The government should know that there are certain set practices in Christian, Islam and other religions about the appointment of priests
In the last one hundred days after the present Tamil Nadu government has assumed office , there has been excessive focus on “reforming” Hindu religion. So many other issues such as corruption in the government machinery at all levels , rapidly increasing liquor addiction in the state , tax evasion , huge debt burden ,problems of farmers in delta region whose paddy stock has been spoiled due to lack of storage ., corruption in procurement price of paddy etc. have not received much attention, similar to what “reforming” Hindu religion has received.
Every other day, government has been announcing that it has retrieved the un authorisedly occupied land belonging to Hindu temples. . Concerned minister is visiting temples frequently and has “inaugurated” Tamil archana , as if Tamil archana has not been done before.
While this has created an impression that Tamil Nadu government is favourably disposed towards Hindu temples, it has been then said that some retrieved land belonging to temples could be utilised for setting up educational institutions
While the government is administering many Hindu temples , government is not owner of them. Hindu temples are not public sector undertakings. The government cannot use the temple land for any purpose and it cannot change or modify the procedures for conducting rituals in the temples as per it’s whims and fancies.
Now, the government has appointed archakas belonging to various castes for several Hindu temples , replacing the traditional archakas who have much knowledge and experience about temple rituals, gained over several years.
The government says that the existing superannuated priests would be getting daily wages . For the priests in Hindu temples, there is nothing like superannuation and they continue life long as priests until such time that their health would permit. The government should understand that it can not administer temples like government departments. As a matter of fact, the Hindu devotees, whatever the caste or sub caste that they belong to, view the aged priests with lot of experience in conducting rituals with special respect.
Government says that it has appointed” trained archakas” who are not brahmins. The question is as to whether these so called “trained archakas” have been tested by senior priests who have been traditionally trained as per agama shastra. As per the Vedas and other spiritual texts, people belonging to Brahmana Varna (not caste) are to be ordained as priests. They need to undego Vedic learning under an Acharya for several years before they can become priests. There are several rules and regulations. Only knowledge does not make one a priest. Have the government appointed persons attained such knowledge and experience to fulfil what the scriptures tell?
As the government has now made caste as an issue in appointing the priests for Hindu temples , one may soon find reservation being demanded for scheduled caste, scheduled tribe and OBC for appointment of priests in the temples and government may even reduce the level of qualification for the SC/ST and OBC candidates. Certainly, the government has created a caste conflict in Hindu temples, knowingly or unknowingly.
Already demand is being made by some parties who are known to be antagonists to Hindu religion that women should be appointed as priests in Hindu temples . In such case, will the government provide special leave for women for certain days in a month ?
The Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu has given an impression that he is a rationalist, which may virtually imply that he is an atheist. While the Chief Minister is entitled to have his own views on Hindu temple rituals , as the Chief Minister is responsible for taking decisions to “reform” Hindu temples, he has to make it clear whether he owes his allegiance to Hindu religion.
The government should also know that there are certain set practices in Christian, Islam and other religions about the appointment of priests
In this scenario, one cannot miss the point that the Tamil Nadu government has not cared to reform practices in Church for Christians or in Mosque for Muslims or in Gurudwara for Sikhs. Then, why target Hindu temples alone?.,
While the government may argue that it is administering the Hindu temples and not Churches , Mosques and Gurudwaras, the christians, muslims and sikhs also live in Tamil Nadu and the government must be concerned about the practices in their places of worship also. While government is trying to “reform” the Hindu temples, it has not even expressed its concern about the prevailing practices in churches, mosques and gurudwaras with regard to practices in appointing the priests. Has the government no concern at all about the pattern of appointment of priests in them ?With regard to these , there is a deafening silence “heard” from Tamil Nadu government.
In the recent budget, government of Tamil Nadu has allotted Rs. 6 crore for maintenance of Churches and Mosques but nothing has been mentioned about allotting money for maintaining the Hindu temples or Gurudwaras . One has to ponder about this point, as there is a differential treatment given by Tamil Nadu government between different religions.
The decision of the Tamil Nadu government to appoint “trained archakas “ has introduced an element of confusion amongst the Hindu devotees belonging to all castes and sub castes.
Many believe that the forced change of the traditional practices of appointing priests in Hindu temples could even dilute the traditional practices of rituals in Hindu temples, as the appointed “trained archakas” are not adequately trained as per the shastra.
Temples occupy pivotal place in Hindu religion. Weakening the Hindu temples could be the sure way of weakening the Hindu religion.