Dispelling the notions about rigidity of religion, the Supreme Court on Wednesday said Hinduism is "collective wisdom and inspiration of the centuries."
The court also delivered a landmark judgment saying the appointment of a pujari (priest) would not have any state interference.
In 2006, Adi Saiva Sivachariyagal Nala Sangam had filed a petition challenging the Tamil Nadu government order of taking up appointments of pujaris in temples.
As per the apex court's ruling, priests could be appointed as per norms, prescribed by the Hindu scriptures, if it did not violate the constitution's mandate, Times of India reported.
A bench of justices Ranjan Gogoi and NV Ramana said: "Religion incorporates the particular belief that a group of people subscribe to. Hinduism as a religion, incorporates all forms of beliefs without mandating the selection or elimination of any one single belief." Freedom to follow a religion is a fundamental right; it also includes the right to observe religious practices, the court said.
The ruling further stated, "Hinduism is a religion that has no single founder, no single scripture and no single set of teachings. It has been described as Sanatana Dharma (eternal faith) as it is the collective wisdom and inspiration of the centuries it seeks to preach and propagate."
The judges also clarified that appointment of a temple priest should not violate the 'constitutional mandate' or discriminate on the basis of caste, creed, color and gender, TOI reported.
A representative of the Sankat Morchan Hanuman Mandir Ashram told IBTimes India on condition of anonymity: "The central government is a secular body, if the government in Tamil Nadu or Bihar can decide who will be the pujari in a Mandir (temple), it should also decide who will be the priest in a Church or who will be a mullah in a Mosque...that cannot be...so it has given correct verdict."
The bench also noted that non-interference of the government in religious practices, in this case appointment of priests, did not mean the court could not adjudicate disputes arising on the same issues.
The apex court examined the effect of article 16(5) of the constitution, which 'excludes the application of equal opportunities in matters of public employment in connection with affairs of religious institutions', the Times Of India report stated.