Quo Vadis (where to?) Brahmin priests?
There are two types of priests among Brahmins.
These are the priests who specialise in agama (that which came down to us ie tradition ) Sastras and do worship in temples. In south india there are three type of major agamas that are practiced in our temples viz Shaiva Agamas , Vaishanava Agamas and Thanthric Agamas . The person/society which maintain the temples are supposed to pay them for the day to day rituals of the temple . The devotees who go to the temple also pay them for performing personal worships as well as Abhishekams. Their income thus depends on how rich the organisations which run the temple are and also on the number of devotees who visit the temple for personal worship..If the temple is rarely visited by devotees , the archakas almost starve. Most of village temple archakas are like this.
2.Priests (Purohitha) helping us to do Vedic ritual
They are all supposed to be well versed in Vedas especially the Gruhya soothras.They can specialise in any of the three Vedas viz Rig, Yajur and Sama Veda.When we go through the puranas we find that such priests were mainly employed by kings who rule the country But with disappearance of kings , they were employed by agraharams (cluster of Brahmin houses), With agraharams not being as rich as the kings , this class of priests became poor, Their major income was from weddings and after death ceremonies of the families of Agraharams and rarely by participating in Yagams which were conducted by rich Brahmin families.
With Brahmins moving away to white collared jobs with regular income in to cities , Some of these priests also moved to towns and their income started increasing .The poor priests in the villages starved
Not all priests in urban areas were able to get large number of clients and two classes of such priests came in to existence in urban areas. The chief priests and the subordinate priests .All the rich Brahmins contacted only the chief priests who deputed the sub ordinate priests working under them for various rituals .I understand that the subordinate priests have to contribute a small amount of their daily income to the chief priests.
Slowly the trained subordinate priests became lesser and lesser and so the main priests were forced to employ so called priests who have not studied at all as their assistants.
Perhaps because of this we do find rich chief priests moving in their own cars with their very costly cell phones and also very poor assistant priests who some how are managing to make both ends meet
Most of the villages do not have priests and priests travel from small towns to surrounding villages.