India, a country with more than 5000 years of rich culture, a country declared as a sovereign, secular, socialist, democratic, republic, that which assures its citizens justice, equality and liberty, is celebrating its 67th Republic Day today.
It is extremely pathetic to see that on this day, women, who are said to be worshipped as Goddesses in India are fighting for their rights to enter into the sanctum sanctorum…the temples. Be it the Shani Shinganapur in Maharashtra or the Sabarimalai in Kerala or the Haji Ali Dargah in Mumbai, it is the same…No Women.
Yes, this is the same nation that is referred to as ‘Barat Mata’ and all the rivers are named after women, including the mythical Saraswati.
The most common argument we hear of why women are barred from entering into temples is ‘menstruation’. Women are seen as impure for this very reason that is the basis of our birth…a prearrangement that unfortunately cannot be circumvented or dodged by ingenuity or stratagem.
The root cause is not just menstruation, but ignorance; ignorance of the rationale behind age-old traditions. I don’t think there is any Hindu scripture that talks about barring women’s entry into the temples. This was an arrangement made later by our ancestors for the benefit of women and for the benefit of the entire mankind perhaps.
in India, for many hundreds of years, all practices with scientific reasoning behind them were labeled and endorsed with a religious tag; people followed them without any questions asked, and even if asked, these scientific reasoning would have made very little to no sense then, thus prohibiting them from following the traditions.
We know that almost all (Hindu) religious traditions we follow today have scientific reasoning behind them. There’s a scientific reason behind applying vibudhi, chandan, and kumkum; there’s a scientific reason why we chant mantras; there’s a reason why we fast and there’s a reason for any other religious practice as such.
In today’s world, we are all educated, our thought process has evolved so much that we can rationalize, intellectualize, and appreciate the true reasoning behind our practices. Revealing these reasons, perhaps will be a wiser approach to revive and reestablish these practices.
It is high time now that society be educated on the reasons for the arrangement of not letting women into the temple.
Hinduism, we know, is not a religion but a way of life. Spirituality was a significant part of this lifestyle in India. Yoga and meditation, then and now, are never preached and followed as religious activities but are spiritual. Spirituality talks about energies, which is what quantum physics is also getting into today.
Having said that, here is why I think it is crucial our ancestors wanted women to not go to temples during the 3 to 5 days menstrual period.
During the menstrual period in a woman, a significant amount of energy in her body is working in the downward direction towards the reproductive organs.
Temples are places loaded with cosmic energy (not sure about newly established temples though). When soaked in this cosmic energy, one’s energy within the body is forced to rise upwards.
When a women on her menstrual period goes to a temple, there is a force that is pulling her energy up, but due to physiological changes happening currently, there is a demand for the energy to flow in the downward direction. This confusion hinders the regular functioning of the body and may impact the functioning of the reproductive organs.
The temples, as we know, are high in cosmic energy (due to various spiritual practices followed there like the chanting of mantras and prayers). This is why women on their menstrual cycles were prohibited from entering into the temples.
Thus we see this arrangement was not that the temple would become impure from a woman’s presence, but more because entering a temple is detrimental to her own reproductive system.
It would have made more sense if both men and women were made to understand the rationale behind this so women got their due respect then and now.
With this awareness, people should be left to decide for themselves. Yes, touching fire burns one’s finger, and one has to be aware, not restricted or prohibited from using it.
There’s a lot of unlearning and learning to be done in our society today!!