The team that was supposed to make an inventory of the treasures stored in one of the cellars of the Sri Padmanabha Swami Temple in Thiruvananthapuram was prevented today (20 Sep) from executing its job simply because there were women in it. When some members of the team pointed out that the earlier inventory was also done by a team consisting of women, they were told curtly that it was a serious mistake and the purification rituals would be carried out soon.
Why are women impure? Most religions have considered women as the source of much evil. The very beginning of the Bible shows Eve as the cause of man’s Fall. Neither Judaism which gave birth to the Old Testament nor Christianity which adopted the Old Testament as part of its sacred scriptures has ever given women equality with men. For example, there are no women priests in both religions.
The most telling verdict on women was passed by one of the Catholic theologians, Tertullian (160-220). He said, “Do you (woman) not know that you are each an Eve? The sentence of God on this sex of yours lives in this age: the guilt must of necessity live too. You are the devil’s gateway; you are the unsealer of that forbidden tree; you are the first deserter of the divine law; you she who persuaded him whom the devil was not valiant enough to attack. You so carelessly destroyed man, God’s image. On account of your desert, even the Son of God had to die.” [emphases as in the original quoted by Karen Armstrong in A History of God]
Islam which accepted much of the Old Testament in its holy book, the Quran, treats women as much inferior to men. The Taliban in Afghanistan goes to the extreme of making women cover themselves totally from head to toe, stripping them of their very identities.
Hinduism was not generous to women, either, though the situation has improved much. We may recall such inhuman practices as the sati and the ill-treatment meted out to widows.
Many of the evils bred by religions can be reduced if women are given equality with men. Women may bring more compassion into religions. This is my assumption. Why not try it out anyway?