Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Quo Vadis (where to?) Brahmin priests?


Quo Vadis (where to?)   Brahmin priests?

By
P.R.Ramachander

There  are   two types of priests   among   Brahmins. 







1.Archakas
    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.


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