By declaring that Raja Raja Cholan wasn’t a Hindu king, national award-winning Tamil director Vetrimaaran has stirred some debate. Now that Kamal Haasan has backed the director’s assertion, contentious discussions about the identity of the king have erupted.
Kamal Hassan also noted that there was no such thing as a “Hindu religion” during the Chola era.
It all began at a conference that Vetrimaaran attended, where he caused an uproar by saying “Raja Raja Chozlan wasn’t Hindu but they (BJP) are trying to steal our identity. They have already tried to saffronize Thiruvalluvar. We should never allow that.”
Earlier, Vetrimaran had stated at a gathering, “Continuously, our symbols are being snatched from us. Saffronising Valluvar or calling Raja Raja Cholan a Hindu king is constantly occurring.”
In the interest of protecting one’s portrayal, Vetrimaran advised that since cinema is a popular form of expression, political awareness is crucial.
Kamal Haasan also proposed that this be the time to recognize a work of fiction that is based on historical events.
“Let’s not exaggerate or twist history or bring language issues into this,” he said, as he was invited to watch the film with the cast and crew.
He added that “There was Vainavam, Shivam, and Samanam, and it was the British who coined the term Hindu since they didn’t know how to refer to it collectively. It is similar to how they changed Thuthukudi into Tuticorin.”
Thol. Thirumavalavan, President of the Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi, formerly known as the Dalit Panthers of India, also agreed with this statement.
He started by saying that “During the time of Raja Raja Chola, Saivam and Vainavam were different. Religious symbols ‘Thiruneer Pattai’ and ‘Thiruman Namam’ were different.”
He continued, “The two openly fought against each other, and heads rolled in the sludge of blood. There were continuous conversions. In those times, where was Hindu when present-day Lingayats themselves are saying that they are not Hindus and are protesting.”
He might have found support in Hasan, but the BJP attacked the filmmaker with full force.
According to BJP leader H Raja, Raja Raja Chola was a Hindu king. He said “I am not well versed with history like Vetrimaran, but let him point out two churches and mosques built by Raja Raja Cholan. He called himself Sivapadha Sekaran. Wasn’t he a Hindu then?”
According to the Purananuru, a key work of Tamil Sangam literature, the Early Chola and Early Pandya periods began about 3025 BCE.
According to some academics, the full force of Hinduism’s emergence occurred in the second century CE. They hold that the Vedic religion, also known as Vedism, was the only religion practiced prior to that.
While many Hindu organizations are claiming otherwise, Tamil organizations and those wanting proper representation for Vedism continue to agree with Hasan’s claims that the Cholas were not Hindus.