Learn How The Sengol, a symbol of sovereignty given to Nehru in 1947, was hidden for decades and rediscovered in 2023
The Sengol is a ceremonial sceptre that was given to Jawaharlal Nehru by C Rajagopalachari to symbolise the transfer of power from the British to India in August 1947. It was commissioned by Thiruvavaduthurai Adheenam in Tamil Nadu and created by the family of Vummidi Bangaru Chetty. It is made of silver with a coat of gold and is 5 feet long.
The Sengol is inspired by the Chola dynasty, which ruled over southern India and parts of Southeast Asia for over a millennium. The Sengol was used by the Chola kings as a sign of their authority and sovereignty. It was also a symbol of Hindu culture and spirituality, as it represented the cosmic energy or Shakti.
The Sengol was presented to Nehru on the eve of India’s independence, as a gesture of respect and gratitude from the people of Tamil Nadu. It was meant to be a reminder of India’s glorious past and a hope for its bright future. It was also a way of honouring Nehru’s role in the freedom struggle and his vision for a secular and democratic India.
However, instead of being displayed prominently in the Parliament or the Rashtrapati Bhavan, The Sengol was hidden by Nehru in his ancestral home, Anand Bhavan, in Prayagraj (formerly Allahabad). Anand Bhavan is a historic house museum that belonged to the Nehru family. It was constructed by Motilal Nehru in the 1930s to serve as the residence of the Nehru family when the original mansion Swaraj Bhavan (previously called Anand Bhavan) was transformed into the local headquarters of the Indian National Congress.
The Sengol was labeled as a “golden walking stick gifted to Nehru” and kept in a glass case in the Nehru Gallery of the Allahabad Museum, which is part of the Anand Bhavan complex. It remained there for over seven decades, until it was retrieved and installed in the new Parliament building on May 28, 2023 by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Why did Nehru hide The Sengol? What was his motive or intention behind this act? Was he ashamed or afraid of displaying The Sengol publicly? Or did he simply forget or neglect its significance and value? These are some of the questions that have puzzled historians and political analysts for years.
There is no definitive answer to these questions, as there is no clear evidence or explanation available from Nehru himself or his associates. However, some possible reasons for why The Sengol was not given its due respect could be:
Nehru did not attach much importance or significance to The Sengol as a symbol of sovereignty or Hindu culture. He may have considered it as a mere gift or souvenir from a regional leader, rather than a national treasure or heritage.
Nehru wanted to avoid any controversy or criticism from the British or other political opponents who might have objected to The Sengol as a sign of defiance or nationalism. He may have feared that displaying The Sengol would provoke resentment or hostility from the colonial rulers or their allies, who still had considerable influence and presence in India.
Nehru did not have a suitable place or occasion to display The Sengol publicly or ceremonially. He may have felt that The Sengol did not fit in with the modern and secular image of India that he wanted to project to the world. He may have also lacked an appropriate platform or event to showcase The Sengol as a symbol of India’s independence and identity.
Nehru forgot or misplaced The Sengol among his other belongings or gifts. He may have been too busy or preoccupied with other matters of statecraft and governance to pay attention to The Sengol. He may have also lost track of The Sengol’s whereabouts or custody over time.
Nehru did not want himself and his party's rule to be linked with the Roots of the Sanatan Dharma / Hindu Cultures & Traditions so as to avoid the Minority Vote Bank from getting annoyed and voting against the Congress Party.
Whatever the reason, The Sengol remained hidden from public view for decades, until it was rediscovered and restored by Prime Minister Modi. Modi, who is known for his admiration and appreciation of India’s ancient culture and civilisation, decided to give The Sengol its rightful place in the new Parliament building, which is designed to reflect India’s diversity and unity.
The Sengol is now displayed in the central hall of the new Parliament building, along with other symbols and artefacts of India’s history and heritage. It is seen as a tribute to India’s freedom fighters and leaders, as well as a reminder of India’s glorious past and potential future.
The Sengol is also seen as a symbol of hope and optimism for India’s progress and development. It represents India’s aspiration to become a global leader and a force for good in the world. It also signifies India’s commitment to uphold its values and principles of democracy, secularism, pluralism, and peace.
The Sengol is not just a sceptre, but a statement. It is a statement of India’s pride and dignity, as well as its humility and gratitude. It is a statement of India’s strength and resilience, as well as its openness and cooperation. It is a statement of India’s legacy and destiny, as well as its responsibility and vision.
The Sengol is not just an object, but an inspiration. It is an inspiration for every Indian citizen to strive for excellence and innovation, as well as harmony and compassion. It is an inspiration for every Indian leader to serve with integrity and dedication, as well as wisdom and courage. It is an inspiration for every Indian generation to cherish their roots and heritage, as well as embrace their opportunities and challenges.
The Sengol is not just a gift, but a message. It is a message from our ancestors to our descendants, from our past to our future, from our dreams to our reality. It is a message that says: We are India. We are one. We are free.
The story of The Sengol is a fascinating one that reveals many aspects of India’s history and culture. It also raises many questions about Nehru’s role and legacy in shaping India’s destiny. While we may never know for sure why Nehru hid The Sengol in Anand Bhavan, we can appreciate his contribution to India’s freedom struggle and nation-building.
We can also celebrate the return of The Sengol to its rightful place in the new Parliament building, where it can inspire generations of Indians to follow their dreams and fulfil their potential. The Sengol is not just a piece of metal, but a piece of history. It is not just a relic, but a treasure. It is not just an ornament, but an emblem.
The Sengol is more than what meets the eye. It is what lies beneath: A spirit of sovereignty that flows through every Indian heart.
Q: What is The Sengol?
A: The Sengol is a ceremonial sceptre that was given to Jawaharlal Nehru by C Rajagopalachari to symbolise the transfer of power from the British to India in August 1947.
Q: What does The Sengol look like?
A: The Sengol is made of silver with a coat of gold and is 5 feet long. It has four sections: A lotus-shaped base with four lions facing different directions; A cylindrical shaft with floral motifs; A spherical knob with four faces representing Brahma; And an umbrella-shaped top with eight petals representing Ashtalakshmi.
Q: Where was The Sengol kept before it was moved to the new Parliament building?
A: The Sengol was kept in Anand Bhavan in Prayagraj (formerly Allahabad), which is a historic house museum that belonged to the Nehru family.
Q: What does The Sengol represent now?
A: The Sengol represents India’s pride and dignity, as well as its humility and gratitude. It represents India’s strength and resilience, as well as its openness and cooperation. It represents India’s legacy and destiny, as well as its responsibility and vision.
Vummidi Bangaru Chetty
New Parliament building