Parts 1 to 4 of this series can be accessed here. This is Part 5.
No Superannuation – The HC observes:
- Importantly, it is not mentioned in sub-Section (3) of Section 34 that there would be an age of superannuation of such erstwhile MirasiArchakas who would be continued with the right of Archakatvam.
- It was not as if the legislature could not have fixed such age of superannuation if it intended to do so. The HC states this is also a deliberate omission by the legislature which intended not to fix any age of superannuation to persons who are continued pursuant to sub-Section (3) of Section 34 like members of the petitioners’ families (MirasiArchakas)
In fact in its order dated Feb 19, 2013, the Supreme Court, while dismissing some of the Review petitions filed seeking review of the decision (Mirasi abolishment) in A.S.Narayana Deekshitulu stated that the making of amendments to Sec.34 by introducing sub-section (3) to Sec.34 and adding the second proviso to Sec.144 had restored the status of Archakas as was obtained prior to the enactment of Act 30 of 1987
The SC on the need to preserve the customs:
“The Supreme Court appreciated the need to preserve the customs and usage with a view to protect the sanctity of religious rituals in its judgment in I.A.No.7 in WP.(C).No.638 of 1987 and I.A.No.3 in Tr.C.No.170 of 1987; that a Committee recommended that as and when the present incumbent in the religious staff retires or demits the office or otherwise, the person in their family should be considered on priority basis for filling of that post or allowing him to do service to preserve the custom and usage taking into consideration suitably in rendering services apart from the qualifications required; the government has accepted the recommendation with the main concern to preserve the customs and usage with a view to protect the sanctity of the religious rituals; and so, to remedy the situation, the government intended to amend the Act in order to revive the village temple system, preserve the sanctity of traditional rituals, customs and usage and provide livelihood to the Archaka families; and amendments to Section 34 and 144 are intended to achieve the said purpose.”
The proceedings ROC.No.TS3/28151/AEO(G)/1987 dated Feb 10, 2006, appointing the MirasiArchakas as Sambhavanabasis in Sri Padmavathi Ammavari Temple, Tiruchanur makes no reference to any age of superannuation. The HC comes down heavily on this as: “This omission is also, in my opinion, a deliberate omission.”
The HC says clearly that as per Sec.153 of Act 30/1987, TTD has no power to make rules, the power is vested with the State Government. Therefore, TTD cannot apply the age of superannuation applicable to its other employees to the MirasiArchakas.
The HC records that:
“The TTD ought to have taken note of the fact that the State Government as well as the Supreme Court have time and again treated hereditary Archakas as a special category entitled to special benefits (not on par with other employees of the TTD) notwithstanding the abolition of hereditary rights with a view to preserve customs and usage and sanctity of religious rituals handed to the present generation of Archakas from their ancestors from generation to generation and ensure that traditional temple rituals are performed strictly as per the particular Sastra governing the temple. Justice M.S.Ramachandra Rao states: In my considered opinion, the Trust Board of the TTD did not keep in mind the above relevant factors in mind and erroneously came to the conclusion that rules applicable to other employees of TTD including the age of superannuation automatically apply to the petitioners (MirasiArchakas) as well.”
TTD Board itself resolved that Archakas are NOT employees:
Let us examine another document where TTD itself passes a Board Resolution No:02 dated Jul 17, 2010. This resolution does not say that the age of superannuation for TTD employees applies to Archakas and accepts that they are not “employees.” (Copy attached)
- It records that there are 60 persons from four families of erstwhile MirasiArchakas and who are qualified to do Archakatvam under Sec 34.
- It was decided to accept them as having the right to hereditary Archakatvam subject to qualifying in terms of knowledge of rituals to be examined by competent authority to be set up by the TTD.
- Other persons, from such families, as and when they attain the age of 16 can make claims with the TTD for recognizing their hereditary rights which will be duly recognized by the TTD.
- Board resolves that the PradhanaArchaka (Hereditary Archaka) would get a remuneration of Rs.55000/month while other Archakas from the traditional hereditary families would get Rs.30,000/month.
- The Board resolved “However, no separate scheme would be provided and amounts would be credited to their accounts from TTD itself as is being done now and there will be no employer-employee relationship as they are not recognized as employees and no scales of pay have been made applicable to them.”
When the Board has resolved that there is no employer-employee relationship between the MirasiArchakas and the TTD, under what authority does the TTD retire them? How can the service rules be applicable to them?
This is exactly where the fraud on MirasiArchakas played by TTD becomes evident:
- Clubbing the erstwhile MirasiArchakas with other non-hereditary employee Archakas and Potu workers and terming them as Religious Staff.
- Applying Service rules to MirasiArchakas when HC itself has stated that the rules are NOT applicable to the Hereditary Archakas.
- Appointing the very pliant ArchakaGumasthas as Archakas and taking them under TTD payroll thus causing rift inside the Garbhagruham.
- Citing old/outdated/struck down/impugned G.Os to support their illegal retirement of all the MirasiArchakas.
- Going against both the SC and HC orders.
- The Archakas have filed a contempt of court petition in the High Court of AP & Telangana during February 2019.
This is yet to see the light of the day.
TTD has already set its eye on control of GarbhaGruham and how!:
Only those Archakas who had the Padaseva, which is the initiation ritual, have the right to touch the Salagrama Sri Venkateshwara Vigraham, perform the rituals, Sevas, Tirumanjanam (Abhishekam), Nithya Aradhana and decorate the jewellery and Vastram on the Bhagawan. The Mandir follows the Puja vidhanam as set by Bhagawad Ramanuja and in accordance with the Vaikanasa Agama. The ArchakaGumasthas can assist in rituals. The tradition and culture have been preserved for 40 generations now by the four families of MirasiArchakas. While illegally retiring the PradhanaArchakas and or the Hereditary MirasiArchakas, TTD made entry inside the GarbhaGruha through a pliant Vaidika.
In the Board Resolution No 2 of Jul 17, 2010, one Sri N.A.K.Sundaravardhan, (who primarily is an Agama advisor and NOT an Archaka) is termed as a SambhavanaArchaka (He is not a MirasiArchaka from the 4 Mirasi families) was proposed to be treated on par with the PradhanaArchaka and in view of his erudition and thorough knowledge of rituals pay him Rs.55,000/month. The beginning of an outsider treated on par with the PradhanaArchaka inside the GarbhaGruham of Balaji Mandir was set in motion and continued with the illegal retirement of Sriman Dr. Ramana Dikshitulu and others at a later date. He permitted himself into the Garbha Gruham and will be present each day during Naivedyam in the Morning. But what happened subsequent to this was the enforced Apacharam by the secular TTD Administration and the Endowment Department of A.P. I am giving two examples of the direct interference in the Archaka’s religious matters by the TTD administration and the government. Who are they to decide which Archaka would do which Utsavam or Kainkaryam? The following happened in 2014 & 2015.
Alleged Apacharams during Pavitrotsavam of 2015 & an Utsavam of 2016 – The aftermath
For mistakes made knowingly or unknowingly during daily rituals, a three-day Prayaschit is performed in the mandir annually called Pavitrotsavam. The Archakas might commit mistakes, knowingly or unknowingly during their daily rituals. In order to do Prayaschit for such mistakes, a three-day annual Pavitrotsavam ritual is performed in the mandir. In this very ritual of seeking Prayaschit, an Apacharam was allegedly committed knowingly in both the years. The Archaka performing the Pavitrotsavam undergoes a ritual of Kankanadharana making him eligible for Kankanabhattar Kainkaryam for Ankurarpanam. A sacred thread is tied to the right wrist giving him the eligibility to perform the Utsavams. In 2014, the TTD administration decided that Sriman Sundaravardan will undertake the Ankurarpanam and perform the Pavithrotsavam. Just days before the Utsavam, his first cousin’s son passed away somewhere in North Arcot District. This Mrutha Soucham prohibits his entry into Mandir for 13 days. The secular administrators reasoned out with him that the brother’s son was given away in adoption so there is no Mrutha Soucham (actually, the talk prevalent then was that son moved away from the family). And insisted he perform the Pavitrotsavam, as there was no time to officially permit another person. Remember, he is Agama Pandit and NOT an Archaka of the Devasthanams. The idea was to prevent a MirasiArchaka from performing this. This is how secular administration interferes in religious matters. Poor man fearing the loss of his position and revenue agreed. Who said scholars can’t be greedy? He went ahead with Kankanabattar Kainkaryam and performed the Pavitrotsavam. (The TTD had seized this right to worship away from the MirasiArchakas).
The Administration also passed proceedings in favour of his performance of Srivari Salakatla Pavitrotsavam, Salakatla Bramhotsavam and Navarathri Bramhotsavam for the year 2015 and passed proceedings accordingly on Jun 09, 2015, Jun 10, 2015, and Jun 15, 2015, respectively.
During the period of Mruthu Soucham, he performed the Pavitrotsavam in 2014. It is very sad that within 6 months, his wife died of snakebite in his native place. As a widower, a non-grihastha, he automatically is no longer eligible to do any Kankanabhattar or other Kainkaryam to the Bhagawan. After this, Did the TTD stop with interfering in the religious affairs of the Mandir? No. What happened in 2015 is another example.
2015- Instead of MirasiArchakas, TTD resorts to Sriman Sundaravaradan’s brother, a non-Archaka:
In 2015, because of his ineligibility to perform Kainkaryam as a widower, TTD permitted in writing, Sriman Sundaravardhan’s brother to perform instead of reverting to the traditional MirasiArchakas. On Jun 22, 2015, TTD issued orders (Permission Order proceedings attached) permitting Sriman A.Venkatacharyulu, younger brother of Sriman Sundaravaradan to perform all the above major annual Utsavams and offer Kankanabattar Kainkaryam in place of his elder brother. Sriman A. Ramakrishna Dikshitulu, a MirasiArchaka of TTD challenged this order in the then combined HC of TG & AP in WP 34985 of 2015. Curiously, the Court gave an order on Sep 15, 2015, just a few days before the actual Bramhotsavam. The court did a monkey balancing act by saying: At this stage if the appointment of (Sriman A. Venkatacharyulu) is stayed, it would affect the sentiment of lacs (sic) of pilgrims who visit the temple during this period. The eligibility of the respondent is not disputed. Mere suspension of the order impugned does not automatically result in the appointment of the petitioner. The petition was dismissed. (copy of WP 34985 order attached). MirasiArchaka Sriman Ramakrishna Dikshitulu didn’t participate in the rituals.
Another alleged Apacharam – Another intervention by the Bhagawan in favour of MirasiArchakas:
I shall not reveal or go into details of this alleged Apacharam. It is devastating. This was one by the non-Archaka the HC allowed to perform as per the original TTD orders. He went ahead with the performance of all the Utsavams of 2015 as permitted in writing by TTD. Sadly, his wife committed suicide in 2016. Thus, both the brothers had become widowers and ineligible to perform any further Kainkaryams to the Bhagawan. Has the TTD & the government learnt any lessons the Bhagawan tried to teach them through these two glaring incidents? Will the devotees of Bhagawan Balaji say that these are mere coincidences?
From 2017, the Kanakabhattar Kainkaryam and all the Utsavams were once again handed over to the MirasiArchakas, though at times, TTD played its usual dirty games in giving some to the Archaka Gumasthas (non-hereditary) it has taken under its employment. Maybe, Bhagawan has one more chapter left to teach.
Serious question that arises from all these is Why should a secular administration interfere in the religious functions of the mandir? Who are they to decide who should perform what Utsavam/ritual/function/Puja? Who are they to interfere with the fundamental right to pray and right to property of the MirasiArchakas?
(To be continued in Part-6)
1. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of PGurus.
- Part 6 – Why is TTD against MirasiArchakas? The Protectors of Rituals and Customs - June 25, 2020
- Part 5 – Why is TTD against the MirasiArchakas? The Protectors of Rituals and Customs - June 18, 2020
- Part 4 – Why is TTD against the MirasiArchakas? The Protectors of Rituals and Customs - June 7, 2020