Sunday, September 19, 2021
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Sabarimala Hindu Resistance: A Psychological Perspective

I’ll come to Sabarimala Hindu resistance. It’s interesting for me as a psychologist to see this that never before in recorded history have Hindus come out unified in such large numbers to protect their temples. There is a simmering Hindu rage becoming a movement and I also believe that it will soon point to the time when we will be in one of the biggest transition periods of history of all times. To understand what is happening at Sabarimala I have drawn it psychologically. It is a separation that creates the resistance. At an individual level we don’t want separation, but as for societies, how do societies attach, how do societies become who they are? We all become a society through proximity groups come together. I mean anyone who has read Benedict Anderson would know that we come together, we create proximity. There is bonding and then when after the bonding, it gives rise to a phase of separation. And the separation in the world most of it is forced. Separation is not welcomed. Separation happens suddenly. If we look at the separation in our lives did any of the separation… if you see, 99% of separation happens suddenly. It came without a warning. The same is happening right now in Sabarimala.

Hindus are facing a separation from their tradition which has existed for 500 years. It’s the forced separation. Without going into the right or the wrong of it I can only say that this separation is sudden. It is forced and it is not something that they identify with or there is something that there is no victim in it, in order to say that, No, I want this. The separation is leading to what we call grief in psychology. Separation unlocks the grieving process always. Whenever there is separation there is grief. This is what is happening to us as a society. We are going through separation. Hindus have gone through separation in big ways for a long time. We have got separated from our temples, we have got separated from our sacred lands, we have got separated from our culture, we have got separated even, for example, our schools. So, the way we were running our schools… the British stopped it and said that “no, you have to study in these schools”. So, we went through separations continuously one after another, but we never grieved. We held the grief back inside and that the grief right now is emerging because of the nationalism. The nationalist feelings that are emerging in society.

Next, the stages of grief. I’ll briefly say the first stage is denial. We all know what denial means. When we hear a bad news or a tragic news what is the first reaction? “No! This is not true. This cannot happen”. We use denial to protect ourselves and then there is rage, there is sadness. But our society, the Hindu society, it went into denial when it saw its temples desecrated, when it saw its places destroyed and it could not express rage. Now, one could not express rage for example in Aurangzeb’s time, could we? So, what happened to the grief? The grief stayed inside. We went straight to the phase of rationalization by withdrawing into ourselves. (We became) We carried our activities within the parameters of our home. I’ll come to that later. So, we missed out all this – rage, sadness, fear. The separation happens again, all this will take place. There will be rage, there will be protests that we see, that we are seeing right now in Sabarimala.

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