Places of worship are considered to be the most sacred place for a society. But over time, some sections of the society have been denied entry to such places, due to some reason or other. This has led to instances of social activism and forceful entry by the deprived section and even judicial intervention. So, a natural question comes, ‘Should entry to places of worship be restricted?’
Replying to entry restriction to many Hindu temples, Sree Sree Thakur Anukul Chandra tells, “Had I been there, I would have told that entry is banned for those who are not sadaachaari (non-followers of hygienic principles) (Alo. Pra. Vol.9: 21-7-1947). Though for private temples, it is sensible to have rules as per desire of the owners (Alo. Pra. Vol.9: 30-6-1947), there should be no restriction for sadachari and non-miscreants.”
Sree Sree Thakur holds view that idol worship is hero worship. The idol should be taken as a role model and the worshipper should practice to shape his/her life accordingly. He/she should become like that of the idol rather than just being involved in rituals of offering flowers and incense sticks. Tracing to the genesis of worship, Sri Sri Thakur gives example of worshipping the Cross by the devotees of Christ. He says worshiping the cross bears no meaning if Jesus (sentiment) is not there behind the cross. Usually, we find it hard to scarify anything that bears a sacred memory and sentiment within. To enliven the memory of forefathers within us, people worship them. But if we reject this sentiment in the name of idol-worship, then how much deprived do we make them! (Alo. Pra. Vol. 7: 24-1-1946).
Sree Sree Thakur supports pilgrimage because, it increases conviction, elates mind, decreases suspicion and increases energy. All these factors are related to impulse. (Alo. Pra. Vol. 7: 3-2-1946). He adds that every holy place should develop into university so that they could provide mass religious and cultural education. There should be arrangement for proprietary priests at these places. (Alo. Pra. Vol. 22: 25-9-1953). He favors reforms in temples in such a way that tradition does not take a commercial tenor. But he does not recommend the Government take over of holy places for their management.
Sree Sree Thakur appreciates the customs at some places where devotees touch ‘Jyotirling’. But he cautions to follow the associated traditions strictly. He tells, if a leprosy patient touches the idol and people take ‘snanjal’ (water used to bathe the idol), then the disease could spread (Alo. Pra. Vol. 22: 25-9-1953).
Providing guideline for worship, Sri Sri Thakur tells, the altar of God should be at a height having a covered top. There should be verandah all around. Only the purohit (priest) would bathe the idol and water would flow through a cupper tube to outside from where people would be allowed to collect it. There should be no obstacle in viewing the idol by any one. All would handover the materials of worship to the purohit (Alo. Pra. Vol. 22: 24-9- 1953). None other than the purohit is allowed to touch the Idol; not even the Brahmins. All could view, all could offer worship but none would be allowed to touch. This is also good from hygienic point of view (Alo. Pra. Vol. 22: 27-9-1953).
According to Sree See Thakur, people of hypogamous (pratiloma) parentage should be barred from entry to temple. Explaining the reason, he tells that the tradition evolves around the existence and growth of human beings. The reason of isolating the pratiloma offspring (the outcasts) is also seen in plant kingdom. If you keep a cultured variety which is yet to be stabilized, along with the inferior wild variety for a very long period, then the cultured variety itself deteriorates. Even the stable one also deteriorates. The same is true for human beings. This is why the entry of outcasts is prohibited to temple.
Always the cultured variety must be kept in the forefront so that the others can grow by coming in contact of them. It benefits none, if we make the noncultured and non-adorables at par with others. The aim is to uphold culture and goad everyone towards evolution (Alo. Pra. Vol. 22: 27-9-1953).