Review Remuneration of Archakas (Priests) in Hindu Temples at Tamil Nadu

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Started by: Prasanna R 

Authored by:  Abhishek, Vidhya & Srivatsan Kasturi

  

What is this appeal all about?
There are more than 30,000 Hindu temples (Saiva & Vaishnava) in Tamil Nadu.  It was brought to our notice that, most of the temple priests / Archakas are getting their salaries in 3 digit numbers in INR every month.(ex. Rs 750 per month ~ USD 10.5 per month).  

It is said that it is only due to the archaka (Priest) the deity form is filled with the potency of God. Needless to say the opposite that if there is no priest there is no God. Not everyone is blessed with the skills and capability to install and maintain the potency of God. This duty has been handed to the blessed priests in temples. Let us support them to our best ability.


Our Archakas or priests of today live by principles laid out to them, and perform duties to the supreme lord with love and care. They are often resigned to living a life of extreme austerity regardless of what the future looks like and hence live by meagrely wages that is not sufficient even for 3 full meals a day despite rendering service to the lord whose temples are taken over by the government. Though they are government workers – they get an unfairly low sum as wages around Rs.750 a month – a far cry from a decent standard of living needed in today’s economic conditions.

Due to such a low salary, most of the temples in remote areas are manned by one person, the priest, who takes care of the temple’s upkeep besides performing puja. Thus, the current payment restriction doesn't seem to consider the amount of effort and man power required to maintain the temple. The Pension paid for the priest needs revision too.

“Currently, the priests are placed at par with sweepers and are below drivers in designation. This is totally unfair. Priests have to learn the Vedas for at least seven years and train in sastras for three years. The position of priests must be much higher and salary fixed accordingly,” – Reference from The Hindu.

Tamil Nadu has seen such eminent personalities such as Shankracharya and Ramanujacharya- two towering masters of Vedantic philosophy. It was widely known to propagate academic research and education in Vedas, Upanishads and the rich god centric tradition that Archakas and future Archakas engaged in.  However, today atheistic elements have blatantly shaped this in such a way as to force the people out to other high paying jobs or to abandon Dharmic – Vedantic studies to push the ancient knowledge into permanent darkness. Such nefarious are the policies enacted for so many years that – economically depriving Archakas only to feed the so called fake religious leaders was intended to this -  A systematic ethnic cleansing of Hindus to feed atheistic elements that claim to form a ‘secular’ state.

I sincerely call upon one and all to consider this and help us support the Archakas to have a better standard of life by obtaining and exercising their moral right to decent wages (at least Rs. 30,000 per month) so as to continue their highest standards of living and to propagate vedic studies to the future generations.


Why do we need to support this cause?


AhAra-nidrA-bhaya-maithunam ca, samAnam etat pashubhir narANAm |

dharmam hi teShAm adhiko visheSho, dharmeNa hInAH pashubhiH samAnAH||


Food, sleep, fear and procreation are common to both humans and animals. Dharma (right conduct) is the only special aspect that stands out as a difference between a human and animal, and without dharma, a human is like an animal.


A human being has five responsibilities (panca maha yagya):

  • Duty towards gaining knowledge and those who give the knowledge
  • Duty towards gods
  • Duty towards ancestors
  • Duty towards fellow humans
  • Duty towards environment, plants and animals

Of the five duties above, this work ticks all the 5 boxes in its capacity and more importantly – duty towards our fellow humans. It is not just the priests who will find this petition useful but all the small business around the temples who come from different family backgrounds will also find a buzzing temple with people useful. In order for a temple to be buzzing, money needs to pour in as salaries and then for all support work to maintain the temple. Hence we implore you to support our cause; as well as such great thoughts will be lost if the core foundation of Hinduism is not taken care of. Temples are the source of joy for all in India. Millions of people visit temples as part of tourism, vacation and trips. Temples are the basis of our living.

Our culture and its symbol teaches us to perform Dharma – Good conduct as laid by our ancestors, who always only wish for benefit of all and us.

 

Ayam nijah paro veti gananaa laghuchetasam

Udaar charitaanam to vasudhaiwa kutumbakam.


Only narrow minded persons will have two different views towards matters relating to themselves and others, whereas, for the noble man and broad minded persons the entire world is like their own family.  Hence when someone suffers at the other end of the world, the noble man wants to take action within his ability, to prevent the suffering. Thus Hinduism is by its innate nature is intended for the welfare of all (innately secular). A decline of Hinduism in India can also be seen as a decline in secularism.


codaṇā-lakṣaṇaḥ arthaḥ dharmaḥ - Dharma is that which leads to the highest common good (śreyas).

o   Protecting our temples is the highest common good for all, because of our innate secular and social views.

dharmo rakShati rakShitaH |   - Virtue will protect one who protects It.
o    Hence please protect the Dharma and be protected yourself. Do this for your own and your family sake.

dhāraṇād dharma ityāhuḥ dharmo dhārayate prajāḥ | ya syād dhāraṇa samyuktaḥ sa dharma iti niścayaḥ ||   - The word Dharma is derived from dhāraṇa or sustenance; dharma sustains society. That which has the capacity to sustain is indeed dharma. (M.B. Karna Parva 69:58)
o   Do the temples remind us of our ethical, moral and right living? Yes, and hence temples sustain Dharma. Hence, please support the priests who maintain the gods in temples.

ahiṃsa satyam akrodho dānam etac caturvidham |  ajātaśatro sevasva eṣa dharma sanātanaḥ || - O Ajatasatru! Sanatana Dharma consists of four moral virtues; non-violence to any sentient being, truth, absence of anger and generosity — these should you practice.
o   Do the temples remind us of all the above? Yes again! Hence please sign the petition.

satyam damas tapaḥ śaucaṁ santoṣaśca kṣamārjavam | jñānaṁ śamo dānaṁ eṣā dharmaḥ sanātana || - Sanatana Dharma consists of truth, discipline, austerity, purity, contentment, forgiveness and honesty, knowledge, peacefulness and generosity. (Garuḍa Purāṇa 1:213:24)
o   Don’t the temples remind us of such qualities one must develop? Yes!, Hence, please support the increment of pay to the priests who are the foundation for the presence of the temples!

ahiṃsā satya-vacanaṃ dayā bhūtesv anugrahaḥ |  yasyaitāni sadā rāma tasya tuṣyati keśavaḥ || - Rama! Krishna is pleased with one who is ever endowed with non-violence, truthfulness, compassion and kindness to all creatures. (Viṣṇu-dharmottara 1:58)
o   Although it says here as Keshava, all gods are pleased with one who displays the qualities described above and the temples being our symbols to remind us of these good qualities are the source of sustenance of Dharma (ethical, moral and right living). We implore you to support the priests who are the symbols of the symbols!

eṣa ādeśah | eṣa upadeśaḥ | eṣā vedopaniṣat | etad-anuśāsanam | evam-upāsitavyam | evamucaitad-upāsyam ||  - This is the command. This is the teaching. This is the secret wisdom of the Vedas. This is the commandment. This you should observe. This alone should be observed.
o   The priests do not discriminate anyone and take offerings from anyone and everyone for the Lord of the temple.

Hence, please do not discriminate against them and freely sign this petition for the benefit of all, and may you and your family be blessed with great Heros (both girls and boys).


LokAsamasthA sukino bhavantu - May all being in the entire universe be well

 

 



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