Are we following the message of Lord Ayyappa at Sabarimala - 'Tat vam Asi', when we fight in His name?
Tat vam Asi... Thou artThat...
is the message of the Lord sitting in Sabarimala. But looking at the recent clashes regarding entry into Sabarimala temple, I wonder if we have understood the import of this message.
At the outset, I would like to clarify that this is not an opinion about whether women should be allowed entry into the Sabarimala temple or not. I have been following the debates on television, a lot of them indeed as all the news channels are cashing in on this hot news and endless debates are being conducted. But are these debates easing the situation? Often the same people are invited to different news channels at different times and the same views are propagated again and again with both sides not being able to come to a conclusion.
Often the anchors of the news shows instead of being neutral have strong leanings towards one side and can be seen shouting down the side which is against the entry into Sabarimala.
Maybe it is this lack of neutrality in the anchors that causes me to take the neutral position and view all the debates without any strong point to support.
I find myself agreeing with the viewpoint of the lady who says that women should be allowed to enter as anyway rituals are not being followed strictly by the men too, as very few of them really do follow the 41 days of strict abstinence, sincerely.
True enough, if women are to be excluded, let’s see to it that our menfolk get their act together and follow the rules to the last letter.
But then I also agree with the viewpoint of the lady who counters and says that in the relative world all things are selective and that a masculine energy has been created at Sabarimala and we need to preserve that from being diluted.
The more I watch, the more I feel that everyone is right in his own way as he/she is fighting for what he believes is right. For the women who want to enter, it becomes a symbol of overcoming discrimination against women. For the women who do not want to enter and who want to prevent others from entering, it is about having their beliefs shaken and protecting their faith.
Aren't they both entitled to their views? After all the whole of life is a matter of perspective.
No problem as long as it remains just that- a belief. But when it turns into violence, we need to step back and examine what really matters. As I write this article, the situation is escalating as the temple is due to reopen tomorrow.
Isn’t it ironical that people are using the name of a temple which has been associated with the highest teaching 'Tat Vam Asi' or 'I am That', to separate and divide and create differences. ? If I am That, is what I have learnt from my visits to the temple, why then don’t I put it into action?
What if we surrender our personal beliefs as they get dangerous and practise instead of Lord Ayyapa's message of seeing everyone as one energy? Can we then harm and hurt the other?
When I see the crowds that have been mobilized to stop people from entering the temple all I can say is, If we men and women can come out in such large numbers onto the streets to fight for what we believe in, why then cannot we come out in equally large numbers to take up the cause of those who are alive and suffering and who badly need our support? How many of us homemakers will mobilize forces and turn up in large numbers to speak up or take up arms for the little girl who has been raped? How many will speak vociferously on television for the housemaids who have been molested but who do not have recourse to the media and who cannot come forward to say ‘ME TOO’?
How many of us will take on the 'Gandhian path of non-violent sathyagraha' to stop animal torture?
Very few. We would prefer to walk by when we see that animal being tortured and turn our heads away when we hear about the plight of our housemaids.
Lord Ayyapa as I understand it, cannot be touched by anything we humans do to Him. The Lord is very well able to regulate the worldly play and take care of Himself and I don’t think he will be gratified to see people fight for or against entry into His temple.
Neither will it amuse him to see violence unleashed through words and action in God’s own country, on His behalf.
Wouldn’t He prefer that we follow His Message and treat every living being as we would treat Him- and use all this energy we have mobilized to make conditions better for the living? Wouldn't he prefer everyone with a strong viewpoint sit together in an atmosphere of camaraderie and see things from the 'other's' point of view and arrive at a consensus?
After all, Isn’t Lord Ayyappa living as much in every life that breathes, man or woman, plant or animal as in the deity sitting there in Sabarimala?
Let’s serve the Lord by serving the living. For as a great saint put it “Hands that help are holier than lips that pray!”