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Lyricist Vairamuthu expresses regret over Andal controversy

The poet in a recent speech had quoted from a book which said the saint was a devdasi, angering many.

Manigandan KR

Seven-time National award-winning lyricist Vairamuthu has tendered an apology after a controversy erupted over a speech in which he reportedly quoted a line from a book which called Andal, a Hindu saint, a devdasi.

It all began with the lyricist delivering a speech at the Srivalliputhur Andal temple, which was later published in a popular daily under the heading Tamizhai Aandal.

In the speech, Vairamuthu, who openly supports feminist causes, said, “In the book, Indian Movement: Some Aspects of Dissent, Protest and Reform, written by Subhash Chandra Malik, there is a line that reads [that] Andal herself is a devdasi who lived and died in the Sri Rangam temple. While devotees will not accept this, those who oppose patriarchy and those who are against an unequal society will think about it.”

This brought in angry responses from several people, including politicians like H Raja of the pro-Hindutva Bharatiya Janata Party, who lashed out on Twitter.

“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."

As the reactions grew stronger, Vairamuthu issued a statement in Tamil which said, “In my essay Tamizhai Aandal, I had only cited a line from a research book from Indiana university. That is not my opinion. That is the independent opinion of a researcher. The objective of grammar is to enhance greatness and not to diminish glory. To belittle somebody, we don’t need grammar at all.  Everybody is aware that all my opinions about Aandal speak only of her virtues. My intention was not to hurt anybody. If there are people who were hurt, I regret it."

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