22 January, 2021

Ravana As Antidote

A rediscovery of Ravana as a southern hero combating northern imperialism is a fallout of Hindu-Hindi nationalism.

Ravana As Antidote

If you insult Ravana, you are insulting me," declared M. Karunanidhi at a recent book-release function in Chennai. For the state organiser of the Hindu Munnani, Ramagopalan, who is always wide awake to find an anti-Hindu in Karunanidhi, this remark simply meant that Karunanidhi had not changed over the years. What irked Ramagopalan equally was the attempt by the cadres of the Periyar Dravidar Kazhagam, not many days ago, to set aflame effigies of Rama in protest against Ram Lila celebrations in the north.

Karunanidhi has, of course, changed, perhaps not enough. Despite placating devotees of Rama both local ones like Ramagopalan and those holding power in Indraprastha like Advaniji – so as to save his government from Article 356, his romance with Ravana is enduring. In 1954, when the Congress government prohibited an inimitable M.R. Radha from staging Ramayana, which celebrated Ravana and decried Rama, Karunanidhi called the ban a black spot on Kamaraj’s rule and penned a fiery defence of Radha in Murasoli. Two years later,...



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