That sengol: The mutt wanted to show it had the new government's favour
C.N. Annadurai, reports The Hindu, made fun of the sengol in 1947 and advised the first prime minister to "have a close look at the sengol every now and then and keenly listen to the lesson it offers”
Is it a gift, a donation “or a share or fee”, wondered the founder of the DMK (Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam), who went on to become chief minister of Tamil Nadu. This was CN Annadurai, in 1947, soon after the vaunted sengol — which has now been installed in India's new parliament building — was presented to the first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru.
Anna, as he was known in Tamil Nadu, also questioned the motive of the head of the mutt in Tamil Nadu in sending over the golden sceptre to Nehru on the eve of Independence.
While the motive behind the Modi government’s resurrection of the long-forgotten ‘gift’ is becoming obvious by the day — as the government anoints it as ‘the symbol of transfer of power’ and places it in the new parliament building and has the prime minister himself not just genuflect but prostrate himself before it — Annadurai’s scathing piece also appears to trash the claims being made by the PM and the Union home minister.
In an article that appeared a week after Independence under the headline ‘Sengol, oru vendukol (Sceptre, a request)‘ published in Dravida Nadu on 24 August 1947, Annadurai made fun of the sengol and suggested that the mutt was merely trying to ingratiate with the new government.
· All this gold is just a part of the wealth of a saint, who has renounced all worldly affairs. In the Mutt, in the boxes of navaratnas [literally, nine types of jewels], in the fertile paddy fields capable of producing crops more valuable than the navaratnas, languishes the working class.
· If the government confiscated the wealth of the Mutt and used them for ameliorating the living conditions of the people, the Sengol would not just remain a decorated object, but lift people’s lives.
· The head of the Mutt wanted to be in the good books of Nehru, and through the present, he wanted to convey the message [that] he had a close relationship with the new government and keep the people under his spell.
· It is unexpected and unnecessary. It is not only unnecessary. If you think about the deep meaning behind it, it will be crystal clear that it is dangerous.
· We do not know what Pandithar (Pandit Nehru) thought about the Sengol or [the] letter the Adheenakarthar (head of the mutt) might have sent along with the Sengol.
· Pandithar would know that the King and cohorts of nobles, who were fattened by the labour of the subjects and had free access to the golden forts, actually had religion as their capital.
· The heads of the Mutts, who are afraid that "you [Nehru] might seek to implement what you have learnt", will not only give a golden sceptre, but even a sceptre embedded with navaratnas to protect themselves.
· The sceptre is not a piece of iron that was transformed into gold by the power of a pinch of holy ash in a manner similar to how foxes were made into horses by a Saiviate saint (Manickavasagar).
· The head of the Mutt has appropriated the labour of others, and it is inappropriate to call it a Sengol.