Shiva Krupa

Temples of India signify the very root of Hinduism and its culture. To be worth of the trust reposed by our ancestors, it becomes our primary responsibility to sustain our heritage for generations to come.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Back to Native Place??

On seeing the decline in dharma and the exodus of people from villages,Kanchi Kamakoti Sankaracharya had initiated the appointment of Dharmathikari in each village to liase with locals and help the needy.It worked well for some decades. As the Govt was not prepared to take action against the erring farmers who failed to honour the contract with their landlords/temples,the landlords finally sold their lands and migrated to towns & urban areas.This was the first blow to our culture as there was no income for temples from lands.The interest shown by the remaining people was very poor.The archakas of these temples still continue to do poojas once in a day although they do not get any income out of it.Now the question is who will take care of the village temples and the archakas associated with them.

A Temple Protection Committee was formed in the eighties if I remember right under the chairmanship of Sri Krishnaswami Reddiar.It insisted the look into the issues facing the temples.I am not sure whether the committee is in existance now.Nothing much seemed to have been derived from this move as the situation is going from bad to worse.

A Trust was initiated by the Senior Acharya of Kanchi Mutt to mobilise a corpus fund so as to give monthly pension to the poor archakas in villages.Taking the large number of temples/archakas in the state,the fund could cater a small section of them.

When Jayalalitha was the Chief Minister,the Govt. initiated to conduct pooja once in a day in all villages.Unfortunately,this initiative did not gain momentum as nothing was done for the disbursement of monthly salary regularly to the temple staff.

People who protest democratically for everything fail to ask why the Govt is not arranging to get the income due for the temples from the lands. Only a few people have raised their voice against the functioning of HR&CE board.It is a pity that it has not been supported by people in large numbers.On the contrary,no one could do anything when the Govt had brought Chidambaram Temple into its fold.

Imagine a situation when there is a shortfall of archakas to cover all village temples.The trend has already started as they neither enjoy support from the Govt not the locals.Even if the village temples are renovated,little is done for the welfare of the archakas.Most of their families might prefer leaving the villages and find green pastures for their livelyhood.

With the given political situation eyeing for vote banks,Govt's participation/remedial action on this issue is out of question.Hence it is left to the people to regroup and pledge to save the culture.It is acceptable if one had to quit his native place for reasons beyond his control.But it is equally important for him to come back to his native place after retirement and do some social service for the remaining active years of his life.Thanks to modern Science & Technology,one can witness phenomenol changes in the villages to cater the needs of one and all.To start with one can try to visit his native place everymonth and stay there for a week.This will kindle the desire to move back to the village and settle down without any apprehension.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Know Thy Channel

When I stirred the nest by appealing for an allocation of the small portion of income for restoring the heritage,the immediate query I received was rather genuine.The doubt raised was on the proper utilisation of funds for which the contributions were made.How to assess the genuineness of institutions or individuals who are vested with the contributions? I liked the question very much because it showed the anxiety to know whether the money is reaching the proper hands.Let me elaborate the point little further for the benefit of those who have similar doubts in their minds.
The approach may vary when we bring the institution/individual under the scanner.The foremost observation one would like to make is to know the track record of the past activity.
Recently I went to a small village known as Edamanal, near Sirkazhi to guide my old friend
who was planning to extend the existing temple of Sri Kattamudhu Vinayakar into Sri Odaneswara Swami temple.Sri Sundarar came to this place to find 10 shiva lingams in a row;Hence the name Varisai paththu.
As he was hungry, The Lord fed him at Thirukkurugavoor Velladai,about 3 km from here.
My friend came with his brother from Bangalore and was busy in constructing a compound wall around the place.I knew that it was an ambitious project but then the brothers were very keen in completing it within a year.I did not ask them about their ways to mobilise the funds.But I believe that they have commensed the work as thier duty to follow the path shown by their father.In this case the funds are utilised by direct supervision.
When our Sabha was participating in the renovation of Thirukkachur temple,I personally supervised the work to see that the funds are utilised properly to our satisfaction.This would prevent possible shortcuts adopted by the workers and also avoid using substandard materials.
I was shocked to know that the Hundi collections of temples are not used for the respective temples.It is understood that the collections are deposited with the local banks to be transferred into the the Govt's treasury. Thus the devotees who believed that their contributions would be utilised for the temple of their choice are cheated.If I recommend giving in kind instead of cash,I am sure there will be few takers. As it is a matter of faith, deviation from the customary path will not take place.
At last I found an answer to why there can not be a single point of contact which is reliable.If you take the renovation work at Madurai which run into crores of rupees,the entire amount is shared among various donors.There are donors for all the 12 "kaala " yagasala pujas and mandalabhishekams.The HR&CE which takes over the entire collection from Hundi etc contributes negligible amount for this occasion.Hence I strongly recommend the donor to visit the site and supervise the work to be assured of the proper utilisation of funds.Naturally people feel that there could be spill overs if the fund is routed through an unfamiliar channel.

Before I conclude,let me share with you the good work done by a group from Vridhachalam.Their ambition is to build new temples at the birth place of each Nayanmar.I visited the recently built shrine for Thirumoola Nayanar at Saathanur,just 3 km from Aduthurai.They organise in such a way that somebody who resides closeby should inspect the site when the work is in progress.Apart from the sanctum,the temple has a meditation hall in which the paintings narrating the life of Thirumoolar are seen on the wall.This process derives confidence of the donors simultaneously when they visit the place during consecration and thereafter.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Consecration and congregational worship

I considered myself as fortunate when I came across a beautiful narration on the Sivagamas in a web site.The author seemed to be a voracious reader of this subject.He has pointed out how the South had preserved the tradition during difficult times caused by the invasion of foreigners.I would like to share with the readers the portion of his text that supports the view.
"The agamas had existed mostly in South India, in Tamilnadu, in palm leaf manuscriptbook form in the homes of the Sivachariyas who had been entrusted with the duty of organizing and performing the consecration and the congregational worship (pararthapuja) in the Siva temples for probably over two millennia and a half. These Agamas are not available in north India to the extent they are available in the south, although they had been responsible for the culture of the whole of India. Dr. Das Gupta has stated that "No Agama manuscript of any importance is found even in Banaras, the greatest center ofHindu religion, Sanskrit studies and culture.""The general assumption that the Agamas deal only with temples and temple worship is wrong.The Agamas consist of four parts of which Kriya dealing with temple construction and rituals is one, and jnana dealing with philosophy is another. Theyare as much philosophic treatises as any other treatises like the Upanishads. The Agamas are encyclopaedic in their treatment of all subjects pertaining to the religious life of the worshipper and to the temple."The details of temple construction here given are beyond what an excellent modern architect can dream of.Other allied subjects dealt with here are sculpture, iconography, construction of the templecar, geology, horticulture, astronomy, town planning, home science, water supply, healthand hygiene, food and many others. In short, we may say no area of human activity of theperiod about 2,000 years back has been left out."
With this introduction to the Sivagama,I now take you over to the consecration of some siva temples held in March.The first one was at Thirukkottaru,a place south east of Mayiladuthurai.The Lord is worshipped here by the elephant of Devendra,called Iravadha.Hence the deity is named as Iravadheeswara.
Thirugnanasambandar has visited this place in the 7th century and sung 11 Thevaram verses in praise of the deity.According to the agama,the consecration has to take place once in 12 years.This gives scope for renovation after necessary repairs of the temple,if required.At the same time it enhances the sanctity of the temple.Due to paucity of funds,the temples find it difficult to practice the ritual as suggested by Agama.The situation is still bad in villages where one can see temples that have not been consecrated for more than 50 years.It is at those places the structure itself has been damaged due to growth of trees over them.Hence the villagers depend mostly on the outsiders to repair and consecrate the temples.Although the Government enjoys the control of majority of the temples of Tamilnadu,it comes forward to renovate only the well known temples unless there is an initiative from the small shrines.However,many temples in the villages are renovated now by the interest shown by the locals and the magnanimity of the philanthropists from outside.Time has come for those who have left their ancestral place and migrated to urban areas to look after the temples of their origin.One has to admit that the earning has increased several folds but the concentration to preserve our culture is lacking.May I appeal to them to spend atleast 1% of their annual income for the upliftment of temples.Let them also remember that they pay Tax to the tune of 20-30% every year to the Govt.but reluctant to contribute for the noble cause.
The other consecration I witnessed recently was at Killikudi,a tiny village,where the whole village had stood up to reconstruct the ancient Siva temple.I share this because I was touched deeply by the act of the villagers who really can not afford to take up such a dream project. It should be an eyeopener for those who have not even thought about the greatness of the culture.