also instrumental in bringing together the leaders of Muslim and Hindu organizations to the discussion table to arrive at a negotiated settlement of the vexed Ayodhya Ram Temple dispute. Both Hindus and Muslims alike had admired the Seer’s pacifist approach and vowed to continue the discussions. It is indeed sad that the Seer did not have an opportunity to see the dispute settled in his lifetime.

Hindus at large have lost a true pillar of support , a sage who did not shy away from speaking up for them – be it conversion, Ram Janma Bhoomi , their right to manage their own temples or for that matter anything that encroached on the freedom of religion in India.

For the Dalits and the neglected sections of society – Hindus as well as non-Hindus, whom the politicians fashionably profess to court and serve – he was like a banyan tree – praying, caring and doing his bit for their welfare in every small way. For them the banyan tree of support has fallen and is indeed a colossal loss. Yet, life has to carry on and they will miss their beloved Swamiji.

The mantle at the Kanchi Matam now passes on to Sri Vijayendra Saraswathi Swamigal, the 70th pontiff. But the memory of Sri Jeyandra Saraswathi Swamigal, the 69th Shankaracharya of Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam, will linger on for ages to come. A widely admired and revered Swami is no more.

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Posted by on March 2, 2018 in Hinduism, India, Indology, Tamil Nadu

 

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Stoking Hindu Anger in Tamil Nadu

Stoking Hindu Anger in Tamil Nadu

In the recent past Tamil Nadu had witnessed a resurgence of venomous attacks on Hindu beliefs and religious symbol heads. Much has been written on the crass insults that Victor James Vairamuthu, a Christian, had heaped on   Andal Nachiyar, the goddess revered by Hindus all over the world.  As if this were was not enough, Kanimozhi the self-acclaimed atheist Rajya Sabha member and daughter of M.Karunanidhi of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), had also made uncharitable remarks on Lord Venkateswara of Tirupathi.

The insults came during Dhanurmasa, the period of the year that Hindus consider most auspicious for reciting Andal’s Thiruppavai – a collection of thirty stanzas (paasurams) written in Tamil by Andal in praise of the Lord Vishnu. The timing of these insults were carefully designed to create maximum hurt to the Hindus. It certainly did.

It is not that the insults of Victor James Vairamuthu or Kanimozhi by themselves have stirred up the strong Hindu rising.  It has certainly proved to be the hot trigger for a huge swathe of the population that has been reeling under constant anti-Hindu harangue and endless taunts.

Unlike the past, this time around, these anti-Hindu claptraps had the shock of their lives. Hindus from all over south India – Tamil Nadu, Andhra, Telangana and Karnataka expressed their anger and took to the streets to protest the insults. The spontaneity and widespread protests, particularly by women and younger generation pleasantly surprised even the protesters themselves.

In the initial days, the protests were largely ignored by the main stream media, particularly the television networks in Tamil Nadu. However, the extensive use of social media – particularly Facebook and WhatsApp – had proved to be a game changer. It was the active and angry presence in the social media that forced the television networks to devote time. This only fueled the spread of anger to every household and only spawned even more protests.

Housewives took to posting angry self-made videos expressing their disgust at Vairamuthu and seeking his unconditional apology. Many exponents of religious discourses were also at the forefront addressing gatherings of angry Hindus. In fact youngsters – sub 30s something and women in particular – dominated the protest marches. In major urban and metropolitan areas, many retirees and elderly people also joined the protests.

At a time when the entire political class has shunned speaking out in public on the Vairamuthu fiasco, H Raja of the BJP and TTV Dinakaran of the breakaway AIADMK have been the two lonely voices that have unequivocally condemned it. Mr. H Raja has not only castigated the Dravidian parties but has also been at the forefront of the protests. Despite the negative portrayal by the main stream media, he seems to have gathered huge grassroots support across the state, particularly among the young people in Tamil Nadu.

Contrary to what the television networks have portrayed, the protests were well spread out and saw the participation of all communities across the Hindu faith. However, it is true that the crowds that were seen on the streets were not as large as would be seen in a popular political rally. But the diverse, spontaneous gatherings have sent an ominous message writ too large to ignore.

It must however be mentioned here that it would be perfectly legitimate to have differences and disagreements with Hinduism per se, its philosophies, its sacred texts or its belief systems. Hinduism itself has a well-established tradition of debating such differences. Hence the proper and acceptable forum to address such disquiet would be to invite both sides to debate publicly so the people can draw their own conclusions.

Insulting Hindu religious figure heads, on the contrary, has no room in a civil society and is a clear infringement of constitutional guarantees for religious freedom. It is a naked attempt to incite hatred that has the potential to spiral into religious violence and hence is a threat to law and order. It is time to read the riot act to Vincent James Vairamuthu. But unfortunately an effete government in the state has not shown the courage to act. Inaction will certainly not be forgiven by the people in the elections.

The Dravidian cults in all their hues and avatars are no more than a band of Hindu-baiting political opportunists who have unscrupulously played the pseudo secular card for several decades now. As many researchers and authors have already pointed out in their well-documented studies, these cults are but executing their alien masters’ bidding. It is obvious that these forces are tightly aligned with those who do not wish India well.

Despite their protestations and false propaganda to social reforms, the number of Hindus worshiping at the temples continues to swell and unbelievable numbers visit the temples every day. This stands as a grand testimony to the unshakable faith of the Hindus of Tamil Nadu. But to poke this huge mass of humanity is tantamount to committing political hara-kiri.

The obvious result, over the years, has been the creation of a large cesspool of latent anger and hurt among large sections of Hindus that has refused to drain or dry away. The insults heaped on goddess Andal Nachiyar and the sham regrets by Vincent James Vairamuthu and others of his ilk has definitely ignited this latent anger. The rancor and vitriol have only succeeded in passing the unmitigated hatred for these bogus cults from one generation to another. This is an unmistakably a red flag for the Hindu-hating Dravidian political tribes and could well be a harbinger of upcoming jet steam of political changes just round the corner in Tamil Nadu. It has the potential to blow the Dravidian cults to irrelevance and decimate them from the political scene once and for all.

 
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Posted by on February 18, 2018 in Hinduism, India, Tamil Nadu

 

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Will Rajinikanth’s entry into politics kill the Dravidian parties?

Will Rajinikanth’s entry into politics kill the Dravidian parties?

The political situation currently obtaining in Tamil Nadu is akin to a rudderless ship lost in a stormy sea. The splits in the ruling AIADMK, the naked power struggles among the feuding groups, the holding of MLAs at secret resorts, cancellation of the bypoll for the deceased chief minister’s constituency due to corruption, income tax raids on an incumbent state Chief Secretary and more – all have only made a laughing stock of the state.

With all the drama and breaking news going on, the governance of the state does not appear to be on the agenda for the ruling party leaders. The state had a 62% deficit in monsoon rainfall as of December 2016. Further, the shortfall in Cauvery water receipts in 2016 has adversely impacted samba crop. The state’s own revenue (SOR) has shown sluggish growth thanks to years of populist schemes and handouts. The current state budget (2017-18) has a 2.9% revenue deficit i.e. of almost Rs. 16,000 crores. The government seems blissfully oblivious of the looming economic uncertainty as they are busy fighting for their political survival.

After the passing away of Jayalalitha, under circumstances still shrouded in mystery, the state is largely on administrative paralysis. The cause for this paralysis is only partly due to the splintering of the ruling AIADMK. The real culprit is the larger political and administrative ecosystem that has atrophied over the decades. The slow grind of the state has been long in coming. It is in this context of the state’s uneasy economic outlook and political disarray that the entry of film star Rajinikanth assumes significance.

But a brief review of the Dravidian politics over the last few decades that has eaten into the vitals of the state, will throw light on how the future is likely to play out. Dravidian politics as we see today, is a brain child of the old British divide and rule policy and has been spreading venom for decades disguised as a political ideology in south India. Based on the flawed and scientifically discarded Aryan invasion theory, it sought to divide the people into Dravidians or natives and non-Dravidians for short-term electoral gains. Regional separatism, anti-Hindi movement, rationalist movement etc. were thrown in to buttress this bogus ideology.

The resulting cocktail was in essence an unadulterated anti-national and anti-Hindu manifesto whose sole purpose was to fracture the polity and keep the divisions alive. The regimes of that two main Dravidian parties – that proffered varying shades of the above bogus ideology – is a shameless narrative of corruption, deception, loot, extortion, illicit businesses, voter fraud and what have you. It was a complete web of dishonesty that masqueraded as political ideology, very much like the case in any other state in India.

The people who have long been desperately yearning for a genuine alternative, were only given a Hobson’s choice – choosing between the lesser of two evils. The obvious casualty, over the years, has been the governance of the state. As a consequence, Tamil Nadu is today punching way below its weight in many areas nationally – infrastructure, healthcare, agricultural, digitization, GSDP or for that matter any developmental metric.

The ruling AIADMK dispensation is a house divided against itself and it is only a matter of time before it collapses like a house of cards. At the other end, the leading opposition party – the DMK is also in its last innings as a political entity. The party veteran, Karunanidhi, is 94 years old and in extremely poor health and unable to keep the party united. After Karunanidhi, political pundits expect a potential three-way split – one faction led by Stalin, the other by Alagiri and the rest by his daughter Kanimozhi together with party loyalists who would have nowhere else to go.

Apart from the steady erosion of public support due to anti-incumbency, it appears that the clean sweep by the BJP in the national elections of 2014 seems to have added to their discomfiture. The massive mandate in favor of the BJP in Uttar Pradesh is also a frightening development for the Dravidian parties since they know that the BJP is at their door steps.

But for the BJP, Fort St George in Chennai is still some distance away. It may have to wait its turn to run the state. For a safe entry, they have to tag along with a charismatic leader who is blessed with a mass appeal who can open the doors for them. Hence it makes perfect political sense for the BJP to align with Rajinikanth, at least for the time being or until he formally joins them.

Despite the shrill noises and entry barriers erected by the entrenched parties, Rajinikanth’s entry into politics has been widely welcomed. Many view it as probably the best thing that has happened to the state politics in decades.

However, Rajinikanth too will not have an easy path to the Chief Minister’s office. No doubt, in the current political conditions, he is a very charismatic leader who commands the biggest chunk of followers – hence votes – and could potentially emerge as the leader of the single largest party. But he has the onerous task of outwitting the entrenched political rivals. This could be a major challenge.

But therein lies the opportunity for the BJP to step in and assist Rajinikanth, at least in the initial days of its long war to win the rights to rule Tamilnadu. A formal alliance between Rajinikanth and BJP could hold the secret recipe for winning the election. Indications are that either Rajinikanth will join the BJP or form a party that will firmly align with the BJP. The latter seems most probable. However, a lot will depend on how the BJP and Rajinikanth succeed in putting up a good partnership.

A change definitely seems in the offing, but only after the Presidential elections. The central government will probably give some more time for the rudderless AIADMK to make a complete fool of themselves and earn the fullest disgust of the people. President’s rule in Tamil Nadu will be imposed most likely a few months after electing the new President of India.

Decimation of the Dravidian parties appears certain and may be just around the corner. But the urgent need of the hour is the rebuilding of the state’s economy, particularly the agricultural sector. A huge challenge awaits the new Chief Minister. Rajinikanth will have the opportunity to transform and rebuild a new and resurgent TamilNadu.

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on June 22, 2017 in India, Modi, Tamil Nadu

 

Jayalalitha’s Demise And Political Realignment In Tamil Nadu

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The passing away of the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Ms. Jayalalitha on December 6th has cast a pall of gloom over the state. At 68, she was relatively young and had lot of public service left in her. But fate willed otherwise. The passing away of Ms. Jayalalitha signals a phase of uncertainty and tumultuous changes over the coming days that can recast Tamil Nadu politics forever. It will most certainly reverberate in Delhi too.

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Posted by on December 17, 2016 in India, Jayalalitha, Modi, Tamil Nadu

 

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