Adding another feather to his glorious cap of achievements is Shivraj Singh Chauhan’s new decision that will mark a watershed moment in the history of the revival of the Sanatan cult, or what is popularly known as Hinduism.
Only 3-4 days ago, in a press notification, Shivraj Singh Chauhan led MP government announced the introduction of a new scheme ‘Purohityam’, under which a diploma course would be available for the profession of priesthood.
The priests, who are much needed for the holy rituals involved in the Sanatan or Hindu Dharma, shall undergo this diploma course, wherein the candidates will be taught the basics of Sanatan rituals, be it mantras, priesthood, or the sanskaar literature [grihya sutra], theory of sanskaar literature and the sixteen sanskaars required as per the Sanatan Dharma, as told by Shri P.R. Tiwari, director of Maharishi Patanjali Sanskrit Sansthan.
The pre requisite for this course is successful completion of intermediate standard [Class 12th] from any recognized school, as notified by the Central or the State Government.
But what is so unique about this scheme? The unique point about ‘Purohityam’ is that caste is no bar for being a priest here. Yes, you heard that right. For becoming a priest, caste is no bar.
Even a Scheduled Caste or Other Backward Caste person can become a priest, provided he / she fulfills the necessary conditions and qualifications, reminding us of the old Rig Vedic system, where caste was a choice, not a necessity.
Although there have been some protests by hardlined zealots, who feel it is the exclusive reserve of Brahmins, let me remind them that Brahmin word itself was mentioned as an honorary title in the Purusha Sukta verse of the Rig Veda, which denotes the status of Brahmin as an intellectual, who awakens and educates the society.
According to the Gautama’s Dharmsutra, one of the oldest shastras of the Vedic Age to have survived till date, following are the prerequisites of becoming a Brahmin, according to verses 9.24-9.55 of the Gautama’s Dharmasutra :-
He / She should always be truthful
He / she should always conduct himself/herself as an Aryan
He / she should teach his / her art only to virtuous people
He /she should follow rules of ritual purification
He / She should study Vedas with delight
He / She should never hurt any living creature
He / she should be gentle but steadfast
He / She should be kind, liberal towards everyone
In Chapter 8 of the Gautama’s Dharmsutras, as stated and translated later by Patrick Olivelle, following are the functions of the Brahmin:-
To learn the Vedas
To learn the secular sciences
To learn the Vedic supplements
To learn the dialogues, the epics and the Puranas
To understand the texts and pattern his conduct according to precepts contained in this texts
To undertake Sanskara (rite of passage) and rituals, and lead a virtuous life.
In this context, a Brahmin is the one who has learnt the art of knowledge and knows how to impart it to the benefit to the society. If Brahmin was a mere caste, how come we have rishis like Valmiki, Vyasa, Yajnavalkya, who were supposedly from the lower castes?
Although the talk of including priests from lower castes was in prominence, with some organizations actively contributing to the cause, this is for the first time that a government is actively contributing to the same course, and taking it on itself to reform the Sanatan religion and the Sanatan followers.
And as once Swami Vivekananda said, “The Vedanta recognizes no sin, it only recognizes error. And the greatest error, says the Vedanta is to say that you are weak, that you are a sinner, a miserable creature, and that you have no power and you cannot do this and that.” The same applies for the Sanatan religion.
By introducing the diploma course of priesthood, Shivraj Singh Chauhan has not only set a precedent for other religions to follow, he has also liberated the priesthood from the westernized hegemony of one caste in his own way.
Call it what you want, but tell me one other administrator of any other class or caste or religion, who has the nerves of steel to take such a bold decision. I hope we haven’t forgotten the atrocities Muslim women face due to Triple Talaq.
With that, Shivraj Singh Chauhan led Madhya Pradesh government has joined the ranks of those maverick reformers, who reformed the complex Indian, Sanatan society to be precise from within. Once people like Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar, Swami Vivekananda and Ramakrishna Paramhansa etc. had taken up the mantle to reform both the Indian society and the Sanatan Dharma of its muck and malice. Now people like Shivraj Singh Chauhan are proudly carrying forward their legacy. The nation is proud of such people.
Madhya Pradesh is certainly very lucky of its own class to have such a forward thinking Chief Minister. I hope the Delhi denizens learn something from them. After all, 2020 is not very far away.