What DMK MP A Raja actually said about Ramayana and Jai Sri Ram

A part of MP A Raja’s speech has been cropped and circulated on social media by handles associated with the right-wing, calling it a ‘hate speech’.
What DMK MP A Raja actually said about Ramayana and Jai Sri Ram
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Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) MP A Raja’s recent speech on the ‘Jai Sri Ram’ slogan – which has been weaponised by Hindutva supporters – has led to a controversy with many accusing him of being ‘anti-Hindu.’ Addressing a gathering at Gobichettipalayam on March 3, on the day of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin’s birthday celebrations, Raja had said that he will not respect the god or the ‘Jai Sri Ram’ slogan which symbolises religious intolerance.  A part of this has now been cropped and circulated on social media by handles associated with the right-wing, calling it ‘hate speech’.

Raja’s speech spans nearly an hour and multiple clips from it of about two minutes each have been cut out and circulated. In one such video shared by the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) IT department in-charge Amit Malviya, Raja is heard saying, “If you say this is the God. If this is your Jai Sri Ram, if this is your Bharat Mata Ki Jai, we will never accept that Jai Sri Ram and Bharat Mata. Tamil Nadu won’t accept. You go and tell, we’re enemies of Ram.” The context, however, has been cropped out. 

In the speech, Raja is seen talking about how the convicts in Bilkis Bano case were welcomed by BJP supporters following their release from prisons with celebratory slogans of ‘Jai Sri Ram’. “There is a woman called Bilkis Bano. She was 23 or 24 years old, with a six-month-old child. She and 13 other Muslims wearing purdah and skull caps were walking. RSS persons who came from the opposite direction terrorised them by shouting Jai Shri Ram,” Raja said.

“Immediately, that woman was stopped and stripped; we can call them beasts and move on. But they grabbed her child and smashed on a rock. 16 persons raped her. They get double life imprisonment… But the Gujarat government convened the Cabinet and decided that the punishment was enough as they were inside for ten years,” he added. 

Raja further said, “When they [rapists] came out, all the BJP guys went and shouted Jai Sri Ram and Bharat Mata ki Jai. Aren’t you all ashamed?”

He added, “Preach that love is God; preach that compassion among humans is God; preach that a pure heart is God; preach that we can see God in a poor person’s smile; neither us nor Kalaignar nor Anna nor Periyar is angry with such a God. But if you say this is God; if this is your Jai Sri Ram, if this is your Bharat Mata Ki Jai, we will never accept that Jai Sri Ram and Bharat Mata. Tamil Nadu won’t accept. You can go and tell we’re enemies of Ram. What enemy of Ram? I have been taught Ramayana.”

Raja recalled how Rama considered all the characters who helped him when he was in dire need as brothers irrespective of their caste and added that he doesn’t believe in Ramayana or lord Ram but he was just narrating ‘Kamba Ramayana’. Kamba Ramayana is a Tamil epic written by Tamil poet Kambar. This is significantly different from the Valmiki Ramayana in certain aspects.

Raja narrated a story from Kamba Ramayana. “Ram, who has four brothers goes into the forest looking for Sita. Gugan, a hunter from the Kuravan community, gives him honey and fish. Rama doesn’t eat fish, so he gets the honey with love and eats that. He tells Gugan that we were four [brothers] and now you became our fifth brother. Then Sugrivan comes, helps with the war. He [Rama] tells us we became five with Gugan, we became six with you. Sugrivan came and helped me find Sita, so I have six brothers. Then came Vibheeshanan. He came in the end, to kill Ravanan. [Rama] tells him ‘we became five with Gugan, six with Sugrivan and seven with you, Ayya’.”

“What caste, what religion, where were they born?” Raja then asks. “I don’t believe in Ramayana, and Lord Ram. But I am telling the story. This is Kamba Ramayanam.  He also said that in the Ramayana which he knows, lord Rama was harmonious “where four brothers are born as siblings, one Kuravar as brother, one Hunter as brother, another monkey as another brother, another monkey as the 6th brother”. He further added that this figure has been turned into a divisive one and added, “your Jai Sri Ram is Chi! Idiots!”.

In yet another video where Raja says that India is not a country but a Union of states has also been circulated by the BJP. Amit Malviya, alleged, “After Udhayanidhi Stalin’s call to annihilate Sanatan Dharma, it is now A Raja who calls for balkanisation of India, derides Bhagwan Ram, makes disparaging comments on Manipuris and questions the idea of India, as a nation.”.

Raja spoke about India’s diversity and said, “Leaders including Jawaharlal Nehru, Gopalsamy Iyengar, Sardar Patel, Ambedkar and big leaders sat together, formed a Constituent Assembly and discussed for nearly a year on how India should be and what sort of laws it needs, and how to formulate the Constitution. What is the reason? India was not a country. Please understand this. India has never been a single country. If it is one nation, it means one language, one tradition and one culture. India is not a country. India is a subcontinent. Why? Here, Tamil is a country. Malayalam is a language, a nation, a country. Oriya is a language and a country. All these countries make up India. So, India is not a country, it is a subcontinent. There are so many traditions and cultures. If you come to Tamil Nadu, there’s a culture. In Kerala, there’s another culture. In Delhi, there’s another culture. In Oriya, there’s another culture. Why in Manipur, as RS Bharathi said, they eat dog meat. Yes, it is true, they eat. That’s a culture. There’s nothing wrong. It’s all in our mind.”

He then pointed to himself and others on the stage saying they are all different people, but accepting everyone is human dignity.

The BJP has been attacking Raja unabated. Tamil Nadu BJP chief K Annamalai also took to social media and said that the DMK and INDIA ran on ‘a two-point agenda’, “appease your masters who hate Sanathana Dharma & loot beyond proportion.”

“2G accused DMK MP A Raja has been constantly insulting Sanathana Dharma & now has gone one step further to hurt the feelings of every Indian who says “Jai Shri Ram” & “Bharath Mata Ki Jai” through a falsely constructed theory. ‘Chi, idiots’ is appropriate for the DMK leaders who deliberately misled the people to trust them with their 511 poll promises, for scamming people of their hard-earned money & to DMK for being an abode for the international drug mafia,” he said.

Earlier in September 2023, coming out in support of Sports Minister Udhayanidhi Stalin who made comments about sanatan dharma, Raja said that Udhayanidhi criticised Sanatana Dharma “softly” and added that it was similar to illnesses like leprosy and HIV. Udhayanidhi had said that sanatan dharma should be eradicated like malaria and dengue.

In September 2022, BJP filed a complaint against Raja over a comment that a ‘Shudra’ will always remain one in India. Back then also, a 40-second video clip of a 12-minute-long speech was widely circulated in social media. Stating that there was an attempt to “saffronise” all institutions, including the Supreme Court, Election Commission, Parliament, CBI and ED, he said that there should be papers like “Viduthalai and Murasoli to oust such activities.”

“Hereafter, we should not hesitate to question who a Hindu is, in papers like Murasoli, Theekkathir and Viduthalai. I don’t want to be a Hindu. We need the right to ask ‘why do you want to keep me a Hindu?... As long as you are a Hindu, you are a Shudra; as long as you are a Shudra, you are the son of a prostitute; as long as you are a Hindu, you are a Panchami person [Dalits]; as long as you are a Hindu, you are an untouchable. The roots of sanatan dharma can be broken only if we ask, ‘How many of you want to be the son of a prostitute? How many of you want to be untouchables?’ and it is time that this decision must be taken by ‘Viduthalai,’ ‘Murasoli’, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam and Dravidar Kazhagam. In order to do these works, I wish that Asiriyar [Veeramani] should succeed in doing many things,” he said.

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