MADURAI: Almost four years after Kanchi Mutt Seer Vijayendra Saraswathi Swamigal was criticised by several groups for not standing up when the Tamil Thai Vaazhthu was sung, the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court observed that Tamil Thai Vaazhthu is a prayer song and not an anthem. A petition was filed by Kan Ilango of Naam Tamilar Katchi seeking to quash an FIR against him for trespassing into the Kanchi Mutt’s Rameswaram branch and threatening their manager at a protest held to condemn the Seer’s conduct.
Justice GR Swaminathan recalled similar controversies relating to the national anthem. However, he clarified that Tamil Thai Vaazhthu, a song from ‘Manonmaneeyam’ written by P Sundaram Pillai and composed by MS Viswanathan, is a prayer song and not an anthem. Unlike the national anthem, there is no statutory or executive order requiring the attendees to stand up when the song is played, the judge said.
The pontiff, during a book release function at Chennai on January 24, 2018, remained seated when Tamil Thai Vaazhthu was played. Though the judge agreed highest reverence and respect should be shown to Tamil Thai Vaazhthu and it is convention to stand up whenever it is played, he questioned whether standing up is the only way to pay respect.
‘Sanyasi sitting in a state of meditation justified’
“When we celebrate pluralism and diversity, insisting that there can be only one way of showing respect reeks of hypocrisy,” he said. Highlighting the importance of ‘sanyasis’ and the respect shown to them by emperors and kings in the past, the judge opined, “Since Tamil Thai Vaazhthu is a prayer song, a sanyasi is certainly justified in sitting in a state of meditation. In the present case, the pontiff is seen sitting in a Dhyana (meditation) pose with his eyes closed. It was his way of expressing his reverence and respect for Mother Tamil.” Since the complainant and the petitioner have reached a compromise, the judge quashed the FIR. He added that the benefit of the order is extended to other accused in the FIR as well.
‘Engage trained singers’
Chennai: The Tamil Nadu government on Friday announced that the audio recordings of National Anthem and Tamil Thaai Vaazhthu (in praise of Mother Tamil) should not be played at government functions. Instead, the organisers of the functions should engage trained people for singing these songs