Temples are not public places – Swami Chidanandapuri Ji
Swami Chidanandapuri Madadhipati of Kolathur Advaitha Ashramam, Kozhikode says that as a law abiding citizen he respects the Apex Court judgement in the Sabarimala case, however, there are some unresolved concerns.
Sabarimala verdict has also provoked response from Saints and Sadhus. They unequivocally say that they respect Apex Court’s judgment; however, there are unresolved issues.
“As a law abiding citizen, I respect the Supreme Court’s judgement allowing women of all ages to enter Sabarimala despite having a different opinion in this regard. But, there are concerns. The question is not whether women should be allowed in Sabarimala or not. Since it is a matter governed by Smritis, it is subject to changes. It is not necessary that customs and traditions should continue as they are forever.
The question is who should bring those changes. Shall they come through Judiciary which is part of the secular governmental system? Even if it is acceptable, shall they be applicable only to the Hindu community?
Temple related traditions and customs vary across India. A sannayasin’s presence is highly auspicious for a temple though the sannyasins are generally not considered temple worshippers. However, there is one temple where a sannyasin is unwelcome : Payyannur Subramanya temple. If a sannyasin accidentally or unknowingly enters the temple, special atonement pujas have to be conducted.
Likewise, there are temples such as Mannarasala where women lead pujas and rituals. There is another temple named Mavilayikavu where devotees form themselves in to two groups and engage in physical fight. This ritual is an essential part of worship in that temple. As per customs and traditions, each deity has likes and dislikes regarding food, flowers etc. Mantras and tantras may vary from temple to temple. These differences are based upon myths, history, beliefs, traditions, the sankalpas of the Acharyas who installed the idols, the nature and bhava of the deity and so on. Neither the judiciary nor the secular government is qualified to judge such customs. This variety is the cornerstone of Hindu dharma. Hindu dharma is all about unity in diversity. In the absence of this diversity, the very idea of Bharat is in peril. Unity without any diversity replaces dharma with religion.
A temple is less of a place of worship and more of a place of darshanam. Seeing the deity is more important. If worship is the prime objective, you can do it elsewhere. Darshanam and worship are not the same.
True, periodic changes may be needed. But, they should come through the efforts of Vedic and Tantric scholars and devotees. In the specific context of Kerala, the role of the tanthri of each temple is crucial. Kerala society embraced the recent decision to appoint non-Brahmins as priests because such a decision was a consensual opinion of the aforementioned stakeholders. During the hearing stage of Sabarimala case, observations were made to the effect that Sabarimala is a public place. A temple is not a public place. A temple is the abode of the deity. Entry to a temple shall be according to rules and rituals of that temple. Such rules and rituals, in turn, depend on the nature of the deity.
A temple is less of a place of worship and more of a place of darshanam. Seeing the deity is more important. If worship is the prime objective, you can do it elsewhere. Darshanam and worship are not the same. It is not anybody’s fundamental right to see another person. Even the Chief Minister has to obtain prior consent to meet the Prime Minister. It is the fundamental right of the Hindu community to manage their own religious affairs just as Christians and Muslims do.”