Actor Kamal Haasan has come out in support of Tamil film director Vetrimaaran on the latter’s comment about Raja Raja Chola’s alleged portrayal as a Hindu icon.
Haasan said that the Hindu religion did not exist at the time of the Chola kings and that Hinduism was a later political construct created by the British.
Haasan has said that the British did not understand how to collectively describe the various religions that were in vogue in Tamil Nadu at the time like Vaishnavism, Shaivism and others.
The emperor Raja Raja Chola has been depicted, and is a central figure, in the recently released movie ‘Ponniyin Selvan – I’.
The comments by Vetrimaran were made during the 60th birthday celebrations of the Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK) leader Thirumavalavan.
“They are constantly taking away our identities. Let it be giving saffron clothes to Valluvar; depicting Rajaraja Chola as a Hindu king”, he said.
Apart from VCK supremo Thirumavalavan who supported Vetrimaaran in his tweets, the comments also found support from Congress MP Jothimani, Naam Tamilar Katchi (NTK) leader Seeman and Tamil actor Karunas.
Meanwhile, Tamil scholars have cited inscriptions and other evidence for the Chola dynasty’s devotion towards Vishnu and patronage of Vaishnavite traditions.
Notable among these evidences include an inscription of Raja Raja Chola’s influential sister Kundavai referring to herself as an ‘azhwar’ – a distinctly Vaishnavite term used for saints and most devoted bhakts of Vishnu.
Another inscription of Raja Raja, made during his lifetime, invokes both Shiva and Vishnu in the preamble. Many have also cited the numerous grants given to both Shaivite and Vaishnavite institutions by Cholas.
Historians have also cited instances of Chola and Pandyan kings participating in Vedic rituals.