Syllabus: General Studies Paper 1 (Indian Society)
Recent judgement on Sabarimala temple entry for women by the Supreme Court is a fight between socio-religious political entrepreneur and the social reformers. Comment.
Sabarimala is considered to be one of the holiest temples in Hinduism, with one of the largest annual pilgrimages in the world. The faithful believe that the deity’s powers derive from his asceticism, and in particular from his being celibate. The Sabarimala case arose out of a petition filed in public interest by a registered association of young lawyers, challenging the Constitutional validity of the Kerala Hindu Places of Public Worship Rules, which restricts the entry of women into the Sabarimala temple. These Rules were framed under the Kerala Hindu Places of Public Worship (Authorisation of Entry) Act, 1965. Women between the ages of 10 and 50 were barred from participating in the rituals. The recent Supreme Court judgment allowing women access to the Sabarimala temple has held that the constitutional guarantees of dignity and equality scores over old customs and practices cutting across religions.
- Putting an end to a centuries-old tradition, the Supreme Court by a majority of 4:1, ruled that women, irrespective of age, can enter Kerala’s sabarimala temple.
§ The practice of excluding women did not constitute an essential religious practice. Crucially, the judges also relied on Section 3 of the Act, Places of public worship to open to all sections and classes of Hindus.the contrary. It was held that Rule 3(b) prohibiting the entry of women was directly contrary to this.
§ Supreme Court had issued judgement, by reviewing article 25(1) which states that Subject to public order, morality and health and to the other provisions of this Part, all persons are equally entitled to freedom of conscience and the right freely to profess, practice and propagate religion. According to SC, Rule 3 prohibiting the entry of women was violation of Article 15(1) of the Constitution.
Why it is a fight between socio-religious political entrepreneur and the social reformers:-
- Reformers have always had to face opposition when they stood against socio-religious traditions. Mahatma Gandhi had to put moral pressure on the members of his own ashram, even of his own family, to persuade them to fight untouchability.
- In the Vedic period, the women are of service to the equal rights those of men. They had a right to education and got the prestige position in the study of Vedas. Some of the women were very great and famous scholars like Ghosha, Apala, Matraiyee, Gargi.
- But in the Post Vedic age women’s condition got downfall. They become down trodden to the society. At that time they were facing the problem of inequalities or women’s condition rapidly down fall.
- In British period some social reform movements took place regarding the condition of women.Ishwar Chand Vidyasagar, Raja Rammohan Roy and other social reformers fight for them in which some are as follows:-
- Sati Prohibition Act (1829)
- Child Marriage Prohibition Act (1929)
- Widow Remarriage Act (1856)
- Hindu Property Inheritance Act (1937)
- Reforms claim that religion cannot be cover to deny women right to worship. To treat women as children of lesser God is to blink at Constitutional morality. Activists claim that not allowing women into the temple is violation of women’s rights .Discrimination based on biological reasons is not permissible going by the constitutional scheme.
Socio-political entrepreneurs view :-
- Political parties have rallied behind the religious sentiments of people and mixed them with political tones and trying to grab voter support in their favour.
- Even during freedom struggle Tilak stated that religious thoughts and devotion may be possible even in solitude, yet demonstration is essential to the awakening of the masses. Through this nationalist appeal, the worship of Ganapati spread from the family circles to the public square. the masses have to be not followed, they have to be “awakened”; their sensibilities do not come first, they have to be shaped in the course of ethno-religious mobilisations.
- Besides politicising a religious issue, Hindutva forces have openly opposed a decision of the Supreme Court. they said that if the court decides to take contempt of court action, then it would be against us first”. Forces also told would not be alone, “there would be thousands of people”.
- Also people see the judicial verdict as an encroachment on their customs, traditions and religion.
“YATRA NARYASTU PUJYANTE RAMANTE TATRA DEVATA
YATRETASTU NA PUJYANTE SARVASTRAPHALA KRIYA”
The meaning of this Sanskrit shloka is “Women are honoured where divinity blossoms there, and where women are dishonored, all action no matter how noble remain unfruitful.”
Putting an end to a centuries-old tradition, takes time to be accepted by the society be it laws against sati, child marriage, section 377 etc. India being a multicultural society respects views of all people. There is a need for social reformers, political parties and common people to work together towards the betterment of everyone and look towards greater objective of building tolerance which is the cornerstone of Indian society rather than igniting religious fights amongst people.
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