Judiciary repeats transgression of Hindu Temple laws

PTI, reports from Pamba on 22.10.2018 under the caption “Six women prevented
from reaching Sabarimala temple on day 5” as follows:
Six women were prevented from entering the Sabarimala temple on Sunday by a large number of devotees of Lord Ayyappa as the stand-off over entry of women of menstrual age into the famous hill shrine continued for the fifth day.

Amid high drama, the devotees, up in arms against implementation of the Supreme Court order lifting centuries-old ban on entry of women in 10-50 age group, chanting Ayyappa mantras blocked the six, all Telugu-speaking women, from reaching the famed shrine. A heavy flow of pilgrims was witnessed at the temple despite intermittent downpour lashing the hills and Pamba. Though attempts had been made by some young women, including an activist, to enter the temple of the ‘Naishtik Brahmachari’, the eternally celibate deity, since Wednesday, the devotees backed by priests have stood
their ground, saying they would not allow the tradition to be breached.

By all available indications, not a single woman in the age group of 10 and 50 has so
far reached the temple which will close on Monday at the end of the monthly puja.
According to police sources here, 12 women in the 10-50 age group have so far been
prevented from offering worship at the temple, since it opened for the monthly puja. BJP
demanded a special assembly session to seek the Centre’s intervention, while the Congress sought an ordinance by the NDA government. The Pandalam royal family, the traditional custodian of the Sabarimala temple, alleged the CPI(M)-led LDF government was trying to destroy sanctity of the shrine of the “Naishtik Brahmachari” by taking women in the menstrual age group there.

On Sunday, a 47-year old woman reached up to the Nadappandhal’ close to the sanctum
sanctorum, but was prevented by the devotees chanting “Swamiye Saranam Ayyapa” while five others were stopped enroute to the hills.

1. Besides the main pilgrimage season, the temple opens for devotees for five days starting on the first day of every Malayalam month. The main pilgrimage season is during the 41-day Mandala puja starting November 17 and the 20-day Makara puja that begins on January 1.

We reproduce some parts from an article first published in “Reality Check India” and later in Swarajya (Oct 03, 2018) titled- “When Law Runs Amok: How Sabarimala Devotees Can Nullify The Supreme Court Verdict” seems reasonable and some points are reproduced:

(The Supreme Court verdict on Sabarimala will have no impact on the devotees in the short run, but much more needs to be done to secure Hindu practices and ensure their continuity. Let’s start with this.) Imagine if the Sabarimala authorities put up a notice at the approaches to the temple such as this:

Dear Sabarimala Devotees,
As you are aware, we the devotees of Swami Ayyappa ardently believe that in
Sabarimala He manifests as a naishtika brahmachari. Furthermore, we believe that
when a male deity is worshipped as a naishtika brahmachari, the specific agamas
of the temple— based on the injunction in Yajnavalkya Smriti — impose the condition that he not be subjected to the company of women aged 10 to 50 — in any way. Recently the judges of the Supreme Court of the secular state of India have ruled that this naistika brahmachari tradition is “unconstitutional”. True women devotees of Swami Ayyappa by very definition subscribe to the same faith that is shared by all of us and they would never act in such a way that it would bring destruction to self, fellow believers and for the deity. Lakhs of women devotees have taken to the streets in protest against this outside interference.

Hinduism offers a marketplace of paths, there are other forms of Swami Ayyappa or countless other deities. Therefore, we kindly request non-devotee women to respect our faith that forms an integral part of this shrine. Thank you.

Hinduism offers a marketplace of paths, there are other forms of Swami Ayyappa or
countless other deities. Therefore, we kindly request non-devotee women to respect our
faith that forms an integral part of this shrine. Thank you.

This is an earnest statement of the deepest beliefs held by the body of devotees – whether
some courts recognise this body as a legitimate denomination or not. After reading the notice, only the truly hostile woman would venture the shrine to show her defiance or make a political statement.

2. It is interesting to note that Judge Indu Malhotra in her dissent, has rightfully
concluded that this PIL should never have been admitted. Even in terms of examining
religious practices, this is an outside deconstruction rather than a court unwillingly
dragged into a schism between believers themselves; hence can be dealt with as a civil
dispute, something similar to determining property rights.

In her cogently argued minority judgment, Malhotra said “what constitutes an essential religious practice is for the religious community to decide” and “notions of rationality cannot be invoked in matters of religion by courts”.

Pointing out that the petitioners in this case did not state they were devotees of Lord
Ayyappa and were aggrieved by the practices followed by the temple, she noted: “In the
present case, the worshippers of this Temple believe in the manifestation of the
deity as a ‘Naishtik Brahmachari’. The devotees of this Temple have not challenged the practices followed by this Temple, based on the essential characteristics of the deity. The right to practise one’s religion is a Fundamental Right guaranteed by Part III of the Constitution, without reference to whether religion or the religious practices are rational or not.”

Denial Of Right To Practice Religion:
Former Chief Justice of India (CJI) Dipak Misra and Justice A M Kanwalikar base their
opinion on the Sabarimala rule is unconstitutional because it offends a woman’s
right to practise religion under Art 25(1):

“The exclusionary practice being followed at the Sabrimala temple by virtue
of Rule 3(b) of the 1965 Rules violates the right of Hindu women to freely practise
their religion and exhibit their devotion towards Lord Ayyappa. This denial denudes
them of their right to worship. The right to practise religion under Article 25(1) is equally available to both men and women of all age groups professing the same religion.”

There are, quite obviously, situations where exclusion is valid – for example I cannot barge into your house and demand to worship Shiva in your puja room. So, quite obviously, there are some overriding private exceptions to the unfettered right of worship. A very real test is “how substantially is the right to practise religion” harmed by this exclusion. The judgement completely skips that part because that is where the petitioners will lose badly……The urge to worship Ayyappa at Sabarimala itself is a bogus construct. There s no evidence that women devotees of menstrual age want to worship specifically at Sabarimala in total defiance of the faith. As said earlier, such a scenario would have built a different case. That women groups would have then constituted an internal schismatic group within the Sabarimala fold, but nothing of that sort here.

The So-Called Denomination Test: A Brahmin Sabarimala devotee and a Vanniar
devotee for the purpose of the pilgrimage are identical – they follow the same penance, take the same paths, look identical, carry the same irumudi, repose faith in the same deity, sing the same devotional songs, recite the same chant, etc. But in other times, they go back to other forms of worship as per their preferences.This does not mean that Sabarimala cannot be a denomination because the followers do not practise the same elements of the faith all the time.

The test can be reversed; be passed by a different judge. Collection of individuals? The
devotees belong to a common organisation? The Sabarimala kosthis are all over the town.They are distinctive and easy to spot. The gurusamis are elder priests, who initiate
others. No other sect has these gurusamis. Isn’t this enough? Name? These are the names: Swamy Sharanam, Sabarimalai, or simply ‘malai’, or saami. Why is this important. Should the name be registered?

There are finer legal points on which the denomination test fails. To conclude, this judgement represents a singling out of a thriving religious practice grounded in faith. No woman devotee complained. An activist court should have taken care not to be seen as a hostile court, particularly when it is striking down on a pilgrimage that transcends caste and brings all Hindus together. It must be immediately reviewed, an ordinance passed, or a constitutional amendment bill introduced.

3. Protest against Sabarimala verdict The Shiv Sena called for a Kerala-wide
shutdown on Monday against Friday’s Supreme Court judgment that lifted the age bar on women at the Sabarimala temple, while various devotees’ groups are exploring the possibility of a joint review petition.

M.S. Bhuvanachandran, the Sena’s Kerala “rajyapramukh”, told reporters in
Thiruvananthapuram that his party was against the courts interfering with centuries-old religious traditions. “Such traditions of our temples were in force even before the formation of the country and the Constitution. It is the job of the temple priests and religious scholars to decide if a change is needed,” he said. (The Telegraph 30.09.2018, By K.M. Rakesh in Bangalore.)

4. No right to desecrate: Amid violent protests against the Supreme Court order to
open up Kerala’s Sabarimala Temple to women of all ages, Union minister Smriti Irani
said on Tuesday that she believed that while women have the right to pray, they do not have the right to desecrate places of worship. Irani said, “I am nobody to speak against the SC verdict as I am a serving cabinet minister. But just plain common sense is that would you carry a napkin soaked in menstrual blood and walk into a friend’s house? You would not.”The Union minister, who clarified she was offering her personal opinion, also said: “And would you think it is respectful to do the same when you walk into the house of God? That is the difference. I have the right to pray, but no right to desecrate. That is the difference that we need to recognise and respect.”

The Union textile minister was speaking at the “Young Thinkers” conference organised by the British High Commission and Observer Research Foundation in Mumbai in the context of the order of five-judge Constitution bench of the SC, which lifted a ban on entry of women of menstrual age into the shrine. Since the temple gates were opened earlier this week, women have been denied entry by Ayyappa devotees in protest against the SC order.

After she came under fire on social media, Irani sent out a series of tweets. “As a
practising Hindu married to a practising Zoroastrian, I am not allowed to enter fire
temple. I respect that stand by Zoroastrian community/priests and don’t approach any
court for right to pray as a mother of 2 Zoroastrian children. Similarly Parsi or non-
Parsi menstruating women irrespective of age DO NOT go to Fire Temple.” She said these,
“2 factual statements” are “being launched using me as bait …. “ (The Times of India
(Mumbai edition), 24 Oct 2018, Irani:Women have right to pray, not to desecrate ‘Can They Take Napkin Soaked In Menstrual Blood To Friend’s Home?’).

5. It is relevant to quote from the social media which provides list of All Women who
attempted to enter the Sabarimala temple:
1. Libi -Christian, Atheist; 2. Suhasini Raj – Atheist, Hindu hater, NYT journalist; 3. Kavitha
Jakkal – Christian; 4. Rehana Fatima – Muslim who carried stained Sanitary Napkin along with coconut to offer “Ayyappa”; 5. Mary Sweety – Christian.

He puts forward questions to some of his intellectual friends : (1) Should we let 5 non-
Hindu activists decide the future of 10,000+ year old Hindu dharma? Come… on my friends! (2) Are they devotees? Are they well- wishers? (3) Are they asking equalities for our moms, sisters, or daughters? Do they really care? (4) Why are they not fighting to reform their own religions? Why don’t they fight for cruel girl genital mutilations? (5) What is their motive? (V S Gurumani, 21.10.18)

This raises questions on their intention and motives. Almost all Hindu women are okay with the current restrictions. The women who are asking for access into the temple are either atheists or profess other religions, they are not even God loving devotees eager to perform worship but seem to cherish an unmistakable aversion to denigrate and defile the Hindu temple and directly insult the God head, residing gracefully in the deity as per Shastric Upachaar and rituals. All Hindu rituals are governed by the dictate of the infallible Shastras from the yore of civilisation and any clarification on plausible modification should come only through Dharmgurus, saints and savants based on
Shastric sanctions and injunctions and not based on the logic of faltering intelligence.

The Supreme Court should not be selective. The restriction on women from entering 300,000 mosques is not challenged but a restriction in only one or two Hindu temples followed as per Hindu laws poses enormous concern. Does this not appear discriminatory? The concern of Five non-Hindu activist’s is shared with great enthusiasm, but not of 1 billion+ Hindus’ who have faith. The Judiciary should
not interfere in rituals as long as they are not abusive, violent, threat, harmful, unsafe, or
have a discriminatory motive. In this case, individual right was given higher priority than the infallible Shastric injunctions and Hindu practices. Is this not leading to the adoption of double standards.[-Hemant Patel (October 19, 2018)]

6. The Kerala High Court on Monday displayed its displeasure at BJP leader T G Mohandas’ plea to bar non-Hindus from Sabarimala. The court said such a move would disrupt communal harmony. A division bench of Justices P R Ramachandra Menon and Devan Ramachandran also approved the state’s security measures to implement the Supreme Court’s verdict allowing all women entry to the shrine, and termed premature a plea by four women for police protection. (“HC frowns on
‘police excesses’ at Sabarimala” TOI 30th October, 2018.)

7. 1) An organisation led by a Muslim lawyer, a petitioner who is not an Ayyappa
devotee files a petition in SC demanding entry of women in the menstruating age group entry into Sabarimala temple. 2) A Muslim woman, who is a small time actress, and two Christian women, who have nothing to do with Hinduism, try to gatecrash into the Sabarimala temple; 3) The CPM govt in Kerala, which recently issued a fatwa calling for the employment of non- Hindus in Hindu temples, gets the police to beat up devotees peacefully protesting in Sabarimala; 4) Police brutality amidst this situation is  nexpected and unfortunate; 5) Anti- Hindu forces, for long, have been trying to devalue Sabarimala because the temple attracts millions of devotees irrespective of caste and their numbers are growing; 6) The church in Kerala has been trying its best to incorporate Hindu rituals with a view to befool unsuspecting Hindus. Thus you will find kodimarams or dwajastambs in front of churches, you have Jesus suprabhatam and in Jesus in poses of Hindu deities. It’s a different matter that this aping proves the bankruptcy of the local

Friends, all these things points out to a grand conspiracy to undermine Hinduism.
It is not an issue of Kerala Hindus, but Hindus all over India.

On the one hand Hindu practices are being ridiculed and on the other Bishop Franco Mullakkal , accused of raping a nun thirteen times, is given a grand welcome at the Bishop’s House in Jalander. In Tirupati, non- Hindu employees, have moved the court claiming that they have a right to be posted in the temple complex!!

All these are direct challenges to Hinduism. Sabarimala is a test case. It’s time Hindus rose as one man…Tomorrow will be too late. Swamiye Sharanamayyappa. (By S
Balakrishnan from 21.10.2018)

8. The so called educated Hindu intelligentsia afflicted with the prolonged poisoning through anti-Hindu atheistic education in an increasingly politically surcharged atmosphere of the communist congress combine and stupefying misconceptions of the pseudo secular brigade,  are posing nonchalant and attempting pernicious acts against the very principle of universal truths  as enshrined in the spiritually elevating Hindu
scriptures, only to pose as
sab-janta moderns, insolent and acrimonious.

The temple has been a seat for the inculcation of Brahmacharya, tapasya, faith and devotion for rigorous pursuance of Dharmik Sadaachaar, which renders an individual
strong, the society disciplined and the nation endowed with valour and prosperity. The
devilish designs of the derogatory forces who, armed with material and superficial logic, are trying relentlessly to demolish the domain of truth and install the demon of hameless
liberalism and license, which can only invite dismal disintegration and dreadful disaster.
Hindus must not forget –
(Sanghe Shaktih Kalau Yuge). In KaliYuga unity is strength.

(To Be Continued)



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