If stomach is the shortest route to a man’s heart…

B.S. NAGARAJ writes from Bangalore: Here is Udupi Pejawar Mutt seer Sri Vishvesha Teertha swamiji‘s reasoning for his opposition to “sahapankti bhojana” (people of all castes eating together).

“Among other castes (non-Brahmins), there is the practice of eating meat and drinking liquor. If people used to eating satvik food start eating in such company, they run the risk of developing friendship with other castes and take to eating meat and drinking liquor!”

ROFLMAO, as they in Internet slang.

News reports have quoted the swamiji thus at a conference of Brahmins in Shimoga. The conference was debating the topic, “How to retain our (Brahmin) identity while developing harmony with other castes?”

It may cause mirth in some quarters, but it is more likely to evince rage among the usual suspects who by taking him on frequently for his periodic verbal excesses bestow him with undeserved importance.

Reports say that the controversial seer has for the first time “explained” why Udupi’s Sri Krishna temple doesn’t have an arrangement for people of all castes to eat together. He went on to defend the denial of opportunity for sahapankti at Udupi saying “even Basaveshwara didn’t approve of “sahapankti bhojana” with meat-eaters.

Vegetarianism was one way of “saving Brahminhood” and “vegetarianism promotes virtue,” he told the conference.

The inspiration for Hindutva rabble rousers like Uma Bharati and a leading light of the Ramjanmabhoomi campaign, didn’t stop at that. He went on to decry the trend of inter-caste marriages, saying they tend to interfere in the way people live and create imabalances.

There was more such nonsense from the seer.

According to him, if Muslims and Christians are in the habit of being regular in their religious practices it is because of Brahmins. He didn’t explain how though. But in recent times, Brahmins were not regular in daily practices like sandhyavandane, he bemoaned.

Controversy is the Udupi seer’s second name.

Only recently, he had subtly defended “madesnana”, the disgusting ritual of non-Brahmins rolling on the plantain leaves off which Brahmins have eaten. After protests against the practice intensified, he altered his stand saying if the government bans it he wouldn’t oppose it.

And before that, he had begun visiting Dalit colonies only to be rebuffed by Dalit leaders. The head of the Nidumamidi Mutt had then countered that visiting Dalit colonies would change nothing, telling Vishvesha Teertha that he would bow before him if he allowed a Dalit to enter the sanctum sanctorum of the Krishna temple in Udupi and offer pooje there.

Incidentally in 2010, the Krishna temple had been denotified by the BJP government in Karnataka and handed over to the ashta mathas (eight seminaries of the Madhva order) at the instance of Vishvesha Teertha, even while there was a claim to the temple by the backward K uruba community.

Conferences of Brahmins were not like the meetings of other castes, according to the Pejavar seer.

“Here we discuss the welfare of the entire Hindu society,” he declared.

But far from showing concern for the larger good of Hindu society, reports seem to suggest that the focus of the conference was more on uniting Brahmins owing allegiance to the three (trimathastha) different philosophies more than anything else. As if they had done something revolutionary, the 13 Brahmin religious heads present resolved to promote the idea of marriages within the larger Brahmin community, irrespective of its sub-sects.

File photograph: Activists of the centre of Indian trade unions (CITU) eat €˜jawar rotis™ at a protest rally in Bangalore in July 2011 (Karnataka Photo News)

Also read: ‘Brahmins need a deeksha to awaken empathy’

How religion met politics while you were asleep

For one good turn deserves another and another

What’s in a name? The key to a casteless society

What to do after ravaging our natural resources

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33 Responses to “If stomach is the shortest route to a man’s heart…”

  1. Murthy Says:

    He is selectively quoting Basavanna here. He says Basavanna also did not allow sahapankti bhojana (about which I dont’ have info). But Basavanna did allow inter-caste marriages. Why cannot this seer follow Basavanna in this regard? ROFLMAO is the best response to this. And who the hell appointed him as the care taker of Hindus when he himself is a threat to it?

  2. Murthy Says:

    So it also means, their Saatvika guna is weak enough to be affected by lower castes; and not Strong enough to influence the lower caste to take up vegetarianism!!!

    This reminds me of a short story that used to be telecast in DD Bangalore –a Gubbi (Sparrow) says its chick not to play with Crow chick because Gubbi chick will turn black as Crow; then Gubbi chick asks back her mother why cannot she turn the Crow chick to white as she is?

  3. navollasa Says:

    This should not be made a huge fuss

    In bombay emraan hashmi and salman khan could not get an apartment because it was meant for only (gujarati) vegetarians . they stand their point even now.

    its simple there should be space for everyone. smell, eatables are inseparable and people have to respect discretion.

    vegetarianism is not brahminism. i have been in touch with north indian brahmins ( with lot of fairness and highest surnames like kaul , sharma etc ) but they dont mind eating even beef when they leave india!!

    but there are many non brahmins who are pure vegetarians everywhere including gujaratis kannadigas marathis telugus tamils and some malayalis – many by choice and others from generations.

    today caste has become a label – a political oppurtunity – nothing is confirmed from it!

  4. Poli Says:

    Haha, what a joker this guy is. Let people like him be born in the dark ages of Manu, rot and die with out medicines and modern implements invented by all the meat-eaters!

  5. Nilesh Says:

    Disgusting… This behavior shows that the caste system is well and alive in many parts of this state and is sanctioned by some of the big religious leaders.

  6. BangaloreBaba Says:

    Delighted to see that most of the comments are contemptuous of this so-called “seer”.

    He epitomizes everything that went wrong with Hindu society and caused so much degeneration in our society over hundreds of years.

    If such people are given a free hand, they will drag India down. Seriously, something needs to be done to curb the influence of such people.

  7. Anand Baradi Says:

    As a kid, 15 years back when i was having my free lunch in Udupi sri Krishna temple in a separate enclosure where all people did not posses white belt , i was wondering why the serving guy was throwing food on to the plate at a arms distance . Finally I got confirmed from the so called authority of the temple!!!

    I have read some articles and heard some scholars both of whom says that no where in the history of Hinduism mentions about meat consumption being prohibited but some category people who were in vanguard of the society tried to change the definition of Hindu religion according to their taste also succeeded to an extent

    Hinduism as life would continue to evolve as both are not bound by book containing set of rules written by individuals

    I can only pity on those who are still living in denial

  8. harkol Says:

    Swamijis like this are the reason why Brahmins, even Hinduism gets a bad name and bad practices. What he is proposing is segregation, and dividing society. Folks like him kept Brahmins poor through ages, by proscribing various industrious activities for them in the name of preserving their ‘purity’!!

    They also alienated other castes with the same ‘chip on shoulder’ attitude and declining to teach them the only education available at the time – spiritual.

    They want to perpetuate that?? How sick is this swami’s mind!! And how can folks think he is any better than a fool?

    Swami’s and mutts are supposed to be centers of new thinking, new philosophy and center for guiding people on right track. They should be able to define a new way of living to reflect the changes in society and requirements of time. Most famous of our spiritual leaders did so.

    Buddha to Basavanna, Adi Shankara to Madvacharya discarded the caste constraints. But, these swamis, who claim to be their followers, brought back the very same things they reformed!

    Is it any wonder, Pejavar Seer is the one who performed the first pooja after the demolition of Babri Masjid? He is an ultra-conservative man.

  9. vaidya Says:

    I don’t understand. It’s not like they are going to serve ‘non-Satvik’ food like meat and liquor in the temple, are they?
    As for keeping company, would like to see Aakar Patel (of keeping Brahmin company fame) meeting Visvesha Theertha. Would be some interesting theories being expounded there.

  10. Raghunath Says:

    Always always always these Udupi people create some or the other problem and the whole world starts blaming the whole brahmin community. Thru this i would like to tell all that, Udupi people who says they are brahmins are not at all brahmins. We never consider them as brahmins. They are actually SIN to our community. So please ignore these idiotic behaviors committed by the Udupi people who say they are brahmins. Dont blame the whole community becoz of these idiots present there. Udupi people are more dangerous than anyone in the country.

  11. prem Says:

    Only one lower community in Hindu is raising voice on issues about eating habits, mathanthara, etc.where are those people who belong to govt’s obc categories 2A, 3A and 3B ??? why are not they talking?

    It is shows that there is no unity among shudra’s itself. these 3A & 3B people are almost well to do and they indirectly supports seer.

    higher caste people simply brainwashing rest of the hindus in the name of veda and blah blah …

    caste system will never be changed in India until end of the universe itself.

    Wake up you all deprived Hindus ! try hard to change the system !! never listens to brainwashing tactic or defense !!!

    Create an NGO organization meant for changing the caste system

  12. Srikanta Says:

    Sterben Sie Fleischesser!

  13. EmptyMind Says:

    Though born in a family where Non vegetarian dishes are frequent at least 3 to 4 times a week , I am strong Vegetarian till now from childhood and continue to be same forever. But I hate the concept of segregation of Vegetarians and Non vegetarians driven out of silly caste line while serving food.

    My mother prepares my favorite chitranna, veg palav for me and I get her favorite chicken kabab, chicken tandoori from local FoodMart restaurant. We often served them on same plate and I never felt of loosing “madi” or “satvikate” till now. Because of my resistanse to Non Veg dishes , I am nicknamed “Brahmana” from my own community members! And I not so proud of that nickname!

    Poojyaru Sri Vishvesha Teertha should get inspiration from Lord Buddha how he handled this meaty issue. Vegetarianism is not direct route to “satvikathe”. It is the intension behind vegetarianism which routes to it. That intention is showing “Compassion” or “Loving Kindness” towards all living beings. Sadly this beautiful “Compassion” is replaced by stupid thoughts of “madi”, “mailige”, “kachada” and some “chee! chee!, thoo! thoo!, vyaaaaaak…… sensations!!. These very thoughts is detrimental to feel of pure satvikate! and showing compassion toward all living beings!!

  14. Chitrakoota Says:

    Pejawar seer may have some thing going for him there. But he needs to be more thorough than this.

    As he may know in recent times, many of the dwijas have taken to meat and liquor as easily as the fish take to water. So even in the brahmana bhojana, there should be strict stipulation on the brahmins to produce bonafide certificates of being vegetarian and a teetotaler. A body comprising of mathadheeshas may be constituted to certify the twice-born.

    I am a non-brahmin but a vegetarian. I have stopped having meals with my brahmin friends who have taken to meat eating. I have my meals at office with a Vegan expatriate. I just hope he doesn’t find out that I am merely vegetarian and not a Vegan.

    One lives on hope.

  15. BangaloreBaba Says:

    From a “secular” perspective, the “temple management” has the right to serve only vegetarian food, but they have no right to segregate based on caste.

    Shame on these divisive people – these blots on Hinduism and Indian culture.

  16. sharath Says:

    The author should use restraint in using strong words and condemnation. If made snana is disgusting, animal sacrifice is more disgusting. Maybe I think so because I am a vegetarian. Is any one forced to perform made snana? No. It is by belief and I know of many brahmins also who have done the same. I am sure the people who did made snana did not consider it disgusting. So why does the author?

    I have eaten at both the panktis (brahmins and others) at Udupi and the way of “throwing” cups and food is the same. It is the arrogance of the people/servers and not what is asked of them. The term “madi” and “mailige” are taken to large extents which makes them loose their importance.

    I do not agree completely with the seer either. As the head of a community he should be careful in the use of words. People like this author are just waiting to pounce on the words to make it an issue.

  17. richardw Says:

    when we talk of disowning the caste system or moving away from it…. Does that imply that there is something wrong for the society prescribed in the Hindu scriptures like the manusmriti and the bhagawad gita ? The gita and the smriti talk about varna system which was the precursor to the caste system, methinks. Can any people here also tell whether the vedas talked about caste or not ?

  18. Gokulam 3rd Stage Says:

    There are three kinds of people in India

    1. Those who practice caste discrimination AND preach it
    2. Those who practice caste discrimination AND condemn it
    3. Those who endorse caste discrimination (to whatever degree) and mind their own business

    There is no casteless person in India, regardless of religion. Sad, but true.

    Most Brahmana mathaadhipathis belong to category 1. Most non-Brahmana mathaadhipathis belong to category 2. Most of us belong to 3.

    I therefore find it funny to see the statements from the hypocrites. Look in the mirror you idiots.

  19. Umashankar Says:

    The society doesn’t require the idiotic thoughts of pejavar seer…
    when he follows “wanted and unwanted” rituals which was followed 5000 years ago, why can’t he follow the food habits of hindus which was followed 5000 years ago?

  20. Nastika Says:

    Fundamental tenet of Hinduism is ‘ವಸುಧೈವ ಕುಟುಂಬಕಂ’ (Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam). And members of family eat together. If somebody doesn’t believe in it then they can get out.

    ~*~

    Its time Ku Klux Klan start local chapter in India and make ‘Sri Vishvesha Teertha’ as its head, since both of them advocate ‘racial supremacy’ and want to ensure that false belief of supremacy stays for a long time.

    People eat non-veg for the taste. If taste is not the criteria for eating food, then people can just cook rice and eat without sambar. Or just boil vegetables & eat without ಉಪ್ಪು-ಖಾರ. People won’t do that but want Chitranna, Vangibath & Bisibelebath. Why not Chicken/Mutton biryani – which I certify as the tastiest of all rice dishes?

    Some don’t eat onions, some don’t eat garlic, some don’t eat chicken – just leave them to eat whatever they want.

    BTW, Udupi Krishna Temple run by these mutts is the most corrupt temple in Karnataka, on par with Kanchi & other temples in TN. Udupi Krishna Temple doesn’t fit in Karnataka.

    ~*~

  21. BangaloreBaba Says:

    Gokulam, I do not endorse caste discrimination to any degree, and I mind my own business. What makes you think there is “no casteless person in India”? Why should all of us look in the mirror?

    Maybe you can enlighten us about the caste discrimination you endorse, and to what degree, since as per your own pronouncement, you should be in category 3.

  22. sam Says:

    Dear Author,
    It gives a pain to my heart when you have quoted a great seer’s name in an article for the simple reason to get more readers to your blog. You have not portrayed him well. This will not do good to you and neither good to your writing. Please delete the post and refrain from writing such articles. Write on topics that bring peace in the readers heart and not pain and agitation.
    My respects, regards and my everything at the feet of the Holi Udipi Peejavar Mutt Seer.

    Jaya Shree Krishna

  23. Shilpa Bharadwaj Says:

    I keep reading Caste System is bad. What do you think is a Casteless society would look like? I think it is a casteless society already.

    1. One shares plates, cups, spoons at a restaurant.
    2. You can have any caste seated next you in a bus, or school

    Now coming to Veg/Non Veg issue,

    I have nothing against people having Non Veg in their privacy, as long its smell does not affect me. My neighbor here VTU’s VC’s BIL actually cooks Non veg at 6:00 AM, the smell [Masala Smell ] wafts into our house and other neighboring house. Lot of Americans find Indians Veg smelly, their food smelly. which is true, our own Nalapaka South Indian food that smells like a heavenly delight is Noxious to them.

    There is good smell and there is bad smell, Meat Masala Smell is not nice. You want to eat Beef please do, but dont impose your smell on us.

    West has gotten rid of smell both good and bad some how using chemicals. But you are never far from Broiled Chicken Smell in any City or Beef charcoal smell from outdoor steaks in Summer in any suburb. Maybe Americans are immune to these smells.

    Chinese, French are also smelly from their super markets and cooking.

    Which would you prefer Jack Daniels or Kalbati Sarai?

    One may have a good health, One may have great Wealth and Health, One may have great intelligence. What distingushes a civilized being from an uncivilizied being is Culture.

    Culture you just cannot adopt blindly it has to evolve, refined and inculcated.

    Lot of low castes have inferior cultures. I have noticed even in the so called civilized western world, people with great IQ both in Academica and Industry succumb to Greed and behave uncivilized.

  24. Someone Says:

    So doesn’t St: Pejavara have right to reject eating with anyone he wants? Why is it necessary that Brahmins must eat with other castes?

    Even other upper castes don’t eat with the lower caste people.

    Brahmins are just an easy target, because they are powerless and minority.

  25. dr ramesh Says:

    Big issue made out of nothing.
    Where was the statement given and its context is the core point.
    Swamiji gave this call in a Brahmin sammelana, as Brahmin religious head it is his duty to propogate its ideology ,others may agree to it or not. If swamiji goes out of his way and gives some revolutionary ideas, it may be dereliction of his duties.
    Deoband Islam meeting—–imam has to stick to basic Islam ethos and should advise Muslims to follow it fully, that is their belief, it has to be respected.
    Bishop in a church meeting may give a call to Christians to faithfully follow christianity—- nothing wrong in it.
    As a common citizen and Brahmin, when I visit a hotel, I am aiready following sahapankti bhojana but to ask a MUTT HEAD to go out of his beliefs may be impinging on his rights the constitution has given him.
    BUT when same swamiji as A VHP, SANGH SYMPATHIZER gives a call to all Hindus to unite, then there is a problem, as most of Hindus are also non veg and they may feel angry and let down.

  26. Gokulam 3rd Stage Says:

    BangaloreBaba, you are casteless not just when you think you don’t belong to a caste, but when everyone else also believes the same. If I asked your family what caste you belong to and they respond “none”, then you would be casteless. That is the sad burden we have to carry. You can escape from God or gods, exchange them, or get rid of them altogether in India, but not from caste. You can be a Muslim or a Christian or an atheist, but your caste won’t leave you.

    I endorse some amount of caste based reservations in education(which is discrimination), and the right of private entities to organize and provide membership to their organizations based on caste (which is also discrimination).

  27. BangaloreBaba Says:

    Gokulam, thanks. Now I understand the point you are trying to make. The existence of caste is a reality in India. It is true however, that caste is already irrelevant in the cities, and is fast losing relevance in the rural space too. The problem is that “Swamijis” of this kind are still stuck in the era of superior and inferior castes, segregation, and so on. That will take decades to improve, I fear. :(

  28. Gokulam 3rd Stage Says:

    I don’t buy that caste is irrelevant in the cities. Certain aspects of caste discrimination are (untouchability etc.), but not caste itself. Urban life is not new to India; we have been living in cities for a few thousand years. That hasn’t weakened the caste system.

  29. kris Says:

    Are Pais, Kamaths, Nayaks, Tendulkars, Gavaskars who are meat eating Brahmins outcasts in the eyes of Udupi Brahmins?

    Gokulam has summarized our attitudes toward caste splendidly. It is quiet obvious on this board when we are discussing politics and Brahminism. Almost everyone is conditioned and partial.

    Although difficult, we should get rid of caste identities and discourage these caste associations in public life.

  30. Kalyana Says:

    I don’t understand the intent behind Pejawar seer’s selective quoting of Basavanna. What’s he trying to rake up???

    Equality and dignity of labour (kayaka) were not only preached but practiced by Basavanna and his fellow Sharanas. Anubhava Mantapa was a place where people from all caste and class backgrounds would sit together to share their experiences. While he definitely encouraged vegetarianism, he never shied away from eating at homes of people who had come from lower castes of Hindu society.

    Compared to Pejawar seer’s advocacy of caste separation & seggregation, Basavanna encouraged inter-caste marriage between the familes of Madhuvarasa (a Brahmin) and Haralayya (an untouchable) which resulted in the violent suppression of Basavanna’s movement by the Hindu orthodoxy and King Bijjala. Madhuvarasa & his daughter Lavanya, Haralayya & his son Sheelavant had their eyes gouged out by the Hindu orthodoxy and their bodies dragged on the streets by Elephants. 800+ years later, we still see honor killings when inter-caste marriages happen in our country. We are a long way from becoming a casteless society.

  31. paciFier Says:

    @dr ramesh, your post has the answer.
    Imam wants all ‘Muslims’ to follow his preaching. A Bishop wants all ‘Christians’ to follow his preaching. But a Swamiji wants only ‘Brahmins’ (not all Hindus) to follow his preaching.

    Tell me if any Shia Imam has advised against dining with Sunni or any Bishop wants Catholics not to eat with Protestants.

    Persistent discrimination has driven lower caste Hindus to move away from Hinduism. The religion ‘Hinduism’ must be slit into 3 separate religions:

    1) Hinduism – all current upper caste belong here

    2) Shivaism- all lower caste worshipers of Shiva or Shiva related Gods (Parvathi, Ganesha, Subramanya, et al) belong here.

    3) Vishnuism – all lower caste worshipers of Vishnu or Vishnu related Gods (Rama, Krishna, Hanuman, et al) belong here.

    This way, Shivaism & Vishnuism have one God per religion and all start as equal. Hinduism will have just forward caste people and they can continue their fight as to who is ‘upper’ among them.

  32. harkol Says:

    paciFier: Interesting that you choose to say Hinduism is upper caste!

    Perhaps, The right word you were looking for was vaidiks & Smarthas – those who follow the vedas. And others who follow Puranas.

    But, Hinduism is a conglomeration of many beliefs which also include Jains and Buddhists (Witness Hindu worship of Buddha as part of Dashavatar), and Jain worship of many other puranic gods. Also there are Shaktas (Devi followers), Samkhyas or atheists like Amartya Sen and me.

    In that sense Hinduism isn’t even a religion in the classical sense with a dogmatic definition of belief system and cultural system.
    Comparing it with codified religions is futile.

    Also, the said Swamiji heads a Madhva Brahmin mutt, logically his followers will be of Brahmin denomination. There are other swamijis who are followed by some other denominations within ‘hindu’ system. Shivite, Vashnavite mutts too are powerful and cater to their own folks.

    The bottom line is most of these mutts, swamijis & religious institutions are divisive & regressive forces. They don’t try to unite people or preach humanism & modernism – which is what ought to be at the foundation of any religion.

    Without humanism and modernism (taking into account modern development and lifestyle) any religion will tend to push us towards medieval times.

  33. vikram Says:

    There is so much bad blood being spewed here against a community that requests the freedom to maintain their place of worship according to their belief and to be able to practice its preferred vegetarian food habit. Remember that the food that they are providing is on charity; and people demand their own cuisine, ambience and service from the math. This is sheer hypocrisy. This article is based on hearsay and doesnt carry any journalistic weight. The people who are making ill comments about the learned seer should be ashamed of themselves.

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