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 Creat