Tamil Nadu

Both sects can recite hymns inside Devarajaswamy temple, says High Court

Sri Varadaraja Perumal Temple in Kancheepuram.

Sri Varadaraja Perumal Temple in Kancheepuram. | Photo Credit: B. VELANKANNI RAJ

Observing that tolerance is the hallmark of Hinduism and that the Vadakalai as well as the Tenkalai sects of Vaishnavites must have mutual respect for each other, the Madras High Court on Tuesday ordered that both of them should be allowed to recite hymns at the Devarajaswamy temple in Kancheepuram.

Justice S.M. Subramaniam ordered that the Tenkalai sect shall be permitted to sit in the first two or three rows during the recitation since they had accrued such a right through a series of litigations that had been taking place since 1844 and the Vadakalai shall be seated behind them, followed by the other devotees.

The judge directed the Executive Trustee of the temple — an official in the rank of Assistant Commissioner of Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments (HR and CE) Department — to regulate the seating arrangements during the recitation without affecting the discipline and decorum of the rituals and puja activities.

It was further ordered that the Tenkalai sect should be permitted to commence their initial recital, Srisaila Dayapathram, and thereafter, the Vadagalai sect should be permitted to chant their initial recital, Sri Ramanuja Dayapathram. Afterwards, both the sects and the other devotees should jointly chant the Naalayira Divya Prabandham.

Stating that Naalayira Divya Prabandham was also described as the Tamil Marai or Dravida Vedam or Dravida Prabandham, the judge said though it was in Tamil, the anthology was chanted by all Dravidians, including the Kannadigas and the Telugu-speaking people, and hence, it was also called Dravida Vedam too, the judge observed.

He went to order that such chanting must happen without disrupting the pujas and without causing any inconvenience or “nuisance” to other worshippers. On completing the chanting of Naalayira Divya Prabandham, the Tenkalai sect should be allowed to recite Manavalamamunigal Vaazhi Thirunamam and then the Vadakalai should recite Desikan Vaazhi Thirunamam.

The Executive Trustee of the temple was directed to monitor the observance of rituals by both sects. In the event of any violation of court orders leading to non-maintenance of discipline and decorum, the officer was ordered to initiate all appropriate action in the manner known to law, including penal actions.

Since the Brahmotsavam was ongoing, the judge directed the officer to record the proceedings on video and produce the recordings along with a compliance report on May 25. The interim orders were passed on a writ petition filed on behalf of the Vadakalai sect against an order passed by the Executive Trustee on Sunday.

Advocate General R. Shunmugasundaram said the trustee had no other go but to permit the Tenkalai sect alone to recite hymns in praise of Manavala Mamunigal, as per court orders passed since 1910, and not allow the Vadakalai to recite hymns in praise of Vedanta Desikar since such a recital lead to frequent quarrel and disruption of prayers in the temple.

On the other hand, senior counsel G. Rajagopalan, Satish Parasaran and S. Parthasarathy, apart from advocate V. Raghavachari and counsel-on-record Abhinav Parthasarathy, representing the writ petitioner, said the Vadakalai sect only wanted to assert the right to recite hymns in praise of their Guru and that they were not opposed to any such recital by the Tenkalai.

After hearing all of them, Justice Subramaniam recalled that in 1969, a Division Bench of the High Court had said: “It is a pity that these two sects of Vaishnavites, who profess to be the followers of great saints and savants, are so intolerant to each other even in respect of small and unimportant rituals and ceremonies. We can only hope that the people belonging to these two sects will realise the futility of this kind of useless and wasteful litigation and stop their acrimonious fight.”

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Printable version | Jun 23, 2022 10:25:50 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/both-sects-can-recite-hymns-inside-devarajaswamy-temple-says-high-court/article65423334.ece