An Indian Civilizational Perspective

Why Indian Supreme Court Interference in Hindu Traditions and Practices is Perfidious and Unacceptable!

In a rather bizarre scenario of State institutions ruling on Spiritual areas, Indian courts have started applying social constructs on areas that have Spiritual import and implications.  In a world where State and Religion should stay separate, we have in India a situation where State is ruling on social practices of Temples.

Why Supreme Court Interference in Hindu Traditions is Unacceptable! #SabarimalaTemple Click To Tweet

After the Maharashtra High Court’s order for entry of women in the Shani Shingnapur temple in Ahmednagar, the Indian Supreme Court has come up with another judgment where it has ruled that women should be allowed to enter the Sabarimala Ayyappa Hindu temple in Kerala.

“What right does the temple have to forbid women from entering any part of the temple? Can you deny a woman her right to climb Mount Everest? The reasons for banning anything must be common for all,” Justice Dipak Misra, head of a three-judge bench, said on Monday.

“Gender discrimination in such a matter is unacceptable,” he said, adding that the temple’s arguments must be based on the nation’s constitution. The struggle for equal access to places of worship in India has triggered a wider debate on women’s rights in the country, with the hashtag #RightToPray trending on Twitter. (Source)

Apart from the obvious activism by the Courts in Spiritual sphere without any adequate background in it, the courts have shown a remarkable lack of basic philosophical understanding of the subject they are dealing with.  Of course, the fact that it is intervening and taking away the rights that any organization has with respect to its charter is insidiously demonstrated!

These interventions need to be seen from two angles: Social and Spiritual.

Blatant State and Court Takeover of Hindu Religious and Spiritual Works

The Temples are run by the trusts.  These trusts have their own policies and rules.  Just like any Church or a Club has the right to deny service to anyone who is not aligned to its rules, so does the trust that runs a temple.  That women should not be allowed in any temple is obviously not the question.  They do enter all the temples and they do offer their prayers.  There are traditions which discourage women from going to the temple during the menstrual periods but it is not something that the temple enforces.  It is an individual matter of faith.  The reasons for that are there in Spiritual basis of the way a certain temple may be constructed.  In fact, the writer has been to a temple, where at a certain time in history – because of the exact same spiritual reason – women used to offer menstrual blood for yogic practices that were conducted there!

So, first let us understand that temples need freedom from State strait-jacket.  They – whether some rent-a-issue-Activists like or not – should have their own management (just like EVERY Church, Gurudwara, Mosque, Synagogue and place of worship has in India)!  There is no reason for state to rule over temple administrations.

The fact is that there is brazen looting happening by the Government of the temples around the country.  Please read the article “The Threat Against the Hindu temples in India” and see the presentation below.

So – Principle #1: Hindu Temples are for Hindus to build, manage and administer.  Get the State and Courts out of them!  A Temple trust’s charter is as sacrosanct and enforceable as the charter of an individual’s trust.  Just like I cannot go and protest against say the Indira Gandhi Trust to do things per my whims, there is no reason why a Temple should honor anyone else’s whims or constructs of “human rights”, as long as s/he is not directly hurt.

Agama Shastra: Spiritual Foundation for Temples

The Temples are based on the principles of Agama Shastra.

 

Per the Hindu Spiritual traditions, there are two types of Scriptures – Smritis and Shruti.  Shruti is the unchangeable component (includes Vedas), while Smritis are contextual to a time and culture it comes about (Arthashastras, Puranas etc).  Shruti is the articulation of the source that an enlightened being.. any enlightened being “taps” into.  What Valmiki touched, what Krishna touched, what Buddha touched, what Mahavir touched, what Nanak touched or Ramana touched is unchanging Source of Creation.  Its articulation is Shruti.  That never needs to be in memory.  Every enlightened being – no matter how educated or how illiterate (Nanak or Kabir for example) can experience and articulate.

Anything else with social relevance is of memory.  So, Smriti.  It is of a time and of a place.  That which belongs to one place, is also changing.  That is why Smritis have changed and will always change.

Shrutis, however, are of two kinds – Nigama (which include the Vedas) and Agama.  Agamas also include the broad Tantra sphere of expertise.  While the Agamas are primarily of Vaishnava and Shaiva tradition, the Tantra follow the Sakta scriptures.  Sakta is the feminine quality of the existence.  The common Sakta scriptures include Devi-Sukta of the Rig-Veda, Sri-Sukta, Durga-Sukta, Bhu-Sukta and Nila-Sukta, and the specific Sakta Upanishads such as the Tripurasundiri Upanishad, Sitopanishad, Devi Upanishad, Saubhagya Upanishad, Sarasvati Upanishad, Bhavanopanishad, Bahvrichopanishad.

What are the Agamas?

So in the conception of Agamas, there is a clear distinction between the Feminine and Masculine aspects of the existential qualities.  Since the Agamas are timeless and eternal, they are a manifestation of the primordial consciousness.

Per the Hindu Spiritual traditions, there are two types of Scriptures – Smritis and Shruti.  Shruti is the unchangeable component (includes Vedas), while Smritis are contextual to a time and culture it comes about (Arthashastras, Puranas etc).  Shruti is the articulation of the source that an enlightened being.. any enlightened being “taps” into.  What Valmiki touched, what Krishna touched, what Buddha touched, what Mahavir touched, what Nanak touched or Ramana touched is unchanging Source of Creation.  Its articulation is Shruti.  That never needs to be in memory.  Every enlightened being – no matter how educated or how illiterate (Nanak or Kabir for example) can experience and articulate.

Anything else with social relevance is of memory.  So, Smriti.  It is of a time and of a place.  That which belongs to one place, is also changing.  That is why Smritis have changed and will always change.

Shrutis are of two kinds – Nigama (which include the Vedas) and Agama.  Agamas also include the broad Tantra sphere of expertise.  While the Agamas are primarily of Vaishnava and Shaiva tradition, the Tantra follow the Sakta scriptures.  Sakta is the feminine quality of the existence.  The common Sakta scriptures include Devi-Sukta of the Rig-Veda, Sri-Sukta, Durga-Sukta, Bhu-Sukta and Nila-Sukta, and the specific Sakta Upanishads such as the Tripurasundiri Upanishad, Sitopanishad, Devi Upanishad, Saubhagya Upanishad, Sarasvati Upanishad, Bhavanopanishad, Bahvrichopanishad

Agama Shastra is executed using three tools – Mantra, Yantra and Tantra.

Mantra is the Sound form of the existence and the divine energy.  By uttering different sounds, one is able to “activate” certain energies within and without.

It is the energy that is created via Mantras which is used to consecrate the Yantra and activate the Tantra.

Yantra is a tool with detailed geometric calculations and forms.  It is created using certain elements and materials.  These materials have been known by Yogis to best carry the energy of the Mantras that is used to consecrate the Yantras.  The energy embedded in a Yantra is subject to the purpose for which it was created.  Some Yantras are only for Spiritual growth.  Others for material well-being – of which some may impact health in some way and others may impact one’s ability to gain knowledge.

That is why there are specific “Devata Yantras” as well, where each devata represents a certain quality and consciousness.  To invoke this consciousness, specific geometric shapes and mantras are associated with the devatas.  Devatas in Yogic traditions not considered Gods, but quality of the Universal consciousness and their representations via Agama Shastra in terms of deities and temple Yantras considered to be tools!

Tantra is the overall construct of how to receive the energy of a particular devata or quality of consciousness.  It is what a Sadhaka needs to do to best get the maximum benefit from the combination of Mantra and Yantra.  The practices and the strict steps that are followed by those who make the pilgrimage to Sabarimala is part of the Tantra for Lord Ayyappa deity.  All the associated rules of who should go and in what state, after what practices is all decided in context of the consecrated energy of that Yantra!  It is not a social statement, but based on understanding of the impact of the underlying energy of that place.

It is with the combination of Mantra, Yantra (something that one who has the knowledge of the science of Agama or the Yogic accomplishment can establish) and Tantra (that the receivers need to do to be most receptive to what the Yantra as consecrated by Mantra manifests) – that the whole science of Agama works!.

Here is a useful description of what a Yantra is by Sadhguru.

Structure of the Temple and Murtis as per Agama

To best provide the benefit of a consecrated space, the temples, as per Agama, were constructed in the middle of a village so everyone could get the benefit.  Once the location was fixed, then the size of the temple – based on which the sice of main deity is ascertained.  The size of the temple is a certain multiple of the size of the main deity!

The deity’s murti (or idol as many Westerners may call it although its not a good translation) has three parts: the main murti (vigraha), pedestal (peetha) and platform (adhisthana or upa peetha).

Specific stones, materials and metals have been prescribed in Agama Shastra for the creation of the murti.  These combinations are related to the type of consecration that is going to take place in the temple.  The stones based on their qualities are used for the vigraha, the peetha and the adhisthana.  The Agama Shastra also has specific proportions for the Murti, Gopuram and the Prakara around the sanctum sanctorum.

Understanding of Energy is the Basis of Agama and Temples

Kula and Gotra has been a very important concept in Hinduism.  Due to perfidious agendas, many powers and commentators have mixed it up with “Caste System” and clouded the whole understanding of these concepts.  But, Kula and Gotra signified the genetic lineage of a person.  Why was that important?  Because there was a clear understanding amongst the Hindus that energy make up of our tendencies (reactions and ways) is passed on from one generation to another.  In fact, what one does in one’s life in terms of action and reaction was understood to be “baked into” the very genetic makeup.  So Kula of a certain lineage represented a certain energy makeup and tendencies associated with it.  With that understanding the whole science of Kula Devata – and the temples based on that were created.  Sadhguru explains it in detail below.

People did not go to every temple. There were some temples which were for general wellbeing, where everybody went. But for specific purposes, people went only to their Kuladaivam (clan deity). This was a fabulous understanding of genetics and how it functions.

Today, scientists can dig up one little bone of someone who died a hundred years ago, take it to the laboratory, check that DNA and compare it with your DNA and say, “This was your grandfather.” You can do this even for someone who died ten thousand years ago. Science gives you this access. Similarly, for thousands of years, people maintained the genetic track in their own way – never mixing it up or doing anything which will disturb the track – so that their progeny come out well. Not only that, you can create a certain energy which travels through the track. Everybody in your kula (clan) need not go to the temple. You go and do the process and everyone benefits because everyone in that kula is connected. Right now, medical science is also heading in this direction. They can find something that works for your DNA, and all the people who have that type of DNA will benefit.

Scientific studies and background to Consecration

The latest scientific research has been finding this understanding of the Hindus to be accurate from the way the DNA material behaves with respect to the stimulation-reaction combination over generations!

Tendencies are baked into our DNA and passed on for generations: A study published in Nature Neuroscience discussed how sensory reactions to certain events (smell in this case) pass on to the subsequent generations.  In the article titled “Parental olfactory experience influences behavior and neural structure in subsequent generations” Brian Dias and Kerry Ressler discussed how the experiences of one generation pass on to another as get “baked” into the DNA.

Yoga and Meditation Impacts the Gene Expression: In an interesting study at the Harvard Medical School, John Denninger found that Yoga and Meditation can with longer practice have the ability to switch on and off genes that relate to stress, energy production and immune system in a human body. Impact of Yoga and Meditation on Gene Expression – Harvard Medical School

Impact of Yoga on Gene Expression
Impact of Yoga on Gene Expression

Interestingly, work is also being done in terms of how Meditative energy can impact physical phenomena – even when distanced in time and space.

Impact of Consecrative Meditative Energy: Dr. William Tiller, the chair of Stanford’s material science and engineering department in 1996, started experiments which showed how “human intention” expressed in the meditative techniques of Buddhist monks he used for his experiments, could impact pH levels of water up or down without any chemical intervention.  The impact of the “intention” or meditative energy remains in the “intention device” for a certain period of time and over a certain area.  Its impact can also be experienced wherever the device is taken.  Often thousands of miles away (he couriered his devices to labs in Europe and Canada to test his results!)

He has since found that this “device” can not only impact the pH levels of water, but also make significant impacts on human beings.  His studies (White Paper XXXI – The Globally Broadcast Autism Intention Experiment by Tiller) have shown the following:

  • Relieved depression and anxiety for several hundred people, located about 1500 miles away at p<0.001 over an eight-month broadcast period.
  • Enhanced the skill sets and integration of 34 autistic children located all over the world, and relieved the depression and anxiety of their parents at p<0.001 over a 12-month broadcast period.
  • Started an experiment to wean 74 humans, located in the US, away from self-judgment and to enhance compassion for self and others.

Conclusion: Policies and Rules in Hindu Temples Cannot be Socially Interpreted

To understand something, you need to be in the business of that area and have the requisite knowledge and expertise.  Which the judges of Indian Supreme Court bench clearly were not!  They may be great experts in law, but they cannot claim to have any understanding of the Spiritual aspects of the Hindu Temples.  Something that is based on knowledge and expertise in existential energy mechanisms gained from many millennia cannot be interpreted based on arrogance of familiarity that most Indians and the Supreme Court judges demonstrate!

A Hindu maybe a social construct, but Dharma is not.  Yogic practices have nothing to do with society or social niceties.  They go to the heart of the existential reality.  If social norms were any yardstick, how would one evaluate Buddha for example?  The one who abandoned his young wife and an infant and ran away to live with a prostitute?  What about Guru Nanak?  Who left his two young sons and a wife to fend for themselves while he preached from Mecca to Assam?  It is easy to revere them now, but Buddha’s wife hated him and Nanak’s own sons never followed him!

Yet, Buddha and Nanak reached a consciousness that was the epitome of compassion and love.  If Social norms were the yardsticks, they would be criminals.  So what gives?

Spiritual practices based in Yoga have a clear and unmistakable foundation in fundamental science of this existence.  There are many studies (Study 1, Study 2, Study 3, Study 4, Study 5, Study 6, Study 7,) which underscore this.

In the foundational understanding of Yoga, the distinction between the Feminine and Masculine energy is also made as Shiva and Shakti.  The very quality of their manifestation is different.  With the woman comes the predominant manifestation of feminine energy.  It is important to understand that woman – the one who nurtures the next generation of human beings within herself – has an energy that is different from man’s.  It has NOTHING to do with better or worse, but different.  Just as Jasmine is different from Rose.  None is better or worse than the other except in the narrow mind of a prejudiced person!

This distinction lends itself to practices on Spiritual path that should be followed for maximum benefit.  And often to stay away from harm.  As is in in the case of Shani Shingnapur issue, where the Maharashtra High Court ordered based on petitions of “Women Rights Activists”!

As Sadhguru explains the reasoning for not allowing women to enter the sanctum sanctorum of the Shani temple and how it could impact the women who do so.

There are temples for Shani Deva, where Saturn is personified as a god. Currently, there is this controversy about allowing women to enter a certain temple in Maharashtra, the Shani Shingnapur temple. Very powerful processes are conducted at this temple. Shani temples are mainly used for occult purposes and exorcism. People come there mainly to ward off occult influences or because they feel they are possessed. Because occult processes are conducted there, the energies are not conducive for women. As a woman is entrusted with the significant responsibility of manufacturing the next generation, her body is far more receptive and vulnerable to certain types of energies – especially during pregnancy and menstrual cycles.

Should women not enter the sanctum at all? They could if they were appropriately trained for it, but it would be much more difficult to train women than men for this purpose, simply because of a few biological advantages men have in this area of life. In the very nature of female biology, occult forces can have a deeper impact upon her system.

 

Like we saw – based on Agama Shastra and the purpose of the temple – the temples imbibe certain energies which are alive in their own way.  The scientific basis of which has been empirically tested by Stanford’s Dr. Tiller as well.  This understanding of the play of fundamental existential energies is not something that one can gather by “familiarity of going to temples” overlaid with social righteousness born out of modern Western constructs.  It needs work and work of a different kind than gathering knowledge via books.

In the end, the writer also wants to point out the utter weakness of the Hindus in keeping up with their spiritual roots.  And, the worst offenders are the Activists who campaign for Hinduism.  They fight Ignorance through Ignorance.  The Supreme Court Judges are decidedly Ignorant folks, but those who are fighting to protest their orders and rulings are no wiser as well.  They have had absolutely NO spiritual training or attainment to properly understand the basis of why whatever is done in the Hindu tradition – is done?!

The scenario is quite depressing really – of the prejudiced agenda-driven activists aligned with certain State institutions and foreign forces Versus Hindu leaders and Activists.  Both with zero understanding or basis in Spiritual pursuits.  Fighting a battle of Fools!

 

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8 Comments
  1. M P says

    An extremely well articulated article, where One is in complete sync with the author’s view & verdict.
    However with due respect to the spirituality & science behind Hindu traditions & supposedly lack of understanding of various courts to interpret them.In a democratic Secular country the Constitution is Sacrosant & empowers taking of such decisions in the broader interest of the society.
    Think of the blind folded lady holding a weighing apparatus whose only agenda is equanimity & Justice.

    1. Desh Kapoor says

      “.In a democratic Secular country the Constitution is Sacrosant & empowers taking of such decisions in the broader interest of the society”

      I disagree. That is not true. There is no constitutional right that supercedes the bylaws of any trust where they have a certain membership. And, moreover, is this ruling also applicable to mosques?

      The bigger question is that in the quest for “social interest” issues that are a construct of Western Universalism. After all – women and men – in the Eastern mystic traditions were considered COMPLIMENTARY and NOT equal. This fetish with equality is a damaging one for women, because despite their different qualities they have to adopt the masculine ways to become “equal”. Why should a woman be equal to man? Is man such a great thing? What have men done in the history that women have to be “equal” to them? Is it not great that men and women are indeed DIFFERENT?! Should we not celebrate the difference? Why this fetish for equality when it actually means leaving your own fragrance for some fake promise of masculine qualities?

      Every society lives by its own inherent atman. The Western constructs are incomplete and they are predicated on incoherent understanding of the very existence. That is why despite such great strides in biology, they have never been able to come up with anything remotely as sophisticated as Yoga to enhance the human well-being.

      Should we mimic others or be what we are? In a city like Delhi, there would be hardly a handful of police officers with guns. Most of the police stations have hawaldars with lathis and a cycle. Right? Yet, the law and order situation isn’t that bad. For just 7 days, New Orleans had a weak law and order situation during Katrina and hell broke loose! Imagine what would happen if Washington DC had the police like that of Delhi? There is a reason why a country like India still runs. There is a reason why the Abrahamic faiths did not run over the whole Dharmic culture as they did in the Americas. It is imperative that this is kept on. Instead of aping the borrowed values, it is important to look at things intelligently and objectively!

      1. mohan says

        Hinduism is unique.India maintains a common law legal system inherited from the colonial era. The Hon. Supreme Court’s observation in Sabarimala matter is from the point of view of Semitic Religions. Please don’t semitize Hinduism.

        1. Desh Kapoor says

          Couldn’t agree with you more, Mohan-ji! Thanks for the commenst!

  2. Kishor Kr says

    When self-proclaimed religious leaders take full authority, they tend to devise rules and regulation as per their liking. What comes out of such supremacy is not good, but narrow-mindedness and absurd customs. The worst part is people follow them blindly without ever questioning. They never even question that why God would want such ill-practices.

    1. Desh Kapoor says

      I am sorry Kishor – I do NOT think you even read the article!! The whole argument of why women were not allowed has SOUND reasoning in the very science of temple making and Agama Shastra. Calling the subtle sciences as ‘narrow-mindedness’ is like Newton calling Quantum Mechanics absurd! And finally, please get your understanding of the temples RIGHT! It is Not a place where someone goes to “meet God”. And NO God ordained anything that happens there. It was done with the understanding of how energy is managed. So please read the article again and discuss that subject matter instead of blabbering on with your own prejudices! Ok?

  3. Shaas A. Ruzicka says

    With this warped logic, SC can continue and issue a ban on putting off shoes before entering mosques or mandirs. It is a discrimination of those who do want to enter WITH shoes.

    What a failed argumentation of SC: “But the question is whether physiological phenomenon can be a guiding factor…” Of course it can. You wouldn’t argue that women are discriminated because they cannot enter male toilettes. That is also a physiological phenomenon.

    1. Desh Kapoor says

      I totally agree with you Shaas-ji! The whole argument has been taken in India to a whole new level of absurdity!! I agree with the Male/female toilet example… people have taken this equality nonsense just too far. instead of celebrating the differences.

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