Reporter's diary: When religion eclipses a monarchy’s reign

The debate was kicked off by filmmaker Vetrimaran who said that there was no Hinduism during the Chozhas and they were only Shaivites. Director Pa Ranjith too made a few controversial comments against the Chozhas.
Director Vetrimaran
Director VetrimaranFile photo

CHENNAI: Kings, monarchies and colonisers were replaced by a democratically elected government decades ago in India. And elected regimes have fallen, risen and some have even grown to glorious heights in TN.

But never has a Thamizh emperor of a bygone era taken the social media by storm as much as Raja Raja Chozhan. Why? People want to know — was he a Hindu?

While the Supreme Court in 1994 ended the long pending controversy with its judgment that no precise meaning can be ascribed to the words ‘Hindu’ and ‘Hinduism’, the debate caught fire on Twitter, thanks to the Mani Ratnam’s Ponniyin Selvan-1. While the film does not mention anything about the religion of Chozhas, members of right-wing parties and pro-Tamil parties have been furiously arguing over it.

The debate was kicked off by filmmaker Vetrimaran who said that there was no Hinduism during the Chozhas and they were only Shaivites. Director Pa Ranjith too made a few controversial comments against the Chozhas.

BJP leaders including Khushbu used strong words against Vetrimaaran but to everyone’s surprise, actor-turned-politician Kamal Haasan supported him.

Of all the achievements, initiatives and development the Chozha dynasty is known for, that their identity is now being defined by their religious faith, or lack thereof, is an interesting point to this journalist. While the debate rages on, and takes political colour, it’s indeed a testament to rational mindset of the Dravidian heartland that it hasn’t exploded into a law-and-order situation.

— Yazhiniyan, Chennai

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