The remarks made against Sanathana Dharma by DMK minister and son of TN Chief Minister MK Stalin, Udhayanidhi Stalin, at a conference in September 2023 are still a talking point among the public. With various party members saying similar comments, here is another who joins the bandwagon.
DMK spokesperson Puhazh Gandhi, in a television debate on the Times Now channel, had this to say about Bhagwan Ram – “Let me put it in a single line. Even if Lord Ram comes and contests here, people may fall at his feet, people may light diyas, etc, but people will not vote for him. That is the rationalist viewpoint of the people of Tamil Nadu under the Dravidian movement.”
Bhagwan Ram has been a point of irritation for Dravidianists – whether they are from DMK, DK, or any other party. Right from their ideologue EV Ramasamy Naicker, aka Periyar, to Karunanidhi to other members of the Dravidian parties, they have constantly mocked and belittled Bhagwan Ram and Hindu Dharma in toto.
Bhagwan Rama & Sethu Samudaram project
In 2007, Karunanidhi strongly criticised ‘communal forces’ opposing the Sethusamudram project, dismissing the ‘myth’ of Ram Sethu. He notably questioned, “Who is this Raman (referring to Bhagwan Ram in Tamil)? In which engineering college did he study and become a civil engineer? When did he build this so-called bridge? Is there any evidence for this?”.
The Sethusamudram Shipping Canal Project was intended to establish a navigable shipping route in the shallow straits connecting India and Sri Lanka. Karunanidhi also called Ramayana a work of fiction, interpreting it as a narrative symbolising the “conflict” between Aryans and Dravidians.
Slipper garland for Bhagwan Ram
In 1971, during the Salem conference of the Dravidar Kazhagam (DK), it is alleged that EVR not only struck the portrait of Lord Rama with slippers but also adorned it with a garland made of slippers. There are many different versions of this incident – some claim he did not do it, while others claim he did it.
A Quora response to a question about whether EVR did slipper the image is reproduced below:
In an audio clip recorded after the procession and the surrounding controversy, he (EVR) can be heard saying:
“We conducted an anti-superstition rally in Salem. I did not invite the DMK to participate in the rally. If the DMK participates they will have trouble, hence I conducted the event without their involvement. There was huge support from the public for the rally. In that rally, I exposed the obscenity of the gods. We decided to condemn the gods. They burnt the effigy of Ravana, so we decided to burn the effigy of Rama in the rally. We explained the reasons for doing so, saying he was a fraud and we had put out the information on display on boards and cloth. I did not make up anything, whatever is there in the puranam, we had put out the facts. Whatever is there in the puranam will be embarrassing for them for sure. It was a big rally, lakhs of people participated and I was at the end of the rally. People were walking in front of me with a band, and people were carrying these pictures. At that time, there was a Brahmin group in the area, they had named themselves as Temple Protection Movement. They were holding a black flag protest against us. Police came to me and said that there was going to be trouble. There are lakhs of people with you, and only hundreds are protesting on the other side, and they said this is going to be a problem. I told them that we won’t do anything and you please protect them and I will ensure that our people are kept under control. We organised the rally in a proper manner, we did not want any trouble. They (right wing) were coming along with us, protesting and holding black flags. There were some 300-400 people in between us as a wall. We were marching, and they were raising derogatory slogans. Our people were raising slogans saying ‘Rama down down’, they were taking my name and abusing me. Then, our people started arguing with them and raising slogans against them. In the melee, one scoundrel removed his slipper from the other side and it was thrown at our crowd. One of our people took that same slipper and started beating Rama’s picture. One person started hitting, and all the others joined in. No one was there to question them, and the police were mute spectators. This got over and we burnt the Rama effigy. The Congress picked up this issue, including Kamaraj, and they started the propaganda that Rama’s picture was slippered; they started a magazine which is running till now. Cho or whatever his name is, they displayed 3 lakh wall posters across the state, of me holding a slipper, a picture of Rama and Karunanidhi’s picture saying “Sabash!”. This is what made this incident famous to the entire world, and it was their foolishness. They went to town campaigning saying Periyar slippered Rama, and this is what happened.”
Calling Bhagwan Rama, a mythology
More recently, DMK leader TKS Elangovan said, “What can I say? They have demolished history and replaced it with mythology. Any country should be proud of its history, it should know the history. Ram’s birth is mythology, it is a story from Ramayana. It is literature. They want to replace history with mythology. That is what the BJP is trying to do.”
Congress MP Jothimani claims to not know Bhagwan Rama
Congress MP from Karur, Tamil Nadu, Jothimani also feigned ignorance about Bhagwan Ram. Speaking to Padmaja Joshi from Times Now, she said, “I’m from Tamil Nadu. I don’t know Ram because we are indigenous people. We follow ‘ancestral worship’. You ask anybody in Tamil Nadu. We don’t see any Ram Temple.”
She claimed that she goes to ‘her temple’ because that’s where her ancestors used to go, and she called it ‘ancestor worship’. In her devious attempt to otherise Brahmins and Hindus of Northern states, she said, “There are many south Indian states, even north-east tribals, SCs, Dalits, OBCs, we pray indigenous worship, basically an ancestor worship”.
After initially claiming on one hand that she didn’t know about Bhagwan Ram until she came to national politics, she contradicted her own statement by saying, “I read Ramayana, I read Mahabharatha, that’s how I know”. She added that when it comes to worship, Tamils “strictly worship ancestors”.
Such is the brainwashing that the Dravidianist ideology done on the people of Tamil Nadu. There are several places of worship such as Rameshwaram and the notable Eri Kaatha Ramar temple in Madurantakam, a Pallava-era temple that got its present name because of an intriguing incident. During British rule, the Madhuraanthakam village faced threats from a weak lake bund. District Collector Colonel Blaze pledged to build a shrine for Sri Janakavalli Thaayaar if Sri Rama protected the village. Witnessing two mysterious men near the lake during a storm, Blaze later discovered they were Sri Rama and Sri Lakshmana, credited with saving the village. Blaze fulfilled his promise, and Sri Rama came to be known as ‘Eri Kaatha Raamar.’
Irony is that EVR aka Periyar is himself named Ramasamy.