• Sabarimala: Brahmanism’s Last Ditch Battle In Kerala

    Binu Mathew

    October 20, 2018

    The only code of law for Hindus is Manu Smriti. IX.3 of Manu Smriti says “Na stree svaatantryam arhati” (a woman does not deserve freedom). Manu Smriti is the code of the four fold Varna system, namely Brahmin, Kshatriya, Vysya and Shudra. Hinduism is in fact is rooted in this pyramidal varna system, Brahmins being at the top. Manu Smriti is at the root of the Hindu code of law. It governs all aspects of Hindu life from birth to death. According to Manu Smriti the lower castes are not even the right to knowledge, not speak of the right of women.

    Brahmanism masquerading as Hinduism has kept millions in darkness for thousands of years. One of the worst practices of Brahmanism was Sati, women committing suicide in the funeral pyre of her husband. When it was banned in 1829 owing to the efforts of the reformers, there was widespread protest from the traditionalist Brahmanic forces.

    In Kerala lower caste women were not allowed to cover their breasts. When reformers encouraged women to cover their breasts, caste Hindus tore off their dress. Kerala, one of the most casteist societies in the 19the century went through much protest and turmoil to gain respect for lower caste Hindus and women including temple entry and education. Every reformation was met with vehement violence from upper caste Hindus. It is through pitched battle with upper caste Hindus that Kerala gained its progressive status that it is enjoying right now.

    Sabarimala temple entry for women of menstruating age is the last chapter in the fight against these casteistic forces. On September 28, 2018, the Supreme Court of India struck down a rule that disallowed girls and women in the 10-50 age group from entering the Sabarimala temple in Kerala. Chief Justice Dipak Misra-headed Constitution bench in a 4-1 verdict said the temple rule violated their right to equality and right to worship.

    What followed was the coming together of casteistic forces against this historic and progressive verdict. Showing total disrespect to  the top court of India, casteistic forces led by RSS, Sangh Parivar organizations came forward to oppose the temple entry of young women. Pathetically, the congress party in Kerala too joined the casteistic forces in disallowing entry to young women.

    Brahmin population in Kerala, the Kerala Namboothiris, are miniscule in population numbers. It is the shoodra Nairs who are significant in numbers in Kerala, but fast losing its influence in Kerala society, socially and economically and in numbers, that is at the forefront of this agitation with the support of fascist forces like RSS and Sangh Parivar organizations. All the lower caste organizations have dissociated from the agitation. It is only the shoodra Nairs now standing against a historic reformation in Kerala society.

    Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has categorically stated that the government of Kerala will do everything in its capacity to enforce the supreme court verdict.

    When the Sabarimala temple was opened for the monthly pooja yesterday, the protesters took to the street and unleashed violence. They prevented women devotees from entering the temple.

    They even attacked police who were protecting the devotees. Today, they prevented the New York Times reporter Suhasini Raj from entering the temple.

    Today, the protesters have called for an all Kerala strike. As I type this they are unleashing violence across Kerala.  This is a last ditch battle by the casteistic forces supported by the fascist Sangh Parivar organizations to subvert the much celebrated Kerala renaissance.

    This is not about tradition at all. Until 1991 young women used to visit Sabarimala, when HIgh Court of Kerala banned the entry of women.

    Until 1903 the temple was governed by the Malayayaras, an Adivasi community. They were the pritests of this temple. British anthropologist Samuel Mateer has written about it in his book Native life in Travancore (1883).

    It was only after Brahmins took control of the Temple, restrictions on temple entry was created. Still as I said earlier until the HC order, young women used to enter the temple.

    What’s happening now is Sangh Parivar elements trying to create communal tension in Kerala, their last hurdle in their project of Akhand Bharat.

    The importance of Sabarimala is the battle to defeat Brahmanism and the equality of women. It has nothing to do with tradition.

    Kerala government must not succumb to this archaic, revisionist, fascist forces. If the Kerala government has the courage it should appoint a lower caste priest at Sabarimala. That will break the back of casteistic forces forever.

    Kerala is standing upon a turning point, if the government succumbs to the fascist forces, the casteistic forces will reassert itself in Kerala. If the government acts decisively, Kerala will take a step forward in annihilating caste, which Dr. Baba Saheb Ambedkar dreamt of so dearly.


     

    Binu Mathew is the editor of www.countercurrents.org

    First published in Countercurrents.

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