After the khap panchayats in Jhajjar on Sunday called for closure of Arya Samaj temples in Haryana, Swami Agnivesh, president of the World Council of Arya Samaj, lamented the move.
He told Hindustan Times on Monday: "Arya Samaj is a progressive movement and instead of opposing the diktats of the khap panchayats against love marriages of responsible couples, leaders like Acharaya Baldev are airing illogical views."
Acharya Baldev Singh, president of Haryana Arya Pratinidhi Sabha, had backed the khaps, saying: "We have already asked Arya Samaj temples to keep a check on all runaway couples coming to them to get married. To save the sanctity of society, we don't allow same-gotra marriages."
Agnivesh clarified that Arya Samaj founder Swami Dayanand Saraswati was against intra-gotra marriages but opposed any form of violence, including those perpetrated on people marrying according to their own wishes.
On Monday, Baldev Singh said: "Samaj strongly supports views of khap panchayats against intra-gotra marriages. Khap leaders seem to be confused on Arya Samaj supporting same-gotra marriages. We will discuss the matter with them."
He said: "Arya Samaj temples in the state have already been instructed not to solemnise marriages if parents of the couple don't accompany them."
Rejecting the concept of marriages at temples, he said: "Arya Samaj temples are meant for mediation and not solemnising marriages. I feel that marriage functions should not be held in temples."
Favouring inter-caste and inter-religion marriages to develop a casteless society, Agnivesh said the Arya Samaj even encouraged love marriages having legal sanctity. "Around 1,000 marriages are solemnised per day at various Arya Samaj centres across the globe, promoting austere and dowry-less marriages."
He rejected the Haryana Arya Samaj's guidelines that families of a couple should be present at the time marriage, saying that "marriage charter of the Arya Samaj has no such criteria".
"In the wake of changing circumstances, even khaps should change their mindset. If they have objections, they can be discussed peacefully, not forcibly," Agnivesh added.