Svadhyaya is self-study, study to know more about God and the soul, which leads to introspection on a greater awakening to the soul and God within.
Puri Jagannath Temple in Puri Orissa India is one of the 4 main pilgrimage sites for Hindus. As the legend goes a devout king who had awakened his soul and God within built the temple with utmost faith. The belief among Hindus is that one who has the good fortune of visiting all the 4 main pilgrim sites will attain liberation from this samsara and cycle of life and birth.
As time went by India was invaded multiple times by various outside forces. Every invasion was followed by destruction and looting of temple treasures. Thus to preserve the temple sanctity non-Hindus or Hindus of non-Indian origin were excluded into the temple out of fear of mayhem at that time.
Ironically this the rule which was once instituted for reasons of preservation, is the cause of more grief for the thousands of devotees who are not of Indian decent today. Each one of these devotees at their own level of Svadhyaya and seeking God at their own level of spiritual knowledge come to visit the temple with faith, from all over the world. If it is true that Indian Hindu’s are able to attain liberation by visiting all pilgrim sites, their non-Indian Hindu peers unfortunately may never be liberated without coming back as an Indian after being turned away from the temple.
In 1995 I went to visit the temple with my husband who is of non-Indian decent. He was refused entry into the temple for the very same reason. He is as much a practicing Hindu, as any other Hindu of Indian origin. The temple officials were not willing to reason. He was rejected purely based on his non-Indian facial features and skin color. However this same non-Indian man, few years ago qualified for the Persons of Indian Origin (PIO) Visa to India based on his marriage to a person of Indian origin. Yet even today he will not be allowed past the gates of the temple.
In today’s society of scientific advancement In-vitro fertilization is quite a common place. Donor eggs and sperm banks are easily available. How will this rule of non-Indian origin hold any justification if the donor’s are non-Hindu; non-Indian but donated to Hindu, Indian parents? What are the officials going to say when they see pure Hindu Indian parents carrying a child, bearing strong foreign facial features and skin color. Can they reject the child based on genetic make up although the child was born full term to Indian origin parent?
The limited knowledge of ego is a very dangerous place to be. What seems impossible today can be complete reality tomorrow. Knowledge is limitless, opening the mind to endless possibilities is also a way of Svadhyaya. If Wright Brothers or Edison, or Graham Bell or any other scientist limited themselves to today’s knowledge we would all be in dark ages to this day.
The officials in Puri must put their egoistic limitations aside and be prepared to face today’s world of changing family structure and dynamics. Time to realize that Hindu culture is spreading worldwide and more non-Indian Hindus exist in this dynamic age. Cross cultural marriages are more frequent and accepted. It is time for them to put aside baseless egoistic rules and allow all children of God into the premises.
Time to bring Puri Temple’s sanctity back. At this time their resistance only magnifies their ignorance and hate. God’s message of love and equality is secondary to their egoistic pride. Are they willing to separate a child from the parent to stand their ground of ignorance? When will they begin Svadhyaya?????