Sabarimala can be a case study
Sabarimala can be a case study
M G Warrier
Born in a remote village in Kerala during early 1940s as son of a Namboodiri (Brahmin) father and a Warrier (Shudra) mother I have lived through different cultures in several parts of India and had occasion to interact with people with varying views on God, religion, rituals, and rites. I myself got my caste from my mother because of my birth in a Kerala family. I would have been a Brahmin, if I was born in some other state in India, say Maharashtra as the child gets the caste and surname of the father in Maharashtra.
The present controversy over Sabarimala can be a case study to understand the multiplicity of bondages among communities in Kerala and to research how superficial and selfish motives guide mob behavior.
The present temple in Sabarimala was built by a Christian landlord, devotees of Lord Ayyappa (irrespective of their religion, caste or community) are “Ayyappaas”(The Tathwamasi concept is factored in, once a person decides to visit Ayyappa) during the 41 days ending with climbing Sabarimala and worshipping Ayyappa. Before Ayyappaas proceed to the Ayyappa Temple, devotees worship a Muslim God “Vaavar”. All these points to the harmonious relationship fostered by Ayyappa worship.
My personal observation is that during the current decade, Indian courts have been devoting a substantial portion of the precious time of the bench and the bar for dealing sensational or celebrity cases when millions of cases are remaining unattended across the country and many citizens are in jails even without getting any opportunity for being heard. Priorities of the governments (Centre and states) and courts need a relook.
Coming back to Sabarimala issue, even before going into the rights and wrongs of the present controversy, let us have a look at one aspect of the issue which is being discussed in media widely. That is the responsibility of the state government (i) to protect the interests of the devotees and (ii) to implement the verdict of the Apex Court.
As the present government in Kerala is dominated by Communist Party (Marxist) with CP(M) leader Pinarayi Vijayan as Chief Minister, let us find out what is the Marxist view on government and religion.
Lenin on Religion*
The Marxist-Leninist teachings concerning religion and the attitude of the workers’ party towards religion as enunciated by Lenin in his articles Socialism and Religion, the Attitude of the Workers’ Party towards Religion and The Attitude of Classes and Parties toward Religion are:
1. That all religion is a form of “spiritual oppression”—the “opium of the people.”
2. That the programme of the Marxist Party is based on materialist philosophy.
3. That the party resolutely demands the separation of church from state and fights against both militant clerical reaction and “liberal” attempts to fog the minds of the people with religious illusions.
4. That the party does not include the propagation of atheism in its programme, nor does it demand atheism from all its members, but regards the abstract preaching of atheism and the artificial fostering of religious divisions amongst the workers as harmful and as playing into the hands of reaction.
It appears the Kerala Government and the Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan could not convincingly explain the correct approach they have taken so far on the issue to the people who are carried away by the misinformation being spread by vested interests. The Leninist approach at 4 is consistent with the secular spirit of the Indian Constitution.
Simply put, government and religion should remain separate and non-interfering in each other’s affairs. The government should definitely play a proactive role in persuading religious and social groups to change with the times.
Inside the state, Kerala has places of worship with multiple rituals and practices. From a temple in Kannur District where toddy is not taboo (Parassinikkadavu Temple) to a Goddess who accepts abusive words being included in songs sung by devotees in her praise (Kodungalloor Bhagavathy). As society progresses, changes are inevitable. The problem starts when religious or social groups get a feeling that some outside force imposes changes in isolation and political interests encash the emotions of devotees of any denomination.
*Source: Reader’s Guide to Marxist Classics