Every religion has its own brand of craziness. None is exempt.
Why? Because the very notion of supernaturalism is crazy, since there is zero, repeat zero, demonstrable evidence that gods, angels, souls, heaven, hell, or any other supernatural entity exists.
When I was younger I used to believe that Hinduism was a bit more appealing than, say, Christianity, because it wasn't as dogmatic a religion. However, as I began reading about Hindu nationalism in India, I came to realize that many fundamentalist Hindus are just as crazy as their counterparts in other religions.
Case in point: a New York Times story, "Her Visit to a Men-Only Temple Went Smoothly. Then the Riots Started." Here's some excerpts that show how bizarre and dangerous Hinduism can be.
KOCHI, India — One morning this month, Bindu Ammini stood at the base of a steep, forested trail in southern India and looked up: She was a three-mile hike away from making history.
Two hours later, at 3:45 a.m., Ms. Ammini and a friend became the first women to enter the Sabarimala Temple, a centuries-old Hindu shrine, after India’s Supreme Court struck down a longstanding rule preventing women of menstruating age from visiting.
In the wake of that ruling, a dozen women tried in October to climb a slippery path leading to the temple. None of them made it, as men screamed in their faces and hurled coconuts.
Video of Ms. Ammini’s journey on Jan. 2 shows two women in long black gowns striding through a gilded archway. They maneuver past mostly placid men. “Our visit has been very smooth,” Ms. Ammini, 40, says to the camera.
A few hours later, the rest of India woke up. Pandemonium followed.
Within hours of the women’s trip, a priest had shut down the Sabarimala Temple to sprinkle water for a “purification ritual,” evidence to some that the ban was rooted in a belief that menstruating women were dirty.
Wow. This story makes Christianity look positively tame in comparison to Hinduism. Christians believe in a lot of unbelievable stuff, but at least they aren't prone to rioting when someone supposedly defiles a holy place.
And while the Biblical god can be nasty, at least that divinity doesn't discriminate against women of menstruating age.
Every year, millions of people wait for hours to climb the 18 gold-plated steps leading to the Sabarimala Temple, one of Hinduism’s holiest shrines. For centuries, however, pilgrims say they have observed a de facto bar against women between the ages of 10 and 50, thinking that to allow menstruating women inside would disturb the temple’s celibate deity, Lord Ayyappa.
I found the last part of the New York Times story inspiring. It takes a lot of courage to stand up against religious extremism. I admire the women in India who are doing this.
New challenges await the women. The Supreme Court plans to consider review petitions, though lawyers do not expect a reversal of the verdict. Earlier this week, after the women left a safe house, Ms. Kanakadurga’s mother-in-law beat her so badly with a piece of wood, she said, that she was hospitalized.
Ms. Ammini said she was realistic about her safety, fretting about a recent ominous “silence” in Kerala. But the way forward — “to serve the society, work with Dalits, women, for blacks” — had never been plainer or more urgent, she said.
“They may attack me, they may kill me, but I feel no fear,” she said. “I am struggling for existence.”