Yesterday was actually one of my best days on this blog so far. I put my views out there and I got serious feedback from those who disagreed with me. Honestly, yesterday when I wrote my post
I felt a little trapped by the likes of Kavitha Krishnan. Trapped between 2 issues:
(1) My own insistence on gender equality in all walks of life
(2) Maintaining the autonomy of Hindus with regard to their diverse traditions.
Okay…okay…I would be dishonest if I didn’t mention the third thing that trapped me 🙂
(3) The need to sound smart and act like I know the answer to every single issue 🙂 Cmon, so I got a little puffed up by the daily comments appreciating my posts 🙂
So, what I want to say today is this: if you disagree with me, please please be sure to comment. And of course, please be sure to also keep the praise filled comments coming in 🙂 Your encouragement is simply invaluable.
Okay, so like light at the end of the tunnel, we had this great comment from Rajinder Sharma yesterday explaining how the rich Hindu intellectual tradition of “Shastrarth” can be used to answer questions on specific customs of specific temples. Hindu customs are rich, diverse and varied and whenever there is disagreement, we can resolve it the Hindu way. This is the way of Adi Shankara himself. It is very important to realize that a “Shastrartha” is not a religious court like, say a Saudi Sharia court, but a debate where a consensus has to be reached at the end. The reason that we Hindus are not bound to any specific book is precisely because of this tradition of debate. And any time is the best time to revive this spectacular tradition and set an example for the whole world.
Here is Rajinder Sharma’s comment:
“CW, I have been an ardent admirer of your posts and have made it a habit of reading each one, though of course I do not comment very often. But today, I wish to express rebuttal of your hypothesis.
Through the last few days the brouhaha on the Shani temple has attracted national attention, and terms like gender discrimination, constitutional provisions, right to equality, patriarchal male psyche, Supreme Court strictures and such similar phrases are being used incessantly to misinform the people that Hinduism discriminates against half of its followers, and that the agitating women are rightfully fighting against malpractices inherent in Hindu culture and for their due right. The situation is further exacerbated by high decibel media cacophony, desirous of creating perpetual fissures in Hindu society in the name of injustice to half of its followers. The other night I was watching a TV debate on NewsX, wherein one participant went to the extent of saying that Shastras were also written by patriarchal male who wanted to exert their hegemony on their female counterpart.
To start with this rebuttal, I wish to draw your as well as other readers’ attention to a fundamental question, “What is Dharma” or in European or Abrahamic terms “What is religion”. The Chrislamic religions have their specific books containing governing principles of their religion, and any deviation from those is sacrilege. However, the fundamental principles of Hindu Dharma are not restricted to a single book. There are a number of books, the Vedas, the Shastras, the Puranas etc, which contain multiple guiding principles of Hindu Dharma. The combined wisdom of all these scriptures is what we call Hinduism. If someone challenges the very essence of these scriptures as fabrications and creations of some patriarchal males, what is left of Dharma. After all there must be some specific governing principles of the Dharma, otherwise, what is Dharma? If any one denies the wisdom, the virtue, the teachings of these, how can he claim to be a Hindu? He could be a Hindu by birth, but not by practice, for, he does not trust the very foundations of Hinduism. He can best be called an Athiest. And how can such a person, devoid of any faith in Hinduism, assert his or her right to Pooja of Deity, which he does not believe in. Because, the Deity – Shani here – is a deity because these holy books, scriptures and age old Hindu tradition assert the existence of the Deity there. If you do not believe in these traditions, scriptures, how can you believe in Deity, for Deity is what faith of countless Hindus, due to revelations of Scripture and Traditions, have made it to be so. A place of Hindu worship and reverence is not a picnic spot, nor can it be made a ground for asserting constitutional rights. It is holy, sacrosanct, and any one who does not believe in the sanctity and inviolability of Deity, cannot and should not be allowed inside the temples.
I would further wish to state that this temple is the property of that Village, and not a property of the state. It does not get any financial help from the state, so how can state or anyone else lay claim to it. The decision regarding allowing entry to the temple should be exclusively left to the people of the village. No one has a right to force entry into the temple.
Lastly I would also like to add that Hindu Dharma has a rich heritage and history of Shastrarth, spiritual and religious debate, whereby the differing opinions regarding meaning of scriptures and traditions are debated and then on the basis of such debate, a consensus is reached, which is accepted by all the opposing factions. So, in this case also, a Shastrarth should be held, wherein people learned in Scriptures and Hindu traditions should sit together and arrive at a decision. Such interpretations can be made only by such learned people, not by courts, who do not possess the adequate knowledge of these scriptures. The matter is beyond the scope of judicial wisdom – Judges are common men with no special knowledge of Scriptures, and hence cannot be entrusted to adjudicate upon such immensely sensitive matter. Further, in the interest of Hinduism, ardent Hindus should avoid debating on TV channels, because TV channels are bent on discrediting and denigrating Hinduism for their nefarious, vicious agenda against Hindu culture and ethos. So, let us not let any vested interests to despise, demean or disparage Hinduism. All TV channels ascribing to anti Hindu agenda, should be mercilessly and relentlessly boycotted.”
Thanks Rajinder. Hope you comment more often.