Symbolism of Sengol

Sengol Modi

It has become the confirmed habit of the saffron zealots to embroider every claimed achievement of their camp with adulterated facts.No wonder the ‘Sengol’ presented to Nehru by an influential Hindu Monastery of South India was duly declared to have been a divinely blessed sceptre now restored to its rightful dignity by the pious Hindu regime.

Contrary to the spin in the story floated by saffron bhakts, Nehru did not show any disdain for the gift.The contemporary story in the Time magazine clearly states Nehru graciously allowed emissaries to ceremonial present it to him and smear his forehead with sacred ashes from the monastery.Since he had little interest in and concern for Hindu rituals he might have been foxed by the meaning of the object and might have later thought it some kind of a stick.People around also failed to make it out.And in any case he had weightier issues on his mind at that time.And he was the least concerned to spend time worrying about the symbolism of the strange object.That it was not considered junk is proved by the fact that it was on display in the Allahabad museum.

However for Modijee and his train, given to investing heavily in symbolism,it was deeply layered with magico-religious meanings and powers. It gave the one who wields it right to rule,a right by divine sanction.Hence the prostration before it, to the chant of Vedic mantras by ‘seers’ who see more than ordinary mortals.

The day itself is sacred to the saffron troops,being birth anniversary of a man who had welded the Hindu religious tradition to a modern state in the Imagination of his followers. Thus altering the secular character of a modern idea.And religion and religious symbols appear in the eyes of the pious to be more important than the secular intentions and principles of the state.

I have often wondered what saffron mentors holding forth in public mean when they say that RASHTRA is a vaster,deeper idea than the shallow secular state of our time.Now I can see some light. They probably mean that RASHTRA is a system of government rooted in religious beliefs and traditions organically.Hence even the periodic election can be nothing more than a ritual to sanction continuity of the same sacred system of government.

It gives the incumbents a profound sense of entitlement unrelated to popular consent,the foundation of modern democracy.Since its inception in the writings of Jean Bodin the modern state has been an eminently human artifact,one based on reason and counsel, to serve the needs of man for security,stability,rights and ‘happiness’.Opposed to it stands the Hindutva idea of the state as a divine object serving man but also transcending man’s power to understand and manage unaided.

The mysticism invoked by it was also congenial to Nazis with their commitment to ‘the thousand year Reich’,myths and astrology.
As long as Sengol remains within reach the saffron believers are to rule for ever.

Hiren Gohain is a political commentator

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