Belief is the root of choice. You either embrace God, or believe God is a myth. The right to divine grace and controlling the right over divine grace—read the Sabarimala controversy—was the political foundation of early societies, which changed when feudalism was deposed by democracy. But faith remains omnipresent, as it always has through human history. India is one of the world’s most religious nations with just 28,70,000 atheists or 0.27 percent of the population.
The war of belief dividing Kerala by gender, politics and society reflects an ideological conflict over ‘purity’; contextualising the regressive idea that menstruating women are ‘impure’. The notion of purity in temples is ritualistic and occult. The consecration of a temple follows ancient rules laid out in texts like Åilpaåâstra by Kâåyapa. It is hallowed with materials that do not contain physical remains nor had physical contact with anyone, and are placed in a secret (sugupta) location on the premises and attain power only if prepared strictly according to scriptural instructions and installed with relevant mantras and gestures. Devotees are unaware of the location and any contact with ‘impure’ substances is deemed to desecrate the temple.
The core of faith is redemption through purification; religions consider the human being essentially unclean physically and spiritually. Hindus treat all bodily effluences like hair, nail clippings, etc unclean. In the hierarchy of purity, gods are on top, followed by priests (not Brahmins alone) and then the laity. Sex, sleep, eating, sneezing, vomiting, a pus-filled wound, runny nose are all considered ritually unclean. The priest is bound to continuously and ritually purify himself through baths and recitations before puja. He then purifies the devotee with teertha, the idol’s bathwater.
At Sabarimala, the true core of purity is deemed to be the state of meditation of Lord Ayyappa in a brahmachari form. Hindu gods and goddesses have myriad forms: some protect believers and others destroy evil. All temples have strict rules of worship: Kali is revered differently to Durga and Siva to Bhairava.
As the Sabarimala agitation turns political over the newfound Kerala-Hindu vote, the historical divide between ‘faith’ and ‘practice’ becomes relevant like never before. Caste is not belief, it is a despicable practice that is an interloper in faith. Court rulings against ‘triple talaq’ and ‘nikah halala’ cannot be equated with the Sabarimala judgment. Triple talaq is a male practice of exploitation and not mentioned in the Koran.
From the fever of outrage has risen Hindu suicide squads and murderous vows, discrediting Kerala’s civilised image. By playing Padman, Communists are only trying to protect their ideological purity for survival. Aren’t the days of shedding blood in the name of belief over in God’s Own Country?