TEMPLE ENTRY MOVEMENT IN TAMIL NADU

TEMPLE ENTRY MOVEMENT IN TAMIL NADU

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Temple Entry Movement was one of the important socio-political events in the history of Tamil Nadu. The author has identified it as a potential theme for writing the book, for it was a remarkable episode in the Hindu religion as it brought out equality among the worshippers of God.Temple Entry Movement was a part of the escalating campaign of mass civil disobedience which marked a major watershed in the socio-political life of Tamil Nadu. The temples and temple authorities became the makers of rules and regulations to control the life of the people. They were closely inter-related with the institution of caste system. It is believed that the hierarchical caste system was the contrivance of the Brahminical mind which divided the society into two /larger sections, the high- and the low-caste, or the pure and the polluting caste. The Brahmins, the Kshatriyas, the Vaisyas and the Sudras formed a pyramidical hierarchy with the Brahmins at the apex and the Sudras at the base. All others outside the pale of this system were considered as impure low-castes.The socio-economic mosaic of Tamil Nadu in the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries was also one of the extreme contrasts existing side by side—power and bondage, purity and pollution, overlordship and subservience, landedness and landlessness, prosperity and poverty, knowledge and ignorance, the power of women and the degradation of women, immunities and slavery.The non-caste Hindus were always treated as slaves and a number of basic rights were far away from their reach. They were not allowed to worship in the temples and also to walk in the streets. Lack of physical cleanliness, intellectual appetite and economic status prevented these people from entering the temples.The advent of the Christian Missionaries and their educational institutions exposed the mythological concepts that governed the caste restrictions. The spread of English education and the formation of caste associations inspired the non-caste Hindus to bargain for their legitimate status within the fold of Hinduism. Among the non-caste Hindu communities, the Nadars of Sivakasi amassed with wealth through their business and industry, began to claim the right of temple-entry which was denied to them. The cases at Tiruchendur, Madurai, Srivilliputhur, Sivakasi and Kamudi went against the pretensions of the Nadars. At several places, the Nadars armed themselves and attempted temple-entry through force leading to clashes with other communities. In this chain of violent reaction, the Great Deluge at Sivakasi deserves special mention.The advent of Gandhiji into the National Movement was a great blessing to the marginalized people in India. In 1920, the Indian National Congress at its Nagpur session adopted a distinct and unequivocal political resolution for the admission of the non-caste Hindus into the Hindu temples. By the Bardoli Resolution of 1922, Gandhiji brought out a new colour of social content to the Congress programme by advocating the idea of removal of untouchability. At the Congress session at Kakkinada, the Indian National Congress included the “Right of Temple Entry” in its agenda. To uplift the non-caste Hindus (Harijans) with the blessings of Gandhiji, the Harijan Sevak Sangh was formed at the national level with Seth Ghanshyandas Biris and Amritlal V. Thakkar as its President and General Secretary respectively. The Tamil Nadu Harijan Sevak Sangh under the leadership of Dr. T.S.S.Rajan was also formed with headquarters at Trichi. The members of the Harijan Sevak Sangh organized Padayatras, Bhajans, Common Sports and Samabandi Bhojanams (inter-communal dinings) for the removal of untouchability from the minds of the caste-Hindus. 

Contents:

1. Introduction,

2. Social Mosaic of Tamil Country by the Dawn of 19th Century,

3. Sivakasi and the Great Deluge,

4. Harijan Sevak Sangh in Tamil Nadu,

5. Gandhiji’s Harijan Tour in Tamil Nadu,

6. Temple Entry Movement in Tamil Nadu.

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