Sengol Story: How a Shaiva Mutt initiated the transfer of power from British India to Hindu India – Kaushik R.

Sengol : India's Golden Sceptre

With the Sengol at the sanctum sanctorum of the temple of democracy, it will symbolize the collective will and aspirations of Indians. – Kaushik Ramasamy

The date was 3 June 1947. Lord Mountbatten, the last Viceroy of India proposed a plan which was finalized and India was to be reborn as a sovereign independent nation on 15 August 1947.

History was being created and it needed to be symbolized by a historic event. So, Lord Mountbatten asked Jawaharlal Nehru what plans he has to mark the occasion.

Nehru immediately turned to his trusted aide C. Rajagopalachari (Rajaji), a doyen of knowledge, to seek advice, who shared with him the ancient Tamil tradition of transfer of power.

During the Chola era, the transfer of power was done by the rajaguru (court high priest) who handed over the Sengol symbolizing power and justice, from the old king to the new king. The Cholas held the Sengol and took oath to uphold justice by swearing in the name of Lord Siva.

Rajaji shared about this tradition to Nehru and suggested that a Sengol (scepter) be made which the British can hand it over to the new prime minister through one of the Hindu priests. Nehru agreed and tasked Rajaji with the job of executing it.

Rajaji was an ardent follower of Thiruvavduthurai Adheenam, one of the oldest Hindu Saivite Mutts founded in the 16th century. It is situated in Mayiladuthurai district, 82 kms away from Thanjavur the erstwhile capital of the Cholas.

Rajaji immediately reached out to the 20th pontiff of the Mutt, Gurumahasannidanam Srilasri Ambalavana Desikar Swamigal.

Swamigal graciously accepted the responsibility and the making of the Sengol was entrusted to Chennai-based Vummidi Bangaru Jewellers.

The Sengol was crafted to be approximately 5 feet in length with intricate details and rich symbolism. The Nandi (bull) was positioned on top of the Sengol representing the concept of “Nyaya,” which signifies justice and fairness.

Vummidi Ethirajulu (96) and Vummidi Sudhakar (88), who are part of the Vummidi family, who were involved in the making of the Sengol are still alive today and recollect that the crafting was constantly monitored by the Adheenam.

The septre is offered to Mountbatten and then returned to the Thiruvavduthurai Adheenam seer Kumaraswamy Thambiran Swamigal who will take it to Pandit Nehru.

The Historic Event That Was Forgotten

On the historic day of 14 August 1947, one of the Mutt”s deputy pontiffs Kumaraswamy Thambiran Swamigal, the Mutt’s odhuvar (singer) Manikka Odhuvar and nadaswaram player T.N. Rajarathinam Pillai who was also the Adheenam’s nadaswaram player were specially flown to Delhi carrying the golden Sengol with them.

Fifteen minutes before the clock struck 00:00, the Sengol was sanctified with holy water and verses from Kolaru Padhigam of the Thirumurais (compilation of verses hailing Hindu God Siva) were chanted. As the last line “அடியார்கள் வானில் அரசாள்வர் ஆணை நமதே” meaning (Those who chant this padhigam will rule the heavens) was recited, the Swamigal gave the sceptre to Pandit Nehru, completing the transfer of power.

The photos of the event was widely published in Indian and international media and is displayed prominently at the Thiruvaduthurai Adheenam.

Pandit Nehru holding India's sacred scepter at Independence, with attending Thiruvaduthurai Adheenam seer who gave it to him.

As Tamil Labs puts it, at the stroke of midnight, when the whole world slept, India awoke to life and freedom, with the sounds of the holy Thevaaram.

However, this high-profile historic event was kept low-key and slowly forgotten over a period of time thanks to the Nehruvian establishment.

The Sengol was kept at the nondescript Anand Bhavan Museum in Prayagraj (then Allahabad).

Sengol labeled 'Nehru's Golden Walking Stick' in Ananda Bhavan Museum in Prayagraj (Allahabad).

Sengol At The Centre Of Power

The historic event which awakened India to freedom and the Sengol which was suppressed for 7 decades has got a new lease of life.

History is now going to repeat itself marking the arrival of a New India with Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurating the New Parliament House. To mark the occasion, Prime Minister Narendra Modi would receive the Sengol from the Hindu sannyasis of Tamil Nadu. The Sengol will be placed majestically near the chair of the Speaker.

With the Sengol at the sanctum sanctorum of the temple of democracy, it will symbolize the collective will and aspirations of Indians. – The Commune, 24 May 2023

› Kaushik Ramasamy is a political consultant and columnist.

India's New Parliament Building where the golden Sengol will reside.

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