Udupi Iftar Controversy – A lesson for the ‘Right Wing’

Last month, a major outrage erupted over the social media sites. “Namaz allowed inside Udupi Sri Krishna Temple” yelled some, “Iftar served inside the temple premises defiled the sanctity of the temple” yelled others.

Most of the outrage was based on the Main Stream Media reports which hailed the act of serving Iftar to a few local Muslims as a great step towards conciliating Hindu-Muslim relations. The correct perspective behind the event has been detailed elsewhere.

Pejavarashri Vishvesha Tirtha Swamiji – A champion for Dharma

Now, those who are from the Udupi region, know Pejavarashri Vishvesha Tirtha Swamiji is not someone who is ignorant of the laukika (worldly) matters. He is quite perceptive when it comes to the dangers foreboding Hindu Dharma. Unlike many other Yatis who restrict themselves to the spiritual realm alone, Pejavarashri has been one of the few rare yatis who interact with the lay folk in order to ignite the spark of Dharma within them. He has demonstrated this on a number of occasions in the past.

During the Ramajanmabhumi agitation, Pejavarashri was one of the prominent members seeking for Ram temple to be built in Ayodhya for which he even had to undergo house arrest. In the last few decades, when the devious Christian missionaries were making heavy inroads into rural Karnataka, Pejavarashri was among the first few to understand this threat to Hindu Dharma, and take corrective actions.

He visited several villages which were predominantly populated with members of the backward caste and initiated them with Vaishnava Deeksha, and instructed them on how to observe daily, monthly and annual rituals, so that they don’t lose their Hindu roots due to emotional coercion from the missionaries. He has spoken out against the practise of untouchability several times in many public fora. And he has walked the talk. In April 2017 he gave Vaishnava Deeksha to a dalit inside the Krishna Matha. The impact of his activities rattled the secularists so badly that the usual suspects were forced to come out of woodworks and condemn this action by the Swamiji as a political gimmick to retain the Hindu votes.

His work for Goraksha (cow protection) on ground is quite exemplary. One simply needs to visit the Goshala at Neelavara to understand his commitment to this cause. This place acts as a host for cows of all ages. Some of them have been donated to the Goshala. But a large number of them are abandoned and even rescued cows. These cows are are treated with great love and care. The organic feed for the cows is grown by the Goshala itself.

In addition to this, the Swamiji is quite aware of the machinations of the secular governments and its attempts to take over the temples of the Hindus, not from the point of view of doing any good to them, but for the purpose of looting the immense wealth that they generate. He has personally agitated against several such attempts made by the secular government and ensured that the Sri Krishna Temple is handed back to the Ashta Mathas. The present Chief Minister of Siddharamayya to this day bears grudge against the Pejavarashri for acting as a thorn in path with respect to take over of Udupi Temples. This was quite evident when the CM deliberately avoided visiting Udupi during both the Paryaya celebrations in 2017 as well as during the recent visit to the temple by the President of Bharat, Sri Pranab Mukherjee.

The attacks on the Swamiji : What was ‘RW’ thinking ?

Given this precedence, one cannot accuse him of being someone who is incapable of understanding politics, as someone who is unable to see the threats from Abrahamics, or worse someone who is not capable of safeguarding Hindu Dharma from external threats. However, during the recent Udupi incident, these were exactly the accusations that were flying around on social media. The sad part is that most of these accusations came from the folk who claim to be fighting for traditional ‘Right Wing’ causes.

Within a couple of days, the Swamiji issued a clarification on what happened. On connecting the dots it became clear that most of the Muslims who were invited for Iftar which itself was held in the public dining place which is outside the premise of the temple, were hardcore followers of the Swamiji, probably the ones who have received deeksha from the Swamiji, and definitely the ones who came forward when the Udupi temple was under attack from Breaking India forces last year under the guise of the ‘Chalo Udupi’ campaign.

Now a couple of things need to be called out here. First, the people who were outraging that Muslims were invited by the Swamiji for Iftar, thereby destroying the sanctity of the temple, where was their outrage when Breaking India forces were threatening to overrun the temple and desecrate it last year? Should someone who claims to be committed for the cause of Dharma need a  formal invitation from the 86 year old Swamiji for safeguarding the sampradaya which they claim to be so attached to that they cannot bear seeing it being defiled by a few Muslims having a Iftar comprising of Lord Krishna’s prasada in the sarvajanika bhojana shaala ?

Next question to ponder over is, when the same Right-Wingers encourage Ghar-Wapsi, why do they oppose someone of the stature of Pejavarashri meeting the Muslim community for the same? After all, Ghar-Wapsi isn’t going to happen by outraging on Twitter, Whatsapp, Facebook. It can only happen when the Hindus whose forefathers converted to Islam and Christianity owing to trying circumstances back then can be made to see the error of their ways and how they are being used as cannon-fodder by the agents of the Church and the Mosque to wage a war against their ancestral religion. This requires approaching the members of the other religions with a positive frame of mind and not a negative one.

This was exemplified recently when Sri Lakshmivara Tirtha, the yati from the Shiroor Matha, was invited for an iftar party at a church wherein he asked everyone to stop eating beef considering that it is sacred for Hindus. Now this is an unique incident, for across the country we have only seen evangelists trying to impose their belief on people visiting temples. For example, Joshua Miller and his team visited the Meenakshi temple a few years back and were trying to make people visiting the temple understand about how weird it was to bow to ‘stone idols’. This is how the missionaries impose their doctrines on the larger population, through subtle positive framing and not by being aggressive.

In some cases, this is the correct approach to Ghar-wapsi as well, simply because the secular state as it exists today is vehemently anti-Hindu and pro-minority. Ghar-wapsi done with lot of fanfare is only going to attract attention of radicals who will go to any extent to stop these efforts. Recently it was reported that a Bihar Lawyer and his family who returned to the Hindu fold from Islam  has been under attack from Islamic hardliners.

Now it is all too well for the right-wingers to disagree with the methods employed by the Pejavarashri to achieve some of these goals, but there is a way to express that disagreement. And calling him names, accusing the seer of things that he hasn’t done, or decrying him as someone who has sold out is definitely not the way. Many of them who outraged did so out of ignorance. When the facts started pouring in, people were able to see the larger picture. But there were a few who kept slandering the seer even after this.

Evidently these are folks who hold personal/sectarian grudge against the Madhwa community. They are using this incident in order to take a dig at the seer and score a few cheap brownie points among the followers of their sects. What these folks don’t understand is that the Breaking India forces are not going to spare their sectarian institutions just because they joined hands in abusing Pejavarashri on this case.

Muslims supporting the Matha

Now coming to the issue itself, it is a well known fact that all the food that is served in the Krishna temple is the prasada of Sri Krishna. The food is first offered to the Lord as Naivedya and subsequently, whatever is left is considered to be made sacred by the Lord himself, and hence his Prasada is deemed fit for partaking by his devotees. One needs to ask, what sort of a devout Muslim will consume Prasada, which is itself a sacrificial offering to a ‘Pagan God’? Is it halaal for them ? More importantly, is it halaal for them to break their fast with food that is a sacrificial offering to a Hindu God? Further, some of these devout Muslims have risked threats to their lives for speaking out in favour of the Udupi Matha. Why would they do that?

Clearly something greater is at play here, which perhaps cannot be discussed out in the open. But the radicals amongst Muslims are aware of this and they understand what Pejvarashri is capable of. Which is why you see incidents like the the State BJP Vice-President, Rahim Uchchil was trolled on facebook for simply meeting Pejavarshri!

It won’t be entirely incorrect to say that the mainstream media has in fact spun the news about iftar in a manner that will enrage the devout Hindus. Until the facts came out, the headlines shouted that the Iftar was held in the Matha, when in fact it was held outside the Matha premises as the Seer clarified. A lot of Right Wingers, including few fringe elements of Sangh parivar, created outrage based on the MSM news snippets. Very few people tried asking what was happening on the ground. Why does the ‘Right Wing’ so consistently get triggered by the Main Stream Media, whose misdeeds it is more than well aware of ?

The need for a Right Wing ecosystem

Perhaps the answer lies in the fact that the Right Wingers due to their inability to build institutions and ecosystems are reduced to simply reacting to an agenda set by the opponent instead of setting the agenda themselves. And hence it makes them extremely vulnerable to the left-liberal tactics which involve reporting facts couched within a certain narrative framework. The Right Wingers seem to be more than happy to fan the flames of the controversy lit by the anti-Hindu Main Stream Media instead of trying to analyze the facts.

One needs to contrast this to the behavior of Left Wingers. Even after showing enough evidences against one of their own, the Left Wingers stand by them. Case in point – Tarun Tejpal, who got invited by a prominent Litfest after he was under investigation for sexual assault. Yet, you don’t see left wingers criticizing them.

Another interesting aspect about the left wing is their ability to maintain stoic silence when events are not favourable for them. Case in point – The Basirhat riots where Muslims violently reacted over an alleged Facebook post. The left-liberals who were shouting from the rooftops about #NotInMyName sealed their lips only two days later when the riot was engineered by members of the minority. And after a few days, these left-liberals were actively seeking ways to pile the blame on the Centre and the Hindus for what is clearly a failure of the West Bengal government to uphold law & order in its state.

And this is what the ‘Right Wing’ needs to work on if it dreams of being in power in the next century. Ecosystems matter. Knowing the truth, and standing by your leaders matters. If you keep deserting your leaders at the first fault that is visible, then RW will forever remain a band of rag-taggers who create sporadic noise online without any lasting impact.

Does this mean we give clean chit to the guilty ? Absolutely not. But let us be the ones who decide and pass judgement. Instead what we are doing right now is reacting to the judgement passed by the Left-Liberal media which has taken on itself to tutor us on what is right and what is wrong. Rather than play into the hands of the Left Wing, even when they are seemingly out of power, the efforts of the Right Wing are better put to use in creating an ecosystem that can sustain it for years to come.

Note: This article has been written by Aurva Bhargava who tweets at @aurvabhrg

Disclaimer: This article represents the opinions of the Author, and the Author is responsible for ensuring the factual veracity of the content. HinduPost will not be responsible for the accuracy, completeness, suitability, or validity of any information, contained herein.


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