Bhattar Brahmaratham and Srirangam J.C. audacity

Date 22.11.2010. Srirangam, Letter No.5. 10/2010.

Dear Sir,
Your attempt to introduce social reforms in the Srirangam Temple is against all ethical norms. You are not a religious leader but only a government servant to control the affairs of the Temple pertaining to the income and expenditure. You have no authority to interfere with the religious practices of this temple and in the name of introducing social reforms you have attempted to defile and desecrate the idol.  Under the provisions of HR &CE Act you and the Board of Trustees have no authority to interfere or modify age old customs.  Further you have not notified in writing your decision to stop Brahmaratham in advance to the person who was due for that honour.
This is against all Principles of Natural justice.  Further you should know that the “Kaisika Brahmaratha Mariyaadhai”  is given to the “Kaisikapurana” Scripture for which the Parasara Bhattar I, Son of Sri Koorthazhvan wrote a commentary.  Just as in ‘Yaanai Vahanam’  the Archaka is holding the idol sitting on the Vahanam and the vahanam is carried by men only , here, in the case of Bhattar’s Brahmaratham on the Kaisika Brahma Ratham Day the Kaisika Mahatmyam which is a part of Varahapurana which is considered holy is held in procession with the Bhattar clad in a special dress.  There he is considered as a Guru and his disciples are to carry him to express their gratitude towards the Guru.  But, unfortunately in the name of social reforms with scant respect for traditions you have sabotaged a long standing custom.with the help of extra constitutional persons who have no faith in God and the rituals. You have really opened a Pandora’s Box.

In the case S. Veerabhatra Chettiyar vs E.V.Ramaswamy Naicker and others in the year 1958 the Supreme Court in its Judgement (1958 AIR 1032, 1959 SCR 1211) has given the following landmark Judgement in the appeal made by the Veerabhatra Chettiyar on the Ganesh Idol breaking case of 1953.
“…….There are no such express words of limitation in S. 295 of the Indian Penal code, and in our opinion, the learned Judge has clearly misdirected himself in importing those words of limitation. Idols are only illustrative of those words. A sacred book, like the Bible, or the Koran, or the Granth Saheb, is clearly within the ambit of those general words. If the courts below were right in their interpretation of the crucial words in S. 295, the burning or otherwise destroying or defiling such sacred books, will not come within the ‘Purview of the penal statute. In our opinion, placing such a restricted interpretation on the words of such general import, is against all established canons of construction. Any object however trivial or destitute of real value in itself, if regarded as sacred by any class of persons would come within the meaning of the penal section. Now is it absolutely necessary that the object, in order to be held sacred should have been actually worshipped. An object may be held sacred by a class of persons without being worshipped by them. It is clear, therefore, that the courts below were rather cynical in so lightly brushing aside the religious susceptibilities of that class of persons to which the complainant claims to belong. The section has been intended to respect the religious susceptibilities of persons of different religious persuasions or creeds. Courts have got to be very circumspect in such matters, and to pay due regard to the feelings and religious emotions of different classes of persons with different beliefs, irrespective of the consideration whether or not they share those beliefs, or whether they are rational or otherwise, in the opinion of the court.
As a result of these considerations, it must be held that the courts below have erred in their interpretation of the crucial words, of S 295 of the Indian Penal code. But the question still remains whether, even after expressing our strong disagreement with the interpretation of the section by the courts below, this Court should direct a further inquiry into the complaint, which has stood dismissed for the last about 5 years. The action complained of against the accused persons, if true, was foolish, to put it mildly. but as the case has become stale, we do not direct further inquiry into this complaint. It there is a recurrence of such a foolish behaviour on the part of any section of the community, we have no doubt that those charged with the duty of maintaining law and order. will apply the law in the sense in which we have interpreted the law.
Your action in stopping Brahmaratham on 18th  November 2010 is an act fit enough to be the termed foolish by Supreme Court. They have also further stated that the law enforcing authorities should take notice of such incidents. You will recall that sometime back complaints were lodged against actress Kushboo at various places for her remarks on chastity. She got relief at the Supreme Court. But unfortunately for you the Supreme Court has already given a ruling that your action comes under the purview of Criminal Procedure act Section 295 and 295A. (Whether the practice is rational or otherwise you cannot interfere). A Criminal Complaint will be lodged against you and the Chairman Board of Trustees by devotees from TamilNadu and all Over India & overseas in the coming days keeping in view the judgement delievered by the Supreme Court as given above.
The contents of Article 25 and 26  of the Indian Constitution was discussed and analysed  in the Seshammal vs. State of Tamil Nadu which had been published in the Madras Law Journal Report (Supreme Court-1973) and the contents are as follows:-
“The contents of articles. 25 and 26 of the Constitution came up for consideration before this Court in the Commissioner, Hindu Religious Endowments, Madras vs. Sri Lakshmindra Thirtha Swamiar of Sri Shirur Matt, Manapat Jagannath Ramanuj Das v. The State of Orissa, Sri Venkatamona Devaru v. The State of Mysore, Durgah Committee, Ajmer v. Syed Hussain Ali, and several other cases and the main principles underlying these provisions have by these decisions been placed beyond controversy.  The first is that the protection of these Articles is not limited to matters of doctrine or belief;  they extend also to acts done in pursuance of religion and therefore contain a guarantee for rituals and observances, ceremonies and modes of worship which are integral parts of religion.  The second is that what constitutes an essential part of a religion or religious practice has to be decided by the Courts with reference to the doctrine of a particular religion and includes practices which are regarded by the community as part of its religion.”
The learned judges have further stated that the Board of Trustees have to follow the provisions of 28/1 of the HR & CE Act 1959.
“In a Saivite or a Vaishnavite temple the appointment of the Archaka will have to be made from a specified denomination, sect or group, in accordance with the directions of the Agamas governing these Legislative temples.  Failure to do so would not only be contrary to section 28(1) which requires the trustee to follow the usage of the temple, but would also interfere with a religious practice the inevitable result of which would be to defile the image………………………………..will be bound to follow the hereditary principle as a usage peculiar to the temple.”
Under the pretext of social reform you can not introduce or modify the age old customs.  The Board of Trustees is not a law making body.  You can modify such customs only through a law enacted by the Legislative assembly or Parliament.  Further, you have not made public the resolution of the Board of Trustees as it affected the age old customs and traditions.  The Supreme Court had ruled out that (The Seshammal v. State of Tamil Nadu Case) “ the 1972 Act 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.”
You have not followed the principles of Natural Justice.  You had sent out a letter (No. 4555/1420/T1 dt. 20/9/2010) to the descendants of Vedavyasa Bhattar and Parasara Bhattar and Arayars stating that men should not carry man inside the temple precincts which is equivalent to hand rickshaw pulling (This is an odd comparison. Carrying and paying respect to an Acharya as ordained by Lord by the sishyas of the Acharya can not be compared to hand rickshaw pulling where he earns his livelihood.  You can not afford to wound the feelings of the devotees resorting to such unethical acts, since you are the guardian of the Lord).
The aggrieved Bhattars and Arayars had given the reply on 7-10-2010 but you have not intimated your stand on Brahmaratham. All the while when ever they met and represented orally their case to you and the Chairman CBT, you were telling them that Board of Trustees have not taken any final decision and no resolution was passed but you have produced the resolution in the court. By any standard the administrator of the Temple should intimate the aggrieved parties the official decisions taken by you, under the principles of natural justice.
If there should not be any discrimanation before the Lord in the name of Gender, Caste or Creed, Language then why certain people are given Honours when the Lord is in procession in preference to others.  When the collector comes to the temple why is a Dawali Servant accompanying him?  Why the Maniyar prostrates before the Stalattars?  one can ask thousands of such questions like this which you will not be able to answer properly.  In the name of social reforms you may like to change all these customs.  But you cannot do so.  Finally you will have to come with an answer that they are all, long standing customs and traditions bound by a court judgements etc..  Why have you not implemented till date the provisions of Rule 106 of the HR & CE Act, pertaining to the distribution of Theertham, Turmeric Powder, Kunkumam and cooked food (Prasadam) to women alongwith men without any discrimination.  Even though I had raised this question earlier under RTI you have not replied properly.  Before attempting to bring changes in the customs and traditions  like denial of Brahmaratham you better introduce changes in the temple in accordance with the provisions of HR & CE Act.
It is obvious that you have taken the support of the Atheist Parties who do not believe in God and Temple rituals and claim to have achieved victory which is false and ‘foolish’ in the eyes of Law.  You are bound to answer my queries in a court of Law soon.Your bone of contention in denying the Brahmaratham is that Men Should Not Carry Man inside the temple precincts.  But in replying to my RTI Query No. 10 vide your letter dt. 1900-1420-T1 dt. 17/11/2010  that there is no intention to stop the practice of carrying the persons dressed as Thirumangai Azhwar by another man inside the temple on the 8th Day of Raappaththu, as it is not called Brahmaratham. First of all, nobody calls this the event as Brahmaratham.  But your logic is irrational and wrong. You have denied Brahmaratham to Bhattar citing the social thinking that man should not be carried by men. If that is the basic underlying principle to deny an age old custom arbitrarily, what prevents you from preventing the act of “Man carried by Men” and that too inside the temple precincts on the 8th day of Rappaththu.  If you abolish one custom, based on a certain principles, whether right or wrong, are you not to apply the same principle to all the customs and traditions which you consider against social thinking inside the temple.  If it is not so I have to consider that you have double standards in the administration of this great temple which makes you unworthy to occupy the post of an Executive Officer who is supposed to be unbiased and who should respect the age old customs. ***

Garland of unusual tales
Zakir Hussain’s thematic ‘Sri Ranga Nayakam’ was backed by in-depth study and sincere approach in execution.
Recurring sounds of the temple bells and the conch during Bharatanatyam dancer Zakir Hussain’s latest solo production, ‘Sri Ranga Nayakam-The Heritage,’ kept the rasika within the Sri Ranganathaswamy temple in Srirangam all evening. The focus of the show organised by Brahma Gana Sabha, was in fact, the temple and its sthala purana, including the myths and facts about the deity and the devotees.
The temple sounds and the stories amounted to a narrative-heavy presentation that was only punctuated by occasional nritta sequences. Yet, it was an absorbing show thanks to the unusual stories and the involved characterisation. Zakir, a former student of Chitra Visweswaran, has carved a niche for himself as a researcher with particular interest in Sri Vaishnavism.
For the past few years, he has chosen various themes around the subject such as the Agama Sastras, the philosopher Ramanuja and others. This time too, the 75-minute solo production was backed by in-depth study.
The opening talamalika Thodayamangalam was a tailor-made dedication to the deity and the Cauvery river, with verses taken from the Divya Prabandam — Periazhwar’s ‘Thiru Pallandu’ verse, Thondaradippodi Azhwar’s ‘Gangai Neer’ verse and Nammazhwar’s ‘Oraa Yirammay Ulakezalikkum.’ Absorbing anecdotes Incidents regarding the sthalapurana such as the story of how Rama gifted the ‘kula deva’ to Vibhishana with instructions not to place it on the ground and how Vibhishana had to leave it behind finally in Srirangam, the story of the dasi who sacrificed her life from the Vellai Gopuram to protect Sri Ranganatha and the blind, 90-year old washerman who was able to identify the original utsava moorthy (Namperumal) by the taste of the abhisheka theertham, were some uncommon tales that the dancer wove together in the presentation.
By Zakir’s admission, he used the ‘Srirangam’ version of the Andal story as against the Srivilliputhur version that declares that Andal merged with Ranganatha en route to Srirangam. The closing scene of ‘Sri Vaishnava Koil Oonjal’ composed by Pillai Perumal Iyengar (Anandabhairavi) was an unusual composition brought into the repertoire.
Zakir’s strength is his simplicity. His mime is clear and uncluttered and reflects his sensitivity, while his nritta is painstaking. There are no frills here, only sincerity. But Zakir can cut down on his glittering aharya and improve his footwork timing to give his best. ‘Sri Ranga Nayakam’ was a coming together of good quality bhava-laden music (Gomathi Nayagam), fine scripting (Revathy Sankkaran), scholarly guidance (Krish namachariar) and well-visualised episodes. The other members of the orchestra were equal contributors: Lakshmi Venkatesh (nattuvangam), Sikkil Balasub ramaniam (violin), Nataraj (flute), Mayavaram Viswanath (mridangam) and Parthasarathy (special effects).                                      ***
In the Srirangam Temple, at many places there are drinking water taps have been provided. I would like to have the following details.
1. How many water storage tanks are inside the temple precicnts.
2. How many wells are there inside the Temple premises starting from Agalangan thiruveedhi to Dharmavarma Prakaram?
3. Of these wells how many are in use and how many are in disuse?
4. If it is in disuse what are the reasons?
5. Has any attempt been made to clean those wells to preserve them ?
6. How many overhead storage tanks are there in the temple.?
7. Are these tanks cleaned properly and periodically?
8. Under whose supervision these tanks are cleaned?
9. Are the dates of cleaning with due date for next cleaning notified to the worshipping public thru proper sign boards.
10. Do you have any records kept for the same?  Can I go through the records?
11. If there are multiple storage tanks, is the water tested and certified fit for human consumption?  Is any record maintained for such tests?  If so I wish to inspect those records.
12. At what intervals the water is tested and in which lab it is tested?
13. Are the pilgrims provided with proper tumblers at various points for safe drinking water to avoid contamination, consume water without wastage and due protection?
14. Have you ever ascertained the quantum of water needed and formulates plans to augument the supply to meet the requirements in the years to come?
15. Is the water used in the Madaippalli (Kitchen) periodically tested ? How many electric motors are in use inside the entire temple premises like various madaippallis,Vasantha mandapam,sub temples etc., Are they maintained periodi cally?Are all safety norms observed?  what are the capacities of the various motors in use inside the temple premises ?
16.Is LPG used anywhere inside the temple premises sub Temples?
17.Are the electrical equipments like tubelight fittings/switchboards checked periodically to avoid any untoward incident ? Is there a maintenance schedule? please provide details. Is safety audit conducted?
18.There is a huge neon sign Thenkalai Thirumann on the Rajagopuram.On several days it is found not lit (that is not glowing ) Are you maintaining a log book regarding its switching on/ off timings and records to show whether it was glowing on a particular night or not ?
The Srirangam Temple occupies a wide area .There are many sub temples inside and outside the saptha prakarams.I would like to get clarifications for the following questions under the provisions of RTI act.
1.How many sub temples are there under the control of the Devasthanam?  What are the names of the temples and where are they situated.?
2.Who carries out the poojas?  Are they all appointed by Devasthanam or are they Hereditary?  Are they all qualified persons?  What is the criteria? Why Sripatham thangis  are in charge of Sub temples?
3.What are the darshan timings in these sub temples.Is there any public notification of the same. If not why?
4.Where is the Nampillai Sannithi of Srirangam Sri Ranganathaswamty Devasthanam ?Is it open for darshan to public.Are the darshan timings for the same notified to the public? Who is incharge of the temple?
5. Various thirunakshathrams and other festivals are conducted in these sub temples.  But the dates on which they are conducted, duration of the festivals, timings of the recitation of Divya Prabandam is not published.What action have you taken to notify the timings to the general public?  There is no notification of except timings few sannithis inside the premises about the timings.
6. Are there any arrangements to notify all these timings and dates at the information counter in Rangavilas Mandapam?
7. A co-ordinator has to be named from whom information can be elicited and his name with designation is to be intimated to the general public by a notification?
8. What is the monthly allowance (Dasthik allowance) given to sub-temple (Namely the quantum of Rice,jaggery,sandal paste and other articles essential for pooja) and cash?
9. Who  determined this quantum. Are there any guide lines? Who is the authority to approve this quantity and Cash allowance?
10. Has any study been conducted to improve the economic conditions of the sub temples.?
11. Are any Sradhham(Annual Death Ceremony), Yagnas, Homams performed inside the temple?What mechanism is there to monitor and prevent the performance of such ceremonies forbidden inside the temple premises.Has any action been taken against the wrongdoers ?