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'Swamiji can not share stage with a woman': Kerala writer asked to stay away from book launch

Thrissur: Activists foiled a book launch function in Kerala's Thrissur on Saturday after a woman writer was allegedly asked to stay away to please a spiritual leader, underlining the gender bias prevalent in the country's
PTI September 26, 2015 17:39 IST
PTI

Thrissur: Activists foiled a book launch function in Kerala's Thrissur on Saturday after a woman writer was allegedly asked to stay away to please a spiritual leader, underlining the gender bias prevalent in the country's most literate state.

The release of Malayalam translation of a book authored by former President A P J Abdul Kalam was cancelled here today after protests erupted over a woman writer being allegedly asked to stay away from the function citing the presence of a 'swamiji'.

Writer Sreedevi S Kartha, the translator of the book 'Transcendence My Spiritual Experience with Pramukh Swamiji' by Kalam, alleged she was asked not to attend the function as Brahma Vihari Das of BAPS Swami Narayana Sanstha did not like the presence of women on the stage along with him.

Sreedevi, in a release, said she was told that rules of BAPS, a socio-spiritual Hindu organisation, were against women sharing dais with the Swamiji.

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"The first three rows also should be reserved for Swami's followers so that they can ensure that even impure shadow of women must not fall on him," Sreedevi sarcastically said in a Facebook post.

As controversy erupted, various organisations staged protests in front of the Kerala Sahitiya Academy where the launch of the book titled 'Kaalaatheethm' (Beyond the times) was to be held.

Swami Brahma Vihari Das did not turn up for the function, K J Johny, Publishing Manager of the Thrissur-based Current Books, publishers of the book said.

Johny also said that they normally do not invite translators for book release functions.

The book was to have been released by Kalam's co-author Arun Tiwari and eminent Malayalam writer M T Vasudevan Nair.

Reacting to the issue, noted poet Sugathakumari said those "who are afraid of their mothers should go back to dark age caves."

"Hinduism is the only religion which visualises God in the form of women and our ancient saint and social reformers like Swami Vivekanada, Sree Narayana Guru and Ramana Mahrashi had never shown discrimination towards women," she added.

Expressing shock over the incident, Sreedevi said publishers informed her to keep away from the function through a common friend and did not even bother to apologise to her.

"It is a shameful act on the part of the publishers," she added.

Sreedevi asked "What is the difference between Taliban which asks women not to show body except eyes and Indian culture, which bars women from attending public functions".