A priest from the Indian city of Hyderabad made news around the world when he carried a Dalit into the inner sanctum of a temple. Formerly known as untouchables, the Dalits, the lowest of all castes, have been considered impure and banned from India’s temples for centuries.
The priest, CS Rangarajan, told BBC Tellagu that he “wanted to show people that everyone is equal in the eyes of God.” http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-43807951
In spite of laws to protect them, around 200 million Dalits remain victims of a hierarchy that refuses to allow them to improve their lives. Not only have they been segregated and forbidden to worship publicly, but they have also been refused entry to schools and denied basic rights, such as drinking from public drinking fountains. Without an education, their job opportunities are limited, and they are victims of brutality and discrimination.
Recently, Rangarajan, the head priest at Chilkur Balaji temple in Hyderabad, brought a young man, known only as Aditya, into the inner chamber of the temple where they prayed together and observed holy rituals. Aditya referred to himself as a devoutly religious man who had studied ancient Hindu writing and philosophy for much of his life. He added that there is “discrimination against Dalits but this stems from society, not from religious scriptures.”
Priest Rangarajan was inspired by a discussion he had with students at a city university about the injustices of the caste system in India. He shared with them an ancient legend about a Hindu priest who carried a devout Dalit into a temple on his shoulders. This led to his act of kindness.