Chilkur Balaji temple priest re-enacts 2,700-year-old ritual

Carries dalit man on his shoulder in to temple.

Hyderabad: At a time when atrocities against the backward caste communities are on the rise, perhaps this move by a Hindu priest could possibly trigger a change. Chilkur Balaji temple priest, C.S. Rangarajan, has apparently performed “Muni Vahana Seva”, (a 2,700-year-old ritual famous in Tamil Nadu), at Ranganatha Swamy temple in Jiyaguda in the city on Monday.

Amid Annamayya’s famous chant “Brahmam Okkate Parabrahmam Okkate”, floral decorations, naadaswaram music and Vedic hymns, Rangarajan carried a 25-year-old dalit devotee, Aditya Parasri, on his shoulders from the entrance to the temple’s Dwajasthambam. This act was received with a huge round of applause by the massive crowd that had gathered to witness the significant event.

Giving a back-story to what prompted him to do the Seva, Rangarajan said, “In January, I was part of a round-table conference (in Osmania University), which discussed how backward caste communities are denied entry into the temple. Since ‘Sanathana Dharma’ has treated everybody equally before the god, I came forward to reinstate it by doing the Muni Vahanai Seva,” adding, “The prime objective of this gesture is to propagate equality. The ritual coincided with the 1,000th birth anniversary celebrations of Vaishavaite saint Ramanucharya, who preached equality of human beings. So we did the activity like an utsavam (festival).”

When asked how he picked up Aditya, he reveals, “I approached one of the Dalit associations to lookout for someone who is a thin devotee (since I am an old man). They referred to Aditya, who eats only once a day and follows all the Hindu customs.”

A visibly excited Aditya, who is a Brahmachari and a devotee of Goddess Devi, said that he was honoured to receive such a warm welcome. He added that it could be the beginning of breaking the barriers of social evils like untouchability and caste discrimination, etc., which is dividing the country.

“Being a dalit, my family was oppressed and was humiliated when I was denied entry into Lord Hanuman temple in my native Mahbubnagar. This practise is still existent in several temples. It is very said that although our Constitution provides for the protection of the downtrodden sections, we are still being looked down upon,” he explains.

“So, I was determined to change things and approached my Guru (Siddheshwar Maharaj), took deeksha and learnt all the sacred rituals, and eventually gained the right to enter the temple premises. But I hope this is just the beginning of the change,” he added.

Chilkur Balaji head priest, Sri M.V. Soundararajan, (Rangarajan's father), S. T. Chari, Ranganatha Swamy temple founder trustee, S. Seshacahri, organiser, and S. Venu Gopala Chari, Special Representative of the Telangana state government were also present.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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