Parur Rakesh Tantri

Parur Rakesh Tantri

Parur Rakesh, son of the late famous Parur Sreedharan Thanthri, has been appointed as Thanthri for some temples managed by state government-controlled Travancore Dewaswom Board. This is the first ever incident of appointing a non-Brahmin as Thanthri for Dewaswom Board temple. Hindu organisations have lauded the Board’s gesture. RSS Ideologue Shri P Parameshwaran, Director of Bharatheeya Vichara Kendram and President of Vivekananda Kendram, Kanyakumari, welcomed the Board’s decision.

This is as significant as the historic Temple Entry Proclamation. The Proclamation of 1936 lifted the convention, which prevented OBC and Dalit Hindus from entering the temples. Hindu organisations have been arguing since long that non-Brahmins have the right to be appointed as temple priests if they are qualified and eligible for that job. Parameshwarji reminisced the life and activities of the late senior RSS Pracharak P Madhavji who founded Thanthra Vidya Peetam for training non-Brahmins for assignment as temple priests. He added that this is the Board’s penance for not appointing Rakesh as a temple priest several years back even though he was eligible for that. Keralites remember the legal war Rakesh had to fight in this regard couple of decades before.

The position of Thanthri is very important and of highest pedestal as far as temple system and its thanthrik management are concerned. General belief is that Thanthri is the ultimate decision maker for the sake of the deity. Festival, important rituals, any important decisions concerning the running of the temple, etc. are all coming under the discretionary power of the Thanthri.

Rakesh’s father Parur Sreedharan Thanthri was a respected and scholarly Thanthri who expired in the recent past. He was a close associate of RSS veteran P Madhavji who was also an expert in tanthra vidya. Madhavji started studying this science after getting Sri Guruji’s nod in 1960s.  Sreedharan Thanthri,  despite being a non-Brahmin, was widely accepted as a respectable Thanthri even among Brahmin Thanthris. Back in 1982 he performed Ganapati Homam to mark the beginning of historic Vishal Hindu Sammelan, participated by thousands of people of all castes and addressed by Dr Karan Singh, Rajju Bhaiya, former Sarsanghchalak of RSS, Swami Chinmayananda and Swami Sathyananda Saraswati. And he was assisted in that ritual by Sooryakalati Bhattathirippad from the famous and centuries old Brahmin thanthriktradition. That itself was a great revolution in the social fabric of Kerala, the place which was once described by Swami Vivekananda as “mad house”. Swamiji said like this when he could see that OBCs and Dalits could not even use the public roads used by the ‘caste Hindus’ and they could get an equal status with the upper class Hindus when they converted themselves into Christianity or Islam!!! Converted Christians and Muslims could even enter the houses of caste Hindus sans any hindrance.

Rakesh told that the recognition he got is only due to the blessings of Sree Narayana Guru.  When his Sanskrit scholar grandfather sought the blessings of Sree Narayana Guru Swami for God fearing children, Swamiji blessed that he would get children who create God. He believes that Guru’s blessings his grandfather got was materialised by the birth and life of his (Rakesh’s) late father Parur Sreedharan Thanthri. He further said that his father longed for the implementation of Supreme Court verdict stating that all those who knew the rituals properly do deserve to be appointed as temple priests cutting across religious lines. That is what happened now.

Report by T Sathishan in Organiser, Sept 22, 2013.