Vairamuthu in his speech had quoted a researcher, who in turn had said, “Andal herself is a Devadasi who lived and died in the Sri Rangam Temple.”

Poet Vairamuthu lands in controversy for speech on Andal expresses regret
news Controversy Tuesday, January 09, 2018 - 16:45

Tamil poet and lyricist Vairamuthu found himself embroiled in a controversy after a speech he gave was published under the title 'Tamizhai Aandal' in Dinamani.

Vairamuthu gave the speech at the Srivalliputhur Andal Temple during a discussion on Andal, an Alvar saint. 

Several people felt that Vairamuthu had crossed a line by quoting a book that called Andal a "Devadasi". In his speech, Vairamuthu had said, "In ‘Indian movement: some aspects of dissent, protest and reform’, written by Subhash Chandra Malik from America’s Indiana University, there is a line: Andal herself is a Devadasi who lived and died in the Sri Rangam Temple."

“While devotees will not accept this, but those who oppose patriarchy, and those who are against an unequal society, will ponder this,” he further said.

However, the line that he quoted from the book about the Alvar saint – who is worshipped by Vaishnavites – has blown up into a massive controversy.

"It is a habit of people like Vairamuthu to conduct planned attacks on the feelings of Hindus. It is unfortunate that Dinamani has provided a platform for this", BJP leader H Raja said.

Another BJP leader, L Ganeshan said, “It is condemnable for anyone to talk about or write about Andal and taint her divinity, as she is worshipped by lakhs and lakhs of devotees; that too in a holy month like Margazhi, that too in temple premises.”

Vairamuthu is an acclaimed poet who has won several awards, including the Padma Bhushan, Padma Shri and Sahitya Akademi Award. He has also won the National Film Awards seven times.

Following the criticism, Vairamuthu took to Twitter to express regret. The poet said that he was only quoting the research done by an Indiana University researcher.

"In my essay called ‘Tamizhai Aandal’ I had only quoted a line from a book that had come from Indiana University. It is not my opinion. It is that researcher’s personal opinion. The aim of literature is to maximise personas and not to minimise them. There is no need for literature (to minimise personas). Everybody knows that my views on Andal are only to praise her and my intention is not to hurt anyone. I regret it if anyone has been hurt," Vairamuthu said.

In his speech, Vairamuthu had spoken at length about Andal's persona. "The devotion for Andal is like a flood; it is the flood that comes from the mountains in search of a valley. It is unstoppable," he said.

Vairumuthu talks of how Andal in the 8th century challenged tradition by singing for Perumal in the temple when women never left the house.

"Andal has always crossed the line that people have drawn for her. A young girl who grew up listening to praises sang for Perumal by Periyalavar, got involved in divine love," he said.