Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Hey Judges - Leave Our Temples Alone!

Lord Ayappan Swamy's Temple in Sabarimala (Courtesy - Sabarimala Temple)


With the ongoing brouhaha over the entry of women into lord Ayappan Swamy's temple in Sabarimala, Kerala, one can only see how the Supreme Court of India has repeatedly reinforced what can only be called an apartheid regime concerning the Hindu majority of India. Temple control has been a very touchy topic for many Hindus, and state administrations have usurped control of most temples across India, and the traditions involved with the traditions are being trampled upon with little consideration repeatedly by governments pretending to be secular or by hordes of deracinated judicial officers who have zero understanding of tradition and of the concept of sacred, since the Commonwealth civil law that is applicable in our country is deeply rooted in Judeo-Christian traditions, and wrongly perceives the relation of the temple and the state to be same as the Church and the state.
Such is the deracination that the Supreme Court has also ruled that temples are akin to revenue generating industrial units, and maintenance of the deity of the temple and its premises is akin to maintaining machinery; hence the activity has been deemed taxable! This is a Judeo-Christian reading into how the temple functions, for in actuality the deity has been housed in the temple, and the actual comparison is to that of a human being living in a house as a child, taken care of by its parents on entrusted guardians as per the Dharmic tradition. There is no infant Jesus or a baby Allah being maintained in any institution unlike a Bal Gopala or a Rama Lalla as evidenced in the Dharmic tradition. What accentuates the problem worse is the absolute lack of understanding of the so called restrictions on entry. The restriction is a mark of respect for the traits of the residing deity. There are temples in India that do not have women entering inside the sanctum, and there are those where men have no role to play as well. To say misogyny exists is thus laughable, for by the same logic there is also discrimination against men. In the specific case of Sabarimala, the background story of the deity is the reason why women do not enter the garbha griha or sanctum of the temple; Ayappan Swamy being a celibate and having not been born of a womb made him take such a vow. However, women are allowed inside the temple premises. This is of course not true for temples of Ayappan across the country but is the specific case of the Sabarimala temple; however it is being portrayed and viewed by judges as evidence of 'large scale misogny prevalent in Hinduism', when their own view does not stand up to the scrutiny of logic. To date there are only three cases where the Supreme Court gave a reprieve to Hindus - the Hindutva judgment of Justice J S Verma, the Sanskrit judgment by Justice Kuldeep Singh, and the Chidambaram judgment by Justices Iyer and Sheppard. The irony is that these judgments are completely disregarded by the other Supreme Court judges when it comes to pontificating about temple control. However, when it comes to protecting the Hindu identity in Jammu and Kashmir, the judges adopt an ostrich like pose. A bill to legally identify the temples and give them protection has been languishing for at least two decades. The bill is necessary for it will help protect temples across Jammu and the Kashmir valley, which has seen temples being encroached upon and demolished to make way for shops and houses. Many of these temples are centuries old, and in the case of the Valley, the last remaining markers of the presence of Hindus in the Valley. If the judges like to take so much of suo moto cognizances, why are the judges wilfully ignorant of this matter?
So deep is the apartheid regime that when it comes to several issues of the other majorities of India, we have not had a single PIL or suo moto cognizance taken up by the court. Circumcision and female genital mutilation are perhaps the most violent sexual crime that can be inflicted on children; however all that can be witnessed from the Supreme Court and other judges is absolute silence. Churches are the largest owners of non-agricultural land in India - why are they not paying taxes like temples? Wakf property similarly are tax exempt; however we see no one bothering about them in the hallowed corridors of justice. By the logic being thrown about the temples and women, the Catholic Church needs to have women parishioners and there should be women leading namaz in mosques. Entry of women in the Haji Ali Dargah is seen by the Supreme Court as a matter that the 'community should itself decide'. But Hindus do not have the right to decide these matters. The only reason why the judges are shy of adjudicating and continuing the banana republicanism of its rulings is that it is scared when it comes to the other majorities of India. It is scared of the number of people who will protest and threaten them, and are afraid of the damage to their reputation at the various international judicial summits that they jaunt during their excessively long holiday stints and post retirement. Had a few gutless Hindus also protested in front of the houses of these judges, they would not have bothered, since personal reputation and strength by numbers are all that matters it seems.
It is time that the Hindus start a mass movement to take back the temples from the clutches of the state, and do some plain talking to the Supreme Court judges. It is time that the judges are told to leave our temples alone, and end the discrimination against the Hindu majority of the country. A country that severely hampers a huge chunk of its own population can only be seen as an apartheid state, and it is time to end it. It has to start with telling the judges to stay away from interfering with temple tradition by telling them to leave our temples alone.

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