The installation of “historical and sacred sengol (sceptre)” received by first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru symbolising the transfer of power from the British to India in the new Parliament House on May 28 by Prime Minister Narendra Modi is a “historic moment”. It is a emotional and spiritual integration of India from north to south, for sengol harks back to Tamil history from the Sangam age over 2,000 years ago.
Addressing a press conference, Union Home Minister Amit Shah said, “The ruler would be vested with the ‘Sengol’ with the order (‘aanai’ in Tamil) to rule with ‘dharma’, meaning justly and fairly.”
The use of a “sengol” has been popular since the Sangam age, he said, adding, “The Tamil classic Thirukkural hails the importance of the sengol. There is a whole chapter on the sceptre (titled sengonmai).”
Shah said all political parties have been invited to the inauguration of the new Parliament and they will take a “call as per their wisdom”.
“Sengol can’t be associated with politics. ‘Sengol’ conveys the message that the government should run with justice and fairness and it should be rule-based. This message will go to the people and people’s representatives when it is installed in the new Parliament building,” he said.
Shah said the PM will also honour 60,000 workers (shram yogis) at the inauguration. He said the new Parliament building is a testament of the Prime Minister’s vision of creating a new India, which combines modernity with the country’s heritage and traditions.
The historical sceptre is made of silver with gold coated and the sacred Nandi, with its unyielding gaze. The Nandi on top of the “Sengol” is symbolic of “Nyaya” (Justice).
It was a traditional Chola practice for Samayacharyas (spiritual leaders) to lead the coronation of kings and sanctify the transfer of power, which is also considered a kind of recognition for the ruler, says Prof S Rajavelu, formerly with the Department of Maritime History and Marine Archaeology of Tamil University.
“Tamil kings had this sengol (a Tamil word for sceptre), which is a symbol of justice and good governance. The two great epics Silapathikaram and Manimekalai records the significance of a sengol,” said Prof S Rajavelu.
He noted a solemn and sacred Tamil tradition of ‘Sengol Vesting Ceremony’ accompanied by a recital of 11 verses from the Theveram text, invoking the blessings of Shiva, for the ruler took place just before Nehru hoisted the national flag and made his “Tryst with Destiny” address, symbolising the transfer of power.