‘Andal is like my mother, why would I denigrate her?’ Vairamuthu asks in interview

In his interview to Times of India, the poet and lyricist also raised questions over political compulsions, and justified his refusal to apologise. 
‘Andal is like my mother, why would I denigrate her?’ Vairamuthu asks in interview
‘Andal is like my mother, why would I denigrate her?’ Vairamuthu asks in interview
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In an emotional interview to Times of India, Tamil poet and lyricist Vairamuthu has clarified that he was only celebrating Andal and her literature in the speech which landed him in a controversy.“I not only celebrate her Tamil, but also her being the first voice for women’s empowerment,” he told TOI

Defending what he spoke at the Sri Srivalliputhur Andal Temple during a discussion on the Alvar saint, he said “Andal’s Tamil is something that I have lived and breathed for 40 years. Just as my mother breast-fed me, Andal fed me with her Tamil and made me what I am today. How will I denigrate my mother? I have looked at Andal from the eyes of a society and also a religion and in the context of the period she lived. I have gone far into her Tamil much more than a Vaishnavite.”  

The poet also said that before he quoted the research paper, he cited many examples to emphasise on his appreciation for Andal.

“In the end, I quoted a research paper, which described Andal as a ‘devadasi who lived and died in Srirangam Temple’. The reference was only used as someone who gave herself to god and who was created to serve god,” he said.

He also said that he elaborated on the reference to establish the context and remove misinterpretation. “I elaborated further stating that devotees may not understand immediately and if they understand the context, they will accept that,” he said

The controversy, according to the poet, occurred due to devotees misconstruing the word ‘dasi’ (devotee) to ‘vesi’ (prostitute). “My fear came from the use of the word ‘dasi’. I only meant it in the rightful meaning and used it only as a passing reference to highlight empowerment of women. My fears came true, when someone misconstrued ‘dasi’ as ‘vesi’ and it has come to this,” he added.

The poet also wondered if the entire incident was distorted due to political compulsion. “I do not know - whether due to political compulsion or for something else, the whole thing has been distorted deliberately.

On the question of offering a written apology to the protestors for his statement, the poet said that he expressed regret despite knowing that he had spoken the truth. “The Tamil Writers collectively questioned me for doing that, when what I had spoken is the truth. When that is the case, what more should I do?” he asked, “I have been truthful to my work and I have justice on my side.” 

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