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Browse Law School Education Constitutional Law Discussion on the Sabarimala Case

Charu Mathur: So Prashant, I believe that Justice Nariman has covered the practice of not allowing women— menstruating age women—in the various religions. Can you just throw light on that?

Prashant Padmanabhan: Yes. Justice Rohinton Nariman is himself a Parsi priest.

Charu Mathur: Right!

Prashant Padmanabhan: And he is a scholar on comparative religions.

Charu Mathur: Right.

Prashant Padmanabhan: He has Rig Vedas and other Vedas and then the Old Testament, New Testament, Quran, those religious texts; so he refers to the taboo related to menstruation in almost those old religions.

Charu Mathur: Ok.

Prashant Padmanabhan: He makes a very interesting comparison that in Hinduism there is a belief that Indra had killed some Asura Vritra and then he incurred some Brahman Hatya—curse of Brahma Hatya and then he was cursed to bleed. He gave it to women, so it’s like you take this curse; that is how women started menstruating. That is the belief. Somewhere he quotes. And like that there are some stories from other older religions also. From his own religion he also quotes. So that taboo is there. Then he says in newer religions like Sikhism or Baha’i faith, it is not found. Right. Because when society advanced that taboo is not there in newer religions. Therefore, he correctly points out that this was the taboo associated with menstruation.

Charu Mathur: Ok. So he draws a distinction between the old religion and the new religion like Sikhism. Yes, or Baha’i. Yes. So that is an interesting comparison that he has done and probably it can come only from him.

Prashant Padmanabhan: Yes. Right.