What is the history of Sengol of the Chola Empire?

Sengol in parliament
Image: PTI

The historical Sengol, which was received by first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru symbolising the transfer of power from the British to India in 1947, is set to be installed in the new Parliament building by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on May 28. The sacred scepter traces its origin to the Chola Empire.

Making the announcement on Wednesday, Union Home Minister Amit Shah said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi will install a historic golden scepter, called Sengol, near the Speaker’s seat on May 28.

Nehru got the Sengol from Tamil Nadu and accepted it from the British, symbolising the transfer of power in a traditional way, Amit Shah said. “It was kept at a museum in Allahabad, and it will be moved to the new Parliament building,” he said.

Jawaharlal Nehru holding ‘Sengol’, a historical sceptre from Tamil Nadu, with Kumarswamy Thambiran. (PTI Photo)

Tracing Sengol’s origin and significance

As per a document released by the Government of India, when the handover of power from the British to Indians was being deliberated, there was a dilemma as to what symbolism should be adopted to mark the transfer of power. Pandit Nehru had turned to C Rajagopalachari, the veteran freedom fighter from Tamil Nadu, for help. Rajaji found the answer in India’s past, in the traditions of the Chola kingdom.

In the Chola kingdom, the transfer of power from one king to another was marked by the handing over of the Sengol, the unbending, intricately carved, golden staff. The Sengol was surmounted by the divine bull, Nandi, the vehicle of Lord Shiva. Nandi is a symbol of justice.

In 1947, Rajaji’s search for a symbol that would mark a transfer of power led him to contact the leading Dharmic Math, the Thiruvavaduthurai Adheenam, established over five centuries prior. The then Seer, the 20th Guru Mahasannidhanam Sri La Sri Ambalavana Desika Swami, who was ailing at the time, accepted the task.

The seer commissioned the making of the Sengol to the famous jewellers, Vummidi Bangaru, in Madras. He assigned his deputy, Sri La Sri Kumaraswamy Thambiran to go to Delhi with the Sengol and conduct the ceremonies along with the Adheenam’s Oduvar (special singer) Sri Manickam and the famous player of the nadaswaram, Shri Rajarathinam Pillai. The delegation reached Delhi on a special flight.

“Adheenam assigned us the job to design the Sengol. It was made in silver with gold plating. A team of 10 gold craftsmen took 10-15 days to complete the Sengol,” the jewellers had said.

Sengol handed over to Nehru

Sri La Sri Thambiran handed over the Sengol to Lord Mountbatten, who handed it back. The Sengol was then purified by sprinkling holy water on it. It was then taken to Nehru’s residence to conduct the ceremonies and hand over the Sengol to the new ruler.

The transfer of power from British to Indian hands took place in 1947 with a symbol from a thousand years ago.

About Sengol

The Sengol, which measures 5 feet, has rich workmanship from top to bottom. The Sengol’s orb, which symbolizes the world, is surmounted by a carving of Nandi.

The Sengol was received by first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru to represent transfer of power from the British and was kept in a museum in Allahabad. (PTI Photo)

The one who receives Sengol is expected to have a fair and just rule, Amit Shah said on Wednesday.

The Union home minister said the Sengol was more or less forgotten after 1047. “Then, in 1971, a Tamil scholar mentioned it in a book. Our government mentioned it in 2021-22. The 96-year-old Tamil scholar, who was present in 1947, will also be there when it will be installed in the new Parliament building,” Amit Shah said.

The word Sengol, derived from the Tamil word “Semmai”, literally means ‘righteousness’. The Nandi surmounting the golden Sengol also represents righteousness, and adherence to Dharma.

How Sengol came back to public attention

After it was received by Nehru in 1947, the Sengol was kept in Allahabad Museum. Nearly 30 years later, in 1978, the ‘Maha Periava’ (the great elder) of the Kanchi Math recalled the event to a disciple who published it. The story was played by Tamil media.

Last year, during Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav, Sengol came into prominence once again in Tamil Nadu.

According to the government website commemorating the Sengol, PM Modi was captivated by the story, and the sacredness of the Sengol. He decided to honour the Adheenams and at the same time bring the Sengol back to its rightful place in Parliament building.

On May 28, PM Narendra Modi is going to install the Sengol in the new Parliament building, near the Lok Sabha Speaker’s chair.

Follow and connect with us on TwitterFacebookInstagram, and Youtube