Rahul Easwar, one of the most prominent spokespersons of the Hindu right wing in Kerala, has blamed a section within the Hindu right wing for the controversies surrounding South Indian traditions likes Jallikettu and Sabarimala.
Easwar, who can be found on TV on most days expounding the Hindu right wing perspective on Kerala-related issues, said he was initially under the impression that the case against Sabarimala was instigated by Liberals or non-Hindus.
However, he said, after six years of trying to defend Sabarimala customs in front of law courts, he is now convinced that his initial impressions were wrong.
Instead, he said, he now believes that a section within the Hindu right wing was trying to ‘sacrifice’ traditions like Jellikettu and Sabarimala to achieve their larger goal of establishing a ‘Hindu Rashtra’ (Hindu Nation) in India.
“There is a conspiracy. It took me six years to realize that it was not Christians, Muslims or Liberals, but the culprit was among us…
“This is part of the narrative and agenda pushed by the 1% Brahmanical extremists within the Indian deep state to get (their plans) approved by the Supreme Court..
“Because the agenda of making India a Hindu Rashtra is not acceptable to people if stated as such, there are attempts to achieve this through the indirect route,” he said.
This indirect route, he said, comprised the negation of non-mainstream practices and traditions using tools such as ‘Uniform Civil Code’.
“When you start from a Hindu institution, it is easy to get the ‘secular’ tag. It is part of a farce where they will say: Look, we did such a big sacrifice to help the Hindu women of Sabarimala. Now let’s also do another sacrifice to help Muslim women by bringing in Uniform Civil Code.”
He referred to a Tweet by a prominent right wing politician soon after the verdict, saying that the verdict should serve as a foundation for launching a uniform civil code in the country.
Easwar said the ultimate aim of the “extreme Brahmanical right-wing” within the broader Hindu right wing was to achieve domination and power over others, and warned that such attempts will prove to be suicidal for the country.
He alleged that the people who are behind the Jallikettu and Sabarimala controversies are using “pseudo nationalism” as a cover for their antipathy towards Muslims and Christians.
Being a Brahmin himself, he said, he always advised members of his community to isolate such “extreme Brahmanical chauvinists”.
He quoted former RSS supremo MS Golwalkar’s take on the subject to back up his point that efforts to impose one set of customs on everyone in India will be harmful to India: “In an interview with KR Malkani (of the BJP), Guruji said: If you try to impose uniformity in the name of a uniform civil code, it will be the death knell of India,” he said. “India is a pluralistic society, do not try to impose homogeneity on it… What we need is unity, not uniformity.”
Easwar, grandson to former Sabarimala headpriest Kandararu Maheshwararu, has grown up surrounded by the temples customs and practices.
He said he found a high degree of ignorance about the Tantric traditions among outsiders, including judges.
Hindu religious practices in South India are more a continuation and morphing of Tantric Buddhist practices, unlike in the North where the Vedic tradition tends to be dominant.
“We faced questions like, where does it say in the Vedas or Bhagawat Gita that women should not enter an Ayyappa temple,” he said.
“You cannot apply Vedic rules to Tantric practices. The Vedic system comprises Yagas and Yagnas… Temple traditions belong to the Tantric system,” Rahul Easwar said.
“Unfortunately, there is an increasing tendency by many in the right wing camp to only accept Vedic practices,” he added.
In their judgment in the case, Chief Justice Dipak Misra and AM Khanwilkar relied on scriptures such as Vedas and Bhagawat Gita to rule that the practice of restricting fertile women from entering the temple had no religious basis.
“.. it is an essential part of the Hindu religion to allow Hindu women to enter into a temple as devotees and followers of Hindu religion and offer their prayers to the deity. In the absence of any scriptural or textual evidence, we cannot accord to the exclusionary practice followed at the Sabarimala temple the status of an essential practice of Hindu religion… without which, Hindu religion, of which the devotees of Lord Ayyappa are followers, will not survive.”
EXPERIENCE IN COURT
Rahul Easwar also described in detail his own experience in fighting the case for six years, charting out how he passed through various hypothesis before reaching his present conclusion.
He said he initially started out by assuming a ‘Left Liberal’ conspiracy behind the case, given that one of the bases on which it was filed was an article by journalist Barkha Dutt.
“I used to think that the whole case was the result of a conspiracy of Left Liberals like Barkha Dutt. I was under the impression that it was part of their plan to destroy Hindu beliefs… I (subsequently) spoke with her. It is clear to me that they are not behind it.
“Then I thought it was probably Muslims. Naushad Ahmad Khan was the secretary of Young Lawyers Association… He got hundreds of abusive calls per day. The poor guy went to the Supreme Court and tried to withdraw the petition. Later, I realized that the case was filed before he became the secretary.”
It was at that time that a prominent Kerala politician accused Supreme Court Justice Kurien Joseph, a Christian, of trying to interfere in Hindu customs.
“Then I thought it is probably a Christian conspiracy,” said Rahul Easwar.
However, he was soon disabused of the notion when he started attending the hearing. “What I saw in the Supreme Court was something I can never forget, and something that changed me fundamentally. I saw Justice Kurien Joseph shout and scream to defend Sabarimala (practices) and repeatedly urge his fellow judges not to interfere in unnecessary subjects.
“Justice Kurien said that he was more familiar with the importance of the temple and the (celibacy) vows because his family used to host Sabarimala pilgrims on their way to the holy site.
“Unfortunately, after two hearings, Justice Kurien Joseph was removed from the bench without any explanation or justification.. normally, an individual judge is not removed from a bench in the middle of the case,” he added.
He said, in the end, the judgment was used to push many interests, including personal ambitions.
“Just like the term ‘animal rights’ was misused in the Jallikettu case, the term gender (justice) is being used as a mask in Sabarimala case.”
Rahul Easwar emphasized that 99% of the supporters of right-wing ideology in India are innocent of such deeper designs behind such cases and were not interested in imposing their culture on others.
“We don’t have any wish for a Hindu Rashtra. We are quite happy with the Indian Rashtra. I don’t think 99% of the people in the country want to convert it into a Hindu Pakistan,” he said.
He also thanked many from the Kerala unit of the BJP, including state president Sreedharan Pillai and leaders like Sobha Surendran, for supporting the cause of those fighting to preserve the traditions.
In the end, he said, he was hopeful that the people’s will will be seen, like it was in case of Jallikettu, the bull-taming sport of Tamil Nadu that is supposed to date back to the days of the Indus Valley Civilization.
In that case, the government was forced to make arrangements to carry out the festival after massive protests in Marina Beach and other places in Tamil Nadu.
Sunday saw hundreds of protests across Kerala and Tamil Nadu against the Supreme Court order on Sabarimala.
“The bull that was unleashed on Marina beach on that day not only saved Jallikettu, but Indian democracy as a whole,” Rahul Easwar said.