Acclaimed Tamil poet Vairamuthu has released a detailed response to the controversy surrounding his comments on Andal, the only woman among the 12 Tamil poet-mystics of South India called the Alwars, which were published in popular Tamil publication Dinamani.

Both Vairamuthu and Dinamani had come under fire from the BJP and Hindutva groups in Tamil Nadu for having cited the research of an American scholar who said that Andal belonged to the Devadasi community. Vairamuthu had apologised initially, but in the nine-minute video (above), he expresses his disappointment and “broken-heartedness” over the response to his speech.

Addressing the video to Tamil people all over the world, he states that he wanted to bring the stories of “historic and path-breaking” people to the “new, young, internet generation”. Praising Andal for the “unique” power of her literature and for being “the first voice of women empowerment in Tamil Nadu”, he goes on to warn against “his words being twisted to kindle casteist and religious violence”.

The Madras High Court ruled that there was nothing offensive in Vairamuthu’s comments.