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Sengol and the King

Professor V Karthikeyan Nair’s article in the latest issue of the Malayalam weekly Kalakaumudi [June 4-11] is titled ‘The Sengol that tore apart the Constitution’. The article starts with making contrast between India and a few religious nations. Pakistan is a Muslim nation. The UK is a Christian nation. But India towers above them all with a very modern Constitution which states explicitly that Indians can have religions but India does not have a religion and that Indians can have gods but India does not have gods. It is that very fundamental principle that the government of India mocked albeit very solemnly when the Prime Minister received the Sengol (sceptre) as a symbol of power from a Brahmin religious supremo. It is a serious matter that the Prime Minister himself affronted the Constitution.

In the days of kings and chieftains, crowns and sceptres were symbols of supreme authority. India liberated herself from kings and chieftains in Aug 1947 when the first Prime Minister made a new tryst with destiny at the stroke of the midnight hour. Nehru described that historic moment as an awakening to freedom from a protracted suppression. It was also an awakening to a new India founded on modern values and principles; it was a giant leap from the old Brahminical system that was steeped in superstitions and heartless practices.

The present Prime Minister took India back to a past that was terribly oppressive for the vast majority of the country’s people, argues the article. A bevy of half-naked Brahmin priests were made to utter some magical abracadabra, the writer says rather acerbically. The nation was also fed with a story about Rajagopalachari and a kingly sceptre. It is true that Rajaji did get a sceptre made in gold following the tradition of the Chera-Chola kings and got it blessed by the high priest of the Thiruvavaduthurai mutt. The sceptre was given to Lord Mountbatten [which is questionable according to a report in today’s Hindu] who then gave it to Nehru without any rituals. Nehru thought of it as yet another gift and relegated it to the museum. Nehru knew that his power came from the people and not from the gods of the Brahmins.

Nehru was not the kind of man who would attach any significance to a symbol of royalty. He was the kind of man who wanted the Ram Lalla figure placed by some vicious element in the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya to be thrown in the river Sarayu. Nehru dreamt of redeeming India from religions and gods. Modi surrendered India to those same feral forces.

Professor Karthikeyan argues that President Murmu should have been the one to inaugurate the new Parliament building. A woman from a marginalised section of the country presiding over such a momentous function would have driven quite a few points home. The emerging status of women in India, for one. The country’s commitment to the Dalits, for another. But Modi chose to abide by Manu’s views such as Na stree swatantriamarhati, says the article. I think Modi’s quintessential narcissism was more the cause.

What message did Modi pass to the nation by falling prostrate before a group of mumbo-jumbo-muttering priests whom the first Prime Minister strove to drive away from the public spaces of India? Professor Karthikeyan wonders whether Modi is trying to convince the nation that the Brahmins carry the ultimate truths and values. The prof also surmises that Modi will soon replace India’s Constitution with Manu Smriti. 



  1. Hari OM
    ManusmRti is the one source from which arises so much misinterpretation and twisting of all that is beautiful in shruti. In much the same way as in Gensis arises the concept of original sin and the blame being laid upon Eve.

    Modi claims to have been a devotee of Chinmaya Mission; why then has he not demonstrated this by rising instead to the view from the Upanishads that is taught there? The proper understanding of the Bhagavad Gita that Gurudev brought with such erudition to ALL people, regardless of their birth?? The acceptance of the equality and therefore the unity of humanity as represented in the OM??? ....[leaves commenting with tears welling at the pain of what that man is doing...] YAM xx

    1. If the Upanishadic advaita became the basis of Hindutva, it would have done so much good to the country. The most naked truth is that Modi is misusing religion for his personal aggrandizement. India is the victim and too many Indians think Modi is India's Messiah.

  2. For him religion is just a self aggrandizing tool, not a belief.

  3. Modi’s quintessential narcissism was (and will continue to be) the cause behind all such happenings. He can misuse anything and everything (including the religion) for his personal aggrandizement. He is the most selfish leader (!) India has ever seen since 15.08.1947. The tragedy of the Indian masses is that a sizable chunk of them have reduced themselves to the status of the rats being led to their ultimate destiny (drowning) by the pied piper (of India, named as Narendra Modi).

    1. Pied Piper of India! And he is succeeding in projecting himself as Viswaguru. So the world should beware.

  4. Well, I save myself from watching spectacles (Prostrations and other drama) of this nature having given up watching TV for quite some time now.

  5. The less is said about this Modi the better. Actually, all has been said. There aren't any words to express is ludicrous-ness anymore. I think newer words need to be invented to capture his nonsense.

    1. He is beginning to look like one of those kings encountered by Little Prince on some weird planet.

  6. Rs 10,000 crore not-needed building. That amount should have been for making the poor less poor and the rich less rich by ensuring roti, kapda aur makaan for this mammoth country.

    1. A lot of pressing problems are ignored and glitter & glamour march on...


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