|No Brahmins to run temples|
|Chennai, Jan 26: The DMK government headed by chief minister M. Karunanidhi, well known for his atheist views, has ensured that no Brahmin is appointed as trustee in any of the major temples across Tamil Nadu. Perhaps this is the first time that the community, closely identified with priesthood, has been so comprehensively kept out of temple administration. While the norms that a dalit and a woman should be accommodated in the five-member temple committees have been followed, the state Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Department (HR&CE), which administers most of the temples in Tamil Nadu, has ensured that the Brahmins are kept out of these prestigious positions.
The famous places of worship, including Madurai Meenakshi temple, Rameswaram Ramanathaswamy temple, Palani Dandayuthapani temple, Tiruchendur Subramania Swamy temple and Mylai Kapaleeswarar temple, do not have a Brahmin as arangaavalar in the administrating committees. In the Thanjavur-Kumbakonam which has a large Brahmin population, not a single member of the community has found place in the committees of the dozens of well-known places of worship such as the Thirumanjeri Udweganathaswamy temple, Uppiliappan temple, Thirunageswaram Naganathaswamy temple and Patteeswaram Thenupureeswarar temple.
“The Brahmin community has not been given any representation in temple administration. This is because the DMK believes that Brahmins are against the party and support the rival AIADMK of Jayalalithaa. This is not fair. We will take it up with the government after our organisational elections, now in progress, are over in a couple of months,” said Mr N. Narayanan, president of the Tamil Nadu Brahmins’ Association (TAMBRAS).
Said the Mylapore legislator S.V.Sekar of the AIADMK, “By keeping the Brahmins out of the temple committees, the DMK government is only baring its inborn vengeance for our community. Why is chief minister Karunanidhi appointing his party members as arangaavalars (trustees) even while claiming that the DMK is a rationalist party? There will be divine justice and God will punish these people some day. I am not saying this as a politician but as a believer in God.”
However, the DMK organizing secretary T. K. S. Elangovan dismissed the charge that the government had targeted the Brahmin community for unfair treatment in the appointment of temple trustees. “This action is not aimed at the Brahmins. We are only acting in favour of the people who had been so far kept out of temple administration. We have given such sections a chance now to be in charge of temple administration,” said the ruling party functionary.
While the Brahmins are upset with the DMK government, there is however support from unexpected quarters for the elaborate exercise of keeping the Brahmins out of temple administration. The founder of Hindu Munnani (Hindu Front) Rama Gopalan said it was not necessary that only Brahmins should be appointed trustees of temples. “It is enough if the trustees are believers and do not indulge in misappropriation of temple properties. The Brahmins should not feel offended that they are being kept out of temple administration. Besides, why get into these committees and later share the blame for misuse of temple funds?,” he said.
Interestingly, there is a Brahmin as a trustee in just one temple—at the Swaminathaswamy temple at Swamimalai in Thanjavur district. The trustee R. Ganesh is the lone Brahmin in this famous temple and is said to have got the post because of his DMK leanings. Also, at the Madurai Koodalalaragar temple, two women, one of them a Dalit, have been appointed as trustees. Besides, a tahsildar in Madurai has been appointed as a trustee in the world-famous Meenakshi temple because it is claimed, he is close to the DMK.