P.B. SAWANT* | 23 JUNE, 2015


The management of the Somnath Temple has issued an order that non-Hindus will have to take its permission to enter the temple premises. The order may be legal under Article 26 of the Constitution, but is ludicrous on the face of it. The fact that the present holder of the office of the Prime Minister is a Trustee of the temple makes it ominous, The reasons given for issuing the order are self-defeating. One reason is that the sanctity of the temple will be polluted, and the other is that the safety of the temple has to be protected.

All religions, including, I believe, the Hindu religion, affirm that all human beings are the children of God. Hindu religion, in particular, believes that God lives in every human being. Unless a Hindu God, in whatever temple he is installed as a deity, confines his existence and therefore his blessings, to a limited number of humans, say, only the followers of Hindu religion or of any of its sects, his purity and sanctity cannot be damaged by other religionists or even by non-believers. A god, who is not for all humans, is not a god but only a sectarian hero or idol. Humanism is the essence of religion and a religion, which has no place for it, is no religion. It is contended by some misguided followers of the Hindu religion that their religion does not believe in expansion and has never tried and does not try to expand. No Hindu scripture supports this contention. The incapability of its followers to expand or restriction imposed by some on its expansion for their own selfish or other inscrutable reasons cannot be held out as injunctions or restraints. In fact, the self-centred attitude of the top crust of the Hindu society, coupled with the inhuman and degrading institutions like the caste system, untouchability, sati,and shameful treatment of women and lower castes have always repelled others from embracing the Hindu religion. The ban on entry into the temple is consistent with its tenets and practices so far.

The mosques, churches, gurudwaras, stupas welcome all, believers or non-believers, and accordingly are appealing in their own way. They are neither afraid of pollution nor of conversion. They believe in the strength and soundness of their faith, philosophy, preachings and practices. Though in minority, they do not fear either decimation or destruction. But the majority-religionists do, and that is the tragedy.

The second reason given for the unintelligible order, namely, the safety of the temple, is all the more ridiculous. Is it suggested that the non-Hindus will raid the temple or destroy it, as the Muslims did it in the past? What is the basis for this fear today? The looters in the past aimed at the wealth of the temple and not at its deity. They succeeded as did others, because the majority-religionists were not only divided and subdivided by the caste system, but also enfeebled and weakened by it. A good many of them were indifferent since they had, in any case, no entry in it. Even today many of them, including women of all castes, have no entry in the temples.

This article has appeared in the Mainstream Weekly.

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