Written by London Swaminathan


Date: 12 December 2018

GMT Time uploaded in London – 18-18

Post No. 5772

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I am not giving a comprehensive list of assassinations that happened in Indian history. Just to compare the less known assassination that happened in Tamil Nadu I am giving some known attacks. As far as we know it started in 73 BCE and went up to 1991. Tamil poet Tiruvalluvar and Vishnusarman of Panchatantra also mentioned such assassinations.

Devabhuti, the last of the Sunga emperors, who was a weak, dissipated and debauched monarch was assassinated in his bed in dark by a slave girl dressed as his queen. He was killed in 73 BCE on the orders of his minister Vasudeva.

Julius Caesar was assassinated in Rome around that time. And his own friend Brutus was part of the conspiracy. All of us know the ‘Et tu Brute?’ (You too Brutus!) exclamation of Julius Caesar.

Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated by N Godse in 1948. In our own times Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated by her own bodyguard on 31 October 1984. Later her own son Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated by a LTTE girl from Si Lanka, near Chennai in 1991.

Tiruvalluvar, author of Tamil Veda, Tirukkural says,

An enemy will twist his words as he bends his bow;

Neither will forbade any good- 827

The meaning is

Do not be misled by the politeness or courtesy of language on the part of enemies. The enemy bends his words as he bends his bow, which is not for your good.

In the next couplet the poet says,

The enemy’s hands raised in salutation may conceal a weapon,

So too, his tears of sympathy are not to be trusted.

This is what happened in the case of Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination.

In Periya Puranam written around 12th century CE by Sekkizar, we have a similar story. It is a sad and heart breaking story.

Here is a summary:

There was a king by name Meyporul Nayanar ruling Chedi country from Tirukkovalur. He was a just king and conquered the nearby territories. He was a great Shiva devotee and respected any one coming with the Saivite symbols such as Vibhuti (holy ash), Rudraksha (holy garland) in saffron or white cloths.

Muthanathan, a near by king who was defeated several times by Meyporul, realised that he would never be able to defeat Meyporul by honest means. So he conspired and took the guise of Shiva devotee. He hid a dagger in a bundle of palm leaf manuscripts and approached the palace.

As usual all the gates were wide open for the ‘great devotee’ and he entered the palace room where the king was lying in bed with his wife. Knowing a person coming in an untimely hour, king’s body guard Dattan prevented him from entering the bedroom. But yet Muthanathan introduced himself as a great Guru and he had come with a rare manuscript to show it to the king. Datta could not stop him any more. When the ‘devotee/guru’ entered the bed room, the queen was surprised and got up suddenly. But the king showed all the respect due to any Shiva’s follower. When he asked the reason for his visit at the dead of night, disguised Muthanathan told the king that he had some rare Agama manuscripts and wanted to teach the king.

He also insisted that he should be alone without the queen to listen to the secret doctrines. The king readily obliged and came back all alone. Muthanathan opened the bundle and took the dagger and stabbed the king.

Hearing the commotion, his body guard Datta rushed into the room and caught hold of the assassin. But Meyporul told his bodyguard,

‘Datta, He is our man’. Please take him out of the town with full security and leave him alone; make sure that no one harms him! Datta did as he was commanded.

All this happened  just because the respect for the external Saivite (religious)  symbols! But Meyporul was made a saint among the 63 Famous Saivite Saints and worshipped in all the Shiva temples in Tamil Nadu.

We hear lot of stories even today that terrorists come in different disguises, particularly abusing religious faith and symbols. Since Tiruvalluvar also sings about hidden arms, he might have heard such stories.

Sekkizar, author of Periya Puranam, describes the appearance of Muthanathan in Saivite gear. ‘He appeared white outside (with smeared holy ash) but inside he was black. His mind was full of bad things’.

The world has not changed much from the days of Devabhuti. Even before Devabhuti, Manu gives a list of kings who were dethroned or killed. Vena was one of them who met a violent death from the revolting general public. Something like French Revolution must have happened and Vena was ‘guillotined’.

Tags- Meyporul Nayanar, Muthanathan, Assassinations, Devabhuti