Insult of Religious Images
The Tamil Nadu state government asked the Acharya of Kanchi to produce the paper in which the ?right and privilege? has been conferred on him to enter the sanctum sanctorum of a temple. The Shankaracharya of Kanchi, the very same Jayendra Saraswati had consecrated the idols in the temple in Rameshwaram few years ago. Last month, he was barred from entering the sanctum sanctorum to perform the religious rituals. When challenged, the Tamil Nadu government said the Acharya ?has not obtained any statutory declaration to claim the right to entry by custom or practice.? The government forgot that the custom goes back to centuries, much before the affidavits ruled the day.
The callousness and contempt with which the state government has been dealing with the Pujaniya Shankaracharya of Kanchi is a blot on the Hindu society. That we have taken continuing insults to the high spiritual position of the Acharya quietly has emboldened the power-drunk politicians of the State.
It has become routine to denigrate Hindu images, heroes and leaders. A self-acclaimed historian Ramchandra Guha had claimed in an article recently that RSS leader Guruji Golwalkar had rejoiced at the partition of the country as he saw it ?as an opportunity.? Anyone who has even had a cursory look at the writings and speeches of Guruji (it is available in a 12-volume compendium in Hindi) would see how anguished he was at the partition as he looked at it as an emotional severing of the body of the land whom Hindus worship as the Mother. Guha would write reams though on the greatness of Jinnah!
The UPA government is running a campaign against Veer Savarkar, going to the extent of denying that he was a freedom fighter. The way the red-tinged historians write dismissively about the Hindu rulers, they are all part of the deep-seated conspiracy to deny India the Hindu heritage. The Class VII NCERT history book authored by Romila Thapar does not mention that Rajaraja Chola built the Brhadeswara temple or that it was the largest monolithic structure, the Nandi. But the invading temple desecrator Mohammad Ghori is justified as a builder and patron of art.
In this background, it is interesting to view the way the attack on the Dan Brown novel ?The Da Vinci Code? is picking up around the globe by the day. The proposal to film the controversial novel has drawn more flake from the Church, understandably. The book essentially plays with the faith of millions of Christians world over, portraying the present day church as a bunch of hoax men. The book has sold more than 20 million copies. What has made the book very appealing are the situations and backgrounds of unassailable authenticity. Since the book was published the places mentioned in the novel have drawn so many curious on-lookers.
The latest to the sequence on the attack on the book is the kudos Westminster Abbey has received for turning down the request by the film producer to take some shots in the premises. Instead, the Dean of Lincoln has accepted the request for a payment of one lakh dollars.
It is here that the latest round has begun. While one part of the believing and practicing Christians feel that the Dean of Lincoln was wrong in giving space for ?a load of old trash? there is another set which believes that by stopping filming in some place, it does not help a cause. The church, no doubt reacted late, too late, about the book. It waited almost till the book was a huge success.
The situation is not new to Hindus. Our religious practices, places of worship, gods and goddesses have been repeatedly defiled and abused by both Hindus and non-Hindus. The infamous episode of M F Hussain'spaintings, the repeated insults of carrying the images of Hindu gods and goddesses in the chappals, t-shirts and toilet seats in the West are too many to recount.
Now that this has happened to the most influential religion in the world, the Christians are asking the same questions we have been asking. Will they dare to play with the sentiments of Islam? An article in The Daily Telegraph by Charles Moore ?Right to Reject Hollywood? asks ?how about a story based on the ?spectacularly sensational fiction that the Prophet Mohammad was secretly slain early in his career and his place taken by the evil pagan Abu Jahl, known to Muslims as the ?Father of Ignorance?? He answers the question ahead, in the article ?I think not, and I think we all know why.?
?It is an unfortunate side-effect of the benefit of free speech that people tend to think that, because things may be said, it does not matter if they are? (said), Moore says. Is there a moral in it for us?