The month long old DMK government has fired another salvo by announcing women would be appointed as priests in Temples. The announcements of DMK government like appointment of women priests, non-brahmin archakas and taking police action against leaders who criticize it are only to cover up its failure in all fields and to put people particularly Hindus and opposition parties in defensive mode.
Without any demand from any section more particularly from women, the government with ulterior motive has taken the decision to recruit women priests in Hindu Temples. HR and CE minister P K Sekar Babu told media that as all Hindus can become priests , women can also become priests. TN would offer training to women who are interested in becoming priests in Temples managed by HR and CE . department.
“ Trained non-brahmin priests would be appointed in temples managed by the department before the completition of the DMK government’s first 100 days in power” he said. The government, who claims they stand for gender equality, justifies this decision.” it is nothing but taking forward the idea of former CM Karunanidhi’s , who wanted to break caste barriers on all fronts” said Ranganathan, government Archakars’ association, reportedly backed by atheist and iconoclast Dravidar Kazhagam.
A coupled days back, he and the one year trained non Brahmin arachkars garlanded the Periyar statue demanding they be appointed as temple priests. This is a clear testimony why the so called Dravidian stocks are eager to appoint these people as archakars. Ranganathan was among the 206 people who passed the one-year junior course in 2007-08.
Hindu devotees sense there is an hidden agenda in government’s poking in recruitment matters. As per HR and CE act it is job is confined only to manage the temple. But its past record in managing the temples speaks its in efficiency. “ there are SC judgements against such appointments particualarly in agma principles are being followed. Women can’t enter temples during their monthly cycle periods . in houses they are isolated during three or four days” says Raman, a devotee.
Nataraja Sastri said in TN only 25 percent are Brahmin priests. In other temples , non Brahmins or Poojarais from all castes are doing temple rituals like abhisekam, poojas, dressing up the idols etc. when the state is being concerned with the alarming spread of Corona and deaths, without focusing its attention on these, why the government indulges such attention seeking, provoking and wounding the sentiments of Hindus . First they targeted Isha foundation, then Brahmin run CBSC school, now temple priests issue.
Before Temple Entry act, a god equivalent status was accorded to 63 nayanmars ( Saiva saints). None of them are Brahmins. In Vaishav tradition also all gods or avatars are not Brahmin. Most of temple under HR and CE are in poor condition even without any pooja in a day despite owning properties. Why the target government target only the Brahmins ? if its wants build new temples and appoint any person of its choice.
Political commentator and chartered accountant Sriram Seshadri said that the crux of the judgment by the Constitution Bench of the SC was “In the course of a very lengthy discourse and after considering the works of learned scholars in the field; the law laid down by this Court in respect of Articles 25 and 26 till date and particularly the efficacy of the Agamas the Constitution Bench came to the following conclusion.
“Any State action which permits the defilement or pollution of the image by the touch of an Archaka not authorized by the Agamas would violently interfere with the religious faith and practices of the Hindu worshipper in a vital respect, and would, therefore, be prima facie invalid under Article 25(1) of the Constitution”, he said .
Throwing more light on this, Sriram said “ as per the original Amendment in 1971No person shall be entitled to appointment to any vacancy referred to in sub-section (1) merely on the ground that he is next in the line of succession to the last holder of office.” In 14th July 2006 an ordinance was brought by TN government to include subsection 2 to Section 55, the new ordinance Section 55 is as follows“No person shall be entitled to appointment to any vacancy referred to in sub-section
(1) merely on the ground that he is next in the line of succession to the last holder of office.”(2) “or on the ground of any custom or usage”.
Adi Saiva Sivachariyargal belonging to Madurai Meenakshi Temple and Association of Archakas filed a writ petition challenging the amendment and subsequent GO 118 on 23.05.2006 (Before the ordinance was issued.
SC bench (not constitution bench), comprising Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice NV Ramanaconcluded and dismissed the writ because in the same year Amendment Act (TamilNadu Act No 15 of 2006) was introduced in the Assembly to amend the HR&CE Act which did include the original amendment in the ordinance and hence the writ challenging the GO based on the ordinance doesn’t hold good.
It also held “Consequently and in the light of the aforesaid discussion, we dispose of all the writ petitions in terms of our findings, observations and directions above reiterating that as held in Seshammal (supra) appointments of Archakas will have to be made in accordance with the Agamas, subject to their due identification as well as their conformity with the Constitutional mandates and principles as discussed above”.
Sriram said “ At present there are around 44,000 Hindu temples under HR&CE control, of this around 4000 (give or take) follow the Sivaagama or Vaishana Aagama rituals. Nearly 40,000 temples have priests of various castes including women, but as upheld by the Supreme Court Constitutional Bench in 1971, these 4000 plus temples government can’t interfere thru the trustee to appoint anyone other than the denomination/group/sect prescribed by the agamas”.
He points out “ unless the constitutional amendment to Article 25 and 26 are made to remove the protection given the religious belief and practices, the current practices cannot be altered by Tamil Nadu government.” It is a gimmick to food the people of the state.
Aravindan Neelakantan in Swarajaya said already there are women priests. He cites “ there are socities like Israel where women are restricted in orthodox temple. But that has not affected their progress in the society. Another religion that too shall remain unnamed, dominates the educational sector in the state. The text of this religion claims as holy and sacred the injunction that a women should ‘ learn quietly with all ‘submissiveness’ and that she is ‘ not allowed to teach or exercise authority over men” The followers of this religion not only run many educational institutions of secular nature but also many places of worship, where women can’t conduct the holiest of their holy rituals’. So can the state take up reforms here too? , he questions.
In Vedic era,there were so many woman rishis. Arobindo disciple Mira Alfasa who was venerated as ‘ the mother” , Sarada Devi, Maa Amritananda Mayi ‘s Brahmasthana temples women are priests. TN BJP chief L Murugan and MLA Vanathi Srinivasan hailed the government move. Murugan said Dalit can alone are the priests in Muneeswarar temples. He lists out other non Brahmin community priests in Kula Deivam ( family deity) temples.
Pa Hinduvan suggested the government should start teaching Thevaram, Thiruvasagam, Thirumanthiram, Nalariar Divya Prabhantham ( sung by Alwars) and all bakthi literature in school syllabus. We should make this demand to state government”.
Instead of protecting and conserving Tamil and its culture, the TN government is messing up the temple affairs. Can the government dare to announced women would be appointed in churches and mosques to prove its intention of empowerment and maintaining equality?
“ we are all divided and not ready get united. It is also a fact that being against Hindus is colored as being against Brahmins and vice versa.That’s how Brahmins are portrayed as Hindus and others as Tamils. Saw this even during Eelam conflict. They will say Buddhists Muslims and Tamils” said Puyal Ganesh.
BJP spokesperson and advocate Aswathaman , who differs with the official stand of the party,warns TN government’s intention in appointing non-brahmins and women will result in communal clashes. in one stroke the government wants to kill family deity worshipping tradition that is root of the Hinduism. If non Brahmins are appointed in such temples, people avoid going to the temples. Slowly the government can appoint its own hand who may install Jesus idol or cross in the temple.
Change the agamas and time tested practices, all congregation of Christians to do prayers. In the longer run, no temples, no Brahmin priests and poojaris. The government is implementing the Joshua project. No body wants to become a temple priests. Barring a few temples, the priests are being paid in few thousand that too not regularly. They depend upon the devotees’s offerings which is not the same in all days. Being so, why TN government wants to appoint people who have completed one year course as Archakas? Knowing it would be struck down by courts?”.
All Brahmins can’t become priests. They have to under 12 years rigorous training vedas, various sastras, agamas. They should memorize volumes of slogas . rain or shine, they have wake up early in the morning taking bath rush to the temple to do nithya poojas. Mantras are unwritten, non-linguistic vedic syllables that create very unique and specific vibrations.Sanskrit is just a capable tool to create those vibrations, but when u transliterate in tamil it is of no use indeed. That can be acquired by constant practice and training under tutelage
Arachanai in Tamil, non Brahmin priests and women priests which hogged the limelight in the media last week, are nothing new. DMK has been raising this to cover up its failures and to divert attention. It pretty well knows nothing is possible. The DK , DMK and its allies which opposed the entry of Dalits in Temples and followed the castiest utterances are now pushing to appoint them as priests. The reason was not equality but they have eyes on Hindu temples and its vast properties.
It is not a sophisticate and lucrative job that all communities want to get. Government is not paying them any salary and Their income come from devotees’s offerings only. It is meagre to run a family. The government takes all the income derived from temples and its properties. But not interested in its maintenance, upkeep and paying its employees.
Aswathaman said “ without any demand from any quarters, why the government shows so much importance in it? There should be some motive. They want to destroy the basics of family deity Temple worshiping and Hindutuva. It is not only against Brahmins but all communities. The government can take over any temple under HR and CE act and appoint priest from the other community and will create an unrest. But court rulings are not in favour of government efforts.
Late Cho Ramaswamy editor of Tahuglak once said if all communities became priests, they can offer non vegetarian food as Prasad to God. They may objects attire as sexy and ban it and bring a new dress code. It is not easy to learn dance, music and training for priests. It is not like throwing some flowers on god and murmur something. He should have proficiency in Sanskrit and knows the meanings for stotras”.