Powerful Ezhawa community resents, Congress leader's blasphemy
The death anniversary (popularly known as Samadhi Dinam in Kerala) of Sree Narayana Guru was much talked about this year, thanks to wrong reasons caused by the alleged loose talk of Ernakulam District Congress Committee (DCC) president V.J. Poulose. In Kerala, hardly one can come across somebody ignorant of Sree Narayana Guru, his teachings and his contributions towards social reforms and the uplift of the lower class in the state during the last few decades of 19th century and the first three decades of the 20th century. But, Ernakulam DCC President is alleged to be totally ignorant about Gurudevan. If media reports and the words of spokespersons of SNDP, (the social and spiritual organization of OBC Ezhava community in Kerala) launched by Sree Narayana Guru are to be believed, Poulose’s words were much below the standard of a DCC president as well as a social worker.
Story goes like this. Gurudeva Samadhi was organized on 21st September at Mulanthuruthy near Kochi. Congress’s Mahila Congress programme was organized the same day at Mulanthuruthy. Therefore, SNDP Taluk union office bearers contacted DCC President Poulose and requested him to use his good offices to postpone the Mahila Congress progamme. SNDP leaders said that the idea was to facilitate the reasonable attendance in both programmes since lot of ladies had to attend both programmes. SNDP Taluk Union General Secretary P.P. Rajan said that Poulose’s response was too bad. He says that Poulose told, “Narayanan died long time back and you people are still mourning”. This is something SNDP leaders could never tolerate. It triggered protests in SNDP and Sangh Parivar organizations. Ernakulam district witnessed protest marches for days together. They were organized by SNDP and Sangh Parivar organizations. When it appeared to be going out of hand, despite Poulose’s expression of his regrets through some media, SNDP and Sangh Parivar organizations were not forgiving. SNDP declared that they would organize a protest march to Ernakulam DCC office on 26th September. Their demand was the immediate resignation of V.J. Poulose from the position of DCC President.
When the matter went to this extent, Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) leaders got wind of the stalemate. Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan, Chief Minister Ommen Chandy’s trusted lieutenant and state home minister, visited the district and was glued to the SNDP district and taluk leaders for several hours together. SNDP leaders were reported to have told Thiruvanchoor that they had nothing against Congress, but, were not ready to compromise on the matter of Poulose’s resignation. Thiruvanchoor had telephone conversation with SNDP General Secretary Vellappalli Nateshan during his meeting with the community leaders. But, “white smoke” was still evasive. Thiruvanchoor left Ernakulam after promising the SNDP leaders that he would refer the matter to PCC chief Ramesh Chennithala.
Meanwhile Vellappalli told the media that Poulose’s words were so rude and crude from the leader of a mainstream political party. He opined: “ It is about two millenniums since Jesus Christ left for his heavenly abode. Still Good Friday is observed every year. No one has questioned it so far. So many members of Ezhava community (Hindu OBC community Sree Narayana Gurudevan organized under the banner of SNDP) decorate their house walls with the pictures of Jesus Christ. During Christmas reasons, many Hindus decorate their houses with stars and the crib. because Hindus respect other religions and their followers and believers. But, Poulose fails to respect other religions and their faiths and sentiments. Will Poulose dare to talk like this about other religions ? If so, it will lead to bloodbath. See, ‘Innocence of Muslims’ was released in US. But, more than twenty people were killed in Pakistan. The same film is not seen on Facebook or YouTube in India. Congressmen should understand the greatness of Sri Narayana Guru. Mahatma Gandhi went to Varkala to meet Gurudevan. After detailed discussion they reached the consensus about the relevant rationale regarding the insignificance of caste system. Gandhiji gave great importance to Gurudevan’s words. Congress which claims to be a Gandhian party should learn how to respect Gurudevan”.
But, Poulose denied the blame. He said that he has never made derogatory remarks about Gurudevan. Mahila Congress programme was fixed well in advance. When the SNDP leaders asked him to postpone it, he was just explaining the difficulties in doing so. He added that he had issued a press release explaining his regret if his words had hurt any body.
In the meantime, state is already under the cloud of another controversy, again about Sri Narayana Guru. It is about CBSE text book for 8thstandard. It is alleged that it contains derogatory remarks against Sri Narayana Guru. It reads under Demands For Equality And Justice that in what is present-day Kerala, a Guru among “low” caste Ezhavas, Sree Narayana Guru proclaimed the ideals of unity of all people with one sect, a single caste and a Guru”. It sounds like the distortion of Guru’s slogan “One caste, one religion, one God for mankind”. Kerala minister K. Babu has already came down heavily on it. Addressing a Guru Samdhi programme in Sivagiri, Babu said that any move to twist and distort Sri Narayana philosophy and history would be opposed tooth and nail. The literate Kerala waits to see what steps CBSE will resort to for correcting the distorted slogan of Gurudevan.
Even though SNDP has pardoned Poulose, Gurudharma Pracharana Sabha, an offshoot of Sree Narayana Dharma Sangham Trust (Shivagiri), remains dissatisfied. Trust is the organization, founded by Gurudevan, for monks in the lineage of Sree Narayana tradition. They observed fast and dharna in Kochi on the 9th October, 2012 to protest against V.J. Poulose’s derogatory remarks against Gurudevan. It was inaugurated by Swami Prakashananda, Trust president and participated by all board members of the Trust including its general secretary Swami Ritambharananda. The gathering was addressed by prominent leaders of RSS, KPMS, Imam of Aluva Masjid, office bearers of several temples, etc. Ernakulam district secretary of Gurudharma Pracharana Sabha, P.C. Bibin told this reporter that the programme was for pressing Poulose to visit Mahasamadhi place of Gurudevan in Shivagiri and apologise. Sabha does not agree to SNDP general council’s decision to pardon Poulose on the basis of a letter handed over to Vellappalli on 26th September. Even though Trust General Secretary Swami Ritambharananda did let the DCC march on the 26th September, SNDP leaders did not consult him before council took a decision to forgive Poulose. So, they are coming up with the new demand.
Dharna also protested against well known writer Ramachandra Guha for the alleged derogatory remarks made against Gurudevan in his book “India After Gandhi”. Bibin quoted those words : “Narayana Guru, the legendary leader of the Ezhavas, the caste of toddy tappers ranked low in the ritual hierarchy”. (The Southern Challenge”, 3rd part, 14th chapter, page 286)
What will happen to the already strained relations between Congress and SNDP is yet to be watched and seen. At the same time, the difference of opinion between SNDP and Sree Narayana Dharma Sangham Trust (Shivagiri), both founded by Sree Narayana Guru, has created anxiety among the Sreenarayaneeyars (Sreenaraya-nists), the popular name for Ezhava community these days. They are worried about the outcome of the disunity between the two organizations aiming at the physical and spiritual progress of the community.