I strongly condemn those, who argue that non-Hindus should be allowed to enter the Jagannath Temple at Puri. For, the Jaganath Temple is not a museum; it is a place of sanctity to worship the Lord Jagannath. Therefore, I feel pity on them, who argue about this absurd argument. Lord Jaganath is the Supreme God of Hindus. And religion is completely connected with one’s heart, belief, and after all, this is an age-old tradition. There can’t be any logic, and no one should interfere in the tradition of any religion. The Jaganath Temple is not a museum. Another thing is tradition is something that is beyond logic. Matters related to religion and spiritualism should be dealt with utmost caution. The traditions of Hindus are a matter of faith and linked to one’s heart. Why, all of a sudden, after thousands of years, there seems to be attempts for trying to break the centuries-old tradition of the Jagannath Temple, because this appears to be a deep-rooted conspiracy on part of some foul-minded people to destroy the sanctity of the Jagannath Temple. Hence, it is worth mentioning to ask as to why the age-old tradition of the Jagannath Temple should be flouted. Secularism means the state has no right to tell religious bodies what management and practices they must follow. And one has full right to protect one’s religion. Against this backdrop, it is worth mentioning that Indian history is full of information about the destruction of Hindu temples by foreign invaders, many of whom first sent spies in the garb of peaceful emissaries but the end resulted in destruction of Hindu temples and looting of temple treasures. If those loots can be assured of bringing back to India and the reconstruction of all major Hindu temples at its original place, the confidence level of Hindus can increase and they may think of allowing the entry of non-Hindus.
One should remember that such restrictions were imposed only after the destruction of many ancient Hindu temples along with pilfering of priceless jewelleries and ancient Vedic scriptures by foreign Islamic invaders (here one should not link Indian Islamic people with foreign Islamic invaders). Furthermore, why are our courts so blatant in interfering in rules regarding Hindu religion and religious activities, while they take so long time in cases of Islam or Christianity, even when the human rights and rights guaranteed to the Islamic women are denied in the name of religion? It cannot be gainsaid that Lord Jagannath is worshiped by the devotees and scholars belonging to various faiths and communities of Sanatan religion such as Vaishnava, Shaiva, Bauddha, Jaina, Dvaita, Advaita and others. As various rivers coming from various directions ultimately confluence at the sea and lose their identity, similarly different faiths come to this place of composite culture and merge themselves with the broad philosophy of Lord Jagannath, and sometimes lose their own identity too. Hence, it is argued that Puri is the meeting ground of all types of religions. Having said that, it is apt to mention that a temple cannot be a tourist place–a place where non-Hindus come and stare at Hindus at their worship place. A temple is believed to house the God, where His devotees congregate and worship without being stared at. If a person has faith in Hindu faith and philosophy, let him first wander Bharat and speak to sadhus and meditate in meditation halls and ashrams. And only then, after he is convinced that he has full faith in the Hindu way of life and its religion, let him declare it officially for the entire world to see. Then, and only then, when he has officially declared his faith, may he enter the House of God and offer worship like other Hindu believers do.
By Deepak Kumar Rath