Some days ago, the Somnath Temple Trust located near Veraval in the coastal district of Gir Somnath in the Saurashtra region of Gujarat, restricted the entry of non-Hindus to the famous Shiva temple (For the sake of General Knowledge).
Lets set aside what the Constitution of India says about the entry into religious places. As from some months now, we have become a country where some people have become more than the Constitution. Hence it’s entirely non-relevant whether the State, Trust, Institution or some person can prevent someone from entering a place of worship on the basis of caste or religion. It’s also unimportant whether or not it is part of our own Constitution that all Hindus will have a right to enter without any discrimination. Why? As even till 1960s a large of chunk of Indians, who are now being called Hindus (for vote bank of course), were not allowed to enter Temples. The day-to-day discrimination on the basis of caste within Hindu Community is still rampant even today. That apart opening doors to all Hindus means more revenue for the Temples as well. Hence lets not discuss that.
Lets talks about the very ban itself. The ban has everything, which proves that the motivation for ban has everything which we as human beings must be ashamed about.
The temple authorities have put up a notice asking non-Hindu visitors to take permission from the Trust before entering the temple.
The Authorities cited security concerns and protection of ‘sanctity’ of a religious place for the restriction, saying other religions do not allow non-followers to enter their sacred places; and what we are doing is simply following our old tradition.
As far as security is concerned, then the best way is to make the place more secure. What if a person of some other religion, enters under disguise? Making a handful of people take prior permission before entering a place, doesn’t make it secure.
As far as the protection of ‘sanctity’ of a religious place, is concerned; the question is: What does this really mean? Does this mean restricting the entry of a person who the Temple Trust believes will make the place impure. Isn’t it the same reason why many Indians weren’t allowed entry into temples for hundreds of years?
The reasoning of the Somnath Temple Trust that Shree Somnath Jyotirling is a pilgrimage for Hindus; that’s why Non-Hindus will have to obtain permission from General Manager’s Office to enter the sacred pilgrim-place, is unpalatable as it’s trying to give an impression that people of other faiths are desperate to enter the Temple Premises. Even if one assumes that they do want to enter temple premises, for whatever reasons, even then banning the entry is ineffective move. If it’s about security, then security must be increased. A person who wants to do harm will never come with a Burqa (a veil worn by Muslim women), a turban or a cross. Nor will he/she arrive with a real id.
The Temple rust is governed by a trustee board which includes BJP leader Keshubhai Patel, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP leader LK Advani.
The Temple Trust is quoting instances where some woman with Burqa (veil worn by Muslim women) tried to enter the temple. The question is, what’s wrong if she’s not a concern for the temple’s safety? If we Hindus can visit the Khanqahs of Sufi Saints, then why it can’t be the other way round. The reverence to God doesn’t mean, bowing to a God of any particular form. That apart, if Gods are compartmentalized the way humans are, then it’s an honor if the follower of some other faith, shows reverence to a God other than his/her.
The Temple Trust’s argument that other religions too do not allow non-followers to enter their sacred places. After all it’s their problem. Will you stop welcoming guests to your house, only because your neighbor follows the same policy? No, you will not. As you know what is the right thing to do. And greeting people with warmth is the best policy. The moment you start slamming your doors to people, the World will start seeing you as someone who had just come out of a cave.
As of now, if some non-Hindu tries to trespass into Somnath Temple, it will be a criminal trespass. It will be interesting to see how many tress passers, the Trust manages to find. Assuming that the Temple Trustees are always privy of this ban, it can be said that BJP is keeping religious heat on. No surprises though, as the life of common man has only became difficult in the one year of Modi Rule.