By its very nature of tolerance, Hindu philosophy claims to be universal and inclusive. But how does one justify the boards outside many Hindu temples proudly denying permission to non-Hindus? The justification often being that non-Hindus are impure.

This practise is more than evident in South India where Non-Hindus are not allowed to enter most temples. The same story plays out in other parts of the country as well. It must be recalled that in Jagannath temple in Puri former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was denied entry. Be it the Lingaraj temple in Bhubaneswar or the Vishwanath temple in Varanasi — It’s the same story in more places than one.

Under the scanner now is the Padmabha temple in Kerala. Credited with the title ‘The richest temple in India’, this temple has become a hotspot for pilgrims. Eminent carnatic vocalist – Yesudas – a roman catholic – has now appealed to the temple management to allow him access to sanctum sanctorum so that he can offer prayers. This comes after he was prevented on earlier occasions from entering the Shree Krishna temple at Guruvayur in Thrissur district and the Kadampuzha Devi temple in Mallapuram for being a Non-Hindu.

The temple committee meanwhile convened a meeting of board members and officials said anyone who believes in Hinduism can visit the Padmanabhaswamy temple and offer worship. However, with instances galore of women and Dalits being denied entry to temples besides Non-Hindus, isn’t it time we question the basic premise of religion-based apartheid?