I feel blessed, says first dalit priest after a year in service
Krishanan, a disciple of Anirudhan Thantri of North Paravoor, entered priesthood after a 10-year long study of Thantra Sastra.
Alappuzha: Yedhu Krishnan, 23, the first Dalit priest in the history of the Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB) which administers as many as 1,248 temples, has completed a year in service. It was in October last year he joined the Manappuram Mahadeva temple in Thiruvalla as apart-time shanti.
“I have had some memorable moments as priest in the last one year,” Mr Krishanan told DC on the first anniversary of his appointment. “I have got full cooperation from the temple administrators and the devotees; I faced no bitter experience from anybody. I feel blessed.” It was DC which broke the news of his historic appointment on October 1 last year.
Mr Krishnan is currently a part-time priest in Kurungazhippu Devi temple under Thirumoozhikulam sub-group after his transfer from Thiruvalla group to Paravoor on his request. He had worked for 10 months as a part-time priest in Thiruvalla.
He, however, recalls facing an impediment after entering the service. “A couple of weeks after I joined the Thiruvalla temple, a member of All Kerala Santhi Kshema Union (AKSKU), an organisation of Brahmin priests, lodged a complaint with the assistant commissioner of the Devaswom Board alleging lapses,” he said. “But the temple administrators, devotees and officials stood by me.” All five other priests from SC/ST communities who joined along with him are continuing in their job, he said.
Mr Krishanan, a disciple of Anirudhan Thantri of North Paravoor, entered priesthood after a 10 -year long study of Thantra Sastra. His appointment as a teenager as the helper at Sree Dharma Sasthra- Bhadrakali Temple in Nalukettu near his home that sow the seeds of becoming a priest in him. It was in the temple that he met Anirudhan Thantri, the chief priest. The Thantri asked him whether he was interested to become a priest, and he said yes. He then took him to the Sree Gurudeva Vaidika Thantra Peedom which runs. Mr Krishanan became eligible to be a priest after securing the fourth rank in the 62-member list approved by the government.
Son of P.K. Ravi and P.A. Leela in Koratty in Thrissur district, Mr Krishnan belonged to the Pulaya community. His first job was to offer the morning puja at Mahadeva temple in Thiruvalla. He now offers the puja twice a day at the temple where he is employed at present.
“I am still part-time time priest,” he said. “It’s the TDB’s prerogative to appoint me as a fulltime priest on the basis of vacancies. I feel happy that I could manage to enter many major temples after I was transferred to my hometown Paravoor.”
He says the attitude of the devotees to non-Brahmin priests has changed thoroughly of late. “In my experience, devotees, irrespective of their caste, helped me go forward. The real devotees want dedicated servants of god, and they don’t want to lapses in the rituals in the temples.”
Asked about the Supreme Court verdict allowing all women into Sabarimala, he said his stance was against the court verdict. “I personally believe that entry of women to Sabarimala would be a breach of temple rituals,” he said. “Maybe my entry was made possible thanks to such court verdicts. However, the entry of women to Sabarimala could hurt sentiments of all communities in Hindu religion. But the case of non-Brahmin priest doesn’t hurt all people in the Hindu community.
“It’s no more a job for me,” he said. “It’s my upasana (way of life).”
Source: Asian Age, Oct 04, 2018