The debate on whether women of reproductive age should be allowed inside the Sabarimala shrine or not, has taken the entire country under its sway. From politicians, to movie stars to common people, everyone have a view on whether this is the time to reform centuries old tradition of the shrine or not. Amid this, those whose opinions matter perhaps the most are the religious leaders of of Hinduism. But in this matter, even they seem to be divided.
Vishwesha Tirtha Swami of Pejawar Mutt, has said that that his stance on the matter is neutral and that as far the shastras (Hindu scriptures) are concerned, there are no references proscribing the entry of women inside the shrine.
“In Sabarimala, there is no entry for women in the temple. But women are given entry in other temples [in the country]. However, there is nothing in the ‘shastras’ that bars or restricts the entry of women into temples. So I do not know what I should say about this Sabarimala issue. Hence, I am neutral over this issue.” He said that women had been entering temples for so many centuries, and “earlier Dalits were not being allowed into temples in the name of tradition. But, this tradition has long been broken with the entry of Dalits into temples”.
Dr. Channasiddharama Panditaradhya swami of Shreeshaila mutt, also voiced his opinion in favour of women. He welcomed the demand the allow women inside the temple and said that traditions and rules should be re-formed with changing times.
“Women have the right to worship, just like men. Gender differences should not come in the way of his or her right to worship,” he said.
“Some temples have some old traditions of banning women from their premises, under some conditions. However, all this needs to change in keeping with the changing times. Temples should also change their rules as per changing times and the desires of the people,” he said. “I believe that allowing women entry into temples is a good development.”
Meanwhile, Vidyadheesha Tirtha Swami of Paryaya Palimar Mutt, differed from the other two and said that traditions and protocols should be respected.