On Tuesday, hearing a case concerning the right to worship of two Hindu sects, the Madras High Court noted that tolerance is the hallmark of Hinduism, reports Bar and Bench.
The Madras High Court bench led by Justice SM Subramaniam heard a petition to decide a dispute between two sects over chanting recitals at the Sri Varadaraja Perumal Temple in Tamil Nadu. A dispute had arisen between two sects – Vadagalai and Thengalai after the temple’s executive trustee had issued a notice prohibiting the Vadagalai sect from chanting recitals at the temple.
The petitioners representing the Vadagalai sect had urged the court to grant permission to chant prayers in the Sri Varadaraja Perumal Temple in Tamil Nadu, citing their fundamental right of worship. The petitioners stated that they were not disrespecting the rights conferred on the Thengalai sect by virtue of customary practices, however, they pleaded that their rights were being violated by preventing them from worshipping their guru.
However, the respondent argued that a decree from the year 1915 allowed only the Thengalai sect to recite at the temple.
Hearing the arguments, Justice SM Subramaniam pointed out that tolerance is the hallmark of Hinduism, and both sects should be allowed to do hold recitals and pray as per their faith and customs. The judge also said that devotees could not be denied their right to worship at any cost and directed the authorities to allow both the Vadagalai and Thengalai sects to chant their prayers at the Sri Varadaraja Perumal Temple.
“Tolerance is the hallmark principle in Hinduism. Mutual understanding, respect and glorifying the Lord alone will preserve the sanctity of the Temple activities, and therefore, both the sects are expected to do services to Lord Sri Varadaraja Perumal instead of fighting on trivial issues of this nature”, the judge observed.
In its order, the Madras High Court also emphasised that religion may not lay down a code of ethical rules for its followers, but it may prescribe rituals and ceremonies regarded as integral parts of a religion.
“Therefore, the constitutional guarantee of freedom of religion enshrined in Article 25(1) extends even to rites and ceremonies associated with a religion,” Justice Subramaniam held.
Hence, in this regard, the court noted that the sentiments of both the sects should be respected, and mutual respect between them was of paramount importance.
The court also observed that every devotee has got a right to enter the temple and worship Lord Sri Varadaraja Perumal in the way he likes without affecting the rights of other devotees/worshippers and temple activities.
The court also noted that the Vadagalai sect would be provided with an opportunity so that they were not deprived of its primacy as they claimed by virtue of the 1910 decree.
The Madras High Court also imposed the rules for the traditions to be followed inside the Hindu temple, saying that the Thengalai sect shall be permitted to start their initial recital, namely Srisaila Dayapathram and later, the Vadagalai sect shall be allowed to chant the initial recital namely Sri Ramanuja Dayapathram within 10 to 12 seconds each.
Then, both the Thengalai sect and Vadagalai sect, along with ordinary devotees, shall be permitted to jointly chant Naalayira Divya Prabandham in an uninformed manner without any disruptions to the rituals and poojas or any inconvenience to the other devotees and worshippers.
“On completion of chanting of Naalayira Divya Prabandham by Vadagalai sect, Thengalai sect and ordinary devotees, jointly the final ritual namely Vazhithirunamam may be firstly chanted by Thengalai sect, i.e., “Manavalamamunigal Vaazhithirunamam” and after that, the Vadagalai sect shall be allowed to recite their concluding Mantra, i.e., “Desikan Vazhi Thirunamam” and accordingly, the entire process of rituals shall be concluded,” the court directed.
Earlier in February, the Madras High Court had issued a similar order directing a Hindu petitioner to exhibit tolerance after he moved the court, complaining about the use of loudspeakers in a newly constructed church in Neduvilai in the Kanyakumari district of Tamil Nadu.
The petitioner, identified as one C Kishore, had filed a writ petition in the Madras High Court wherein he challenged the permission given by the Kanyakumari District Collector to one Y Thangaraj to construct a Church. He complained that Thangaraj had been creating a ‘nuisance’ by conducting prayers through loudspeakers, both during the day and night.
The matter was heard by a Single Judge Bench of Justice CV Karthikeyan, who rejected the plea asking the petitioner to ‘show tolerance as he is Hindu’.