Jagan govt grants hereditary rights to temple priests

YS Jaganmohan Reddy.

The YS Jaganmohan Reddy government has issued orders granting hereditary 'Archakatva' rights to Hindu temple priests, Mirasidars and other office-holders fulfilling a long standing demand of the priests of the state.

The hereditary rights were abolished by the Andhra Pradesh Charitable and Hindu Religious Institutions and Endowments Act, 1987. The order, issued on Monday says that the rules apply to Hereditary 'Archakas' mentioned in all Charitable and Religious Institutions other than Tirumala Tirupathi Devasthanams (TTD) which is governed by its own rules. The Rules relating to Qualification, Emoluments and Conditions of Service of the Non Hereditary 'Archakas' are not applicable to the Hereditary 'Archakas'.

Hereditary Archaka Scheme

Under the ‘Hereditary Archaka Scheme’, Hereditary 'Archaka' Families whose members have been performing 'Archakatvam' service and recognised shall be identified and recorded in the Scheme’ by the endowments commissioner. There must be a process of paper notification, production of family members certificate, verification of genealogy map, obtaining affidavits, and a transparent inquiry.

The nominee must be from the same community and born to legally wedded wife and such person shall have acquired necessary qualifications and free from bad habits. All qualified members, who are above the age of 16 years belonging to the Hereditary 'Archaka' Families who apply to be included in the ‘Hereditary Archaka Scheme’, will have the right to 'archakatvam'. Subject to the Scheme and emoluments therein, there shall be two categories of Hereditary Archaka -- the Pradhana Archaka and Archaka.

Seers and priests appreciate the move

C S Rangarajan, Convenor, Temples Protection Movement in a statement thanked the Jagan government for restoring the status of Hereditary 'Archaka' system. “We all know that the draconian AP legislation of 1987 was enacted following the recommendations of Challa Kondiah Commission leading to large scale threat to Hinduism and Hindu religious institutions, “he said. The legislation abolished, basic Hindu religious rights to 'Archakas' and other devotees to perform devotional services to Lords of various thousands of temples rendering them socially and economically crippled,'' he added.

Seer Swarupanandendra Saraswathi of Visakhapatnam, in a statement, also lauded the government’s move in restoring 'Archaka' rights. “The role of the priests in the protection of Dharma can't be understated. We wish that the government continue its efforts to protect Hindu religious bodies for which the Sarada Peeth has been making all out efforts,” the Seer said.

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