PM describes Kashi, Tamil Nadu as timeless centres of culture and civilisation

Updated on Nov 20, 2022 06:21 AM IST

Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurates Kashi-Tamil Sangamam in Varanasi, underlines need to remove linguistic differences and preserve Tamil language

Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the inauguration of the Kashi-Tamil Sangamam in Varanasi on Saturday. (PTI PHOTO)
Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the inauguration of the Kashi-Tamil Sangamam in Varanasi on Saturday. (PTI PHOTO)
By, Varanasi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday described his parliamentary constituency Varanasi (Kashi) and Tamil Nadu (TN) as timeless centers of culture and civilisation.

Stressing on “removing linguistic differences and establishing emotional unity,” he said, “It’s the responsibility of all 130 crore Indians to preserve the language (Tamil) and our country’s legacy.”

Ignoring Tamil will be a great disservice to the nation, he said.

He was speaking at the formal inauguration of the Kashi-Tamil Sangamam at the Banaras Hindu University amphitheatre ground here.

The Kashi-Tamil Sangamam is unique in itself and important, he said.

Aiming to revive the centuries-old cultural ties between Kashi and Tamil Nadu, the event is being organised by the Union ministry of education in collaboration with Banaras Hindu University (BHU) and IIT Madras.

‘’If we ignore Tamil we do a great disservice to the nation and if we keep Tamil confined in restrictions, we will do great harm to it. We have to remember to remove linguistic differences and establish emotional unity,” Modi said.

“In our country, there is an importance of ‘sangams’ (confluences). From the confluence of rivers and streams to ideas-ideology, knowledge-science and societies-cultures, we have celebrated all the confluences,” he said.

“It is as pious as that of the Ganga and the Yamuna,” the PM added.

The Kashi-Tamil Sangamam is a celebration of India’s diversity and uniqueness. It is special on its own and is unparalleled, he said.

Kashi and Tamil Nadu are also centres of the world’s oldest languages like Sanskrit and Tamil, the prime minister noted.

He said it’s the responsibility of every Indian to preserve their culture and heritage.

“Both Kashi and Tamil Nadu are timeless centres for culture and religion. One (Kashi) has Sanskrit and Tamil Nadu is gifted with Tamil, the country’s oldest spoken language. Kashi has the temple of Kashi Vishwanath whereas Tamil Nadu has the blessings of Bhagwan Rameshwaram. Both the places have their own importance,” he said, starting his address with the chants of Har Har Mahadev and Vanakkam (welcome in Tamil language) Kashi and Vanakkam Tamil Nadu.

“Both Kashi and Tamil Nadu are ‘Shivmay’ (drenched in the devotion of Lord Shiv) and ‘Shaktimay’ (drenched in the devotion of Goddess Shakti),” he said at the event.

While the cultural capital Kashi has encapsulated entire India, “our Tamil Nadu and the Tamil culture represent the pride in India’s ancient legacy”, he said.

Other than being linked spiritually, PM said both Kashi and TN are also the sources of classical music and literature.

“On one side we have Kashi’s tabla and other side we have Tamil Nadu’s ‘thanimai’. If one finds Banarasi saree in Varanasi, then the Kanjivaram silk of Tamil Nadu is world famous,” Modi said.

Both the places have been the birthplace of the great spiritual leaders, litterateurs and famous personalities, he said.

“Kashi is birthplace of Bhakt Tulsi and Tamil Nadu is that of saint Thiruvalluvar,” he said.

Highlighting contributions made by scholars from the South, Modi said, “’In my experience, from Ramanujacharya and Shankaracharya to Rajaji and Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan (who was the former Vice-Chancellor of BHU and went on to become President of India), without understanding the philosophy of India as per the scholars of the South, we cannot know India.”

“Other famous personalities include Rajesh Shastri, a famous “Veda Vidwan” from TN established Sang Ved and Vidya Ved institution on Ram Ghat in Kashi. Patta Viram Shastri, a litterateur, who stayed at Kashi’s Hanuman Ghat is known for his contributions,” PM added.

The prime minister said that a country with a rich heritage should be proud of its legacy.

There is a Dakshin Kashi in Tamil Nadu too, the prime minister noted.

He said Kashi-Kanchi have an important place among the ‘Sapta Puris’, the seven pilgrimage centres that, according to Hindu beliefs, lead to salvation.

The Sapta Puris are - Ayodhya, Mathura, Maya (Mayapuri or Haridwar), Kashi (Varanasi), Kanchi (Kanchipuram), Avantika (Ujjain) and Dwaravati (Dwaraka).

He said there is a Kashi Kamkotteshwar temple at Harishchandra Ghat.

Kedar Ghat has the 200-year-old Kumar Swami Math. Markande Ashram has many families, whose generations have contributed in shaping the Kashi which we see today, Modi said.

He said there was a dire need to strengthen the ties between the two places that are separated by distance but connected by culture and spirituality.

“Any such steps have not been taken before to preserve our country’s rich heritage. There are countries like Egypt that brag about their pyramids that is its heritage. Italy talks about its leaning tower of Pisa but we in India, despite having the oldest spoken language (Tamil) of the world, lack in celebrating such legacy. It’s the responsibility of all 130 crore Indians to preserve the language and our country’s legacy,” he said.

He said such events should also be organised in Tamil Nadu and other parts of the country in order to make the present generation aware of our country’s rich culture and heritage.

The prime minister also pointed out a connection with Kashi, also known as Benaras, in Tamil weddings.

“Even today, in the traditional Tamil marriages, there is a reference made to ‘Kashi yatra.’ In other words, Kashi yatra is linked to the new journey in the life of Tamil youths.

“This is the ‘abhilashi’ love for Kashi in the hearts of Tamil people, which had never diminished in the past, nor will get diminished in future,” he said. “This is the tradition of ‘Ek Bharat, Shreshth Bharat’, which our ancestors had lived, and the Kashi-Tamil Sangamam is carrying forward that pride,” he added.

The prime minister expressed the hope that the people of Kashi will leave no stone unturned in providing memorable hospitality.

PM released books on Tirukkural (a classic Tamil language text) and Kashi-Tamil culture. The event also saw the cultural events by Tamilian artistes Kasim and Babu whose grandfathers used to play Shehnai with Ustad Bismillah Khan.

Noted musician Ilayaraja, a Rajya Sabha member, too performed during the event. It was followed by chanting of mantras by the Tamil priests of Varanasi.

JYOTIRLINGAS CENTRAL TO TIES BETWEEN KASHI, TAMIL NADU, SAYS YOGI

Chief minister Yogi Adityanath said the jyotirlingas in Kashi and Rameswaram are central to the relationship between Kashi and Tamil Nadu.

He was speaking at the Kashi-Tamil Sangamam at in Varanasi.

“Adi Shankaracharya took forward this relationship established through Lord Shri Ram and Lord Shiva by setting up holy peeths (centres of spirituality) in all the four corners of India. Today, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is taking forward this “Mahayagya” with full force,” he said.

“Kashi remains the centre of religion, culture and spiritual consciousness of India. Similarly, Tamil Nadu has been the centre of knowledge, art and culture since ancient times, which was expanded by Pandya, Chola and Pallava kings among others. All elements of Indian culture are equally preserved in Kashi and Tamil Nadu,” the chief minister said.

He went on to say that it is believed that among the two languages that emerged from the mouth of Lord Shiva, Tamil and Sanskrit are equally known for their rich literature.

Uttar Pradesh governor Anadiben Patel, Union Minister for Education Dharmendra Pradhan and other political personalities were present on the occasion.

More than 2500 delegates from across the country took part in the event that was also marked by a grand exhibition highlighting the culture and tradition of Tamil Nadu. There was another exhibition showcasing the struggle of freedom fighters and Tamil culture like Meenakshi Chittaranjan’s Bharatanatyam, folk music of Tamil Nadu, Irula and other tribal dances.

The delegates who arrived in Kashi will stay in Varanasi for two days and visit Hanuman Ghat, Subrahmanya Bharti’s residence, Kashi Vishwanath temple and the Sarnath archaeological site and museum. They will watch Ganga aarti and also take a boat ride across 84 ghats, besides taking part in cultural programmes at BHU in the evening.

After Varanasi, the delegates may travel to Prayagraj and Ayodhya.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Oliver Fredrick is working in capacity of Senior Correspondent and is based in Lucknow. Other than covering important beats like Railways, Defense, Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), District Administration, he loves to write on human interest stories as it gives an instant connect with the readers. In his career of around 10 years, he has done several path-breaking stories which had forced the State Government authorities to take appropriate actions. Prior coming to Lucknow, he was based in Bareilly and was taking care of politically-sensitive West UP districts like Rampur, Moradabad, Pilibhit, Badaun,Muzaffarnagar and others.

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