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Home > News > Report

'What qualifies Yesudoss for Guruvayur entry?'

Prem Panicker | June 12, 2007 19:02 IST

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In the second week of April, Dewaswom Minister G Sudhakaran fired off a letter to the Guruvayur Dewaswom Board, arguing that famed playback singer KJ Yesudoss should be allowed entry into the famed Sri Krishna Temple.

"I was not at the time making the case that all non-Hindus should be allowed entry," Sudhakaran told last week, on phone from Alleppey where he was attending a function.

"My point was that Yesudoss has sung dozens of devotional songs in praise of Krishna, some of which are daily played in the temple itself. It is only fair that he be allowed inside the temple, and be permitted to hold a concert there."

The request put the Dewaswom Board in a fix, and triggered a firestorm of protest. "My best business comes from Yesudoss cassettes and CDs," says Rajan, a board member who runs a music shop just to the left of the temple's main entrance. "But so what?

"Yesudoss may have sung many songs praising Guruvayurappan, but how does that automatically qualify him for entry? He has also sung songs that say there is no god, that man is himself god and there is no being higher than man � should that song be held against him, to show he is an atheist?

"Also, many of the lyrics of his songs were written by Yusuf Ali Kachery, a Muslim. How come no one is making a fuss saying he should be allowed inside, since clearly it is his words, and someone else's music, that are the heart and soul of those songs, which would have been equally popular had MG Srikumar or any other top playback singer voiced them?"

Sudhakaran, in his letter, argues that no less than Carnatic music legend Chembai Vaidyanatha Bhagavathar, in whose honour the temple holds an annual concert, was so incensed by the injustice that he once held a concert outside the temple premises in protest.

That is disputed by then Dewaswom Board chairman PT Mohanakrishnan, who points out that in 1987, the Dewaswom invited various VIPs to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Narayaneeyam, the book of poems celebrating Sri Krishna that, per legend, was written by Melpathur Narayana Bhattathiripad while seated inside the temple, vis a vis the deity.

Invitees at the time included then President Shankar Dayal Sharma, then vice president R Venkatraman, then prime minister Rajiv Gandhi and KJ Yesudoss, who was asked to perform at the commemorative concert organized at the temple's Melpathur Auditorium, just outside the gates.

It was Yesudoss who refused, saying he would come only if given unconditional entry into the temple, Mohanakrishnan says.

"On that occasion, we sent Yesudoss a written request, asking that he merely submit a letter saying he is a believer in idol worship and temple rituals, but the singer declined," Mohanakrishnan points out. Rajan, who is privy to those events, argues, "If you believe in idol worship � and Yesudoss has been proclaiming all over the place that he believes in Guruvayurappan -- what then stops you from saying so? If you don't, what do you want to enter a temple for � to see the sights, as a tourist?"

Interestingly, three years later Yesudoss accepted another invitation, and performed at the same auditorium as part of the ceremonies connected with the installation of a statue of Thirunamacharyan Anjam  Madhavan [Images] Namboothiri, one of the legendary priests associated with the temple.

Yesudoss had, in April this year, defused the budding controversy by stating that he did not want to enter the temple if it offended the sentiments of the Hindu community. The singer is currently touring in the US, and was not available for comment.