Panchajanya 2011 Editorial – English Portion

Illegal, arbitrary, unreasonable action of
the Joint Commissioner and the Board
of Trustees of Srirangam Temple.
Customs and Traditions are part and parcel of Temple worship. Faith is the root for almost everything in life. Srivaishnavism insists on implicit faith, on God and the words of the preceptors. The administration of Srirangam Temple was in the hands of Sri Ramanuja who introduced various reforms in the Temple administration during the 12th Century. All these administrative reforms were in vogue till the year 1802.
Administration of the Srirangam Temple was taken over by the East India company in the year 1803.A.D. and Mr. Wallace the then collector of Trichy district took over the administration of the Temple. In the year 1890 there was an objection by Vadakalaiyars who gave a petition to the collector stating that the Brahmaratha Mariyathai given to the descendants of the Bhattar and Arayar are not according to tradition. However the then Collector did not accept their contention and documented who were all eligible for this Brahmaratha mariyathai – the highest honour bestowed upon an individual by Lord Himself by ordering him to be taken to his house on the Palanquin where he is taken on procession by those people who carry Him – vide the judgements given on 10th January 1890 and 22nd November 1890.
This is a tradition continued in this Temple for more than 800 years on the Kaisikapuranam day and more than 1200 years incase of Vedaparayana Brahmaratham and  Arayar Sevai. The Brahmaratha Mariyathai was given all these years i.e., upto the year 2009 without any interuption to the persons who were eligible for that mariyathai.
With the takeover of the Temples by the Government they started slowly interfering with the religious activities.  People who do not have faith in God and Temple rituals are today occupying important posts and the Chief Minister of  Tamilnadu himself is a sworn atheist.  Under his regime more and more injustice is done to Hindu Temples and Hindus. Among the Hindus there is no unity. We never voice our concerns when injustice is done to Hindus and their customs. Principles of natural justice are not followed. The law of the land is more disobeyed than respected.
The stoppage of Brahmaratham on 18.11.2010, 26.12.2010 and 27.12.2010 respectively to Vedavyasa Bhattar, Parasara Bhattar and the Arayars was Illegal, arbitrary, and unreasonable. A letter was sent by the J.C./ E.O. to the affected parties on 20-9-2010, seeking the views on the stoppage of the Brahmaratham. Arayars and Bhattars gave their reply collectively on 7-10-2010. In the meanwhile on 27-9-2010 a resolution was passed in the Trust Board meeting “that the Brahmaratha Mariyathai is to be stopped within the precincts of the Temple effective this year” (2010).
There was a news item in the Dinakaran Tamil Daily 15-10-2010 that the Brahmaratha Mariyathai would be stopped based on a Trust Board resolution, which was refuted by the Chairman Thiyagarajan in a T.V. interview. He thus uttered a lie just to hoodwink people. He tried to create an  impression as if he was a pious person interested in keeping the age old traditions of the Temple.
However the Devasthanam authorities never bothered to give a proper reply to the affected parties, who gave their representation on 17-10-2010. Even a copy of the Board resolution was not given to the affected parties i.e;  but was given along with the documents in the High Court when the writ petition filed by Vedavyasa Bhattar came up for hearing on 15th November, 2010. In the meanwhile the  J.C. forwarded the resolution of the Board to the Commission H.R.&.C.E. on 29-9-2010 seeking his permisson. I asked for the reply of the Commissioner through R.T.I. on 6-12-2010. I received a reply from the H.R.&.C.E.Commissioner office on 10.12.2010 stating that the Commissioner did not give any permission to the J.C. to stop the Brahmaratha Mariyathai. This goes to prove that the J.C. had acted on 18.11.2010 without any authority and had also disobeyed the orders of his superiors. The Temple rituals are conducted according to the whims and fancies of the J.C. which is highly condemnable and despicable.
The employees union of the Rangathaswamy Devasthanam passed a resolution on  23-10-2010 stating that under the social principle of Men/ Man should not carry another Man they would not carry the Brahmaratham in the coming the  days. (Obviously this was schemed by the officials.) In the meanwhile one of the affected parties namely Veda Vyasa Bhattar, filed a writ in the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court coupled with some other family issues in performing Kainkarya. The Judgement was not delievered till 17th     November.
The atheist parties joined together and they waged a wall poster war wherein they ridiculed brahmin community, and theratened that the tuft and the sacred thread of the brahmins would be cut, on 18.11.2010 and that VedaVyasa Bhattar should be arrested under the Goondas act and so on. Nobody in this Temple town was bothered about this and everyone was more interested in protecting their self image, glory, commercial interests etc.
The Madurai Bench of the High Court gave the Judgement one day after the Brahmaratham i.e., on 19-11-2010, directing the peti tioner to go to the Commissioner & seek relief under section 63 E of the H.R.&.C.E. Act. Various judgments of Supreme Court had clearly stated that under the H.R.&.C.E. Act 0f 1959 clause 28 and 105 the Board of Trustees have no power to interfere with the long standing customs and traditions.
Before passing the resolution on 27.9.2010, proper procedure was not followed and the same was passed unilaterally without consulting anybody without any reasons mentioned for taking such a decision.  The resolution was passed to fulfil the whims and fancies of the board members keeping aside the sentiments of the devotees.
Several devotees expressed their anguish and dismay at the hasty and unnecessary resolution dt. 27.9.2010  which is not supported by religious or spiritual values or sentiments, but it was a commercialized and propagandized exercise.
The resolution is illegal, unjustified, violative and ultra vires to the Fundamental Rights under Article 25 of the Constitution and under the provisions of Tamilnadu Act of 1959. None of the letters written by the Editor were replied by the Joint Commissioner Srirangam Temple on this account sofar.
The Commissioner and the Executive Officer should preserve the sanctity of the Temple at all times.
The resolution dt 27.9.2010 cannot be termed as an emergency matter and it is an arbitrary and unjust resolution passed illegally. Further, the resolution is unconstitutional since it is in violation of the fundamental rights given under Article 25 of the Constitution, which mandates that take over of the temples shall only be for the management of the properties and secular and religious aspects cannot be touched.
The policy decisions should be with regard to transportation, accommodation, catering, water supply, orderly darshan for worship, safety to person and property and such other matters of policy of general superintendence and review in relation to the administration of the Srirangam Devasthanam, having regard to public interest. Therefore, it cannot be out right in as much as Article 25 of the Constitution of India is very specific that take over of the temple shall be only for maintenance of the property, administration and security aspects of the temple, but the religious aspects cannot be considered.
Therefore, the resolution is arbitrary because it lacks statutory sanction, in asmuch as for the proposal there is no statutory sanction anywhere in the Rule or in the Act for passing such a resolution. Denial of Brahmaratham attracts provisions of Section 295 of the I.P.C. applies in regard to the situation like this.
Srirangam Temple is not an ordinary Temple, it is a world famous Temple, wherein age old customs and practices are in vogue. Therefore, the Board has exceeded its powers by passing such a resolution.  The resolution is unconstitutional and it interferes with the freedom of religion. It is completely outside the secular activity for which the Board is empowered. The Board has no right whatsoever to interfere with the religious practice.
The Board of Trustees do not have any power or right to make any permanent changes into the religious practices of the temple. It is arbitrary. Third part of Article 25 not only guarantees freedom as far as religion is concerned, but also to freely profess, practice and propagate religion and regulate or restrict any economic function, political or secular activity which may be associated with the religious practice. The resolution does not disclose any discussions or participations by members.  Apparently, it is a hurried through decision.  Such an important decision could not have been taken either in haste or without a proper peep into its pros and cons.
Any Social change comtemplated cannot be implemented by  a mere resolution of the Board of Trustees, as it is not a law making body. If the state has got power it has to bring a bill in the legislative assembly after examination by a select committee and notify in a gazette. Until then no change in the existing customs and traditions  can be brought in.
Offering of Brahmaratham is as per the long standing custom and tradition. The significance of such a tradition cannot be understood by officials and Trustees who are political appointees. Their order to stop the Brahmara tham has to be taken as an interference in managing the religious offers which are the exclusive right of the worshippers.
Even though Sri Parasara Thiruvenkata Bhattar and others approched the minister Sri. Jagat Rakshagan through the good offices of Sri. Velukkudi Krishnan to get a fair deal nothing materialised. With the help of Sri T.C.A. Srinivasan Advocate, a representation was made to the Commissioner on 21.12.2010, but no action was taken by him to give a stay on the resolution of the Board of Trustees on 27.9.2010.
People who have no faith in God and Temple rituals became more active by waging a poster war. They ridiculed the brahmins, their customs and hailed the action of the Joint commissioner in denying the Brahmaratham as a historic one.  It is a pity that a few Srivaishnavites colluded with the Joint Commissioner and derived sadistic plassure out of these events. By denying Brahmaratham and executing an illegal resolution the Joint Commissioner has opened a Pandora’s Box.
At Thirukkurungudi the Siva idol was removed in the year 2004, and a criminal complaint was lodged with Thirukkurungudi police on 5.4.2005. After 6 years of legal battle we won the case and strictures were passed by the honourable judge Ms. Mala in her judgement dt. 29.11.2010. The denial of Brahmaratham at Srirangam is akin to the Tirukkurungudi Pakkam Nindrar case. The resolution of the Board dt 27.9.2010 is equivalent to the demolition of the Pakkam Nindrar Sannidhi in the year 2004. Like the police complaint given in the year 2005 a criminal complaint against Jayaraman the Joint Commissioner, P.K.Thiyagarajan, The Chairman Board of Trustees and other members of Trust board by name. Eventhough we will not get immediate justice on these matters i.e., quashing the resolution of 29.9.2010 and initiation of criminial proceedings against those who committed the crime we have to fight it out and wait for some years when definitely we would achieve success.