Tamil Film Director Pa. Ranjith’s Hindu Hatred

Controversial Kollywood director-cum-dalit activist Pa.Ranjith has been booked for his defamatory speech on the great Chola king Raja Raja in an event organised by Blue Panthers in Thirupanandal, a place where centuries old Thirupanadal Shaivite mutt is located.

“From fighting to abolish caste system we have started to ask about one’s jathi (caste) and taking pride in the history of one’s jathi. Many caste people put their caste name behind Raja Raja’s name to claim the pride of having ruled once”.

“It is said that the period when Raja Raja ruled was the golden age of TN. In my opinion it was the dark age of this land. There are many who say Raja Raja belongs to their caste. Even the Parayars here would say that Raja Raja is from our caste. Eight castes are fighting to claim Raja Raja as belonging to their caste. But for me Raja Rajan need not belong to my caste. My (ancestors’) land was snatched away conspiratorially in his reign; our lands in Thanjavur delta were taken away in his reign; oppression based on caste system was prevalent in his reign; 400 women were forced into prostitution in his time. The Devadasi practice was introduced systematically in his time only. He sold 26 women from here to Kolar gold fields”.

“I’m the one who eats god. You say cow is your God. I’m the one who eats that God. Can you retain the land from the mutts here and give it to us? Can you retake some 40 acre land from the mutts and redistribute it to us? While the mutts in other states choke under land ceiling act, why aren’t the mutts in TN? When are you going to redistribute this land for us? Because this is our land expropriated from us”.

While the caste which Raja Raja cannot be found out much to the chagrin of pseudo anti castes activist, other claims of Ranjith can be checked up on. Comments of some experts in Chola history and literature proves them to be anything but lies.

Poet Senthalai Gowthaman commented:

“On every Aippasi (Tamil month) Sadayam Raja Raja chozha’s birthday is celebrated. All the castes claim him to belong to their caste and make posters with surname. Once people from a certain caste approached me and asked for the truth about which caste Raja Raja belongs to. I said there was no caste in the time of Raja Raja. They were shocked. Kings don’t have castes; those who win become kings; they don’t belong to any caste.

The history of caste system as we know today goes back only to 800 years. Some people talk like their caste existed from the inception of the world. 1000 years, 2000 years, they boast the history of their caste as they wish. It’s true that caste names were there but inequality based on caste is here only for the past 800 years. The name behind one’s name was not the name of a caste but of one’s profession.”

About Ranjith’s lie on his ancestors’ being expropriated of their lands, Madras University’s retired HOD of History department, Laksmanan, says, “There is no evidence that suggests he (Raja Raja) took away lands of one particular caste intentionally. We don’t have proof that he could have done it as a punishment either. Not everything was great in Raja Raja’s period. But that he usurped the properties of a particular caste or that he didn’t let them have right over property cannot be proved as we haven’t found any evidence to suggest that. It can’t be true.”

M.D. Rajukumar, a historian studying about landholding principles in the Chola dynasty clarified that there is no evidence in either inscriptions or literature or history that Raja Raja snatched lands from a particular sect with scorn or grudge. What’s more, those who are called as Dalits today weren’t treated as untouchables or unwanted either before or even after the period of Cholas till the rule of Vijayanagara dynasty.

“It (Devadasi system) began in the 6th century and continued in Raja Raja’s rule. But I can’t say that it was found by Raja Raja. He donated land to temples (Devadana) and Brahmins (Brahmadeya). Even in his period there were Cheris (slums), some bans were put on them and denied ground for cremation. Pa.Ranjith’s problem is that he says a particular section of the people was affected the most. We can say that the reason for that was those who we dignify as dynasties but not accuse Raja Raja individually. Caste issues didn’t exist at the time. Kings didn’t have castes”, explained the HOD of history department in Vivekananda college.

Different stone inscriptions and copper/bronze inscriptions mention Chola kings granting land to musicians of five instruments, one of which is Parai (those who play Parai were known are Parayars to which caste Pa.Ranjith claims to belong). Here is the transcription of Esalam copper plate inscriptions which mentions land being granted for Paraicheri.

In the case of Devadasis employed to perform at the Big temple (Brihadeshwara temple), Raja Raja brought them from different temples, details of which can be seen in the inscriptions at the temple. They were allotted houses near the temple and some of them were married and had kids too.

While a former Hindu Makkal Katchi functionary filed a complaint, Thirupanadal police decided to take suo moto cognizance and registered an FIR under IPC 153 (wantonly giving provocation with intent to cause riot) and 153 (A) (1) (a) (promoting enmity between different groups).

In his bail plea he said that he only talked about things that were already written by some and he used the words of Umar Farooq in his book ‘Senthamizh naatu cherigal’. Madurai HC branch chastised Ranjith for unnecessarily making demeaning comments about the great king.

Ranjith’s lament at the injustice meted out to his fellow caste people and ancestors is justifiable. But his means to get the justice served is questionable as putting his trust on unreliable historical sources and degrading a great king like Raja Raja doesn’t serve the purpose.






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