Hindu Temples & Guide Dogs for the Blind

The following statement was issued to the BBC in respnse to a request for an interview on the subject of Blind dogs and Hindu Temples.


From: General Secretary  -  NCHT(UK)
To: 'Siobhann Tighe' BBC
Sent: Mon, 15 Feb 2016 14:13
Subject: RE: BBC looking to interview: the guide dog refused entry to the BAPS temple

Dear Siobhann,

The Neasden Temple is known to us and is one of the most highly regarded Hindu Temples in the UK and internationally. They are a deeply spiritual and
religiously sensitive order who are guided by a universally acknowledged spiritual preceptor, one who has utilised his life to alleviate suffering of
all beings all over the world. I am personally acquainted with their philosophy of humility and service and have the honour of counting many
members of their temple volunteer community as gentle, greatly valued friends.

Turning to the incident I have spoken to the Temple Committee and have a clear understanding of the specific incident and I would strongly recommend
that that no adverse or negative comments be broadcast without first having direct communication with the temple. On the basis of what you shared with
me, I can confirm that you are not in possession of the full facts and any act of denigration, direct or implied would at best be a disservice to all
us at worse slanderous. As I mentioned, Nihaals wholly unpleasant, one sided and disrespectful treatment of this event (and indeed other incidents) has
to some degree established the ground rules in terms of the BBC's stance on all things "Hindu" and I can completely sympathise with the Temples possible decision not to wish to engage with your organisation in an unmanaged manner.

By way of background, please understand the following. It is commonplace in our Temples for there to be areas where cleanliness is practiced as a
spiritual practice, as an act of worship and only those who have performed cleansing practices are permitted to enter these sanctums. In the same way
that access to an operating theatre requires "scrubbing down" and is limited to suitably prepared medical practitioners, so it is with our temples where
not even devotees enter into these areas. I would emphasise that it is nothing to do with discrimination and to suggest otherwise is an act of
wilful mischief. Similarly traditional Hindu households do not permit animals in to Kitchens and cooking areas again with regard to considerations
of cleanliness. You will possibly be aware that Hindus remove their shoes to enter into a place of worship, again an acknowledgement of the principle
that the soil of the outside world should not enter the Temple premises. Our perspective of the principle of cleanliness is pertinent to an
understanding of this issue.

With these principles in mind, I can see clearly how the Temple team may have asked for the guide dog to remain outside the inner sanctum but I am
certain that the Temple helpers would then make adequate support available to ensure that the visitor/devotee would be able to perform their worship
with dignity, safety and courtesy and that the guide dog would be made comfortable whilst the devotee engaged in his worship, which I understand is
what actually happened and would most probably happen in our Temples up and down the country. The specific areas would vary from Temple to Temples but the principles are the same.

A long standing practice of conversionary and evangelical religions, institutions and subscribers to such supremacist ideologies, is to denigrate
and vilify other ideologies and the BBC clearly has severe governance issues in this regard and indeed other regards, please ensure that this issue is
dealt with on the basis of facts. That is all we ask, a sympathetic hearing is not what we have come to expect from your organisation.

Kind regards

Satish K Sharma B.Sc. (Hons) Econ MBCS FRSA General Secretary, National
Council of Hindu Temples (UK) Chair, British Board of Hindu Scholars
Director, InterFaith Network UK

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