Monday, January 25, 2021
Home Variety Culture and History Sabarimala, abode of Lord Ayyappa: Of 'equality', the misinformation and what we stand to...

Sabarimala, abode of Lord Ayyappa: Of ‘equality’, the misinformation and what we stand to lose

The entry of women aged 10 to 50 was prohibited in the Sabarimala Temple. In 2006, a Public Interest Litigation was filed in Supreme Court against this religious ritual on the ground of gender discrimination by Indian Young Lawyer’s Association (President), Bhakti Pasrija Sethi (General Secretary of the Indian Young Lawyers Association), Laxmi Shastri, Prerna Kumari, Alka Sharma, and Sudha Pal.

At the time of long legal battle, three of the five petitioners — Prerna Kumari, Alka Sharma, and Sudha Pal—withdrew their objection. Prema explained that she was unaware of the cultural context of the ritual. In sum, the supporters of the Sabarimala Temple tradition could convince a majority of the individual petitioners.

On 30 September 2018, the Supreme Court ordered to open the Sabarimala Temple on the ground of equal rights of women for women of all ages. The sole woman judge in that five-judge bench, Justice Indu Malhotra, dissented to this decision. She said that the court has no jurisdiction on religious matters. Moreover, none of the petitioners hailed from the state of Kerala and is no way familiar with the cultural background.

Scores of Thousands of women in Kerala has come out open in the streets to protest against this judgement of the court in each and every urban agglomeration of Kerala. They demand the preservation of Hindu tradition. Do they all hail from the Upper Caste background. Never. The majority hails from so-called backward communities such as the scheduled tribes.

In the light of this protest, it is natural to ask if the prohibitions on the entry of women of reproductive age between 10 & 50 were discriminatory and an infringement of women’s rights, why have women across Kerala taken to streets to protest the removal of the prohibitions.

Sabarimala and Equality

The discourse of equality and egalitarianism was developed in the west as a response to inequalities promoted by the Abrahamic religious culture prevalent there. Being a western solution to a western problem, the equality discourse is fully rooted in Abrahamism, and thus, deriving key assumptions and principles from Abrahamic religious worldview. When implemented on the ground, equality discourse seeks to destroy diversity and promote sameness, and hence, will prove disastrous when applied to non-Abrahamic religious traditions like Hinduism, whose worldview is rooted in harmony, diversity, and spirituality.

In the case of Sabarimala, this translates into a unique temple having unique characteristics, with unique criteria for admittance of devotees. In Kerala itself, there are temples and festivals, where women alone participate and men are prohibited. Moreover, the deity Ayyappa or Dharmashasta has other temples at Kulathupuzha, Aryankavu, and Achankovil, where he exists as a child, as a married person with a wife and as an ascetic, respectively, and none of these temples have any kind of prohibitions for the entry of women. Further, even in Sabarimala, there is no prohibition on entry of women before menarche or after menopause.

In short, there is no gender-based discrimination in Sabarimala, and the application of equality discourse into the issue is quite frankly misleading.

Sabarimala and Menstruation

One of the confusion that is prevalent in the current discourse about Sabarimala is that the prohibition is placed upon the women due to menstruation. The confusion has arisen because, the prohibition is placed upon women between menarche and menopause, i.e. on women of reproductive age. While in all Hindu temples, it is generally expected of women do not enter the temples during their monthly period owing to considerations of they being in a heightened Rajasic condition during the time, the blanket prohibition on all women in reproductive age is not because of menstruation as such.

A temple is not merely a place of congregation for prayers as in the case of a church or a mosque. A temple built according to Agamic stipulations is an energy centre, where a deity has been invoked and established. In other words, a temple is an abode of the deity, wherein the deity lives, with the whole place being enlivened with the specific kind of energy associated with that deity.

In the case of Sabarimala, the deity Ayyapan is present in the form of Naishtika Brahmachari, the one who eternally practices Brahmacharya (or celibacy). According to the rules of Naishtika Brahmacharya, the one who practices it must not only maintain celibacy, but, must maintain absolute restraint over all his senses, and hence, it is prescribed for him to maintain non-contact with women, especially of reproductive age. Since, in Sabarimala, it is the deity, who is practising Naishtika Brahmachari, women of reproductive age are prohibited from entering the temple so as to not violate the vow of Brahmacharya taken by the deity.

Further, since, the energy of the temple is the energy that promotes Brahmacharya, and the repeated and prolonged visits by women of reproductive age can cause an imbalance in their reproductive biology, the restrictions on their entry has been placed.

In short, the prohibition of entry of women of reproductive age in Sabarimala has nothing to do with menstruation. It is a practice which has been stipulated owing to the unique nature of the deity and the energy present in the temple, and to ensure that the vow of Brahmacharya of the deity is not violated.

What is at stake

Hinduism is an ecosystem built upon diversity of spiritual practices, each catering to different groups of people having different temperaments and competencies. Sabarimala is one such unique spiritual tradition, which is now under threat by the forces that want to destroy diversity and promote homogeneity. If the wishes of the deity is not respected, if the traditions of the temples are violated, then we would forever lose this tradition and the access to the deity of Ayyapan in the form of Naishtika Brahmacharya. It will be a great loss to Hindu civilization, and more importantly to the male and female devotees of Ayyapa Swami.

Despite these protest by lakhs and lakhs of women devotees, the Communist Party opened the gate of the temple for women aged 10 to 50 and used force to gain entry.

The propaganda by the Mainstream media was that women devotees aspire to enter in Sabarimala and they are obstructed by the agitators. Exactly which women would like to enter Sabarimala. Take Reshma Nishanth (whose husband is a Marxist political worker) who suddenly became an Ayyappan devotee from being an atheist, after the SC ruling. Similar is the story about the others. Some want to open a condom shop in Sabarimala, some want to visit the temple while menstruating. They are coming from America, from Mumbai, only for entering the temple.

The devotees observe a 41-day observation on self-restraint before entering the temple such as not having onion, garlic or sex, walking on barefoot, sleeping on floor etc. Supreme Court ruled for entry of women aged 10 to 50, not relaxed the conditions of this self-restraint. This came only two weeks before the opening of the temple. Then, how did these so-called activist-cum-devotees observe this 41-day ritual?

The Role of Government

The role of government is to maintain law and order in society not to push people to agitation. The CPI(M) government of Kerala could have easily made the submission to the court to review the petition on account of considerable uneasiness in society. One octogenarian ascetic Guruswamy from Koilandy committed suicide to protest against this intrusion of Court in religious domain, On the other hand, Kerala Police beat up the protestors without provocation, left bleeding women on road after beating up, destroyed two-wheelers of devotees. The devotees are struggling to ensure the continuity of their own tradition.

The fight ended with Kerala Government accepting defeat to the Ayyappan devotees. The Kerala Police sent back the activists who were trying to force the entry with the police force. It is a victory, albeit a temporary one, by the Ayyappan devotees. The two activists who were sent back, include one Muslim (Rehana Fathima) and one Christian (Kavitha Jakkal). No comments are required on this.

We do not know how long will then devotees be able to continue their fight. When can we say empathetically that human beings are made to cater to constitutional morality, but the constitutional morality must take a cue from human understanding?

(The article was originally published on bangodesh.com)

  Support Us  

Whether NDTV or 'The Wire', they never have to worry about funds. In name of saving democracy, they get money from various sources. We need your support to fight them. Please contribute whatever you can afford

Bangodesh Editor
Editor of Bangodesh.com

 

Related Articles

Trending now

Delhi Police grants permission for Tractor Parade by farmer protesters on Republic Day: Details

Permission has been granted to the farmer protesters to conduct a tractor parade at Delhi on Republic Day, said Delhi Police.

Russian Government metaphorically spanks Shekhar Gupta’s The Print for peddling fake news, advises editors to focus on facts, not flashy headlines

MFA, Russia said that The Print's "attempt to create a sensation from nothing failed and looked ludicrous and helpless."

Rahul Gandhi says if farmers and labourers are strong, India does not need to deploy armed forces at Indo-China border

Rahul Gandhi said that if India's labourers, farmers and weavers were strong, China would never dare to come inside India.

Photograph of PM Modi landing in Kolkata goes viral, clocks over 1 million likes on Facebook in less than 24 hours

The photograph was captured after PM Modi reached Kolkata to pay tribute to Netaji Subash Chandra Bose on 'Parakram Diwas'

How to be “Godi media”? Learn from American ‘liberals’

It’s a classic case of projection. Liberals see their opponents as they themselves are. Fawning over their leaders in a way that would rival North Korean state television.

From Rafale jets to Bangladesh contingent: Here is what will make 2021 Republic Day Parade special

Rafale jets, Bangladesh Armed Forces, Ram Mandir and VIjaynagar Tableau are the few main attractions of Republic Day parade this year

Recently Popular

#BanSportsTak: Netizens angry after India Today owned sports channel claims Virat Kohli suffers from ‘disorder’

"It is a disorder for a captain to (be as aggressive as Virat Kohli). It might be acceptable for a player to have this aggression (but nor for a captain)," the journalist claimed.

‘I allow you housewives to have extra-marital affair with man of your choice’: Video of Mamata Banerjee’s ‘progressive’ speech goes viral

Mamata Banerjee says she is so "flexible" that she has given permission to housewives to have extra-marital affairs

Professor who translated Rahul Gandhi’s “don’t need army if farmers are strong” speech in Erode faints after the speech: Reports

Muhammed Imran, who translated Rahul Gandhi's speech at Erode, collapsed after interpreting the speech from English to Tamil

Gujarat Forest Dept to take legal action against Christian Evangelist Paul Dhinakaran over unauthorised use of the department’s logo

Website of Paul Dhinakaran claims of collaborating with the Gujarat Forest Department, a claim junked by the latter

How Brazil thanked India for sending Coronavirus vaccine doses: Pawan Putra Hanuman

President of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro, has expressed his gratitude towards India and Prime Minister Modi for vaccine exports from our country.

Watch: Taking offence at Jai Shree Ram slogans, Mamata Banerjee walks off stage even as PM Modi and Bengal Governor look on

Mamata Banerjee who was sharing the stage with PM Modi, lamented "being disrespected" because she heard Jai Shree Ram slogans
- Advertisement -

 

The Rahul Gandhi blooper collection: When the Gandhi-scion goofed up and made zero sense at public rallies

Rahul Gandhi announced his return to India quintessentially by goofing-up public rallies recently, which has now taken the internet by storm.

Media houses spread fake news saying RBI is discontinuing old series of Rs.100, Rs.10 and Rs.5 notes from circulation

PIB said that RBI did not issue any order that says Rs.100, Rs.10 and Rs.5 notes will go out of circulation in March-April

Congress MP says Khalistanis are attempting to hijack farmer protests after party accused govt of maligning farmers for saying the same

Congress MP Ravneet Singh Bittu says Khalistanis are attempting to hijack farmer protests after being booed away.

Madhya Pradesh Protem Speaker Rameshwar Sharma sends Ramayana to WB CM Mamata Banerjee

Rameshwar Sharma, Protem Speaker of Madhya Pradesh, asked Banerjee if she is under pressure of extremists, and sent her a copy of Ramayana

Farmer protestor writes to PM Modi’s mother requesting her to order the PM to scrap the farm laws

Harpreet Singh said that mothers can pull the ear of son, and hoped that Modi's mother will order the PM to revoke the farm laws

Delhi Police grants permission for Tractor Parade by farmer protesters on Republic Day: Details

Permission has been granted to the farmer protesters to conduct a tractor parade at Delhi on Republic Day, said Delhi Police.

Pakistan-sponsored Islamic terrorists hiding in launch pads to infiltrate into India to carry out attacks: Intelligence reports

Intelligence reports say that terrorists have been given clear instructions to carry out attacks on Army installations in Kashmir.

‘This is Tulsi Gabbard’: Former US Congresswoman announces the launch of her podcast

On the 22nd of January, she released a video on YouTube announcing that 'This is Tulsi Gabbard' will be launched soon.

While India administers over a million vaccine doses in a week, Pakistan awaits its ‘unsafe gift’ from China

Pakistan is world's fifth most populous country but it is amongst the 51 countries which is yet to start immunisation program for its citizens.

Professor who translated Rahul Gandhi’s “don’t need army if farmers are strong” speech in Erode faints after the speech: Reports

Muhammed Imran, who translated Rahul Gandhi's speech at Erode, collapsed after interpreting the speech from English to Tamil

Connect with us

245,563FansLike
496,912FollowersFollow
22,900SubscribersSubscribe