Mohua Moitra, the foul-mouthed MP from Trinamool Congress, is again in news. This time she has made a statement about Goddess Kali at a conclave in Kolkata organised by a prominent media organisation. She said :-
Kali and tantric practices
At first, the issue must be defined correctly. It is a minor issue that Kali has been described as a meat eating, alcohol accepting Goddess. Many forms of Kali do accept meat, is she not depicted as having a bowl full of blood? All over Bharata, temples of the Devi have seen sacrifice since a very long time. This is specially true of the shakta strongholds like Bengal, Assam, and the hill areas. A few decades back, they even offered human sacrifice to her. I am hopeful that Mohua would not like to imagine her Kali accepting human sacrifice, despite it being a long and hallowed tradition. However, someone else might feel free to imagine her Kali like that. Would Mohua accept that? Herein lies the issue. Not all traditions are desirable and some have evolved through vamachaar, practices that will give result but are frowned-upon by an overwhelming majority of Hindus.
As for alcohol, few Kali temples actually accept alcohol. Tarapith, mentioned by Mohua, is one of those very few. Again, there is a tantric reason for that. It must also be remembered that traditions of one temple do not define the tradition of other places or the character of the Goddess. She does not accept alcohol at most other places. Those who do practice animal sacrifice and offer alcohol to Kali, also believe in tantrik practices, which Moitra and Tharoor might not be able to stomach or accept through their rational-scientific framework. But you cannot pick and choose from a tradition according to your whims. Tantrik tradition does not sacrifice animals and offer alcohol for the joy of eating meat and drinking. There is a deep philosophy behind it. Do the liberals accept tantrik philosophy in their life? I doubt it. They are motivated more by the base desires and probably also by a desire to misrepresent Hindu Dharma.
Freedom and religion
The biggest myth about Hindu Dharma is that there are no rules in its practices. This is what Moitra perpetuates by her “This is my freedom.” Nothing can be farther from the truth. Dharma has to be followed according to the prescriptions of scriptures. Even a God cannot have the freedom to interpret Dharma in His own way. That is why Sri Rama had to follow Dharma despite so many troubles in his life. It has been made clear that Kings are bound by Dharma and thus not without boundations. If they go against Dharma, they can face rebellion. Thus, Dharma has rules which must be followed. These rules include avoidance of certain meats, observance of certain rituals and following certain principles in life. This is the spirit of Dharma.
The liberals have disposed off the spirit of Dharma and are fond of now defining it according to their own ideas. This perversion of sacredness is the most dangerous threat to the survival of Dharma, more dangerous than Islamic and Christian assaults.
The root cause
As Bhimshma says in Mahabharata : “Dharma is subtle“. It escapes description, specially if done by lesser mortals. However, this is exactly what is being done. In previous generations, we had created mechanisms for protection and propagation of Dharma. This was done in three ways. First, the teachings at home ensured that children were familiar with the elements of Dharma. This was done through the stories of Ramayana and Mahabharata, as well as other inspirational incidents from our lore. It is well known that Gandhi was inspired by Satyavadi Raja Harishchandra and even today there are many unsung Shravan Kumars in Bharata, serving their parents. Secondly, regular visits to temples and daily collective prayers at the domestic shrines ensured that children from childhood are exposed to the ritualistic aspect of Dharma. Thirdly, in public life we had examples of great Dharmic individuals. For common people, following their actions constituted Dharma and was sanctioned by tradition.
Now, the breakdown of families in large(specially urban) parts of the country has ensured that the first and second ways of acquisition of Dharmic knowledge has been compromised. The paucity of Dharmic role-models has caused further deterioration. The current role-models of our children are tiktokers, movie stars, and cricketers.
Fixing the root cause
Still, all is not lost. We still have tens of lakhs, if not crores, of Dharmik people. However, as the RSS is fond of repeating in its shakhas “Yojastatr Durlabhah“(It is difficult to find a person who arranges everything). For Hindu Dharmiks, this is the goal today – to find that Yojaka from their midst.
What Mohua Moitra, Shashi Tharoor and other Hindu(at lest nominally) liberals say is not necessarily due to malice. It has to be seen differently from the criticism of Muslims and Christians(including the radical Phule-Ambedkarites). Muslims and Christians have the benefit of religious education in every corner of the country. They have independent religious institutions that function as centres of community. These centres teach religion, but also help the community in other ways. This is the reason that they are well informed about their own religion and also are fiercely loyal to it. A mere two generations ago, Hindus were the same.
Now, large temples have already been taken under government control and cannot cater to religious educational needs of the Hindus. Some mathas, private temples and other organisations do provide religious education to Hindus, but we need many more. The society requires teachers willing to impart their knowledge in all the languages that Hindus speak. It needs storytellers who blend their art with technology to engage our children again. The internet can be a great tool for all this. There already are some efforts, but these need to be supported generously. The process will be slow, but it would certainly lead to better results in long term.