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In most temples and homes, especially in villages, low-caste people are not allowed.

These regulations are being followed for thousands of years now.

What is the reason behind such practice? What do scriptures say about this?

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    Can you give some example like which temple , which place etc.I haven't heard of such a thing.Yes in some temples people not allowed to touch murthy or allowed in "Garbha Gruha" or inside where the main idol is placed for traditional purpose. – SwiftPushkar Dec 17 '16 at 5:02
  • I think the restriction may be on the outcaste not the low caste. In any case the one who knows the rules of dharma shastras and follows the restrictions of the related agamas for the temples is allowed to do worship in the temple. For example in tirupati temple no one except Vaikansa agama followers(all bramhins) are allowed to do archana in temple no one else is allowed. – Yogi Dec 17 '16 at 13:30
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Well,the Hindu Shastras ,mostly consider the lowest caste,the Sudra,as being impure and also consider that they can transmit this impurity to other objects or living beings by touch or association etc.

Similar are the rules,for the fallen caste or the outcaste or the chandala.

I'm adding here a few verses from the Parashara Smriti,which is widely regarded as the Dharma Shastra to be followed in the current Yuga i.e the Kali Yuga.

21. If himself unwashed, he is touched by a Shoodra, who, however, is not unwashed, — the purification is to wash himself. If an unwashed Shoodra touches an unwashed regenerate man, the latter must perform the prajapatya penance

  1. Bronze vessels smelt by a cow, or polluted by a dog or a crow, or if a Shoodra has made them unclean by eating off them, are rendered pure, when they have been ten times rubbed with ashes.

  2. While a Brahman has not washed himself after taking his meals, if he chances to be touched by another yet unwashed after a meal, or by a dog, or by a Shoodra, he should fast for a single night, and then swallow the five articles derived from a cow, whereby purity is restored to- him.

The above verses make it clear that the Sudras have the ability to make things/beings impure by his touch.

Some more verses:

  1. To eat a Shoodra's food, to associate with him, to sit in the same place with, him, and receive knowledge by his instruction, would cause degradation even to one who resembles the kindled fire

  2. Salt, honey and oil, curded milk, whey, and milk all these are not polluted by the touch of persons of the Shoodra caste.Shoodra may sell these to all the castes.

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Verse 35 clearly states that a Sudra can make many things impure simply by his touch .

The Manu Smriti states that Sudras are created out of Tamas(the mode of darkness,ignorance etc)(one of the 3 Gunas,the other two being Sattva and Rajas).

Manu Smriti 12.43. Elephants, horses, Sudras, and despicable barbarians, lions, tigers, and boars (are) the middling states, caused by (the quality of) Darkness.

So,the temple priests,who are all Brahmins,might be apprehensive of the fact that ,if the Sudras by accident touch them or any other objects in Temples,might render them impure.

To make them and themselves pure again(which is of course the first necessity in rituals) would be a cumbersome job.

That is probably the reason why such prohibitions are there regarding the Sudras and the outcastes entering Temple premises.

Although, i don't really know which Temples actually have such restrictions.

Also, take a look at the following verse which says that it is not all about caste by birth only:

  1. A Brahman, ignorant of the Gayatri hymn, is more unclean than even a Shoodra ; the Brahmans who know the nature and the sanctity of the Gayatri hymn, are honored and revered by all persons(Parashara Smriti)

So,even an ignorant Brahmin should be stopped from entering Temples.

But preventing Sudras from entering houses of the Higher castes is of course not supported by Scriptures.Because, to serve the higher castes is considered to be the only job of a Sudra.And to serve anyone a Sudra should first be allowed entry to his house.

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The Vedas state that the Sudras are created from the feet of the Supreme Being.So,like everyone else,they are also a part of the Almighty,and they too reserve the right to worship the Almighty.

brāhmao’sya mukham ās īt | bāhūrājanyakta | ūrū tada sya yad vaiśya | padbhy āgśūdro aj āyata || 13 ||

The brahmin was his mouth, of both His arms was the Raja made. His thighs became the Vaishya, from His feet was the Shudra produced. 13(Purusha Suktam verse 13)

So,i am not quite in favor of stopping them from entering Temples.

Also,its not practically possible to check either, if someone entering a Temple is a Sudra(by birth) or an ignorant Brahmin like the one described above.

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    How should we interpret Shudra here? The one with Tamas guna or the low caste born, as all low caste borns don't have Tamas predominantly. – The Destroyer Dec 17 '16 at 9:54
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    @TheDestroyer Yes you are right..that's y i have mentioned in the answer that such verification is not practically possible..Even a Brahmin who does not know the Vedas is worst than a Sudra as far as impurity is concerned..In anycase i just indicated the Scriptural basis of why such prohibitions mite be practiced in our society.. I'm in no way favoring such practices.. – Rickross Dec 17 '16 at 10:05
  • @TheDestroyer Sudras aren't allowed into temples only because of the touch factor i mentioned in my answer.The fear that they can touch things or beings and make them impure,which can be obsruction for rituals .Now whether this applies to Sudras by birth or to Sudras by gunas is difficult for me to decide..If its the later then it becomes extremely hard to determine actually.. – Rickross Dec 17 '16 at 10:30
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    @Rickross Superb explanation.:) Adding to it: A Shudra in the original dynamic caste system is also considered a dirty individual. Anyone can be dirty, at the period one is dirty it is not appropriate to enter a temple. A home is considered as temple so it is also not permitted. – Ashish Srivastava Dec 18 '16 at 6:02
  • @AshishSrivastava Thanks.I had already posted an answer regarding the impurity of women during courses..Regarding sudras entering houses owned by the higher castes..that is not prohibited in Scriptures..Mostly the servants are from the sudra class and they must be allowed entry into houses to serve to start with..and to serve those belonging to the upper castes has been assigned as the only work for a sudra..So no such prohibitions..but may be the outcastes are prohibited.. – Rickross Dec 18 '16 at 6:51
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Scriptures say that all people should be treated equally.

Enlightened men are those who see the same in a Brahmana with learning and humility, in a cow, in an elephant, and even in a dog or in an eater of dog-meat.

Gita 5.18

Then there is this passage which explains how a person who sees the same in everything behaves.

Bhishma continued [Suka said],’..By knowledge, one attains to that whither there is no occasion for grief; whither one becomes freed from birth and death; whither one is not subject to decrepitude; whither one transcends the state of conscious existence; whither is Brahma which is Supreme, Unmanifest, immutable, ever-existent, imperceptible, above the reach of pain, immortal, and transcending destruction; whither all become freed from the influence of all pairs of opposites (like pleasure and pain, etc), as also wish or purpose. Reaching that stage, they cast equal eyes on everything, becoming universal friends and devoted to the good of all the creatures.’

Mahabharata Santi Parva Section CCXLI

Gita and Mahabharata say that one should treat all people equally by becoming universal friends of all, doing good to all, whether in a temple or outside. It is not possible to be universal friends of all if you prevent fellow Hindus from entering a temple.

There are some Smritis that say otherwise but they clearly are in conflict with the Gita. One Smriti asks molten lead to be poured in the ears of a Sudra if he dares to listen to the Vedas. Some temples do not allow lower caste people to enter temples inspired by such appalling and vicious statements. It is of course now illegal to stop any Hindu from entering a Hindu temple. Unfortunately the enforcement of the law is lax in some village areas. People who stop fellow Hindus from entering temples should be punished in exemplary fashion to stop this pernicious practice.

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    It's not about treating people the same, it's about seeing that their Atmas are the same. Just because people have the same sorts of Atmas doesn't mean society treating them the same. – Keshav Srinivasan Dec 17 '16 at 6:16
  • Good reference from BG. But why will "enlightened men" go to temples in first place? – sv. Dec 17 '16 at 6:18
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    @sv. The sanskrit verse is "vidyā-vinaya-sampanne brāhmaṇe gavi hastini śuni caiva śva-pāke ca paṇḍitāḥ sama-darśinaḥ". So, Humble people with true knowledge see all species as same. – The Destroyer Dec 17 '16 at 7:41
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    "It is of course now illegal to stop any Hindu from entering a Hindu temple. Unfortunately the enforcement of the law is lax in some village areas." I, one the other hand, think it's quite fortunate that the government has not cracked down on all traditional temple practices. – Keshav Srinivasan Dec 17 '16 at 8:00
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    Friends please answer my question for what reason they are not allowing low caste ? and dont think about today's government – Sakthi Dec 17 '16 at 8:16

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