Thursday, 3 May 2007

Swamiji takes Dalits into historic temples

By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, May 3: In a first of its kind move, the head of a Hindu religious mutt plans to take more than 300 Dalits, who were reconverted to Hinduism from Christianity, on a pilgrimage of important temples spread across the State on May 26.
Sri Swaroopanandendra Saraswathi Swami, head of Sri Visakha Sarada Peetham, will lead the entry of reconverted Dalits into the famous Hindu shrines in Srisailam (Sri Brahmaramba Mallikarjuna Swami), Tirupati (Sri Venkateswara Swami), Srikalahasti (Shiva), Vijayawada (Sri Durga Malleswara Swami) and Annavaram (Sri Satyanarayana Swami).
The Dalits from different parts of the State will assemble in Hyderabad on May 25 and will embark on the spiritual journey the next day. The yatra will conclude with the prayers at Sri Satyanarayana Swami temple at Annavaram in East Godavari district. From there, the Dalits will return to their respective villages.
"The Agama Sastras do not prevent the entry of Dalits into temples or other religious places. The centuries-old Hindu tradition also does not prohibit it. It's only after the Britishers started ruling India that untouchability came into being and Dalits were barred entry into temples. We are simply reviving the ancient Hindu tradition and practising the Agama Sastras by taking Dalits on a pilgrimage of important temples," the Swami told this correspondent.
Referring to the "Dalita Govindam" programme launched by the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams, the Swamiji said Dalits should be allowed to enter temples.
Swami Swaroopanandendra Saraswathi has been championing the cause of Dalits and fighting against religious conversions. He held a series of meetings with other Hindu religious leaders including Sankaracharyas to create religious awareness among the Dalit communities.
"We are also holding a reconversion programme for Dalits who have converted to other religions. The programme will be held at Rushigudda in Srikakulam district for three days from May 7. We will tell the Dalits that their ancestors Arundhati, Dharmavyada and Valmiki had brought laurels to the religion. We all worship them, though they are Dalits," the Swamiji said.

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