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TM Krishna promises 1 Allah, Jesus song a month after Hindu group attacks Carnatic singers

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RSSS has threatened singers in Tamil Nadu for singing Christian hymns and accused them of promoting conversion.

Bengaluru:  A right-wing fringe outfit has started a controversy in Tamil Nadu after threatening prominent Carnatic musicians for singing Christian hymns. Those targeted include Magsaysay Award winner T.M. Krishna and vocalists O.S. Arun and Nithyashree Mahadevan, whom the outfit has accused of promoting conversion.

The threats from the Rashtriya Sanatan Seva Sangh (RSSS) began after Arun announced that he was to participate in a Christian event, Yesuvin Sangama Sangeetham, scheduled for later this week. He subsequently pulled out of it.

The controversy was further fuelled by an audio clip, widely shared on WhatsApp, which purportedly contains a conversation between Arun and the RSSS’s self-proclaimed leader Ramanathan Seetharaman.

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In it, Ramanathan threatens Arun for singing for “Christians, when he is a Hindu” and accuses him of being sold out for money. Arun responds that he was to perform at a Christian event but withdrew due to personal reasons. He then argues that he isn’t the first artiste to have sung at a Christian function as prominent singers such as Nithyashree (granddaughter of the Carnatic exponent D.K. Pattammal ) and Krishna too have participated in them. Arun asks why he is being targeted, to which Ramanathan hurls expletives in Tamil, aimed at Krishna.

The singers were also hounded by trolls on social media.

RSS ideologue and the editor of Tughlaq S. Gurumurthy slammed the singers in a series of tweets.

“The musicians who sang the Christian album should be prefixed as Christian Album musicians forever,” he tweeted. “I have no objection to their singing a Christian album if the organisers say all religions are valid as Christianity and that, as Mahatma Gandhi wanted, they desist from conversion. Gandhiji wanted conversions banned. Our musicians are helping it for money,” he added.

He then referred to a Christian music album, Kanden Kankulira, released in October 2008, in which Arun and Nithyashree had sung hymns. The album was released by an NGO, Tamil Maiyam, whose founder, Father Jagath Gasper, Gurumurthy accused of being an “LTTE agent”.

‘Will release a Carnatic song in praise of Allah, Jesus’

Angered by the debate, Krishna tweeted that he had decided to release a Carnatic song every month in praise of Jesus and Allah.

“Do you know that there is a tradition of Islamic and Christian songs in Carnatic music? Why raise such an issue now? It is the political climate that is abetting all this,” Krishna told ThePrint.

“What is happening is a classic example of what is happening across the country. The BJP, the RSS and their cronies are spreading hatred. I have no doubt that this mentality has taken over many people. It is also true that the Carnatic community is inherently conservative and I will not be surprised if most of them are pro-BJP or RSS,” he added.

The acclaimed vocalist also called on musicians to take a stand and not bow down to such pressure.

“As Carnatic musicians, we have fed these extreme Hindutva groups and we should learn to transcend beyond them. We also need to break the monolithic idea that the RSS and the BJP are the custodians of Hindu culture. What they are doing is goondaism at its worst and we need to stop such bullying. That is why I said that I will release a song on Jesus and Allah every month. This is the best way to challenge them,” he said.

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Nithyashree, on her part, apologised on social media.

“I was happy to be an instrument to bolster communal harmony and peace. I belong to a family steeped in rich Hindu tradition, values and culture. Therefore, I have always been a practising Hindu and most importantly will always remain one. I am against religious conversion of any kind and will never engage in any act that would endorse or propagate religious conversion,” she has written on Facebook.

‘Repertoire has increased with time’

Janaki, the executive editor of Sruti, a popular Chennai-based magazine on performing arts and Indian music, feels the repertoire of Carnatic music has increased with time.

“Carnatic music is part of our Indian identity; we are proud of our heritage and we should have no problem is someone else is drawn to it. The original repertoire would have been on Hindu gods as Hinduism is based on deities but this repertoire has increased over the decades. We should be happy that our music is universal that people want to learn it and propagate it,” Janaki said.

“There have been Carnatic tunes used in films and some even set to erotic lyrics. It is quite amusing that on one hand we say that Carnatic music does not draw crowds and on the other, you are saying that it is being used to propagate things,” she added.

Responding to the allegations against him, Father Gasper said, “I think people like Gurumurthy should not have any space in the civilisation matrix. These people are today trying to create a context and atmosphere that divides people. First of all, Carnatic is an accidental name. Music is symphony and harmony and it gains its name based on geographical location. But having said this, I know Arun and Nithyashree and I won’t blame them for taking a stand like this out of fear.”

Several calls and messages were made to contact S. Gurumurthy. We will update this story as soon as we get him on record.

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  1. Sri Gurumoorthy Sir/ Tughlaq??? Hindu??? How do you work as an Editor to a Muslim-named paper? Satire and all and yes I was in Delhi when Cho Sir ran the satirrical play there , but how do you stand to work for such a named newspaper for Money that you question the singers for???

  2. Hats off to you Sir TM Krishna. I bow to you and others who have stood up against extremists and their envy and hatred. Music comes from the soul and pours out love. It has no language, caste or religion. Please sing away in any language and to any “god” as there is but one GOD and religions are many paths to Him. When RSS needs blood transfusion, do they try to match blood group or religion? If it is only religion and not the blood group and they survive, I will believe that God is compartmental and cannot be shared. Till then I say sing about all “gods” in all languages and transform us to bliss as you always do! God has given you this talent to pour out the “food of love”- music! Play on. And Ms Nithyasree- please do not apologize for doing the right thing! God Bless!

  3. I bow to Sri TM Krishna and others who continue to sing about any “god” and in any language. Tamil itself is a “god” for many, a mere language for some! Music has no language, no barriers and comes from within. It is love streaming from the soul and love has no barriers. Sing away you music “gods” as the heavens have given you the talent to transform so many into another realm. Ms Nithyasree, please do not apologize for doing what is right. See God in all , whichever form you worship God as! He is in everyone! When RSS needs blood transfusion, I hope they do NOT check if blood type matches theirs but they check if the religion matches theirs and use and blood group for the transfusion! If they do and live on, then I believe that religion and “gods” are many. Till then I believe that all paths are to one God and anyone should sing and worship as they please! God Bless our Carnatic stalwarts!

  4. Somebody tell them the best and most famous bhajans have been the joint creation of Naushad, shakeel badayuni and Mohd. Rafi. They were not converting anyone to Hinduism, so why this bloody communalization of music too.

    • Because RSS is NOT Hindu. They know nothing about Sanatana Dharma nor do they practice it. They spit hatred and bile floats through their veins! A true Hindu= HimsaSeDur!

  5. Blatant false reporting. The RSSS person never threatened OS Arun. He was only reasoning out as to why Hindus are feeling bad about what was going on and as a Hindu he has every right to do that. He said he will protest against suchnprogrammes and whats wrong with that. Please be truthful to your profession

    • Why is RSS the decider? Do Carnatic musicians tell RSS how to be a Hindu? Every RSS gets up and does his Sandhya worship, Vedic chants, meditation, spiritual tasks and most importantly, speaks only the truth as our scriptures say? Far from it and they booze! Get off your high horse RSS.

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