Karunanidhi has maintained all through his political life that he is an atheist and rejects religion, especially the Brahmincal form of Hinduism which was the arch-enemy of Dravidianism.
But on Wednesday, Karunanidhi's home at Gopalapuram in Chennai turned into a vedic abode, with mantras being loudly chanted by priests who had assembled there from the Tirupathi Tirumala Devsathanam.
Here is a video.
In the past year, the DMK patriarch has penned several episodes of a TV series on Saint Ramanujar, a Vaishnavite saint who is said to have graced the earth between 11th and 12th century CE, and is credited with co-opting people of lower castes into the Vaishnavite fold. This TV show is being aired on Kalaignar TV.
The TTD's TV channel, Sri Venkateshwara Bhakti Channel, had shown interested in buying the rights to this show to be dubbed into Telugu and aired. It was to formalize the deal that senior members of the TTD had arrived at Karunanidhi's house, along with several priests as is their standard practice.
Recently, Karunanidhi’s son and DMK's heir apparent MK Stalin had courted controversy when he visited a temple in Tirukoshtiyur. The AIADMK mouthpiece had then questioned Stalin and DMK's atheistic principles, but Stalin has countered by saying he was only visiting Ramanujar's shrine, and described him as a 'social reformer'. Read our article on that here.
Interestingly, when famous actor Sivaji Ganesan was dismissed from the DMK several years ago, the reason given was that he broke protocol and visited the Tirumala shrine.
While many have accused the DMK and its leaders of hypocrisy, political commentator Gnani sees this as a positive sign. "Karunanidhi is one politician who believes in inclusive politics. He allows others to have a view. We should only criticize him l if he asked for the mantras to be chanted," he says, adding that "If non-believers can respect wishes of the believers, the leaders who are believers must also respect the views of non-believers."