Sunday, 16 February 2020

Thanjavur big temple, Why are politicians afraid to enter the heritage temple through the main entrance?

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outer and inner entrances, Thanjavur big temple, TN ancient.eu/image/
Thanjavur Brihadeewara temple, TN main send entrance on east side. thehindu.com

Though India has  made a big stride in modern technology in the last three decades or more,  still the natives, in particular, Hindus are superstitious and, in this respect,  we are still on the back road. The unfounded  belief is so deep-rooted nothing could shake them off  it. As for the famous big temple Sri Brihadeewara temple dedicated to God Shiva at Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu, it is shrouded in a sort of mystery bordering on jinx  for the politicians; to them it is a frightening experience  to enter the temple because it is a  place of worship with a spell on people in power.  This belief did not exist in the 1960s and  has been  around since late 1980s. The belief is: Politicians /Statesmen who, irrespective of their party affiliation,  visit this historical UNESCO world heritage  temple (built in 1010 CE) through the main entrance on the east, will fall from their post or face impending  doom. Haunted by such a fear, politicians on a visit to this city are afraid to take a look at the temple. This  is what many people here say sarcastically. As for common men, this divine place is always crowded, in particular, on festival days. Every year, on invitation from the South Zone Cultural Centre, Thanjavur (a central Govt. organization) operating in this city scores of young girls from other states perform  classical dances native to their respective states.
1860 front entrances and Nandi pavillion. Thanjavur big temple www.bl.uk/
Above image: ''Photograph of the entrance gopura and Nandi pavilion of the Brihadishvara Temple, Tanjore, from an Album of Miscellaneous views in India,1860s. The Brihadishvara Temple built by the Chola king Rajaraja around 1010, is a monumental temple standing in the middle of a large courtyard surrounded by smaller shrines. The temple is entered through the east by two gateways. To the east of the temple there is a 16th century pavilion with a huge monolithic sculpture of Nandi, the white bull sacred to Shiva to whom the temple is dedicated. The shafts of the columns of the pavilion are carved with figures of devotees. The Nandi pavilion, is in the left foreground.'' ( http://www.bl.uk/onlinegallery/onlineex/apac/photocol /n/019pho000000027/u00039000.html....................
A small  section of people have come up with a weird theory without any proof that it is due to the curse of   sage Karurar, a  Sidddha prusha who helped king Sri Rajaraja install the main huge Shiva linga   in the sanctum/ garbagriha. Yet another fringe group  that protested that the consecration should only be done  in Tamil and  not in both Sanskrit and Tamil, went one step ahead and said the fire mishap that took place in the Yagasala in 1997 on the temple premises  during the beginning of the consecration ceremony 23 years ago was due to the use of Sanskrit against the wish of sage Karurar who preferred Tamil mantra to Sanskrit.  There are neither temple records nor stone inscriptions in this temple  to corroborate this. As a matter of fact, there are many inscriptions in Sanskrit as well in the  big temple. However, it is good to both these wonderful classical languages that have lots of poems and devotional hymns.
superstition. coolnsmart.com

Even to day driven by taboo and per-conceived notion about the so- called Hex Factor,  almost all politicians have reservations about entering the Thanjavur big temple  especially through the main entrance facing the main  road.  If necessity arises they, with hesitation,  will use the side entrance on the  south side from the adjacent Sivaganga Park.
c1890 Thanavur big temple. credit  James Kerr. oldindianphotos.in
How come politicians, including atheists  harbor fear and trepidation about this temple.  To get to the root, we need to walk down the memory lane: 
01.  Former Prime Minister of India Mrs. Indira Gandhi and Congress leader  was unexpectedly assassinated close to her official residence in Delhi in October, 1984. Just  a few weeks  before her fatal death,  she visited the Big  temple in Thanjavur along with the then CM MGR  and  they entered  the temple through  the main gate.

02. Former Tamil Nadu chief minister M.G. Ramachandran who happened to be a famous Tamil actor after his visit to the temple   in the same year fell seriously sick with kidney problem.  After recovery  three  years later he died in December, 1987 while in power. From then on  superstition and myth overshot  rationality and the belief,  driven by surmises, grew manifold that the east gate (not the temple, however) facing the Nandi mandapam and the main shrine with sanctum is  jinxed and a mysterious  power is active there  that 'does not  like certain politicians entering through that gate.!!

03. The former CM of Tamil Nadu late  Sri. Karunanidhi, a rationalist Dravidian politician and  a staunch  atheist in September 2010 took   the side  southern entrance on the park side and never took the main entrance Keralathan Vassal  to avoid facing Nandi and the main shrine behind. Probably, somebody close to him advised  him to avoid the direct stare  by entering  temple through  the side gate. Earlier in 1997, when there was a fire accident caused by a spark  from the fire works  at  night that resulted in  the death of 45 people  mostly women,   then CM  Karunanidhi, on a flying visit to the temple,  took the side entrance and avoided the main gate. In 2011, his ministry was out of power.
04. 
When it comes to recent kumbabishekam (Feb.5, 2020)
Tamil Nadu CM EPS  and his ministers avoided visiting the temple giving room to the  rumors  their visit to this temple might spell doom in the ensuing state assembly election in 2021.  However, EPS  and other ministers stayed in the city, attending social functions.As for  87 year old ex CM late Karunanidhi's visit to the temple 23 years ago  on  wheel chair while in power during the 1000 year celebrations  to watch the cultural program it was a daring, but cautious one. On the premises,  one thousand  Bharatnatyam dancers  performed in unison under the direction of famous  Bhratanatyam exponent Padma Subramaniuam (daughter of well-known Tamil vintage film director and producer late  K. Subramaniam, an advocate by profession. He is called Tamil Cinema's thanthai (father).
Political analyst/satirist  late Cho Ramaswamy  expressing no excitement  said: “ He (Karunanidhi) is masquerading as an atheist …...  he follows the advice of astrologers on auspicious timing … if he has worn a white angavastram (upper cloth) instead of the usual yellow (shawal), it must be on someone’s advice that its use would ward off evil.”

However, we have to accept the fact that the former CM, despite his old age and commitments to rationalistic stand  did enter the temple through the side gate, unmindful of the purported risk to his power.   About the  curse of Karurar, it  may be a figment of somebody's mind. Being a sadhu, a Shiva bhaktha and Guru to king Rajaraja, he won't have gone to the extend of casting  a spell on a great monumental  temple dedicated to  God Shiva. There are many differences between us and the sadhus, who are virtuous  and  whose main forte is 'control of all senses and focus on devotion to God'. According  to the Maratha Prince of Thanjavur  Raja Bhonsle, who is a hereditary trustee of the big temple:  "Why should God punish anyone for entering the temple".
Tit-bits:
The recent consecration  was done for the third time in the last 40 years.  On April 3, 1980, the  great ceremony  took place after  a pretty long gap of 177 years. During the colonial days the temple was not taken care of.  In 1997, the consecration  was originally planned for June 8 but was held the next day (June 9)  on account of  a big fire  accident in the Yagasala in the evening.
https://www.dtnext.in/News/City/2020/02/06060344/1213519/REPORTERS-DIARY-Did-beliefs-keep-leaders-away-from-.vpf
https://hinduism.stackexchange.com/questions/10166/curse-on-tanjore-big-temple