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Sunday, October 2, 2022

Ram Is Equally Worshipped And Venerated Among Tamils


“Ram Leela in the North, now Ravan Leela to be celebrated in the South” screamed media headlines on 10th and 11th October last year.

To those newspaper readers who never proceed beyond the big, bold letters (the headlines), the message sought to be conveyed was that just like Lord Ram was worshipped in the North, so also a similar kind of veneration existed in the South towards Ravana. It was also announced that just like an effigy of Ravana was burnt during the Ram Leela, an effigy of Lord Ram would also be burnt during this so-called Ravan Leela.

However, these media personnel didn’t show the same enthusiasm in reporting that one of the two organizers of this sham event that took place on 13th October, 2016, Thanthai Periyar Dravidar Kazhagam [TPDK] could muster a strength of JUST 40 people, that too in their stronghold of Chennai. The other organization, a perpetual hater of anything Hindu, Periyar Dravidar Kazhagam (PDK) did a little better – 55 people. In short, less than 100 people took part in an event which had been marketed as something which would rival the Ram Leela (in which hundreds of millions of people participate every year) but the fact that it was an absolute dud relegated the story to somewhere deep inside the papers where it couldn’t be found.

But the impression it made on gullible readers cannot be underestimated. It is a pity that many people residing in other parts of the country still lack knowledge, or even interest, in what happens south of the Vindhyas, especially in Tamil Nadu. Their understanding of this state is that it has rejected Hindi, it insists on maintaining its distinctiveness and also worships as heroes those, who people in other regions in the country regard as villains, and nothing for them exemplifies this better than the supposed worship of Ravana.

The problem lies solely with our leftist “intellectuals” (some of whom double as “Dravidian” ideologues) along with their NGO collaborators (many heavily financed by the West), which of course couldn’t move ahead without the support of their chamchas in the media news channels (and even entertainment industry). Their agenda is to create a different identity for Tamilians, for Dalits and for Tribals – to try to portray them as being different from Hindus.

So one day a claim is made that beef has always been eaten by Dalits (no proof is offered). It then progresses to an astounding “discovery’ that Mahishasur is worshipped by THE tribals in the country – which is then singled out to just Jharkhand; there also, it gets further reduced to just some tribes in Jharkhand regarding Mahishasur as their ancestor, but show a lack of evidence that he is actually worshipped by them, while ignoring the fact that millions and millions of people even in Jharkhand itself worship Durga.

But of course, the oldest “dirtiest trick up their sleeve” has been the claim that Ravana is worshipped in Tamil Nadu instead of Ram.

Some years back, the lukewarm response to Mani Ratnam’s “RAAVANAN”, even in Tamil Nadu, created a lot of debate in the internet. Many “Dravidian” sympathizers couldn’t stomach the fact that people didn’t show much interest in a film glorifying Ravan at the expense of Lord Ram (it was a total flop outside Tamil Nadu). Actually, had it not been for the lead star cast, spectacular special effects and Mani Ratnam’s direction, the movie would have been a disaster even in Mani Ratnam’s home state.

However, these “camp followers” continued with their baseless assertion that Ram had never been worshiped in Tamil Nadu.

One of their supporters, Sitaram Yechury, (currently, General Secretary of the CPI(M) )  had in a debate conducted by India Today in 1991, declared that people in the South were devoted to “Raavayanam” in which Ravana is depicted as a hero and Ram as a villain!!! (wonder why his parents named him Sitaram, and even more shocking why he chose to retain it after he turned Marxist).

How much of this is all true? To the claim that Lord Ram is not worshipped in Tamil Nadu, the plain answer to this is that it is absolute nonsense! “Spin a lie a 100 times, and it becomes the truth”, is what our “Dravidian” / Communist friends believe in.

They have to only look at the Ramavataram or the Kamban Ramayana, written by the poet, Kamban in the 12th century (some historians say it was written around the 9th – 10th century), which is venerated by all Tamil Hindus. In fact, this historic work is considered by Tamil scholars as the greatest literary work in Tamil literature. Kamban openly acknowledges his indebtedness to the original Valmiki Ramayana, which had been written in Sanskrit.

It is true that at the hands of Kamban, Ravana does emerge in a better light –  he is praised for his scholarly qualities, a connoisseur of music, a brave and great king, etc… but even Kamban doesn’t defend Ravana for his lusty desires towards Seeta.

In Valmiki’s Ramayana, Lord Ram’s divinity is only mentioned in passing, since Valmiki emphasizes Ram as the ideal human being, the perfect person – Maryada Purushottam – whereas Kamban never allows the reader to forget that Lord Ram is GOD. Again and again, Kamban extols the virtues of Lord Ram. It is a devotional text where Kamban speaks about surrendering himself to the Lord.

So, while it is true that compared to the original Ramayana of Valmiki, or for that matter most other versions of the Ramayana, Ravana doesn’t emerge as an evil person in the Ramavataram, yet given a comparison between Ram and Ravana, there is no question that people in Tamil Nadu would choose Ravana, as Lord Ram is venerated and worshipped as GOD.

In my various travels across Tamil Nadu, and being acquainted with so many Tamils living outside the state, I have yet to come across any person whose name was Ravana, whereas Ram is one of the most common Tamil names – even the chief “Dravidian” protagonist was Ramasamy Naicker (many other “Dravidian” leaders, despite their openly anti-Hindu stances, still retain pure Sanskrit names, many named after the various forms of GOD).

Similarly, if Ravana is worshipped by Tamils as it is made out to be, how come we don’t find any temples dedicated to Ravana? New temples constructed in the past 100 years or so, due to “Dravidian” influence is another thing, but where are the historical temples dedicated to Ravana? Small shrines dedicated to Ravana at some Saivite temples don’t mean anything, as those were installed on the strength of his being a follower of Lord Shiva, but we do not have any historical independent temples for Ravana in Tamil Nadu or elsewhere in South India, whereas there are innumerable for Lord Ram, or Lord Vishnu / Lord Krishna for that matter.

The only place that Ravana is venerated by the people is in Sri Lanka, where some Sinhalese scholars regard Ravana as an ancestor of the community, though even in Sri Lanka, Lord Ram is considered a great personality, if not a divine one.

A Tamil political party, the Panthers Party of India, had absurdly claimed that in Tamil Nadu, people only worshipped local deities, probably implying that Tamil Nadu had no tradition of worshipping mainstream Hindu deities, but any 1st time visitor to Tamil Nadu would find out that the reality was completely different. In fact, Tamil Nadu has the maximum number of Hindu temples in the country, which are dedicated to Lord Shiva, Lord Vishnu and HIS incarnations, to Parvati / Durga and HER incarnations, to Ganesha and to Kartikeya / Murugan. Even Murugan, who is considered by some “Dravidians” as a  non “Aryan” God, is accepted by all devotees and others, as being the son of Lord Shiva. The worship of Kartikeya / Murugan has been proven to be a very ancient one, even in other parts of the country (HE was also known as Skanda in our scriptures).

In the meantime, in Yechury’s native Andhra Pradesh, Lord Ram directly, either in HIS magnificent temple at Bhadrachalam, or in the other Vaishnavite forms – Lord Balaji at Tirupati (the most-visited temple in the whole country and the richest shrine in the country), and Lord Narasimha, are the most worshiped deities. Ram Navami, celebrating the day that Lord Ram appeared, is one of the biggest festivals in Andhra Pradesh. Here, it can be added that the maximum number of devotees visiting Tirupati hail from Tamil Nadu.

No such scripture as Ravayanama, glorifying Ravana and demonizing Ram exists, either in Andhra Pradesh or elsewhere, as Yechury had falsely claimed. But of course, it isn’t his fault. Comrades are known to be liars of international repute.

It is only the “Dravidian” leaders of the 1900s, who started claiming that Ram was an “Aryan invader” from North India, who fought and defeated a “Dravidian” king, namely Ravana………such a statement had been totally absent in any of the Hindu scriptures, either the very ancient ones, or right up to the medieval times…….thus, we can see how a British mischief / creation of “Aryan-Dravidian” divide fueled the “Dravidian” movement, and spearheaded the campaign to degrade Lord Ram.

One of their leaders, Kulanthai Pulavar wrote a book, ‘Iravanan Kapiyam” where Ravana was the hero of the epic, and one other camp-follower, R.S.Manohar, a theater person made a stage play titled “Lankeswaran” where Ravana was the hero of the drama.

But these are absolutely recent developments, though no doubt people like Mani Ratnam  may have been inspired by them.

But, most of the people in Tamil Nadu do not pay heed to such people, as irrespective of the success or the failure of a film like “Raavan” worship of Lord Ram is firmly entrenched in Tamil culture.

Sri Raman / Sitha Raman / Ramachandran / Janaki Manaalan / Ayodhya Raman / Dasaratha Kumaran / Pattabhi Raman – are some among the many names by which Rama is adoringly called by his Tamil devotees.

The Ramayana is entwined in their daily lives in many ways, including to being alluded in several popular proverbs. Even now, in villages whenever a rendition of Kamban Ramayana is narrated, and people hear about Lord Ram and Seeta, they are moved to moods of ecstasy and exhibit tears.

During the mid 80s, when Ramanand Sagar’s Ramayana TV serial was telecast every Sunday, the response from Tamil Nadu, like the rest of the country, was absolute. Despite the serial being in Hindi, most people in Tamil Nadu stopped all activities between 09:30 – 10:30 AM, the time that the serial was telecast. In fact, it was said that if sometimes some marriages had to take place during that time, it was a compulsion to arrange for a television for the guests, so that they would not be deprived of watching their favorite program during the wedding.

The “Dravidian” movement is not even 150 years old, but the worship of Lord Ram has been going on uninterrupted for thousands of years, if not more, by Hindus all over the world, including in Tamil Nadu.

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Nirmal Laungani
Nirmal Laungani
NIRMAL LAUNGANI is a Hong Kong businessman, Sanghachalak (President) of Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh, Hong Kong, and chief editor of Sandesh Bharati. Email: [email protected]


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