Not clear if Sengol was presented to Mountbatten, says Thiruvavaduthurai Adheenam head

“What was the use in giving the Sengol to Lord Mountbatten? He was after all leaving India by handing all powers,” says the Adheenam of the Thiruvavaduthurai Math in Mayiladuthurai district

June 08, 2023 10:10 pm | Updated June 09, 2023 09:15 am IST - Mayiladuthurai

Sri La Sri Ambalavana Desika Swamigal, the head of the Thiruvavaduthurai Adheenam, during an interview on June 8, 2023.

Sri La Sri Ambalavana Desika Swamigal, the head of the Thiruvavaduthurai Adheenam, during an interview on June 8, 2023. | Photo Credit: M. Moorthy

There is no clear information about the Sengol (sceptre), which was installed in the new Parliament building on May 28, was presented to Lord Mountbatten, the last Viceroy to India, before it was handed over to Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru on the eve of India’s independence, the head of the Thiruvavaduthurai Adheenam in Tamil Nadu’s Mayiladuthurai district said on June 8.

In an interview with The Hindu, Sri La Sri Ambalavana Desika Paramacharya Swamigal, the 24th head of Thiruvavaduthurai Adheenam, said: “There is no clear information on it. I hear a short film was released in connection with that event. Some say the Sengol was given to Lord Mountbatten. The people, who belonged to that period also say the same thing.”

His response was to a pointed question on whether the Adheenam had evidence that the Sengol was given to Mountbatten before presenting it to Nehru on August 14, 1947.

Documentary evidence

Asked if there was documentary evidence to prove that the Sengol was presented only to Nehru and not to Mountbatten, the Adheenam head asked, “What was the use in giving the Sengol to Lord Mountbatten? He was after all leaving India by handing all powers. It was Mr. Nehru, who mattered the most on that day.” The Government of India, in May, claimed that the Adheenam had presented a golden sceptre to signify “transfer of power” from Britain to India. Annexure IV presented in a docket shared by the Union government had contained a Tamil transcript on the “Significance of the Sengol” presented by the Thiruvavaduthurai Adheenam. This transcript, without any source attribution, claimed the sceptre was presented by a delegation deputed by the Adheenam to Mountbatten. It was later purified by sprinkling water from the Ganga and then handed over to Nehru.

On May 26, when The Hindu had asked a representative of the Adheenam about this transcript, he had said this was published in special souvenirs in 1947 and 1950 brought out by the Adheenam and were available in its records.

However, on Thursday, when asked about these two souvenirs, Sri-la-sri Ambalavana Desika Paramacharya Swamigal said, “We could not locate the souvenirs. We do not know where they are. Seventy-five years have passed since the Sengol was presented to Mr. Nehru. No one has taken efforts to have a relook at history. After hoisting the National Flag in 2022, we initiated steps to re-enact the historic event of presenting Sengol. We also released a souvenir recently. There were not many photographs in those days and pictures were rare. However, we are searching for them...We are on it. There is said to be an inscription about it in Delhi. It is on YouTube.”

Also read | Annadurai questioned the motive behind head of mutt giving Sengol to Nehru

When told it appeared there is no evidence on the claim that the sceptre was regarded as a symbol of “transfer of power”, he agreed and said, “Yes. We did not see when our country got Independence. We [the math] gave the sceptre in 1947. Several years have passed since then. We come across the handing over of sceptre through the history. It should have been mentioned in the textbooks. But it was not part of the textbooks. It is the main reason for the confusion. If it was mentioned in the textbooks the important event could have been known to all.”

Also read | Allahabad Museum failed to identify Sengol because no one could translate Tamil engraving

He said the Adheenam has documents and photos to prove the sceptre was given to Nehru, a point that is not under dispute.

According to him, many were not aware of the Sengol having been presented to Nehru. “We then wrote about it to Tamil Nadu Governor R.N. Ravi and Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman. When Mr. Ravi visited the math recently, he enquired about the handing over of the sceptre. We recently released a book on ‘Thurasai Sceptre in India’s Independence’ through SASTRA University. We feel great that the sceptre was installed near the Speaker’s chair in the new Parliament building in the presence of heads of all Saivaite maths of Tamil Nadu after performing pujas and rituals of all faiths.”

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