Profile picture
HindolSengupta @HindolSengupta
, 28 tweets, 7 min read Read on Twitter
As a writer of history, I have been wondering whether it is possible at all to make an objective, non-partisan assessment of what has (and is) taking place at #Sabarimala, one of Hinduism's most sacred shrines? Let us try. To begin with, let us accept that in a world where, after
many centuries, the voices of women are being heard, a shrine that bars women of menstruating age, seems dysfunctional to all of us. The question arises, how can this even be an issue today - after all these years of battling for liberty? This is a vital and important question
that should never be disregarded or disrespected. It is one of the most important questions of our time. In a country where, worryingly, women's participation in the workforce is falling with growing prosperity (one would assume it ought to be the reverse), this is a critical
question. We also, however, live in deeply polarised times where matters of faith, especially faiths that are as pluralistic as Hinduism, is impossible for most people, in fact even most Hindus, understand with any degree of
lucidity. It has to be said that the Hindus themselves - and the representatives of #Sabarimala - have done an extremely poor job of presenting their point of view to the world. Also, such issues easily become polarised into deeply divisive local politics that cloud every voice
of reason. In the light of what has happened yesterday, where in the darkness of the night, the local Communist government used police protection to sneak in and scurry out two self-confessed Marxist-Leninist activists, some worrying questions arise which must be answered. First
who is that really wanted this change in #Sabarimala? Was it women devotees? If so, then after the Supreme Court judgement, why haven't we seen thousands of women devotees throng into the shrine? In fact, all we have seen seems to be the opposite, hundreds of women devotees
doing all they can to prevent what they term as 'desecration'. Make no mistake, if many, many women devotees gathered to demand this reform and march in, respect would be theirs by right and one would never be able to disregard their love and respect and piety, their demand to
worship. But are we to believe that 'Marxist-Leninist' women were so desperate to worship there? Did they even worship? From the video, it seems like all they really wanted to do was shoot a video to prove a point. So what really was happening there? Who sent them there and why?
Now let us come to the matter of the court judgement. Once again, anyone who says that a Supreme Court judgement can be disregarded 'just because of faith' is wrong. That argument opens a dangerous box which we should never touch - it is a dark slippery slip. And indeed, a
judgement should be duly considered. But what should also be taken into account is that the only woman judge on that bench gave a dissenting judgement. Why? Why are erudite women like India's former foreign secretary tweeting that #ReadytoWait - a campaign by women who say that
they want to wait till past the required age - (herself a Malayali woman) 'makes sense' ()? Should we completely disregard such voices? Are we really so sure about what is happening at #Sabarimala? Do we know that there are several shrines in India that
in fact bar men? Do we know why? And why haven't men protested this? Do we know that there is a shrine in Japan that has very similar rules as #Sabarimala and which just got into the UNESCO books with not a whiff of controversy (…)? Why might this be true?
I would like to reiterate that if many, many women devotees - and by this I mean real devotees, which, as was clear from many photos of the 'wall', many standing in that wall, were clearly not - make a serious demand for the rules to be changed, there would absolutely be no
choice but to engage in a constructive reformist dialogue about this with them. But is that what is really happening there at the moment? It is indeed true that many, many women gathered for the 'wall' but many, many women gathered with lamps a few days before too but somehow
that never made global headlines. Why? What is going on? There is another deeper, more philosophical theme which we seem to be ignoring. Many of the rules and laws that we instinctively think of as 'true' today were built for, or keeping in mind, the peculiarities of some faiths
and some other faiths, especially like Hinduism, which are immensely complex and multifarious need a reexamination and contextual law. After all even today many of our laws are remnants from a colonial past. We have now, correctly, started re-looking at many of these, and that
process should continue. Under no circumstances is it wise or feasible to disregard the feelings or demands of real women devotees but it does seem like we have not properly heard the perspective of a genuine woman devotee or devotees of #Sabarimala. I am not saying which side is
right or wrong in this. That needs deeper, richer examination and a debate of a kind of intellectual depth that is wholly missing in the entire so-called media reportage on this issue. We do not know what is really going on. And I do feel, which is the point of this long thread,
that before coming to any hard or exuberant conclusion - with easy answers based on our localised politics or political preferences - we should have the wisdom to study the issue a little more diligently and with scholarly seriousness.
I am also completely aware that my thoughts could be questioned as ‘why is a man’ saying anything, isn’t this a women’s issue? I completely recognise and respect that point of view. I reiterate that my points do not seek to impose some answer. They are genuine questions which
since I am a practising Hindu and #Sabarimala is one of the most sacred sites of Hinduism I am certainly entitled to make. Indeed as a reform minded Hindu, I would want more and more genuine reform in my faith, for instance, it still has a caste problem which I speak openly
against, but in this case the issue seems more complex than what seems to be emerging in the press and as a writer of history, I must ask questions.
There is one more critical thing that almost no one is talking about. The petition for this 'opening' of the temple was filed in Supreme Court by women lawyers in Delhi. Two of them were Prerna Kumari and Bhakti Sethi. Neither were from Kerala or devotees of the Sabarimala temple
and they had filed a petition on what 'they felt about the women's rights issue' in this matter. In the middle of the case, as has been documented -… - Prerna Kumari received detailed representation from people in Kerala who were devotees of the temple who
explained to her how they saw the issue. And Prerna Kumari had a change of heart. She said that she was wrong about the issue and tried to take the case back. But the court said it would still hear the issue even if a petitioner tried to withdraw. So clearly, even among the
petitioners, there was a deep divide at the very heart of the case. When something is so complex and unclear and there is a divide of information and understanding right at the heart of the case, how can we decide so unilaterally - as is being suggested in the media - that we
'know' what this case is all about? Clearly, at the very least, we must accept that it is highly unclear, isn't it?
Missing some Tweet in this thread?
You can try to force a refresh.

Like this thread? Get email updates or save it to PDF!

Subscribe to HindolSengupta
Profile picture

Get real-time email alerts when new unrolls are available from this author!

This content may be removed anytime!

Twitter may remove this content at anytime, convert it as a PDF, save and print for later use!

Try unrolling a thread yourself!

how to unroll video

1) Follow Thread Reader App on Twitter so you can easily mention us!

2) Go to a Twitter thread (series of Tweets by the same owner) and mention us with a keyword "unroll" @threadreaderapp unroll

You can practice here first or read more on our help page!

Did Thread Reader help you today?

Support us! We are indie developers!

This site is made by just three indie developers on a laptop doing marketing, support and development! Read more about the story.

Become a Premium Member and get exclusive features!

Premium member ($30.00/year)

Too expensive? Make a small donation by buying us coffee ($5) or help with server cost ($10)

Donate via Paypal Become our Patreon

Thank you for your support!