Sabarimala: Caste Redux -TK Arun

-The Economic Times

To observers outside Kerala, Sabarimala is all about misogyny, a misguided mass construing one strand of anti-woman tradition as a pillar of faith. But to those in Kerala, it is increasingly clear that resurgence of caste marks the Sabarimala protests, gender injustice being one element subsumed in that assertion of caste.

At the beginning of the 20th century, Kerala’s caste system practised unapproachability. Even proximity could pollute. The Nair polluted the Namboodiri if he was less than 31 ft away. An Ezhava polluted the Nair within a radius of 31f. And so on.

Curbs on Female Sexuality…

Men and women of lower castes had to reveal their caste by wearing or eschewing specific garments and ornaments. Caste permeated language.

Lower caste members could not use the same terms as those used by their caste superiors. A man was beaten to death for asking for salt at a shop, instead of describing the product by its taste as his caste required him to.

Vivekananda described Kerala as a madhouse.This obnoxious caste culture was overturned by stiff resistance, ideological and physical, by large sections of the people. Narayana Guru challenged the Brahmanical order, drawing on resources within Hinduism, namely the Vedantic philosophy of Advaita. Advaita means non-duality, and posits the unity of prakriti and purusha, the creator and the created.

Everything and everyone is a manifestation of the same unknowable metaphysical entity that is called Atman. The seeming difference between things is maya, or illusion.

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The Economic Times, 8 January, 2019,

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