I like to think I am a modern women. I am not the breadwinner but the home-maker. I don’t cook and clean all the time. I am not the first one to rise in the morning in my household. In fact it’s my husband who is up at the earliest light, and while he showers and starts on his morning routine the family is just waking up, after those prime thirty minutes of ‘caught’ sleep. I can vouch that I am not the only one. There are many other families out there like ours.
I have been able to choose how I spend my time and the cause I spend it on. I also stand up for a lot of women’s issues and rights where there is ‘real’ discrimination.
So it is very sad to see that when there are many real and hurtful incidents happening against women in various parts of India, the Sabarimala women petitioners have managed to find time, money and other resources to indulge in a court case where not a single woman is getting hurt.
They are looking at an imaginary so-called ‘discrimination’ – a discrimination that doesn’t exist. The centuries-old age barrier was made in Sabarimala or Sabari Hills Temple to help maintain the Brahmacharya state of the lord of the temple.
Many will point out that Lord Hanuman is a Brahmachari and women still go to his temple. For these people, I would like to point out that there are different types of Brahmacharis – some practice it while following minimum requirements; others take it few steps further and impose harder restrictions on themselves. One such example is of the Jain monks who practice a very strict form of chaste Brahmachari life.
The Jain monks don’t mingle in society, while Lord Hanuman lived in society and was a warrior. Jain monks will not hurt anyone – they live within meager means – either grow their food, or get it by Bheeksha; they pull hair out of their head to not hurt any creatures living in it etc. to list a few.
They also do not let a woman be in the same room as them – especially women in the reproductive stages of their lives. What is to be said about this type of Brahmacharya? Does one tell these Jain monks that they are going overboard and need to tone it down? We don’t, because we respect their customs and traditions. It is not harmful to anyone. Why would one want to unnecessarily hurt their sentiments? The same is the concept of Sabarimala Temple – the customs and rituals there have never been hurtful or harmful to any women.
The Lord himself has chosen his home among the mountains deep in the jungles filled with ferocious tigers and wild elephants. Isn’t that telling in itself that he wanted to live an isolated life?
From centuries past it has been believed that faith is what got those brave ardent devotees through the tough rigorous trekking journey to the temple. And so, when many sons, dads, brothers, sisters and grandmothers made this pilgrimage, their families at home prayed for their safe and successful journeys.
Whole families of these devotees observed fasts, maintained hygiene, and followed the prayer routine staying away from socializing. This 41-day observance is the period of time given by devotees to themselves to keep their mind and body devoid of all the bad thoughts, focusing only on God and prayer. During this time, their emotions are in control – mind doesn’t get distracted, and they practice a form of ‘Sanyas’ or renunciation from worldly pleasures. It is akin to a ‘Self’ cleansing process.
As a devotee climbs the Eighteen Holy steps and enters the temple grounds, he or she can see the words – ‘Tat Vam Asi’ inscribed on the Temple. This Sanskrit phrase roughly translates to ‘That art thou’, or ‘You are that’, meaning the Self – in its original, pure, primordial state – is wholly or partially identifiable or identical with the Ultimate Reality that is the basis and origin of all phenomena.
In simpler words, You are the one that you seek. At the end of this arduous journey, this simple truth is revealed to you. The “One” you seek is in “you”. God is in you. God is you. And that God and you are the same.
Many pilgrims who have visited this temple and undertaken strict penance want to repeat it. Many have been going on this pilgrimage their whole lives. What is so magical about this Hindu Temple that has been extremely accepting of followers from different religions? A devotee mentioned that there is some pull, a magnetic force that keeps bringing them back. The sense of ‘Oneness’ with the Lord is profound and can be experienced by one who is a true believer.
It will be interesting to watch whether the infamous activist Ms. Trupti Desai will follow the 41-day fast and other observances undertaken by a devotee while on the pilgrimage to Sabarimala. Obviously she is not set to go to this Hindu temple as a devotee, she is going there to ‘conquer’ it – add to her list – one more harmless religious place of worship conquered while hurting sentiments of its actual devotees.
This has been said and heard many times – a true devotee will respect the sentiments expressed by the Lord and honor his wishes, and not fight to go to a place of worship that he or she doesn’t even care about or intend to visit, as is the case of the Sabarimala petitioners.
The Sabarimala petitioners were clueless about the temple and the deity installed there. None of them were from Kerala or even malayalis for that matter. They had read about some imagined discrimination exaggerated by a woman journalist in a newspaper article, and had come up with the idea to avenge the ‘non-existent’ woman devotees wanting to visit the temple.
One of the petitioners had a change of mind. She realized women of Kerala had not asked for this change in their Temple rituals and were not in favor of it. So who were they fighting this case for? The other petitioner stuck to her stance on ‘liberating’ the women of Kerala – this in the first State in India to achieve 100% literacy, and which until recent times followed the Matriarchal form of Society. If this is not the biggest joke, what is?
These petitioners expect women devotees to be grateful to them for bringing about this verdict in Supreme Court. And, when they don’t react the way they want them to, the women devotees opposing the SC verdict are labeled as ‘slaves of years and years of patriarchal system’ by the ‘liberated’ Feminazis & Pressitutes.
To the Ladies who petitioned, enough with indulging in an imagined discrimination – go find a real battle to fight! These are the days of Navratri, and one of the slogans going around is – “Everyday a Durga is killed, Kali is hurt…” Find a real issue where you are actually saving a child, a woman from getting harmed… and then we will stand with YOU!
Until then learn to respect the beliefs of others!
Note: Late publication – This article was written by author couple weeks after the Supreme Court verdict on Sabarimala Temple came out.