Why Jallikattu is inherently Hindu:
Vaishnavite tradition is profoundly descriptive about Jalikattu. Tamil Azhvars (Vaishnavite saints and seers) have for long sung about episodes of Krishna taming bulls. The bull and the cow are revered all across the so-called Dravidian lands with temples and entire shrines being dedicated to them. We will have to explore as to how this Hindu way of revering the bvine has been all but forgotten today. But before we go into that, we will the ethics of bull taming in Hindu culture.
The Shastras on bull taming:
While a cow gives us milk, it is a human tendency to dote over the cow. The Shastras are unequivocal in stating that while caring for the cow is holy, caring for the bull is Dharma. The reason – while the cow is a milk giving animal, caring only for it and neglecting the field-ploughing bull shows the inherent selfishness of the herdsman. And hence the Shastras tell the herdsman to care equally for the bull as an act of impartial love for all bovines.
In Tamil as well as the rest of Hindu society, it is a herdman’s ethics to have 4 or 5 healthy bulls for every 100 cows. The bulls’ health and the cows being impregnated by these healthy bulls are the keys to the health of the flocks as a whole. The bull therefore is a central element of animistic spirituality as well as the symbol of the holistic spiritual interaction between human and animal.
Apart from the well-being of bulls, tales of Krishna’s life invoke the image of the bull to portray Krishna’s masculinity. The Azhvar tradition states that Krishna and Radha who deeply loved each other faced one challenge to their love – Radha’s father. Radha’s father organized a bull fight so that all the Yadava men of age could prove their masculinity – a tradition followed before the father decided to whom he could give his daughter’s hand. 7 strong bulls were lined up. Azhvar tradition states that when it was Balarama’s turn to fight the bulls, he at once backed off from the fight as he knew well of the love between Krishna and Radha (call it the honouring of the Aryan bro-code).
The moment Krishna steps into the ring, tradition states that He Himself resembled a bull. The fight involved Krishna successfully grabbing the humps of the 7 bulls, getting on their backs and overcoming them with his immense strength. This act of Krishna is described in Tamil lore as Eru-thazhuvudal – whose modern name in Tamil is ‘Jallikattu.’
The human life is said to be of multiple phases:
- Middle age
- Old age
Each of these stages is said to have an inherent bull-element – i.e. we have an inherently present bull in us which we all must struggle with to tame, so that the strength of that bull may get channelized better in each of these phases of life. Krishna’s fight in the ring with the bulls indeed is meant of symbolize this inner struggle of every person in his life.
A sacred sport:
The Mahabharata itself mentions the Cholas and the Pandyas – a clear indication that the so called Dravidians and Aryans were of the same cultural fabric. The fact that these dynasts revered Shiva and Vishnu for centuries is a clear indication that we must start seriously questioning the very identity of ‘Dravidian.’ This terminology which stands in stark contrast to traditional Hindu narrative of history today stands as proof that the British era and the immense cultural destruction cause by it can be directly attributed to British re-interpretation of Indian history.
The very change in the narrative of Indian history was a brain-child of the British which poisoned our own people into believing that the Aryan and the Dravidian are different. In fact, no such difference even seems to have ever existed. Eru-thazhuvudal is described by the Azhvars of Tamil Nadu to have been played by the Yadavas. Indic historians have still not had the brain to fathom that the North of India might have had a Jallikattu of its own. And that the British with their Anglicization of our history taught our people to stop thinking on this line.
So what was it that the herdsmen did with the bovines? They ensured that the bulls stayed virile in order to impregnate cows so that the flocks may multiply into a handsome milch-giving plough-drawing herd. And when the season of harvest arrived, the bulls were tested for their virility. What greater service can man do for the bovine than caring for it, making it virile and ensuring the continuation of its flock? Jallikattu is not just a game but the beating cultural heart of an entire bovine biosphere’s upkeep and the holistic interaction of man with the bovine. The bovine in a shallow western sense is a ‘holy animal’ for the Hindu. But in the Vedic Dharmic sense, the bovine is a member of society itself and is to be looked up to for its strength and service to society.
Jallikattu is therefore a Hindu sport, sacred to every Hindu. At its very heart stands the image of Vishnu Himself. As a faithful Hindu, know that dishonouring this tradition is a dishonour to Vishnu Himself.
The defence of Jallikattu:
Having understood the dharma behind Jallikattu, it becomes evident that not only Jallikattu but all of Tamil culture is inherently a Hindu culture. If we see the crowds on Marina beach in Chennai, we notice that behind the scenes, those pledging support for Jallikattu happen to be church dioceses across Tamil Nadu. We have Periyar followers and Christians standing in defence of an inherently Hindu sport. What does this tell us of the Tamil Hindus of today? The Periyar movement through the last 50+ years has so thoroughly separated the Hindu element of all Tamil practices from these practices. And today we have church backed politicians of dubious repute such as Simon Sebastian speaking louder in favour of Jallikattu than any Hindu politician.
When the likes of Vijay Joseph Chandrashekar (the Kollywood film star Vijay) start standing in favour of a Hindu festival, we need to realize that this is NOT SOLIDARITY. This is cultural hijacking. When did the church even enter Tamil lands? Barely 500 years ago! And today, the church in Tamil Nadu is the champion of the Tamil cause? The only politically active groups in Tamil Nadu in support of Jallikattu are the Church and Periyarists. Is there nobody else to stand in defence of Tamil Nadu’s doddering Hindu identity?
We cannot ignore the hand of the Madurai diocese in the protests and we need to be aware that the immense political capital gained by these protests serves only the Periyarists. While the DMK weeps crocodile tears and screams for justice for the Tamil cause, did anyone even pause and consider that –
- The DMK brought PETA into Tamil Nadu.
- The same DMK stripped the hereditary custodianship of the great Chidambaram temple from the Dikshidar family and took over the temple’s treasury under government control.
- Most senior DMK members today were part of the Annadurai era anti-Brahmin street thuggery.
Is this the Tamil identity that we want in future? And is this what the Tamil identity has been reduced to? While the Tamil of the past under the Chola banner built the Brihadeeshwara temple (a UNESCO world heritage site) and under the Pandya banner built the Madurai Meenakshi temple, claiming sucessorship to that legacy are the descendants of Periyar’s Dravidar Kazhagam. The only person who has ironically been instrumental in fighting PETA and their international lobby is Narendra Modi, who although has stepped into the fray in a timely fashion, is failing to capitalize on it.
What many people claim to be a victory for ‘Tamil pride’ don’t realize the theft of the Tamil identity, along with its Hindu spiritual and cultural history. The real reason for this so-called ‘victory of Tamil pride,’ is an ordinance by the BJP led government at the centre.
Amid all this, it is remarkable as to how the age old anti-Hindu anti-India forces under the Periyarists waited till Jayalalithaa died and then let loose PETA and its lobbyists. In the face of the protests that followed, these same political place-hunting parasites orchestrated their solidarity with the retention of the festival. The travesty in all this is not that this thieving cabale of political hyenas have orchestrated the entire issue top to bottom by backing both sides of the fray. The real travesty is that the people are so voluntarily letting themselves get hoodwinked.
The protestors at Marina Beach stood holding many placards – some of which read ban BJP, ban RSS, ban India. And we all know that the BJP was the one to get the ordinance that saved Jallikattu. Who is out real enemy here? These anti-India sleeper agents or the Tamil people’s inherent ignorance? With every passing day, it seems to me as if only Mahavishnu can save Tamil Nadu and its people from this new political insanity that has almost taken control of its entire cultural fabric.