If stomach is the shortest route to a man’s heart…

B.S. NAGARAJ writes from Bangalore: Here is Udupi Pejawar Mutt seer Sri Vishvesha Teertha swamiji‘s reasoning for his opposition to “sahapankti bhojana” (people of all castes eating together).

“Among other castes (non-Brahmins), there is the practice of eating meat and drinking liquor. If people used to eating satvik food start eating in such company, they run the risk of developing friendship with other castes and take to eating meat and drinking liquor!”

ROFLMAO, as they in Internet slang.

News reports have quoted the swamiji thus at a conference of Brahmins in Shimoga. The conference was debating the topic, “How to retain our (Brahmin) identity while developing harmony with other castes?”

It may cause mirth in some quarters, but it is more likely to evince rage among the usual suspects who by taking him on frequently for his periodic verbal excesses bestow him with undeserved importance.

Reports say that the controversial seer has for the first time “explained” why Udupi’s Sri Krishna temple doesn’t have an arrangement for people of all castes to eat together. He went on to defend the denial of opportunity for sahapankti at Udupi saying “even Basaveshwara didn’t approve of “sahapankti bhojana” with meat-eaters.

Vegetarianism was one way of “saving Brahminhood” and “vegetarianism promotes virtue,” he told the conference.

The inspiration for Hindutva rabble rousers like Uma Bharati and a leading light of the Ramjanmabhoomi campaign, didn’t stop at that. He went on to decry the trend of inter-caste marriages, saying they tend to interfere in the way people live and create imabalances.

There was more such nonsense from the seer.

According to him, if Muslims and Christians are in the habit of being regular in their religious practices it is because of Brahmins. He didn’t explain how though. But in recent times, Brahmins were not regular in daily practices like sandhyavandane, he bemoaned.

Controversy is the Udupi seer’s second name.

Only recently, he had subtly defended “madesnana”, the disgusting ritual of non-Brahmins rolling on the plantain leaves off which Brahmins have eaten. After protests against the practice intensified, he altered his stand saying if the government bans it he wouldn’t oppose it.

And before that, he had begun visiting Dalit colonies only to be rebuffed by Dalit leaders. The head of the Nidumamidi Mutt had then countered that visiting Dalit colonies would change nothing, telling Vishvesha Teertha that he would bow before him if he allowed a Dalit to enter the sanctum sanctorum of the Krishna temple in Udupi and offer pooje there.

Incidentally in 2010, the Krishna temple had been denotified by the BJP government in Karnataka and handed over to the ashta mathas (eight seminaries of the Madhva order) at the instance of Vishvesha Teertha, even while there was a claim to the temple by the backward K uruba community.

Conferences of Brahmins were not like the meetings of other castes, according to the Pejavar seer.

“Here we discuss the welfare of the entire Hindu society,” he declared.

But far from showing concern for the larger good of Hindu society, reports seem to suggest that the focus of the conference was more on uniting Brahmins owing allegiance to the three (trimathastha) different philosophies more than anything else. As if they had done something revolutionary, the 13 Brahmin religious heads present resolved to promote the idea of marriages within the larger Brahmin community, irrespective of its sub-sects.

File photograph: Activists of the centre of Indian trade unions (CITU) eat €˜jawar rotis™ at a protest rally in Bangalore in July 2011 (Karnataka Photo News)

Also read: ‘Brahmins need a deeksha to awaken empathy’

How religion met politics while you were asleep

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