Thursday, July 06, 2006

Meera Jasmine

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.

1 comment:

Ed Viswanathan said...

I do not know anything about Meera Jasmine and why she did what she did.

If she as well as other non-Hindus are sincerely interested in Hinduism, then we have to make some changes to accommodate them in the big umbrella we call Hinduism.

Sure, we have to maintain the sanctity of our places of worship but we should also to take “baby steps” to alter the way we were doing things for centuries.

To begin with, there are many non-Hindus like Meera Jasmine and Yesudas come from families who were Hindus few generations ago. They may be coming to the Hindu temple and Hinduism because they sincerely LOVE Hinduism and what it stands for.

They are coming to Hinduism since they don’t feel comfort in their religion. They are seeking answers in Hinduism, which they can’t find in their religion. It is a crime to deny them a chance to come back to their mother religion.

Let us alter things in a proper slow order, which even the most conservative among us can agree upon. If we cannot allow Meera Jasmine or Yesudas to worship in our main temple, then we have to at least allow them to worship in an outer temple. By doing that they will know that we are welcoming them with open arms.

I am writing all these things since so many Christians have written to me expressing their heart felt desire to embrace Hinduism after reading my book AM I A HINDU? []

It breaks my heart to tell them that A HINDU IS BORN AND NOT CONVERTED.

Let us change our ways and do things a little different so that millions can join us in the search after truth.

I know those who are in hierarchy will not listen to what you and I will say. But repeated statements from people like you and I will finally open their eyes.