They will go to temples where it is practised including Kukke Subrahmanya

Speakers at a seminar on made snana here on Sunday demanded that the Government abolish the practice across the State, failing which protests against the ritual would be “intensified”.

The Dalit Sangharsh Samiti (Ambedkarvada), the Democratic Youth Federation of India, and the Sahamatha Vedike, which organised a seminar, resolved to intensify their protest by going to all temples where the ritual was practised, including Kuke Subrahmanya Temple next year during the Champa Shasti festival.

Actor and progressive thinker G.K. Govinda Rao drew a distinction between “dharma” and “vijnana (science)” as opposed to “matha dharma (dharma of maths)” and “tantrajnana (technology)”. Buddha, Jesus Christ, Prophet Muhammad, Allama Prabhu, Basaveshwara, Kabir, and Purandaradasa were humble. They never said that they had the last word on “dharma”. Similarly, neither Newton nor Einstein said they had the last word on scientific knowledge.

“Matha dharma” was a system to maintain the status quo and which was set up to bring people within their control, he said.

About 90 per cent of the people was simply “never comfortable” with the idea of democracy and the Constitution because it spoke about equality for Dalits and for women. To them, equality for Dalits and for women was a threat. Matha dharma supported this notion. “Pejawar Swamiji said that made snana has been in existence for thousands of years. But he does not have the humility to say that for that very reason, the ritual warrants scrutiny. We must re-examine our history,” Mr. Rao said.

If dharma demanded that people give up dignity, “we must have the moral authority (atma shakti) to reject such a dharma,” Mr. Rao said.

He said that “matha dharma” and “politics of the Vidhana Soudha” should not be mixed, whereas the dharma of Mahatma Gandhi and his politics were worth emulating. Similarly, for Ambedkar too life was always a pursuit of dharma. The priority for society should be to oppose “matha dharma”.

Mr. Rao said even untouchability was thousands of years old. “(Do) you know why (the) Pejawar Swami does not demand that it continue? Because he will go to jail,” Mr. Rao said. Coordinator of the Centre for Research on Kanakadasa at the Mangalore University B. Shivaram Shetty said the protest and felicitation of A.V. Nagesh, a Malekudiya man accused of assaulting K.S. Shivaramu, president, Karnataka Rajya Hindulida Vargagala Jagruta Vedike, was a kind of cultural politics. There were attempts to conflate a Brahmanical practice with Hinduism.

Mr. Shivaramu said the report submitted to the Government on the issue by the Department of Social Welfare recommended that pankti bheda (serving food to Brahmins and non-Brahmins separately) be stopped, and demanded that the Government implement the report. He said that if pankti bheda was stopped, made snana would stop automatically.

He said that if it was not stopped, next year, hundreds of people would come to Kukke Subrahmanya and demand that they be served meals in the precincts of the temple.

Keywords: seminarmade snana