By Deepika Indsamachar bureau: Recently honourable supreme court passed a judgement allowing women entry into the Shrine of Bhagwan Ayyappan at Sabrimala. Following this judgement, unprecedented protest is talking place in Kerala, rest of India, Australia, US, UK and other parts the world. Feminists and all those people who are not able to understand the basic structure of temple , specially Shrine of Bhagwan Ayyappan are celebrating this verdict. Here, I do not want to comment or discuss on the judgement by Honourable Supreme court but want to talk about temples .
Hindu temples which are also called mandirs are abode where Bhagwan(God)resides. It is also a house/seat of Bhagwan/God unlike Church or mosques which are a place of worship. Santana Dharma which is interpreted as Hinduism these days have many gods and deities. Each temple is dedicated to different god or deity. This is the reason why every temple has its own rules and regulations or constitution, based on the needs and ways of the deity or Bhagwan/God. It is duty of pujari(priest), administration and devotes to ensure that everything is performed in the temple as per the comfort and wishes of deity. Some deities are very strong in energy and these temples also have occult practises and the reason that strict rules are placed for devotees. Many temples follow strict rules to ensure that the basic ethos of that temple are not violated, e:g Vaishno devi mandir – devotes are not allowed to even wear leather belts or carry any thing that is made of leather. There are temples which are dedicated to goddesses and men are not allowed in these temples eg: The Bhagati maa mandir in Kerala. Same way some temples are dedicated to deities and Bhagwans who are Brahmachari and follow Brahamcharya. Brahamcharya implies many things including renunciation of marriage & sex, seing women etc. Bhagwan/God Ayyappan Shrine at Sabrimala is one such temple. In this temple women are not allowed and its not because men has set this rule but because it is abode of Bhagwan/God Ayyappan.
Bhagwan/God Ayyappan is born out of Shiv and Mohini(who is regarded as avatar of Bhagwan/God Vishnu) to finish female demon (only child born out of Shiva and Mohini could destroy this demon). Killing of this demon by Bhagwan/God Ayyappan frees her of curse and she asks Bhagwan/God Ayyappan to marry her. He refuses as he was to go to Sabrimala but promises to marry her once Kanni-swamis stop coming to Sabrimala. He finally reaches Sabrimala and sits there as a celibate and should not be distracted. That female demon now sits in the opposite shrine waiting for Bhagwan/God Ayyappan and is regarded as Malikappurathamma.
This should not be treated as inequality. It is the promise of Bhagwan/God that needs to be fulfilled. With the latest protests by women against the courts judgement, one thing is clear that the devotees are willing to wait and those who want to enter the temple are not devotees. Another amazing thing is to see some people who call themselves as liberals and fighters of equality accuse hindu temples of discriminating against women but have no word against those who don’t allow women to head their religious headquarters or even their religious places. Majority of the Hindu temples allow children, men and women of every age.
One will agree that there should not be any discrimination based on religion. Even if we go by court, Hinduism is not a religion but a way of life. Only Hindus have female gods. Most powerful gods or goddesses are female. The very power which is called Shakti is also a female god. Hindus do not have any one telling them that there is one supreme god and he is a male, or a pope who controls the institution.
The problem lies in the way we look at Hinduism. Many including Hindus now look at Hinduism through western prism. They have committed a grave mistake by overlooking Dharma which is not religion and considering Sanatan as “ism”. It is only because of this, that some people see Sabrimala verdict as women empowerment. They think its religious discrimination against women. Whereas it is neither religion nor discrimination. This is only at Sabrimala’s Ayyappan temple alone, there are thousands of Ayyappan temples in india where women can enter.
Sanatan is a gift to mankind who respects every form that exists. This can be threat to those who believes in only a god and nothing else. By calling Bhagwan/God Ayyappan’s shrine as discriminatory, a great injustice will be done to the liberal nature Sanatan. It allows diversity of ideas. Hindus can choose to be polytheistic, pantheistic, monotheistic, monistic, agnostic, or atheist.It has no ecclesiastical order, no unquestionable religious authorities, no governing body, no prophet(s) nor any binding holy book. You can choose your own path. Similarly, if you disagree with Bhagwan/God Ayyappan’s shrine, you can simply choose not to follow Bhagwan/God Ayyappan and can choose to follow any other Bhagwan/God or deity that you wish.
In this world across all religions, people have given many rights to their god where he can decide what is sin, who is religious etc. Can a Hindu god not have a basic Right to live in his only Shrine in the world the way he wants to live?
Author : Deepika, can be reached on her Twitter id @d__dips