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Sengol- The History and the Future

Sengol- The History and the Future

Sengol- The History and the Future, India is not only the foundation of global democracy but also, a devotee of Art, Culture, and Heritage.

The 28th of May, 2023, will mark the golden day in the history of the world. The grand inauguration of the New Parliament building, in New Delhi will be a moment of chronicle for our nation.

A gold-plated silver scepter, ‘Sengol’, which comes way back from the traditions of the Chola dynasty, and is now safely enshrined behind the Speaker’s chair in the Lok Sabha, was the luminary on the date.

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Sources state that this Sengol was handed over to the first Prime Minister of India, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, on the eve of independence on 14th August 1947, by two emissaries of Sri Amblavana Desigar, as a symbol of strength and virtue.

The government’s announcement about the Sengol generated curiosity among people about the age-old Tamil tradition.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi installed the Sengol near the Speaker’s chair, during the inauguration ceremony of the new Parliament building.

Etymology of ‘Sengol’

A Sengol means a scepter, or staff, signifying authority, and power. The Tamil word ‘Sengol’ is a combination of ‘Cemmai’, meaning ‘justice’ or ‘prosperity’, and ‘Kol’, meaning ‘stick’. Colloquially in India, it has been known since ancient times by different names such as Rajadanda (king’s burning stick), Dharmadanda (burning stick of truth), etc.

Design and Model of Sengol

Sengol is a gold-plated scepter, about 5 feet (1.5 m) in length and 2 inches (5 cm) thick, with a core made of silver. It is made with 800 grams of gold. It is decorated with intricate designs and Nandi is carved on the top. Nandi is the sacred bull vahana (vehicle) of the Hindu deity Shiva and is a sacred animal in Hinduism. It is seen as a symbol of Dharma, depicted as a bull in the Puranas.

Historical Context and Retrieval

The origin of the scepter dates to the time of the Chola empire, with Sengol being used by Chola dynasty rulers to signify the transfer of power from one king to another. Before the official Independence Day ceremonies, Nehru was presented with a Sengol by the envoys of Sri Amblavana Desigar.

According to an Indian government release, Lord Mountbatten asked Jawaharlal Nehru about the symbol of the transfer of power when India got independence. Over a discussion with his fellow Congress leader C. Rajagopalachari, Nehru was advised to take the scepter from the British as a symbol of the transfer of power. Rajagopalachari took responsibility and approached the Thiruvaduthurai Adhinam Math in Tamil Nadu to make the scepter. The then head of the Math received the golden Sengol scepter made by Vummidi Bangaru Chetty, a jeweler of Madras at that time.

Mountbatten handed over the Sengol through the Adheenams to Nehru as a symbol of the transfer of power in an official religious ceremony.

After being presented to Jawaharlal Nehru, the Sengol was housed in the Nehru Gallery of the Anand Bhavan Museum in Prayagraj, Uttar Pradesh.

Prime Minister Modi honored the family of Vummidi Bangaru jewelers, whose ancestors founded Sengol, at his residence on the eve of the inauguration of the new Parliament building in New Delhi.

Criticism and Controversy around it

Nothing great comes without a counterpart. There are several speculations and criticisms surrounding the air of this age-old symbol of power, traditions, and righteousness.

  • Certain political leaders from the opposition believe that the government’s account is not internally consistent and full of contradictions. The parts involving Mountbatten, Nehru, and Rajaji are not in the historical record and are probably a rich embellishment of the facts.
  • Some political analysts have stated that Sengol is a symbol of divine power and is appropriate for the monarchy, and not for a democratic parliament, where power comes from the people.
  • Another criticism is of the ominous symbolism underlying the exercise. The claim is that the scepter of monks and its escort are both anomalies for the Indian parliament and democracy. This may just be a cynical strategy with an eye on garnering political capital in Tamil Nadu.
  • There is a section of believers in the opposition who state that the new Parliament House seeks to legitimize Hindutva’s triumph over India’s multicultural past.

Meanwhile, opposition leaders are linking the “overdrive” on Sengol to the elections in Tamil Nadu, the Sengol has got hold of its position in the New Parliament building and has imprinted an important event on a significant date.

The “Sengol link” with the Chola Dynasty

According to historians, Sengol is associated with the Sengal Chola dynasty. During the Chola dynasty, the Sengol was traditionally given by the departing king to the new king, as a symbol of transfer of power. This is a custom that dates to the Chola Empire. Sengol is seen as a representative of a fair, and just government, especially in Tamil Nadu and other southern states.

The Chola dynasty from South India was one of the longest-ruling dynasties in the world. The earliest datable references to the Chola are from inscriptions dated to the 3rd century BC during the reign of Ashoka of the Maurya Empire. The Chola Empire was at its peak and achieved imperialism under the Medieval Cholas. The heartland of the Cholas was the fertile Kaveri River valley. They ruled a considerably larger area at the height of their power from the late 9th century to the early 13th century. The power and prestige of the Cholas in political power in South, Southeast, and East Asia is evident from their expeditions to the Ganges, naval raids on the cities of the Srivijaya Empire based on the island of Sumatra, and their repeated embassies to China.

In the words of Union Home Minister Amit Shah, the Parliament House is the most pertinent place for the Sengol, as representing the majestic power and royal authority of the Cholas, the symbol encapsulates the essence of their rule, artistic excellence, and cultural achievements.

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