R. Singgaravelan — RELIGIOUS FAITH AND THE CONSTITUTIONAL PROTECTION I – PRELUDE AND THE CAUSE: Before dealing with the ongoing controversies in respect of an unique and very old Hindu Religion and the right of doing pujas in the temples, which stand to the test of time for thousands of years satisfying the faith and belief of the followers of Hinduism, I want to recall the observations of the Hon’ble Justice Sudhir Agarwal reproduced in Ram Janma Bhumi Temple Case at para 1311 reminding all of us the danger of making any casual comments in respect of the religious belief, faith and conscience of the majority of the people of our Country without even minding that those comments may divide the people in the name of religion, caste, creed and custom, which is the immediate cause to pen down
RELIGIOUS FAITH AND THE CONSTITUTIONAL PROTECTION
I – PRELUDE AND THE CAUSE:
Before dealing with the ongoing controversies in respect of an unique and very old Hindu Religion and the right of doing pujas in the temples, which stand to the test of time for thousands of years satisfying the faith and belief of the followers of Hinduism, I want to recall the observations of the Hon’ble Justice Sudhir Agarwal reproduced in Ram Janma Bhumi Temple Case at para 1311 reminding all of us the danger of making any casual comments in respect of the religious belief, faith and conscience of the majority of the people of our Country without even minding that those comments may divide the people in the name of religion, caste, creed and custom, which is the immediate cause to pen down this brief.
(2020) 1 SCC P1 at Para 1311,
“……1311. Sudhir Aggrawal, J. in the impugned judgment has elaborately dealt with the above reports by four historians and found it unworthy of reliance. Very strong observations have also been made with regard to the report of historians as well as of some witnesses in the following words : (Gopal Singh Visharad case [Gopal Singh Visharad v. Zahoor Ahmad, 2010 SCC OnLine All 1919 : 2010 SCC OnLine All 1920 : 2010 SCC OnLine All 1921 : 2010 SCC OnLine All 1922 : 2010 SCC OnLine All 1923 : 2010 SCC OnLine All 1925 : 2010 SCC OnLine All 1926 : 2010 SCC OnLine All 1927 : 2010 SCC OnLine All 1928 : 2010 SCC OnLine All 1929 : 2010 SCC OnLine All 1930 : 2010 SCC OnLine All 1931 : 2010 SCC OnLine All 1932 : 2010 SCC OnLine All 1933 : 2010 SCC OnLine All 1934 : 2010 SCC OnLine All 1935] , SCC OnLine All paras 3622-25)
“3622. We may mention here that though the said report claims to have been written by four persons but in fact it was not signed by Sri D.N. Jha. The opinion of an alleged expert, which is not based on her own study and re+
search work but reflection of other’s opinion, in our view, shall not qualify to be considered relevant under Section 45 of the Evidence Act as well as the law laid down by the Apex Court in State of H.P. v. Jai Lal [State of H.P. v. Jai Lal, (1999) 7 SCC 280 : 1999 SCC (Cri) 1184] .
3623. Normally, the Court does not make adverse comments on the deposition of witness and suffice it to consider whether it is credible or not but we find it difficult to resist ourselves in this particular case considering the sensitivity and the nature of dispute and also the reckless and irresponsible kind of statements, and the material got published by the persons claiming to be Expert Historian, Archaeologist, etc. without making any proper investigation, research or study in the subject.
3624. This is really startling. It not only surprises us but we are puzzled. Such kind of statements to public at large causes more confusion than clear the things. Instead of helping in making a cordial atmosphere it tends to create more complications, conflict and controversy. Such people should refrain from making such statements or written work. They must be extremely careful and cautious before making any statement in public on such issues.
3625. The people believe that something, which has been said by a learned, well-studied person, would not be without any basis. Normally they accept it as a correct statement of fact and affairs. Normally, these persons do not find a stage where their statement can be scrutinised by other experts like a cross-examination in a court of law. In legal terminology, we can say that these statements are normally ex parte and unilateral. But that does not give a license to such persons to make statements whatsoever without shouldering responsibility and accountability for its authenticity. One cannot say that though I had made a statement but I am not responsible for its authenticity since it is not based on my study or research but what I have learnt from others that I have uttered. No one, particularly when he claims to be an expert on the subject, a proclaimed or self-styled expert in a History, etc. or the facts or events can express some opinion unless he/she is fully satisfied after his/her own research and study that he/she is also of the same view and intend to make the same statement with reasons.”
II – APPOINTMENT OF ARCHAKAS OR POOJARIES -VS- THE TAMIL NADU HINDU RELIGIOUS AND CHARITABLE ENDOWMENTS ACT, 1959 AND THE TAMIL NADU HINDU RELIGIOUS INSTITUTIONS (OFFICERS AND SERVANTS) SERVICE RULES, 1964:-
Now coming to the controversy regarding the desire of certain persons that the women and persons of all communities also should be allowed to do pujas and rituals in the temples, at the outset I draw the attention of all concerned to Sections 55 and 57 of the Tamil Nadu Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Act XXII of 1959,and Rule 2(e) and 12 of the Tamil Nadu Hindu Religious Institutions (offices and Servants) Service Rules, 1964, read with Article 16(5) of the Constitution of India. It is better to have a view at Article 16(5) as the claim for appointment to Archakas or Priest is always based on Article 16(1) and other provisions of Part III of the Constitution verses Customary practices, rituals and Agamas.
“Article 16(5) -Nothing in this article shall affect the operation of any law which provides that the incumbent of an office in connection with the affairs of any religious or denominational institution or any member of the governing body thereof shall be a person professing a particular religion or belonging to a particular denomination”.
A Cursory glance at Article 16(5) would reveal that it operates more or less an exception in the matter of appointment to the post of Archakas as the word religion mentioned above includes religious faith and belief of lakhs and lakhs of followers of the concerned religion. Now, we peruse the provisions of the Tamil Nadu Act and the Rules in the above background.
“….55. Appointment of office-holders and servants in religious institutions.—(1) Vacancies, whether permanent or temporary among the office-holders or servants of a religious institution shall be filled up by the trustee [in all cases].
[Explanation.—The expression “office-holders or servants” shall include archakas and poojaries.
[(2) 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 the office.]
[(3) * * *] omitted by section 2(3) of the Tamil Nadu HR&CE (Amendment) Act, 1970 (Tamil Nadu Act 2 of 1971).
(4) Any person aggrieved by an order of the trustee under [sub-section (1)] may, within one month from the date of the receipt of the order by him, appeal against the order to [the Joint Commissioner or the Deputy Commissioner, as the case may be].”
Section57 speaks about the power to fix fees for services, etc., and to determine their appointment in the following words:-
“ Notwithstanding anything contained in any scheme settled or deemed to have been settled under this Act or any decree or usage to the contrary, the trustee of a religious institution shall have power, subject to such conditions as the Commissioner may, by general or Special order, direct to fix fees for the performance of any service, ritual or ceremony in such religious institutions and to determine what portion, if any, of such fees shall be paid to the archahas or other office holders or servants of such religious institution.”
When Section 55 defines that the expressions “Office holders or servants” shall include archakas and poojaries, Rule 2 of the Tamil Nadu Hindu Religious Institutions (Officers and Servants) Service Rules 1964 does not include specifically Archakas and poojaries in the definition of Officer or Servant Defined under Rule 2(c) or Outdoor servant defined under 2(d) or Ulthurai Servant defined under 2(e) of the above Rules. But the same can be inferred from the definition of Ulthurai Servants under Rule 2 (e). For our convenience they are reproduced below:-
2 (c) runs as follows:-
“‘Officer’ or ‘Servant’ includes a person who holds an office to which an inam granted, confirmed or recognized by the Government is attached or who is remunerated in land or in cash.”
2(d) and 2(e) define ‘Outdoor Servant’ and ‘Ulthurai Servant.’
2 (d) “Outdoor servant” means a servant other than a Ulthurai servant;
2(e) defines ‘Ulthurai Servant’ means a servant whose duties relate mainly to the performance or rendering assistance in the performance of pujas, rituals or other services to the deity, the recitation of mantra, Vedas, prabandas, Thevarams and similar invocations and the performance of duties connected with such performance or recitations.”
The Archakas can be brought under the above definition and they are expected to perform pujas, rituals or other services to the deity, the recitation of Mantras, Vedas, Prabandas , Thevarams and similar invocations.
There is no prohibition either in the Act or the Rules prohibiting anyone to get appointed as Archakas in the Temples but they must know the Rituals, Mantras, Vedas, Prabandas and Thevarams and as per Rule 3 they have to profess the Hindu Religious as appointment to the said post is Secular as held in Seshammal’s case reported in (1972) 2 SCC 11 dated 14.03.72.Further, in view of Article 16(5) none can claim appointment in the temples as a matter of right no doubt on the basis of their caste, birth or any other Constitutionally unacceptable parameter also.
Above all Rule 12 of the above Rules makes mandatory for the Archaka to possess the knowledge in Mantras, Vedas, Prabandas, Thevarams and other invocations in the following words:-
“Rule 12. Certificate of fitness for performing certain service. – Every ulthurai servant, whether hereditary or non-hereditary, whose duty is to perform pujas and recite mantras, vedas, prabandams, thevarams and other invocations shall, before succeeding, or appointment to an office, obtain a certificate of fitness for performing his office, from the head of an institution imparting instructions in agamas and ritualistic matters and recognised by the Commissioner, by general or special order or from the head of a math recognised by the Commissioner, by general or special order or such other person as may be designated by the Commissioner, from time to time, for the purpose.”
Thus, it is clear that not only the knowledge but also there should be an acknowledgment of the knowledge. Yes such a knowledge should have been acknowledged by way of a certificate of fitness for performing his office from the head of an institution imparting instructions in agamas and ritualistic matters and recognized by the Commissioner by general or special order or from the head of a math recognized by the Commissioner by general or Special order or such other person as may be designated by the Commissioner from time to time for the purpose.
So the Act and the Rules protect well the religious sentiments of all the sects of the Hindu Religion by providing sufficient safeguards to see that the Rituals, Ceremonies and Mantras are followed as per Vedas and Agamas and Article 16(5) protects the same.
Further, Section 105 declares clearly that none of the provisions of Tamil Nadu Act 22 of 1959, is intended to affect any honour, emolument or perquisite to which any person is entitled by custom or otherwise in any religious institution or its established usage in regard to any other matter, and authorize any interference with the religious and spiritual functions of the head of a math.
Section 105 runs as follows:
“105. Savings.—Nothing contained in this Act shall –
(a) save as otherwise expressly provided in this Act or the rules made thereunder, affect any honour, emolument or perquisite to which any person is entitled by custom or otherwise in any religious institution, or its established usage in regard to any other matter ; or
(b) authorize any interference with the religious and spiritual functions of the head of a math including those relating to the imparting of religious institution or the rendering of spiritual service.”
To make it more clear Section 107 of the Act further declares protecting the Hindu religious faith in the following words:-
“107. Nothing contained in this Act shall, save as otherwise provided in Section 106 (removal or discrimination in the distribution of prasadams and theerthams) and in clause (2) of Art. 25 of the Constitution (regulating or restricting any economic, financial, political or other secular activity which may be associated with religious practice and providing for social welfare and reform or the throwing open of Hindu Religious institutions of a public character to all classes and sections of Hindus) be deemed to confer any power or impose any duty in contraventions of the rights conferred on any religious denomination or any section thereof by Art.26 of the Constitution.
What is meant by the literary meaning of Article 25(2) of the Constitution of India is that social welfare measures and reforms can be brought forth and the public temples can be thrown open to all sections and classes of Hindus. Now – a- days, none is prevented from entering into the temple to worship God or offering flowers, leaves and fruits to the God as they choose in any public temple. But, the appointment to do pujas and rituals is different from worship and it is subject to Article 16(5), Sections 105 and 107 of the Act and Rule 12 of the above Rules 1964.
The Social Welfare measures and reforms mean to provide sanitary facilities, drinking facilities, rest room, equal treatment to all to take part in the tender of various items concerned with the temple and do all other works other than the work related to the religious faith and belief of the thousands of followers guided by Agamas, Vedas and other Customary practices protected by our Constitution, as the right for appointment though secular the duties after appointment are religious concerned with the religious faith of the devotees.
III- FUNDAMENTAL RIGHT OF THE DEVOTEES AT LARGE -VS FUNDAMENTAL RIGHT FOR APPOINTMENT TO THE POST OF “ARCHAKA” OR “PRIEST”:-
The fundamental right to anyone to get appointed to the post of Archaka subject to what is said under Article 16(5) should not offend or affect the fundamental rights of the Hindu devotees at large whose genuine expectation is that their offerings to be answered by God should be taken to God in a proper manner to God by chanting Mantras and Vedas as per Agamas and other Rituals by proper persons. One is the fundamental right for appointment of an individual which is secular and another is the fundamental right of the Hindu followers at large which is purely religious. To put in other words the appointment is Secular and the performance of the appointees in the post of Archaka is Religious dealing with the religious faith of the lakhs and lakhs of people of the oldest Hindu religion. When appointment to the post of Archaka is protected under Articles14 and 16 of the Constitution of India, it is subject to Article 16(5) and the performance of rituals by the Archaka after appointment deals with the fundamental rights guaranteed under Articles 25 and 26 of the Constitution of India of the Hindus at large. To put it in otherwords the appointment should protect the fundamental rights and religious faith of the Devotees and Hindus at large. Only by taking note of the above ticklish issue the Act 22 of 1959 is enacted and any interpretation to the provisions of the Act and Rules should aim at only the above object.
III-(i): Knowing and Following : Twin Principles:-
Sections 105 and 107 read with Rules 2, 3 and 12 above quoted should be in the above back ground interpreted to mean that the appointment should be guided only by the Agama Sastras and Vedic principles to do rituals for the deity duly certified by a religious Head. As per the Agamas and Vedas it is not only necessary that the rituals and pujas should be performed for the deity properly but the people doing those rituals should be strict in observing the same in their daily walk of life. Further, the pujas and the rituals should be done only according to the religious faith of the devotees and not to the capacity or knowledge of the appointees. In the absence anyone of two, i.e., knowing and following one cannot claim any right for the appointment to the post of Archakas as it deals with the fundamental right of the majority of the Hindu People throughout the country under Articles 16(5), 25 and 26 of the Constitution of India.
On those aspects there are certain case laws of the Hon’ble Apex Court which are dealt with one by one below:-
III-(ii) : Seshammal and others –vs- State of Tamil Nadu reported in (1972) 2 SCC 11 dated 14.03.1972:-
The first one on the line is Seshammal and others –vs- State of Tamil Nadu reported in (1972) 2 SCC 11 and at para 24 of the judgment of the Hon’ble Apex Court, the Constitutional Bench of the Apex Court (5 Judges) has held as follows:
“…….24. It was, however, submitted before us that the State had taken power under Section 116(2), clause (xxiii) to prescribe qualifications to be possessed by the Archakas and, in view of the avowed object of the State Government to create a class of Archakas irrespective of caste, creed or race, it would be open to the Government to prescribe qualifications for the office of an Archaka which were in conflict with Agamas. Under Rule 12 of the Madras Hindu Religious Institutions (Officers and Servants) Service Rules, 1964 proper provision has been made for qualifications of the Archakas and the petitioners have no objection to that rule. The rule still continues to be in force. But the petitioners apprehend that it is open to the Government to substitute any other rule for Rule 12 and prescribe qualifications which were in conflict with Agamic injunctions. For example at present the Ulthurai servant whose duty it is to perform pujas and recite vedic mantras etc, has to obtain the fitness certificate for his office from the head of institutions which impart instructions in Agamas and ritualistic matters. The Government, however, it is submitted, may hereafter change its mind and prescribe qualifications which take no note of Agamas and Agamic rituals and direct that the Archaka candidate should produce a fitness certificate from an institution which does not specialise in teaching Agamas and rituals. It is submitted that the Act does not provide guidelines to the Government in the matter of prescribing qualifications with regard to the fitness of an Archaka for performing the rituals and ceremonies in these temples and it will be open to the Government to prescribe a simple standardised curriculum for pujas in the several temples ignoring the traditional pujas and rituals followed in those temples. In our opinion the apprehensions of the petitioners are unfounded. Rule 12 referred to above still holds the field and there is no good reason to think that the State Government wants to revolutionise temple worship by introducing methods of worship not current in the several temples. The rule-making power conferred on the Government by Section 116 is only intended with a view to carry out the purposes of the Act which are essentially secular. The Act nowhere gives the indication that one of the purposes of the Act is to effect a change in the rituals and ceremonies followed in the temples. On the other hand, Section 107 of the principal Act emphasises that nothing contained in the Act would be deemed to confer any power or impose any duty in contravention of the rights conferred on any religious denomination or any section thereof by Article 26 of the Constitution. Similarly, Section 105 provides that nothing contained in the Act shall (a) save as otherwise expressly provided in the Act or the rules made thereunder, affect any honour, emolument or perquisite to which any person is entitled by custom or otherwise in any religious institution, or its established usage in regard to any other matter. Moreover, if any rule is framed by the Government which purports to interfere with the rituals and ceremonies of the temples the same will be liable to be challenged by those who are interested in the temple worship. In our opinion, therefore, the apprehensions now expressed by the petitioners are groundless and premature.
III-(iii) – My Opinion as a Citizen of this Largest Democracy on the above:-
From the above law laid down by the Constitutional Bench of the Hon’ble Apex Court it is clear that the Archakas should be capable of doing rituals and pujas in accordance with Agamas as envisaged under Rule 12 of the Tamil Nadu Hindu Religious Institutions (Officers & Servants) Service Rules 1964, read with and Sections 105 and 107 of the Tamil Nadu Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Act, 1959, which declares that nothing contained in the Act could be deemed to confer any power or impose any duty in contravention of the rights conferred on any religious denomination or any section thereof by Article 26 of the Constitution of India. Further, as provided specifically under Section 105 of the above Act nothing contained in the Act shall save as otherwise expressly provided in the Act or the rules made thereunder affect any honour, emolument or perquisite to which any person is entitled by custom or otherwise in any religion institution or its established usage in regard to any other matter. Article 16(5) protects the same. Section 105 has to be read with Section 107 of the Act and Article 16(5) of the Constitution of India and the combined reading of all would convey a clear message that there cannot be any Government Order to introduce any provision affecting the rights conferred on any religious denomination or any section thereof except what is expressly stated in the Act and the Rules. When the petitioner expressed apprehension that the Government may pass any order for the deviation from Agamas and Vedas in Seshammal case the Hon’ble Apex Court had given liberty to challenge the same.
III-(iv) : Adi Saiva Sivachariyargal Nala Sangam –vs- State of Tamil Nadu reported in (2016) 2 SCC 725 dated 16.12.2015
What is said in Seshammal’s case is further clarified in Adi Saiva Sivachariyargal Nala Sangam –vs- State of Tamil Nadu reported in (2016) 2 SCC 725 at paras 28, 48, 50 and 51 which are available at pages 743 and 754-756 and they are reproduced below for our convenience.
“……28. A reading of the judgment of the Constitution Bench in Seshammal [Seshammal v. State of T.N., (1972) 2 SCC 11] shows that the Bench considered the expanse of the Agamas both in Shaivite and Vaishnavite temples to hold that the said treatises restricted the appointment of Archakas to a particular religious denomination(s) and further that worship of the deity by persons who do not belong to the particular denomination(s) may have the effect of even defiling the idol requiring purification ceremonies to be performed. The Constitution Bench further held that while the appointment of Archakas on the principle of next-in-line is a secular act the particular denomination from which Archakas are required to be appointed as per the Agamas embody a long-standing belief that has come to be firmly embedded in the practices immediately surrounding the worship of the image and therefore such beliefs/practice constitute an essential part of the religious practice which under Section 28 of the Act (extracted above) the trustee is bound to follow. The above, which the petitioners contend to be the true ratio of the law laid down by the Constitution Bench in Seshammal [Seshammal v. State of T.N., (1972) 2 SCC 11],has been questioned by the respondents who argue that Seshammal [Seshammal v. State of T.N., (1972) 2 SCC 11] is but the expression of an agreement of the Constitution Bench to what was a concession made before it by the Advocate General of the State. According to the respondents, in Seshammal [Seshammal v. State of T.N., (1972) 2 SCC 11] the Constitution Bench had no occasion to deal with the issue arising herein, the challenge before it being confined to the validity of the Amendment Act of 1970.
Again at para 48, the Hon’ble Apex Court has observed as follows:-
“48. Seshammal is not an authority for any proposition as to what an Agama or a set of Agamas governing a particular or group of temples lay down with regard to the question that confronts the court, namely, whether any particular denomination of worshippers or believers have an exclusive right to be appointed as Archakas to perform the pujas. Much less, has the judgment taken note of the particular class or caste to which the Archakas of a temple must belong as prescribed by the Agamas. All that it does and says is that some of the Agamas do incorporate a fundamental religious belief of the necessity of performance of the pujas by Archakas belonging to a particular and distinct sect/group/denomination, failing which, there will be defilement of deity requiring purification ceremonies. Surely, if the Agamas in question do not proscribe any group of citizens from being appointed as Archakas on the basis of caste or class the sanctity of Article 17 or any other provision of Part III of the Constitution or even the Protection of Civil Rights Act, 1955 will not be violated. What has been said in Seshammal [Seshammal v. State of T.N., (1972) 2 SCC 11] (supra) is that if any prescription with regard to appointment of Archakas is made by the Agamas, Section 28 of the Tamil Nadu Act mandates the trustee to conduct the temple affairs in accordance with such custom or usage. The requirement of constitutional conformity is inbuilt and if a custom or usage is outside the protective umbrella afforded and envisaged by Articles 25 and 26, the law would certainly take its own course. The constitutional legitimacy, naturally, must supersede all religious beliefs or practices.
Then at para 50 of the Adi Saiva Sivachariyargal Nala Sangam –vs- State of Tamil Nadu case the Hon’ble Apex Court is has held as follows:
……50. What then is the eventual result? The answer defies a straightforward resolution and it is the considered view of the Court that the validity or otherwise of the impugned G.O. would depend on the facts of each case of appointment. What is found and held to be prescribed by one particular or a set of Agamas for a solitary or a group of temples, as may be, would be determinative of the issue. In this regard it will be necessary to re-emphasise what has been already stated with regard to the purport and effect of Article 16(5) of the Constitution, namely, that the exclusion of some and inclusion of a particular segment or denomination for appointment as Archakas would not violate Article 14 so long as such inclusion/exclusion is not based on the criteria of caste, birth or any other constitutionally unacceptable parameter. So long as the prescription(s) under a particular Agama or Agamas is not contrary to any constitutional mandate as discussed above, the impugned G.O. dated 23-5-2006 by its blanket fiat to the effect that, “Any person who is a Hindu and possessing the requisite qualification and training can be appointed as a Archaka in Hindu temples” has the potential of falling foul of the dictum laid down in Seshammal [Seshammal v. State of T.N., (1972) 2 SCC 11] . A determination of the contours of a claimed custom or usage would be imperative and it is in that light that the validity of the impugned G.O. dated 23-5-2006 will have to be decided in each case of appointment of Archakas whenever and wherever the issue is raised. The necessity of seeking specific judicial verdicts in the future is inevitable and unavoidable; the contours of the present case and the issues arising being what has been discussed.
The order is at para 51 which is reproduced below:
“….51. Consequently and in the light of the aforesaid discussion, we dispose of all the writ petitions in terms of our findings, observations and directions made above reiterating that as held in Seshammal [Seshammal v. State of T.N., (1972) 2 SCC 11] , 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.”
III – (v) Opinion:-
Article 16(5) referred to in the Hon’ble two Judges Bench in Adi Saiva Sivachariyargal Nala Sangam mandatorily protects the centuries old Customary practices, Rituals, practices, Agamas and Vedas and Sections 105 and 107 of the Tamil Nadu Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Act 1959, read with Rule 12 of the Rules already quoted have to be approached only in the light of Article 16(5). For our convenience Article 16(5) is reproduced again and it runs as follows:-
“ Nothing in this article shall affect the operation of any law which provides that the incumbent of an office in connection with the affairs of any religious or denominational institution or any member of the governing body there of shall be a person professing a particular religion or belonging to a particular denomination.”
In view of the above there is no chance of appointing any person who is not able to perform pujas and recite mantras, Vedas, Prabandhams, Thevarams and other invocations as Archakas of the Temples as per the religious faith and belief of the devotees.
When anyone who claims to have been trained in all should obtain a certificate of fitness for performing his office from the head of an institution imparting instructions in agamas and ritualistic matters and recognised by the Commissioner by general or special order or from the head of a math recognised by the Commissioner by the general or special order or such other person as may be designated by the Commissioner.
IV – THE ACT AND THE RULES PROTECTED UNDER ARTICLES 16(5), 25 AND 26 OF THE CONSTITUTION OF INDIA AND THE CLAIM FOR IMPARTING TRAINING TO ENABLE ANYONE TO BECOME AN ARCHAKA OR PRIEST:-
Then, the next question is as to whether the classes can be conducted for all to satisfy Sections 105 and 107 of the act and Rule 12 of the Tamil Nadu Hindu Religious Institutions Rules 1964.
They can do so irrespective of the warning given in the Agamas about the persons who have to chant mantras and do the rituals on the basis of the no objection expressed by the petitioner to Rule 12 in Seshammal’s case recorded by the Hon’ble Apex Court.
But the training or classes should be both in Sanskrit Scriptures and Tamil Thevarams and Thiruvasagams etc., as the temples are meant for the followers, well wishers and the devotees from other states and the countries throughout the world and a priest cannot claim that I know only one language and I’ll do pujas and rituals only as per that language and not to the satisfaction of the religious faith and belief of the devotees.
There cannot be any Institution for the purpose of Rule 12 to impart training only in a particular known language and not in any common language in which our Vedas, Mantras, Agamas, Rituals and Ceremonies are mostly described. Further, it is for the devotees to choose the manner of rituals and the way of their offerings under Articles 25 and 26 of the Constitution of India.
Even if the Government comes forward to do so in other language also the next question is as to how many may be ready to learn the same and further question is as to how long the courses can be conducted.
(b) Mantras and Pronunciation with the Movement of Fingers and Breath:-
The mantras and rituals as per Agamas and Vedas do not only involve the memorising the tough Mantras, Vedas and the rituals but they do involve the physical exercise and the quick movement of fingers and the hands too apart from the individual Archaka’s observance of rituals to keep themselves mentally and physically clean.
(c) Duties of an Archaka:-
After undergoing all the tough formalities and necessities, a person chooses to become an Archaka, then what are the duties and functions of the appointees and the timings are important.
One should not do the work of a priest in the temple like an officer or an employee employed in the temples.
The Archakas have to open the temple atleast before 6 AM and there are so many popular ancient temples where the temples of so many huge Praharams have to be kept open even by 4.30 AM to 5.30 AM.
They have to start doing the rituals for the deity whether the devotees do turn up or not sharply in the timings meant for each temple. Then they have to perform ‘Abishekam’ for all the deities by chanting Mantras either with a servant or along with the devotees who paid money for that in recognition of their prayer.
IV-(i): Whether the appointment is Blessing or Burdensome when comparing to other jobs:-
The temple has to be opened in Brahma Muhurtham atleast before 6.00 am to the maximum and there are so many ancient temples mentioned and praised by Vedas, Agamas and our religious Saints opened at even 4.30 am to 5 am to perform Ko puja and other rituals.
In Srirangam temple starting from 4 am Gajendra puja, Ko puja and other pujas with the ‘Poobalam’ are being performed to Ranganatha Perumal. At Thiruvannamalai also the same thing is being followed. Like that there are so many ancient temples which follow the same and the wonder is during those functions in the early morning hours hundreds of devotees irrespective of the sex, caste and creed take part.
Then Uchikala Pooja has to be performed and the temple may be closed by 11.30 AM to 12 Noon or 1 PM as the case may be.
Again, it has to be kept opened by 4 pm to 4.30 pm and again all the rituals and then ‘Sayaratcha pooja’ by 6 pm to 6.30 pm.
Then they have to attend the devotees or wait for them. By 8.30 to 9 pm or 9.30 pm they have to close the temple after doing ‘Arthajama Pooja.’
Each and every performance of the rituals and ceremonies is very tough involving not only the physical labour but also the mental strain of chanting Mantras and Vedas and attending the devotees.
Then what is more important is about the salary and other benefits available to the priests. It varies from temple to temple and depends upon the trustees and the income of the Temples.
Now only the Hon’ble Division Bench in W.P.No.574/15 has taken much care about the plight of these priests and passed orders for the Minimum Wages.
(b) Appointment of Women and Their Safety:-
When the question of appointment of women comes further additional problems are their safety and protection to come to the temples on the early morning and leaving the temple of large structure of various Praharams and Sannithis left aloof in the night after doing ‘Arthajama Pooja’. Then other discomfort exclusively created by God for women and then their stamina of doing Abhishekam for the deities in the temples apart from chanting mantras has to be minded.
(c) Income of the Temples:-
The temple income definitely with the above hand work is not sufficient to lead a peaceful or satisfactory life except the income from few popular temples where there also may be number of shareholders. The priests and Archakas now-a-days survive only on their individually performing ‘Homam’ or ‘Thevasam’ or ‘Grahapravesam’ or Marriage function or other ceremonies celebrated by the Hindus at their home or in the public places. Now-a-days most of the temples have only handful of devotees and the income to the ‘Archakas’ depends upon their generosity. There is no sufficient income even to lit the lamp of the temples and protect the deities with the application of herbal oil on that.
The income of the temples also varies from place to place and the importance and location of the temples. Whileso, it is very difficult for the State to interfere and frame the common rules for all the temples altogether and there is no possibility at all for that. When it is not possible then the question of discrimination in the appointment becomes questionable. So, the appointment has to be left to the practice of each temple and such appointment mostly is being done only by the Local Executive Officer with the approval of the officials of the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments and there is no problem so far by anyone.
All the Sects of the people know what are said above and that is the reason as to why they accept as they are and live peacefully.
When there is no indifference or misunderstanding among the Hindu devotees and common people as they are all very well aware of the difficulties in performance of rituals, pujas and other ceremonies to the deities in the temple, then it is always advisable in the large interest of the Society and the Nation to leave them as they are without showing our intelligence on the above sensitive matters.
Wherever such problems are created it is for us and the State to analyse the ground reality and take a right decision without too much involving ourselves in those problems hoping that our custodians of the Constitution would protect us. Our country is the only country meant for Unity and Solidarity in Diversity and any type of too much emotional outburst on such sensitive matters would definitely damage our peaceful atmosphere. Our laws are meant for regulating one’s life and retributive in nature more than punitive as too harsh approach to ruin one’s life or damage the dignity of an individual or a community would produce only the adverse impact. Magnanimity to tolerate and the humanity to forgive are the fundamental basis on which each religion and fair justice for all gloriously survive from time immemorial. We the followers should not upset the said basic structure as if we alone are perfect and punish or condemn others emotionally except to regulate to set right things in order.
Not only to err is human but also none’s life is free from any error. So, it is better to avoid accusation against each other in the name of religion or caste or religious faith and to think of doing atleast a small favour to a needy irrespective of any caste or creed or community or religion so as to help the popular Government to take care of the common people.
I read somewhere that there is no God for a starving man and that may be the reason now in almost all the places meant for worship the food is provided either by the Government or by the people who are interested in doing charities.
We do face the tough time unpredictable and un precedential in the World History in the name of Covid day in and day out and become mentally upset not only due to Covid but also due to unavoidable lock down and consequential seclusion from our kith and kin and our own neighbours though we are all social oriented.
Why I do refer to all and become more philosophical is to remind all of us that in these tough days losing our kith and kin one by one due to Covid I feel that it is better to allow the things in existence and followed for thousands of years to be followed to the benefit of our entire Nation and the world and whoever is individually interested in making a claim inspite of all what are stated above it is for them to approach for the appropriate legal remedy before the appropriate authority.
IV-(ii): N.Adithayan –Vs- Trivancore Devaswam Board reported in (2002) 8 SCC 106 (Division Bench)
Though the Constitutional Bench of the Hon’ble Apex Court in Seshammal hoped and expected in the light of Sections 105 and 107 of the Act 1959 and the Rules 1964 that there should not be any deviation from the agamas and Vedas, the subsequent Division Bench of the Hon’ble Apex Court in Adi Saiva Sivachariyargal Case reported in (2016) 2 SCC 725 though followed Seshammal noted the decision of another Division Bench Judgment of the Apex Court headed by the Hon’ble Mr.Justice D.Raju as he then was in N.Adithayan –Vs- Trivancore Devaswam Board reported in (2002) 8 SCC 106 and observed as follows at para 31:-
“ That the rights claimed solely on the basis of caste cannot enjoy the protection of Arts.25 and 26 and no earlier decision of this Court including Seshammal (1972) 2 SCC 11 would support the contention that even duly qualified persons can be barred from preferring pujas on the sole ground that such a person is not a Brahmin by birth or pedigree.”
But as already stated in the light of Sections 105 and 107 of the Tamil Nadu Act 22 of 1959 and 12 of the Rules 1964 read with Article 16(5) of the Constitution of India when there is a customary practice of the temple based on Vedas and Agamas more than 300 years old and some of them even more than 1000 years old could not be disturbed very casually affecting the religious faith and belief of the majority of the devotees of the Hindu Religion guaranteed under Articles16(5), 25 and 26 of the Constitution of India by a Single Stroke of the pen.
At the end of para 48 of the judgment in Adi Saiva Sivachriyargal Nala Sangam –Vs State of Tamil Nadu reported in (2016) 2 SCC 725 at 755 in the last line the Hon’ble Division Bench has observed as follows though as already stated issued direction following the Constitutional Bench Judgment in Seshammal Case:-
“ 48 …………………… The requirement of Constitutional conformity is inbuilt and if a custom or usage is outside the protective umbrella afforded and envisaged by Arts.25 and 26, the law would certainly take its own course. The Constitutional legitimacy naturally must supersede all religious beliefs or practices.”
But, when there is a Constitutional protection under Articles 16(5), 25 and 26 of the Constitution of India and there are statutory provisions in our Tamil Nadu Act 1959 by way of Sections 105 and 107 of the Act and Rule 12, our religious faith and belief are sufficiently protected. Further, at para 51 in the above case direction is given only following Seshammal in which case the Hon’ble Apex Court hoped that there won’t be any deviation from Sections 105 and 107 of the Act, and Rule 12 of the 1964 Rules and given liberty to approach if there is any violation as reproduced in the earlier part of this report while dealing with Seshammal case.
IV – (iii): a) Indian Young Lawyers Association and others (Sabarimala Temple in re) -vs- State of Kerela and others reported in (2019) 11 SCC 1.
b) Kantaru Rajeevaru (Sabarimala Temple review) -vs- Indian Young lawyer Association reported in (2020) 2 SCC 1
Though Sabarimala Temple case at the ratio of 4:1 permitted even the Women devotes irrespective of the age limit to worship, all the matters concerned with the religion are now pending before the Hon’ble 9 Judges Bench Judgment as in Review Petitions arisen out of that case the Hon’ble 3 Judges of 5 Judges Bench headed by the Hon’ble Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi held that the religious faith should be protected. The same view was expressed by another Hon’ble Constitutional Bench to take a categorical view in respect of the birth place of Rama in Ram Janma Bhumi case.
IV – (iv): M. Siddiq (d) thr Lrs –vs- Mahant Suresh Das and Ors (Ram Janma Bhumi Temple Case) reported in (2020) 1 SCC 1 dated 09.11.2019:
The Constitutional Bench Judgement in Ram Janma Boomi case reported in (2020) 1 SCC 1, all the Hon’ble Judges unanimously held that the place in dispute for which there were continuous litigations is where Lord Rama was born on the basis of very old Sanskrit Scriptures, Vedas and epics upholding the religious belief and faith of all our ancestors apart from other admitted oral evidences of various religious leaders. Certain paras in the Judgment may be helpful to highlight the Constitutional importance to the religious belief and faith.
At para 1285 of the judgment in Ram Janma Bhumi Temple case various holy scriptures referred by P.N.Mishra are dealt with as follows:
“….1285. Shri P.N. Mishra elaborating his submission has placed reliance on holy scriptures Shrimad Valmiki Ramayana and Srimad Skandpuranam, Rudrayamala, Sri Ramacharitamanasa and other scriptures like Shrimad Narashingha Puranam. Reliance has been placed on Verses 15 to 17 and 18 to 25 and particular pages of Ayodhya Mahatmya of Skanda Purana, he submits that the above verses gives the geographical situation of birthplace of Lord Ram, which is still verifiable. Shri Mishra took us to the oral evidence of witnesses where according to him witnesses have proved the locations as mentioned in Skanda Purana with respect to birthplace of Lord Ram. Referring to map prepared by Hans Bakker and the site plan prepared by Shiv Shankar Lal in Suit No. 2 of 1950, he submits that several marks mentioned in Skanda Purana are still present, which certifies the location of the birthplace as the disputed site.”
At paras 1288 and 1289, the Hon’ble Apex Court has observed about the religious right of the persons and the value of the religious scriptures in the following words:
“……1288. Religious faith of a person is formed on traditions, religious scriptures and practices. The Constitution Bench of this Court speaking through B.K. Mukherjea, J. in Commr., Hindu Religious Endowments v. Sri Lakshmindra Thirtha Swamiar of Sri Shirur Mutt [Commr., Hindu Religious Endowments v. Sri Lakshmindra Thirtha Swamiar of Sri Shirur Mutt, 1954 SCR 1005 : AIR 1954 SC 282] held that religion is certainly a matter of faith with individuals or communities; in para 17, the following has been observed : (AIR p. 290)
“17. … Religion is certainly a matter of faith with individuals or communities and it is not necessarily theistic. There are well-known religions in India like Buddhism and Jainism which do not believe in God or in any Intelligent First Cause. A religion undoubtedly has its basis in a system of beliefs or doctrines which are regarded by those who profess that religion as conducive to their spiritual well-being, but it would not be correct to say that religion is nothing else but a doctrine or belief. A religion may not only lay down a code of ethical rules for its followers to accept, it might prescribe rituals and observances, ceremonies and modes of worship which are regarded as integral parts of religion, and these forms and observances might extend even to matters of food and dress.”
1289. Religious scriptures, which are the main source of Hinduism are the foundation on which faith of Hindus is concretised. The epic Valmiki Ramayana is the main source of knowledge of Lord Ram and his deeds. The composition of Valmiki Ramayana dates back in the period Before Christ (BC). The Valmiki Ramayana is of a period earlier to Mahabharata and Srimad Bhagwadgita. The period in which Valmiki Ramayana was composed is much prior to beginning of Christian era. For the purposes of this case, it is sufficient to notice the statement of Suvira Jaiswal (PW 18), a witness produced by the plaintiff of Suit No. 4 as historian. She in her statement states “the period of Valmiki Ramayana is recorded as 300 BC – 200 BC”. Various scholars and others date Valmiki Ramayana to a much older period but it is not necessary to dwell in the said question since for our purpose, it is sufficient that Valmiki Ramayana was composed in an era Before Christ.”
At para 1324, the Hon’ble Apex Court has observed the faith and belief regarding Janma Asthan during the period 1528 A.D. to 31.10.1858 as follows:
“……1324. During this period, Sri Ramacharitmanasa of Gosvami Tulasidasa was composed in Samvat 1631 (1574-75 AD). The Ramacharitmanasa enjoys a unique place and like Valmiki Ramayana is revered, read and respected by Hindus, which has acquired the status of an Epic in Hindu faith. Gosvami Tulasidasa in Bala-Kanda has composed verses, which are spoken through Lord Vishnu. When Brahma appealed to Vishnu to relieve the Devas, Sages, Gandharvas and earth from the terror of demon Ravana (Raavan), Lord Vishnu said that I will take a human form and be born to Dasaratha and Kausalya in Kosalapuri. After Doha 186, Bala-Kanda in the following three chaupaiyas (Verses), Lord Vishnu says:
[“Fear not, O sages, Siddhas and Indra (the chief of gods); for your sake I will assume the form of a human being. In the glorious solar race I shall be born as a human being along with My part manifestations.”]
[“The sage Kasyapa and his wife Aditi did severe penance; to them I have already vouchsafed a boon. They have appeared in the city of Ayodhya as rulers of men in the form of Dasaratha and Kausalya.”]
[“In their house I shall take birth in the form of four brothers, the ornament of Raghu’s line. I shall prove the veracity of all that was uttered by Narada and shall descend with my Supreme Energy (पराशक्ति).”]
The above chaupaiyas do not only refer to Vishnu taking human form in Avadhpuri i.e. Ayodhya but the verse specifically mentions that he will take human form at the house of Dasaratha and Kausalya. The above verses do not only refer to birth of Ram at Ayodhya but point out to “a place”, where he will take human form, which is clearly depicted in the words “tinha ke grha” (in their house of Dasaratha and Kausalya).”
At paras 1318 and 1319, the Hon’ble Apex Court as referred to the book of “Ayodhya” by Hans T. Bakker and Sanskrit scriptures also to arrive at a conclusion of the existence of Ram Janma Bhumi and they are reproduced below:
“…..1318. Hans Bakker, however, when proceeded to examine the history, Bakker also considered the Jains and Baudh’s scriptures. Bakker subsequently held that identity of Ayodhya and Saketa was started and completed in the age of Guptas. The further observations made in the book, which is to the following effect:
“The reification of the realm of saga finally resulted in a general acknowledgment of the identity of Ayodhya and Saketa, that is the site AY, a process which was completed in the age of the Guptas. That the identification was not yet universally acknowledged during the rule of the early Guptas seems to follow from some Purana texts in which the Gupta rulers are credited with sovereignty over the real Saketa rather than over the marvellous Ayodhya.
The identification of Ayodhya with Saketa during this period is not only attested in the Jaina sources but also in Sanskrit saga to wit Brahmandapurana 3.54.54 (Cp. Op.cit.3.54.5), and most consistently in Kalidasa’s Raghuvamsa. It is only from the period when the name Ayodhya was used to denote an existing township that we may expect to find corroborative archaeological evidence. Such testimony is indeed found among the inscriptions of the later Guptas (5th century) : an inscription dealing from AD 436 describes the donees of a gift as “Brahmins hailing from Ayodhya”. A Gupta inscription of AD 533/4 mentions a nobleman from Ayodhya. The spurious Gaya copperplate inscription of Samudragupta, probably a fabrication of the beginning of the 8th century, describes Ayodhya as a garrison town.”
1319. Thus, identity of Ayodhya has been attested and corroborated by Sanskrit scriptures and the corroboration from the later Gupta period. Thus, the earlier observation made was only to the effect that Ayodhya is not attested by any epic literature, but once it was identified by the author himself, the earlier observation loses its importance. As far as observation of Bakker in which he equated Ayodhya to the city of Saketa, no exception can be taken. Saketa and Ayodhya have been used as synonyms in other scriptures as well as historians. With regard to map of birthplace after considering the entire materials, Hans Bakker attests the location of birthplace. The conclusions arrived by Hans Bakker cannot be said to be based on surmises or conjectures.”
At paras 1322 and 1323 also the Hon’ble Apex Court has dealt with the value of the ancient scriptures and writings to base their conclusion:
“…..1322. Janma Sakhies, which have been brought on the record contain a description of visit of Guru Nanak Devji to Ayodhya, where he had darshan of birthplace of Lord Ram. It is true that from the extracts of Janma Sakhies, which have been brought on the record, there is no material to identify the exact place of Ram Janma Bhumi but the visit of Guru Nanak Devji to Ayodhya for darshan of Janma Bhumi of Ram is an event, which depicted that pilgrims were visiting Ayodhya and were having darshan of Janma Bhumi even before 1528 AD. The visit of Guru Nanak Devji in 1510-1511 AD and to have darshan of Janma Bhumi of Lord Ram do support the faith and beliefs of the Hindus.
1323. It can, therefore, be held that the faith and belief of Hindus regarding location of birthplace of Lord Ram is from scriptures and sacred religious books including Valmiki Ramayana and Skanda Purana, which faith and beliefs, cannot be held to be groundless. Thus, it is found that in the period prior to 1528 AD, there were sufficient religious texts, which led the Hindus to believe the present site of Ram Janma Bhumi as the birthplace of Lord Ram.”
The observations of the Hon’ble Apex Court at para 1277 in Ram Janma Bhumi Temple case are also relevant and hence they are reproduced below:
“…..1277. The concept of Hinduism has been defined by great scholars and jurists, but in this case, it is not necessary to dwell upon concept of Hinduism. The core of all religions and faith is one i.e. quest for truth, quest for knowing more about soul and quest to know more about Supreme, who in one or other form is worshipped in all religions. Every religion, every faith reveres and sings the glory of God with whom I all want to relate. Wordsworth in his beautiful poem has also echoed the same thought:
“Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting;
The Soul that rises with us, our life’s star
Hath had elsewhere its setting,
And cometh from afar;
Not in entire forgetfulness,
And not in utter nakedness,
But trailing clouds of glory do we come
From God, who is our home,”
At para 1287.3, the Hon’ble Apex Court has chosen to declare as follows:
“…..1287.3. The stand of the plaintiff of Suit No. 4 with regard to faith and belief of Hindus regarding birth of Lord Ram at Ayodhya having been made clear and it having been accepted that there is no dispute about the faith of Hindu devotees that Lord Ram was born at Ayodhya, our consideration is confined to only a limited submission as to whether site of the disputed structure where Babri Masjid was constructed is the place of birth of Lord Ram or not. It will be necessary to consider the evidence led by the parties in respect of above aspect only.”
IV – (v) : My Opinion:-
From the above observations of the Hon’ble Apex Court in Ram Janma Bhumi case one can easily infer that our religious faith and belief based on the Ancient Sanskrit Scriptures and verses and the opinion of the religious leaders are to be respected while performing a secular act of appointment of Archakas and Poojaries in the temples. Hence, a survey of case to case basis depending upon the nature of the temples has to be taken into account before deciding anything. If such a survey is taken, one can very easily understand that pujas are being conducted by other community people and women also to the exclusion of Iyers and Iyangars or along with them in most of the popular temples and village temples. Apart from that every devotee knows that most of the temples are under the control of other communities also.
(a) Temples where others are doing pujas and managing : Illustrative not Exhaustive:-
At Mundahakanni Amman Temple, Angalamman Temple and other Karumariamman Temple at Mylapore other community people are doing pujas. Like that there are hundreds of temples in the cities, towns and villages under the control of other communities supervised by the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments as per the Act and Rules except the very few ancient temples.
The popular Kandha Kottam Temple, Kachaleeshwarer Temple, PillaiyarPatti Karpaga Vinayagar Temple, Vairavar Temple etc., are managed only by other communities.
At Melmalayanur Angalamman temple a very popular temple where Chenji at the time of new moon every month nearly thousands and thousands of people gather for worship and that is under the control of other community people only and other community people alone are doing pujas.
Like that a popular Siruvachur Madurakaliamman temple is under the control of other community only.
Most of the Mariamman and Sakthi temples are under the control of other community and women only .Even in and around Chennai there are so many temples under the control of other community or women only.
Even Thottiyam Madhurakaliamman temple is under the control of other community only. At Melmaruvathur everything is being done by women or other community only.
Trichy Pookkulam Angalamman temple and Woraiyur Vekkaliamman temple are under the control of other community only.
At the entrance of Azhagar Koil the very old Karuppusamy temple and Madurai Veeran temple at the entrance of Meenakshiamman temple other community people alone are doing pujas.
There is not even an iota of indifference and misunderstanding between any sect of the people on that and infact each respects other whole heartedly. Only few instances are pointed above and it is not exhaustive, only illustrative.
V – AGAMAM AND VEDAS: WHAT DO THEY SAY:-
Apart from what are all stated above I may be permitted to quote certain verses from a book called “Kamikagama” first part published by SrilasriC. Swamynaadha Shivachaariyar, General Secretary of South India Archagar Association, 1977, containing the details of Agamas, Vedas and Sithandas few of which are elaborately given with the concerned ancient verses in the forthcoming pages. Before that I quote as it is the “Foreword” and “Introduction” given by two great scholars of other community to that book below:-
(a) Foreword of Thiru. N. Murugesa Mudaliar:-
Thiru. N. Murugesa Mudaliar, retired Secretary to Government and Special Adviser, sometimes Patron, Saiva Siddhanta Maha Samajum, in his “Foreword” about a book has said as follows:
“I am writing this Foreword advisedly in English to attract the attention of modern scholars to the necessity for preserving the heritage of the Agamas as much as the Vedas and to encourage the custodians and interpreters thereof in cherishing and maintaining it. Vedagama Samraksana is the duty principally of all professing Hindus. For, both the Vedas and Agamas are sruti-they are apaurshaya and nitya-and they are spoken of as such in the same breath by Puranas and later Sastraic literature and great religious teachers from ancient times.
While the Upanishads known as Vedanta and the jnanapada of the Agarnas known as Agamanta (or Siddhanta) are well known, the Agama texts themselves were not easily accessible and could not be got yet by Western scholars to the same extent as Vedic texts. Except for the sporadic and much handicapped efforts at the beginning of this century of scholars like L. D. Barnett and R. W. Frazer, the Saivagamas were less fortunate than Sakta and Pancaratra texts at the hands ofArthur Avalon and Schroeder. Yet the practical and living religion of the Hindus to whatever denomination they may belong, is governed? as pointed out by Swami Vivekananda, from the Himalayas to Cape Comorin by the Agamas only.
The vastness of *Saivagamas (28 mulagamas and 207 upagamas)-their slokas reckoned traditionally at many lakhs and the fact that even the extant texts were the close preserve of Sivacharyas were a deterrent to their publication. However, an attempt was made at the beginning of this century to publish a Few atleast of the powerful agamas by Konraimanagaram Shanmugasundara Mudaliar and later by his nephew Alagappa Mudaliar of Madras and this breakthrough was meritorious as it helped the Sivacharyas themselves and others yearning to knowabout the Agamas. Later, the Saivagama Paripalana Sangam Pudukkottai printed a few upagamas and prakaragas . Currently the. French – Indological Institute, Pondicherry under the guidance of Prof. Jean Filliozat is engaged in the stupendous task of collecting and publishing the available Agamas one by one? but the editing is in French, As important and valuable as all these are the efforts of the South Indian Archakar Sangam to reprint and publish some of the Agamas for the benefit of the Archakars and the public are praiseworthy. The Sangam has already made some progress inspite of heavy odds. It is a pity that although the secular control of temples have been under Government for over 50 years now, the reprinting of the Agamas, even with temple funds, has not been given serious attention to upto this date. The Agamas are encyclopedic in their contents, covering rituals and philosophy, and are the storehouse of temple arts, architecture, music and dance which are of fascinating interest to many.
Many have only vague notions about the Agamas as even books on Indian Philosophy and Religions pay very scant attention to them (except perhaps Dr. S. N. Dasgupta’s book History of Indian Philosophy, Vol. V). For the information of the ignorant and the biased it has to be explained here that in point of chronology the Agamas are as ancient as the Vedas and they are both acknowledged as Divine Revalation from from the mouth of God. They are both sabda pramana and lead to avabodha jnana (self-luminious knowledge). All theistic religious like Saivism and Vaisnavism (including the Madhva Vaisnavism) respect the Agamas and base their theological doctrines on them. The monistic Advaita relied only on the Upanishads with monistic trends for its metaphysics. The jnanapada of Agamas, are more explicit and indeed Svetarsvatara upanishad is sometimes called Agamic upanishad. The difference and distinction between the Vedas and the Agamas are that while the Vedas spoke of many Gods and of one Brahman, the Agamas are out and out monotheistic and their ontology is no less profound. Sankara Samhita of Skanda Purana speaks of the relation of the Vedas and Agamas thus : Vedas are in the middle of the mouth, the Aksharas are the teeth and the Agamas are from the very tongue of Siva (“Aasya madhye sthitha veda devadevasya bhasura, Aksharam tu dautam jihvayam tu Sivjnana“). Later Saints like Tirumular in Thirumandram which is considered to be the essence of the Agamas and Manikavachagar and Nammalvar (both Saiva and Vaisnava) and scholiasts like Haradatta, Srikantha, Sivagrayogin Sivajnanaswami and Appaya Dikshita have looked upon Vedas as common and the Agamas as specific as the latter are for all irrespective of caste and sex that yearn for the descent of the Grace of Siva (saktinipada). The Agamas are synthetic-mantra, tantra and siddahanta, and embrace charya, kriya, yoga and jnana padas. What is more, they provide for the sacrament of diksa, ordinary and special, besides the gayatri for svartha and parartha puja, No one without Agamic diksa can perform any puja at home or in the temple. Hence a knowledge of the Agamas is necessary to all alike if they wish to take the sacrament of dilcsa for a divine office or for self – salvation..
The present publication of Kamikagama, Purvabhaga, Part 1, by the South Indian Archakar Sangam, Madras (which has within its fold.-both Saiva and Vaisnava archakas) is to be welcomed and encouraged. This volume gives the Agama text in grantha script together with tatparya (gist) in Tamil for the benefit of all. One patala alone has been transliterated in Tamil but not others. (The Sangam has already published the entire Purvabhaga in Devanagari script). The contents of the present volume are briefly given in its preface. The Tantravatara patala gives the origin of the Agamas. The Mantravatara patala gives an account of the mantras. The rest of the patalas give a detailed account of the various rituals and their significance.
Kamikagama is one of the longest Agamas and most of the temples in South India follow it only. It is looked up on as the feet of Siva. It deals with all the rituals from karshana (turning the sod) to pratista (installation) of deities. The uttarabhaga deals with diksa, festivals etc. So this is a complete Manual for priests and laymen and for the inquisitive scholar who wants to know the details and symbolism of Agamic worship, private and public. Indeed there is currently a great interest in the information from other religionists and Western scholar. This publication would therefore serve a felt need by the Hindus and non-Hindus and place the Agamas before a world view…”
(b) Introduction given by Thiru. M.Arunachalam:-
Thiru. M.Arunachalam, gave an introduction to the book in the following words:
“The Saiva Agamas are some of the earliest books in the Sanskrit language on the Saiva religion and philosophy, written over a period of several centuries before the Christian era. The Agamas represent on independent class of writing by very early seers, who had an inward experience and enlightenment from the Supreme Being, and who were also perhaps influenced by the Vedas in their original form. They had realised in their lives and thoughts the general truths taught by the early Upanisads. So far as Saivism is concerned, these seers were not men from the North. They were essentially representatives of All India and they reflected in their thoughts, modes of meditation and worship, and in their writing, the inherent Theism of the South, The Theism of the south or rather, the Saivism of the Tamilians, was the growth of an unbroken era tradition probably from the pre-historic past and this had three elements fused into it. These are worship of idols and images, both in the shrines throughout the land and in the devotees own houses, symbolism and the inward meditation and realisation. These three were not separate compartments, but basically one harmonious integrated whole. When the Upanisads were added on to the Vedas in the course of the later centuries, they could not but be influenced by the religion and philosophy flourishing around them. These naturally embody a considerable volume of the thought of the agmic. scholars, because some of the early Agarnas were earlier than these later Upanisads in point of time and the Agamas were much more alive and vibrating with life and activity than the Upanisads, because they dealt with definite and concrete objects, while the others dealt only with abstract concepts. The very fact that some later Upanisads came to be written shows that the followers of the original Upanisads had to take note of agamic thoughts and, to bring them also into a single common fold, adopted the device of writing further Upanisads, to embrace fresh thought on the same subject. The Saiva Upanisads such as Brhadjabala did certainly come into existence a long time after the Agamas.
(b)(i):AGAMAS, VEDIC CULTURE AND UPANISHADS:-
The Agamas claim Vedic authority for their doctrines. The agama doctrines are indeed theistic and such theism is not foreign to the Upanisads. The following agamic passages may be seen to affirm the derivation of the Agamas from the Vedas .‘The siddhanta consists of the essence of the Veda ‘ (Suprabhedagama) ; ‘ ‘This tantra is of the essence of the vedas ‘ ; ‘ This siddhanta knowledge which is the significance of Vedanta is supremely good ‘ (Makuta). It has been suggested that the agamic systems were developed out of the Brahmanas in the same way as the Upanisads, though at a much later stage, and that some of the later Upanisads like the Svetasvatara, which address the Supreme Being by a sectarian title and not as Param Brahman, as of yore, probably grew up under the shadow of the Agamas. The agamic cult which was that of the generality of the people, and the Vedic cult which was that of the priestly classes, officiating for themselves or for others, were both indigenous ; they existed and grew up side by side from the earliest times without any extraneous influence ; the distinction between the two was in no sense racial. The Agamas are deemed to have scriptural authority and are often called the Veda and the Fifth Veda. As a matter of fact, although the Sanskrit Nighantu names the Veda as the Nigama and the Tantra as the Agama, the Veda and the Agama both seem to have been denoted by the common term sruti up to the XI century, after which period the above distinction of Nigama and Agama seems to have been adopted. The agamic (tantric) texts, as we know them today, had for the most part preceded Buddhism and only the agamic cult had been able gradually to swallow up Buddhism on the Indian sub-continent, and ultimately to banish it altogether from the Indian soil ; it was not the Upanisadic philosophy but the agamic cult that was responsible for the supplanting of Buddhism and for the fusion of the salient features into the core of the Hindu religion.
(b)(ii):AGAMA – EMANATION FROM GOD:-
Several explanations have been offered for the term agama. One is that because it emanated from God, it is called the Agama, that which came (from God). Another is that the three letters a-ga-ma respectively denote pati, pasu and pasa (the self, the soul and the bonds) and that the agama deals with all these three entities and their relationship, and hence this name.
(b)(iii):AGAMA – MEANING OF:-
A Sanskrit verse gives an interesting meaning for the three syllables a, ga and ma ;
Agatam siva vaktrebhyah, gatam ca girija mukhe,
Matam ca siva bhaktanam, agamam cheti katyate.
(b)(iv):ORIGIN OF AGAMAS AND THE GROUTH:-
‘The agamas originated from the faces of Siva, fell on the ears of Parasakti and spread in the world as the mata of the Siva bhaktas ‘. The agamas take their name from the first letters of the words agatum (originated), gatam (fell) and matam (religion).
The common noun agama simply means coming or acquisition.
But in the Saiva school, a special root meaning is indicated for the term.
It is given as a-knowledge, ga-liberation and ma-removal of the bonds. The agama came to be called as such, since a study and adherence to its codes liberates the soul from bondage, causes realization of the Supreme, and ultimately confers Eternal Bliss.
Agamas are common to the three prominent schools and they are called Agama in Saivism Samhita in Vaishnavism and Tantra in Saktaism.
The agamas had not been quite popular in North India for the simple reason that they were all written in palm leaf manuscript in the grantha characters which were unknown in the north. Their script was the nagari, However, the Sivagama Paripalana Sangham of Devakottai published some Upagamas in the nagari script. The French Institute of Indology in Pondicherry are now publishing a series of agamas in the nagari script. They have so far published parts of the Ajtha, Raurvava and Mrgendra. Their Matanga is to be released soon. They have been able to secure 23 out of the 28 principal agamas.
The agamas have the -greatest currency in the Tamil Country. The great Prof. S. N. Dassgupta has stated that not a single manuscript of importance is available in’ Banaras, considered the greatest seat of Sanskrit culture. It therefore goes without saying that the Saivagamas have been a rare and special preserve of the Sivacharyas in Tamil Nadu. All temple worship, festivals, installation, consecration etc., are here done according to the agamas. The thousands of temples in this country are standing monuments to the prevalence of the agamic cult from the ages past down to the present day.
Each Agama has a number of subsidiary agamas called Upagamas and their number is 207. Among the Upagamas the Paushkara and the Mrgendra are well known. The principal agamas being with Kamika and end with Vatula. Each agamas has the four parts or padas called Vidya, Kriya, Yoga and Charya. The Vidyapada is the philosophical part while the Kriya pada is the ritualistic part. The other two parts are generally very short. The Kriyapada of the Kamika Agama has been the most well known part in Tamil Nadu. This is one of the largest of the known agamas. It is said to represent the Feet of Siva. Its Kriyapada alone has been printed, in two parts, by the Sivajnanabodha press, in 1901. The total number of verses in it are 12.000, made up as follows : purva5166, Uttara-6477 ; verses lost 357. The term Kamika means ‘ the object desired ‘ ; the term Kamikagama is said to signify ‘the Book which grants the desire do bject to the souls ‘and helps them to final release through severance of bonds’: The Kamika is the agama which is ‘widely in use today. Sivacharyas saythat its authority derives from the fact that it always prescribes the rules very definitely, saying ” this and not that”
The Purva Kamika the first part was published with a Tamil translation done by Visveswara Sastri of Tiruvottiyur. It has four sections dealing with the revelation of the agamas, rules for daily observance and worship, rules for the construction of temples and houses and for performance of rituals and rules for the installation of the deities.
The Kamika published by Shanmugasundara Mudaliar had long been out of print and most of the present generation could never have set its eyes on it. The non-availability of this Kriyapada text was naturally a great handicaps to the earnest archaka who wanted really to study the scripture and follow it in the temple’s rituals. The South Indian Archakar Association through its Secretary Shri C.Swaminatha Sivacharya published in February 1976 the Kriyapada text alone in the nagari script. This no doubt made the text available to Sanskrit scholars but the entire bulk of the Sivacharyas could not use it because they knew only the grantha script. Realising this, the association has now brought out a handsome volume of the Kriyapada, past I, in the grantha script with a complete paraphrase in the Tamil language, chapter by chapter, in about 480pages. The wealth of the information and guidance contained in ‘ this part cannot be brought out in a short introduction. Suffice it to say that an archaka who has not made every line in this book his owndoes not know his job. Archakas hereafter do not have any execuse to say that they do not know any ritual connected with Siva worship. The volume is an encyclopedia which will reward even any Saiva for a careful scrutiny.
After noting the above scholarly note of the 2 great scholars if we enter into the book of Kamikagama, we can find the basis of “Kaamikaadhi Shivagamam at pages 8 to 29 of the bookas the verses at the page Nos. 24to 29 are relevant to the issue in question, they are reproduced below with the explanation given in the book itself:-
(b)(v):ANCIENT LITERATURE IN THE FORM OF VERSES AND MEANING:-
V – (i):My Opinion:-
From the above very old religious verses it is clear that the action or ceremony started as per particular Agama has to be completed only as per that Agama, unless and otherwise an exception is provided to do the same with other Agamas.
Though many things are stated Shiva Vakiya of 4 facets alone may take us to the heaven. The Agamas heard by Saints and Gods were in brief taught to others. Those Agamas have to be chanted only by Adi Saiva Sivachariyargal hereditarily and except them none should do. Even a Brahmin in the absence of Shiva Dhiksha should not chant Saiva Shastras and Agamas and if they do so the King and the Kingdom would get ruined. Hence, the King should stop it. The practices and ceremonies related to Saiva Shastras cannot be done by other Sashtas and if they are done the king and his dynasty will get ruined. In respect of Yamalam, Mathruthandram, Kabalam, Paancharatram, Buddhism, Arhadham, laagulam, vaitheega etc., religious Lingas can be established as per the Agama Sashtras by Adi Saivits. It is made clear that Adi Saivits have got right to do in all religions because of their speciality to deal with the glory of Lord Shiva and others do not have any such right. If any others are permitted to do so the king and his dynasty would get affected.
Thus, it is clear that when a particular sect is meant for doing pujas as per the customary practices for the deities and the temples from time immemorial it is not advisable to introduce any other practice in the name of advancement of civilization, culture and artificial expansion of statutory provisions affecting the rights and interest of the common people and Article 16(5) according to me protects the same. Each and every temple is protected by its own customary practices, Agamas, Vedas and other Ancient Scriptures on the basis of their locality and establishment. In our state there is no prohibition for the women or any other sect of people to set up the temple for their own community and do pujas. Infact, there are thousands of such temples in our state in the villages and cities of our State where exclusively the pujas are being done by either by all or by a particular community other than Brahmins and all the people invariably visit those temples also and worship God without any indifference and problems.
So far in our State there is no indifference among the people on the basis of performance of a puja in the temple. The judgment of the Hon’ble Constitutional Bench in Ram Janma Bhumi Temple case has cleared almost all the issues by observing that the Sanskrit scriptures and books govern the Hindu Religious faith and practice and they can be relied upon.
From the above judgment if we approach the Agamas and Vedas reproduced above then one need not have any doubt that none can claim as matter of right to intrude and invade the religious faith and conscience of the common Hindu people.
VI – TAMIL SCRIPTURES:
At last but not the least, in Sivapuranam written by Manikavachagar, 4th sentence runs as follows:
“ஆகமம் ஆகிநின்று அண்ணிப்பான் தாழ் வாழ்க” which gives a message that Lord Shiva himself is an Agama or is made of Agama.
Verse 2 of Thiruppanjakkara Thiruppathigam third Thirumurai 22nd Thiruppathigam runs as follows:
“மந்திர நான்மறை யாகி வானவர்
சிந்தையுள் நின்றவர் தம்மை யாள்வன
செந்தழ லோம்பிய செம்மை வேதியர்க்
கந்தியுள் மந்திரம் அஞ்செ ழுத்துமே”
(Shiva Peruman himself is of Mantras and 4 Vedas)
The first two lines of Seventh Thirumura 13th Devan Thiruppathiham are as follows:
“மெய்யைமுற் றப்பொடிப் பூசியோர் நம்பி
வேதம்நான் குமவிரித் தோதியோர் நம்பி “
(The 4 Vedas are chanted and explained by Lord Shiva)
The first four lines of verse 7 of 29th Devara Thiruppathigam of 7th Thirumurai:-
“வேதம் ஓதிவெண் ணீறு பூசிவெண்
ஓதம் மேவிய ஓற்றி யூரையும்
உத்திர நீர் மகிழ்வீர்”
(Lord Shiva is Chanting Vedas)
The first line of 20th Panchashara Thirupathigam of 4th Thirumurai :
“சொற்றுணை வேதியன் சோதி வானவன்”
(Lord Shiva is of Vedas)
The first two lines of the 61st Thevara Thirupathigam of 7th Thirumurai are reproduced below:
(Vedas are being explained and chanted).
The first four lines of verse 16 of 8th Thirumuraiyin Thiruvasaga Thirupathigam are reproduced below:
(The meaning of four Vedas is voiced by Lord Shiva)
Above all Thevara Thirupathigam 108 in number of 3rd Thirumurai of Thirugnanasambandar is very very important to prove the incredible and invaluable importance of our Vedas and Agamas, as Sambandhar won in a challenge to safeguard our Religion with the help of Lord Shiva and hence it is reproduced below:
We all know that Saint Viyasar is the source of all Vedas and Hindu religious practices and rituals. In Vishnu Sahasranamam, 4th verse runs as follows:
“வ்யாஸாய விஷ்ணு ரூபாய வ்யாஸ ரூபாய விஷ்ணவே
நமோ வை ப்ரஹ்மநிதயே வாஸிஷ்டாயநமோ நம”
Which means to my knowledge that both Vishnu and Vyasar are one and the same.
VI – (i): MY OPINION:-
Like that there are so many Tamil Thevaram, Thiruvasagam, and Thirumurai texts and verses which describe God made up of Vedas and Agamas, which are not chosen to be given to avoid the length of this report.
I request and expect all concerned that we the theists, a peculiar term available only in our Hindu religion opposite to “Atheist” meant for only our Hindu religion should unite together under the common umbrella to safeguard our religious values, traditions, heritage, and culture of our forefathers followed for more than thousands of years from time immemorial which are the fundamentals of our Nation attracting all other people of other countries to visit our Nation and respect our culture and religious places. This is more needed during this period facing the unpredictable Covid wave.
At last I want to end this by quoting the words of Hon’ble Justice Mr.M.Siddiq at para 809 of Ram Janma Bhumi case:
“…..Matters of faith and belief lie in the personal realm of the believer. That which sustains solace to the soul is inscrutable. Whether a belief is justified lies beyond ken of judicial inquiry. This is not a case where the witness statements indicate that the belief or faith is a veneer or that it is being put forth merely as a strategy in a litigation. Once the witnesses have deposed to the basis of the belief and there is nothing to doubt its genuineness, it is not open to the court to question the basis of the belief. Scriptural interpretations are susceptible to a multitude of inferences. The court would do well not to step into the pulpit by adjudging which, if any, of competing interpretations should be accepted. Faith is a matter for the individual believer. Once the court has intrinsic material to accept that the faith or the belief is genuine and not a pretence, it must defer to the belief of the worshipper. This, we must do well to recognise, applies across the spectrum of religions and their texts, Hinduism and Islam being among them. The value of a secular Constitution lies in a tradition of equal deference.”
VII – CONCLUSION:-
In view of what all are discussed above, my conclusion on the subject is though the appointment is Secular, the appointment is meant for protecting the religious faith of the majority protected under Articles 16(5), 25 and 26 of the Constitution of India and guided by Agamas, Vedas and very old Customary practices recognised even by Sections 105 and 107 of the Tamil Nadu Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Act, 1959 and Rule 12 of the Tamil Nadu Hindu Religious Institutions (Charitable and Servants) Service Rules, 1964. The Secular Act is meant to protect the religious faith of the majority by doing religious practices and rituals as per Vedas and Agamas or Customary Practices. Hence, when there is no bar for anyone to enter into the temples to worship in our State there are limitations on the claim to act as Archakas or Priests, as it depends upon the applicability of Agamas, Vedas, Customary Practices and Sithhandhas followed by each temple from time immemorial. As already stated illustratively one should not forget that there are so many popular temples in our State where other communities and women are doing pujas and taking part in the management also under the supervision of our Government.