The Meera Jasmine petition

( A note dated: May 30, 2007 , almost a year after the petition - readers may also want to read

http://drisyadrisya.blogspot.com/2006/07/7170666.html
http://stochastic-blah-blah.blogspot.com/2007/05/temple-entry-to-everyone.html

to know some after-effects of the petition )

Now for the original post below:
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See my previous post, and thanks to the encouragement from rambler, we now have the petition up and running.. Please sign it, and cut and paste the message below and send it to your friends

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Dear friends

Please take a minute or two to read and sign the following petition and pass it on to your friends

http://www.petitiononline.com/4meera/

In brief : National award winning actress Meera Jasmine was made to apologize and pay for purification rituals for having entered a temple in Kerala inspite of being born into a Christian family. By her own admission Meera respects Hinduism and its rituals and as proud Hindus we feel that such denial to genuine seekers of Hinduism is illogical. Through this petition, we aim to bring awareness and get the support of Hindus around the world to help remove such restrictions to those who genuinely repect Hinduism and would like to explore it, and to truly put to practice the Inclusiveness and Universalism, unique to Hinduism

thank you for your time
best wishes
petition authors

Comments

Sailesh Ganesh said…
The reason why non-Hindus are not allowed inside is that there have been quite a few cases where christians have entered the temple premises and conducted their proselytizing activities! Atleast that is the reason I know. How would you balance this menace against the principle of inclusiveness?
Sailesh Ganesh said…
Btw, I have linked you to my blog here.
Apoplexy said…
This onlt shows how narrow the understanding of Hinduism can be among random bloggers.
drisyadrisya said…
shailesh

thanks for linking. and I understand your concern. There is a saying in Mallu "eliye pedichu illam chuttu". roughly meaning "burn the whole house for fear of rats"

If xtian missionaries are doing their activities near temple, one of their purposes is indeed to make you withdrawn. to put u on the defensive. So why fall for it? Moreover, those harversters the souls anyway can and will do their activities just outside the temple and much more so on college campuses, in college canteens and so on.. no point in changing around your life based on their activities

and in your blogpost, I agree with the last line. This petition as you can see is not about "breaking traditions".. its more about doing things smart

And apoplexy, I am tempted to make a judgement, but then since your single liner hit and run, doesn't seem to make much sense, to me I wait ... wanna debate Hinduism buddy ? or wanna debate interfaith issues ? or both ? your pick
Sailesh Ganesh said…
Arun, I do agree with you on the principle, I did sign the petition after all. I certainly am not in favour of "burning down the house for the sake of a few rats", but my point is that the rats still have to be taken care of. The question I asked was not a challenge question, but rather about your opinion on how to deal with the menace. Because, if the temple gates were to be thrown open to everyone, the issue of conversion activities will get a mention, and those in favour of opening the gates must be ready with a solution to deal with the menace. Thats all. While ignoring such activities has its own benefits, some tangible action must be presented for the sake of the common man. All said and done, it is as much a question of his/her faith as it is about the principle of equality.
drisyadrisya said…
Sailesh,

I don't have a oneword answer to it. But would like to mention the following

1. To the best of my knowledge, temples in other states do not have a restriction to non-hindus. so how are t=hey managing it ?

2. I feel its partly a sense of insecurity that makes one feel that missionary activities cannot be dealt with.. As a matter of fact, I don't think they are allowed to- by law - proselytize in any public place without permission . So the same rule applies to tenmples as well

3. And as I put in the petition, you can make non-Hinuds give a signed document saying they respect Hinduism. Put the ball in their court.. have them sig n a document saying Hinduism is a true religion and Jesus is not the "only son of God" . lets see if missionaries are willing to sign something like that which goes against the basic tenets as they believ

I am reminded of an example that swami dayanandaji gives.. he was called one of those interfaiths where the organisers hoped to do the eyewash as usual. every participant was asked to write one sentence or so in the "joined statement" to be released at the end

Dayanadaji simply wrote. "God need not be a HE. God could be a SHE too" .. Obviuosly it did not go thro' the Abrahamics .. so much for their proclaimed interfaith dialogues

The point I am trying to make is that, Hinduism has enough strength to withstand such slanders , if only Hindus are willing to stand up . In the case of missionary menace too, the same applies. Train the HIndus with a few counter questions
( Once more, as dayanadaji asks "Oh so our father is in heaven.. so where is the mother?" ) and you will soon see them on the backfoot

And frankly, from my own experience xtians in kerala, these days , would not go to the extend of entering the temple and preaching.. so don't worry abt that
drisyadrisya said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
froginthewell said…
I am not sure if the motive for such a rule was proselytization inside temple premises. Once when gAndhiji had requested the priests of iNTamturutti temple in vaikkam to allow dalits into the temple he was told that only "sanAtana-dharmis" could be allowed inside ( and these people did not consider dalits to be "sanAtana-dharmis" ). May be it is an extension of some logic of this sort, or may be they did some dEva-prashnam.

In fact I am getting somewhat disillusioned with our temple tradition. What checks are there to ensure that the priests lead a moral life etc.? Only brAhmins can become priests ( i.e., there is no system to facilitate selecting priests from the general populace by evaluating some kind of purity or so ). If only they were run by organizations like rAmakRShNa maTh ( where certainly the brahmacArins and sannyAsis have to live upto certain ideals of purity and their family background doesn't matter ). Practices like "shatru-saMhAram" in some temples of kEraLa are, I believe, against the principle of any spiritual path. Moreover the very thought that some corrupt officials appointed by government runs these temples etc. Leftists use these things to criticize hindus instead of criticizing the government and officials.

I think one of the first steps will be to privatize temples ( and churches and mosques ). Let dedicated hindu trusts run them. Libertarians will also be happy :-))
Anonymous said…
Do online petitions really work?
Sailesh Ganesh said…
@Arun: I like your idea of getting non-Hindus to sign a petition. But then again, how would you identify them from Hindus? I think the idea is so good that the pseudo-secularists will be up in arms, aghast at the very idea!

@froginthewell: If it is not about proselytization, then there is no justification for barring people from entering the temple. We need to go back to pre-Islamic times (or was it further back?), where caste was decided on work and conduct, and not birth. Sanatana Dharma does not need exclusivity based on beliefs or some book. The ideals of the Ramakrishna Math are worth following indeed, and I totally concur with the rest of your post.
drisyadrisya said…
Anon : something is better than nothing and let me assure you, we have tried doing mnore than just the petition - albeit late- and the petition itself has been used in for as part of a bigger attempt. I shall withhold details until we see anything comes up. Until then keep signing and spreading the word around

FITW : First of all, one doesn't have to stop anything "for fear of anything" - be it "for fear of priests not leading a nice life blah blah" . That can be dealt with on a case by case basis . That should not make anyone hate hinduism or abhor priesthood. lets get that straight first

Secondly, there are lots and lots of priests who against all odds of poverty, neglect and criticism from the pseuod-progressives have still kept alive various dying traditions, and hats off to them. Lets not make judgements about a whole profession because a few in that turned out to be selfish for reasons best known to them.

Thirdly, its not true that only Brahmins can be priests in Kerala. Check this link

http://www.hindunet.org/srh_home/1996_6/msg00115.html (thanks to ranjith for sending me this) . In fact this is a classic example of reforms possible within Hinduism - only that it takes effort

Fourthly, privatization of temples - yes, surely a good idea, esp considering the fact that tons of money is "stolen" by govt and politicians and corrupt beauros to fill their pockets and subsibise other things (including the so called minority institutes). I know there are practical hurdles, but I think if there is a will there is a way

And lastly, for you FITW, we need not do anything "to please libertarians". Lets follow dharma to the best as we know. thats all. nothing more nothing less


Okay, its been long.. so the rest in the next
drisyadrisya said…
sailesh

The simple question is, how do u currently identify Hindus from non-Hindus ? Its not as though someone will stand to identify hindus and non-hindus. non-hindus who want to worship should volunteer themselves to sign it

If you sign the affidavit, then you have permission. Of course you can walk in w/o signing it also, but then if you are "caught" you will have to pay the fine. you get the idea ?

well, in general I am against the idea of "shuddi" or "purification". Sarvam Brahmamayam - so then what is it that is impure ? So I would not demand fine for "purification", but rather that money can be used for the betterment of temple or for charity
Sailesh Ganesh said…
@Arun: I am not sure I like the idea of fining a non-Hindu if he is caught in the temple. It is not as if (s)he has committed an offense. How would that situation be any different from the current situation, morally and spiritually?

IMHO, everyone should be allowed in the temple on good faith, but if anyone is found disturbing the peace (by whatever means), (s)he will be asked to leave. The temple can also appeal to the public in general to be aware of the environment, and to help in preserving the sanctity of the premises.

My premise is that most people are good at heart, only corrupted by the actions of the people who are supposed to be role models. If we appeal to the goodness of people, especially within a place of worship, I think it will work very well. Just my $0.02.
Anonymous said…
This is more of a clarification than a debating question

Was Yesudas not asked to sign such a document and did he not refuse ?

Also, did not the church also disown him ?
drisyadrisya said…
sailesh

umm come to think of it, you are right.. but then, if people are willing to sign the document, then anyway they don't have to pay any fine anyways

anyway, i guess that isn't that important.. the point is, there are always ways to implement it such that any proselytising menace can be dealt with

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and yeah, in general I agree, one has to see the goodness in people. by nature people are good. circumstances and certain ideologies (unfortunately including dogmatic religions) corrupt them..

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and the new anon ! - yeah, I recently learned that there was an effort initiated by kerala kshetra samrakshana samithi in the yesudas case, but I do not know why it did not work out and why if at all, he refused to sign such a document

and as far as the church goes, I guess at first they refused to baptise his kids because yesudas has sung hindu devotional songs and is a devotee at sabarimala. That isn't much surprising to me as in theory, "idol worship" has to be abhored by a "true" church. I am not sure if they finaly did ..

Hindus need not imitate them by shutting our doors
Anonymous said…
Being a hindu is not a play were you can have democracy or politics. Have you ever come through about the ev olution of universe by Vedas. If you believe Hinduism u should also believe the the God and the Vedic Customs and type of Worship and Poojas. When it is against the Traditional values of a temple and its sanctity it should not be done with the temples. You most civilised(that u think yourselves) may kndly excuse the people who believe the God as eternal and which cannot be computerised or modernised to your convenience but those who want can build a temple with a poojari or any religion and perform poojas and can allow any body with prasada as chicken biriyani.
Kindly leave the sanctity of temples in Kerala an be a worshiper of Western
drisyadrisya said…
My dearest anonymous

First try to learn some communication skills. I am not a cryptography expert

Second, the very statement that democracy and politics are not part of Hinduism, - is a self-goal you have scored in the opening minute itself . Go read Arthashastra

As for evolution of Universe, ha ha, I know you would only bulb if I ask you to quote me what the Vedas say about that

read http://drisyadrisya.blogspot.com/2006/02/honesty-that-shines-thro.html

Before you pass a judgement, try to atleast browse through this blog and see what all I know and what all I don't

You have no clue, how much time I spend in trying to learn Hinduism, which is a such a fascination for me .
Sailesh Ganesh said…
@Anon: Whatever happened to "Hinduism is not a religion, but a way of life"? Isnt politics part of life as well? Is the Arthashastra just trying to be funny when it talks about politics and governance?

If you believe Hinduism u should also believe the the God and the Vedic Customs and type of Worship and Poojas.

Not true, the Yoga, Samkhya and Mimamsa schools of thought are atheistic, they do not acknowledge the existence of God. The first two, along with the Nyaya school of thought dont acknowledge the Vedas as eternal either. Pooja and rituals are not accepted by all schools of Hinduism. This is not to say all these ideas are not valid, but just that different perspectives exist, and you can never judge a person to be western simply because he has a different perspective.

The point I am trying to make is that there are certain aspects that require reform, and we are only trying to help. We respect traditions and our culture as much as you do, but it does not mean that we will accept something that we feel is wrong simply because tradition says so. We try to debate it, find out the true reason for its existence. In other words, we are being true to Hinduism by not prescribing to dogmatism.
Ed Viswanathan said…
I do not know anything about Meera Jasmine and why she did what she did.

If she as well as other non-Hindus are sincerely interested in Hinduism, then we have to make some changes to accommodate them in the big umbrella we call Hinduism.

Sure, we have to maintain the sanctity of our places of worship but we should also to take “baby steps” to alter the way we were doing things for centuries.

To begin with, there are many non-Hindus like Meera Jasmine and Yesudas come from families who were Hindus few generations ago.

They may be coming to the Hindu temple and Hinduism because they sincerely LOVE Hinduism and what it stands for.

They are coming to Hinduism since they don’t feel comfort in their religion. They are seeking answers in Hinduism, which they can’t find in their religion.

It is a crime to deny them a chance to come back to their mother religion.

Let us alter things in a proper slow order, which even the most conservative among us can agree upon.

If we cannot allow Meera Jasmine or Yesudas to worship in our main temple, then we have to at least allow them to worship in an outer temple. By doing that they will know that we are welcoming them with open arms.

I am writing all these things since so many Christians have written to me expressing their heart felt desire to embrace Hinduism after reading my book AM I A HINDU? [http://amiahindu.com/]

It breaks my heart to tell them that A HINDU IS BORN AND NOT CONVERTED. Let us change our ways and do things a little different so that millions can join us in the search after truth.

I know those who are in hierarchy will not listen to what you and I will say. But repeated statements from people like you and I will finally open their eyes.
Anonymous said…
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