It was a family function. A few of my relatives were talking about the merits of Rama & Krishna. As a teenager, I had been freshly doused with large doses of Das Kapital. To the dismay of my relatives, I started to assail them with the demerits of the Gods. I seemed to have won this ego-centric argument, when my father stepped in. Unmindful of the presence of many, he slapped me.
‘Don’t disturb the beliefs of people, did they do you any harm?’ he yelled.
Lee Kuan Yew reiterated my father’s words in a different context. When people made fun of Hindu Gods, he said ‘Let them worship the elephant God. Are they disturbing you in any way? It is their choice.’
Communities have their own rituals, be it sunnat, bar mitzvah, the sacred thread, or baptism. Live & let live. Why should we be perturbed whether only male become Buddhist monks or Thirthankaras (Jains)?
Majority of the Indians live in the rural side; would you agree? Then, should they not have a voice in the decision making matters of the country? Yes!
I have had a comparatively larger exposure to the country side than most of the city conscious people.
We (our team) had gone to the remotest parts of Pudukkottai to help the people affected by the Gaja cyclone in 2018. I was in my Ayyappan garb. Hundreds of villagers rushed towards me and prostrated before me, much to my embarrassment. There were mothers, elders & even very old people. To them, I was Ayyappan. I was God.
Should we under the guise of gender equality quash their beliefs in one stroke?
Is Ayyappan really resolving to discriminatory practice by excluding young women from the precincts of the temple?
Let’s look at 3 challenges the family has to go through in the Ayyappa Challenge:
- Why men?
Argument One: Hitler, Mao, Ho-Chi Min, Napoleon, Chengiz Khan; were they men or women? Can you think of one woman in history who was involved in mass destruction?
Was there even one woman involved in the dropping of the atom bomb over Hiroshima?
Women are mamta, they are love. Nature has made them the creator of life and the nourisher. Murder, war, genocide is the bastion of men. We need to put an end to the Killing fields.
You may point out to Goddess Kali, but she is a symbol of consciousness. Realization dawns on her when she steps on her Swami.
After the destruction of Udayanan (the chief brigand), Ayyappan and his soldiers discarded their weapons.
This symbolically indicates the evolution of man. It is a realization that weapons are irrelevant to society. Even today, a Kannni-Ayyappan brings an arrow and drops it before going to the Sabari Peedam (Sanctum – Sanctorum) – Farewell to arms.
Should we destroy this thought process in the name of gender discrimination!
Argument Two: For over a million years, man has been the hunter and woman has been the nurturer. (Nobody complained about that).
In modern society, there is a conflict of roles. But, instincts die hard. A million years of baggage could spill-over into domestic violence and local brawls.
Could we let this warrior mindset sublimate to higher frequencies?
Let this Ayyappa Challenge strengthen him with good food, discipline, mental toughness and make him even walk barefoot. This strengthening will build up in him the prowess to take up the challenge of making the arduous climb up the mountain. On accomplishing the task, he has relinquished the tendencies to delve into domestic squabbles.
2. Harmony between man & wife: Wars were frequent in yesteryears. Women would long for their men to come. It was an age of romance (you can find this word in the dictionary).
One of my students who got married in January complains about the juices having dried out. Familiarity breeds contempt.
It is not the bars hold the cage; it is the space between the bars that holds the cage.
Kahlil Gibran says,
Let there be space in your togetherness. Love each other but don’t make a bond or contract of that love. Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one be alone.
Fill each other’s cup but do not drink from one cup.
Even though the strings of the lute are alone, they quiver with the same music.
The pillars of temple stand apart to hold the temple.
The oak and the cypress do not grow in each other’s shadow.
Take the 41 days Challenge and listen the waves dance between each other’s shore.
3. Life needs structure: The families that grow together go together. The best families are members of the 5 AM club. The best families eat together, have a time for exercise, share their joys & sorrows and create spaces in-between.
Couldn’t this 41 days Challenge be a tool for all trainers who could use to solve the puzzle called life?
This is Shiv signing off from S & S Family First.