Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Temple Archakas Issue- Will sense prevail

Temple Archaka Issue- Will sense prevail ?

Mr M Karunanidhi, CM of Tamilnadu, passed a law recently stating that anyone can become an archaka of any Hindu Temple.

On the surface it looks good and in these times , everyone seem to agree. Most sections of the society believed that at last the only remaining bastion of the brahmin has been stormed. Is that view right ?

There is little awareness among the lay public about the regular brahmin commuity and the Archaka community. The archaka community is broadly divided into Saiva (Sivachariar or Kurukkal) and Vaishnava sects( Bhattars). These archakas swear by the Agamas and not the Vedas. Whereas the brahmins (iyers, smarthas) live by the Vedas and have nothing to do with the kurukkal or their Agamas. By this I do not mean the Agamas are antagonistic to the Vedas. Agamas use many vedic mantras and practices, and they have adapted the Varna system.

The Agamas are the guiding documents of the majority of the non brahmins of Tamilnadu- whether of Saiva, Vaishnava or Saktha hues. As such, the Agamas are theirs ! But, the Agamas are massive Sanskrit documents which are out of bounds to most of the general public. Only the archakas are the authorities in them ! They do a five year Agama course many Patashalas run by Hindu Charitable organisations and mutts.

These archakas are also traditionally proficient in Grantha lipi, a form of letters used by ancient Tamils to write Sanskrit. This is Tamilnadu's own Sanskrit Lipi !

Agamas specifically insist that only those Agama experts belonging to the respective Archaka community MUST BE ALLOWED to enter the sanctum sanctorum of temples. Many may object to this but, temples are tantric complexes and temple worship, deepa, dhoopa, arati, alankara, naivedya , prakara circumambulation all are tantric practices.

Agamic injunctions are therefore subtle( since they are tantric) and no one has ever questioned them. As such , the person allowed as per Agamas should do the puja inside the sanctum.

The Tamilnadu Government's move will be a direct impingement on the Agamas, and the persons affected will be only non brahmins as their own sacred books are trampled ! The athiest TN politicians can ill afford the anger of the caste Hindus in this regard !

Also, all the Agama mantras are in Sanskrit, and have been followed since time immemorial. The Agamas are said to be as old as the Vedas themselves. By promoting Tamil archana, another injunction is disobeyed. Even the Adheenam of Thiruvavaduthurai, which is not a brahmin mutt, recently issued a statement saying only Agamic mantras will ne allowed inside the sanctum and Thevaram and Thiruvasagam can be recited outside. Even Supreme court has heard a case and has specifically stated that only Sanskrit Mantras are to be chanted inside the sanctum !

The Agamas are living, vibrant documents which govern the entire Hindu society right from the Dalit to the Brahmin- whether they acknowledge it or not. Agamas started temple worship and the entire plan upto the consecretion stage is governed by the Agamas only.

The Tamilnadu Givernment, thinking in its stereotyped views that anything spiritual or orthodox is brahmanical , has blindly gone into this matter without weighing the pros and cons. This move , if becomes law, will seriously affect the temple management and future temple constructions. Agamas' superiority will be put to question and all future governments will enact laws with impunity in temple matters. The losers will be the non brahmin Hindus !

The sane option would be to regularize the Agamic education, providing better pays to these archakas and conduct centralised examination with periodic checks - all in concurrence with all the adheenams and mutts. This is a win win formula and the Government will get many bonus points.


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