Picture caption: Watch the bhakti and divine ecstasy of women devotees of Lord Ayyappa. There is no restriction of women in the Sabarimala temple; restriction is only for certain age-group
Law and faith are entirely different things. Or if not, can there be a Constitutional enactment on the soul’s attainment of salvation? … or can a law mandate against it? There are many spiritual and psychic realms beyond the remits of the law. One is spiritual while the other is temporal, and to apply the latter on the former is unsubstantial and untenable. Those on the seat of authority may not necessarily know of the spiritual and psychic intricacies and the social chemistry born thereof. Though the socio-spiritual fabric is intricately intertwined, the spiritual often remains undecipherable to the social. Unfortunately our nation and its culture, however much they boast of the lofty spiritual heights they claim to be the owners of, did not realize this lesson when it verdicted on a spiritual question taking the legal for the spiritual. This is how things went wrong in the women entry issue of Sabarimala
While analyzing the question, arguers are at sixes and sevens. To one group Lord Ayyappa is a celibate who wants to see the fair sex either as daughter or the mother. Can’t he take the middle path and look her as sister? They are also afraid lest the feminine presence at Sabarimala should do away with the celibacy and spiritual vigour of the young Lord as if brahmacharya of the celibate God is something like that of Viswamitra that melted away seeing Menaka, the celestial nymph. Do they have doubt about the high and unflinching austerity of the Lord who they believe is one steadfast in brahmacharya – naishtikabrahmachari. Here one does not see Lord Ayyappa or his brahmacharya wavering. It is indeed the faith of the devotees that is shaken. The Lord is with eternal celibacy while his devotees undergo only a forty one days’ discipline. First of all the devotees should know, their Lord who is iconic of highest ethics is no Rishyasringa to stoop before a female invasion of his forest seclusion. Are their faith predicated on so weak a premise? Can anyone take that the Lord his devotees believe in, may not be a Brahmachari or the ideal of brahmacharya might be so weak as to succumb to silly temporal whimsicality. Neither is desirable to be accepted.
To another group it is a question of gender equality and hence the demand to involve the constitution. But the question how can the constitution execute itself in a thinner than air realm where psyche and thoughts dominate, where no physical force is executive, eludes this progressive equality mongers. Unfamiliar with the realm of mind and thought, they believe their bullets would hit down the shadows? In fact they were groping in dark room to catch the black cat which was not there! As space varies, the laws also vary, opines the science according to which the law true to one space may not work in another. Reason is far beyond the reach of these self-styled progressives. The dilettantes would not stop hunting shadows in the dark!
But all these notwithstanding, there are realities perceptible to the discerning eyes. This is simply temporal, to call a spade a spade purely political and entirely communal. The plaintiff in Sabarimala case appears to have been instigated by the non-Hindu forces as the video footages going viral reveal. Second, no sooner did the verdict came than the anti-Hindu forces started celebrating it. To some masques the verdict came like a solace to overshadow the allegations against the Church brought by a sanctimonious Bishop who according to a female complainant, that too a Christian nun, raped her umpteen times. It was with much pity this writer switched away from a Communist TV channel run by a Christian with not much journalistic standards. This monitor of a mass interview sessions was jubilant over the court verdict permitting middle-aged women to the sanctum-sanctorum of the hill shrine. To him it is an assault on the Hindu bastion. Otherwise why this TV man who remains noticeably silent over a Christian scandal, the rape case against the Jullundur Bishop being the best example of late, becomes over-jubilant in his verbal pounding against the Hindu sanctuaries like Amrutanandamayi Ashram or Sabarimala. What is he? A communal venom in communist bottle? Or is the Communist party a bottle for the communal venom to hide in?
Come to Sabarimala and its special rituals. Young women in the age group of 10-50 years are no taboo to Lord Ayyappa in his many temples. In fact only to Sabarimala young Hindu women avoid making darsan. In that particular temple alone women do not make darshan just as men do not observe ponkala at the Devi temple of Attukal in Thiruvananthapuram. It is just a part of temple observance born of faith. The Lord at Palani has both Valli and Devayani simultaneous with him. Will the reformers go to court citing, the law does not permit man to have two wives at a time? There are so many such rituals which do harm neither to the Hindus nor those who clamour with crocodile tears for gender equality within the Hindu society. If the non-Hindus are that much concerned of the social and human rights issues like gender equality let them clean their own Augean stables first. Charity begins at home. Let them help their women enter into the sanctum to do prayer on equal status with men. Let them protect at least their nuns’ celibacy from the devils in divine garb. Instead of keeping own house clean and having a decent living they keep their radars sadistically fixed only to the Hindu religious institutions!
The legal direction is only against barring the women entry at the hill shrine. The barring on women entry was not something artificially made but was the part of the self-restraint the Lord’s women devotees have been voluntarily undertaking. No power in the world is capable of breaking the lifelong observance of a chaste Hindu woman till she reaches the maturity to have the darsan of the young Lord in all her maternal feeling. “The ideal of Indian womanhood is the divine motherhood,” observed Swami Vivekananda. It is this divine motherhood a Hindu Woman realizes at her old age in the presence of the Lord, her son. Imagine the ecstasy a mother experiences while rendezvousing with the son she has been waiting for years to meet. These are but fodder for noble and sublime thoughts, area temporal litigations cannot impact on. It calls for intelligence and intuition to make out the loftiness of the sublime human thoughts.
But temporal has got its own significance. Hindus live in the world of mortals where they are bound to defend their fences. The Sabarimala cases could be well presumed to have been one of instigation by anti-Hindu forces. Decades ago it was set on fire, but the hill shrine survived with unprecedented spiritual vigour. A few years back canard made its rounds on the mouse tail alleged to have been found in temple prasadam. It is nothing but assault on the Hindus who irrespective of caste and political difference flock the hill shrine. History, not only of Kerala but of the nation as a whole bears witness to the many assault on the temples – some of them became the part of history – which for long have been the centers of Hindu cultural unity. It is for the Hindus irrespective of caste-politics difference to be alert to the ominous signals of the dangers awaiting them. It is for them to learn from history or perish.