January 07, 2006

Unlearned Learned Men

A couple of days back, there was a story that stated that non-Hindus are not allowed to enter the shrine at Lord Krishna’s temple at Guruvayoor. (I think this means the sanctum sanctorum and not the temple complex itself, though the story just states “shrine”.) The context for this story is the recent visit by the President of Sri Lanka. He was there to pray for peace in his country. Though he is a Buddhist, a Temple administrator explained that Buddhists and Jains are considered part of Hinduism. I suppose the President of India better look for a different place to pray for his country.

The irony is more fundamental. In Bhagavd Gita (7:21), Lord Krishna says, “Whatever devotee seeks to worship with faith what form soever, that same faith of his I make unflinching.” (Based on one translation; see here for another). I am sure these administrators have read Gita but have they learned from it? Even as a practical matter, how can they decide on a person’s religious affiliation? A non-Hindu Indian can not visibly identified. Are Hare Krishna members Hindus?

Posted by aswath at January 7, 2006 03:54 PM
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Cannot agree with you more. I get the crap that a person cannot convert to Hinduism and that Hinduism is a way of life ... If so why prevent ppl who hv faith ? There was another similar incident a few months back about Princess of Thailand and Jaganath puri.

Posted by: Venkatesh at January 7, 2006 11:24 PM

It's any idea which ought to have more currency with many more religions, Aswath. Certainly, simply differences of opinion about the Divine have been the historical source of multitudes of wars.

My wife was brought up in a Swedenborgian Church. Swedenborg was a 17th century philosopher and spiritualist. One of his fundamental teachings is the value of all religions.

From Swedenborg's "Divine Providence", #330:

It is a foolish heresy that only those are saved who are born within the Church. Those who are born outside the Church are men as well as those born within it, being of the same heavenly origin, and are equally living and immortal souls. They also have a form of religion from which they acknowledge that there is a God, and that they ought to live well; and he who acknowledges God and lives well becomes spiritual in his own degree and is saved.

Posted by: Alec Saunders at January 8, 2006 08:12 PM

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