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Karunanidhi and Sai Baba - do symbols matter any more?

Karunanidhi and Sai Baba - do symbols matter any more?

Author: M. Anand
Publication: IndiaInteracts.com
Date: January 24, 2007
URL: http://indiainteracts.com/columnist/2007/01/24/Karunanidhi-and-Sai-Baba--do-symbols-matter-any-more/

Karunanidhi, the only confirmed atheist among our political long distance runners, has virtually diluted his anti-God and anti-Godmen stand when he shared a public platform with Sathya Sai Baba, the Godman with probably the largest number of followers in this country. And went on to equate him with the Almighty since he was noble hearted and was serving humanity.

In the process Karunanidhi even drew a parallel between himself and Sai Baba calling them two branches of a river that ultimately benefits mankind. And the rash of freebies being distributed by his financially stretched government was compared to the free education and medical treatment being given by the Sathya Sai Trust. If only he had produced a gold ring or vibhuthi out of air Karunanidhi would have emerged as the Sai Baba's long lost twin.

True, the DMK veteran and the first disciple of atheist iconoclast EVR Periyar was only expressing his thanks and that of thousands of Chennaiites for Baba's help in funding Rs.200 to line the water canal that fetches Krishna water from Andhra Pradesh to Chennai. So you might ask, how can saying thanks to Sai Baba amount to dilution of Karunanidhi's beliefs?

Let us apply this simple logic. The funding for the canal project comes from the Sathya Sai Trust which in turn has given this money from the huge donations of Sai Baba's devotees from the world over.

Mind you this trust does not solicit for donations unlike many other spiritual outfits and all its revenues are from voluntary donations from the world over which in turn are spent on for charity work like building hospitals, educational institutions and also infrastructure works like water supply other than relief operation during natural calamities.

So those who send their money to the Sai Baba Trust are devotees of Baba and his spiritual prowess - either in healing diseased bodies or producing lingams or vibhuthi out of thin air or masterminding huge public welfare projects for the good of the common man. It is out of faith in his personality and his deeds have millions donated to the trust run by him, convinced that the money would be put to proper use.

So every paisa out of this Rs.200 crore used to fetch Krishna water to Chennai have come out of pockets of believers - a majority of them Hindus whom Kalaignar regularly berates. For example the Athirudhra Maha Yagnam that is happening at the same time elsewhere in Chennai is Baba's brainchild. And it consists of Vedic chants and doing abhishekham to a Lingam specially brought from Baba's Puttabharthi Ashram.

So when Karunanidhi expresses his gratitude to Baba for helping out Chennai he would in turn be thanking thousands of believers in Hinduism and Baba faithfuls, including those belonging to other religions, for it is their money that ultimately went into the canal work.

For a proclaimed rationalist and unswerving atheist, Karunanidhi's participation in Sunday's function amounted to an acknowledgement of Baba's spiritual hold on his devotees and his ability to channelise this hold for the cause of public good. Without that hold the donations would not have come in nor would have the money for the canal.

True, Karunanidhi tried to explain away his participation by latching to a Baba saying, "Love for man is love for God".

But by the same yardstick why does Karunanidhi, who prides himself for loving man, especially the poor and the weak, deprecates the Gods held in high esteem by a majority of these men who he is seeking to help.

Love for man should also mean respect for his beliefs whatever be his faith.

Baba's visit also effectively exposed another chink in Karunanidhi's atheist armour. When Sai Baba visited Karunanidhi's Gopalapuram residence the most defining moment was not the two sitting together but the sight of Karunanidhi staring vacantly at the ceiling even as his wife Dayalu touched Baba's feet to seek his blessings.

That fleeting event was substantial proof that even Karunanidhi's family members do not care for or share his views on atheism, rationalism and anti-Hinduism.

Why should a leader unable to convince his own family about his ideology tire himself and the Tamil society by preaching about a principle whose time has passed. Periyar's atheism came in handy to sharpen his anti-Brahmin agenda. But with Brahmins sidelined by the Backward Classes - the new ruling class, atheism has long lost its relevance in Tamil Nadu.

In the worship of Amman and Lord Aiyappa the BCs during the last four decades have created their own class of Gods effectively countering the anti-God campaign of Periyar and his DK disciples. Also do not forget the innumerable village deities who have a mesmerizing hold on the psyche of the rural Tamil.

Sai Baba, Mata Amrithanandamayi and Bangaru Adigalar are the new spiritual gurus of the assertive BC consciousness.

So who is Karunanidhi battling with his atheistic propaganda - his own constituency of BCs and SCs? It is time the DMK veteran realised that the sell by date of atheism is long gone and the Tamils, especially the Hindu majority, have become more religious than ever.

Rather than stand on ego it is time Karunanidhi shed those outdated anti-God and anti-Hindu symbols.

That would be the best way to thank Sai Baba, whom he is now expecting to clean up the Cooum.

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