Save the decision for going or not for later, what I need is places without prohibition to enter
Haritha S Sundar
Santana Dharma is the foundation of Indian culture. Hinduism had always amended itself through the period. For the believers of Abrahamic religions who can’t come out of the conservative perceptions, Hinduism had set the best example in that regard. Vedas and Hinduism have an unbreakable relation. Hinduism is mostly based on the Vedas. You can’t see the gender discrimination in Vedas or Upanishads. Women were permitted to observe any form of, worship that which a man is entitled.
Even the mantras which authenticate the process of Superimposing Brahma Chaitanya on to the deity itself denotes the combination of Prakruthi and Purusha. (Tantra Samuchaya,6-50) Sabarimala Ayyappa is based on the concept of Naishtika Brahmacharya. Brahmacharya is a state of mind, unlike mere Physical withdrawal. The brahmacharya of the deity or the God should never be thus affected by a women devotee or a “lady deity”. ब्रह्मचर्येणकन्यायुवानंविन्दतेपतिम् | (brahmacharyena kanya yuvanam vindate patim): ( Atharva Veda 11.5.18) and Patanjali’s yogasootra (2-31) also says Brahmacharya is meant for both men and women. Like Hanuman, Bhishma, Lakshman great women like Meerabhai and Sulabha practised celibacy.
Lord Ayyappa denied the proposal of Malikapurath Amma setting a condition that he would accept it when no new devotees (Kanni Ayyappa) come to his sanctum, allowing her to find space near his presence. He was sure of preserving his celibacy even in the presence of a woman near him. When the Vedas preach about no gender discrimination of spirits in the practice of celibacy, what’s the wrong in such woman to enter the sanctum bearing the concept of “Thathwamasi”? By our beliefs, God created man and woman. Then it would the same force that created transgender too. If the ways of the temple are coined as per the will of Ayyappa, does it mean that the Lord is against the desire of women to achieve their goals? If the decision of authority in women’s case is this, what’s the same in the case of Transgender?
Prior to 1991, women of all ages were allowed entry into the temple when it opens for monthly rituals (sic). Women pilgrims below the age group of 50 would visit the temple to conduct the first rice-feeding ceremony of their children in the temple premises. On May 13, 1940, even the Maharani of Travancore had visited the temple.
In 1991, Justice K Paripoornan and Justice K Balanarayana Marar of the Kerala High Court in their ruling against the Travancore Devaswom Board, banned entry of women between ages above the age of 10 and below the age of 50 from offering worship at Sabarimala. In addition, the Justices of the High court directed the Government of Kerala, to use police force to ensure the order to ban entry of women to the temple was implemented and complied with. So do we need any more evidence to substantiate the fact that the rituals of the sanctum had been planned by man’s will? So remember, misinterpreted beliefs have their place in the junk amidst bad customs.
Then the next claim that the opposition raises is regarding the 41 days fast, which had been said to be reduced to 21 in our myths. So in short, such man made customs are bound to be amended over the period. The person who filed the case regarding the entry of women in Sabarimala wasn’t a woman neither a Hindu. And I can easily identify the intention of Tripti Desai who “fights” for the entry of women. More time we waste for achieving this, easier will be for such pseudo-believers to enter into the pages of history.
The question of women entry into Sabarimala Temple should be addressed through public discussion among priests and believers. There are people who have clicked the photo of women's navel, armpits, and dressings in Padmanabhaswamy temple. There are male patriarchs who rant that no matter if women's entry to Sabarimala will get legitimised, but “I am not sending my wife and daughter to pray there”. Debates and discussions on the temple entry issue, therefore, should be conducted after sidelining the ones who make a social splurge in the name of devotion. And I shall wait for the day when our people are ready to look past the impurities that cover the woman’s body and see the undying fire that burns in her mind. For I am optimistic that the Hindu religion and organisations with its ability to imbibe contemporary values, and the community with its undying zeal to create revolutions against anarchy shall come forward and join the fight to eradicate such degraded practices.
(The writer is a student activist)
(The views expressed in this article are strictly personal and do not reflect the view of Organiser)