Uthiramerur Vaikunta Perumal Koil and DMK (non-believers of God) party's successive election victories

Vaikunta Perumal Temple  Uthiramerur, TN en.wikipedia.org

Above;  The Vaikunta Perumal Temple,  Uthiramerur  near  Kanchi, Tamil Nadu Note the Stucco image of Narasimha seen on facade of the dome / vimana......................

The Vaikunta Perumal Temple  Uthiramerur  near  Kanchi, Tamil Nadu, is dedicated to the Hindu god Vishnu, worshipped as Vaikunta Perumal, and his consort Lakshmi as Anandavalli. Built in the Dravidian style by the Pallavas, with later additions from the Cholas, the temple is notable for its inscriptions detailing democratic practices during the Chola period. Established by Pallava king Nandivarman II around 750 CE, the village was donated to Vedic Brahmins. The Cholas later took over, with rulers like Parantaka Chola I contributing to the temple and documenting the Kudavolai system of electing village representatives. During his rule this village, once known as Chaturvedi Mangalam, was developed based on the Agama texts and played a significant role.

The temple covers 0.5 acres and features a sanctum with Vaikuntanatha flanked by Sridevi and Bhudevi. An assembly hall, reconstructed during Kulothunga Chola's reign,

The account of Uthiramerur and its historical significance in the realm of democratic elections is both fascinating and emblematic of the rich political heritage of India.  No doubt  Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday (April 14, 2024) referred to the Uttaramerur inscription  while discussing India’s democratic history, PTI reported.

Decades ago, Indian politicians engaged directly with their constituents. During the Assembly or Parliament elections, public meetings were a common platform  to showcase their ideology and what they would doto improve  their constituencies.  The 1960s saw parties like the DMK led by charismatic leaders known for their public-speaking prowess, while the Indian National Congress (INC) often lacked such orators.

The common people in the last decade  have always had an aversion to long, monotonous, and insubstantial political speeches full of fury but devoid of substance. Despite this, the political landscape has drastically changed over the decades.

In today’s political campaigns, the reliance on media, technology, and election consultants has become paramount. Politicians now depend heavily on newspapers, television, and various modern technologies to reach the masses. Election consultants formulate sophisticated strategies, often employing en masse diffusion of divisive propaganda and false news. These consultants are compensated handsomely, with fees sometimes running into 40 or 50 million dollars. Politicians in the fray must navigate a barrage of manipulated information and smear campaigns against their bona fides, skillfully crafted by their opponents.

The Vaikunta Perumal Temple in Uthiramerur, with its spacious mantapa (assembly hall) covering 2500 square feet, served as the venue for these democratic elections. Stone inscriptions in the temple, written in Grantham and Tamil Brahmi, provide a detailed account of the democratic processes of that era. According to eminent archaeologist Dr. Nagaswamy, these inscriptions offer “astonishing details about the constitution of wards, the qualification of candidates standing for elections, the disqualification norms, the mode of election, the constitution of committees with elected members, the functions of [those] committees, the power to remove the wrong-doer, etc.”

In contemporary times, the Vaikunta Perumal Temple remains a focal point during state elections. Politicians from various parties flock to this temple to seek divine blessings, hoping to secure victory. The temple’s nickname, “Election Perumal” (God of Election), stems from this practice. Residents of Uthiramerur note that during election times, the temple becomes a hive of activity as candidates, regardless of their campaign skills, visit to pray for success. Atheist candidates, shed their skin stand before the all pervading god submissively

The Vaikunta Perumal Temple inscriptions highlight their significance as a veritable written constitution of the village assembly that functioned over a millennium ago. These inscriptions detail the democratic functioning of the assembly, providing a comprehensive guide to the electoral processes, candidate qualifications, and the operational framework of the committees formed by elected members.

In the 11th century, Kolatunga Chola built the turret on top, so it became an assembly-hall-cum-temple. The temple was built perhaps to give religious sanction to the institution of elected village assemblies. Vaikunta Perumal Koil has been declared a heritage site and is looked after by the Archeological Survey of India

Uthiramerur has a notable electoral history, which has often aligned with broader political shifts in Tamil Nadu. For instance, the village consistently returned Congress candidates until 1967, when KM Rajagopal of the DMK won the seat. This victory marked a significant political shift as the DMK, led by CN Annadurai, came to power in Tamil Nadu for the first time.

Remarkably, Uthiramerur  never elected a representative who ended up on the opposition benches in the state assembly. This unique pattern has contributed to the perception that the election results in this village can predict which party will form the government in Chennai.

The blend of historical and contemporary electoral practices in Uthiramerur underscores the enduring legacy and evolving nature of democracy in India. The village stands as a remarkable testament to the country’s ancient democratic traditions, highlighting how deeply rooted democratic principles have been in Indian society. From the ancient elections held in the Vaikunta Perumal Temple to the modern-day political rituals, The small town continues to play a significant role in the democratic process, bridging the past and present in a unique and historically rich narrative.

Tit-bits: temple stone inscriptions -

Uthiramerur temple, TN  inscriptions thehindu.com

Uthiramerur, south of Chennai, is historically significant for its ancient electoral system, detailed in inscriptions at the Sri Vaikuntha Perumal Temple. Dating back to 920 AD during Parantaka Chola's reign, these inscriptions reveal a sophisticated village governance structure. The sabha, comprising representatives from 30 wards, had specific eligibility criteria: candidates aged 35-70, owning half veli of tax-paying land, and a house on legally owned land. Disqualifications focused on public account management. Office terms lasted 360 days, with a three-year re-election gap. The election process involved writing candidate names on palm leaves placed in a pot, drawn by a young boy. Established by Pallava ruler Nandivarman around 750 AD, the village evolved, with the electoral system refined during Parantaka Chola I's rule. This historical democratic practice remains relevant, highlighted by contemporary leaders, and underscores Tamil society's administrative sophistication

Source:  https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/millennium-inscriptions-shed-light-on-polling-system-of-tamils/article68062030.ece