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Intention was to glorify Andal, Vairamuthu clarifies again

Vairamuthu's second clarification comes as the fight between Hindu outfit leaders and those backing Vairamuthu intensifies.

Manigandan KR

With the controversy over seven-time National award-winning lyricist Vairamuthu’s recent reference to Hindu saint Andal as a devdasi refusing to die down, the poet has issued a second clarification.

In the second clarification, Vairamuthu said the word ‘devdasi’ did not imply prostitute and referred to a female servant of god. He also said this was the highest form of service to god where a young girl dedicated the rest of her life to the worship and service of a deity or temple.

Appealing to the intellect of the readers, the poet asked people to set aside their emotions while approaching the issue.

“Having lived and worked for Tamil for the past 46 years, I would never hurt the sentiments of Tamil society,” he said, adding that he sincerely believes that the purpose of writing is to spread love and joy.

It may be recalled that as soon as the piece, which was based on his speech in which he had used the word devdasi, appeared in the Tamil daily Dinamani, there was outrage in some quarters.

Several Bharatiya Janata Party politicians, including H Raja, lashed out at the lyricist and demanded an apology.

“What Vairamuthu spoke at this event was poisonous," Raja said. "People like Vairamuthu have a habit of planning and hurting Hindu sentiments. It is unfortunate and condemnable that a publication like Dinamani has provided a platform for an indecent person like Vairamuthu. In just a second, the standard and respect of the publication has been destroyed. The publication has to tender an unconditional and public apology."

Several Hindu outfits staged protests all over Tamil Nadu despite the lyricist expressing regret. The Hindu Munnani, in particular, staged a protest outside the lyricist’s house.

A case has been registered against Vairamuthu in Virudhu Nagar district of the state based on a complaint by Suri, secretary of the Hindu Munnani's Virudhu Nagar unit. The case was filed by the Rajapalayam police, who have booked the lyricist on charges of promoting enmity among different groups (section 153-A of the Indian Penal Code) and performing deliberate and malicious acts to outrage the religious feelings of any class (section 295A), among others.

As the protests began to intensify, criticism too began to turn abusive and acidic, with Raja going on to issue threats to the lyricist.

As Raja’s threats became vitriolic, eminent filmmakers like P Bharathiraja and Pa Ranjith and politicians from the Dravidian parties rose to Vairamuthu’s defence. They hit back at Raja and other BJP leaders in the same tone.

With the dispute between the two segments snowballing into a major issue, Vairamuthu has issued this second clarification. Here is the complete statement issued by the lyricist:

'Thamizhai Andal was my tribute to poet Andal celebrating her contribution to Tamil. This article is part of a series I have been researching and publishing for the past few years.

'I have published similar research articles in Dinamani on Thiruvalluvar, Ilangovadigal, Kambar, Appar, Thirumoolar, Vallalaar, Bharathiyar, Baradhidasan, UV Swaminatha Iyer, Pattukkoattai Kalyanasundaram and Kannadasan.

'My objective is to present the greatness of these pillars of the Tamil language. I would like to clarify on a few issues inferred incorrectly from my article.

'The word Devadasi does not mean a prostitute. Devadasi means ‘’female servant of god’’. It is the highest and purest form of service to god where a girl dedicates the rest of her life to worship and service of a deity or a temple.

'As part of my research for writing this article on Andal, I happened to read a collection of articles edited by Subhash Chandra Malik in the name of ‘Indian Movements: Some Aspects of Dissent, Protest and Reform’, the original from Indiana University and published by Indian Institute of Advanced Study in 1978.

'It is very much an Indian research study by Indian historians.

'My reference, which is being incorrectly perceived, is from the first article in this publication titled "Bhakti Movement in South India", authored by Professor MGS Narayanan and Professor Kesavan Veluthat. Professor MGS Narayanan is considered one of India’s top authorities on ancient history and has served as chairman of the Indian Council of Historical Research. Professor Kesavan Veluthat is professor of history at the University of Delhi.

'The line mentioned in my article was from a reputed publication and by reputed historians. I have used the word Devadasi (servant of god) in the same positive connotation as the original authors.

'I kindly request you to appeal to your intellect, setting aside raw emotions. Having lived and worked for Tamil the past 46 years, I would never hurt the sentiments of Tamil society.

'I sincerely believe that the purpose of writing is to spread love and joy. I kindly invite you to read and reflect deeply on my original article Thamizhai Andal for Dinamani.'