In the universe of faith, atheists and believers are planets apart. Like two shores of a rapacious cosmic river, the twain shall never meet. The irony is that idol bashers with iconoclasm in mind choose to live but not let live, as the Sabarimala quandary has exemplified as shameful decibels of defiance. The latter are intent on creating a parallel mythology of protest in the national consciousness, thereby seeking the romantic legitimacy of revolution.
Ever since the Supreme Court lifted the ban on the entry of women aged between 10 and 50 years into the sanctum sanctorum of the temple, the atmosphere of devotion has been vitiated by the very public and publicized conflict between activists asserting their fundamental right to enter places of worship irrespective of tradition and associated emotions. The siege also reflects the resolve of the traditionalists to prevent Sabarimala from being converted into just another destination on the temple tourism itinerary for fun and games in the name of freedom of movement.
The polemics of entitlement are in the dock with secularism’s surgical strikes on Sabarimala. Right is not on trial here. The standoff is about challenging the very foundation of a religion. The advocates of defilement lack the credentials to be believers in religion or tradition.
They are professional warriors for causes. They perceive Hinduism and its symbols as great dangers to India’s unity. Gender discrimination is constitutionally and morally unacceptable in civilized society. Protests against it should come from within the community. The apex court delivered its verdict on the basis of Constitutional provisions. It has to be followed in both in law and spirit.
But when the actors in question who are expected to benefit from the judgment’s egalitarian spirit are not in conformity with its intent, how can anyone from the outside be allowed to force themselves into the frame and hurt the sentiments of supplicants? Is it mere coincidence that not one of the headline-grabbing, fearlessly feisty and aggressively agnostic women’s organisations including the Left-leaning ones have stayed away from publicly asking authorities to forcibly implement the court orders?
The answer is No. Because the paradox is that the struggle for women’s entry into the temple is being led not by pilgrims who revere Lord Ayappa but by monomaniacs who aren’t even remotely connected with the idea and institution of Sabarimala. While the vast majority of Malayalee women have taken the judicial verdict as an offence to their tradition, a bunch of westernized libtards has chosen to stand up to the god, who is a loner by legend: a solitudinous divinity in the infinite state of vanaprashta.
Ignoring the groundswell of popular fury in Kerala, including that of women from other faiths who support Sabarimala’s autonomy, a gaggle of prime-time TV anchors, foreign-educated opinion writers, a section of the church and Islamic fundamentalists have rallied for a cause which doesn’t exist. One Trupti Desai stuck in an airport lounge and afraid to face protesters does not make a feminist moment. The absence of massive and mass support in favour of the speedy implementation of the Court orders indicates most Keralites approve of keeping the status quo intact and respecting the customs followed by the temple establishment.
None of the pro-entry campaigners who got close to the shrine steps are ostensibly devout. Of the dozen-odd women, two were journalists, two were liberal Muslims in addition to sundry members of NGOs and political parties. Ironically, the Muslim women have no history of championing their sisters’ right for unrestricted access to mosques. One of them confessed to have lost faith in her religion because of the prevailing gender discrimination. Some weren’t even from the state; feminism’s temple storm trooper, Trupti, had landed with six non-Keralite women.
Despite armed security, no taxi or hotel was forthcoming to help complete Mission Sabarimala by means fair or foul. A successful legal gladiator, she is not a regular temple attendee. Her modus operandi relies on populist symbolism—file a case or lead a morcha that ends up with her penetrating the precincts of a shrine that disallows female entry. Other high-profile female activists who have broken preventive barriers also have few religious affiliations.
Annoyed by the opportunism of intrusion and interference of non-believers, traditional rivals Congress and the BJP have come together on the issue. Their objective is to both isolate the CPM and its LDF partners while delivering a decisive blow to subversives who are out to transform the state’s cultural and religious character. Never before in the history of Kerala has popular power stood so united to prevent a state-sponsored assault on religious unity.
The comrades, unbelievers and idolaters are using state machinery to ensure multitudinous temple visits by women. However, the women in communist families are conspicuous by their total silence. Still, the Kerala government not only provided 200 cops as security to one of the rebels but also disguised her in police uniform to fool the faithful. Previously, senior police officers were ordered to accompany a couple of women activists up to the entry point to the shrine. It took a determined group of Ayappa disciples and priests to valiantly protect violation of temple tradition.
The Left government’s repeated attempts to enforce the judicial verdict failed because it is unable to create a consensus on the issue. It made matters worse by telling the High Court that Sabarimala was a secular shrine. It also requested the judges to take the opinion of the Wakf Board, Muslim organisations, Vavar Trust and Christian and tribal organisations before delivering their final verdict. If this was not inflammatory enough, the submission reportedly claimed that there were two schools of thought regarding Sabarimala; one claiming it was a tribal place of worship, and the other that it was once a Buddhist shrine.
Every divine sanctuary defines the nature and habitat of its omniscient occupant. Following its prescribed form of worship represents personal choice. Deities cannot be converted into objects of public ownership by avant-garde attention seekers opposed to the basic foundation of faith. Sabarimala is one of the million temples dotting the length and breadth of Bharat. Damaging the chords of devotional and emotional mass connectivity will inflict disaster and doom on the democratic spirit.