Tirumala Issue – Major Allegations and The way forward

Here is the truth on what has happened in Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam as related by the grandson of the man who created the Tirupati laddoos

Here is the truth on what has happened in Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam as related by the grandson of the man who created the Tirupati laddoos
Here is the truth on what has happened in Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam as related by the grandson of the man who created the Tirupati laddoos

I lost my father when I was barely six. My maternal grandparents brought me up along with my eight siblings. My maternal grandfather, late Sriman Kalyanam Iyengar gave the Tirupati Laddu to the world. I grew up in that Mandir. Long before the Laddu Mirasi was abolished, I had access to all the corners of the Mandir, except the Garbha Griha. Growing up in such a divine environment also gave me a closer view of how the system worked. The Archakas were always our close family friends since my Grandfather’s time. The Gamekars and the Mirasi Dikshitars were my Grandfather’s allies. The families of the four Pradhana Archakas have been family friends for three generations now. The purpose of writing this article was born from the deep anguish that arose out of the following:

This cannot be viewed as just the problem of the Pradhana Archakas and their compulsory retirement by the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam (TTD) under the TDP Government. This is the problem of Sanatana Dharma.

  1. The allegations made by a good family friend and a respected Pradhana Archaka, Sriman Ramana Dikshitulu. And the personal attack on him by vested interests, instead of addressing the issues raised by him.
  2. The political motives attributed to him by both the Government and the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam (TTD) Board members and officials, who are nothing but the hand-picked stooges of the Government of the day
  3. The Paid Print and Electronic media that cozied up to the TTD and the government for the benefits of special darshan tickets that could easily be sold for a hefty premium and special prasad handed out by the officials of the TTD.
  4. More importantly, the muted response of the Hindu Samaj to such blatant abuse of power and disregard for sacred rituals that are to be performed by the Archakas as per the Vaikhanasa Agama Sastra and as ordained by Sri Bhagavad Ramanuja.

This cannot be viewed as just the problem of the Pradhana Archakas and their compulsory retirement by the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam (TTD) under the TDP Government. This is the problem of Sanatana Dharma. This article does not deal with whether the compulsory retirement of the Pradhana Archakas is correct or not. In my opinion, it is WRONG and that can wait for a separate article. But, there are certain things that the public should know.

There are 4 Pradhana Archakas of the Tirumala Balaji Mandir. They come from 4 families that have served the Bhagawan for 39/40 generations. These families are:

  1. Pydipalli (Sriman Narayana Dikshitulu)
  2. Gollapalli (Sriman Dr. A.V.Ramana Dikshitulu)
  3. Tirupatamma (Sriman Narasimha Dikshitulu)
  4. Peddinti (Sriman Srinivasamurthy Dikshitulu)

They offer their services on a yearly rotational basis. They are not employees of the TTD. They don’t get paid a salary to discharge their religious duties. They were performing as a Kainkaryam to the Bhagawan. For many years, they were getting Rusumu as Income, which was their hereditary rightful share of the Pujas performed. When the proposal to abolish this Archaka Mirasi system was introduced, they fought valiantly in courts and took their case to the Supreme Court (SC). As a step to mediate between the Archakas and the TTD, the then E. O. Sri I Y R K Rao and the Dharmika Parishad (There is no Dharmika Parishad now) made the proposal that the Archakas should withdraw their Petition in the Supreme Court and as their existing rights and honour was upheld by the SC which was under Section 142 and the Amendment was made by the AP legislature in 2007. The SC allowed the withdrawal of the petition with a note to the TTD Board that they should hear out the Archakas. This hasn’t been heard till date. Under this mediation, the Pradhana Archakas even agreed to forego the Rusum, which was a princely sum, to retain their right to perform the Archaka Kainkaryam as the Pradhana Archakas of the Mandir. Many would be surprised to learn that these Pradhana Archakas are not employees, hence do not get any salary/ wages/ bonus/ leave/ medical benefits that the TTD pays to all its secular employees and other non-hereditary Archakas who have accepted employment with the TTD. Pradhana Archakas did not want to be employees. The Pradhana Archakas were paid a token “Sambhavana” based on the days and the daily rituals/ kainkaryam they offer.

Now, let me get to the purpose of this article:

There were two clear attacks on Hindu Dharma in the last two decades. The first one was on the Kanchi Matham. The Hindu Samaj’s response can best be described as muted. Barring individual efforts by Hindu Bhakts, there was very little to write on the response from the so-called Hindu organizations, Sadhus, and Sants. We let down the Acharyas. The Acharyas are NOT individuals. They are Institutions. Collectively, as Hindu Samaj, we let down Institutions that were built successively for 2500 years of service to Sanatana Dharma. We failed the Sanatana Dharma.

The second one was the attack on the Pradhana Archaka of the Tirumala Tirupathi Mandir, the Mandir’s rituals and its wealth, another instance where we are seriously found lacking in response as Hindu Samaj.

When someone as learned as Sri Ramana Dikshitulu (He is not only a Ph. D. in Molecular Biology, the learned Pradhana Archaka, but also an expert in Vaikanasa Agama, the tradition followed in the Tirumala Mandir along with Pujas as ordained by Srimad Bhagavad Ramanuja), raises concern on issues like interference by the Politicians, Board Members, TTD employees in the day to day rituals, one needs to take note of and find ways to rectify the situation, if something is seriously wrong as alleged. When he says that the yearly audit of jewellery is NOT being carried out, should we turn a deaf ear and carry a smear campaign on him, slap defamation cases on him or look into it with utmost sincerity?

Let me come to the major allegations made by the Pradhana Archaka:

  • There is a constant interference from the TTD Management in the rituals performed for the Bhagawan. To give an example, according to him, there have been instances when the TTD officials wanted the Archakas to perform Suprabhata Seva for VIPs at midnight when that is NOT the time to wake up the Bhagawan. There are times when there has been constant pressure on the Archakas to conclude the Thomala Seva in the most abridged of forms. Various Sevas have been shortened either to accommodate the appointments of various VIPs or as a convenient excuse of crowd management.
  • The Temple Potu where the Anna Prasadams are made for Naivedyam of the Bhagawan – The sudden repair works undertaken without the consent of the Pradhana Archaka, who is also the Agama Advisor for the TTD, the granite slabs on floor and walls dug up and replaced, more importantly, the Prasadams made “outside” totally violative of the Sastras and in much lesser quantities than prescribed as the right quantity for Naivedyam, for little over ten days, all lead to suspicion that everything is not as sweet as the Laddu. The TTD hushes it up with a favourable statement from their poor Potu employees who make these Anna Prasadams, as a means to deflect the truth.
  • The Pradhana Archakas who work on yearly rotation basis had the practice of making an open audit of Bhagawan’s jewels, including gold coins and loose diamonds, rubies etc., and then hand over the charge to the incoming Pradhana Archaka. This was done in the presence of the TTD officials. This practice has been stopped since 1996. The serious allegation made was that when the Pradhana Archaka asks for a certain jewellery endowed by Rajas like the Sri Krishnadeva Raya for Alankaram of the Bhagawan on certain auspicious occasions, they would never receive the jewels requested. The Bhagawan has to adjust with what the secular TTD officials hand out for His Alankaram. The purpose for what the donors of yore had given such ornaments is conveniently set aside. That raises a very serious question. Are these jewels still there?

Here is why this question is relevant. When a new donor wants to make an ornament for the Bhagawan and approaches TTD, based on the budget of the donor Bhakt, the management conveniently gives him a design of an existing old traditional jewellery. Thus, a second and more recent jewel starts making its appearance on the Bhagawan while the age-old precious jewel is supposedly sent back for safe custody to the vaults. Are both such jewels available and safe?

Continued…

S V Badri

S V Badri

S. V. Badri was former VP-Marketing of a Bayer Organization. A Gaurakshak, Anti-conversion field activist involved in the renovation of Mandirs in Dalit Colonies of Tamil Nadu. One of the founding members of Temple Worshippers Society, Chennai. Currently, lives in Mumbai.
S V Badri

18 COMMENTS

  1. Dr Ramana Battar is not a dikshithar.
    He is a Fraud
    he does not know agama sastras and mantras.
    He is very rich and owns more than Rs 100 crores
    He owns Tea estates in Nilgiris and Bungalows in hyderabad, Madras,Bangalote and Coonoor.

    • Making allegations is easy – Got proof? Plus the story is not about an individual. Understand before commenting.

  2. Hindus should unitedly fight against all malpractices.
    Temples are being commercialised by government and politicians.
    When we pray to God for a lot of things why don’t we take responsibility for our duties to preserve our rich culture.

    Hindus have been told to be tolerant n giving and accepting all gods as one and this means all our hindu gods who are related in one way or the other and not totally alien gods (christian or Muslim ) .

    We can respect Ganapathy, Subramanian, Parvati ,Siva n Vishnu alike and visit their holy shrines but not christian or Muslim worship places because they are against our customs n traditions and work to degrade our gods.

    This awareness should be spread across all sects of Hindus.
    But the government runs eco parks, marriage halls or mandapams , parking lots etc from temple money.

    What has been done to promote Hinduism from temple money.
    We agree a few temples have schools and colleges but are they used to spread awareness of Hinduism or Hindu culture. Do they have classes to teach about puranas n Vedas apart from their school syllabus. Else this is a waste of temple money. An ordinary government school is enough to teach the school subjects.

    What difference does the schools run by temple administration have other than those that are run by government.
    Are Hindu values taught? Yoga taught?
    Vedas taught?
    Agamas taught?
    Are they made better citizens than the rest by providing mental health n Physical health and awareness about our Hinduism.
    If this is not done government loses its stand on temples administration.
    Temples are not there to provide salary to officers who audit or manage funds. Only a meagre amount should be given to government servants.
    The rest has to be used to please god n his priests.
    To spread awareness of Hindu culture and tradition.
    To spread it among young minds so that India remains a great nation.

    • Hindus have been told to be tolerant, is a brain washed statement misinterpreted by our pundits. All religions are same is another, wrong statement fed to Hindus. Actually tolerance word was applicable to all sampradayas of sanatana dharma ex Vaishnavites, shaivites, smarthas, Jains, Buddhists etc and desert religions do not enter the picture as they entered India few hundreds years ago.Gita never taught unconditional tolerance, or ahimsa and Hindus should emulate the character of Arjuna.

      Digital India, has made rural Hindus to have access to huge data and info on texts and rituals on Hinduism, and IT has made Hindus across continents to be in touch with their faith.RSS is doing excellent work in rural areas but the issue is with urbanised Hindus. It is time that all Hindu saints should form a trust sit with the govnt and run the temples, then only your suggestions can be implemented.

  3. If the number of devotees/ visitors is too large, it only means that there aren’t enough temples. The solution to that problem is to have more temples.
    The first rule to handle this is to ringfence the money collected. As soon as the number of visitors crossed a certain threshold, part of the money should be used to build new temples. In no case should the government use that money for other purposes..

    There is no need to discuss Hindu faults at this time. I cannot see how one community alone should take all the blame upfront.

    • You are confused like many Hindus. Temples cannot be built like churches or mosques at any place, because the former is Worshipping place identified by a Rishi or ordained by devata where as the latter is a prayer hall. For ex, Balaji temple, Jyotirlinga temples, Sharada Peetam, all prominent mutts etc cannot have branches, but temples of devatas have been built by nobles and pujas are performed after PRANA PRTISTA, thru a ritual prescribed in Shastras. In fact the beauty of Hinduism is that every household has a Pooja room and one can also pray to the self, thru the guidance of Guru. Hinduism has no boundaries where anything and everything can be worshipped and the result will be known by seeker only. Balaji temple is unique, and the reason for it was explained by erstwhile head priest in a TV interview.

  4. Kindly let me know whether any restriction like number of words or any policy matter is there for posting comments. I had posted my in the matter on Tirumala Issue, I do not find it in the reply column.
    Kindly let me know,so I may adhere to the requirements subsequently.
    Regards.

  5. I dare say that the fault is entirely on we, Hindus. Our failure to unite even when our core values are at stake. The chief priest of Tirumala temple, Shri Ramana Dikshitalu has been shabbily treated by the power drunk Chief Minister, his party and their stooges of TTD.And, we Hindus have remained quiet, except for a protest by VHP, soon after the Head Priest was unceremoniously retired. Imagine, if the same situation arise in a Christian or Muslim institution. By now, the hell would have broken loose!
    But,we, Hindus are conditioned to behave as puppets of the rulers, over a long period. First the British devided on our castes, exploited our follies to their advantage. Then the desi rulers, who were brought up by the British anyway, furthered our divisions to suit them. They made us to believe, that Hindus are the sole custodians of secularism in this country. The Khangress, brainwashed a large number of Hindus that Hinduism means, sacrifice of their religious pride to the advantage of other minorities, particularly Muslims and Christians. We were made to accommodate them,while both Abrahamics were encouraged not to tolerate us!. This aberration started with MK Gandhi, who was instrumental for partition, starting with his support for Khilafat movement,which culminated in the birth of Pakistan amidast bloodbath, with lakhs of Hindus butchered,but Gandhi ji fasted to prevent Hindus from retaliation.Again,he allowed his personal preferences to prevail upon his actions, than the national and social interests.
    Gandhi ji treated both Dr. Ambedkar and Netaji with contempt.While Netaji parted ways gently, Dr. Ambedkarkar clearly got offended and reasonably so. Which resulted in alienating Dalits from caste Hindus, though Gandhi pretended he was in favour of Harijans. All this resulted in increasing division and mutual distrust of Dalits and other Hindus, but helped Khangress to rule, playing Dalit as well as caste Hindu cards for a long time! This prevented a larger Hindu unity. But due to RSS, this devide is being bridged, but the so called secular parties are trying every trick at their sleeves, not make Hindu unity, a reality. Overcoming this obstacle is a must for Hindu. We must forget our differences, unite to preserve our jo

    int treasures of tradition, religious practices and even our Gods.Must keep aside the so called secularism for a while, defeat the nefarious designs of the secular parties to control our temples, to interfere in our religious matters, through the control of our temples; to stop the loot of our temple assets, income and jewelleries by the officials-Politicians nexus. Unite we must, protest we must! Unless this done, no one can save us, we Hindus.

  6. Dealing with religious institutions has always posed a major problem for the Governments in India, whether it is Akal Takhat Sahib at Amritsar, Nanaksar Sahib at Bhadaur (where 12 persons had died due to fighting between 2 groups claiming hereditary rights), Jagannath Puri, Badrinath or now the Tirumala Balaji. While India has the richest culture, heritage, architectural marvels, renowned pre-historic centres of learning, venerable temples all over the country and universal appeal and lofty ideals of Hinduism, it is our duty to protect and preserve all of them for today but also for the posterity. And herein lies the main problem. While we are a democracy with avowed, time-tested secular character, the religious institutions need support, both policy and sometimes financial, for achieving the above objectives. The moment the Governments of the day try to assist them in ensuring the uninterrupted continuance of routine, customary religious services, it is invariably accused of undue interference by a certain mind-set possessing individuals. In almost all such cases, these individuals hold hereditary rights to conduct Puja and also tend to claim their rights of final interpretation in conduct of the services. In any case the Governments can not and must not try to go beyond a point to support them. Governments have no business to interfere with them and must allow their independent or autonomous status and functions. But the problem is that they themselves create conditions whether by infighting, malfunctioning, misappropriation of properties or arbitrary by inept handling of darshaks /pilgrims, that the Governments find it impossible to stop advising them on how to maintain and improve the services. Hereditary continuance and taken-for-granted status complicates things. Haven’t the Maharajas, Nawabs and Princes abolished? Haven’t the Shah Reza Pehlavi of Iran not dethroned? The old order changeth, yielding ground to new. We are not living in 16th century. Thanks to huge improvement in communications, the number of people visiting the shrines has swelled beyond all proportions, making it very difficult for the shrine workers to afford them Darshan in an orderly manner. Hence, some smart brains came out with the concept of VIP Darshan and collect more from the Darshan-abhilashis (seekers of darshan). I think it is better that intelligentsia, academicia, intellectuals, sant samaj, policy makers, devotees, economists and eminent persons be involved to work out a futuristic plan on how to handle such things while at the same time ensuring the autonomy of all such temples. mutts and hoary institutions. Since the number of visitors have touched astronomical proportions, the sooner it is done, the better it is for our ancient and yet vibrant nation.

  7. Namaste.

    Doesn’t a true brahmana pollute a corrupted shrine and walk away? The TTD has been a commercialised venture for several decades now. It is understandable that the Pradhana Archakas may not have the energies against the onslaught of a bureaucracy and secularised economists and politicians, all of whom by their natural job descriptions can approach the TTD only as some sort of a technical religious factory than a spiritual spacetime. The Agamas also speak about creative destruction and the Archakas could show that to the world.

  8. Hindus has to raise from their slumber & ensure that the Perumals daily routine as ordained by Udaayavar is maintained. What rights the TTD officers have to change the Bhagawans routine. Crowd management is just an excuse.
    The Archakas rights must be protected.

    • Sachin Sharma ji, if you are on follow me @svbadri I will come on DM and we can get to know each other and meet.

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