Here we are again – after a lapse and lull of some weeks.
We admit that, unable to control the difficulties that
usually threaten honest ventures, we thought that we
would have to announce an extinction. But friends, far
and near, came forth to awaken us from the stupor assuring
us, that their assistance would be henceforth continuous
and handsome. Strengthened thus by the hope generated
by such abundant good will and promise, we have resumed
our task – the task of pleading for a just cause.
Do away with embellishments – the cost would naturally
be prohibitive – give us a clean journal – be it but
the vehicle of the new message that millions are getting
for the past ten years and more some – some of our patrons
have argued. There are still others who say, that the
journal ought to have presentable garb and competitive
cosmetic, if it should have a chance of survival. We
find that there is some amount of truth, in both these
arguments, and hence unable to decide one way or the
other, we have come to a simple conclusion and that
is this: we have placed the future entirely in the hands
of our readers - and with this assurance, that whatever
be the shortcomings you are bound to face, poverty of
thought would not be one of them.
With this note of assurance, we place in your hands,
And that leads us to an interesting problem, we should
term it the raging problem – how should anything be
taken or given – is it as if in the nature of Master
and Servant, and Benefactor and a Mendicant or is it
to be in perfect accord with the noblest of principles,
Dignity of Man.
Doles could be got they say, if only the art of Docility
is practised. Slices could be got, still others say,
if only we know how to sneak in and smile, at the proper
time and there are still others who say, that fat sums
could be got, if one is prepared to sacrifice cherished
objectives at that altar of opportunism.
We are not confining ourselves with the aspect of how
best to get financial help to run a journal – we are
interested in the larger problem, what ought to be the
nature of asking for and getting help, be it for a journal
– or for a party, big, small or indifferent.
And to dilate further, what ought to be the manner to
be shown by the giver and by one who takes – be it a
cheque or cash or even ‘Prasadam’.
‘Prasadam’ has of course top-priority, however much
the world is changed – especially ‘Prasadam’ from a
As if to lay much stress on the importance of this point
, an incident has taken place, in which Ministers and
Deputy Ministers, Barristers and Presiding Deities,
have had to take leading parts.
We do not know whether this is the first time that the
Union Deputy Minister of Railways, Mr. S.V. Ramaswamy,
has gone to invoke Kanyakumari – she stands in solitary
grandeur facing the blue sea! And we do not know also,
the other and perhaps the more important aspect, what
prompted the Hon’ble Minister to undertake that mission.
Anyway, the Minister went to pray but found himself
thrown in a fray! Thanks to the Goddess representing
resplendent virgina! Purity, there was no affray!
The priest in that temple, it is stated, did not show
ordinary courtesy, while giving ‘Prasadam’ to the Deputy
Minister. It was thrown – says the Deputy – fortunately
in his hands, not on the face!
That treatment would naturally make any sensible person
to revolt – unless senses are benumbed by acts of divinity
or stupidity. That a temple priest should throw the
Prasadam, as if it were part of a ‘refuse’, and that
before a pack of beggars or worse, is extremely sickening,
whatever be the scriptural quotations trotted out by
Divinity is defined as perfection, while human beings
are imperfect. If the manner in which the priest at
Kanyakumari has acted is an exhibition of that Divinity,
well, such a thing needs a quick and thorough cremation.
Enraged naturally, the Deputy Minister raised that issued
before a Lawyers’ Conference. Poor humiliated man that
he is, why should he think that of all places, the forum
where lawyers met to discuss, the niceties and intricacies
of law, is the most fitting to voice forth his view,
or ventilate his grievance?
A good democrat would have placed the matter before
the public. Of course the public do not have the means
of quoting case laws or codes, but they know how to
call a spade a spade. They would have certainly offered
their sympathy to the minister concerned and would have
requested him, to use his power, prestige and political
influence to eradicate such and more savage practices
that are in vogue in the name of religion.
While the dignitary concerned was deeply shocked, those
who met to discuss law and those who have donned on
the garb of rulers of the land seem to be shocked as
Perhaps, the only two persons not at all shocked, seem
to be the priest and the deity – the former because
of his inherent faith in the superior powers and prerogative
that he is allowed to enjoy and the other perhaps because
of the fact that having seen still worse injustice and
cruelties meted out by man to his own fellow-human beings,
the divine damsel has learnt to keep only stony silence.
“Is this the way in which I should be treated?” – asks
the Deputy, and hastens to add, that by ‘I’ he means
not the minister in him but Man!
And the Minister for Religious Endowments, Hon’ble M.
Bakthavathsalam, argues – he had had no chance of proving
his ability as a lawyer before any court of law, though
he happens to be a bachelor of law – that Man, whether
a Minister or a commoner should conform to certain well-established
procedures, and should not question the validity, nor
should he arrogate to himself superior airs by questioning
or reprimanding the priest in a temple.
“Smashed!” – some of the friends of the Minister, especially
those who fanatically cling to the old ways of life
would have exclaimed with glee, and naturally the Minister
who has enjoyed the ‘Sathabishekam’ would have been
highly elated, by this unique “Abhishekam,” But the
one word that would come upper-most in the minds of
any unbiased, rational human-being, is ‘shameful!’
When a state of affairs at once disgusting and mean,
is pointed out by one, who has had the painful experience
of being the actual sufferer, should the Minister come
forward to argue, in defense of certain procedures?
Is that all that he could offer as an explanation? That
such an explanation is not needed anybody knows. The
question is not whether the priest insulted the Deputy
or not – but the real question is whether the procedure
referred to by the Minister and exhibited by the priest,
is not an insult to the Dignity of Man.
Is the temple to be an abode, wherein any uncouth and
unlettered babbler, arrogates to himself superior airs,
and administers insults in the name of custom and procedure?
Is the Minister going to defend it? Is he convinced
about the necessity for and sanctity of such barbarous
procedures? And is he going to be the defender of any
scheme, born out of muddle-headed or even pig-headedness
of a by-gone age?
If, as Minister for Religious Endowments, Hon’ble Mr.
Bakthavathasalam is going to become the custodian of
not only the coffers, but also the crumbs of a falling
system, well, one has only to pity his lot. Scavengers
at least have the satisfaction of cleaning, but to reign
supreme over a domain, wherein, carcasses and crumbs,
refuse and rubbish, are to be the only goods, well,
one has but to pity the lot that happens to be his!
Perhaps he is happy about it – and it is not for us
to deny him that pleasure. Tastes do differ!!
But we would like to ask this simple question, not of
course the Minister, but those who still; believe in
the Dignity of Man – ‘are these injustices, insults,
degradations, to be allowed to exist?’ Are we not undermining
religion itself – and spirituality more than religion
– by persisting in clinging to such awkward and ugly
practices and procedures?
No! The thinking section of the public, regardless of
caste, do feel today that we have been carrying on a
‘farce’ for too long a time, allowed atrocities to remain
unchallenged, and by an asinine patience have allowed
the priestly hold to have sway. And all in the name
While laying the foundation stone of ‘Gandhi Bhavan’
in the campus of the Delhi University, Prime Minister
Nehru said, that he did not belong to the religious
variety of human beings. “I have something of spirituality
in me, but I am not moved by things that move men of
Religion is not repression of the soul but most of the
things that take place in the name of religion, is soul-killing.
Despite the Deputy Ministership, the Man in the Minster,
attempted to assert, but assailed on all sides by many,
we are afraid, the insulted has, after licking the wound,
succumbed to scare.
Perhaps he has got to attend to more pressing problems.
But an issue has been raised and it is not, whether
a Deputy Minister could be treated in such a way, but
this; should human dignity be destroyed, in the name
of religious procedure and practice?
It is entirely in your hands – tens and thousands of
young men and women, of a new generation – to keep barbarity
garbed in an attire labeled divinity, or to annihilate
it once and for all, and raise the status of Man.
(Editorial - 10-01-1960)