Can there be a religion without god or places of worship? Of course! You can be like an intellectual or modern secular Hindu and say God lives in your heart and you don’t need a separate place, hence could decimate the idea of temples.
Why this question? And why now?
Past few months I have been reading a lot of news headlines which might say anything but at the end, Hinduism or some Hindu tradition/culture turns out to be the villain. Not that this hatred towards Hinduism is new; Hindus are already world famous for the different castes and social injustice as if clans, sects, cults, etc. do not exist in the rest of the world. Air is only polluted during Diwali due to firecrackers as if the firecrackers burnt during other occasions throughout the year are special pollution free crackers. Holi is the sole reason for wasting water as if the thousands of swimming pool use some synthetic water. So on and so forth. Since these proved insufficient some smart people are inventing new ways to accomplish their goals.
The ongoing controversy on Sabarimala Temple started in 2006 when the torchbearer of the feminism, intellectualism, the star reporter did some reports and articles on a south Indian Actress, who visited the temple 29 years ago i.e. in 1987 and was not allowed in. She by some coincidence happens to be a politician from Indian National Congress and by some coincidence, the disclosure came right at the time when Kerala was going for an election. Congress happened to be the largest partner of the ruling coalition and contesting for the next assembly election. Of course it is all just a mere coincidence. Now, Indian National Congress is supposedly standing with the devotees. It reminds me of a typical Bollywood villain who burns the village and later helps the villagers by lending money at a high-interest rate.
There are temples like Chakkulathukavu Temple where the male priests wash the feet of women devotees and the ritual is called “naari puja” or women worship. Just imagine the uproar feminists would have created if the genders were interchanged. The Bhagati Maa temple in Kanya Kumari, Kerala entertains only women. Men are prohibited there. Are men impure? Kamrup Kamakhya Temple in Assam permits only women to enter its premises during their menstrual cycle. Only female priests or sanyasis serve the temple where the menstrual cloth of Maa Sati is considered highly auspicious and is distributed to the devotees. There is a Lord Brahma temple at Pushkar in Rajasthan where married men are not allowed i.e. only unmarried men are allowed. If you are something like feminist or a new age intellectual you could replace unmarried by “virgin” and cry your lungs out. No, this is not a far-fetched theory or a work of imagination. The feminists did something like that already:
Lord Ayyappa, the presiding deity was naishtika brahmachari (one practicing celibacy). A person who practices celibacy tries to avoid distractions by staying away from opposite sex. Can this be the reason for women of certain ages not entertained in the temple? Only certain age groups are allowed because you don’t get attracted to them with a sexual desire unless you are a pedophile or a sick pervert. At least in Hinduism young girls aged 9 or 7 are looked at as kids and not wives. It is considered as an evil task if you trick somebody into breaking his solemn promise or a vow (the celibacy vow). Maybe this is why the women in Kerala are protesting. There is a second story about this also; Lord Ayyappa was not suppose to marry until the last of the kanni swamis (first-time pilgrims) had visited him. So, the female who wanted to marry him had to wait for a long time, and the menstruating women themselves decided not to visit the temple out of respect for her love.
Where did impurity come from? Was it a tactic to defame temples, Hindu traditions?
If you are a practicing Hindu and believe in God then have some faith if not then why to visit a temple at all in the first place? It is not that it is a mandate to follow Hinduism. It is completely your choice and your decision. Above all Hinduism is the one and the only religion that preaches you to be a seeker rather than a believer. If the feminists and intellectuals would have followed Hinduism, they would have found the truth. Or is it that only when Hinduism talks about celibacy it is superstition and orthodox, otherwise it is fine and may even be considered cool. Although there are other temples of Lord Ayyappa in Kerala where women of all age groups are entertained, but the feminists want to visit only this one temple. Why?
When it comes to thrashing Hindu customs, the court of law is extraordinarily efficient, the verdict is almost ready. In all other cases, it takes some time, some as in at least a decade. Moreover, the number of pending court cases in India has become so big, that it might actually take more than a year just to read the titles of all the pending cases. But they are petty crimes, petty as in murders, rapes, frauds, robberies, etc., the real threat is from the evils of Hinduism. It has to be the top priority. By the way, did any feminist/intellectual file a PIL for the recent (allegedly called natural) floods in Kerala that killed more than 400?
There has always been a debate in my home “Who is more useless? Me as an engineer or my brother as a Lawyer.” I think my brother, and his lawyer friends are winning the argument. Of course, there are good engineers and lawyers (you could put yourself in that bucket, if you happen to be one of the two). Since the petitioners got quite famous and their business just took off, there can be more petitions on the same line: “why can’t we drink alcohol and enjoy non-veg starters in the temple? Aren’t we a democratic country? Do we have a freedom to choose our own food or Hinduism will tell us what to eat and what not to? Why can’t a women go in a two-piece bikini to the temple? You shouldn’t tell them what to wear instead you should ask your priest to mind their own business.” These petitions would make a ton of money for you.
Anyways, there should be one question that everyone should be asking themselves now. Which might help provide a different perspective.
Who won and who lost in this?
Apart from the obvious winners like the petitioners who got famous, media who got whooping TRPs, there is a camouflaged winner. This verdict followed by the protest and followed by the review petition will be used as a counter-argument in a lot of other cases like Ram Mandir and Uniform Civil Code. Everyone is aware of the stands of different parties on these issues. Congress might or rather will get an upper hand and will say if Hindu beliefs are important so are others’. Remember we have a habit of comparing apples with oranges, if it was not true we would not be struggling to understand the difference between a weaponized plane and a basic plane. After all being the oldest political party has its own edge.
Conspicuously, Hinduism is the only one to lose and it added one more feather in its hat of being evil and retrograde. By the way, how many religions other than Hinduism talk about goddesses or treating women as a goddess? How many religions have festivals like Kanya-Langura, the one in which you invite little girls, wash their feet and offer them food. Boys don’t get that treatment. Do they? Which religion celebrates the victory of a woman over evil men? Ever heard of Goddess Durga and Kali? There are days like father’s day, mother’s day, valentine’s day, friendship day etc. but is there a sister’s day? Hinduism has it, we call it Raksha-Bandhan, a day for sisters. And I can go on and on and on but won’t help much. Would it? Let me reiterate: Can there be a religion without god or places of worship?
“History tells that Hinduism was the first religion to come into existence and the present tells it might be the first among the major religions to become a history.”
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