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Keezhadi excavation opens a pandora’s box in tn politics

Archaeological findings from the fourth excavation at the site have raised serious questions that has got on the nerves of political parties from different schools of thought.

Keezhadi excavation opens a pandora’s box in tn politics


The archaeological findings unearthed during excavations at Keezhadi in Sivaganga district have not only arrested the attention of many in and around Tamil Nadu but has also possibly opened a Pandora’s box in the State’s politics. The new findings from the fourth excavations at the site that was largely carried out by the State government, has raised some serious questions that has got on the nerves of political parties belonging to different schools of thought.

While the Dravidian school led by Dravidar Kazhagam and its political offshoot, the DMK, have rejoiced the absence of religious traces in the archaeological finds and striking similarities with those finds from that of the Indus Valley Civilisation, God-fearing Tamil nationalists who celebrate Tamil pride have been unhappy over archaeologists lending it a Dravidian touch.

Such was the political significance of the archaeological expose that DMK president M K Stalin took efforts to visit the excavation site in the company of Sahitya Akademi winning writer-cum-Marxist MP Su Venkatesan who has been campaigning for a while now to throw light on the archaeological treasure trove in Sivaganga. The visit was followed by detailed statements and representations to the Union ministry by Stalin, who had also justified his ‘Dravidian’ description of Keezhadi.

Understandably, it got on the nerves of Tamil nationalists like Naam Tamilar Katchi (NTK), one of the loudest critics of the Dravidian political school. A cursory glance at social media would suffice if one were to fathom the political divide on Keezhadi. Tamil nationalists popularised #KeezhadiTamilcivilization, decrying ‘Dravidian’ association, contrary to the claims of historians and archaeologists who did not mind calling it so.

Significantly, the celebration and criticism only came from the Tamil nationalist cadre. NTK coordinator Seeman, who calls Lord Krishna and Muruga as his ancestors, was content with responding to media queries on Keezhadi, unlike in the past when he had volunteered to wax eloquent on racial questions. Even more disturbing was the unusual silence of MDMK leader Vaiko, another claimant of the Tamil and Dravidian pride, on the latest Keezhadi findings.

Unsurprisingly, the ruling AIADMK has been guarded in its response, albeit not without the occasional bloopers. The State Minister for Tamil Official Language and Tamil Culture and Archaeology, K Pandiarajan, had sprung a surprise, calling Keezhadi a “Bharat civilization”, which, however, did not fail to enthuse his right-wing allies like the BJP. Strikingly, the BJP, like Tamil nationalists, has objected to calling it Dravidian, while conveniently overlooking the absence of Vedic religious traces in Keezhadi.

Writer V Mathimaran said, “People who celebrate the Vedas and myths have been dealt a bodily blow. Keezhadi has confirmed that a dubious history was thrust on us that disturbs. It has exposed the RSS and the BJP because it defeats the Aryanism they celebrate. It has demystified both the Right-wing and even some Leftist scholars who have been claiming that the peninsula’s history was Vedic. Excavations have revealed that there was no graded inequality or varnashram practised in ancient times. Keezhadi’s similarity with the Indus Valley Civilisation confirms that the whole of India did not have the culture.”

“It has also proved the claims of the right-wingers, who have been tracing India’s history to the Vedas even after Indus Valley civilisation, are just fiction. There is no harm even if future excavations reveal some faith of that time. But the evidences unearthed so far suggest nothing was Vedic and the people had no lethal weapon to hurt fellow humans, which is against the war-preaching Ramayana and the Mahabharata,” Mathimaran added.

Mentioning those people claiming Tamil pride and opposing “Dravidam” to now be mum on Keezhadi debunking the Aryan connection, Mathimaran further said, “It has exposed the ideological fallacy of Tamil nationalists and Hindutva people in many parties. Calling it ‘Dravidian’ is putting history in perspective. They are trying to reduce it to a racial history by celebrating Tamil alone.”

The State BJP secretary, Karu Nagarajan, however, argued: “What is the link between Keezhadi and ‘Dravidam’? Nothing. Keezhadi excavation shows how civilised the then Tamils were. The Centre will extend its best possible support to Keezhadi. It is not Periyar’s land. Only Hindu idols are being found every time a well or canal is desilted. They are claiming that the Hindus and Tamils are different. It is one. We are also proud that it is a Tamil civilisation, which was so advanced. The Alwars and the Nayanmars originated from here. We should stop celebrating Tamil pride as Dravidian pride. The excavation should be fully completed. Our PM is ready to establish the museum and extend whatever support is necessary in Keezhadi.”

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