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Tamil translation

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT:

Vikram Masson
navyashastra@shastras.org
www.shastras.org

International Hindu organization implores the Kanchi Acharya to grant spiritual initiation to all Hindus and to admit Harijans into Vedic school sponsored by Mutt

Jersey City, NJ, USA—-June 12, 2003—-Navya Shastra, an international organization of Hindus with members in over ten countries, has implored the Kanchi Shankaracharya, Sri Jayendra Saraswati, to grant spiritual initiation, or Brahmopadesam, to all Hindus, regardless of caste or gender. It has also requested His Holiness to admit Harijans and members of other castes into the Vedic school, or Veda Pathasala, sponsored by the Kanchi Mutt.

Traditionally, Brahmopadesam has only been available to males born into Hinduism’s upper three varnas, who are known, upon initiation, as dwijas, or “twice born”. Without Brahmopadesam, a student would be categorically ineligible to study the Vedas. In recent times, the denial of Brahmopadesam to Sudras, Harijans, and women has incited caste tensions and anti-Hindu movements. It has also left many groups feeling that they have no place within the Hindu community. “Caste and gender discrimination directly contravenes the letter and spirit of the Hindu scriptures. If the traditional Acharyas make Brahmopadesam available to all, we would strike at the very roots of the ‘fear of God’ factor which has prevented meaningful caste and gender reform for centuries,” said Dr. Mira Govindarajan, a Navya Shastra executive committee member originally from Chennai, India.

Navya Shastra has promised to fund the living and training expenses of a few qualified Harijan students for the duration of the Mutt-sponsored Veda Pathasala course, which generally lasts twelve years. In addition, it will help with the expenses of an equal number of disadvantaged Brahmins currently undergoing Vedic training. “In a single stroke it would bring human dignity and joyous acceptance to 200 million Harijans and strengthen our religion,” said Pathmarajah Nagalingam, a Hindu activist and Navya Shastra committee member from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

In the recent communication*, Navya Shastra congratulated His Holiness on fifty years of service to the Harijan community and asked Him to lead all religious institutions in a movement for spiritual equality. “The numerous charitable and social works projects undertaken by the Kanchi Mutt demonstrate the Shankaracharya’s commitment to the Harijan community and give us hope that He is the right person to lead such a movement that should ideally include all Mutts and Aadheenams,” said Navya Shastra executive committee member and Bareilly, Uttar Pradesh native Rahul Saxena. Navya Shastra plans to lobby other religious leaders in the coming months.

Sri Rajarathina Bhattar, priest emeritus of the Madurai Meenakshi- Sundareswarar Temple and senior Navya Shastra advisor from Houston, Texas, said: “In Sanskrit there is a saying ‘svayam aachaarate ithi Acharyahe’ – only he who follows what he says or preaches is an Acharya. Will Sri Jayendra Saraswati set himself up as an example? If he does it he can become an Acharya for all of the world’s Hindus, just as the Pope is for the world’s Catholics.”

Navya Shastra was founded in the United States in 2002. Its membership comprises scholars, activists, priests, and ordinary Hindus from all castes and communities who are committed to spiritual and social equality. It also seeks to work with the religious leadership in developing educational programs in the Vedas and Agamas that would be available to all Hindus.

*A copy of the letter is available at www.shastras.org