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Tuesday, May 28, 2024

HRCE ‘managed’ historic Sanjeevi Rayar Temple featured in Rajnikanth-starrer in dilapidated condition

Rajinikanth-mania hit the world last week with the release of his latest film, Jailer. As the reviews came out, one particular aspect of the film became more and more talked about in social media circles – the temple featured in the opening scene of the movie. This temple we are talking about is the Sanjeevi Rayar Hanuman Temple located in Ayyangarkulam village of Kanchipuram District in Tamil Nadu.

As we dig deeper, it becomes known that this temple is commonly featured in a variety of Tamil movies. Another important point about this temple is that it comes under the purview of the Hindu Religious & Charitable Endowments (HR&CE) Department of the Tamil Nadu State government.

Although the temple is well-known, it continues to remain in a dilapidated condition all these years. Even after being commonly featured in Tamil cinema over the years, neither the artists nor the concerned government department has taken any measure to restore its original glory.

It has also come to light that although the temple owns vast acres of land, pujas are done only once a day and the archaka (priest) is paid a paltry salary of around INR 1000 per month. 

The legend behind the temple is that in Ramayana when Sri Hanuman was taking the Sanjeevani Hill to Lanka to heal Lakshmana, some parts of the hill fell in this area. Thus, the deity is named Sanjeevi Rayar. The temple was built in the Vijayanagara period around the 16/17th century by Sri Lakshmi Kumara Thathachariar. 

This temple was constructed by Sri Lakshmi Kumara Thathachariar, who lived between 1456 and 1543. He was a respected scholar and well-known figure during the time of the Vijayanagara Empire. He was also known as Thatha Desikan and came from a family with a strong Vaishnavite background and was a descendant of Sri Nathamuni lineage. He held the unique roles of being both the ‘Chief Minister’ and the ‘Raja Guru’ for the Vijayanagara Kings, Venkatapathy Rayas I and II, who were also called Sriranga Rayas.

It is organisations like People For Dharma are taking it upon themselves to restore the ancient temples. 

The HR&CE department in Tamil Nadu which is supposed to undertake the restoration and renovation/maintenance work of the temples in its scope has failed to do any such a thing. Instead, the department is always seen to court controversy by meddling in other affairs of the temple within and outside of its control. For example, recently the HR&CE department intruded into the affairs of the Chidambaram Nataraja temple which is outside its control. 

The HR&CE Department has also been allegedly using temple funds to buy cars and other things for regular use by its authorities. 

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