How does one explain the little regard the highest democratic institutions in India have for native polytheistic religious traditions and the glaring prejudice against them vis-à-vis the monotheists? – George Augustine Thundiparambil
I have reason to think there are a lot of people in power in India who believe being a Pagan polytheist is something to be ashamed of and below par compared with [Abrahamic] monotheists who have made homes in the Indian subcontinent. Most Hindu temples in India have proven to be milch cows under the control of state governments, while churches and mosques are free and often controlled by foreign institutions. How does one explain the little regard the highest democratic institutions in India have for native polytheistic religious traditions and the glaring prejudice against them vis-à-vis the monotheists?
It certainly looks like we Indian Pagans have obviously overstepped the world of renaissance with #MeToo, Gender Equality, Political Correctness and all those things that underscore our lately enlightened status, which we discovered we also have after learning these things from the monotheist West. The tragedy is, in the process, we Pagans have lost our inherent sense of proportion, decorum, spirituality and ethical obligations along with our native cultural legacy and heritage. Are we shedding the last vestiges of our uncompromising Paganism and its diversity? Are we finally succumbing to the monocultural paradigm of Western Christian civilisation?
What is so special about the monotheist monocultural model vis-à-vis a polytheist diversity model? Being a secular state, don’t we have to treat both on par legally, rationally or experientially? The monotheist prejudice dominates in every sphere in India, even though there is no evidence to suggest that monotheism as is currently practised has any kind of advantage over the polytheistic model. In India, where polytheists still persist in large numbers, there is a great indication of a fault line in collective religious consciousness. This can be discerned in the ongoing campaign against polytheistic traditions and culture conducted by a new breed of reformists whose spirit the Indian judiciary has imbibed. This insider campaign for monotheist paradigm solemnly supplements and strengthens the global evangelising enterprise called Joshua Project floated by Western monotheists to annihilate the polytheistic world. The polytheistic world is traditionally designated as the Satan’s stronghold by the Bible-thumpers. On the missionary map, it is further marked as the “10/40 window”, a term coined by a Christian missionary strategist named Luis Bush to describe a rectangular region of Africa and Asia that lies between ten and forty degrees north of the equator and is home to the majority of non-Christians who resist conversions to Christianity.
What is perhaps of the most interest for Indians is the fact that Communism, politically and culturally, is part and parcel of the same Abrahamic monotheist framework. Here, the party replaces the “god in heaven” and the party commands are like the dictates of the church. The Kerala Communist government’s intensive campaign for breaking the customs at Sabarimala Temple is a case in point. The deeply spiritual collective worldview of the diverse Indian Pagans has been replaced by the “stomach” paradigm, as the late Swami Nirmalananda Giri famously pointed out in a talk. The insatiable stomach is the symbol of the materialistic greed of the consumerist society that has become the bane of modern civilisation and equally shared by atheistic Communists and monotheistic Capitalists.
Even before monotheist invaders began to civilise the polytheist and animistic Indians, the native cultures showed signs of corrosion due to the sheer age of the civilisation and had become weak and clueless to combat the belligerent features of the new era. Physically and tactically they were ill-equipped to face the mindless violence and aggression unleashed upon them by the new breed of religionists who challenged all that was held sacred and civilised by them at that time. Notwithstanding the prevalence of barbaric ritual traditions among fringe groups such as blood sacrifices that were once universal to the human species, the Pagan Indians were generally refined and highly civilised compared to the Christians and Muslims who lived anywhere at the time, just as most Pagan people were around the world who perished in the fire and fury reserved in the Abrahamic books for the infidels and kaffirs.
Centuries of systematic indoctrination and propagation of the monotheist worldview in India undertaken by the colonial enterprise and carried on by the native governments after independence undermined the Indian sensibility. It tried its best to crush our cultural certitude so much so that our own strong points of rational knowledge, emotional intelligence, humane interactions and all-encompassing worldviews made us weak and ineffectual as a cultural group. Our traditional multi-dimensional approach to spirituality and the various streams of Indian religious traditions that cater not only to the super intelligent man who lives on air and fire, but also to the common man who is more focused on mundane matters of the world, became a handicap. Gradually, a spurious rationality infatuated with a fake and dishonest monotheism has gained ground in the Hindu mindscape so much so that the ancient pagan civilization is on the verge of extinction today. The attack on the Sabarimala tradition by the Supreme Court and the Communist state government and the murderous intrusion of the American missionary into North Sentinel Island are the latest in a long series of events against the Pagans that distinctly evidence the still persistent, general intent of monotheist belligerence.
Gods of yore and the present
The ancient Greeks and the Romans came to India to trade or to learn, like the once great Arabs and Persians, but their later progeny came with swords and guns not only to trade but to make the earth a kingdom of bloodlust, animosity and separatism by peddling their half-baked, capital “G” god whom they found in Moses’ books. Cultures and traditions were mown down and destroyed in the name of monotheism, as if it carried any more rational force than polytheism. The unity of the Abrahamic god as the bearded father in heaven who punishes those who go against his commands and wishes seems to many to have some kind of indiscernible superior edge over the Hindu pantheon of ancient gods and goddesses who actually symbolise phenomenal forces. The myth of the imperceptible capital “G” god and the myth of the perceptible forces of nature existent in human life (devas) have intertwined to muddle the brains of the invariably confused elite among our own species.
The distinction between the Abrahamic god and the ancient gods and goddesses of the Hindus is very stark and strongly demarcated from each other. The god of the Bible is a male chauvinist and in a vain effort to become unique and singular, he derides other gods and forbids his followers from worshipping other gods. This god appears only before a select few of his devotees and whose existence always remains hearsay (gospel) to his followers. For these followers in turn, the chief holy duty is to go after non-believers with guns, knives and guile and convert them at any cost. The “great mandate” of their scriptures, the Bible, exhorts all Christians to go all over the world and convert every non-Christian. With regard to non-believers, the Koran shares similar mandates with the Bible.
The chief “monotheist” ritual is the blood sacrifice offered to the god by his followers. Archetypically this blood sacrifice is of the son of Abraham commanded by the biblical god. Jews and Muslims enact this sacrifice through concrete slaughter of sheep or some other animal on important religious occasions. It is said the more devote among the Bible-thumpers in earlier times used to sacrifice their first-born children. In Christian scriptures, the blood sacrifice is reflected in the prototypical crucifixion of Jesus, which is purportedly the sacrifice staged by his father, who is the self-same monotheist god of the old book. In actual Christian sheep life, the sacrifice constitutes the gathering in prayer halls and churches from time to time for the ritual cannibalistic meal of their god Jesus, which is termed transubstantiation. It is invariably the gory enactment of the blood sacrifice, no matter how well it is ethereally clothed and covered in music and incense smoke to make it palatable to the peace-loving modern populace who post goodies on Facebook and WhatsApp.
The Hindu Pagans, on the contrary, concentrated traditionally on the prescribed rules and collective duties to society. Their religious rituals comprise such a wide spectrum that blood sacrifice, an atavistic echo of the primeval fertility rites, was practised only by a minute section of the populace at the time the monotheists entered the country. Since the society was organised according to occupation and ethnicity, each group nurtured their singular customs and traditions. In many cases these traditions overlapped and the people involved interacted in rituals as well as customs. The wide spectrum of these rituals and customs and their interactions go beyond the scope of this article and descriptions are omitted here. Every group—ethnic, religious or occupational—had the right to follow their original and peculiar traditional practices and these rights were safeguarded by the rules of the land, the Dharmasastras, which were amended according to the zeitgeist. The rare cultural and religious diversity that one still sees in India is a result of this traditional safety net around ethnic groups that is now being dismantled step by step by monotheist missiologists and bomb makers in connivance with ignorant legislators and judges. Cultural predators had no say in ancient India and the cultural assets of every group were well protected until the monotheists entered the country with their “great mandate”.
The general characteristic of the Hindu Pagans was the progressive trend in evolution of spiritual practices and philosophy side by side. The four Vedas, the Upanishads, the two epics and the myriad puranic literature were the result of progressive evolution of the human species that can be distinctly evidenced internally. The upward trend in society was defined by increasingly refined ethical actions and day-to-day hygienic habits. By expunging blood sacrifices and through sattvic diet and behaviour many groups progressed through ahimsa (non-violence) and intensive penance and these groups were honoured by the rest.
Worship of the Hindu polytheists and global monotheists
The archetypal place of worship of the original monotheist is a place of slaughter and consumption. This is described in Moses’ book as the altar for “burnt offering” (Genesis 8:20), where the animal is slaughtered. And the butcher who slaughtered the animal offering became the priest. The Christian church is a modification of the slaughterhouse where Jesus is symbolically butchered again and again at regular intervals and the blood and flesh shared by the congregation. The Bible proclaims very distinctly that the monotheist god is most satisfied with blood sacrifice (Genesis 4:2-5). The church or mosque has been a place for the followers to gather regularly to sing praise of their god and perform blood sacrifice, symbolically as well as literally.
In contrast, since ancient times, most Pagan groups worshipped by communion in natural spots like sacred groves, mountaintops and water bodies (theerthas). Lighting the lamp in shrines in sylvan ambience was a prime characteristic feature of the polytheist Pagans in India. Among the Hindu populace were philosophers, man and woman, and many of these were atheists such as the materialists called Charvakas. Buddhists and Jains also did not worship any god but observed strict ethical principles and monastic traditions. Every kind of guy had the opportunity and freedom to pursue his traditions, duties and privileges. The common working man for his part was freed from all spiritual restraints and disciplines to undertake the mundane matters of society and also to enjoy material life. And the simple shrines in natural spots formed the primary spiritual interface of the common folk.
The tantric temple worship of the Hindus headed by the Brahmans could be called a unique development in the religious history of the Indian polytheists and a turning point in Pagan spiritual evolution. It differed from the simple shrines of the animists and was distinguished by esoteric knowledge. The Hindu temples developed through a synthesis of the Vedic worship with another complementary Indic stream called Tantra, lately described by some as the Dravidian stream (as opposed to the Aryan).
Agni Purana and a supplement to the Vishnu Purana named “Vishnudharmottara” proclaim that the fruits of the Vedic yajnas can be achieved by temple worship. The merging of the two predominant streams of Indic knowledge, Nigama (Veda) and Agama (Tantra), led to the creation of all prominent temples all over the Indian subcontinent and beyond. The Dharmasastras also mention a third method of consecration for worship, lokachara (tradition of the people), which is a combination of the aforementioned two and the peculiarities of locality, time and authorities. The Jagannath Temple in Puri and the Sabarimala Ayyappa Temple are classic examples of the third kind. Generally the Hindu temples were created for atmartha (for the benefit of individuals along with their family or community) and parartha (for the benefit of the collective society) originally for temporary purposes, but gradually they became permanent structures.
These temples also highlight the stark difference between the Pagan gods and goddesses and the monotheist god and establish their contrasting positions. The particular deity in the Pagan temple is created, as it were, by the human whereas the monotheist god creates the human and commands sacrificial worship from the human. The Tantric practice of pranapratishtana (breathing life into the murti) and the Vedic ceremony of opening the eyes of the deity with a needle complete the consecration in the Hindu temple for the purpose of worship, whereas according to the book of the fake monotheists the god breathes life into the human made of dust so that he worships him.
In contrast to the uniform monotheist prayer halls and butcher tables, the Hindu temples were as diverse as hand-made mosaic tiles and followed a wide variety of traditions and modes of worship, dictated by the authority that consecrated them. These were custom-made deities and spaces made to fulfil specific purposes and reflected various spiritual stages of human life that determined individual progress of the atman. The Hindu deities, which are conceptually derived from natural elements, are carved or created observing the Agama texts such as Silpasastra (science of sculpturing) and conjured up (avahana or summoning) by specialists using esoteric techniques. Then the localised deity is consecrated and installed for special purposes or for the general welfare of society as a whole. The acquisition of the sculpturing and tantric skills followed laborious years of study and Spartan discipline. These occupations are the exclusive realm of specific groups including the Brahmans.
Conflicting worldviews and concepts
With the advent of alien “monotheist” gods like Jesus and Allah and the mushrooming of churches and mosques in India, the non-phenomenal transcendental god who hated phenomenal devas became an issue for all concerned. On the one hand the Pagans were looked upon as fresh raw material for the religion of the monotheist god, and on the other hand Hindu temples were viewed as a place where the Satan, the antagonist of the monotheist god, held sway. To make their prejudice authentic, the missionaries and Islamists pointed to their foreign books. The injunctions against idolatry and non-believers that pepper the Abrahamic texts were enough to make these wealthy temples the object of robbery, loot and arson. Since the temples hoarded the wealth of a land or region, stealing a people’s treasury also became all at once a lucrative spiritual activity for the early Christians and Muslims who arrived in India.
While the Christian and Islamic converts went on a spree around the globe annihilating spiritual traditions different from theirs and indiscriminately killing and colonising all sorts of creatures for material benefit, the Indian polytheists, in contrast, were accommodative of cultures and belief systems and saved the extinction of religious groups such as the Zoroastrians. The excuse the monotheists gave themselves for this atrocity was the irrational and non-experiential Weltanschauung presented by the Bible, wherein the capital “G” god created the globe and its creatures and gifted all of it to those of the human species that worshipped him. The benefactors of the monotheist god were taught by their butcher-priests that all other gods on earth are “false gods” or the “devils”.
The monotheist tradition in Europe, which was touted as a successful model for a “civilised” world, gave rise to peculiar concepts such as human rights and animal rights and a whole breed of pseudo-sciences that were absolutely unnecessary in a different cultural milieu. The scriptural injunctions against non-believers and the female gender (lesser than the male, being made from his rib) by the monotheistic god unleashed violence against non-believers and females of the species. European Christian history is heavily dotted with exemplary cruelty against other peoples and women. Just the fact that all men from this monotheistic tradition at one time or the other could lawfully beat their women for disobedience, thanks to the biblical origin myth, speaks in clear terms where the macho attitude comes from in the modern times.
When the polytheist traditions of ancient worlds fell one by one in a matter of decades or at the latest by few centuries, the monotheist spiritual enterprises, as it were, faced stiff resistance in India because of the strict organisation of labour and security of diversity guaranteed by the ancient society. Spiritual topics were exclusively handled by Brahmans who stonewalled the missionaries. Conversion to Christianity was rare and happened only among the folks who remained the farthest from the Brahmans.
However, encircled by a globally overwhelming monotheist world, India still remains the battleground of high intensity spiritual warfare, as proved time and time again by the aggressive manoeuvres of enemies from without and within, as demonstrated by the attack on the North Sentinelese by the suicidal American missionary John Allen Chau and the lopsided Supreme Court judgement in the Sabarimala women entry case and the subsequent aggressive action by the Communist state government.
Pagans handicapped from the start in modern India
The monotheist British colonialists could not conclude their “civilisational” enterprise satisfactorily as they had to make a quick departure in 1947. However they did the next best thing: they made sure that the conversion programme continued by preparing fertile grounds for it. They handed over power to those who were inculcated with a loyalty to the monotheistic worldview like M. K. Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru. At the time of independence, for this reason, the majority polytheists did not get a chance to design the constitution to safeguard the Hindu interests. The Pagans were side-lined and the brainwashed Indian natives and their prejudiced colonial minders granted the monotheistic worldview a privileged status in the constitution vis-à-vis the Pagan spiritual paradigm. The constitution was based on the European monotheist framework, which was simply ill-equipped to dispense justice in a battlefield of cultures.
Soon, with the emerging polity operating in a Soviet socialist mode and following colonial precedence, wealthy Hindu temples began to be taken over by the various governments, while carefully leaving the monotheist places of worship in the hands of their autocratic clergy. Then they opened another front in the battle against the unsuspecting Pagans. Customs and rituals that evolved in the sub-continent for several millennia began to be prohibited by judging these cultures using the corrupt, contaminated and unrealistic lenses of the monotheist worldview. As we now know, this fraudulent and erroneous worldview encourages the spiritual monoculture of a terrible kind that promotes the annihilation of all other spiritual practices and rituals.
By the sheer resistance of the Hindu Pagans, India, unlike the rest of the world, refused to be spiritually subjugated by monotheism despite the high rate of growth of churches and mosques. The Hindu temples continued to survive against all odds and some destroyed ones were even revived, despite the severe attacks on them conducted regularly by the crowd-funded monotheist enterprise. The missions of Islam, Christianity and their alter ego, Marxism, got control of the education system of India through the so-called English-educated class. The first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru and his British legacy observed a Semitic streak of pseudo-secular polity that favoured Islam, Christianity and a brand of Communism that continued to stamp down on Hindu polytheism in all its wide variety, annihilating one tradition at a time, all the while chiding and blaming each and every Pagan group for backwardness, superstition and social evil. The Western colonial narrative portrayed the monotheist intrusions into the Hindu heartland as part of a reforming upliftment programme for the Pagans.
A typical case in point is the abolishing of the devadasi system, which dealt a heavy blow to the Hindu temple tradition. The Hindus were compelled to abandon a vital component in their rituals as prescribed by the Agamas. In reality, the devadasi system manifested, symbolised and kept alive the power of the matriarchs in Indian society. The presence and involvement of the devadasis in many temple rituals was mandatory for the conduct of such. The matrilineal system this community followed was a slap in the face of the misogynist patriarchs of the desert culture. It enraged the monotheists when they came across this practice. With the help of Pagan converts to monotheism, the devadasi system was abolished, falsely portraying their ancient polyandrous customs as prostitution in the spurious light of Abrahamic patriarchal prudery.
The argument that won the day against devadasis was not exactly the same as the one that favoured the entry of fertile women into Sabarimala, but the issue was once again women who were falsely portrayed as sex slaves of the “upper caste” Hindu males of India. In reality the devadasis belonged to the most privileged among women in India, who were sought after by elite scholars as well as the royals. They were women of status and traditionally followed scholarship in arts and literature and practised matrilineal traditions. These women were performing artists, poets and musicians of a very high order. Their fortunes crashed only after the monotheist, misogynist worldview contaminated the open Pagan mind. The colonial patriarchs took advantage of the liberal outlook of the devadasis and made them “nautch” girls first and then forced them into prostitution overnight by throwing them out on the streets through legislation. They were evicted from their homes owned by temples, which they had lawfully possessed and lived in for generations. Native converts to the monotheist worldview also played a major role in this cruel chapter of Indian history, as a confused and beleaguered folk buried the last remnant of female dignity guaranteed by the ancient polytheist Pagans. Indians who take pride in the classical arts of the region are forever indebted to these brilliant women and their talented community for creating and ferrying these cultural assets across to the modern era, though they themselves perished in the hands of crusading British charlatans. To get a true picture of the devadasi community and their exalted and dignified role in Indian polytheist culture, read Women of Pride by Lakshmi Viswanathan.
There is enough evidence to suggest that the Sabarimala numbering 18 hills in the Sahyadri mountain ranges were sacred grounds of ascetics and forest dwellers since time immemorial. And today the popularity of Lord Ayyappa, the Lord of Sabari Hills, pervades the whole of South India. Deemed by believers to be a god who manifested for modern times (Kaliyuga) and hence most important, Ayyappa symbolises the common man’s aspiration of getting moksha, the release from the birth cycle, regardless of his station in life, whether he be a Brahman or a common labourer. The devotee’s penance for 41 days, his journey across the hills and the ascension of the 18 steps at the pinnacle and then breaking the twin ghee-filled coconuts of duality are symbolic of the Hindu philosophy of crossing the 18 materialist stages and surrendering one’s ego to the deity and becoming one, in order to comprehend and experience the ultimate spiritual knowledge, “tat-vam-asi”—“you are that”, the undivided principle. The monistic self-realisation that the highest truth is indeed your self!
The temple is designed for open worship and doesn’t restrict the entry of members of other religions but does traditionally restrict the entry of women of menstruating age. It may be noted that the temple in olden times was open only during the Mandala period of 41 days, which ends with the Makarajyoti, the time when the sun enters Capricorn. However in the 1980s the temple authorities and the Devaswom Board, the department that manages the temple, established a flagpole in the temple and decided to open the temple every 1st day of the Malayalam month and keep it open for 5 days. Another reform was the entry of devotees without observing the traditional penance and women of all ages during this time. The legal prohibition of women of a certain age in the Sabarimala actually came into existence as late as 1991, when a devotee petitioned the Kerala High Court seeking a prohibition of women of this age from worship at the temple, since this was against tradition.
In the Geographical and Statistical Memoir of the Survey of the Travancore and Cochin States, Ward and Conner corroborate that this tradition of restriction on women existed around 200 years ago. The rules and regulations of a temple came into force through individual tradition and not by written rules, as is the case for every temple that ever existed until the colonial polity came to be established in India. Thus it is indisputable that such a tradition has been in existence at least for the last 200 years. It is interesting to note that young girls, pregnant women and old women used to visit Sabarimala at that time.
The legendary history of the temple narrates that the Sabarimala Temple is one of the five temples of Sastha or Ayyappa consecrated by Parasurama, each of these depicting the god in each stage of purusharta, the essential stages in a person’s life—as a baby, teenager, celibate, householder, forest dwelling ascetic (Sabarimala)—and as an enlightened yogi.
When the Sabarimala Temple was taken over by the Travancore government along with 347 other temples in the area in 1812, the Pandalam royal family had the complete rights to the temple. As reported by the Times of India, according to the Travancore Tribes and Castes written by anthropologist Diwan Bahadur L. A. Krishna Iyer, Sabarimala was in the joint possession of Pandalam Raja, Kakkattu Potti, the Perinad folk (inhabitants of a village by the same name) and the Kochuvelan (chief of Ulladan community nominated by the Pandalam Raja).
In 1950, the temple was completely gutted in a fire set by miscreants and the consecrated murti disfigured. The investigating police officer found evidence of forced entry into the temple and suspicion fell on Christian poachers residing in the adjoining area. Despite promises to the electorate of publishing the investigation report none of the succeeding state governments ever released the report or take any follow-up action. It is ironic that the main electoral promise of the first Communist government of Kerala that was elected to power in 1957 was that it would publish the investigation report of the fire that destroyed the Sabarimala Temple if it came to power.
As we now know, the Communists were not serious in keeping their promise. On top of it the current Communist government, with a plan to upgrade Sabarimala from a pilgrimage spot to a tourist destination, orchestrated the Supreme Court judgement to allow women of fertile age by presenting an affidavit through the Devaswom Board to the said court that it had no objections in lifting the restrictions on women. Sabarimala is one of the milch cows of the Kerala state government and plans for its expansion had been on the cards for years now. The only reason it is still pending is the whole temple area and the access points are part of the Periyar Tiger Reserve and hence needed the approval of the Forest Department for any use of land, which was not forthcoming all these years. With restrictions on women gone, it was assumed that the Forest Department could be coaxed to grant approval. This conjecture is confirmed by the speed in which the Devaswom Board issued a press release about its intention to request the Forest Department for 100 acres of land the very next day after the historic Sabarimala judgement was delivered. The stated reason for more land was to make additional facilities for women’s entry.
Is it wrong for young women to visit the temple?
It is debatable why young women should not visit Sabarimala Ayyappa. There are many views on this. The judges who ruled for lifting the restriction on women of a certain age voted in favour of equality of the sexes negating the fundamental right of a citizen to believe, unlike the dissenting judgement of the lone woman judge. However, Ayyappa in Sabarimala is not the monotheist god who is offered burnt fat. Ayyappa is like most Hindu deities a sankalpa-pratishta (intended consecration), wherein the unique deity represents a naishtika brahmachari (faithful ascetic), and a stage in a Hindu man’s life where females of fertile age are kept at a distance. This is strictly not a place intended for a devotee of any monotheist god. This temple is meant for devotees who become ascetics for 41 days and visit Ayyappa and commune with the deity.
However, one may ask: but why cannot a woman of fertile age visit Ayyappa even if he is a naishtika brahmachari? There is a shrine for a female deity, Malikapurathamma, next to Ayyappa’s atop the hill, which would have been anathema to a faithful ascetic, but evidently it is not. The pro-tradition reply is: a woman of fertile age visiting a human naishtika brahmachari is a transgression of decorum if she is approaching him knowingly and the same applies to Ayyappa, because for his believers the deity is a living being and also a legal entity by Indian law. People have the right to believe it just as people have the right not to believe it. So if non-believers want to enter the temple, what is their purpose? What did the two women, who breached the tradition, achieve by scaling the summit? If one is to truly believe what they say, that they had darshan of the Lord, which god are they talking about? This confusion about an undefined monotheist god and a well-defined polytheist god pervades the mind of such beings, if we give them the benefit of the doubt and forget the only other possibility that their intention was belligerent and the act was performed only to insult or desecrate what is held sacred by the polytheists.
There is also a small section among ignorant people who propagate that Ayyappa became a naishtika brahmachari only because the upper castes, to be specific the tantric family who consecrated Ayyappa and the Pandalam royals, somehow appropriated the temple and the hills from the tribal people, thus disinheriting the rightful caretakers of Sabarimala and Ayyappa, and therefore it is only justice that women be allowed into the summit.
I find little substance in the above argument. Since the tribal people actually lost their forest land and rights over the temple only after Kerala became a democracy under the Indian union and since the hill people themselves follow the traditions of the ascetic Ayyappa, and women of fertile age did not generally ascend the hill in ancient times, it may be assumed with some confidence that the tantric and the royals were only following lokachara (tradition of the people) by intentionally consecrating a naishtika brahmachari at Sabarimala. Ayyappa, by legend, is married to two women and has fathered a child, and this particular intended consecration as an ascetic is unique to Sabarimala and the only one of the five temples where there are restrictions on women.
The equality of women was originally a given for the Indian Pagans and evidenced by the high number of temples consecrated to goddesses and the number of “women only” temples in India. The “women only” temples provide exclusive space to women secluded from men. Men neither question this tradition nor invade this space out of respect for the privacy of these women. On the other hand, the “men only” temples are very rare. Sabarimala provides space for men, single and married, to gather for a special purpose: seclude themselves from fertile women in a 41-day penance so as to focus on moksha, the ultimate final release every Hindu polytheist is focused on. Just as it is pure maryada (decorum) for men not to invade the space reserved for women, it is pure maryada for women to leave the space reserved for men to men alone. This was no discrimination against women but a restriction based on age. This is not at all a transgression of women’s rights. There is no written law but tradition for this purpose, just as decorum is decorum and not a written law.
However, for the monotheist, decorum is an alien word when it comes to religion and spirituality. Barging into the sacred space of the polytheist without decorum, permission and respect has been a characteristic feature of the monotheist. For them it is their god-given right; the right to worship and redemption was exclusively given to them by capital “G” god in the Bible! Only when this misdemeanour became glaring did the believers of Ayyappa go to court in 1991 and secure a legal ban. However, the persistently growing monotheist sentiments didn’t let go but kept increasing the pressure on the polytheists and finally put the judiciary under the thumbscrew in 2018 to overturn the old world decency, decorum and gender dignity.
Is this very difficult for a learned and honourable judge to understand? Was this judgement aimed at drawing applause from the global monotheist crowd? Is a monotheist not competent to understand this type of cultural decorum? We will know the honest answer only if a monotheist is first willing to give up his fake monotheism and false premises behind it in order to comprehend the spiritual reality.
Even though there is disagreement among believing Hindus on the restricted women’s entry to Sabarimala, there is unanimous agreement as to who should bring about the reforms. The Supreme Court is incompetent to make religious reforms for the reason that it cannot make or change laws. Only if a custom or tradition violates the rights of an individual, can the court intervene, and that too without violating another fundamental right of another. In this case, the Supreme Court of India violated the right to belief. A more important requirement crucial for the sustenance of polytheism in the future will be to free their places of worship from government control. The present dispensation is detrimental to polytheism because it exposes its traditions and customs to ideologies such as Communism and people in power with monotheist prejudices.
Dismantling the Satan’s last stronghold
According to the world’s latest Christian martyr, the American missionary John Allen Chau, the North Sentinel Island is the “Satan’s last stronghold”. I can already foresee the late Chau manifesting as the Saint of Andaman and Nicobar Islands some years into the future. Here, we see the horrible black drama against a white background. It is one god’s attempt to exterminate all other gods, and Chau is his latest martyr who died in the holy fight.
Chau’s monotheist god has in the meantime exterminated countless gods and goddesses all over the globe and has the most number of believers among the species. But the god is still not satisfied according to the scriptural instructions given to the believers. The monotheist god needs to exterminate the whole Hindu pantheon and its believers, until he is the last chap standing in the world, before the Second Coming will be pronounced to have arrived by those lucky monotheists who made it to heaven.
Being the only remaining land of polytheists on earth, Chau is correct in presuming that the monotheist god’s antagonist lives in India. To make such a statement, however, I assume the late Chau had some relief and a satisfactory reason to suspect that the Satan has been or would soon be evicted from the rest of India once the last bastions of polytheism have been flattened. Perhaps, Chau knew that when polytheist traditions fall one by one, the Satan he knew also left the world, such as when women of fertile age violated the privacy of men and stepped on the Pagan spiritual summit. I may also be wrong because Chau might have figured it out, correctly or incorrectly, that there are no original Pagans left on the Indian subcontinent, save the North Sentinel Island. Or, it may be that Pagans in jeans and T-shirts don’t matter anymore to the missionaries and their minders, the missiologists.
The modus operandi is the same everywhere for the bloodthirsty monotheist brigade: encroach the sacred space of the Pagan everywhere, like in West Asia, Europe, the Americas, Africa, and Australia. The appropriation of religious spaces of the American Indians by the US government for myriad purposes continues even today. This practice is analogous to the appropriation of sacred space of the polytheists in India, particularly in Kerala. Nobody in India or Kerala noticed that as the monotheists and “activists” (another name for Communists) were desecrating Sabarimala, the sacred space of the Kani (Kanikkar) tribe in South Kerala, Agasthyarkoodam, was being thrown open by the Kerala government to tourists for trekking. Like in Sabarimala, the Kani tribe who were the original dwellers of this forest area had restrictions on women of menstruating age in ascending the Agasthyarkoodam peak and their women still observe this ancient tradition. They believe sage Agastya, their spiritual guardian, is performing penance at its peak. The pilgrim season at Agasthyarkoodam starts coincidentally on the day the Sabarimala closes and lasts till Shivaratri rituals in early March. The Kani tribe and their ancient tradition evidently mean little to the government, since it is discouraging traditional pilgrims by introducing a trekking pass at a price of Rupees 1000. Even the Sangh Parivar, the supposed guardians of polytheist traditions, seems to have missed this attack on Pagan tradition.
The gruelling war of the monotheist god on the pantheon of Pagan gods provides spectacular imagery in the Paradise Lost by John Milton. The war of the monotheist believers on believers of other gods and goddesses in broad daylight has been equally awesome and destructive. We know how whole populations along with their cultures were wiped out in Europe and the Americas by the monotheist believers. The ferocity of the missionaries fuelled by the scriptural injunctions thundered around the globe on foot and on waters with manic velocity, blood flowing all along in copious volumes. No man who knows these as a fact would condone the continued existence of such a diabolical army of believers and their lunatic enterprise called evangelisation or proselytization. Instead of this belligerent germ being eradicated by any sane government, the supposed union of the states of the earth, the United Nations, has granted special privilege to Vatican, the notorious entity that should have been prosecuted for historical crimes thousands of times over and over, by which it goes to every other nation and get seated as a privileged guest for no other reason than colluding with the fascist and mass murderer Benito Mussolini. Why does the world’s united body, the UN, patronise Vatican as a nation and grant so much privilege for free?
The majority of people in the world are monotheists and the polytheists are a religious minority. And the majority became a majority through utter violence and mayhem against the latter. Today there is an outward calm, an appearance of civility but there is no equality between monotheism and polytheism. Equality is not possible because a large number of people are working against polytheism day in and day out all over the earth. These people are loaded with resources, privileges and power and have a game plan in hand. They are organised and so well coordinated that their sectarian prejudice (Vatican’s undeserving position in the UN) appears like natural, objective truth. The white people behind the monotheistic enterprise look invisible, like evaporating fumes. For instance, there are lots of apologists for the white Christian’s culpability in spreading the monotheist nonsense around the globe who assume the pretext that Europeans have left Christianity and that churches are empty there and that Christianity has become a third world enterprise. It is true that the head count of Christians is overwhelming in the third world countries, but most people forget or just ignore that the missionary leaders as well as missiologists who conceive of the modern monotheist strategy consist exclusively of white people (see the Wikipedia list of pioneering Missiologists) who are still fired by Stone Age sentiments. Above all, the funds that roll the missionary machinery everywhere come from Europe and the US.
The missiologists are the new evangelist leaders that line up behind the third world foot soldiers and direct them against the Pagans and others whom they think are the enemies of the monotheist god. They are the invisible strategists and the brain behind the war against the polytheists and the ethnic Indian tradition. It is the missiologists who guide and assign foot soldiers such as John Allen Chau for the proselytization task in a certain place. They are bent on destroying polytheist traditions and are in collusion with political parties in India.
An objective observer of the political scene in India, especially Kerala, can distinguish the anti-polytheist sentiment. The prejudice of the Communists in Kerala against polytheism is blatant. While they promote Christian and Islamic institutions and patronise their respective clergy at the expense of ordinary believers, they bend over backwards to destroy polytheist traditions. This lopsided dealing of elected Indian governments and the Supreme Court is not only taking India to the verge of violence and anarchy, but raises serious doubt about their motives. While violating the Sabarimala tradition by taking two atheist women to the summit in an ambulance in male costume, the Kerala Communist government was also creating a “women’s wall” purportedly for gender equality as a public relations measure. This was hailed as a historic victory for women and scored heavily only among far-away, monotheist bleeding hearts of Europe and the West. None of them knows nor cares that the Kerala economy is in shambles and the cost of the “women’s wall” came at the cost of public funds kept for the relief of women victims of violence. Not to mention, the government machinery was misused and poor women on government welfare threatened with cancellation of benefits if they didn’t participate!
The inter-religious conflict that we see everywhere in India is the reflection of the monotheist cultural aggression and its reactions. It is difficult to remember now that the majority of women in old Kerala followed matrilineal traditions and had equal or more rights than men. Matriarchy and polyandry fell on the wayside because they were against the monotheist patriarchy that was introduced here as Christianity and Islam took roots, but the excuse was once again “Brahmanical patriarchy”, a phrase coined recently to beat Hindu polytheists with, while destroying their culture and traditions. The patrilineal tradition of the Brahmans is of a completely different sort and can never be accused of misogyny unlike that of the Abrahamic monotheists, which is diabolical in all senses of the term.
Indians are at the crossroads now not knowing where their spiritual and cultural identity lies. What did the women activists achieve by scaling the Sabarimala summit? Which god did they see there? Was it the man-invoked brahmachari Ayyappa who offers moksha while they are alive? Or was it the misogynist god who created humans out of dust to torment their lives and then gift them heaven after death?
What are at stake here if you take the wrong turn in India are true multiculturalism, tolerance and emancipation of the human soul from greed. It is becoming clear as daylight that true liberty and peace for human beings can materialise only with a polytheistic approach and philosophy of religion. The Pagan Hindu approach to religion and spirituality is the lone star in the horizon that can save humanity from the darkness of delusional monotheism and lead the ailing species back on track towards the light of reality, mental health and true knowledge of the spirit.
› George Augustine Thundiparambil is an Indian author and translator who works in Kerala and Germany.