The Sengol (IAST: ceṅkōl) is a gold-plated, silver sceptre that is installed in New Parliament House in New Delhi, India.[1] The sceptre was originally gifted to Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India, by a Tamil Adheenam in a religious ceremony on the evening before the Independence of India in 1947. The Sengol was housed at Allahabad Museum for seventy years until it was moved to its present location upon the building's inauguration by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2023.

Sengol at India's new Parliament


As the Independence of India drew near, Jawaharlal Nehru and other members of the Indian National Congress (INC or Congress) took part in religious ceremonies and received gifts.[2][3][1] On such an occasion on 14 August 1947, emissaries from the Thiruvaduthurai Adheenam Matha, a Hindu monastery in Tamil Nadu, presented Nehru with the Sengol at his home.[3][1][2] According to a report in Time:

From Tanjore in south India came two emissaries of Sri Amblavana Desigar, head of a sannyasi order of Hindu ascetics. Sri Amblavana thought that Nehru, as first Indian head of a really Indian Government ought, like ancient Hindu kings, to receive the symbol of power and authority from Hindu holy men ... One sannyasi carried a sceptre of gold, five feet long, two inches thick. He sprinkled Nehru with holy water from Tanjore and drew a streak in sacred ash across Nehru's forehead. Then he wrapped Nehru in the pithambaram and handed him the golden sceptre. He also gave Nehru some cooked rice which had been offered that very morning to the dancing god Nataraja in south India, then flown by plane to Delhi.[4]

The event had negligible impact on public discourse at the time;[5][1] contemporaneous news clips recorded the gift of the Sengol as a courtesy.[2] Soon afterwards, the Sengol and other belongings of Nehru were donated to Allahabad Museum, where the sceptre was labelled "Golden Stick gifted to Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru".[6]

The Sengol remained largely forgotten until it was used in the inauguration of New Parliament House, New Delhi, in 2023.[5] At the inauguration, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was accompanied by Hindu priests heading the 20 Adheenams in Tamil Nadu, installed the Sengol near the chair of the Speaker of the Lok Sabha.[7][8][9] Simultaneously, the Government of India propagated a now-discredited narrative of the Sengol being a symbol of the transfer of power from the United Kingdom to India.[2]

Government narrative

The narrative appears to have been derived from a year-old article by Swaminathan Gurumurthy, a Hindu nationalist, published in Thuglak magazine;[1][10] Gurumurthy attributed it to the recollections of Sri Chandrasekarendra Saraswathi, the 68th head of the Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham, as told to a disciple in 1978.[1]

PM Modi receiving the Sengol from Hindu (Adheenam) priests in 2023

According to the Government, upon being asked by Lord Mountbatten about a symbol to mark the transfer of power, Nehru discussed the issue with his fellow Congress leader C. Rajagopalachari,[1][2] who informed Nehru of the Chola tradition of the transfer of the sengol and with his agreement, approached the seer of Thiruvaduthurai Adheenam Matha to make one.[1][2] A delegation of monks flew to Delhi to present this sengol first to Mountbatten and then to Nehru in an official ceremony.[1][2]

These claims are dubious.[2][1][5] There is no evidence either Mountbatten or Rajagopalachari was involved in the process, that the ceremony had any official significance, that Nehru perceived the event as a transfer of power, or that the delegation travelled by air.[2][1][11] Facing criticism for lacking in facts, the Government published a collection of sources, ranging from monographs by academic historians to a blog that rejected its narrative, as evidence; they did not support any of the claims.[12]

Electoral context

According to analysts, the 2023 episode with the Sengol was part of the Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) strategy to present itself as champions of Tamil culture.[9] The party is aiming to gain electoral significance in South India through its Look South campaign.[13][14][15] Soon after the Sengol's installation, Amit Shah, one of BJP's main strategists,[16] asked Tamil voters to elect 25 BJP coalition legislators to Parliament as a show of gratitude.[17]


Vummidi Bangaru Chetty, a jeweller from Chennai (then called Madras), crafted the Sengol.[18] The Sengol is a handcrafted, gold-plated sceptre about five feet (1.5 m) long, and has a diameter of about three inches (76 mm) at the top and one inch (25 mm) at the bottom. It encases a wooden staff and is surmounted by a sitting Nandi to symbolise justice and sturdiness.[18][19][3][20][21]


Barely a fortnight after Nehru received the Sengol, C. N. Annadurai, a Dravidian nationalist and the future first Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, wrote a polemical tract on the subject for Dravida Nadu, pondering the socio-political implications of his acceptance. He warned the motive of the Adheenam was to convince the public later they had inaugurated the new government.[22]

Many political analysts have noted the increasing use of Hindu grammar in the domains of the state. In 2023, The New York Times noted that this sceptre emerged as a key object encapsulating the meaning of the new Parliament, that is, "to shed not just the remnants of India's colonial past, but also increasingly to replace the secular governance that followed it".[23] Others found the use of a monarchical relic unsuitable for a parliamentary democracy.[24]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "Sengol | Evidence thin on government's claims about the sceptre". The Hindu. 25 May 2023. ISSN 0971-751X. Archived from the original on 25 May 2023. Retrieved 6 June 2023.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i "The Many Holes in the Union Government's Claims Around the Sengol". The Wire. Retrieved 28 May 2023.
  3. ^ a b c "INDIA: Oh Lovely Dawn". Time. 25 August 1947. ISSN 0040-781X. Archived from the original on 24 May 2023. Retrieved 26 May 2023.
  4. ^ "INDIA: Oh Lovely Dawn". Time. 25 August 1947.
  5. ^ a b c "Manu S Pillai on Sengol: For some, rediscovery is cultural renascence, for others, political Hinduisation of a national symbol". The Indian Express. 28 May 2023. Archived from the original on 28 May 2023. Retrieved 6 June 2023.
  6. ^ "The Sengol saga: Lost as Nehru's 'golden walking stick', how the historic sceptre was rediscovered". India Today. Retrieved 20 August 2023.
  7. ^ "Modi Opens India's New Parliament Building as Opposition Boycotts". New York Times.
  8. ^ Video of Sengol installed in new Parliament building, retrieved 14 August 2023
  9. ^ a b Nath, Akshaya (3 June 2023). "Sengol puts focus on Tamil Nadu's Adheenams. Wings clipped by Dravidian politics, now courted by BJP". ThePrint. Retrieved 22 August 2023.
  10. ^ "Criticism of the historicity of Sengol is baseless". The Indian Express. 2 June 2023. Archived from the original on 2 June 2023. Retrieved 21 August 2023.
  11. ^ "1947 'sengol' story just fiction based on manufactured lies: N. Ram". 31 May 2023. Archived from the original on 1 June 2023. Retrieved 6 June 2023.
  12. ^ Scroll Staff (26 May 2023). "Government docket to journalists on sengol authenticity includes column titled 'WhatsApp History'". Retrieved 12 September 2023.
  13. ^ "Nationally dominant, BJP prepares for southern march". The Times of India. 10 July 2022. ISSN 0971-8257. Retrieved 22 August 2023.
  14. ^ Rajagopalan, R. (21 November 2022). "Modi's Tamil-Varanasi outreach is BJP's 'Look South' strategy. Fort DMK better watch out". ThePrint. Retrieved 22 August 2023.
  15. ^ "In Tamil Nadu, BJP's strategic moves". The Hindu. 8 August 2022. ISSN 0971-751X. Archived from the original on 8 August 2022.
  16. ^ See:
  17. ^ "T.N. should elect over 25 NDA MPs as thanks for Sengol installation: Amit Shah". The Hindu. 11 June 2023. ISSN 0971-751X. Archived from the original on 11 June 2023. Retrieved 22 August 2023.
  18. ^ a b "Why a historic 'sengol' is being installed in new Parliament building & how it was made". ThePrint. 24 May 2023.
  19. ^ "New Parliament: What Is The Significance Of Sengol In Rs 20,000 Crore-Worth Central Vista Project?".
  20. ^ "New Parliament building opening | How a letter to PMO set off a search for the Sengol". The Hindu. 24 May 2023. ISSN 0971-751X. Archived from the original on 24 May 2023. Retrieved 25 May 2023.
  21. ^ அகஸ்டஸ் (25 May 2023). "நாடாளுமன்றத்தில் செங்கோல்; இதற்கும் சோழர்களுக்கும் என்ன தொடர்பு? - தரவுகளுடன் விரிவான அலசல்". (in Tamil). Retrieved 25 May 2023.
  22. ^ "Annadurai Cautioned the 1947 Govt and Nehru About the Motives Behind the 'Gift' of the Sengol". The Wire. Retrieved 6 June 2023.
  23. ^ "Modi Opens India's New Parliament Building as Opposition Boycotts". New York Times.
  24. ^ "The Sengol Is a Symbol of 'Divine Right' to Power". The Wire. 28 May 2023. Retrieved 28 May 2023.
  •   Media related to Sengol at Wikimedia Commons