Tamil News

Aandal Controversy: Vairamuthu’s Detractors Are ‘Missing The Wood For The Trees’, Says Writer Indira Parthasarathy

at the Book Launch of Palani G Periyasamy's 'Idhaya Oli'

The latest in the much-spoken about subject – the denigration of Aandal by lyricist Vairamuthu – is, unsurprisingly, a WhatsApp forward: It contains an image of Vairamuthu followed by a note.


The ‘note’ quotes Vairamuthu’s son, Madhan Karky, as allegedly confessing that his father was coerced by ‘Christian missionaries’ and ‘Dravidian Islamist terrorist organisations’ to call Aandal a ‘dasi’, and goes on to apologise to ‘Hindu friends’ about the episode.

Madhan Karky though, would have none of it:

Amidst all this back and forth, Tamil writer and Sahitya Akademi Award winner Indira Parthasarathy, in a blog post titled ‘Aandalum Asinga Arasiyalum’, has written that the controversy surrounding Vairamuthu’s speech about the 7th Century poetess Aandal – also a well-loved deity among the Vaishnavite sect – is completely unnecessary. “There’s a saying in English that goes ‘missing the wood for the trees’; the arguments over Vairamuthu’s speech is something similar,” he said.

“While we can argue that Vairamuthu was wrong in his facts about Aandal, one cannot say that he was being offensive. It’s something I don’t understand; how can Vairamuthu’s speech, which quoted a researcher as writing that Aandal belongs to the Devadasi community, be considered a dishonour to Aandal? During the period of the Chozhas and Pallavas, Devadasis were held in high esteem and treated on par with the priests – this has been known through several stone carvings from that period.

During the Sangam period, the Panars, Viraliyars and Kootthars were at the top of societal hierarchy – this is known through various songs from that period. Their low status right now points more towards the degeneration of society, than that of the particular community. This kind of criticism – that someone dishonoured Aandal by calling her a Devadasi – only turns the mirror on ourselves.


Aandal was a wonderful poet. Among the 12 Azhwars, she enjoys the same status as Nammazhwar in Vaishnavism. Let’s not taint her identity for short term political gains.”

Earlier, recently-deceased Tamil writer and journalist Gnani Sankaran, had questioned the uproar over Vairamuthu’s speech in a video. Declaring that there was never certain proof that the poet had actually lived, and that she could have well been a figment of Periazhwar’s (her adoptive father) imagination, Gnani said, among other things, that Aandal, a 15-year-old girl couldn’t have authored Naachiyar Thirumozhi, a set of verses that brim with sexual desire and longing.

He also slammed the name-calling that both pro-Vairamuthu and anti-Vairamuthu groups indulged in, blamed the Sangh Parivar and BJP for trying to polarise people into Hindu and non-Hindu groups, and finally, reiterated that there were bigger issues that need importance.

Watch the video here: