The issue at Sabarimala is not that of equality of women alone. Challenging the Supreme Court order with street demonstrations or bypassing it through a new law would set a dangerous precedent by putting outdated religiosity beyond the purview of the courts and the Constitution
The misguided campaign to save the almighty God Ayyappa of Sabarimala from imaginary pollution caused by menstruating women has intensified. It has led to a dangerous worsening of polarisation in Kerala society. I have consistently spoken out against the evil agenda behind it. Trolls hired by the supporters of this absurd conservative drama have showered a verbal diarrhoea of abuse and threats on me.
"You claim to be a Hindu and wander around in temples to write books and make money. What the hell do you know about this religion? Aren't you ashamed of maligning Hindu customs? Isn't there anyone in your family to keep you under control?" These are the mildest samples of the abusive comments I have faced, some of which are too dirty to even mention.
Hinduism is known as Sanatana Dharma, the eternal religion, mainly because of the inclusive and universal values that constitute its soul. Beneath the wide variety of beliefs and customs of Hinduism, there is a unifying vision that asserts the oneness of humanity with the whole world, nature, the divine and everything. The rituals that change according to time and geography are only the external trappings. It is the expansive heart of Hinduism that helped it to thrive despite foreign invasions, conversion attempts by proselytising religions and the internal cancer of casteism.
Once great yogic philosophers like Sri Aurobindo, Swami Vivekananda, Sri Rama Krishna Paramahansa and Kerala's spiritual revolutionary Sreenarayana Guru upheld the integral vision of Hinduism. But today, we see the shocking fall of Hinduism from such heights into an abyss of degeneration. Now someone like Rahul Easwar, who specialises in shouting, pretends to be the spokesperson of the Hindu faith. He is not even a mole hill before the mighty yogis who towered like Mount Everest, embodying the Hindu way of life. It is even more pathetic to see thirty-third rate hired trolls trying to defend the Hindu religion using gutter language.
We leave the footwear outside while entering temples. But it is not advisable to leave one's brain behind. More than a narrow religious identity, the core of Hindu philosophy has always emphasised one's basic dignity and divine potential as a human being. I challenge the self-proclaimed protectors of Hindusim to ex-communicate me! If they try to do that they will realise that there is no way to throw someone out of the broadminded Hindu religion. All these ancient places of worship exist within the Indian nation. No religious belief can be placed above the well-being of the nation and the constitution that preserves national integrity.
The hysterical agitators who want to prevent women of menstruating age from entering Sabarimala are not trying to defend Hinduism or the deity as they would have us believe. The hidden agenda is blatantly casteist. The upper castes, the priests and the erstwhile royals fear that if the Supreme Court order is implemented, it will result in the backward castes, Dalits and even women staking a claim for priestly duties in the future. What we are witnessing is nothing but an explosive public outbreak of the cancer of caste discrimination that has remained just under the skin of Kerala society. The mask of peaceful nama japa protest is beginning to come off. The shocking video footage of a woman 'devotee' showering an obscene caste slur on Kerala's Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan is the chilling example of the hatred for the lower castes spilling out into the open.
The weird irony is that the so-called Sangh Parivar itself is a divided house on the matter. The petitioners who moved the Supreme Court seeking entry of women of all ages into Sabarimala are in fact, affiliated to the RSS family. The RSS welcomed the verdict at first and the pro-Sangh newspaper Janmabhumi even ran an article supporting it. Eventually, the powerful upper caste overlords of Kerala somehow managed to seize control, forcing the Sangh and its political party to toe their line, most probably blackmailing them with the threat of losing votes. The Congress, too, fell into the trap of the same historical blunder, leaving only the ruling communists to oppose the obscurantism.
The issue at stake here is not the equality of women alone. Challenging the Supreme Court order on Sabarimala with street demonstrations or bypassing it through a new law would set a dangerous precedent by putting outdated religiosity beyond the purview of the courts and the constitution. If tomorrow Islamic extremists start Sharia courts in Kerala and Christian fundamentalists insist on complete control over the believers, we will not have the moral or legal muscle to prevent it. Do we want India to break up into a bunch of regressive ghettos of various religions or let our country evolve as a progressive nation in the twenty-first century? That is the question....