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Sabarimala controversy: Theist, atheist, anti-theist, SC & Gandhi – a discussion
When the Supreme Court gave its historic verdict in allowing entry of women of all ages into the Sabarimala Temple, initially everyone including the RSS welcomed the decision.

But when devotees of Sabarimala opposed the SC verdict, the RSS, VHP, BJP and the Congress started changing their stand. The devotees came out openly to oppose SC's verdict and decided to oppose the entry of women on 17 October, 2018 when the temple was to be opened.

A friend knowing my agreement to SC verdict asked a simple question whether in the name of law of land you can hurt the sentiments of a faith. He gave me an example. In a house if one member is worshiping a god in the worshiping-room with tradition that no one can enter the room unbathed. Can you enter in to that room unbathed citing equality just because you also are equal member of the house?

This in fact confused me. Freedom and right to equality is there. At the same time can we really ignore customs and traditions in the name of equality to hurt the sentiments of the devotees? Let me keep the issue of women entry to Sabarimala Temple out for the time being. Devotees need to keep fasting for forty-one days before entering the temple is the tradition and custom of Sabarimala Temple. Now if somebody says that I need not observe the forty one day fasting but using right to equality, I will enter the temple, isn't it hurting or even bullying the devotee's sentiment?

Some people say those who have faith on God, they too have faith on customs and traditions. If you bulldoze the customs and traditions, then definitely you don't have faith in custom or tradition neither on the God and your single point agenda is to hurt the sentiments of theists.

The above are very strong arguments. On those arguments I have tried to define some terms as below.

Theist: - A theist is a believer of God along with all traditions and customs however unjustified those or some are.

Atheist: - Atheist doesn't believe anything unless it's proved. However atheists don't hurt the sentiments of the theists. They just keep it simple trying to avoid the traditions and customs while taking care of sentiments of theists. They also go to temple and participate in worships if required by the family or society, though at personal level remain non-believers.

Anti-theists:- These people neither believe in God nor respect the sentiments of theists. They directly question the traditions and customs followed by theists. They many a time call themselves as rationalists and confront the theists arguing and criticizing their faith.

The women's entry in to the Sabarimala Temple appears to be a conflict between theist and anti-theist. In a TV debate a Sabarimala devotee claimed that true Sabarimala devotee will follow the century-old tradition of not allowing women of age 10 to 50. The opposing group cited Constitution and law of land arguing that this tradition is discriminatory and gender bias. After I heard lot of debates for days I realised that those who argue for women's entry have nothing to do with faith rather concern of gender equality. On the other hand the anti-women-entry group simply argue for up-keeping century old tradition as faith to God means faith to tradition and customs also.

It's really interesting as it's difficult to conclude anything as both side have strong logic. However I am sure I can conclude two things on Supreme Court and Mahatma Gandhi.

Anti-women entry group claimed that SC is intervening in to faith issue. I think that claim is wrong. Supreme Court is duty bound to listen to any grievance and will dispose its verdict as per Constitutional provisions only. Thus SC can't be blamed rather should praised for the Historic verdict.

Rahul Eashwar, the activist claimed that they will oppose the entry of women in a Gandhian way. They will lay on the road with open chest, so that if women want to forcefully enter in to the temple, then they have to tamp their chests. I think Rahul Eashwar has no idea on Gandhian ways.

Mahatma Gandhi is perhaps one character who can be quoted in such a controversy. Mahatma Gandhi was a strong believer in God yet believed that ban on Dalit entry into temples as a custom/tradition was inhuman. Thus, he was a theist yet opposed discriminatory traditions. But then, he never supported forced entry of Dalits into temples. Thus, he was not an anti-theist. He stopped visiting temples where Dalits are banned. That's his way of showing opposition to a wrong tradition. Interestingly he had acted like an atheist while being a theist, not resorting to the ways of anti-theists. Confusing isn't?

Well we can conclude that Gandhian way of ending discrimination was not to impose the dictate but to persuade with patience. The result is evident. Barring few cases, there's no ban of Dalit's entry in almost all temples. It took time but finally sorted out. Similarly SC verdict on women entry is historic and just, but can't be imposed through confrontation rather to be solved through persuasion as these are sentimental issues.

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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