Samskritha Sangham, a group considered close to the CPI(M) in Kerala, and supported by many party cadres and sympathisers to promote the cause of Sanskrit, is set to hold a month-long lecture series on Ramayan at various temples in the Karkatakam month of Malayalam calendar. Karkatakam month — also called the Ramayan month — begins on July 17.
The development comes three years after the CPI(M) began observing Sri Krishna Jayanti under the banner of its children’s outfit, Balasangam.
While RSS and BJP leaders are looking at this development with curiosity, the CPI(M) pointed out that the party is not directly involved either with the cultural outfit or the programme.
Senior RSS leader Valsan Thillankery recalled that in early 1980s, CPI(M)-backed Purugamana Kala Sahitya Sangham had campaigned against recitation of Ramayan in Hindu homes during this month, while BJP state general secretary K Surendran claimed the move shows the Marxist party’s “ideological bankruptcy”.
“This is not the job of political parties,” he said. “They (CPI-M) do not know how to counter the Sangh Parivar.”
The Sangham’s Kannur district secretary, Satheesan Thillankery, said the lecture series will be held in all districts, with a special focus on Kannur, where Krishna Jayanti celebrations had attracted maximum crowd. “There will be talks by spiritual leaders, literary critics and writers about Ramayan.
The talks would be meant for propagating principles of Ramayan against the backdrop of modern life.’’
Maintaining that Samskritha Sangham is “an independent organisation, not affiliated to CPI(M)”, party state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, in a statement, said, “The RSS has been misusing the Malayalam month of Karkataka…for furthering its communal agenda. Sanskrit teachers and experts have formed Samskritha Sangham to expose the wrong moves of RSS (by) using the epics.”
CPI(M) state committee member V Sivadasan accused the Sangh of “using Ramayan to execute its Hindutva agenda”. He alleged, “RSS wants to convert temples into hubs of communal elements. There will be spontaneous resistance from devotees against such attempts. The Sangham’s observance of Ramayan month should be seen only in that way.”
RSS’s Valsan said, “The practice of Ramayan recitation began in temples in 1982 following the VHP’s decision during a Hindu conference in Kochi that year. It was a decision to counter Communist campaign. Initially, recitation of the epic was limited to temples controlled by RSS-backed Kshethra Samrakshana Samithi. Now, most temples conduct programmes during the Ramayan month. If CPI(M) delivers a distorted version of Ramayana, it will be exposed by devotees,’’ said Valsan.
Thillankery said the Sangham will soon finalise the list of temples and speakers.