The Sengol Controversy

The Sengol Controversy

A sengol (spectre) from Tamil Nadu is now a national talk in India with the ruling BJP and the Opposition Congress engaged in a verbal duel over the handing over it as symbol of transfer of power at the time of independence.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will place the Sengol near the Speaker’s seat in the new Parliament. The inauguration of the new parliament building on May 28 is itself embroiled in a controversy with the opposition parties boycotting it.


The controversy is over the lack of government records to prove that a sengol from Thiruaduthurai Adheenam, a mutt in Tamil Nadu, was handed over during Independence as a symbolic transfer of power. The BJP claimed the Sengol was a symbol of the transfer of power from Britain to India in 1947. The saffron party said that Lord Mountbatten handed it over to Jawaharlal Nehru on the suggestion of C Rajagopalachari.

Mentioning Opposition remarks as “shameful insult” and having insulted the country’s culture. Home Minister Amit Shah said the sceptre presented by the Adheenam was reduced to a walking stick. 


Opposition Congress lashed out at Modi and the BJP for creating a “bogus” narrative about the sengol. The Congress said there was no documented evidence that the British gave the sceptre to first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru as a symbol of the transfer of power. They noted that C Rajagopalachari and Lord Mountbatten never said anything about the sengol being given by Mountbatten to Nehru. The party said the “fake narrative of Whatsapp University” was fabricated to further the BJP’s political designs in Tamil Nadu.

In a tweet, party spokesman Jairam Ramesh said, “The sceptre is now being used by the PM and his drumbeaters for their political ends in Tamil Nadu. This is typical of this brigade that embroiders facts to suit its twisted objectives. The real question is why President Droupadi Murmu is not being allowed to inaugurate the new Parliament.”

He said the sceptre was conceived by a religious establishment in Madras province. It was crafted in Madras city and gifted to Nehru in August 1947. “There is no documented evidence whatsoever of Mountbatten, Rajaji and Nehru describing this sceptre as a symbol of transfer of British power to India. All claims to this effect are plain and simple — bogus,” Ramesh tweeted.

He alleged the whole episode was completely manufactured in the minds of a few and dispersed into WhatsApp, and now to the drumbeaters in the media. “Is it any surprise that the new Parliament is being consecrated with typically false narratives from WhatsApp University? The BJP-RSS distorians stand exposed yet again with maximum claims, minimum evidence,” he added.


The Thiruvavaduthurai Adheenamhad commissioned the Sengol. After the controversy erupted, la Sri Ambalavana Desika Paramacharya Swamigal, the seer, admitted there were no photographs available to establish the spectre was initially given to Lord Mountbatten before being presented to Nehru. This could only be confirmed by those who were alive during that time, he said during a press conference in Chennai.

He said that Nehruand Rajaji reached out to the Adheenam on the eve of Independence, seeking advice on how to symbolize India’s independence. As such, Ambalavana Desigar had the Sengol made by Vummidi Bangaru jewelers in Chennai. It was then transported to New Delhi on a flight by TN Rajarathinam, Kumarasamy Thampuran, and Manikka Odhuvar, he claimed.


Sengol is a word derived from Tamil word ‘semmai’, which means righteousness. It is a golden sceptre that has been used in Tamil culture as a symbol of transfer of power and authority from one ruler to another. Sengol is important for Hinduism as it represents the ancient tradition of coronation ceremonies that have been practiced for nearly 2,000 years since the Sangam Age. 


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