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Temples, Priesthood and Brahmins...

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Seshadri Subramaniam

Well-known member
All of us are well aware of the anti-brahmin politics in TamilNadu and we have witnessed the Chidambaram Temple episode recently.

We know that the management of the temples is by the Govt of TN; is it possible to bring about a separation from the Govt and temple management?

Would it be possible for Mutts to bring the temples under their management? or at the least the temples could become autonomous...

Failing to do the above, should brahmins continue to serve as priests? Again and again, they are subject to harassment and violence at the hands of the anti-brahmin forces. Is it not time that something (effective) is done about this by the brahmin community?

Regards,
Seshadri
 

happyhindu

Well-known member
Failing to do the above, should brahmins continue to serve as priests? Again and again, they are subject to harassment and violence at the hands of the anti-brahmin forces. Is it not time that something (effective) is done about this by the brahmin community?
Shesh-ji, The only things i notice are: lack of funds resulting in a) miserable or no maintainence of temple property, and b) poor or no income for priests. Harrasment may not be be the appropriate term to use, as these are just difficulties brought on by two things: a) political intereference in temple management and b) indifference by general public.

I do not see any violence at all.

My current understanding is that temples managed by mutts are no better off either.
 
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Seshadri Subramaniam

Well-known member
happyhindu,

I have seen how people treat the priests in my own hometown - coimbatore and adjoining areas; of course there is always the monetary angle which imposes, but still, brahmins are mere puppets in the hands of unscrupulous individuals.

Then there is always the political angle...

I used the word harassment from the perception of the brahmin i.e., being subject to difficulties from many angles... And it is over a period of time...

As regards violence, in the recent spate of the Chidambaram temple, you would know that the Deekshadhars were manhandled... need I say more on this?

Yes, poor maintenance and indifference by the general public are a major factor, but they relate only to the temple upkeep and not to the community. The public views the priest as the "iyer" who earns sumptuously doing various homams and poojas...

Oh well, maybe am getting overworked about the community...
 
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Seshadri Subramaniam

Well-known member
If I may ask you - where are you from? You ask questions as if the world exists on the net... sorry, if I have used strong words, but that's how it reflects.

Reading books, articles and news items is one thing. Being in the crowd and listening to their "backstabs" about brahmin priests is another...

It is not a question of my hometown alone.
 

happyhindu

Well-known member
Sesh-ji,

Honestly i dunno where i am from.

My family moved around like a nomadic dwelling..:hippie:....i don't even know if i am originally telugu or kannada...but i like to be (the minority) tamil (inheritance i am supposed to have)...i look forward to settling back home, shifting base near some green indian mountains growing fruits, herbs and jatropha reasonably soon..:smokin:...before becoming a wandering monk on the streets :rip: ...

like your words reflect, i have been accussed of lacking exposure by others as well...i admit, my exposure has been very limited, and a lot of my stuff is dependent on what other say...therefore i tend to be ambivalent, unstable, volatile, low pH value in daytime, very high pH in lowlight conditions, equitably axiomatic and having cerebral helical instability permanently.
 
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Seshadri Subramaniam

Well-known member
Sesh-ji,

Honestly i dunno where i am from.

My family moved around like a nomadic dwelling..:hippie:....i don't even know if i am originally telugu or kannada...but i like to be (the minority) tamil (inheritance i am supposed to have)...i look forward to settling back home, shifting base near some green indian mountains growing fruits, herbs and jatropha reasonably soon..:smokin:...before becoming a wandering monk on the streets :rip: ...

like your words reflect, i have been accussed of lacking exposure by others as well...i admit, my exposure has been very limited, and a lot of my stuff is dependent on what other say...therefore i tend to be ambivalent, unstable, volatile, low pH value in daytime, very high pH in lowlight conditions, equitably axiomatic and having cerebral helical instability permanently.


:biggrin1:

I have to admit that the symptoms mentioned above are common to the species "homo sapiens".
 

happyhindu

Well-known member
:biggrin1:

I have to admit that the symptoms mentioned above are common to the species "homo sapiens".

:) Yep...just that there are some who being so-called prim and proper will not like being described thus (esp if they are the older folk like my traditional mum).

Anyways, please let me know in what ways are the priests in your hometown are not treated well. First hand accounts always help. Please do mention with as much details as you can.
 
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Seshadri Subramaniam

Well-known member
Hmmm… I guess, it is fair that I answer your query:
  1. On all occasions there is this tendency to put down the priest… for e.g., the manner in which a puja should be conducted on a festive day is regulated according to the NB preferences. It varies from small localised temples to medium sized ones (there may be umpteen other reasons, but ultimately, it comes to brahmin vs. non brahmin). Please do not quote power/politics as a reason, as it is beyond that
  2. Many of the NB’s often back-stab about the life style of the priest (or for that matter, the life of the brahmin itself). One is solely concerned with how pure and unselfish a brahmin priest should be. Is that not a quality expected from not only a brahmin priest, but from all the castes?
  3. One of my friends is a priest (his family was brought for performing pujas in a particular temple). Now recently, not liking the brahminical way, in which pujas are conducted, the NBs constructed a new temple and are actively campaigning for the same (looks like a commercial war is going on!).
There are so many other subtle and blatant ways in which a brahmin priest is ridiculed. Not all can be penned down, and one has to witness such incidents to get a feel of what I ascribe (even brahmins who have not experienced such incidents would differ with me). Most of them bear this as a routine in their life and follow the proverb – "Dhushtanai kandal dhoora vilaganum".

These things can easily be put down (philosophically speaking), but in reality, the scorning of a caste would have its effect (albeit gradually) on the psychology on the individual. We only have to wait and see how the reaction is going to be (?)…

As if these were not enough, there is sufficient infighting amongst the brahmins themselves so as to keep them disparate.
 

Jaagratha

Member
Seshadri Sir is correct.

The foremost is the media. In every commercial and movie, the Brahmin is ridiculed. He is the soft target of all times. என்ன அய்ரே is a word which is commonly heard in the movies.

Like I always say, the brahmins have their role in this condition too. They are weak and they do not have unity. Simple. The others know that the fellow brahmin won't wage a war if a brahmin is ridiculed. The same is not expected in case of other castes, even Muslims and Christians.

The brahmin will close his doors and windows if there is a problem for his fellow brahmin. Though this may not hold 100%, this is the most common behaviour.

The reason, if we look deeper, is internal conflict among Brahmins. Sadly, yes. We have conflicts everywhere. Iyer, Iyengar, Vadama, Thenkalai and the list goes on. They don't go along with each other.

They hold a nonsensical fight on whether Lord Shiva is great or Lord Vishnu is which dates back to the historic time.

ஊர் ரெண்டு பட்டால் கூத்தாடிக்குக் கொண்டாட்டம் - this is a nice proverb which holds true in case of brahmins, if not for the whole of Indians.

When we have conflicts (forgive me to keep repeating this phrase), it is easy to get separated and when we are separated, it is easy for us to be the soft target, and above all, if we are weak physically and mentally, the result is quite obvious.

But the brahmins are not really how they are projected by others. Fortunately, this is true as well.

They are sincere. They are brilliant. They are kind-hearted. They are smart.

The solution then?
Well, unity is the best policy. You be of whatever caste, if you are a Hindu, a human, then you are in the club. This must be the policy. I am of no way demeaning the Brahmin caste, never, but if there is a problem, it must be addressed first.

The brahmins must get united. They must get stronger. They are already great in brains. The muscle part should be worked upon. Then will come the irresistible lion from our group. Else it is a day-dream and nothing more.
 

Nacchinarkiniyan

Well-known member
All of us are well aware of the anti-brahmin politics in TamilNadu and we have witnessed the Chidambaram Temple episode recently.

We know that the management of the temples is by the Govt of TN; is it possible to bring about a separation from the Govt and temple management?

Would it be possible for Mutts to bring the temples under their management? or at the least the temples could become autonomous...

Failing to do the above, should brahmins continue to serve as priests? Again and again, they are subject to harassment and violence at the hands of the anti-brahmin forces. Is it not time that something (effective) is done about this by the brahmin community?

Regards,
Seshadri

There is a lot of misconceptions about the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Administration Department ( formerly Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Board) of the Govt. of Tamil Nadu.

Please see this official site.

http://www.hrce.tn.nic.in/

Please download and read the Citzen's charter.

This is not a creation of the DMK or any other political party. Its history dates back to the pre-independence days.

It is a fact that but for the HR&CE many temples which are not frequented by Devotees would have fallen into ruins.

It functions like any other Govt. department. With the same efficiency/inefficiency, nepotism, corruption etc. like all govt. departments in India.

Most of the temples in Tamil Nadu were controlled by the Adheenams and the erstwhile Tanjore king. They were totally neglected and the temple lands were looted by the so called Dharmakarthas. It is only because of the public outcry that the then British government intervened. Brahmin leaders were actively involved in this. Temples are still being looted by Mahants in North India.

Hoe do you think that the temples who own most of the lands in Tanjore district have become so poor. The lands were leased for a song and even that lease rent is not being paid now. All the lessees were the favourites of the then management. The Brahmins landlords were the beneficiaries in many cases. History stinks.

About the priests I have posted many times about the treatment of the Kurukkal community by other Brahmins. They are Saivas. They are not Smartas. Though they claim that they are a sub sect of Vadamas, the Vadamas do not accept it. Now they are calling themselves Shivacharyas. How many Brahmins have heard about Sambamurthi Sivacharya who is the greatest living exponent of the Agamas.

http://www.sivacharya.org/

I have had the privilege of knowing him and attending many of the Kumbabishekams performed under his leadership.

This site contained an appeal to the President of India at the time when the Tamil Nadu government passed the rule regarding the priests. It was removed later. Do not know why? In fact the whole site disappeared for some time.

How does the Brahmin community treat the Priests and the Sasthirigals/Purohits. When a temple priest or Sasthirigal gets a scooter or shows any sign of prosperity, it is the other Brahmins who are the first to be jealous. I have heard such comments so often. Why do the Brahmins pay their sasthirigals/purohits less than what they would pay a plumber or an electrician?
 

kunjuppu

Well-known member
nacchi,

what a blessing for all of us that you are back. we will keep it that way.

what i have found with most complaints logged here, is that the current situation is narrated in its isolation.

one example is the complaints against HRCE. it has been documented that even though, this was the creation of the Justice Party Government of Madras of 1920s, Rajaji when he came to power in the 30s thought that this was a good thing.

there are many more examples ie casteism, are we brahmin tamils or tamil brahmins, which comes first.. all such topics, where you have clearly enunciated your commentary, and which, i have no doubt, is the correct
thing for us to do. my views. :)

it is sad, that you note, about the plunders of our temple lands by the dharmakarthas - all of them of the forward castes, including brahmins. many posts appear to believe that our ancestors were innocents and we are victimized.

my own take, is that we are paying now for our ancestors' social sins, much more in the recent past. but this is a strongly held personal view, and can be debated.

what saddens me more, is the sense of isolation that is exhibited by a significant section of the tamil brahmins against other tamil groups - us and against them attitude.

i believe it is not good for our community to have this feeling, for in the long term, this is going to hurt us even more than current. this is my gut feeling.

you sir, are doing yeoman service, in opening up the eyes of the younger crowd, and some of the older crowd, about the root causes of many of our concerns.

i thank you, and wish for many many more postings of this nature from you, even though in many a case, you have to repeat yourself.

:) :)
 
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Seshadri Subramaniam

Well-known member
Shri Nacchi,

There is a lot of misconceptions about the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Administration Department ( formerly Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Board) of the Govt. of Tamil Nadu.

Please see this official site.

http://www.hrce.tn.nic.in/

Please download and read the Citzen's charter.

This is not a creation of the DMK or any other political party. Its history dates back to the pre-independence days.

It is a fact that but for the HR&CE many temples which are not frequented by Devotees would have fallen into ruins.

It functions like any other Govt. department. With the same efficiency/inefficiency, nepotism, corruption etc. like all govt. departments in India.


Yes, am aware of this fact. I did not negate this anywhere in my post!!!

Most of the temples in Tamil Nadu were controlled by the Adheenams and the erstwhile Tanjore king. They were totally neglected and the temple lands were looted by the so called Dharmakarthas. It is only because of the public outcry that the then British government intervened. Brahmin leaders were actively involved in this. Temples are still being looted by Mahants in North India.


This is information to me.

Hoe do you think that the temples who own most of the lands in Tanjore district have become so poor. The lands were leased for a song and even that lease rent is not being paid now. All the lessees were the favourites of the then management. The Brahmins landlords were the beneficiaries in many cases. History stinks.


Yes, history does stink, not only for the brahmins but also for the others.

This site contained an appeal to the President of India at the time when the Tamil Nadu government passed the rule regarding the priests. It was removed later. Do not know why? In fact the whole site disappeared for some time.


News to me!!!

How does the Brahmin community treat the Priests and the Sasthirigals/Purohits. When a temple priest or Sasthirigal gets a scooter or shows any sign of prosperity, it is the other Brahmins who are the first to be jealous. I have heard such comments so often. Why do the Brahmins pay their sasthirigals/purohits less than what they would pay a plumber or an electrician?


Hmmm… sadly true. Crab mentality.

The root cause seems to be the frustrated mindset in such people. Ego is another factor. We cannot wish them away… but I hope that the present generation (self included) overcome these hurdles and strive for the unity of the community.

BTW, what is the situation on the Deekshidhars of the Chidambaram temple who were arrested? I am unaware of the current state of affairs… Did thambraas offer any assistance, professional or personal, to these Deekshidhars who were involved in the spat?
 

KRS

Well-known member
Dear Sri Naachinarkiniyan Ji,

I say 'thadhasthu' to Sri Kunjuppu's posting above. And judging from the above post, I would say your notion of service is already bearing fruit.

Regards,
KRS
 

sridharvasudevan

Active member
Expand the scope of employment of the "job" of priests in temples to people other than Brahmins. This has been one of the main outcries people outside the community have wanted.

It's true the brahmin priest of good lineage and tradition is often ridiculed for every doing and non-doing of his.

Simply allow others to get into it. It will send a gold rush in the next few years. Then there will be an understanding of what hell a person of bad upbringing and training can do to that job.

Take the idol into you heart and worship the lord in your heart and at home during this time. It is not abandoning lord, but leaving the lord to cure his own creation.

Some of these others will also do a good job, embrace them. But, there will be a lot of mis-conceptions, among others, wiped out during this course of time.

As a senior member mentioned in this forum on some other title, the caste system is not exactly helping everyone the way it was intended.
 

happyhindu

Well-known member
Dear Sri Sridhar Vasudevan,

Extending the role to non-brahmins has already been happening:

The articles below are abt priests (incl women priests) trained in vedic schools that take in students from all 'castes':

a) http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/13804983.cms

b) http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/2993006.cms

The hue and cry in tamilnadu abt extending the 'job' to NBs is politically motivated - and it appears to me, that it is best not supported - it only encourages them to interefere more.

Regards.
 
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Seshadri Subramaniam

Well-known member
An article in a blog about the Archakas.

http://sanatanavenkat.blogspot.com/2007/12/temple-archakas-issue-will-sense.html

This man does not even consider them as Brahmins. They are Saiva Brahmins.

Seems that there could be sivachariars outside the brahmin community too!

My friend tells me that there is a sivachariar mutt run by chettiars - Abinava Dharma Sivachariar Madam (in Katchaleeswarar Agraharam, Chennai).

So possibly sivachariars could be a title conferred on to a person well versed with the saiva agamas? And later on it came to be so that the wider group narrowed down to brahmins? So, could it be possible that there could be brahmin sivachariars and non brahmin sivachariars...?
 

sridharvasudevan

Active member
happyhindu,

Yes, I am aware of the happenings in some places. The opinion I had shared was one of mental acceptance of our clan towards the change. Not one of resignation, but embracing this as a catalyst for a better future.

We have now a days held on to it as a job. Many from other clans will also come to it as a job. Only there will be less and less devotion initially.

Later there will be a mental revolution among the public accepting the fact that devotion to god is the most important merit to perform puja. Which eventually, I believe will come from both Brahmins and non-Brahmins.

I sincerely hope well-groomed, deeply devoted and sincere priests will serve the lord in future. There have been many in past, some in present, and hope to see many more in future.

Afterall, a person who performs his duty toward god with sincerity will be uplifted by god to the level of Brahmin. I guess this was actually the way our community evolved. Just let's the evolution continue in its natural course.

It will give our community more credibility and other communities better opportunity to get into higher states of life.

Chaos guaranteed initially. Cheers guaranteed gradually.

Let's not forget people in politics are also god's creation. I have always thanked god for not creating me as one, at least in this era.
 

kunjuppu

Well-known member
sridhar,

during the times of apartheid south africa, many tamil hindu temples of durban had female priests. my friend's grand mother was one.

the same goes for hindu temples in guyana and trinidad of the previous years, when travel to/from india was just about impossible.

it is only nowadays that ramakrishna and other hindu missions have established presence there and help bring their brand of mid 19th century hinduism to current format.

ditto in mauritius.

necessity, has been the mother of priesthood drawn from diverse groups, in these above instances.

i have some doubts about the tone of your note - that initially there will be a lowering of piety among the priests, if it is opened up to other castes.

i take the view, that these will have more sense of vocation, as they come to priesthood willingly and out of sense of belief.

the hrce has set up rigorous training programmes and the curriculum was built in conjunction with the learned folks.

many of the amman temples have non brahmin priests. their devotion has been par to none, as per my experience, of visiting a few of them, during my childhood years.

personally, i think it is good for our religion, to be inclusive in its adoption, that the post of priesthood be passed to folks who are committed and are willing to undergo the rigors to formal training, that one that is hereditary.

thank you.
 

Nacchinarkiniyan

Well-known member
I agree with Kunjuppu. Devotion to the Deity is the most important aspect of priesthood. Devotion does not have any caste boundaries. The basic idea of the rituals is to increase concentration and devotion. When Sri Ramakrishna was the priest in the Dakshineswar Kali temple, people complained to Mathur Babu that he is not following the rituals. In fact people said he was acting like a mad person. Yes he was mad. Mad with devotion. Mathur Babu came and saw what Sri Ramakrishna was doing. That is when he realized the greatness of Sri Ramakrishna.

Remember the story of Kannappa Nayanar. I have seen great devotion in the priests of very small temples with very few visitors and no income, whereas I find it generally lacking in the priests of larger temples full of devotees.
 
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s007bala

Guest
priest

There is nothing hereditary when it comes to profession.It all depends upon the society one lives in and the trend setters in society.Every one of the humanity is equally qualified or dis-qualified to hold the post of a priest.

sb
 

tbs

Well-known member
hi all,
Namaskarams, the priesthood is sacred profession.......many ppl dont
know about priests in Indian army/ U S army chaplains........here
herditary is not neccessary.......but hereditary makes a lot of
difference...my own personal experience in this profession....
you have to be higly qualified with rigorous training,,,,,,,,,,there
are many highly qualified with masters/ph.d in vedic studies....they
have to be to highly motivated and highly professional in priesthood...so dont underestimate them.....

Regards,
tbs
 

pannvalan

Well-known member
I fully agree with what tbs has said. I know many persons who are in various full-time professions, equally well-experienced in many rituals, pujas and well-versed in recital of many holy scriptures.

As regards the original topic under discussion, I always have a sympathy for the poor priests of small and medium-sized temples. Their economic status is pitiable and they continue to remain so, for so many generations. Probably, their social decline must have started only in the last 150 years.

Alright, what is to be done to correct this disparity? Answer to this lies in two parts.
One is, these people themselves are to be blamed for their plight, in a way. They started losing their social respect, when they began according so much of importance to known social criminals, but wielding enormous influence in the local community and when they started compromising their values, just for the sake of money. (I do not want to describe this in detail). It is understandable, against the background of their fight for survival. Yet, they should have resisted this tendency or atleast kept it within narow bounds.

Two, we as a community, let them down so badly, when they could not manage satisfying even their basic needs, with their meagre income and other resources. Pity, the temple lands and other assets were usurped by powerful people, thus depriving the sources of regular income for the temples and their priests!

Let us face this situation straight. To my knowledge, there is no other part of this world that has so many beautiful temples, built to perfection, complying with agama sastras (science of construction of places of worship, as per Hindu Sastras). I am always reminded of these things, when I think of my mother land (Tamilnadu):

Temples, Music and Dance, copious literature, Silk sarees, Filter coffee and
good transport network, food etc.

I have shortened the list for obvious reasons.

We may try to strengthen the movements like Kanchi Moodoor Trust, to support and patronise the sincere and devoted archakas. Any takers, please?
 
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