Another day, another controversy! Sometimes I wonder if India is the land of controversies, we always seem to have an awful lot of them. This time, its Meera Jasmine, an actress from Kerala, in the midst of it all. She, born of Christian faith, tried to enter a temple in Kerala to pay her respects. Nothing strange in that, because she has always been reverential towards the Hindu form of worship. Except that in Kerala, non-Hindus are banned from entering temples!
Which I find highly ironic! On one hand, Sanatana Dharma means eternal righteousness (a crude translation), which is irrespective of time, place and person, and on the other hand, we have a term called "non-Hindu"! In fact, the true notion of Christianity preaches unqualified love for others and for God, and to devote one's life in service to God. (The naive notion of exclusivity was a later addition, meant for political purposes and has nothing to do with spirituality!) Leaving out the differences in the philosophy of existence (which does not really affect the common man in any case), I see Christianity as no different from the Bhakti tradition within Hinduism.
So how does someone justify this principle of exclusivity? The justification for this that I know of is that at a time when there was no such restriction, christian missionaries used to conduct their proselytizing activities within the temple premises! Yes, this is a valid concern, and such activities must simply not be encouraged. But then, the temple authorities could easily have someone on the vigil, looking out for such unscupulous activities. Atleast, no genuine worshipper will be denied admission because of his/her faith.
Drisyadrisya and Rambler have come up with a petition protesting against this unfair treatment. I strongly encourage you to sign the petition.
On a final note, while I do agree with the need for universal entry, it would be counter-productive if one were to be too critical of the temple authorities. After all, there is a very thin line between breaking tradition just for the sake of it, and calling for genuine reform.