Trust politicians who can’t even get their deposits if they stood for assembly and parliamentary polls In Tamil Nadu to rush to score brownie points and get their 30 seconds of fame like BJP”s national secretary H.Raja notorious for his foul mouth. The latest occasion for loose cnnon Raja to shoot his mouth was provided by Poet and film lyricist Vairamuthu in his speech on Tamil vaishnavite poetess Andal Throughout his speech Vairamuthu extolled Andal, one of the 12 most revered vaishavite saint poets known as Alvars placing her above the other 11 alvars and the 63 shaivite saints known as Nayanmars. He praised Andal as a liberated woman with a social consciousness but towards the end of his speech made a remark that provided fodder for Netas like Raja . Vairamuthu mentioned in the passing that an American author had mentioned that Andal was a devadasi (literally meaning ‘Servant of God but also as ‘temple courtesan’) who spent her entire life in Srirangam Tamil Nadu. And all the hell broke loose. Raja screamed murder and accused Vairamuthu of being the son of a prostitute and demanded an apology. Both Vairamuthu and the Tamil newspaper Dinamani in which Vairamuthu’s speech was published apologised and the newspaper promptly withdrew the article from its website.. But that ws not eough for Raja and his coterie who are stil baying for Vairamuthu’s blood. Raja also wants an apology from the poet for hinting that Andal was not the daughter of Perialvar one of the 12 alvars. But Raja neds to go into vaishnavte lore before shooting his mouth on this. Andal was NOT Perialvar’s daughter, at least not the biological daughter. She was a foundling, that he found as a baby while going to perform worship at the temple. Foundlings don’t have castes. Without investigating her origins, he brought her up as his own daughter. First thing I don’t understand with the whole affair is why should Vairamuthu apologise. After all he didn’t call Andal a Devadasi but merely mentioned the remark by an American writer. Instead he should hav asked Raja to apologise for his remarks about his mother. As carnatic vocalist T.M.Krishna points out, the attitude of both Raja and Vairamuthu shows that they look down on Devadasis viewing only its degenerated version of later years when they were forced into prostitution due to collapse of state patronage and impoverishment of temples that supported them. The attitude of both sides is cattiest and sexist as Krishna says. Devadasis were considered "brides" of God and revered by the society. Their livelihood was looked after by the temple to which she was attached and there was no need for them to pick up customers. Devdasis became courtesans and common prostitutes much later. When a Devadasi died, no prayer was offered at the temple to which she was attached for a day as God was deemed to have become a widower! They were repositories of culture, music and dance. If people scorn devadasis, they shouldn't listen to the music of Gangubai Hangal , M.S.SUBBULAKSHIMI AND M.L.VvASANTHAKUMARI, BRINDA, MUKTA AND KISHORI AMONKAR WHO WERE ALL OF DEVADASI ORIGIN. The contribution of Balasaraswati to bharatanatyam cannot be ignored. Until Rukmini Devi Arundale took to stage and D.K.Pattammal started giving carnatic concerts these dance and music forms were nurtured by Devadasis (though the dance form was called ‘Sathir’ then).T.M.Krishna clinches the issue by asking a question that remains unanswered so far. “Would we have revered Andal any less if she had been a devadasi?” My one grouse with Vairamuthu is he provided ground for Raja to shoot his mouth. And he should watch his back.. We are living in dangerous times. Remember Kalburgi? He said Kannada Shaivite saint Basavesvara’s brother in law belonged to the shoemaker community. Within a few days he was shot. Vairamuthu only has to watch Raja’s speech on Youtube. It is hair raising bigotry. Despite Raja’s claim that he is a democrat and didn’t believe in violence, the tone of the speech itself was an incitement to violence.