Kalaignar Karunanidhi
Kalaignar Karunanidhi with priests of Tirupati Tirumala DevasthanamKalaignar Karunanidhi/Facebook

Even when M Karunanidhi has remained an atheist throughout his life, a recent video doing the rounds of social media has sparked controversy, as it shows priests chanting Vedic hymns at the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) chief's residence in Chennai.

Priests from the Tirupati Tirumala Devasthanam (TTD) visited the Gopalpuram residence of DMK head on Wednesday, 6 January, to get the rights to air the Telugu version of the popular Tamil TV series Saint Ramanuja, written by Karunanidhi and currently being aired on his Kalaignar channel. TTD is planning to air the series, based on Vaishnavite saint Ramanuja, on their Sri Venkateshwara Bhakti Channel soon.

After the video of the priests reciting the hymns in the presence of the DMK leader went viral created a controversy, a DMK spokeperson has reportedly claimed Karunanidhi respects the beliefs of others and doesn't want to hurt their religious sentiments. "Stopping them from reciting the mantras would be rude, and hence he let them do so as they were his guests," he said.

Recently, Karunanidhi's son MK Stalin was also criticised by many for visiting temples in Tamil Nadu during the Namukku Naame campaign. 

In an earlier interview to The Hindu, the DMK leader had said he doesn't impose his party ideas related to divinity on his followers or family members, even though he remains an atheist.

"Even though I am an atheist, I very well know some around me and in the DMK aren't totally committed to that ideology. I never impose my party's ideas, especially those relating to divinity, on others. Not even on members of my family. The party's idea is that all religions should be treated equally. In fact, 90 per cent of those in the DMK belong to Hinduism. However, we are against fundamentalist activities of a few who claim to be the protectors of Hinduism," Karunanidhi said.

Meanwhile, it has to be noted that years ago, late actor Sivaji Ganesan was dismissed from the DMK after he visited the Tirumala shrine in a departure from the protocol of the party.

Watch the controversial video below: