In recent news, the Supreme Court of India has issued an order to maintain the status quo in a significant case concerning Agama traditions. This legal battle revolves around the intricate aspects of temple practices in Tamil Nadu, particularly focusing on the appointment of archakas (priests) and their adherence to Agamic principles.
This topic of “SC Case on Agama” is important from the perspective of the UPSC IAS Examination, which falls under General Studies Portion.
SC Orders Status Quo in the Case
The Supreme Court’s decision to maintain the status quo in this case marks a pivotal moment in the ongoing debate surrounding Agama practices in Hindu temples. Let’s delve deeper into the various facets of this issue.
What is Agama?
Agama in Sanskrit: That Which Has Come to Us
The term “Agama” finds its roots in the Sanskrit language, where it signifies “that which has come to us.” In the context of Hinduism, Agama is a profound concept encompassing a set of doctrines related to temple traditions.
Definition of Agama
Agama doctrines expound a variety of subjects, serving as a stylebook for Hindu rituals and spiritual practices. These doctrines play a fundamental role in guiding temple activities and ceremonies.
Types of Agama Texts
There are two primary types of Agama texts, each associated with specific branches of Hinduism:
- Agama (Saivite Temples): These texts are primarily practiced in Saivite temples, dedicated to Lord Shiva.
- Tantra (Sakthi Temples): Tantra Agamas are followed in Sakthi temples, which worship the divine feminine energy.
Saivite Temple Practices
In Saivite temples, the Agama tradition is deeply rooted, with specific emphasis on the Tamil Agamas. These texts provide comprehensive guidelines for temple rituals and practices.
Rituals in Vaishnavite Temples Based on Agamas
Vaishnavite temples, dedicated to Lord Vishnu, follow their own set of Agamas known as the Vaikhanasa and Pancharathra Agamas.
The Vaikhanasa Agamas outline the rituals and procedures for temple worship in Vaishnavite tradition.
- Five Nights: The Pancharathra Agamas consist of five distinct sections, each dedicated to different aspects of temple worship.
- Believed to be Taught by Lord Vishnu to Sages: These Agamas are believed to have been taught by Lord Vishnu to sages and rishis.
Works Known as Samhitas
Within the Agama tradition, various works known as “samhitas” provide comprehensive guidance for temple practices.
- The number of these samhitas exceeds 200, covering a wide range of topics related to rituals and spirituality.
- However, only a few of these samhitas are available in print today, underscoring their rarity and significance.
Highlights of the Case
Plea Filed in Top Court
A plea was filed in the Supreme Court, seeking to quash an order issued by the Tamil Nadu state government and all consequential orders. The primary contention was that these orders attempted to interfere with the hereditary scheme of appointing archakas of specific denominations and aimed to open it to other denominations.
Appointment of Archakas
- The government had introduced a one-year certificate course for archakas in schools run by the government.
- The petitioner association argued that this move was a deviation from traditional practices, as the knowledge of Agamas requires years of rigorous training under learned Gurus.
Supreme Court’s Decision
In response to the plea, the Supreme Court ordered the maintenance of the status quo regarding the appointment of archakas in Tamil Nadu temples governed by Agamic tradition. This decision has significant implications for the preservation of age-old temple practices and the role of archakas in upholding the sanctity of Agama traditions.