TAMIL NADU

`Hinduism does not subscribe to untouchability'

CHENNAI OCT. 31. Hindu religion did not subscribe to untouchability, which was prevalent in some pockets of rural areas, said the Kanchi Sankaracharya, Jayendra Saraswathi, here today.

Talking to newsmen, he said untouchability existed owing to illiteracy and could be eradicated only by educating people. The Kanchi Mutt was taking steps to eradicate the social evil, he said.

Referring to a recent court ruling that anyone with the requisite qualification could be made a temple priest, he said even now there were thousands of temples in the State where non-Brahmin priests performed pujas.

People belonging to different communities visited these temples and received `prasadam' from them. The mutt was giving training to people of different communities on conducting pujas.

Denying that he was instrumental in bringing the Tamil Nadu Bill banning forcible conversions, the acharya said he supported the Bill, for it had good features. At present there was no bar on people carrying out charitable activities and they had every right to do so. The Bill objected to it only when it was done with a motive to convert people, he said.

Earlier addressing a meeting, organised by various Hindu organisations, in support of the law, the acharya said "mass conversion" would create imbalance in the society and "spoil" the culture of the country. It was not aimed against any particular religion, as feared by some people, but would cover all, including Hindus.

The Bill did not prevent any individual from converting to other religion, if he wanted to. But it took cognisance of `mass conversions' through `coercion or allurement'. Forcible conversion was objected to not only by Hinduism, but by other religions too. "In fact, no religion advocated forcible conversion," he added.

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