The Madras High Court, hailing Tamil as the "Language of Gods," has ordered that temple consecrations across the country be performed while reciting Tamil hymns authored by saints such as Azhwars and Nayanmars and others such as Arunagirinathar. In a recent ruling, a bench comprising Justice N Kirubakaran, who has since resigned, and Justice B Pugalendhi stated that in our culture, "it is made to believe that Sanskrit alone is God's language." Different beliefs existed in various countries and religions, and places of worship varied according to culture and religion.
"In those places, only the local language was stated to be used for doing heavenly service. However, in our country, it is made to believe that Sanskrit alone is Gods language and not any other language is equivalent. No doubt, Sanskrit is an ancient language with enormous ancient literature. The belief is spread in such a way that only if the Sanskrit Vedas are recited, the Gods will listen to the prayers of the devotees," the bench said.
The court was hearing a petition seeking direction to government officials, including the Commissioner, Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowment, to conduct the consecration/ Kudamuzhukku/ Nanneerattu function of Arulmigu Pasupatheshwara Swamy Tirukovil by chanting Thirumuraikal, Tamil Saiva Manthiram (hymns), and songs of Saint Amar.
"Tamil is not only one of the earliest ancient languages of the world but also a 'Language of Gods'. It is believed that Tamil language is born out of pellet drum which fell from Lord Shiva while he was dancing. Another School of thought is that Lord Muruga created Tamil language," the court noted.
"As per mythology, Lord Shiva presided over the first academy (First Tamil Sangam). It is believed that Lord Shiva played 'Thiruvilayadal' to test the knowledge of Tamil poets. The above would only mean that Tamil language is connected with Gods. When it is connected with Gods, it is a Godly language. Such a Godly language has to be used while performing Kudamuzhuku," the court stated. Every language spoken by the people, is God's language, according to the judges.
"Man cannot create language. The languages are in existence for centuries together and passed on from one generation to the other generation. There can only be an improvement in the existing language and there cannot be any creation of language," the bench added.
"The petitioner seeks for performing Kudamuzhuku in a particular temple by reciting Tamil verses. However, it is not only for that temple but throughout the country, all the temples should be consecrated by reciting Tamil Thirumurai and other hymns composed by Saints like Alwargal and Nayanmargal, apart from Pattinathar, Arunagirinathar etc," the bench noted.
The court stated, in an apparent reference to the two Dravidian parties, the DMK and the AIADMK, that "even the policymakers who have been controlling the State since 1967 onwards are also keen in making use of Tamil in all fields." If Tamil hymns cannot be used at temples in Tamil Nadu, they can be used nowhere else. If Tamil hymns cannot be used at temples in Tamil Nadu, they can be used nowhere else.
The court emphasised the saying that Tamil was developed by Alwars (Vaishnavite saints) and noted that even today, during the Tamil month of Margazhi (December-January), only "Thirupavai," rendered by Vaishnavite saint Andal, is recited in praise of the presiding deity at the holy Tirumala Hills in Tirupathi.
"Even according to Bhagavat Geetha, Lord Krishna stated that he manifests himself in the month of Margazhi. Thus, God Thirumal would like to hear Tamil Thirupavai during the month of Margazhi which he is fond of. When Vaishnavism gave importance and prominence to Tamil hymns, Saivism equally gave importance to Tamil, due to availability of many literatures, especially Bakthi literature," the court said.
"If God could not understand Tamil, how was it possible for die-hard devotees who were committed to worshipping of Lord Shiva, Lord Thirumal, Lord Muruga etc., to have composed so many hymns in praise of them. Therefore, the theory that God understands only one language cannot be believed," the court noted.
Sanskrit language - Though it is said that the language has been in existence for more than 3000 years and has been passed down orally, this is merely a guess because no proof is available. It is, however, one of the old languages that must be maintained.
"However, Tamil has got scientific evidence to prove its antiquity. Therefore, it cannot be said that only one language alone is God's language and other languages are not," it said.
Unfortunately, the British estampages of Tamil inscriptions are not carefully conserved, and many of them have been lost or damaged. The court further stated that several valuable palm-leaf manuscripts holding Tamil literature were burned or dumped into a river. It credited the retrieval and preservation of the palm leaf manuscripts and Tamil materials to Tamil scholar U Ve Swaminatha Iyer. "But for him, many of the precious valuable literature could not have been saved," the bench said.