Addressing an election rally in Rajasthan’s Alwar district, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath said, “Bajrang Bali humari bharatiya parampara mein ek aise lok devta hain, jo swayam vanvasi hain…Dalit hain, vanchit hain (Bajrang Bali is such a God in our Indian pantheon who is himself a forest dweller, a Dalit, a deprived).” Jitender Pandey, 40, a priest at Hanuman Mandir, Connaught Place, New Delhi weighs in:
Does Hanuman have a caste?
Hanuman was born in a Brahmin family, he was not a Dalit. Politicians just create divisions for votes. Earlier, they divided people and now they are dividing gods.
Should this be a poll issue?
It’s wrong to make it so. Did Hanumanji not exist when Indira Gandhi was in power or when Jawaharlal Nehru was prime minister? General elections are due next year and so issues such as Ram Temple in Ayodhya, Hanuman are being raised. Once the elections are over, everything will calm down.
Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar has urged Dalits to take over Hanuman temples and be appointed priests.
There were protests by Dalit groups at this temple too. They sat outside the temple, blocked the traffic…
Can this Hanuman temple have a Dalit priest?
No, never. Out tradition doesn’t allow for it.
Can Dalits pray at the temple?
Everyone is allowed to pray here. Our scriptures — the Ramayana, Bhagwad Gita — do not divide people into castes. There is nothing mentioned about Shudras, Vaishyas being different. Politicians are dividing people for votes. God existed earlier, as did governments.