Legal sanction to abort is responsible for female foeticide in India, a top Hindu seer said on Saturday, calling for a ban on medical termination of pregnancies and suggesting that people abstain from having sex if they didn’t want children.
Shankaracharya Swaroopanand Saraswati of Dwarika Peeth said it was wrong of the Indian government to allow abortion till three months of pregnancy, given that even the British didn’t allow it and punished abortion with death.
“Those indulging in female foeticide are taking advantage of this legal provision”, he said, adding that people who didn’t want to have children should observe “brahmacharya” (celibacy) instead.
The Shankaracharya’s comments are the latest in a string of bewildering remarks from the conservative right that includes suggestions Hindu women should have large families so as to not be overrun by Muslims.
Earlier this month, Swami Vasudevanand Saraswati, the Shankaracharya of Jyotishpeeth, said a married woman should have at least 10 kids.
Shankaracharya Swaroopanand, who has often been in the headlines for propagating hardline Hinduism and making remarks against another revered saint, Sai Baba, was addressing a Dharma Sansad (a religious conference) at Balajipuram temple in Betul district, around 200 kilometres from Bhopal.
The Shankaracharya said the Hindu Code Bill should either be scrapped or its provisions applied to everyone irrespective of their religion.
He said the government was taking control of rich temples but it never spoke of taking over any waqf property or attaching such property under ceiling rules.
“Why should Hindus be taught all the secularism?” he asked.
He further advocated the teaching of the Gita and the epics Ramayana and Mahabharat in schools.
The seer, who is pioneering a campaign against Sai Baba, said he would go to court if the Maharashtra government spent Rs 1200 crore on Sai Baba centenary celebrations as had been proposed by it.