The appointment of dalit priests in Govt controlled temples through affirmative action in Kerala is a welcome development. Priesthood to non Brahmins is certainly a silent revolution in the making but it’s not the first time it has happened and even upper caste people have accepted it either in the name of tradition in some places or progressiveness. Moreover, no Brahmin youth today wants priesthood and the hereditary entitlements in temple affairs have broken in most of the places.
The resurgence of Hindu Right has added an element of religiosity in the masses. Since the contemporary support base of the BJP depends to a great extent on the lower castes, it is but natural that RSS will make all out efforts to Hinduise them as part of its Samajik Samrasta strategy.
No ploy can work better than democratization of religion/temples and perhaps, this is why RSS is not averse to the idea of appointment of non Brahmin priests. The apex judiciary has already made it clear that non Brahmins can be appointed as priests provided they have knowledge about the Hindu rituals and religious texts.
The Hindu religion is different, it is not based on the teachings of a single prophet, it is not bound to one book but there are layers within layers. It is a religion of the believers and non believers, the theists and the atheists, the vegetarians and non vegetarians, the idol worshipers and non idol worshipers.
Interpretations vary from one religious text to another and it’s difficult to determine which one is authentic. It is only through certain core rituals that the continuity of religion is maintained. Islam/Christianity will survive even without rituals because there is a set of norms that have been codified but not Hinduism. The court should desist from telling people how to celebrate Diwali, Holi or Dahi Handi.
UGC approved Karmkand courses and Priesthood courses should be started in all the major universities. There is no better way to create social harmony than having lower caste priests who have completed UGC certified ritual courses. Vedas, Upanishads, Gita and other Hindu scriptures should be taught to the students at the school level so that they develop an understanding of their culture and civilization.
Eyebrows will be raised no doubt but its high time we learn not to put the Abraham religions and the Indic religions into one basket for they are fundamentally different. If there is a need to amend the constitution for this purpose, let’s do it because no country can become great with borrowed ideas…..it has to look inside for ideas.
BJP should stop its attempts at appropriating Ambedkar; if it tries to digest Ambedkar, it will lead to indigestion because it’s Hinduisation and Sanskritisation project for dalits is diametrically opposite to what Ambedkar had in mind for dalits. Ambedkar’s dalits were supposed to be autonomous and de-Hinduised. The proper course for the party should be to take Ambedkarism head on and dismantle the aura of grandeur built around Ambedkar by vested left liberal spectrum. And nothing could be better than making dalits priests in the Hindu temples with Hindu gods/goddesses who were anathema to Ambedkar.