Swami Chidanandapuri Speaks on the evolving situation in Sabarimala
         Date: 24-Oct-2018
 
Swami Chidanandapuri, the matthadipathi of Kolathur Advaita Ashram in Kozhikkode who is also the patron of the Sabarimala Karma Samithi and Hindu Marga Darshak mandal President traced his steps to the hill temple of Sabarimala which has been reduced to a war zone over the last few days.
 
The Supreme Court in passing a verdict on a PIL demanding entry for women in the reproductive age (between the ages of 10 and 50) into the Sabarimala temple where this has been disallowed since time immemorial has just opened a Pandora’s box of problems. The CPIM led State government of Kerala has been more than eager to implement the verdict without considering the position of the actual stakeholders of the temple, the deity itself and his devotees. This has led to a very dangerous law and order situation in the state, the travesty being that the temple, a place of peace and worship which it should be has been turned into a war zone.
 
Swami Chidanandapuri in an interview to Janam TV from Sabarimala where he has reached for consultations with the tantri and other Hindu acharyas weighed in on a few questions from the anchor of the show. These are summarised below.
 
Kerala Govt Instigating Communalism
In response to a question from the anchor on whether the Kerala government was not working to instigate communal riots in Sabarimala, Swamiji had this to say, “ I feel that what is happening in Sabarimala is a one sided attack on the faith and belief of devotees in their traditions. The State is deliberately trampling upon the beliefs of thousands and lakhs of devotees. The claim of the state government that it is bound to respect the order of the Supreme Court in letter and spirit is not tenable because under this guise, they are out to wilfully trample upon Hindu beliefs and traditions alone. I say this because even earlier, the Supreme Court has given its verdict on other issues but the state government has so far not taken any action on those. For instance, take the case of the SC verdict banning liquor shops on the side of highways. In the wake of that judgement, there are many cases of state highways in this state having been changed to district roads just so that liquor outlets could be maintained. Another case is that of the Kannur Karuna Medical College.”
 
 
 
He continued, “In this case, the state government brought in an ordinance to overturn the SC ruling. This is the same government now, which even after knowing that the women coming to the temple are clearly activists, provided them security of more than 200 policemen to breach the resistance of the devotees and enter the sanctum sanctorum. What is more shameful is that it was the IG of police who escorted such persons who were also given police jackets and helmets. This should be ample proof that the intention of the government apparatus is to quash and kill the traditions and beliefs of the Hindus. I must make another point here too. It might be that there are policemen who are uncomfortable with all that is happening but whose hands are tied because it is a matter of their livelihood. Whether it was the tantri or the melshantis (priests), they were all pained by the happenings near the sanctum sanctorum and it was this pain that prompted the tantri and the other temple personnel to protest. What is evident here is that the state government is acting without an iota of consideration for the beliefs of the devotees and the temple staff.”
 
The CPIM led State government of Kerala has been more than eager to implement the verdict without considering the position of the actual stakeholders of the temple, the deity itself and his devotees
 
On the Tantri Closing the Temple
The anchor pointed out to swamiji that the decision of the tantri to close the temple if tradition was broken was spun as the evil designs of superior brahmins by many. He said that efforts were made to bring in women from other faiths as no Hindus were coming forward to break this tradition. The women themselves said that they were non believers. However, their plan was foiled and when all else failed, a Dalit woman was brought to challenge the tradition. She was also sent back like all the others.
 
In the backdrop of this, the anchor asked swamiji if this would not be painted as the casteist imperialism of the forward castes in denying a Dalit woman entry into Sabarimala. To this swamiji replied, “Any such spin on this issue by anyone will be condemned because here, it is not about a brahmin woman or a dalit woman or a nair woman. The problem at Sabarimala is not about caste or religion at all and taking the issue in that direction is wilful mischief on the part of those who are trying to do so. The issue is not whether these women are from this religion or that or this caste or that. The issue is simply whether they fall into that age group which is disallowed according to tradition in Sabarimala. This attempt to turn it into an issue of caste is only because those doing it are afraid of the emerging Hindu unity and what that would mean. Recently, I had read in the media that the Chief Minister had said that Sabarimala is becoming a madhouse of casteism of the forward castes.”
 
This is the same government now, which even after knowing that the women coming to the temple are clearly activists, provided them security of more than 200 policemen to breach the resistance of the devotees and enter the sanctum sanctorum 
 
He further continued, “On reading this, I am tempted to ask the question as to who is actually playing the casteist card here. I ask this because recently, for this year’s melshanti (priest) post, the application of a person named Vishnu Narayanan was rejected by the Devaswom board, not on the grounds that he was incompetent but on the grounds that he did not belong to the Kerala brahmin community. He was not even invited for an interview and his application was summarily dismissed. So, who has played the casteist card here? Is it the devotees or the Devaswom board which is an arm of the government? On the other hand, to turn the spontaneous protest of the devotees into a casteist protest is indeed condemnable and arises from some madness in the minds of those propagating such a sinister lie.”
 
To a question on why the government is so keen to implement the SC order even going to the extent of saying that Sabarimala is not above the SC and casting aspersions on the tantri, swamiji had the following response. He said, “When the IG of police with over 200 policemen gave protective cover to the women activists in order that they can get into the temple, it normally raises the question in the minds of the devotees as to why the government is in so much of a hurry to implement the order. As far as I know, people protesting this were only doing so doing nama japam. This is the democratic right of any citizen of India and can’t be taken away from them. When the tantri of the temple says that he will close it to do shuddhikalasham (purification) if the traditions are violated, he is well within his right to say so.”
 
He also added that, “He is the supreme authority in this matter and likening his stance to that of a shopkeeper closing his shutters on whim (which another panelist on the show did), is absolutely condemnable and belittling the stature he holds. If the state government cannot help him uphold the traditions of the temple as per the shastras and instead shows alacrity to bring in activist women to break the rules, he is left with no option but to close the temple doors. Why is this haste? Also, the issue here is not about restricting entry to women as blanket rule. All women below the age of 10 and above the age of 50, i.e the reproductive age, are allowed and there have been no problems on this account whatsoever. The issue is only of women of reproductive age. There is also the added requisite that the said woman needs to be a devotee. If the women say they are devotees, they should then be ready to accept the rules and regulations of the temple. There is no casteism here and the government is bringing the caste angle here only because there is a consolidation of the Hindu population cutting across caste and party lines on this issue. I work every day within the society and I give atleast one or two talks a day. I have my ear to the ground and I can feel the pulse of the people. This is the only reason this casteist spin is being given to this issue.”