‘Samatva Garbhagriha’: A facet of assault on Sanatana Dharma
by Jayasree Saranathan on 01 Oct 2023 5 Comments

On 14th September, just a day before the birth anniversary of Karunanidhi’s mentor Annadurai, the Chief Minister of Tamilnadu, M.K. Stalin, tweeted that he has appointed persons from all castes including women to serve as temple priests as part of his Dravidian Model Governance. He wrote,  

“Despite women's achievements as pilots and astronauts, they were barred from the sacred role of temple priests, deemed impure, even in the temples for female deities. But change is finally here! In Tamil Nadu, as our #DravidianModel Government has removed the thorn from Thanthai Periyar's heart by appointing people of all castes as priests, women are also now stepping into the sanctums, bringing a new era of inclusivity and equality.”


This tweet and the issuance of eligibility certificate on completion of one-year course to serve as temple priests to 94 persons, including three women, is seen as part of a larger agenda of destroying Sanatana Dharma, that Udhayanidhi announced a few days prior to this announcement. To clear any doubts on what he said, Udhayanidhi reiterated that his party, the DMK, was created with the purpose of eradicating Sanatana Dharma. That may be true and we, the people, are to be blamed for not sensing the plan of the DMK when it was formed by Annadurai.


Annadurai founded the DMK by severing his ties with E.V. Ramasamy Naicker (Periyar) on the pretext of objecting to EVR marrying his adopted daughter who was 38 years younger than him. Marrying own (or adopted) daughter is certainly not a tenet of Sanatana Dharma that is learnt from the rebuke of Vaali by Rama in Valmiki Ramayana. In his reply to Vaali who accused him of hitting him, Rama admonished him for renouncing Sanatana Dharma by misbehaving with Ruma, his brother’s wife who was like his daughter-in-law (“Bhraatur vartasi bhaaryaayaam tyaktvaa dharmam Sanaatanam,” Valmiki Ramayana: 4-18-18).


Marrying one’s own daughter or another man’s wife is strictly against Dharma; the celebrated poet Thiruvalluvar devoted a full chapter on why one should not marry another man’s wife. This was followed by many leaders of the DMK more in breach than by adherence. Not only this, every kind of Dharmic principle has been flouted by the DMK leaders right from its inception. Dismantling Hindu culture has been their main agenda, which we realized only through decades by their concerted efforts of attacking Brahmins, which had now progressed into demolishing the temple culture of the Hindus.


In his very first film, ‘Parashakti’, where Karunanidhi made his mark as a lyricist, there was abject denigration of Hindu culture, criticism of Hindu beliefs and image worship. In that movie, Karunanidhi went to the extent of portraying a temple priest (Brahmin) attempting to rape a woman inside a temple – something outrageous and difficult to even imagine at that time (1952). But he got away with all that in the name of freedom of speech accorded by none other than a famous Brahmin of those times – Rajaji!


None came to the support of the Brahmins when they were physically assaulted on many occasions and continuously humiliated as beggars for accepting Dakshina offered by the devotees in temples. Ironically, today the same DMK wants people of other castes to pick up the puja plate to receive Dakshina from devotees for a service that even Brahmins themselves are not eligible to do unless they come from a specific family, with exhaustive training and ritual practices.


Priesthood in a Hindu temple is not a gainful avocation that one yearns to make a good living. The girls chosen by the DMK government have done college studies with which they can make a good living. One of them was an MSc in Mathematics, another a BSc in the same subject and yet another was a BSc graduate in Viscom. They expressed their happiness for being gifted with a mobile phone by Udhayanidhi who hailed this scheme as “Samatva Garbhagriha” (‘Samatva Karuvarai’ in Tamil), least caring that even kings and philanthropists who were instrumental in building temples never entered the Garbhagriha, the sanctum sanctorum of the temple, in deference of the rules of the temple.


If entry into a place of God, limited to only a few, is a custom needed to be broken, the DMK first family is welcome to be a trendsetter by inviting these girls to the Puja room of their house to conduct the daily puja for the sake of Udhayanidhi’s mother, who never shied away from making temple tours; but they can never interfere with the temple conventions that have been uninterrupted for 1300 years, as Dr. R. Nagaswamy, the eminent epigraphist once said, based on the evidence from numerous inscriptions.


So far, sixty-one terms on temple related services have been decoded from the inscriptions which do not exclude women from service, but not everyone can do the priestly service of the God. Women were given stately honors and land grants for singing and dancing service in the temple. From supplying flowers and puja items to the temple to cleaning the temple premises, women have served the temple with utmost devotion, but never once they considered it as something done as a gainful occupation or for ‘social equality.’ This term, projected as the theme of the so-called ‘Dravidian Model’ is indeed an extension of the colonial agenda of breaking the Hindu culture to assist Christian missionaries.


There were two irritants for the British-era missionaries – a self-sufficient education system and a selfless spiritual outlook nurtured by Hindu Sanatan Thought. The Brahmin was the supplier of these two when the British came to our country. The Brahmins served either as teachers or as temple priests and were pivotal in the activities of every household in Bharat of those days. The Census Report of 1871 noted,


“No child is born, named, betrothed, or married; nobody dies or is burnt; no journey is undertaken or auspicious day elected, no home is built, no agricultural operation of importance begins, or harvest gathered in, without the Brahmans being feted or fed; a portion of all the produce of the field is set apart for their use, they are consulted in sickness and in health, they are feasted in sorrow and in joy.”


The influence of the Brahmins in all the affairs of the people is something the British wanted to thwart because the Brahmin posed an obstacle in their missionary and political goals. The Brahmin had to be stopped and discredited somehow. This is reflected in the Census report of 1871 which also says that the people were scared to see the Census official because they thought (among other reasons) they had come to levy some new tax for feeding the Brahmins.

“It was variously supposed that the tax would fall on those who trod on the village-path, who swung an arm, who carried an umbrella, or who fed Brahmins.”


A persistent campaign to defame Brahmins and separate the locals from them thus started in the middle of the 19th century. It is learnt from the reports of the Collectors of Bellary, Malabar and Madras in 1825 that the British successfully destroyed the education system by taking away the land grants of the Brahmins given by the kings of yore as ‘Acharya Bhog’ to facilitate teaching without a fee, on the death of the Brahmin to create a ‘School Fund’. Soon this school fund was delinked from education with the missionaries taking over the education system. Only the Hindu temple system was the unfinished agenda when the British left Bharat. That has been taken over by the Justice Party of EVR and his followers in the DK and the DMK. 


The Brahmin, an essential service provider in keeping the sanctity of the temple, is being harassed in every conceivable way. By driving him out of the temple the DMK thinks that the temple culture can be demolished. With that, the decimation of Hindu culture will be complete.


The seeds of this crusade started in 1970 by Karunanidhi, who avowed to “remove the thorn in the heart” of Periyar by driving out the Brahmins from the Garbhagriha and placing other castes inside. With the Supreme Court striking it down, he once again tried to introduce his temple agenda in 2006. This time the Supreme Court delivered a judgment in 2015 that the appointments must be done according to the Agamas – doctrines that govern temple worship – ensuring the fundamental right to equality is not breached.


In the meantime, Karunanidhi, the self-appointed champion of Thirukkural, tacitly encouraged Christianization of Thiruvalluvar by writing a foreword to a book that claimed that Thiruvalluvar was a Christian. His son made no efforts to conceal his agenda of destroying Hindu temple culture by releasing the first batch of government certified priests from different castes in 2021 and the second batch now.


On this second occasion, his son Udhayanidhi minced no words on his party’s goal of destroying Sanatana Dharma. His Christian faith and eulogy of Christian missionaries as promoting education in Tamilnadu was echoed by the Assembly Speaker Appavu, that Tamilnadu would be like Bihar but for the works of Christian missionaries.


The Hindus of Tamilnadu are facing an existential threat from the DMK which wants to see a Christian State in Tamilnadu. Annamalai, the TNBJP president, recently annotated the DMK as Dengue-Malaria-Kosu (which means mosquito). It will be more apt to say that the DMK stands for Destruction-Mutilation-Kaput of the Hindu Sanatan culture.

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