All the developments point to the mission undertaken by the CPI-M and the Congress – to seize the Sabarimala Temple, the lone unifying factor of the Hindus in the South Indian States.
The CPI-M led Pinarayi Vijayan government has arrested more than 3800 Hindu activists till the 5th of November under various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) as part of the crackdown on the devotees of Lord Ayyappa who are protesting against the entry of women in the 10 to 50 age group to the sanctum sanctorum of the holy shrine in the Western Ghats in Kerala.
The area surrounding the Sabarimala shrine and the entire stretch of forest road leading to the temple were completely under the control of Christian plantation owners.
Most of them have been arrested as unknown persons who staged agitation in the shrine and whose pictures were detected from the video images beamed by the pro-CPI-M satellite news channels.
There is a strong feeling among the Lord Ayyappa devotees that the CPI-M government would come down like a pack of cards at the right time due to the curse of the Lord atop the shrine. There are reasons behind their belief. Many people, as well as the new age devotees, may not be aware of the fact that it was this same Ayyappa temple which paved the way for the victory of the Communist Party of India (CPI) in the first ever elections held in 1957 to elect the Kerala Legislative Assembly.
The holy shrine of Lord Ayyappa atop Sabarimala was completely destroyed in a fire in 1950. The idol of the presiding deity too was vandalised and destroyed by a group of Christian fanatics. The State was known at that time by the name of Travancore-Kochi while the Malabar region constituting the northern districts of Kerala were spread across the Madras Presidency and Mysore. Paravoor T K Narayana Pillai, a Congress leader, was the Chief Minister of the State and the Congress was in alliance with the Praja Socialist Party.
Those governments too lacked stability as Pillai was replaced by C Kesavan, A J John, Pattom Thanu Pillai and Panampilly Govinda Menon in that order. The Congress government had ordered a crime branch investigation into the blaze at Sabarimala which devoured the temple. K Kesava Menon, the then Deputy Inspector General of Police (Special Branch CID) had been assigned the responsibility of cracking the mystery behind the inferno.
Menon who was known as a brilliant crime investigator submitted a comprehensive report to the then government within months. The thorough investigation undertook by him had solved the mystery by identifying the perpetrators of the crime. He had mentioned in the report that the area surrounding the Sabarimala shrine and the entire stretch of forest road leading to the temple were completely under the control of Christian plantation owners and their workers who were bent upon destroying the temple.
Though the local police team which initially investigated the case knew the perpetrators of the crime, they soft-pedalled the probe and those who were interrogated in connection with the case were let off scot-free by the police at the instance of their political masters. But the investigation by Menon led him to Ouseph Thomman and his gang, Chacko, Kochu, and their henchmen, Kunhappy, Zachariah and P Ouseph. Since the Congress Party in Travancore-Cochin area too had been hijacked by the Christians, none of the Congress leaders was for publishing the Kesava Menon Report. Though Menon had sought permission from the then chief minister for arresting the above-mentioned individuals, the Congress Politicians did not allow him to do so. Not only that, the government did not publish the report prepared and submitted by Menon despite demand by a big majority of the people.
All the above-mentioned characters were Christian fanatics and had taken a decision to convert the entire tribal population (known as Vanavaasi) into Christianity. The extent to which the evangelists and their henchmen succeeded could be known by following the research work on religious demography undertaken by A P Joshi, M D Srinivas and J K Bajaj of the Centre for Policy Studies, Chennai.
A survey report published by the then British in 1820 reveals that women in the 10-50 age group were not allowed in the shrine since time immemorial.
“Christians have a high presence in the southern half of the State. They form 41.22 per cent of the population in Ernakulam-Kottayam-Idukki region and 23.64 per cent on Alappuzha-Kollam-Pathanamthitta region further south. Within these regions, the highest concentration of Christians is in the districts of Kottayam-Idukki-Pathanamthitta where they form 45.84, 42.24 and 40.36 per cent of the population respectively,” write the three demography specialists in their comprehensive work “Religious Demography of India”, published in the year 2003.
The unprecedented growth in the Christian population in Kerala during the 1901-2011 period is disturbing. While Kerala had 13.82 per cent Christians in 1901, their share in the population went up to 20.86 per cent by 1951. The period 1951-1961 saw the share of Christians in Kerala increasing to 21.22 per cent. This would not have happened in a normal course, according to these scientists. That means there was a large-scale religious conversion in Kerala during the period under discussion.
Coming back to Sabarimala: The States reorganisation undertaken by Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel saw the three provinces of Travancore, Kochi and Malabar getting integrated as a single entity by name Kerala on November 1, 1956. The first election to the Kerala Legislative Assembly was held in 1957. The Communist Party of India, which was on the lookout for an issue on which to fight the election saw the potential offered by the Sabarimala fire as the Hindus constituted more than 95 per cent of the total members of the party.
Though the founding leaders of the CPI like A K Gopalan, M N Govindan Nair, P Krishna Pillai and Thoppil Bhasi were anarchists, the common man/ woman who joined the party hoping for a better tomorrow were proponents of strong family values and believers in God. Since Christians and Muslims considered Communism as a taboo, they never had any issues because they did not join the party except for a few who could be counted in one’s fingers.
When the party was banned, these leaders went underground and stayed in the houses of party members and supporters. While the hosts offered the leaders, food and shelter, it is alleged that these “leaders” romanced with the ladies in the house to kill time. “Memoirs of the Life in Hiding” (Olivile Ormmakal) authored by Thoppil Bhasi reads like a Harold Robbins novel in which Bhasi has told how he wooed all the female members of the houses where he took shelter to escape from the police. A K Gopalan, whom the CPI-M portrays as the embodiment of all that is good, married Susheela to escape from the charges of sexual assault. Gopalan was 48 and Susheela was 23 when they got married in 1952. Unknown to the outside world was the fact that Gopalan had used Susheela’s residence in Muhamma of Alappuzha district as a hideout when he was on the run from the police in the 1940s. He had romanced Susheela who was hardly 11 at that time. When this was disclosed by an author, the CPI-M activists had bashed him up!
Well, the CPI’s campaign during the 1957 election focussed on the police report getting dusted in the then police headquarters. “The party campaigned all over the State promising the people that the investigative report would be publicised once the party comes to power. They also promised that action would be taken against the persons who set the temple on fire and destroyed the idol,” said P Rajan, a veteran scribe who had covered the 1957 assembly election.
The CPI won the election only because of the Hindus in the State. “But they dilly-dallied in publishing the report for months and when the public resentment reached its zenith, the E M S Namboodirippadu government was left with no other option than publishing the same,” reminiscences Rajan who is leading retirement life at Palarivattam, a Kochi suburb. Though the EMS government did publish the report, it did not take any action like arresting the culprits or even questioning those who were named in the report.
Even as the CPI-M and rationalists and atheists claim that women were allowed in Sabarimala during the early 19th century, a survey report published by the then British in 1820 reveals that women in the 10-50 age group were not allowed in the shrine since time immemorial. An official publication “Memoir of the Survey of Travancore and Kochi States” published in 1827 by the then British Government which had ruled South India states that women were not allowed to visit Sabarimala due to a host of reasons including their physiological issues.
Pinarayi Vijayan, immediately after becoming the chief minister of Kerala had declared that Sabarimala Temple has a vast scope as a business centre.
“Though girl children and aged women visit the temple, females falling under the menstrual cycle are not permitted here. This is because of the strict celibacy followed by the presiding deity,” writes Dr S Raimon, the general editor of the book in its pages 136 and 137. The book demolishes the claim made by the CPI-M activists that women devotees of all age groups used to undertake a pilgrimage to Sabarimala.
This disclosure was substantiated by S Jayashanker, eminent historian and former deputy director of Census Operations who told The Hindu the other day that ‘denial of entry for women of childbearing age to the Sabarimala Ayyappa Temple had been a centuries-old practice strictly adhering to the tantric concept of purity and pollution’. Jaishanker is the author of 13 volumes “Temples of Kerala” published by the Government of India’s Census Department.
All these developments point to the mission undertaken by the CPI-M and the Congress – to seize the Sabarimala Temple, the lone unifying factor of the Hindus in the South Indian States. Pinarayi Vijayan, immediately after becoming the chief minister of Kerala had declared that Sabarimala Temple has a vast scope as a business centre. He had told the Travancore Devaswom Board that administers the temple to find out ways and means to keep the temple opened for 365 days in the year so that the income could be increased manifold.
Devotees of Lord Ayyappa are unanimous in their view that it was Lord Ayyappa who blessed the Communists to come to power in 1957. The same Lord would oversee the downfall of the Communists in the lone State where the party is in power. Swamy Saranam.