Question: Acharya Ji, my mother doesn’t allow me to enter the puja room (room for worship), or touch the deity during my menstrual days. This has been a practice ever since I was a kid.
Why is menstrual cycle considered impure? Why does the stigma continue to exist even today?
Acharya Prashant Ji: It started purely from reasons of hygiene, there is nothing more to it. But then it takes a much more concrete form and gets fossilised over time. As long as basic personal hygiene is being maintained, what is there to bother about?
The genesis of the whole thing is in physical purity. And that refers not merely to the menstrual discharge, but also to all kinds discharges that the body emits.
I am pretty sure that if one is continuously vomiting, one wants to take care of that first before entering a serious place, a sacred place. If that has been taken care of, obviously God is not prohibiting anybody to come to Him.
And if one is physically unclean for any reason, it may or may not pertain to the menstrual cycle, let us say somebody has been wallowing in mud. You won’t even want him to enter your living room. Will you? You would say, “Go and wash your feet.” Won’t you do that?
Why do we keep these rugs outside the entrance? Because we want people to at least clean their feet, before they enter our living places. That’s all. But that has been turned into a big taboo for no reason.
And as you said that it has become something that weighs upon several women’s mind unnecessarily, totally unnecessarily.
Questioner: But the temples themselves put such posters.
Acharya Prashant Ji: Ignorance, nothing else.
Questioner: Should one follow those instructions and follow their rules, because the temple is the public property?
Acharya Prashant Ji: Irrelevant.
If you want to go, go. If sometimes you feel like honouring the wishes of those who have put those instructions, don’t go. It’s not a big matter at all.
Religion is essentially a very private thing. It is between you and the One who represents your Liberation. He is called ‘God’. It’s a very private thing.
Who is any temple owner, or manager, or priest to mediate in the relationship? Who is he? In that sense you do not even need a temple. But if you do decide to go to a temple, then it’s your own wish. But that wish has to be based more on aesthetics and hygiene, than on religious considerations.
Are you getting it?
It’s not a matter of Spirituality, it’s a matter of aesthetics. If you feel like, enter. If you don’t feel like, don’t enter. It depends on your own inclination and mood. You know your body best.
It’s a non-issue. It does not deserve the kind of attention it gets. And it is quite unfortunate that it has become taboo with so many women. It’s a prakritik (natural) thing, What can one do about it.
One goes to God to get liberated of the prakritik bondages. They exist. What can one do about them. One didn’t call it, one didn’t invite it. One didn’t consciously choose it. It just happens.
It’s almost like saying that if you have five fingers then you are a sinner. “Did I choose to have five fingers?”
No woman ever chooses to menstruate. It happens. So how can then she be held guilty, or responsible, or unclean, or whatever?
So if you have to make a decision, I said that make the decision on considerations of hygiene and aesthetics. Hygiene and aesthetics – that’s the criteria.
No other criteria.