Governor H.R. Bhardwaj has advised religious leaders of Karnataka to lead from the front in ensuring entry to Dalits in all temples and eradicating the practice of untouchability in all forms.

At the inauguration of a dialogue on Mahatma Gandhi’s thoughts by contemporary thinkers here on Saturday, he said that “it will go against Brahmins” unless they take this up as an important cause. They should remember that untouchability was against what the Upanishads prescribe, he said.

Mr. Bhardwaj recalled that Gandhiji had lived in the colony of ‘Harijans’ for a long time to understand and empathise with them. Though caste practices were abolished by the Constitution, it was still prevalent in society and Dalits were denied entry into some walks of life.

He said Gandhiji was a leader who united leaders from varying ideological positions on one platform. He described all his contemporaries as “his students who learnt from him.” Some present-day critics, he regretted, spoke “contrary to facts” while underlining the differences between leaders.

‘Not easy’

Writer and critic, N. Manu Chakravarthy, in his keynote address, said Gandhiji defies “comfortable appropriation and veneration.” There were many dualities to be encountered before understanding Gandhiji, which were “not easy”, he said.

Prof. Chakravarthy said Gandhiji’s texts resonate differently when read with other greats of his time, including Rabindranath Tagore, B.R. Ambedkar and Ram Manohar Lohia, who had their points of difference with him on various counts that appeared irreconcilable. However, there were also points of meeting and “reconciliatory gestures”, he added.

Present-day India, he said, which was in the grip of corporate powers that had no regard for the principles of truth, equality and social justice, had failed to find Gandhiji. Gandhian ideas were more alive in some of the Latin American countries, he added.

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