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Sunday, April 21, 2024

Sabarimala temple caste politics turned down by Kerala High Court: Malayali Brahmin to remain Melshanthi

Several petitions opposing the Travancore Dewaswom Board’s notification inviting applications solely from Malayali Bhramins for appointment as Melshanthi (Tantri/head priest) of the Sabarimala-Malikappuram temples were dismissed by the Kerala High Court today. The petitioners claimed that the restrictions outlined in the notification were “untouchability” and that this would violate Article 17 of the Constitution. Article 17 abolished untouchability.

Sabarimala is the abode of Bhagwan Ayyappa, and Malikappuram Bhagwathy is enshrined in a temple nearby. For decades, communists, atheist Hindus In Name Only (HINOs) and Abrahamics have been working to break the traditions and customs of the famous Tat Tvam Asi  (Tatwamasi) temple. Dark forces have been able to break and destroy them several times.

However, the Division Bench, which consists of Justices Anil K. Narendran and P. G. Ajithkumar, dismissed their claim. This is what Justice Anil Narendran said. As held by the Constitution Bench of the Apex Court, Article 25(2)(b) of the Constitution is the right to enter a temple for worship. It does not mean that this right is unrestricted and unlimited.

No member of the Hindu public may assert that they have the right to perform services that the Archakas (Hindu temple pujaris performing the arti ritual) alone are capable of doing or that a temple must be open for worship at all times.

Therefore, we find no merit in the contention of the learned counsel for the petitioners that the conditions stipulated in the notification issued by the Devaswom Commissioner that the applicant for appointment as Melshanthis at Sabarimala Devaswom and Malikappuram Devaswom shall be a Malayali Brahmin would amount to untouchability abolished under Article 17 of the Constitution.

Due to improper pleadings in the petitions, the Court declined to comment on the arguments made by the petitioners regarding the relationship between fundamental rights and religious rights. The Court further stated that these matters await resolution in the Supreme Court’s ongoing Sabarimala reference.

Article 25 states that everyone can freely profess, practise, and propagate religion subject to public order, morality and health. Article 26 grants all denominations the autonomy to conduct their religious affairs. (Does it even apply to Hindus, whose government manages temple affairs?)

The Court stated that the Travancore Devaswom Board’s and its members’ only administrative responsibilities are to ensure that regular customary rituals and ceremonies obey accepted customs and the practices standard in temples. According to the statement, poojas and religious rites must be performed appropriately by Tantris as per the Shastras.

According to the Devaswom Commissioner’s eligibility standards, there are no grounds, and the application will not be considered because there are no pleas. It noted that guidelines set by the High Court and Apex Court would govern the appointment of Melsanthis unless the Travancore Devaswom Board frames statutory regulations.

Since the ruling atheists and green communists, with support from anti-Hindu forces, control the Devaswom boards, the communist regime can easily update the regulations to meet their needs. They are on the back foot after they recently witnessed mass Hindu protests against a government attempt to allow Abrahamic women into the Sabarimala temple. Back then, the communist regime dealt it with an iron fist, injured several devotees (including ladies) and legal proceedings against them still linger in courts.

Recent attempts at caste politics mean that these dark forces have not given up on trying to destroy temples.

Non-Malayali Brahmins CV Vishnu Narayan, TL Sajith, and PR Vijeesh filed the petition in this case. They argued that, per the Travancore Devaswom Board’s notification, they qualified to be appointed priests; the only restriction placed by the Board was that the applicant had to be a Kerala-born Malayala Brahmin. According to the writ, the State was not allowed to set caste-based hiring standards for the position of Melshanthi.

Therefore, the notification was contested because it infringes upon the fundamental rights protected by Articles 14 (equal protection of the laws), 15 (1) (State shall not discriminate against any citizen on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth or any of them), and 16 (2) (No citizen shall, on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, descent, place of birth, residence or any of them, be ineligible for, or discriminated against in respect of, any employment or office under the State) of the Bharatiya Constitution.

Representing the petitioners, advocate B G Harindranath argued that any certified Hindu idol worshipper who knows the mantras for performing poojas, regardless of caste, should be appointed a Melshanthi.

Professor (Dr.) Mohan Gopal, the petitioners’ advocate, argued that the requirement that Malayala Brahmins be appointed only as Melshantis is an example of casteism and untouchability. He claimed that fundamental constitutional principles were in danger.

On the other hand, Advocate J Sai Deepak said the petition was falsely filed with the impression that designating someone as a Melsanthis was a secular process. He added that the Sabarimala temple is a tantric temple with various traditions and unusual customs. Thus, the obligation to pick only Malayali Brahmins among other Brahmins for the position of Melsanthis is a religious mandate rather than a reservation based on caste.

Since this is a sampradaya (spiritual tradition) practised since ancient times, advocate Damodaran Namboothiri contended that the petition was not maintainable and should be rejected. He said giving necessary parties like the Tantri, the Pandalam Royal Family, and the Travancore Devaswom Board a voice is vital.

The Court also considered Devaswom’s claim that the caste system has been in place for a long time. Additionally, the Devaswom argued that the appointment is temporary.

The Melshanti has a one-year tenure, and as Purappada Shanti, he is not permitted to leave the Sannidhanam till the end of their term, even after the shrine has closed. Only a select handful, chosen by Bhagwan Ayyappa himself, can hold the much-coveted position.

Sijith T L, one of the petitioners, informed The Indian Express that he had already begun the paperwork necessary to challenge the decision in the Supreme Court.

This meant the current court order was a temporary relief for Ayyappa devotees. Many concurred that the only way out was for the central government to free Hindu temples, bringing them to par with places of worship of non-Hindus.

Incidentally, while addressing Kanjirapally voters in poll-bound Kerala, Amit Shah reiterated the Free Hindu Temples slogan and pronounced the BJP policy believes that the government should not meddle in matters regarding temples and their management should be left to the faithful.

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