Axing Sanatana Traditions One Judgement at a Time

Minister for Women and Child Development and Empowerment of Differently Abled and Senior Citizens, Government of Karnataka, Smt Jayamala must be a happy woman. Even as the toxic losers’ formula of 38 + 78 was concocted overnight by the destructive duo of the Congress and JD(S) in the recently concluded Karnataka Assembly Elections, when the opportunist Cabinet was finally announced, Smt Jayamala’s name crept in surreptitiously. Perhaps as an unobtrusive reward for her service to Radical Leftism that continues to wreak havoc in the county today. Perhaps for the glamour quotient. One never knows what transpires behind the scenes.

In many ways, yesterday’s Supreme Court verdict delivered with an overwhelming majority of 4:1 in favour of the manufactured issue of allowing menstruating women to enter the Sabarimala Temple represents the triumph of Smt Jayamala. After all, she had set the wrecking ball rolling in 2006.

Time for some flashback.

Read the following carefully. Then read it again.

And again.

Jayamala, 46, has said she had prayed for her late husband’s health at the famous southern Indian hill shrine of Lord Ayyappa at Sabarimala in Kerala state in April 1987…Shaken by the actress’s statement, temple officials have decided to launch an investigation into the incident…A minister in the Communist state government has also taken a serious view of the actress’s statement.

“She is liable for prosecution if what she said is true,” said G Sudhakaran…Jayamala has said she regretted her action…A temple priest Kantararu Maheswararu had dismissed the actress’s statement as a figment of her imagination…

Why did Jayamala make her ‘disclosure’ after nearly two decades?

 The actress said she read a newspaper report a fortnight back saying that a group of astrologers had found that the “temple had been defiled by the presence of a woman artiste in the past two decades”

….

Sudha Chandran and co-stars on the cast of a Tamil film were accused of defiling the temple when they danced on its steps a few years ago. A devotee took them to court. Chandran and her fellow actors were fined and set free. The controversy has sparked off a debate on the discrimination towards women in a literate state like Kerala.

Women devotees of Lord Ayyappa are disappointed that they should be discriminated against in the name of temple sanctity.

“It would be primitive to keep women of fertile age off the temple citing decadent myths,” lamented a woman on local television. [Emphases added]

For those who came late, here’s a brief refresher course from the aforementioned news report.

  • Comrade G Sudhakaran is currently the PWD Minister in the Kerala Government and served as the Minister for Co-operation, Coir and Devaswoms between 2006-11.
  • Kandararu Maheswararu, since deceased, was the renowned Chief Thantri (Pujari) at Sabarimala. He happens to the pious grandfather of the unmitigated disaster named Rahul Easwar.

Barely twelve years ago. Or, depending on how you look at it, twelve long years ago. What has changed? The simple but brutal answer is in the latest SC judgement:

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Rule 3(b) of the Kerala Hindu Places of Public Worship(Authorization of Entry) Rules 1965, which prohibited entry of women in Sabarimala, was also struck down as unconstitutional….

And so, if the contemporary sisters of Sudha Chandran can today shoot a film right inside the Garbagriha of Ayyappan’s Devalaya, no Hindu can take them to court anymore. Be assured, this time, the same G Sudhakaran won’t emit as much as a whimper.

As a community, the Hindus might continue to adhere to the time-honoured practice where menstruating women voluntarily refuse to visit Sabarimala notwithstanding the judgement but nothing will prevent the likes of say a Swara Bhaskar from explicitly declaring that they are menstruating and then enter Ayyappa’s Devalaya. What’s next: waving bloodstained sanitary napkins inside the temple? Nothing surprises us anymore.

But what has really changed is the very fact that this so-called judgement even saw light of the day even as hundreds of cases of the colossal national loot during the 2004-14 UPA regime lie languishing. It appears that our system is more interested to pursue agenda-driven petitions that have a covert and overt goal of permanently altering the Hindu society in deeply fundamental ways than touching these live-wire cases that actually impact the well-being of our economy and public life.

This deadly judgement is also the culmination and yet another success story of the perfected ideological demonology of our hydra-headed Stalinists of various hues. While the Hindus angrily—correctly—hit back at Smt Jayamala in 2006 and claimed temporary victory, the Stalinists bid a tactical retreat. Their patient and sustained backroom maneuvering eventually ensured that incessant pressure and media exposure on a regular basis would achieve the desired outcome. Ask any lawyer and he/she will tell you that nothing scares our Supreme Court Lordships more than media exposure that might cast even a frisson of a blot on their fair names. That, and more dangerously, the slew of Left-leaning jurisprudence has played a big part in this judgement. Sample this:

….lamenting how women, from birth, are subject to social conditioning in terms of what they can or cannot do, and how the female is regarded as chattel of her male counterpart….

 Reads like something written in a typical feminist trope, right? Wrong. It’s part of the Sabarimala judgement.

To their credit, sections of the Hindu society did wake up, a little too late, a pattern that has consistently repeated since the mid-1990s. The spirited pushback in the form of the #Readytowait campaign, the resolute court arguments presented by such legal eminences as Sri K Parasaran and the bright young Sai Deepak Iyer, and similar efforts on the Hindu side are definitely laudatory but they remain just that: a defence, a position of weakness. I’m not learned in legal or constitutional matters by any stretch so I’ll defer to these luminaires to elucidate the nuances of the judgement.

But going by the main thrust of the judgement revealed so far, it appears incredible that, let alone ruling on the case, their Learned Lordships even admitted a PIL filed by a motely bunch of Leftist ideologues named Indian Young Lawyers Association. The president of this organization is a Muslim named Naushad Ahmed Khan. The logical question one needs to ask is how the Muslim clergy would react if Naushad Ahmed Khan professed devotion for Ayyappa. Or whether Naushad would dare file a similar PIL demanding entry of women into mosques. Or a prohibition against wearing burqas.

At any rate, the language of the judgement is revealing.

“Religious denomination,”  “patriarchy of religion,” “religion is basically way of life, however, certain practices create incongruities…”

The word “denomination” is exclusively Christian and does not exist in Sanatana Dharma. The terms “marga,” “pantha,” “sampradaya,” “parampara” have vastly different connotations but in general, they denote the various paths leading to self-realisation, a concept which is regarded as an offence punishable by death in Abrahamic creeds. And, if anything, the selfsame Abrahamic cults are not only patriarchal, they are openly misogynistic and treat women as chattel: I’m sure the Learned Lordships are most definitely aware of the religious impulse and the mindset that sanctions female genital mutilation for infant girl children. Equally, if the Learned Lordships agree that religion is a way of life, why wouldn’t they uphold Swami Vivekananda’s exposition of it, which allows for honouring the time-tested tradition at Sabarimala? Are we to conclude that Swami Vivekananda was a patriarch who supported the oppression of women? Besides, their Learned Lordships must also educate the Hindu society whether the worship of Durga, Kali, Saraswati, Meenakshi, Kamakshi, Yellamma, Kabbalamma, Renuka Devi and countless other female deities also fall in the ambit of patriarchy. I can go on but this should suffice.

This state of affairs is ideological and social priapism gone berserk. The turgidity intensifies in direct proportion to every manufactured issue aimed at weakening Hinduism in every respect. If anything, the intent behind the vile, decade-long campaign against Sabarimala was to isolate it. Yesterday, the desired outcome was achieved.

In his monumental tour de force, “Thantu,” Dr S L Bhyrappa gives a heartbreaking portrayal of how Hindu institutions, practices, and traditions that are rooted in deep spirituality and Dharma are appropriated and literally stolen by the government of Independent India by passing various “reform laws.” No permission is sought from the people before passing these laws. Even worse, it is Hindus who steal from other Hindus. It’s a race to the bottom that continues unabated.

Those who delivered the judgement neither built the Ayyappa Temple nor nurtured, preserved or sustained it. It was and it is the deep-seated, unshakeable Bhakti of the vast Hindu community that continues to do it. This Hindu community didn’t file that vile PIL. And it is this Hindu community that will continue to honour the Ayyappa tradition. A call for introspection on a fundamental point is in order: the flourish of the judgement might have “delivered” an illusion of gender equality but perhaps what has permanently been lost is the faith and trust of countless Ayyappa devotees and the entire Hindu community in our judiciary.

What’s next? Countless Hindu women even today don’t enter the Puja room in their own homes when they’re menstruating. Will our courts regulate even that?

The intent here is not to be harsh on the judgement but rather, to take a compassionate and rather realistic view. Be it the legal profession, business people, academia, and the judiciary, majority of Indians who have access to “education” as we’ve known it for seventy years, have been schooled in the colonial system (yes, I’ll never tire of repeating it) which is designed to inculcate hatred or shame towards anything that can be remotely called Hindu. And so, this sort of judgement shouldn’t really surprise Hindus.

Postscript

I shall take your leave with a verse that is typically inscribed on every Daana Shasana (grant of donation). The gist in English follows.

स्वदत्ताम् परदत्ताम् वा यो हरेत वसुंधरा ।
शष्ठिवर्षसहस्राणि विश्ठायाम् जायते क्रिमिः ॥

Whether a donation (in this case, Vasundhara means “earth,” “land’) is made by oneself or given to the donnee by someone else in the past or present, whoever snatches this donation from the donnee will be reborn as a worm living in excrement for sixty thousand years.

|| Om Shanti Shanti Shantih ||

Sandeep Balakrishna
Writer, author, translator, and socio-political-cultural analyst. Author of "Tipu Sultan: The Tyrant of Mysore," "The Madurai Sultanate: A Concise History," and "Seventy Years of Secularism." He has translated Dr. S L Bhyrappa's magnum opus "Avarana" into English.