In a case of apparent caste discrimination, Sangoyeeta Raje Bhosale, who belongs to the family of Chhatrapati Shahu Maharaj, has alleged that the priests at the Kalaram temple in Nashik tried to deny her Vedic mantras in a puja ritual.
Bhosale had visited the Ram temple in Maharashtra's Nashik on the occasion of Ram Navami on Wednesday, 30 March, to offer her prayers.
She took to Instagram to express her displeasure.
"The so-called priests in the Nashik's Kalaram temple tried to recite Puranic mantras for my puja. I firmly opposed it as I have the legacy of Kolhapur's Chhatrapati house. Giving me a number of reasons they tried to convince me that I don't have a right to the Vedic mantras."– Sangoyeeta Raje Bhosale
She further alleged that the priests tried to stop her when she was reciting Mahamrityunjaya Mantra, a verse from the Rig Veda.
Bhosale is the wife of former Rajya Sabha member Sambhaji Raje Bhosale, who is a direct descendant of Chhatrapati Shahu Maharaj.
"I told them that I don't need you as a mediator to meet God and to praise him," she wrote in her Instagram post.
This incident is a throwback to the famous Vedokta controversy in the life of Chhatrapati Shahu. When Shahu noticed that the royal priest was reciting Puranic mantras instead of Vedic mantras in the rituals involving him, he took objection to it. However, the priest refused to obey the king on the grounds that Shahu was a Shudra and that Shudras don't have the rights to the Vedic rituals.
According to Sanskrit law texts such as Manusmriti, only Brahmins, Kshatriyas and Vaishyas have a right to Vedic mantras and rituals. Brahmin priests are supposed to perform Puranic rituals for the Shudras.
While India's Constitution does not condone caste discrimination, such practices however are not uncommon.
In 1930, Dr B R Ambedkar had led a satyagraha at the Kalaram temple for the entry of Dalits. This satyagraha went on till 1934 but was eventually suspended as the Savarna Hindus refused to budge on the issue.
The Quint tried reaching out to the temple authorities regarding Bhosale's allegation but didn't get a response.
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