Puttaparthi Narayanacharyulu (1914-1990), the great Telugu literary genius and poet was a polyglot adept in fourteen languages. This versatile man had had no formal academic qualifications. And thereby hangs a tale.
By the time he turned 12, he had already published “Penugonda Lakshmi”. As it was a work of fervor, imagination and expression, the Madras University prescribed it as a text for the Vidwan Examination. When goaded by a friend to acquire formal academic qualification, Puttaparthi took the Vidwan examination and ironically enough, failed! The apocryphal part of the story is that he was unaware of the various theories fantasized around his own poetry, hence failed at the examination.
To understand why I am recalling this anecdote, all you need to do is to substitute Puttaparthi with the venerable Ambedkar and Penugonda Lakshmi with the Constitution. You will easily realize that the doctrines that have been woven around the Constitution would baffle even Ambedkar and the members of the Constituent Assembly, making them wonder if this is the quagmire that they had set out to create.
The Doctrine of Basic Structure (DBS) is the most important jurisprudential enunciation since we got the Constitution. It is as significant as the Constitution itself. However, unlike the Constitution, which was created by Constituent Assembly, a body constituted by the people for that purpose, the DBS is a judicial creation.
Likewise, the Doctrine of Essential Religious Practices (DERP) is a judicial innovation for religious matters. Having been propounded in 1954, it is a precursor to the DBS. For any festival, ritual, custom, tradition or practice to judicially survive, it has to interalia pass the DERP agni pariksha –– its historicity or sentiments of the people, notwithstanding.
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