As Madras HC Establishes Rules for Temples, Many Continue to Be Mystified by the Complicated “Agamas” World

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As Madras HC Establishes Rules for Temples, Many Continue to Be Mystified by the Complicated "Agamas" World

On Monday, the Madras High Court ordered the Tamil Nadu government to form a five-member panel to determine which temples were built in accordance with the “Agamas.” Following this, the Supreme Court’s ruling on the matter would be followed and applied to the appointment of Archakas (priests), according to the first bench of Chief Justice MN Bhandari and Justice N Mala.

The bench upheld some provisions of the TN Hindu Religious Institutions Employees (Conditions of Service) Rules, 2020 issued in response to a government order dated September 3, 2020, of the Tourism, Culture and Religious Endowments department. The petitions were from the All India Adi Saiva Sivacharyargal Seva Sangam, by its general secretary BSR Muthukumar and 14 others.

According to the Supreme Court’s ruling in the Adi Saiva Sivachariyargal Nala Sangam versus State of Tamil Nadu and other case, the petitions sought to invalidate the aforementioned provisions and thereby prevent the relevant authorities from choosing or appointing Archakas and other Agama-related personnel in temples in violation of the Agamas. The bench stated in its 93-page verdict that the challenge to these provisions—all of which relate with seniority, promotion, and conditions for selection and service—is not meritorious.

The Agamas list Sthala, Teertham, and Murthy as the three prerequisites for a place of pilgrimage. The terms Sthala and Teertham denote the temple, the temple tank, and the revered deity or deities respectively. As the Sthala Vriksham, a tree may also be connected to a temple. For instance, the Sthala Vriksham is the Kadamba tree in the Meenakshi Sundareswarar temple in Madurai.

 The Sthala Vriksham is a single banyan tree that graces the expansive courtyard of the Ratnasabha in Tiruvalankadu. It’s said that the region was originally covered in a forest of banyan trees.

The Agamas propagate a number of esoteric techniques, some of which provide knowledge and freedom while others grant powers. Lord Shiva’s creative force is known as Shakti. Actually, Shaktas are a supplement to Shaivism.

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