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Shri A.S. Narayana Deekshitulu vs State Of Andhra Pradesh & Ors on 19 March, 1996

Shri A.S. Narayana Deekshitulu vs State Of Andhra Pradesh & Ors on 19 March, 1996
Equivalent citations: 1996 AIR 1765, JT 1996 (3) 482
Author: K Ramaswamy
Bench: Ramaswamy, K.

PETITIONER:

SHRI A.S. NARAYANA DEEKSHITULU

Vs.

RESPONDENT:

STATE OF ANDHRA PRADESH & ORS.

DATE OF JUDGMENT: 19/03/1996

BENCH:

RAMASWAMY, K.

BENCH:

RAMASWAMY, K.

HANSARIA B.L. (J)

CITATION:

1996 AIR 1765 JT 1996 (3) 482

1996 SCALE (2)911

ACT:

HEADNOTE:

JUDGMENT:

WITH

WRIT PETITION NOs. 1063, 1090, 1374 OF 1987 AND 173/90 AND TRANSFER CASE NOS.168/88, 170-76/88, 2/90, 37 & 38/90 3/93 AND 4/93

J U D G M E N T

K. RAMASWAMY, J.

This and connected writ petitions and transfer cases concern the constitutionality of Sections 34, 35, 37,39 and 144 of the Andhra Pradesh Charitable and Hindu Religious Institutions and Endowments Act (for short, the `Act’) abolishing hereditary rights of archaka, mirasidars, gamekars and other office-holders and servants like hereditary Karnam of Dwarka Thirumalai Temple in West Godavari District. The facts in Writ Petition No.638/87 are sufficient for consideration of questions raised in this batch of cases.

The petitioner is one of the Chief Priests (archaka) in an ancient and renowned Hindu temple at Thirumala Tirupathi known in entire south-Asia and abroad as venkateswaraswamy temple and in north-India as Balaji temple in whose praise saint Annamacharya spent his life in singing devotional songs – a practice devolved by custom and usage from over a century. According to the petitioner, the office of archaka is succeeded from forefathers in accordance with the Vaikhanasa Agama Shastre rules which govern the temple on the principles of “heirs in line of succession” among four families, viz., Paidapally family, Gollapalli family, Pethainti family and Thirupathanna Garu family. The petitioner belongs to the Paidapally family. According to the petitioner, being Hindu vaishnavas, they render Archaktwam service in the holy temple of Lord Venkateswara situated on the top of seven hills or Saptagiri, Thirumalai. The temple is presided over by Lord Venkateswaraswamy known by different names.

Religion is inspired by ceaseless quest for truth which has many facets to release and free the soul from ceaseless cycle of birth and death to attain salvation. Hindus believe that worship consists of four forms of which idol worship is one such form. Mode of worship varies among persons of different faiths. It is an assimilation of the individual soul with the infinite. For its attainment diverse views and theories have been propounded and one of them is idol worship. Hindu creed believes that the Supreme Being manifests Himself with three aspects as Brahma, the Creator, Vishnu, the Preserver and Shive, the Destroyer and Renovator. Those who believe and are devoted to the worship of Vishnu are known as Vaishnavas and those who worship Shiva are called Saivites.

Vaishnavas believe that God had manifested Himself in different incarnations. In other words, manifesting Himself into flesh and the very contrary of avatare which is expressive, absolute and immaculate. The finite forms of His avatara are hot forms of material impurity but of imperium purity, the purity of Suddhasattva. Vaishnava believes in Deity Vishnu who has manifested Himself in 10 avataras. Lord Vishnu descends in one avatrara `Archavatar’. It is a Deity in the form of idols in the temple. The institution of temple should be in conformity with the Agamas co-existing with the institution of temple worship. Construction of temple and the institution of archakas simultaneously came into existence. The temples are constructed according to the Agama Shastra. In accordance with the Agama Shastra, archaka as professional man, attends on idols. He is associated with existence of temple over centuries as part of its establishment. The authority of Agama is judicially recognized in several precedents of various courts including this Court. Agamas are treaties of ceremonial law dealing with matters such as construction of temples, installation of idols therein and conducting worship of the Deity. 28 Agamas relate to the Shiva temples. The Agamas of Vaishnavas are Pancharatra Agamas containing elaborate rules regulating how the temple should be constructed, whereat the principal Deity is to be consecrated, where the other Devatas (idols) are to be installed and place where worshippers should stand and worship the Deity Though Agamas prescribed class discriminatory placement for worship in the temples, it became obsolete after the advent of the Constitution if India which, by Articles 14, 15, 17, 21, 25 and 26, prohibits discrimination on grounds only of caste, class, sect etc.

The consecration of idol should be done by the priest according to elaborate and complicated rituals accompanied by chanting of mantras and devotional songs appropriate to the Deity. Hindu worshippers believe that the divine spirit has descended in the Deity’s images and if efficacy and power of the Lord are transmitted into the Deity, the image of the Deity becomes fit to be worshiped. Rules have been provided to conduct periodical or daily worship for securing continuance of the divine spirit in the image. According to Marishi Maharishi in his discourse to his disciple on need for worship for salvation had ordained that worship of Deity in the temple will bring all the benefits. The purpose of the temple is to provide opportunity for public worship of the Deity. When congregation of worshippers participate in the worship, a particular attitude of separation of devotion gets developed and confers great spiritual benefit. The priest preserves the image from pollution, defilement or desecration. By performing rituals, rites and reciting hymns he makes Lord present in definable and describable way and Vishnu manifests in the hearts of the devotees. It is the religious belief of Hindu worshippers that when the image is polluted or defiled, the divine spirit in the image is diminished or even vanished. According to the Agamas, an image becomes defiled if there is any departure or violation of any of the rules relating to worship. It would then become necessary to perform purificatory ceremonies to restore the sanctity of the shrine. The performance of rituals thus plays a great role to sustain the faith of the layman in the Deity. Therefore, the Agama rules are part of Hindu religious faith. Any departure from the traditional rules of worship would result in pollution.

Only qualified archaka is entitled to step inside the sanctum sanctorum (Garbhagriha) after observing daily discipline imposed upon him by the Agamas. It is his sole duty to perform daily rituals and ceremonies according to Agama prescriptions touching the Deity. Touch of the image of the Deity by any other person would defile the idol. Therefore, the Agama assigns that duty to the archaka alone as part of religious practice. He performs Archana and other services on behalf of the “Severities” or worshippers. The services of archaka, therefore, are integrally and inseparably connected with the performance of daily rituals in pooja (worship) to the Deity.

Consequently, devotees of the respective Vaishnavite or Saivite temples alone are entitled to be archakas in the respective temples. In a Saivite temple, a Vaishnavite cannot be an archaka and vice versa, though there is no bar for them worshipping either Deity as a lay worshipper. Therefore, any other archaka is not competent to do pooja in Vaishnavite temple according to Vaikhanasa Agama Shastra. This is the general rule applicable to all the temples. Even among vaishnavitas there is further distinction between pancharatra and vaikhanasa system of performing rites. It is, therefore, clear that archaka of a temple, besides being proficient in the rituals appropriate to the worship of the particular Deity according to Agamas, must also belong to a particular denomination. Thereby, archaka occupies an important place in religious part of temple worship. Unlike other temples, Thirumalai Lord Venketeswaraswamy temple has peculiar features of its own, namely, certain special ceremonies and rites distinct for this temple should be done strictly, as mandated by the Vedas and Agamas by the archakas who profess and practise Vaikhanasa Agamas and succeed to the office of archaka hereditarily and are governed by the Vaikhanasa Agama and are of Vaishnavite faith. The principle of heredity thereby became part of usage.

The management of the temple prior to the statutory intervention was in the hands of Dharmakartas (Pedda Jeengar). Equally, there classes of persons like Chinna Jeengar, Acharya, Purrushas and Gamekars were in charge of making prasadams, like Laddu and doing other forms of services like maintenance of the temple by shepherd community and other local communities, are part of the hereditary system.

All of them are given certain rights known as “Mirasi rights”. they earn their livelihood through these mirasi rights which include lands given by the temple for performance of services. Besides, archkas have shares out of the offerings made to the temple, while persons in charge of preparing prasadams will get percentage of share out of the sale of prasadams. All persons in charge of various activities of the temple succeed hereditarily. The right of management was acquired by birth and every person born in the respective classes is entitled to a share in the perquisites incidental to management. The temple is managed by these persons by turns among them. Dharamkarthas and archakas had framed rules for management of the temple. Even after the statutory take-over of the management by the Endowment Department or Government, custody of the properties, particularly jewels, remained with archakas and the custody changed hands to each family according to turns from time to time. Head priest remained in charge of doing pooja for a particular period; when his family got the charge once in four years or eight years, he would be in charge of all the valuables. Thought the value of the jewellery and other valuables of the temple was of several crores, there was never any complaint of any sort regarding their custody and management of the jewellery and other valuables. All the functions done by archakas constitute an integral and inseparable part of the management of the temples and religious ritual practices and usages. Even the food offerings and preparation of Prasadams, i.e., Dittam, are part of the religious practice evolved in the temple and are to be prepared by persons well versed in the Agama Shastras.

The State Government had constituted a commission headed by Justice Challa Kondaiah, former Chief Justice of Andhra Pradesh, as its Chairman; the composition thereof changed and ultimately a three-member Commission consisting of the Chairman, Dr. C. Annarao, former Chairman of Thirumala Tirupathi Devasthanams (for short, the `TTD’) for a decade having first-hand personal experience in the working of the system and management of TTD; and Shri A.V. Suryarao, an advocate, Joint Commissioner of Endowment Department having expert knowledge in working out the Madras Act Telangana Act and the Andhra Pradesh Charitable and Hindu Religious Institutions and Endowments Act, 1966 [for short, `predecessor Act 17 of 1966] and known for his devoted service, as Member Secretary, came in existence. The Commission submitted its report in three printed volumes which have been placed before us and copiously relied upon and referred to. It had recommended abolition of hereditary archakatwam service and trusteeship etc. On its basis, the Act was made, which has come into force w.e.f. May 23, 1987 after it received Presidential assent. It repealed its predecessor Act 17 of 1966.

Shri K. Parasaran, learned senior counsel, who addressed leading arguments on behalf of the petitioner and which were adopted by other learned counsel, contended that abolition of hereditary rights created by the founders in rendering services to the temples by archaka etc. in charitable or religious institutions and endowments is an interference with religious practices and customs which are part of religion. The Act should not look at archakas or other office-holders in isolation; they should be considered in its pragmatic whole whose impact would be to destroy the concept and content of Hindu religious belief itself. The scheme of the Act as such is an unwarranted and outrageous interference with the religion, that is to say, it aims to abolish all existing religious offices, religious usages and practices and confers on the secular State power to decide as to who should be appointed as archaka, mirasidar and other office-holders destroying the existing customs, usage and traditions which are integral part of religion. Articles 25 and 26 of the Constitution deal with guarantee not only of matters of doctrine and beliefs but also the practices of it, to be ascertained with reference to the tenets and doctrine of the religion itself as is evidenced by custom and usage. Where the religious affairs and ceremonies are carried on in accordance with a particular Agama Shastra, deviation therefrom is impermissible. The archaka is part of the temple worship and the rights of an archaka are succeeded by heredity from generation to generation treating him as an original Acharya. As followed in Vaikhanasa Agama the daily rites, rituals and ceremonies performed by them extend to daily worship, offerings of food and performance of special ceremonies in a particular way with all piety and devotion as integral part of religion. Archakatwam service would thus form part of religious service integrally connected with the religion. Therefore, Sections 16, 34 to 37, 39 and 144 of the Act are ultra vires Articles 25(1) and 26(b) of the Constitution. They do not relate to public order, morality, health or matters relating to economic, financial, political or other secular activities associated with religious practices nor do they relate to social welfare or reform. Therefore, they are not saved either by Article 25(2) or 26 of the Constitution. The emoluments attached to the office are for discharge of daily obligations by an archaka and the right to a share in the collections is beneficial interest attached to the office. The deprivation thereof denudes the archaka or office-holders of the means to discharge the duties and would destroy the character of worship itself. The reimbursement by way of payment of salary is calculated to make archaka unfit to discharge his duties, integral to worship. The restriction imposed are offensive of Article 25(1) and being arbitrary, unjust and unfair, violative of Article 14. Making the archaka a servant under the State Department is contrary to the code of conduct laid down by Agamas for an archaka, an integral part of religious practice. Therefore, it cannot be a subject matter of any legislation. Even if a legislation comes under social welfare, public order, morality or health or any other field, it can only regulate and restrict the secular activity but cannot altogether alter or abolish or totally change the system which had formed an essential part of the religion. Therefore, the law taking away the hereditary right from the petitioners offends Articles 25(1) and 26. The Commissioner who is a bureaucrat has no competence or qualifications to judge or test the qualifications, merit or work of an archaka who learns the Agama Sutras by heart from child-hood. Being born in the hereditary family, they would learn recitation of slokas and mode of performance of worship as per Agama. The Commissioner cannot regulate by law nor has he competence to test his qualification or suitability for appointment. Therefore, though being secular act, hereditary right of an archaka may be abolished since qualification for appointment flows from the Agamic rule, only descendants of particular family are competent to conduct worship and they alone have the right to appointment and they cannot be tested nor can their competence be determined by the Commissioner.

Public interest requires that rites or rituals must be performed by an archaka and public duty towards the general worshippers demands that archaka who is interested in ritual form of worship would alone be appointed as priest. They would be available only in the families of archakas from generation to generation. Payment of share in the offerings is part of religious practice and usage. No question of money consideration or emoluments in that behalf for the performance of his duties, would arise. Archaka is entitled to the share in Parsadams, laddus and collections in the prescribed manner as part of religious customs and usages. The scheme under the Act and rules are wholly misconceived and repugnant to the established religious practice. There is nothing in the Act to show that it was enacted in the interest of public order, morality and health, which alone are relevant factors to restrict freedom of religion or religious practices guaranteed by Article 25(1) of the Constitution. The State cannot, under the pretext of making secular law, regulate or restrict activities which are integrally associated with religious purposes. Vaishnava archaka cannot be transferred to and posted even in another similar Vaishnava temple situated elsewhere as no two temples perform same ceremonies and rituals in the same order. The Pedda Jeengar and Chinna Jeengar are religious heads and importance of their office was judicially recognized by the Privy Council. Therefore, their offices are hereditary and cannot be abolished under the Act. A Brahmachari cannot be appointed as an archaka which is antithesis to the Agama Shastra. He cited the instance of performance of rituals by hereditary archakas in Padmawati and Lord Venkateswaraswamy temples. He place voluminous evidence of prevalence of the hereditary system in different States and those Acts did not abolish the system. He placed strong reliance on the decision of this Court in Seshammal and Ors. etc. etc. vs. State of Tamil Nadu [(1972) 3 DCR 815], apart from the leading judgment in The Commissioner Hindu Religious Endowments, Madras vs. Sri Lakshmindra Thirtha Swamiar of Sri Shirur Math [(1954) SCR 1005]. Shri P. P. Rao, learned senior counsel for the State, contended that the Act made a clear distinction between matters of religion and religious practices and secular activities of a religious institution or endowments. Sections 13, 23 and 142 of the Act have taken care to preserve all the existing religious usages, practices and sampradayams as valid. Apart from preserving them, the Act mandates the officers not to violate their practice. The Act seeks to regulate only the administration and maintenance of secular part of the religious institutions or endowments. The Act does not affect any honour to which any person including archaka or Jeengars are entitled by custom. The Act does not interfere with the performance of any religious worship or ceremony, nor does it object to any religious institution’s functioning according to the Sampradayams and Agamas followed by them.

Article 25(2) permits regulation of any secular activity associated with the religious practice. Appointment of an archaka is a secular activity. Archakas, Jeengars and others are employees of TTD. Though the Pedda Jeengars and Chinna Jeengars have the status of Mathadhipathi in relation to their Math, in relation to TTD, their status is only that of employees. The Commission had gone into these aspects and recommended for their abolition. There had been compromise with the TTD by hereditary archakas and mirasidars on May 30, 1979 to receive emoluments at certain rates which would establish that sharing of food offerings and laddus etc. is not part of religious practice. The archakas and gamekars have not been rendering any service personally but only through their deputies working for and on behalf of head priests for consideration. The hereditary nature of the right, therefore, became irrelevant. Vaikhanasa Agama nowhere mandates that the members of the families referred to in the writ petition alone are entitled to perform the service, though they belong to Vaikhanasa sect and are Srivaishnavites. Hereditary right which governs the appointment of archaka is a secular usage which could be regulated by law. The mere fact that in some temples elsewhere, the hereditary principle is being followed would not denude the power of the legislature to enact the Act abolishing hereditary rights and emoluments attached thereto.

As a corollary to the abolition, legislature is competent to prescribe qualifications for archakas (in Section 36) supplemented by the rules made in that behalf. The Commissioner of Endowment Department, with the guidance and assistance of scholars in the Agamas, discharges statutory functions. Training in those subjects as provided in the rules and recommended by scholars in Vedas is imparted in schools established in three places in Andhra, Rayalseema and Telengana regions; examinations are conducted as per questions set out by the scholars in the respective subjects and assessed by them. So, the prescribed qualifications are valid qualifications for appointment. The rules laid down only a preferential claim for Brahmachari while all others are treated alike in adjudging the claims of all qualified archakas. The power to transfer archakas is regulated by Section 39. It must be read in the light of the guidance found in Sections 13 and 142. Therefore, archakas who are competent and well-versed in rituals, rites, pooja as per existing religious usages and customs of that particular institution alone would be transferred. Rule 7 of the Rules made in the predecessor Act 17 of 1966 in this behalf expressly preserved and regulated the said safeguards. They would continue to be in force by operation of Section 155(2) of the Act, till new rules are made in that perspective. Since customary emoluments attached to the service have been abolished, regular salary and other allowances are admissible to them.

Independently, the archakas are entitled to what has been offered actually to the Deity and not to the Prasadams. Section 144 abolishes only shares in hundi collections and other rusums but not Nitya Naivadyam, i.e., cooked rice etc. offered to the Deity as per Dittam. Section 144 was enacted keeping in view the provision of payment of salary to the archakas and other servants. The provisions, therefore, are not violative either of Article 25 or 26. With a view to appreciate the respective contentions, it is necessary to understand the scope, content and effect of the impugned provisions of the Act. Section 2(3) defines “charitable endowment”, Section 2(4) “charitable institution” and “charitable purpose” has been defined under Section 2(5). Section 2(15) defines “hereditary office- holders”. “Religious institution” has been defined under Section 2(23), “Temple” under Section 2(27) and “Thirumala Tirupathi Devasthanams” under section 2(28). Section 34 abolishes hereditary rights in mirasidars, archakas and other office-holders and servants and reads thus : “34. (1) (a) Abolition of

hereditary rights in Mirasidars,

archakas, and other office-holders

and servants:-

(1)(a) Notwithstanding anything in

any compromise or agreement entered

into or scheme framed or sanad or

grant made or judgment, decree or

order passed by any Court,

Tribunal or other authorities prior

to the commencement of this Act and

in force on such commencement, all

rights, whether, hereditary,

contractual or otherwise of a

person holding any office of the

Pedda Jeeyanagar. Chinna Jeeyangar,

a Mirasidra or an archaka or Pujari

or any other office or service or

post by whatever name it is called

in any religious institution or

endowment shall on the commencement

of this Act stand abolished.

(b) Any usage or practice relating

to the succession to any office or

service or post mentioned in clause

(a) shall be void;

(c) All rights and emoluments of

any nature in cash or kind or both

accrued to an appertaining to any

office or service or post mentioned

in clause (a) and subsisting on the

date of commencement of this Act

shall on such commencement stand

extinguished.

(2) Every office-holder and

servant mentioned in clause (a) of

sub-section (1) holding office as

such on the date of commencement of

this Act shall, notwithstanding the

abolition of the hereditary rights,

continue to hold such office or

post on payment of only such

emoluments and subject to such

conditions of service referred to

in sub-section (3) and (4) to

Section 35.”

Section 35, consequently, provides procedure for appointment of office-holders and servant etc. and Section 36 prescribes qualifications for archakas. Section 37 deals with discipline among them and prescribes disciplinary procedure for the office-holders and servants. Section 38 gives power to the Commissioner etc. in certain cases and Section 39 regulates transfer of office-holders and servants. Section 40 directs office-holders or servants not to be in possession of jewels etc. except under conditions mentioned thereunder. Section 144 abolishes shares in hundies and other rusums which reads thus :

“144. Abolition of shares in Hundi

and other rusums:- Notwithstanding

any judgment, decree or order of

any Court, Tribunal or other

authority or any scheme, custom,

usage or agreement, or in any

manual prepared by any institution

or in any Farmana or Sanad or any

deed or order of the Government to

the contrary governing any

charitable or religious institution

or endowment, all shares which are

payable or being paid or given or

allowed at the commencement of this

Act to any Trustee, Dharmakartha,

Mutawalli, any office-holder or

servant including all offerings

made in the premises of the Temple

or at such places as may be

specified by the Trustee, all

Prasadams and Panyarams offered

either by the Temple or devotee,

and such other kinds of offerings,

all shares in the lands of the

institution or endowment allotted

or allowed to be in possession and

enjoyment of any archaka, office-

holder or servant towards

remuneration or otherwise for

rendering service and for defraying

the `Paditharam’ and other expenses

connected with the service or

management of the temple, shall

stand abolished with effect on and

from the commencement of this Act.”

Chapter XIV deals with application of the Act to Thirumala Tirupathi Devasthanams, constitution of Board, powers and functions of the Board of Trustees etc., making the Act a complete code as regards the management and maintenance of the institutions or endowments belonging to Deity. The concept of Hindu religious faith and practice referred to in the judgments in the narration of the facts needs preface with inner depth of religion as revealed by (1) Swami Vivekananda’s scholastic concepts in his “The Complete Works”, Vol I, at page 124; and (2) broad spectrum of self-realizations by Sri Aurobindo. Swami Vivekananda had stated that:

“Each soul is potentially divine.

The goal is to manifest this

divinity within by controlling

nature, external and internal. Do

this either by work, or worship, or

psychic control, or philosophy- by

one, or more, or all of these- and

be free. This is the whole of

religion. Doctrines, or dogmas, or

rituals, or books, or temples, or

forms, are but secondary details.

Religion is based upon faith

and belief, and, in most cases,

consists only of different sets of

theories, and that is the reason

why there is difference in form.”

Thereafter, at page 341 he had stated that: “Get rid, in the first place, of

all these limited ideas of God and

see him in every person – working

through all hands, walking through

all feet, and eating through every

mouth. He lives, through all minds

of his thinking. He is self-

evident, nearer unto us than

ourselves. To know this is

religion, is faith, and may it

please the Lord to give us this

faith.”

Shri Aurobindo, one of the illustrious revolutionary patriots and philosophers of Bharat, in his “The Human Cycle, the Ideal of Human Unity Way and Self-Determination” had on Chapter XVII `Religion as the Law of Life’ elucidated its real content and purpose thus:

“The absolute and transcendent, the

universal, the One is the secret

summit of existence and to reach

the spiritual consciousness and the

Divine the ultimate goal and aim of

our being and therefore of the

whole development of the individual

and the collectivity in all its

activities, reason cannot be the

last and highest guide; culture as

it is understood ordinarily, cannot

be the directing light or find out

the regulating and harmonizing

principle of all our life and

action. For religion is that

instinct, idea, activity,

discipline in man which aims

directly at the Divine, while all

the rest seem to aim at it only

indirectly and reach it with

difficulty after much wandering and

stumbling in the pursuit of the

outward and imperfect appearances

of things. The whole root of the

historic insufficiency of religion

as a guide and control of human

society lies in confusion of

religion with liberty, creed, sect,

cult, religious society are such.”

At page 166 he elaborated that:

“It is true in a sense that

religion should be dominant thing

in life, its light and law, but

religion as it should be and is in

its inner nature, its fundamental

law of being, a seeking after God,

the cult of spirituality, the

opening of the deepest life of the

should to the indwelling Godhead,

the eternal Omnipresence. On the

other hand, it is true that

religion when it identifies itself

only with a creed, a cult, a

Church, a system of ceremonial

forms, may well become a retarding

force and there may therefore arise

a necessity for the human spirit to

reject its control vower the varied

activities of life. There are two

aspects of religion, true religion

and religionism. True religion is

spiritual religion, that which

seeks to live in the spirit, in

what is beyond the intellect,

beyond the aesthetic and ethical

and practical being of man, and to

inform and govern these members of

our being by the higher light and

law of the spirit. Religionism, on

the contrary, entrenches itself in

some narrow pietistic exaltation of

the lower members or lays

exclusive stress on intellectual

dogmas, forms and ceremonies, on

some fixed and rigid moral code, on

some religio-political or religio-

social system. Not that these

things are altogether negligible or

that they must be unworthy or

unnecessary or that a spiritual

religion need disdain the aid of

forms, ceremonies, creeds or

systems. On the contrary, they are

needed by man because the lower

members have to be exalted and

raised before they can be fully

spiritualized, before they can

directly feel the spirit and obey

its law.”

(Emphasis supplied)

At pages 168-69 he added that:

“Only by the light and power of the

highest can the lower be perfectly

guided, uplifted and accomplished.

The lower life of man is in form

undivided, though in it there is

the secret of the divine, and it

can only be divinished by finding

the higher law and the spiritual

illuminationThe

spiritual man who can guide human

life towards its perfection is

typified in the ancient Indian idea

of the Rishi, one who has lived

fully the life of man and found the

word of the supra-intellectual,

supra-mental, spiritual truth.:

In Chapter XXXIV at pages 541-42, he opined that: “Humanitarianism has been its most

prominent emotional result.

Philanthropy, social service and

other kindred activities have been

its outward expression of good

works. Democracy, socialism,

pacificism are to a great extent

its by-products or at least owe

much of their vigour to its inner

presence.

The fundamental idea is that

mankind is the godhead to be

worshiped and served by man and

that the respect, the service, the

progress of the human being and

human life are the chief duty and

chief aim of the human spirit. No

other idol, neither the nation, the

State, the family nor anything else

ought to take its place; they are

only worthy of respect so far as

they are images of the human spirit

and enshrine its presence and aid

its self-manifestation. But where

the cult of these idols seeks to

usurp the place of the spirit and

makes demands inconsistent with its

service, they should be put aside.

No injunctions of old creeds,

religious, political, social or

cultural, are valid when they go

against its claim.”

At page 543, he mentioned that:

“One has only to compare human life

and thought and feeling a century

or two ago with human life, thought

and feeling in the pre-war period

to see how great an influence this

religion of humanity has exercised

and how fruitful a work it has

done. It accomplished rapidly many

things which orthodox religion

failed to do effectively, largely

because it acted as a constant

intellectual and critical solvent,

an unsparing assailant of the thing

that is and an unflinching champion

of the thing to be, faithful always

to the future, while orthodox

religion allied itself with the

powers of the present, even of the

past, bound itself by its pact with

them and could act only at best as

a moderating but not as a reforming

force. Moreover, this religion has

faith in humanity and its earthly

future and can therefore aid its

earthly progress, while the

orthodox religions looked with eyes

of pious sorrow and gloom on the

earthly life of man and were very

ready to bid him bear peacefully

and contentedly, even to welcome

its crudities, cruelties,

oppressions, tribulations as a

means for learning to appreciate

and for earning the better life.”

At pages 546-47, he concluded his thoughts on brotherhood thus:

“Yet is brotherhood the real key to

the triple gospel of the idea of

humanity. The union of liberty and

equality can only be achieved by

the power of human brotherhood and

it cannot be founded on anything

else. But brotherhood exists only

in the soul and by the soul; it can

exist by nothing else. For this

brotherhood is not a matter either

of physical kinship or of vital

association or of intellectual

agreement. When the soul claims

freedom, it is the freedom of its

self-development, the self-

development of the divine in man in

all his being. When it claims

equality, what it is claiming is

that freedom equally for all and

the recognition of the same soul,

the same godhead in all human

beings. When it strives for

brotherhood, it is founding that

equal freedom of self-development

on a common aim, a common life, a

unity of mind and feeling founded

upon the recognition of this inner

spiritual unity. These three things

are in fact the nature of the soul;

for freedom, equality, unity are

the eternal attributes of the

Spirit. It is the practical

recognition of this truth, it is

the awakening of the soul in man

and the attempt to get him to life

from his soul and not from his ego

which is the inner meaning of

religion, and it is that to which

the religion of humanity also must

arrive before it can fulfil itself

in the life of the race.”

At page 594, he stated as under:

“Later religions gave a name and

some body of form and quality to

the one unknown Godhead and

proclaimed an ideal law which they

gave out as his word and scripture.

But the dogmatism of a partial and

unlived knowledge and the external

tendencies of the human mind

darkened the illuminations of

religion with the confusions or

error and threw over its face

strange masks of childish and cruel

superstitions. Religion too by

putting God far above in distant

heavens made man too much of a worm

of the earth, little and vile

before his Creator and admitted

only by a caprice of his favour to

a doubtful salvation in supar human

words. Modern thought seeking to

make a clear riddance of these past

conceptions had to substitute

something else in its place, and

what it saw and put there was the

material law of Nature and the

biological law of life of which

human reason was to be the faithful

exponent and human science the

productive utilizer and profiteer.

But to apply the mechanical

blindness of the rule of physical

Nature as the sole guide of

thinking and seeing man is to go

against the diviner law of his

being and maim his higher

potentiality. Material and vital

Nature is only a first form of our

being and to overcome and rise

beyond its formula is the very

sense of a human evolution. Another

and greater Power than hers is the

master of this effort, and human

reason or human science is not that

Godhead, but can only be at best

one and not the greatest of its

ministers.”

Dr. S. Radhakrishnan, the philosopher – President of India, had stated, as quoted by this Court in Shirur Math’s case, that religion is a specific attitude of self, itself no other, though it is mixed up generally with intellectual views, aesthetic forms and moral valuations. Religion is absolutely a matter of faith with individuals or communities and it is not necessarily theistic.

Taittiriya Upanishad says in Brahmananda Valli, Serial No. 7, that in the beginning all this Universe was Non- Existent and Un-manifest, from which this Manifest Existence was born itself, none other created it. Therefore, they say that it was well and beautifully made. Shri Aurobindo says in his magnum opus Life Divine: World-existence is the ecstatic dance of Shiva which multiplies the body of the God numberlessly to the view; it leaves that while existence precisely where and what was, ever is and ever will be; its sole absolute subject is the joy of the dancing. In Rig Veda, the Hymns of Bharadwaja, spoke about universal Force that “The heights of heaven were measured into form by the eye of this universal Force, they were shaped by the intuition of the Immortal.”

The world is the creation of the brhat conscient energy of the Supreme Spirit “apraketam salilam sarvam idam tapasas tan mahina ajayata ekam”. (Out of all the ocean of inconscience it is that one spiritual Existent who is born by the greatness of his own energy). Braht Vedic thinkers, like ancient Greeks, in their search for the first ground of all changing things, looked upon water, air, fire etc. as the ultimate elements out of which the variety of the world is composed. In the pluralistic stage several Gods like Pavana, Indra, Agni etc. were looked upon as the authors of universe. In monoistic philosophy there exist unsolved question whether God created world out of His own nature and its existence is an absolute reality which we cannot call it either as existent or non-existent. For to Deussen the central Uphanishadic thought declares that the world in space and time is an appearnce, an illusion, a show of God. To know God, we must reject the world of appearance. What inclines Deussen to this view in his own belief that the essence of every true religion is the repudiation of the reality of the world. Having come to that conclusion on independent grounds, he is anxious to find support, as Prof. S. Radhakrishnan argues, for his doctrine in the philosophic systems of ancient India, the Upanishads and Sankara, ancient Greece, Parmenides and Plato, and modern Germany, Kant and Schopenhauer. Shri Aurobindo conceived of the Absolute Reality, as a triune principle thus: “The Absolute Reality is the Satchidananda, that is, Existence- Consciousness Force-Bliss. The Absolute as a Pure existent is no doubt the fundamental reality, but movement, energy, process is equally a reality”.

The fundamental desire of man to make peace with His inner-self and bring to bear an experience of transmutation of the current personality into a vibrant, center of energy of deep fulfillment and happiness. Article 25 [1] of the Constitution guarantees freedom of conscience and right to freely profess, practise and propagate religion. To what extent inner layers of religion in the Hindu dharma are protected by Articles 25 and 26 is the core question from which a deduction could be drawn whether the Act interferes with them violating Articles 25 [1] and 26. The very attempt to define religion to find some distinct or possible unique essence or set of qualities that distinguish religion from the remainder of human life, is primarily a Western speculative, intellectualistic and scientific disposition. It is also the product of the dominant Western religious mode or custom of religious people. Even the Western thinkers recognize their cultural bias in the concept of religious assumptions of theism permeating their thought. Encyclopedia of Religion by Mircea Eliasde [Vol.12] states that religion is the organization of life around the depth dimensions of experience – varied in form, completeness, and clarity in accordance with the environing culture. If religiousness is a depth-awareness coming to distinctive expression in the forms we call religion, how is religiousness distinguished from various other types of awareness such as the aesthetic and ecstatic – what Abraham Maslow [1964] calls “peak experiences” and Marghanita Laski [1961] terms “non-religious ecstasy” – and the states of “altered consciousness” produced by various psychosomatic techniques or drugs? On Hindu religion, at page 290 it is stated that “yet deep within ritualism there is inherent the concern for accuracy and faithfulness. This is the essentially sacramental nature of ritual that arises from its nature as an ordered symbol system. Thus both symbol and ritual are perceived as intrinsic embodiments of the sacred essence, the supersensible and indescribable ultimate of a religion. Thus ritual and symbol bring the real presence of the religious depth-dimension into the lives of its experiments and in so doing become incredibly precious”.

At page 292, it is further stated under the caption “Religion and Modernity” that “the question whether religion, at least, in its traditional forms, will survive the ongoing cultural changes of modern times is often discussed. Certainly many traditional and current formulations, and perhaps entire traditions, will radically change or even disappear. Yet it also seems that as soon as one form of religion disappears, another rises to take its place”. Without asserting a religious instinct in mankind, it may perhaps be said that man is incessantly religious in one way or another and that the human situation and human nature make it inevitable so. The immense mysteries and uncertainties of the world and man’s own inquiring and evaluating self-consciousness make inevitable a reaching out for some sort of ultimate values and realities – which is yet another name for the religious quest. Religion is thus eternal and in development is in search of God throughout history, building into a fuller religious life. The eternal religion remains unchanging but the form and content keep changing with the change of times with the experience of the past keeps to preserve to the fullest religious life. But as Shri Arobindo put it the religiousness of man descends him into lower levels and due to confusion predominance is given to forms like rituals etc. So John Macmurray in “Reason and Emotion” [Faber and Faber Publication] at page 40 states thus: “religion is also the

consciousness of life in God; that

which we seek for is also there

always eternally in us. It is this

eternal aspect of religion which is

expressed in the religious

recognition of equality in all

human life at any stage of its

development; in the knowledge that

all distinction of superiority and

inferiority are relative

distinctions; and that ultimately

all persons and all personal

experience are of equal, because of

eternal or infinite, worth. Just so

in love between two persons, if it

is a real love, there is a sense in

which it is always perfect and

complete, and this, as we know very

well, is not in contradiction with

the fact of development in that

love; it is indeed, the condition

of the development”.

Julian Huxley in his “Evolution After Darwin” Vol. III page 259 under the subject “The Evolutionary Vision” has stated thus:

“Once we truly believethat man’s

destiny is to make possible greater

fulfillment for more human beings

and fuller achievements by human

societies, utility in the customary

sense becomes subordinate. Quantity

of material production is, of

course, necessary as the basis for

the satisfaction of elementary

human needs-but only up to a

certain degree. More than a certain

number of calories of cocktails or

T.V. sets or washing machines per

person is not merely unnecessary,

but bad Quantity of material

production is a means to a further

end, not an end in itself.’

The Upanishads teach us that India has sought in religion not an absolute or finished dogma to believe in, but a method and means to pierce the veil that hides every present meaning and mystery of existence. Robert Ernest Hume in his “the Thirteen Principal Upanishads” at page 30 footnote states that “the earnestness of the search for truth is one of the delightful and commendable features of the Upanishads”.

Swami Vivekananda in his lecture on “Religion and Science” incorporated in “The Complete Works” [Vol.VI, Sixth Edition] had stated at page 81 thus:

“Experience is the only source of

knowledge. In the world, religion

is the only science where there is

no surety, because it is not taught

as a science of experience. This

should not be. There is always,

however, a small group of men who

teach religion from experience.

They are called mystics, and these

mystics in every religion speak the

same tongue and teach the same

truth. This is the real science of

religion. As mathematics in every

part of the world does not differ,

so the mystics do not differ. They

are all similarly constituted and

similarly situated. Their

experience is the same; and this

becomes law.”

In Volume II, Ninth Edn. at page 432, Swamiji said that : “There are two worlds: the

microcosm and the macrocosm, the

internal and the external. We get

truth from both these by means of

experience. The truth gathered from

internal experience is psychology,

metaphysics and religion; from

external experience, the physical

sciences. Now a perfect truth

should be in harmony with

experience in both these worlds.

The microcosm must bear testimony

to the macrocosm and the macrocosm

to the microcosm; physical truth

must have its counterpart in the

internal world, and internal world

must have its verification

outside;”

Swami Vivekananda in his “The Complete Works” Vol.1, Eleventh Edn. at page 366 said that:

“The foundations have all been

undermined; and the modern man,

whatever he may say in public,

knows in the privacy of his heart

that he can no more “believe”,

believing because it is written in

certain books, believing because

people like him to believe, the

modern man knows it to be

impossible for him. There are, of

course, a number of people who seem

to acquiesce in the so-called

popular faith but we also think.

Their idea of belief may be better

translated as “non-thinking

carelessness”. This fight cannot

last much longer without breaking

to pieces all the buildings of

religion”.

x x x x x x

“Is religion to justify itself by

the discoveries of reason, through

which every other science justified

itself? Are the same methods of

investigation, which we apply to

sciences and knowledge outside, to

be applied to the science of

religion? In my opinion this must

be so, and I am also of opinion

that the sooner it is done the

better. If a religion is destroyed

by such investigation, it was then

all the time unless, unworthy

superstition; and the sooner it

goes the better. I am thoroughly

convinced that its destruction

would be the best thing that could

happen. All that is dross will be

taken off, no doubt, but the

essential parts of religion will

emerge triumphant out of this

investigation. Not only will it be

made scientific-as scientific, at

least, as any of the conclusions of

physics or chemistry-but will have

greater strength, because physics

or chemistry has not internal

mandate to vouch for its truth,

which religion has.”

Swami Vivekananda in his “The Complete Works”, Vol. VI, Sixth Edn. at page 81 said that:

“Religion deals with the truths of

the metaphysical world just as

chemistry and the other natural

sciences deal with the truth of the

physical world. The book one must

read to learn chemistry is the book

of (external) nature. The book from

which to learn religion is your own

mind and heart. The sage is often

ignorant of physical science

because he reads the wrong book-the

book within; and the scientist is

too often ignorant of religion

because he, too, reads the wrong

book-the book without.”

Again in his The Complete Works, (Vol.V, Eight Edn.), pages 192-93, he says that:

“The basis of all systems, social

or political, rests upon the

goodness of men. No nation is

greater or good because Parliament

enacts this or that, but because

its men are great and good.

Religion goes to the root of the

matter. If it is right, all is

right One must admit that

law, government, politics are

phases not final in any way. There

is a goal beyond them where law is

not needed. All great Masters

teach the same thing. Christ saw

that the basis is not law, that

morality and purity are the only

strength.”

From that perspective, this Court is concerned with the concept of Hindu religion and dharma. Very often one can discern and sense political and economic motives for maintaining status quo in relation to religious forms masquerading it as religious faith and rituals bereft of substantial religious experience. As sure, philosophers do not regard this as religion at all. They do not regard this as religion at all. They do not hesitate to say that this is politics or economic masquerading as a religion. A very careful distinction, therefore, is required to be drawn between real and unreal religion at any stage in the development and preservation of religion as protected by the Constitution. Within religion, there is an interpretation of reality and unreality which is completely different experience. It is the process in which ideal is made rule. Thus perfection of religious experience can take place only when free autonomy is afforded to an individual and worship of the infinite is made simpler, direct communion, the cornerstone of human system. Religion is personal to the individual. Greater the law bringing an individual closer to this freedom, the higher is its laudable and idealistic purpose. Therefore, in order that religion becomes mature internally with the human personality it is essential that mature self-enjoy must be combined with conscious knowledge. Religious symbols can be contra-distinguished from the scientific symbols and both are as old as man himself. Through scientific symbols there can be repetition of dogmatism and conviction of ignorance. True religion reaching upto the full reality of all knowledge, believes in God as the unity of the whole.

According to Hindu belief, Vishnu as preserver is stated to take five forms, viz, Para, Vyuha, Vibhava, Arca and Antaryamin. Para is the transcendental form. Vibhava includes the ten divine descends [avatara] and also thirty nine forms which He takes from time to time. Arca represents God in the form of idol, which He though formless, takes this finite form to show favour to His devotees. The form of Antaryamin is to remain within the self and control it by directing it to lead a virtuous way of life, in accordance with the residues of the deeds done by it. Temple, therefore, forms an integral part of Hindu religion and the idol installed therein forms the main symbol of religious worship manifesting the dignity of God. The purpose of religious experience, as stated earlier, is to integrate human life, socially, materially and morally. It must, therefore, produce a share of material goods and bear a pinnacle for human experience. The dualism of Spirit and Matter, should be kept clear. John Macmurray has stated in this behalf thus:

“Worship is certainly specifically

religious, and it is an attitude of

mind which is not compatible with

science. Science does not worship,

It enquires, and analyses,

classifies and does sums. On the

other hand, religion is not merely

worship; and worship may be merely

superstitious. If superstitious

worship is religion, then astrology

and palmistry are sciences.

Religion cannot simply sit down and

worship anything and everything; it

must claim reality for what it

worships; and it must made some

statement about this reality and

assert not merely that it is true

but that it is supreme truth. A

religious temper which is

indifferent to any truth,

scientific or otherwise, it ipso

facto, superstitious. Religion is

not merely the worship of God, but

the knowledge of God, for if it

does not known its God then God is

a figment of the imagination and it

worships it knows not what. All

honest religion necessarily

involves a strenuous effort to know

the supreme reality, and the

knowledge of God must involve all

knowledge in its scope.”

(John Macmurray: Reason & Emotion,

Faber & Faber).

The ultimate experience of

religious consciousness is

described beautifully in Audi

Shankara’s Shri Daksinamurti

Stotram wherein the expression:

“Darpanadrisyamananagari” is used.

The expression refers to the

teacher showing a reflection of a

city as seen in a mirror. In

Panchadasi, XIII – 101, the sloka

says:

Nishchhidra Darpne Bhati

Bastugarbham Brihat-jagat, Satchit

Sukhe Tatha Nana jagadgarbhamidam

Biyat.

(In a flawless mirror, the

expansive space with all the things

in it, is seen. Similarly, in this

mass of Existence and Consciousness

is seen this space comprising the

variegated universe.)

Religious experience is a general nature. All manifestation of religious experience to whatever organized religion they belong are ultimately co-experiences by which the mind is stilled, purified, the prana controlled and by which “parmeshwarachaitanya” appears. In manasollasa (ix: 21-3-) it has been observed that :

Chitte nishchaltan yate prano

bhawati nishchallah Chittshya

nishchal twaya yogam

sadhyamavyaset.

The above `shloka’ says that the signs such as the control over the five elements and the siddhi are indicative of the progress in the path leading upto the various ways in which the bimbarupa, i.e., the parmesvara-chaitanya appears. It is also useful to recollect the beautiful shloka in the Geeta where Lork Krishna says:

Ananyash Chintayanto man ye janah

paryupaste Tesham nityabhiyuktnam

yogakshmeam Bahamyaham.

(those men, who, meditating on

Me as non-separate, worship Me all

round – t them who are ever devout,

I secure gain and safety.)”

Thus there can be no doubt that religious experience is an internal experience and the Deity in a temple is supposed to provoke that inner experience. The image of the Lord in a temple, after prana pratishtha is done, is a center of reference, a symbol of the Great Consciousness whose attainment is ultimately the pinnacle of religious experience. The nature of a religious experience can be shadowgraphed by peace, tranquility and joy `that passeth understanding’. It would also be relevant to note that a temple based upon any `sampradaya’ must resemble a true symbol of the Infinite Grace, the nature of which is rightly called as a the amalgam of being, consciousness and bliss. That is why in Manasollasa (ix-47) it has been said:- Sachchidanandrupai

Bindunadantaratmane

Adimadhyantshunyay Gurunam Gurbe

Namah.

(Obesance to Him, the Guru of

the Gurus who is Being,

Consciousness and Bliss; who dwells

in Bindu and Nada; who has no

beginning, middle or end.)

Material fruits, namely, sons, grand sons, houses, lands, money, grain, all in plenty which accrue in Swaraga are considered to be lesser benefits and lesser lights to achieve in comparison to the true empire, namely, the identity of the Self with the Supreme Being (Slokas X-2, 3, 19 and 21 Manasollasa).

According to Hindu belief, worship of God is of four kinds, viz., Japa-chanting Gayatri mantras (sloka) or Asthakshara; Homa – giving oblation into the fire; Archana – worship of God in the form of Idol in the temple; and Dhyana – concentration on God alone. Of these four, Archana gained an established form of worship in temple. The reason for adorning a Deity image in a temple, therefore, is to produce chitta suddhi generating and ensuring the necessary emotion for the sustenance as `tatparata’, the Supreme Devotion, parabhakti, which is the `abhedbhavana,’ culminating in the attainment of `sarvatmatva,’ thus in itself becoming. How does this great spendid religious experience transform the life of a man form a mere temporal pursuit of limited vision into an expanasive pursuit of equality, seeing one’s own self in the others and ultimately losing one’s ego and dissolving it into the subaudited symphonic testament of love, joy and peace? The ascent form an empirical experience of personal life which is the first assertion of a religious experience is to be followed right up to the stage of mutual communion, i.e., of the individual self with relationship outside becomes inevitable. John Macmurray once again in “Reason and Emotion” says thus:

There is, then, a definite field of

empirical experience which is the

field of religion. It is the field

of personal life – not, of course,

the field of individual isolation.

When Professor Whitehead says that

religion is what a man does with

his solitariness he is saying what

is almost the reverse of the truth;

although he is, unlike many

philosophers, moving in the right

universe of discourse. Religion is

what a man makes of his personal

relationships. This field of

personal relationships is the

center of every human life. That is

a mere statement of fact. But it

does not follow that every human

life realizes itself religious

nature. In his personal

relationships a man is in the field

of religion. Whether he achieves

reality in this field depends on

whether he is able to achieve

objectivity and mutuality. We may

live in relation to other persons

as if the relation were not a

personal one, it always is

personal, whatever we do about. But

we may behave as if it were not.

All failure of this kind is a

failure to realize in action – and,

consequently, in reflection – the

real nature of the relationship

between persons. It involves the

loss of personal objectivity. In

relation ship to another person we

isolate ourselves and so fall into

subjectivity and become

individualists. When that happens,

the relationship is treated in

action and in thought as of a sub-

personal type. There are two

possibilities. One is that the

relation is treated as of the

material type; in which case the

other individual is treated as an

instrument or a means. Slavery is

the crudest form of this type of

unreality in personal

relationships, but it includes any

relationship in which individuals

use one another as instruments. The

second type of unreality falsifies

the personal relationship by making

it organic. In that case the

relationship is treated as

functional and becomes a co-

operation for the achievement of a

common purpose. Any conception of

human relationships which grounds

them upon the existence of a common

purpose which each serves in his

own way involves unreality o this

type. Such conceptions of human

relationships are properly

described as irreligious, because

they deny the reality of the

relationship as a communion of

persons. It is not enough to insist

that human nature is essentially

social, since society may take any

of these forms. What makes the

society real is that the relations

between the persons concerned are

essentially religious, that is to

say, grounded in mutual communion,

and the equality which this

implies. For without equality,

there can be no mutuality. I do not

mean, of course, that in a true

society organic and material

relationships between persons are

non-existent, but only that they

are dependent relations falling

within and grounded in the relation

of friendship. The material and the

organic are unreal in independence.

Their reality lies in their

dependence upon the personal and

their inclusion within it.”

The author very beautifully describes the experience of God thus:

“The dualism of mind and matter

reflects itself all too easily in

the dualism between secular and

sacred, natural and supernatural,

the human and the divine. The

result is that we think of God as

isolated from the world and,

therefore, that the religious life

involves a turning away from man to

God, from this world to another

world, so that religion becomes

something apart, instead of the

fundamental activity of human life.

But now, having made that point

clear, I should like to indicate in

closing how essential to the view

that I have outlines is the idea of

God. All experience at any level is

the experience of the finite in the

infinite. Even a triangle, as

Spinoza pointed out, can only be

seen, or imagined, as a limitation

of infinite space. At the material

level, we apprehended all materials

objects as finite and dependent

upon the material infinite. This is

not matter of reflection but of

immediate common experience.

Similarly we apprehend all

organisms as finite dependents of

infinite life. And when we come to

the personal field it is not

different. I have already insisted

that our apprehension of our

dependence upon what is not

ourselves. We can now see that it

is an apprehension of our own

dependence and the dependence of

all other finite persons upon

infinite personality. God as

infinite personality is the primary

natural experience of all persons.

One might almost say, if it were

not for the traditional limitation

of our use of language, that God is

the first perception.”

The experience of God is not simply a transcendental doctrine (theologia transcendentalis), it is not simply an unregulated usage for satisfaction of the intellect but is an affirmative experience. Even Kantian believers who conceive God as supreme and absolute perfection, find in Indian philosophy that religion is not the subject matter of inclusion or exclusion by the process of rational psychology but the subject matter of human experience. On the conception of God as supreme and absolute perfection in a brilliant summary of Kant’s philosophy Frederick Copleston, S.J. in Volume VI; (A History of Philosophy) says: “We have, therefore, three

principal Ideas of pure reason,

namely, the soul as permanent

substantial subject, the world as

the totality of casually related

phenomena, and God as absolute

perfection, as the unity of the

conditions of objects of thought in

general. These three Ideas are not

innate. At the same time they are

not derived empirically. They arise

as a result of the pure reason’s

natural drive towards completion

the synthesis achieved by the

understanding. This does not mean,

as has already been mentioned that

the pure reason carried further the

synthesizing activity of the

understanding considered as

constituting objects by imposing

the a priori conditions of

experience known as the categories.

The Ideas of pure reasons are not

`constitutive’. But the reason has

a natural drive towards unifying

the conditions of experience, and

this it does by proceeding to the

unconditioned. in the three forms

already mentioned. In doing this it

obviously passes beyond experience.

Hence the Ideas of the pure reason

are called by Kant `transcendental

Ideas’, though he later goes on to

speak of the third Idea, that of

God, as the `transcendental Ideal’.

For God is conceived as supreme and

absolute perfection.”

Johnson said rightly that sublimate is produced by aggregation and not by dispersion. In that lies a great truth. It must not be forgotten that all rituals ultimately are only means to the state of knowledge. Thus seers and thinkers have in fact reduced rituals to the bare minimum and sometimes even decried them because a non-essential adherence to them is only bound to be an obstacle or impediment in the attainment of true knowledge. It would be very useful to note that if religious experience is an internal experience, rituals beyond evoking the necessary environment and atmosphere and as it were painting sea scope of purity must yield to the unrelenting pursuit of true knowledge which is identical with true religious experience. The pursuit of knowledge, the knowing of the being, eve, has been described by eminent philosophers as incapable of sustaining observance of rituals. The belief is that observance of rituals and the devotion to true knowledge cannot co-exist.

Shri Acharya Pada in the Sarva Vedantha Sidhanta shlokas 857-862 says:-

Gyan nistha tatparasya nait

karmopyujyate Karmano Gyan

nishthaya na sahsthiteh Paraspar

Birudhyatwat Tayor Hhinna

Swabhhbaiyoh Kartitwa Bhawana

Purbam karm gyanam vilakshanam

Dehatma-bvudherbichhitye gyanam

karm Bibridhaye Agyanam Mulakam

Karm Gyanantu bhai nashkam. Gyanen

karmano yogah katham sidhyati

berina Sahyogo na ghatate yatha

timirtejsoh Nimeshonmesyorwape

tatheb gyan karmnoh Pratichi

Pashyatah punshah kutah

prachibeloknam Pratyam

Pravamchittasya Kutah Karmani

yogyata.

(When the mind becomes

motionless, in that case, the life

also becomes unmovable. Hence the

yoga with meditation should be

practised for the control of chita

(mind). One devoted to the pursuit

of knowledge no longer remains fit

for action. The co-existence of

knowledge and action is not to

succeed. Due to their being

mutually contradictory in nature,

involvement in action with a sense

of self-performance causes the

absence of knowledge. But the

renouncement of the sense of

bodily-self, goes for the promotion

of knowledge. The action and

knowledge emanating from the

ignorance, are destroyers of both.

How there can be the union of

knowledge and action inasmuch as

they are incompatible? It is

impossible to conjure darkness and

light together, one at the same

time. The knowledge and action

cannot be combined. Likewise one

cannot keep one’s eyes closed and

open at the same time, one who is

looking western side, cannot see

towards eastern direction.

Whereform there can be the

competence for work or action when

one’s heart and soul is set on the

devotion of knowledge in opposite

direction.)

It thus follows that to one who is devoted to the pursuit of knowledge, the observance of rituals is of no use since the observance of rituals and the devotion of knowledge cannot co-exist. There is considerable incompatibility between knowledge and rituals inasmuch as their natures are entirely antithetical. It is only he who regards himself as the agent of action that can perform the rituals; but the nature of knowledge is altogether different and it dispels all such ideas. All the wrong ideas beginning with the identification of Self with the physical body etc., are eradicated by knowledge, while they are reinforced by action. Ignorance of Atman is at the root of action, but the knowledge of Atman destroys both. How is it possible for one to perform the prescribed rituals while engaged in the pursuit of knowledge inasmuch as they are incompatible! It is as much impossible as the co-existence of light and darkness. One cannot keep one’s eyes open and closed at the same time. It is equally impossible to combine knowledge and rituals. Can one who is looking westward look eastward? How is one whose mind is directed towards the innermost Atman fit to take part in external activities?

In the celebrated Gitabhashya (XVIII-55) Sri Acharyapada says:-

Na hi purpsamudram jigmisoh

Pratilomyen Pratyaksamudram

Jigmisuna Saman Margtwam Sambhati.

Pratyagatma-bisai-Pratyaya santan

karmabhinibeshashch Gyannistha, Sa

cha Pratyaksamudragamanvat Karmana

Sahvabitwen birudhyati. Parbat

Sarsapyoribantarbani birodhak

Pramanwidam Nishchitah. Jasmat

Sarbkarmsanyasenaib Gyananistah

karya iti sidham.

The meaning being:

“He who wishes to reach the

eastern ocean should not indeed

travel in the opposite direction

i.e. by the same road as the one

chosen by the person who wishes to

go to the western ocean. And the

devotion to knowledge consists in

an intent effort towards

maintaining a continuous stream of

the consciousness of the Inner

self. There would be contradiction

if it were to be conjoined with

ritual which is like going towards

the western ocean. It is a firm

conviction of experts in the

pramanasastra that the difference

between the two is as wide as that

between a mountain and a mustard

seed. Hence the conclusion that the

devotion to knowledge is to be

adhered to only by renouncing all

action.”

The truth of religious experience is that true knowledge is an indication of a complete understanding of contradictions, just as physics, which means study of simple things, yet appears to be a complicated subject. A beautiful illustration finds place in Richard Dawkins’s passionate (Darwanian) book named “The Blind Watchmaker”:- “I said that physics is the study

of simple things, and this, too,

may seem strange at first. Physics

appears to be a complicated

subject, because the ideas of

physics are difficult for us to

understand. Our brains were

designed to understand hunting and

gathering, mating and child-

rearing; a world of medium sized

objects moving in three dimensions

at moderate speeds. We are ill-

equipped to comprehend the very

small and the very large things

whose duration is measured in

picoseconds or gigayears, particles

that don’t have position, forces

and fields that we cannot see or

touch, which we know of only

because they affect things that can

see or touch. We think that physics

is complicated because it is hard

for us to understand, and because

physics books are full of difficult

mathematics. But the objects that

physicists study are still

basically simple objects. They are

clouds of gas or tiny particles, or

lumps of uniform matter like

crystals, with almost endlessly

repeated atomic patterns. They do

not, at least by biological

standards, have intricate working

parts. Even large physical objects

like stars consists of a rather

limited array of parts, more or

less haphazardly arranged. The

behavior of physical, non-

biological objects is so simple

that it is feasible to use existing

mathematical language to describe

it, which is why physics books are

full of mathematics.”

No wonder, the concept of justice too based on a sense of equality, whether distributive or corrective, always carries with it a connotation of a sacred and religious dispensation. If ultimately the Atman which resides in all beings is that one auspicious and pure which alone remains over, there can be no manner of doubt that all beings are necessarily equal. The Atman, irrespective of the body and its temporal abode with attendant of earthly appellations, is the same for all. It is described by Shri Shri Acharyapada in the opening verse of the Dasasloki:- Aibam Samanyatoahan Pratyayasidhe

Chidatmani vadivipratipattebhih

samdidhe, aham pratyayasalambam

Visheshnirnayayah Vagwanacharyah:

Na Bhumirna Toyam Na Vayur na

Kham Nendriyam Na Tesham Samuhah.

Anekantikatwatsushuptyek Sidhah

Stadekkobashishtah Shivah

Kewaloham.

“I am neither the earth, nor

the water, nor the fire, nor the

air, nor the space, nor any organ,

nor their aggregate, because they

are variable by nature, while Atman

is that whose existence is proved

by the unique experience of deep

sleep. I am that One, Auspicious

and Pure which alone remains over.

The concept of `dharma’ has been explained by Justice M. Rama Jois in his Legal and Constitutional History of India [Vol.I] at pages 1 to 4 thus:

“Mahabharata contains a discussion

of this topic. On being questioned

by Yudhistira about the meaning and

scope of Dharma, Bhishma stated:

Tadrishoayamanu Prashno yatra

Dharmah Sudurlabhah

Duskarah Pratisamkhyatum

Jatkenatra Vyavasyati

Prabhavarthai Bhutanam

Dharmapravachanam

Kritam

Yah Syatpravabe Sanyuktah sa Dharma

Iti

Nishchayah.

It is most difficult to define

Dharma. Dharma has been explained

to be that which helps the

puliftment of living beings.

Therefore that which ensures

welfare (of living beings) is

surely Dharma. The learned rishis

have declared that which sustains

is Dharma.

Taittiriya Samhita states:

Dharma Vishwasya Jagatah Pratistha

Loke Dharmistham Praja upsarpanti

Dharmen Papamapnudati

Dharme sarban Pratisthitam

Jasmed Dharman param Badanti.

Dharma constitutes the

foundation of all affairs in the

world. People respect one who

adheres to Dharma. Dharma insulates

(man) against sinful thoughts and

actions. Everything in this world

is founded on Dharma. Dharma,

therefore, is considered supreme.

Jaimini 1.2:

Sa hi Nihshraisen Purusam

Sanyunakteeti Pratijanimahe

Tadabhidheeyate Chodana

Lakshanartho

Dharmah.

Dharma is that which is

indicated by the vedas as conducive

to the highest good.

Madhavacharya, the Minister to

Hakka and Bukka, founder kings of

Vijayanager Empire, in his

commentary on Parashara Smriti, has

briefly and precisely explained the

mening of Dharma as follows:

Abhyudaya Nihshraise

Sadhantwen Dharayate – Iti Dharmah.

Sa Cha Lakshan-Pramabhyam

Chodanasutrairvyavasthapitah.

Dharma is that which sustains

and ensures progress and welfare of

all in this world and eternal bliss

in the other world. The Dharma is

promulgated in the form of

commands.

Therefore, Dharma embraces every type of righteous conduct covering every aspect of life essential for the sustenance and welfare of the individual and the society and includes those rules which guide and enable those who believe in God and heaven to attain moksha (eternal bliss). Rules of Dharma are meant to regulate the individual conduct, in such a way as to restrict the rights, liberty, interest and desires of an individual as regards all matters to the extent necessary in the interest of other individuals, i.e., the society and at the same time making it obligatory for the society to safeguard and protect the individual in all respects through its social and political institutions. Shortly put, Dharma regulates the mutual obligations of individual and the society. Therefore, it was stressed that protection of Dharma was in the interest of both the individual and the society. A `State of Dharma’ was required to be always maintained for peaceful co-existence and prosperity of all. Though Dharma is a word of wide meaning as to cover the rules concerning all matters such as spiritual, moral and personal as also civil, criminal and constitutional law, it gives the precise meaning depending upon the context in which it is used. When Dharma is used in the context of duties of the individual and powers of the King (the State), it means constitutional law [Rajadharma]. Likewise when it is said theat Dharmarajya is necessary for the peace and prosperity of the people and for establishing an egalitarian society, the word Dharma in the context of the word Rajya only means law, and Dharmarajya means Rule of Law and not rule of religion or a theocratic State. Dharma in the context of legal and constitutional history only means Vyavahara-dharma and Rajadharma evolved by the society though the ages which is binding both on the king [the ruler] and the people [the ruled].

In “Religion and Society in Ancient India” Prof. Om Prakash [1985 Edition] has stated that the concept of dharma aims to maintain orderly society regarding every human being as the creation of God and treating him on a footing of equality. Th least rehyme of the Rig Veda throws light on the Rig Veda concept of dharma laying down “that all human beings should move together, speak together and their minds be of one accord”. Samgachhdhwam Sambaddwam Sambo Manasi Sanatnam Deva Bhagan Yathaturbe Sanjananam Upasate – Rv.X, 191, 2.] At page 5, he states that the concept of dharma was not static. Its content changes with the changing contexts of time, place and social environment. Dharma is that which holds together all living beings in a harmonious order. Virtuous conduct contribute to social welfare and vice is its bane. In the Sutra literature both these aspects of dharma are discussed under four sections which he elaborated in his book. At page 8, the author states that “the above discussion makes it clear that dharma in India does not force men into virtue but trains them for it. It is not a fixed Code of mechanical rules but a living spirit which grows and moves in response to the development of the society. Even the State in India is a swervant of dharma. It was not above morality. Its function is not to alter or annul dharma but only to administer it. Dharma is essential because it promotes individual security and happiness as well as the stability of the social order”. In “Dharma – a Legal Discipline – Select Speeches and Writings of Dr. Shankar Dayal Sharma, the present President of India [Indian Bar Review Vol.XX (3&4) 1993 Special Issue] in his Centenary Speech of Swami Vivekananda in the Parliament of Religions, he emphasised “time-honoured philosophy of oneness and harmony within pluralism, the recognition of, respect for, and acceptance of different paths of logical and intuitive access to Absolute Truth”. He reiterated what Swami Vivekananda had said one century ago at Chicago: “We believe not only in universal toleration, but we accept all religions as true” and concluded that “if India is to grow to her full potential as a strong, united, prosperous nation, a nation attuned to the highest moral and ethical values, true to the genius of her cultural and spiritual heritage, we shall all have to strive each day to build harmony, justice and creative endeavour. Indeed, in a very real way, it is our duty so to strive”. He exhorted the youth of the country to be the vanguard of that mission. In his Dr. Zakir Hussain Memorial Lecture delivered at Visva Bharati Shanti Niketan on 29th April, 1989, Dr. S.D. Sharma stated thus:

“We in India, however, understand

Secularism to denote `Sarva Dharma

Samabhava’: an approach of

tolerance and understanding of the

equality of all religions”.

x x x x x

The Bhagwad Gita indicates

this explicitly in the following

Shlokas:

Ye yatha main prapadyante

tamptathaiva bhajamy-aham pama

vartmuvartante manusyah nartha

sarvasag

In whatever way men identify

with Me, in the same way do I carry

out their; men pursue my path, in

all ways. (Bh.G.IV.11)

Yo yo yam yam tanum bhaktah

Sraddhayarcitumicchati. Tasya

tasyacalam sraddhan tam-eva

vidhamyaham)

Whatever form any devotee with

faith wishes to worship. I make

that faith steady. (Bh.G.:VII.21)

This philosophical approach of

understanding, co-existence and

tolerance is the very spirit of our

ancient thought. The Rig Veda

enjoins :

Samagacchadhvam Samvedadhavam

Sam Vo Manamsi Janatam Deva Bhagam

Yatha Purve Samajanna Upasate.

(Rg. Veda 10.191.2)

“Behave with others as you

would with yourself. Look upon all

the living beings as your friends,

for in all of them there resides

one soul. All are but a part of

that universal soul. A person who

believes that all are his soulmates

and loves them all alike never

feels lonely. Divine qualities of

such a person such as forgiveness,

compassion and service, will make

him lovable in the eyes of his

associates. He will experience

intense joy throughout his life”.

The Yajurveda states:

Mitrasaya ma caksusa Sarvani

Bhutani Samiksantam. Mitrasyacham

caksua sarvani bhutani samikse.

Mitrasya caksusa samiksamahe.

(Yaju. Veda 38.18)

“May all beings look on me

with the eyes of a friend; May I

look on all beings with the eyes of

a friend. May we look on one

another with the eyes of a friend.”

In his address “Law & Morality Sustain the World” delivered on 25th September, 1993 at the First Convocation of the Nation Law School of India University, Bangalore, Dr. S.D. Sharma expounded the meaning of `dharma’ thus: “What does Dharma mean? The word is

clearly derived from the root

`Dh.r’- which denotes: `upholding’,

`supporting’ `nourishing’ – that

which upholds is Dharma. In the

Vana Parva of the Mahabharata,

Verse-58 in Chapter 69 (Dharma is

for the stability of society, the

maintenance of social order and the

general well-being and progress of

humankind. Whatever conduces to the

fulfillment of these object is

Dharma; that is definite.)

The Brhadaranyakopanisad identified Dharma with Truth, and declared its Supreme status:

Sa naib Vyabhawatchhreyo

Rupamatyasrijat Dharman

Jadetatkshtrasya Kshatram

Yaddharmastasmasd Dharmat Param

Nasti. Atho Abaliyan Samashaste

Dharmen Yatha Ragya. Aibam yo bai

sa Dharmah Satyam bai tat tasmat

Saryam. Badantmahur Dharmam wa

badntnam. Satyam badutityetadhyai

bai tadubhayam bhawati.

“There is nothing higher than

dharma. Even a very weak man hopes

to prevail over a very strong man

on the strength of dharma, just as

(he prevails over a wrong-does)

with the help of the King. So what

is called Dharma is really Truth.

Therefore, people say about a man

who declares the truth that he is

declaring dharma and about one who

declares dharma they say he speaks

the truth. These two (dharma and

truth) are this”]

A similar thought is expressed in the Ayodhya-kanda of the Valmiki Ramayana, in verse-10, Sarga-109 Satyamebanrishamasam ch Raj Brittam

Sanatanam Tasmat Satyatmakam Rajyam

Satya Lokah Pratisthitah.

[From the ancient times the

constitutional system depends on

the foundantion of Truth and social

sympathy. Truth is the fundamental

basis of the State; indeed the

whole universe rests on Truth.]

The Rig Veda states that the Law and Truth are eternal – born of sacrifice and sublimation:

Ritam cha Satyam Chabhidadhat

Tapsodhyajayat.

The Niti Vakyamrit begins with

the statement:

Ath Dharmarth Falai Rajyaya

Namah.

The Yajnavalkya Smriti states:

Shrutih Smritin Sadacharah

Swasya cha Priyamatmanah Samyakam

Kalpjah Kamo Dharmamulormidam

Smritam.

(The Sruti, the Smriti, the

approved usages, that which is

agreeable to one’s in most self or

good conscience, and has sprung

from due deliberation, are ordained

as the foundation of Dharma.)

The Markadeya Purana expresses the purpose of Dharma as: Sarblok Priyo Nityamubachaidahar

Nisham Nandantu Sarb Bhutani

Snidyantu Vijanepwapi Swastyastu

Sarb Bhurtesu Nirantakani Santu cha

Ma Vyadhirastu Bhutanamadhyon

Bhawantu cha Maitrimashesh Bhutani

Tushyantu Sakle Jane Shibmastu D

wijatinam Pritirastu Parasparam.

(Ch/188,Verse 12-17)

(That all persons may be

happy, may express each other’s

happiness, that there may be

welfare of all, all being free from

fear and disease; cherish good

feelings and sense of brotherhood,

unity and friendship)

It is this stress on the identification of Dharma with Truth and social well being, Duty and Service that impelled Yudhisthira to express his own ambition, as Dharmaraja, in the words:

Na Twaham Kamaye Rajyam Na Swargam

Na Punarbhawam Kamye Dukh Taptanam

Praninam Artnashnam.

(I seek no kingdoms nor

heavenly pleasure nor personal

salvation, since to relieve

humanity from its manifold pains

and distresses is the supreme

objective of mankind).

It is in this context that the phrase Dharm Vijayah `Victory of Dharma’ could be understood, as employed by the Mauryan Emperor, Ashoka, in his rock edict at Kalsi which proclaimed his achievement in terms of moral and ethical imperatives of Dharma, and exemplified the ancient dictum Yato Dharmastato Jayah (where there is Law, there is Victory). In the midst of unity in diversity among Indians having different religious and cultural hues, for their assimilation as integrated citizens, all endowed with human rights, dignity of person, equality of status, liberty of faith and worship with fraternity, the religious spirituality fosters them as a strong unifying social entity with personal identity. Swamy Ranganathananda, a noted philosopher, in his lecture on `Science, Democracy and Religion’ delivered on August 28, 1954 in Ramakrishna Mission Institute of Culture, Calcutta, published under the title `Eternal Values for a Changing Society’ had stated at pahe 637 that “With the intensification of the pace of industrialization, our centuries-old static feudal society is being profoundly disturbed; social mobility is fast breaking down caste and other old forms of social relationships, and faster still, the social sanctions behind them. Virtues that sustained a static age are found to be utterly inadequate to the demands of a dynamic society”. Everywhere, old values, old edifices and old social and economic groups are crumbling down. This is just the beginning of the industrialization. Complacency is not a solution in the profound transition period. Indian spiritualism had responded successively to all changes on the strength of her tenacious loyalty to fundamental spiritual values, which India placed at the foundation of her national culture. It is this faith in ritual values, which has been tested in good and evil fortune. Science is characterized as a keen spirit of inquiry and deep passion for truth. Science has enabled the human mind to unravel secret after secret from nature and increase enormously man’s knowledge of the world in with he lives. Speaking on democracy in India he said that democracy has come to stay. How does India proposes to assimilate the democratic values to her cultural heritage? Democracy should have a content of universal value which is something more than the merely political, social or national. The value is the * without that content, our democracy will be nothing fornthen a mere carbon copy of what happens in the democratic countries of the West. The science and democracy are shaping the growth and development of human culture and civilization with the development of science, an amount of force and power, scientific and political is itching for a fight creating new tensions, creating instability and insecurity. The nation has to handle the force and the power in such a way as not to result in corruption in the wielers and in the confusion to harm the people at large. India holds science and spirituality, harmonious and hospitable co-existence fostering human values. Vedantha enables the Indians to digest the forces generated by science. The spiritual meaning of democratic living and fulfillment, i.e., spiritual oneness of humanity taught by ancient and modern Indian seers has to be received and reactivated in men’s thinking and day to day living and its powerful influence brought to bear on these new and ever newer forms of scientific and social power, thereby giving them a higher direction and a loftier, spiritual and human purpose. This is the central message of religion. It is a message which requires to be specially emphasized.

Religion became identified with untested beliefs and dogmas and got shattered in the progress of scientific inquiry. But the mental make-up of Indians proceed from our long cultural experience; therefore, our spiritual religious experience is not hostile to scientific spirit but sympathetic and hospitable to it. Science will have no opposition from philosophy or religion in India. Human welfare partly depends upon the knowledge and control of human environment, natural and social. Vedantha has always given an honored place to science as also to politics in this period of human welfare. Man is more than a political animal. He is also more than an intellectual being. He has depth and heights which cannot e compressed in a purely materialistic or positivistic philosopher. Swamy Ranganathananda further stated as under: ” democracy should have a

content of universal value which is

something more than the merely

political, social, or national. It

is obvious that value is the

ethical and spiritual content.

Without that content, our democracy

will be nothing more than a mere

carbon copy of what obtains in the

medocratic countries of the West.”

“In the background of these

agitating questions lies the great

spiritual heritage of India. Those

who are acquainted with its

vitality hold the hope that India

can yet show the world how to

understand, assimilate, ant express

human values which form the theme

of democracy everywhere. India’s

spirituality can enable Indians and

the peoples of the world to digest

the formidable forces that are

being generated and placed in man’s

hands today. The spiritual meaning

of democratic living and

fulfillment, as taught by India’s

ancient and modern sers-in other

words, the religion of the

spiritual oneness of humanity has

to be revived and reactivated in

men’s thinking and day to day

living, and its powerful influence

brought to bear on these new and

ever newer forms of scientific and

social power, thereby giving them a

higher direction and a loftier

spiritual and human purpose.

This is the central message of

religion. It is a message which

requires to be specially emphasized

in the world in which we are living

today. The `religion’ carries to

some at least of the modern world a

bit of bad odor. It is unfortunate

.e It is due to the fact that

religion became identified with

untested beliefs and dogmas. And

these got shattered in the progress

of scientific inquiry. In the

history of Europe, religion has

often functioned as an `enemy’ of

science. But that experience is not

universal or invariable; it is a

story with its background in the

West only and not in India. Our

entire mental make-up proceeding

from our long cultural experience

is not only not hostile, but is

very sympathetic and hospitable to,

the scientific spirit. In his book,

the Discovery of India, our Prime

Minister, Shri Jawaharlal Nehru,

has expressed the view that

science, which has much leeway to

make in India compared to Western

countries, is bound to make

increasing advances here in the

future because of the hospitality

of the Indian national heritage to

science.”

“That science is a fundamental

force and that it does have a great

message for all men is understood

in Inaia, no less than elsewhere.

Human welfare partly depends upon

the knowledge and control of the

human environment, natural and

social. Vedanta has always given an

honored place to science, as also

to politics, in this sphere of

human welfare. But Vedanta has also

taught India that these two do not

constitute the whole scope of human

welfare. Man is more than a

political animal; he is also more

than an intellectual being. He has

depths and heights which cannot be

compassed in a purely materialistic

or positivistic philosophy. Indian

thought recognizes no compartments

or divisions in the human

personality leading to mutual

exclusion and hostility in human

aspirations and values, such as

pleasure and profit, science and

art, morality and religion.”

“The unity of man emphasizes

the synthesis of his interest.

While accepting the great

importance of science and politics

for man, Vedanta evaluates them in

terms of his total needs and

aspirations. Man seeks things of

utility for the sake of things

without utility. Science through

technology can give and has given

man things of utility in abundance;

politics can give him things of

utility of another order, a stable

social order, the venue of his

life’s experiments. But neither

science not politics can give man

peace or happiness, joy or a sense

of fulfillment. These non-

utilitarian values proceeds from

religion and morality. Science and

politics can create only conditions

for their emergence, but cannot

create them directly. Without this

spiritual direction, the forces

generated by science and politics

nourish the lawer self of man and

become sources of sorrow and

discord, division and instability

for man and society. A knowledge

which leads to the increase of

sorrow is not knowledge but

ignorance, the offspring of

spiritual blindness. It is

spiritual awareness alone that

transforms all knowledge into

wisdom, and into forms of peace and

happiness, love and service.”

“The transformation of the

world which science and politics

seeks is powerless to ensure human

welfare without the transformation

of human nature itself, which

religion seeks through a discipline

of the whole personality, it is

only such spiritually disciplined

individuals and groups that can

ensure for humanity at large the

values of life, liberty, and the

pursuit of happiness, of liberty,

fraternity, and equality. The peace

and happiness of man and the

stability and ordered progress of

civilizations depend entirely upon

the intensification of the

spiritual awareness of humanity.

With this spiritual awareness for

foundation, the structure of

civilization raised by science and

democracy becomes structure of

civilization raised by science and

democracy becomes strong and

steady; without it, it sways in

periodic crises to topple doen

eventually. Without the inspiration

of religion, civilization shall

ever remain an unstable structure.”

“Besides the integral unity of

man and his interests, Vedanta also

proclaims the unity and solidarity

of all existence. The objective of

Vedanta is the happiness and

welfare of man; not man as divided

into sects, creeds, castes, and

classes, but man as man wherever he

may be found. Based on this unitary

and universal view of man upheld in

her philosophy, religion in India

taught that man, in the course of

his development, in the course of

his self-expression, generates

various forces, physical or mental,

social or political, and that the

development of these forces needs

to be matched by a corresponding

development of his inner spiritual

resources, which alone can provide

the factors of stability to an

evolving personality or social

system.”

“True democracy is

inconsistent with a narrow self-

sufficient nationalism or

sectarianism; it must tend to reach

out to the universal. Breaking the

barriers of caste and creed, race

and se, high and low, the

democratic ides, deriving its

sustenance from the divinity in

man, marches on, without

obstruction, to the realization of

the universal. Swami Vivekananda

desired India to uphold this ideal

of the universal in her religion

and politics, science, and

literature. He desires India to

strive for the evolution of a

Vedantic civilization where science

and politics would be utilized to

lead man to higher and higher

levels of self-expression; and

merely desired it, but he also

demonstrated that India, among all

the nations, had the requisite

historically acquired capacity to

make that contribution to world

civilization.”

In “Chief Justice Gajendragadkar” – his life, ideas, papers and addresses – by V.D. Mahajan, in Chapter on “Secularism, its impact on law and life in India” it is stated that presonal law is a secular institution and has to be based on rational and secular considerations. This position is consistent with the real, ancient, pristine view of Hindu law. Dharma, according to the old concept, is a purely secular institution. Dharma is that which sustains the society. Dharma is that by which people at large are held together. At page 234 the author quoted Dr. Gajendragadkar stating that though the Constitution guarantees freedom to all religions, it recognizes that in certain aspects, and under certain conditions, religious practices may impinge upon socioeconomic problems and the Constitution has made it clear that wherever socioeconomic problems or relations are involved, the State will have a right to interfere in the interests of public good. Articles 25 and 26 of the constitution provide for the right to freedom of religion and though the Indian Constitution is secular and does not interfere with religious freedom, it does not allow religion to impinge adversely on the secular rights of citizens of the power of the State to regulate socioeconomic relations. In “Religion and Politics” by Justice V.R.Krishana Iyer [1991 Edition] it is stated at page 204 that “secularism in India has a spiritual foundation not because of a profusion of competing religions and Gods but because of the realisation that the universal essence of all of them is that service of man is the worship of God and the reverence for all creation is compassion which springs from the recognition of the divinity immanently everywhere. Our composite cultural heritage comceives of a synthesis between these two great values. One does not contradict the other but complements the other. True secularism is humanism in action and perceives divinity in everyone. True spirituality is not refuge in other worldliness and has a factor of universality where even on the material plane every human being is seen as of equal value and potential as every other member of the human family. We have to steer clear of all narrow religious denominations and communal classifications by emphasizing that in secular affairs all will be dealt with on the same footing, whether one belongs to the `minority’ or the `majority’ community”. At page 205 the author has stated that “Equality and fraternity, basic to national unity and amity, is impossible without the broad base of Human Rights. So it is that today we have to be eclectic and accept not religion with the capital `R’ but soul force which resides in everyone’s bosom. We need a social order whose life-breath is secularism, whose dynamics is social and economic justice. It is our fundamental duty to be secular in politics, not in rhetoric nor in cosmetics, but in every fibber of our being and every manner of living. May be, we have promises to keep and miles to go before we sleep”.

The Preamble of the Constitution sets out secularism, equity, fraternity, liberty of worship and faith and dignity of persons as integral scheme of the Constitution in its march to establish an egalitarian social order. Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles seek to resuscitate them. In S.R. Bommai & Ors. v. Union of India & Ors. [(1994) 3 SCC 1], larger Bench of nine Judges has held that secularism is basic structure of the Constitution. Religious tolerance and equal treatment of all religious groups and protection of life, property and place of worship are essential parts of secularism. Profession, actions and conduct of persons should be consistent with secularism and they need to be measured in that perspective.

Religion in development is man in search of God. Throughout the history man endeavors in building into a fuller religious life from the experience of the past and also with the consciousness of life in God that he seeks for He is always eternally in him. It is the eternal aspect of religion which is expressed in the religious recognition in every human life, at any state of its development in the pursuit of knowledge or self-consciousness or self- realisation and of personal experience of eternal or infinite worth, there are two aspects of religion true – religion and religions. True religion is c religion that seeks to live in the spirt, in what is beyond the intellect, beyond the aesthetic and ethical and practical being of man and to inform and govern these members’ life by higher light and law of the spirit. This is Vedanatha. Religions entrenches itself in some narrow piestic exaltation of the lower members, or lays exclusive stress on intellectual dogmeas, forms and ceremonies on some fixed and rigid moral code on some religio-political or religio-social system, which are not always necessary or worthy for a spiritual religion and which disdain the aid of the forms, ceremonies, creeds or system. The fundamental desire of man is to make peace with his inner life. The spiritual religion is a form of the fundamental desire of man to make peace with his innerself and bring to bear the experience of transplantation of his current personality into a vibrant ready sense of knowledge of fulfillment and happiness. The experience of the man has to be propelled and to be brightened rather than dimmed by the myriad tribulation of knowing the system of rituals or feelings of inferior and inaccessible or unnecessary to realize the Supreme Being. The need to over-come this is the pursuit of spiritual religion.

The importance of rituals in religious life is relevant for evocation of mystic and symbolic beginnings of the journey but on them the truth of a religious experience cannot stand. The truth of a religious experience is far more direct, perceptible and important to human existence. It is the fullness of religious experience which must be assured by temples, where the images of the Lord in resplendent glory is housed. To them all must have an equal right to plead and in a manner of such directness and simplicity that every human being can approach the doors of the Eternal with equality and with equalaccess and thereby exercise greater freedom in his own life. It is essential that the value of law must be tested by its certainty in reiterating the Coare of Religious Experience and if a law seek to separate the non-essential from the essential so that the essential can have a greater focus of attention in those who believe in such an experience, the object of such a law cannot be described as unlawful but possibly somewhat visionary.

The word `Dharma’ or `Hindu Dharma’ denotes upholding, supporting, nourishing that which upholds, nourishes or supports the stability of the society, maintaining social order and general well-being and progress of man kind; whatever conduces to the fulfillment of these objects is Dharma, it is Hindu Dharma and ultimately `Sarva Dharma Sambhava’.

In contra distinction, Dharma is that which approves oneself or good consciousness or springs from due deliberation for one’s own happiness and also for welfare of all beings free from fear, desire, disease, cherishing good feelings and sense of brotherhood, unity and friendship for integration of Bharat. This is the core religion which the Constitution accords protection.

In Ganpat v. Returning Officer & Ors. [(1975) 1 SCC 589], this Court has held that religion is essentially a highly personal matter and Hinduism is so tolerant and Hindu religious practices so varied and eclectic that one would find it difficult to say whether a person is practising or professing Hindu religion or not. Religion has undergone several changes, but the fundamental, moral and religious ideas of the Hindus which lie at the root of religious and charitable institutions, remain substantially the same. The Hindu is inclined to believe the divine in every manifestation, whatever it may be, and it doctrinally tolerant. Therefore, the Hindu is disposed to think synthetically and to regard other forms of worship, strange Gods, and divergent doctrines as inadequate rather than wrong or objectionable; he tends to believe that the highest divine powers co-complement each other for the well-being of the world and mankind. Religion, therefore, is one of the personal beliefs, is more a cultural attitude towards a physical thinking in that way of life and is worship of the image of God in different manifestation. In Shirur Matt’s, a locus classics on constitutional religion and protection of Articles 25 and 26 of the Constitution, this court had laid down that a religion may not only lay down a code of ethical rules for its followers to accept, it might prescribe rituals and observances, ceremonies and modes of worship which are regarded as integral parts of religion, and these forms and observances might extend even to matters of food and dress. In Sri Venkataramana Devaru & Ors. v. The State of Mysore & Ors. [(1958) SCR 985], this Court surveyed the historical background in enacting the Madras Religious and Charitable Endowment Act ( 29 of 1951) which is a pre-cursor to predecessor Act 17 of 1966. The question therein was: whether Sri Venkataramana of Moolky Petta was a private or a public temple or a denominational institution? This Court had held that with the growth and importance of temple and of worship therein more and more attention came to be devoted to the ceremonial law relating to construction of temple and conduct of worship of the Deity and numerous other trusts that came to be established for its existence. While explaining the expression “matters of religion” used in Article 26(b), this Court said that practices which are regarded by the community as part of its religion and under the ceremonial law pertaining to the temples, who are entitled to enter into them for worship and where they are entitled to stand for worship and how the worship is to be conducted are all matters of religion. In The Durgah Committee, Ajmer and Anr. v. Syed Hussain Ali and Ors. [(1962) 1 SCR 383 at 411-412], another Constitution Bench of this Court explained the connotation of the above statement of law thus:

“While we are dealing with this

point it may not be out of place

incidentally to strike a note of

caution and observe that in order

that the practices in question

should be treated as a part of

religion they must be regarded by

the said religion as its essential

and integral part; otherwise even

purely secular practices which are

not an essential or an integral

part of religion are apt to be

clothed with a religious form and

may make a claim for being treated

as religious practices within the

meaning of Art.26. Similarly, even

practices though religious may have

sprung from merely superstitious

beliefs and may in that sence be

extraneous and unsessential

accretions to religion itself.

Unless such practices are found to

constitute an essential and

integral part of a religion their

claim for the protection under

Art.26 may have to be carefully

scrutinized; in other words, the

protection must be confined to such

religious practices as are an

essential and an integral part of

it and no other.”

The Act regulates administration and maintenance of charitable and Hindu religious institutions and endowments in their secular administration. It lays emphasis on preserving Hindu dharma and performance of religious worship, ceremonies and poojas in religious institutions according to their prevailing Sampradayams and Agamas. Section 13 enjoins that the Commissioner and every other functionary under the Act “shall not interfere with and shall observe the forms, usages, ceremonies and practices obtaining in and appropriate to the religious institution or endowment”. Section 23(1) equally obligates the trustee that he “shall administer its affairs in accordance with the terms of the trust, the usage of the institution or endowment and all lawful directions” issued in respect thereof. Section 142 puts that “nothing in the Act shall affect the performance or interfere with religious worship, ceremonies and poojas in religious institutions” according to Sampradayams and Agama followed in such institution. Section 50 (1) enjoins propagation of Hindu Dharma. In Sardar Syedna Taher Saifuddin Saheb v. The Estate of Bombay [(1962) Supp. 2 SCR 496 at 521], Sinha, C.J. had held, in his separate but concurring judgmetn, that what are matters of religion and what are not is not an easy question to decide. It must vary in each individual case according to the tenets of the religious denomination concerned. The expressions `matters of religion’ engrafted in Article 26(b) and `activities associated with religious practice’ do not cover exactly the same ground. What are exactly “matters of religion” are completely outside State interference, subject, of course, to public order, morality and health. But activities associated with religious practice may have many ramifications and varieties – economic, financial, political and other such activities as are contemplated in Article 25(2) covering a field much wider than that covered by either Article 25(1) or Article 26(b). No demarcation can be classified as to which are essentially and purely of a religious character and those which are not essentially such. Considering the question whether ex-communication is a part of religious practice, on the facts in that case, majority had held that it offends Article 25(1) and accordingly the provision was declared unconstitutional. Articles 25 and 26 deal with and protect religious freedom. Religion as used in these Articles must be construed in its strict and etymological sense. Religion is that which binds a man with his Cosmos, his creator or super force. It is difficult and rather impossible to define or delimit the expressions “religion” or “matters of religion” used in Articles 25 and 26. Essentially, religion is a matter of personal faith and belief of personal relations of an individual with what he regards as Cosmos, his Maker or his Creator which, he believes, regulates the existence of insentient beings and the forces of the universe. Religion is not necessarily theistic and in fact there are well-known religions in India itself like Budhism and Jainism which do not believe in the existence of God. In India, Muslims believe in Allah and have faith in Islam; Christians in Christ and Christianity; Parsis in Zorastianism; Sikhs in Gurugranth Sahib and teachings of Gurunanak Devji, its founder, which is a facet of Hinduism like Brahamos, Aryasamaj etc.

A religion undoubtedly has its basis in a system of beliefs and doctrine which are regarded by those who profess religion to be conducive to their spiritual well-being. Areligion is not merely an opinion, doctrine or belief. It has outward expression in acts as well. It has outward expression in acts as well. It is not every aspect of religion that has been safeguarded by Articles 25 and 26 nor has the Constitution provided that every religious activity cannot be interfered with. Religion, therefore, be construed in the context of Articles 25 and 26 in its strict and etymological sense. Every religion must believe in a conscience and ethical and moral precepts. Therefore, whatever binds a man to his own conscience and whatever moral or ethical principle regulate the lives of men believing in that theistic, conscience or religious belief that alone can constitute religion as understood in the Constitution which forsters feeling of brotherhood, amenity, fraternity and equality of all persons which find their foot-hold in secular aspect of the Constitution. Secular activities and aspects do not constitute religion which brings under its own cloak every human activity. There is nothing which a man can do, whether in the way of wearing clothes or food or drink, which in not considered a religious activity. Every mundane or human activity was not intended to be protected by the Constitution under the huise of religion. The approach to construe the protection f religion or matters of religion or religious practices guaranteed by Articles 25 and 26 must be viewed with pragmatism since by the very nature of things, it would be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to define the expression religion or matters of religion or religious belief or practice.

In pluralistic society like India, as stated earlier, there are numerous religious groups who practise diverse forms of worship or practise religions, rituals, rites etc.; even among Hindus, different denominats and sects residing within the country or abroad profess different religious faiths, beliefs practices. They seek to identify religion with what may in substance be mere facets of religion. It would, therefore, be difficult to devise a definition of religion which would be regarded as applicable to all religions or matters of religious practices. To one class of persons a mere dogma or precept or a doctrine may be pre- dominant in the matter of religion; to others, rituals or ceremonies may be pre-dominant facets of religion; and to yet another class of persons a code of conduct or a mode of life may constitute religion. Even to different persons professing the same religious faith some of the facts of religion may have varying significance. It may not be possible, therefore, to devise a precise definition of universal application as to what is religion and what are matters of religious belief or religious practice. That is far from saying that it is not possible to state with reasonable certainty the limits within which the Constitution conferred a right to profess religion. Therefore, the right to religion guaranteed under Article 25 or 26 is not an absolute or unfettered right to propagating religion which is subject to legislation by the State limiting or regulating any activity – economic, financial, political or secular which are associated with religious belief, faith, practice or custom. They are subject to reform on social welfare by appropriate legislation by the State. Though religious practices and performances of acts in pursuance of religious belief are as much a part of religion as faith or belief in particular doctrine, that by itself is not conclusive or decisive. What are essential parts of religion and religious practice is essentially a question of fact to be considered in the context in which the question has arisen are the evidence – factual or legislative or historic – presented in that context is required to be considered and a decision reached. The Court, therefore, while interpreting Articles 25 and 26 strikes a careful balance between the freedom of the individual or the group in regard to religion, matters of religion, religious belief, faith or worship, religious practice or custom which are essential and integral part and those which are not essential and integral and the need for the State to regulate or control in the interest to the community.

There is a difference between secularism and secularisation. Secularisation essentially is a process of decline in religious activity, belief, ways of thinking and in restructuring the institution. Though secularism is a political ideology and strictly may not accept any religion as the basis of State action or as the criteria of dealing with citizens, the Constitution of India seeks to synthesis religion, religious practice or matters of religion and secularism. In secularizing the matters of religion which are not essentially and integrally parts of religion, secularisms, therefore, consciously denounces all forms of super-naturalism or superstitious beliefs or actions and acts which are not essentially or integrally matters of religion or religious belief or faith or religious practices. In other words, non-religious or anti-religious practribute in some degree to the process of secularisation of the matters of religion or religious practices. For instance, untouchability was believed to be the part of Hindu religious belief. But human rights denounce it and Article 17 of the Constitution of India abolished it and its practice in any form is a constitutional crime punishable under Civil Rights Protection Act. Article 15(2) and other allied provisions achieve the purpose of Article 17. The religious freedom guaranteed by Articles 25 and 26, therefore, is intended to be a guide to a community-life and ordain every religion to act according to its cultural and social demands to establish an egalitarian social order. Articles 25 and 26, therefore, strike a balance between the rigidity of right to religious belief and faith and their intrinsic restrictions in matters of religion, religious beliefs and religious practices and guaranteed freedom of conscience to commune with his Cosmos, Creator and realise his spiritual self. Sometimes, practices religious or secular, are instricably mixed up. This is more particularly so in regard to Hindu religion because under the provisions of ancient Samriti, human actions from birth to death and most of the individual actions from day to day are regarded as religious in character in one facet or the other. They sometimes claim the religious system or anctuary and seek the cloak of constitutional protection guaranteed by Articles 25 and 26. One, hinges upon constitutional religious model and another diametrically more on traditional point of view. The legitimacy of the true categories is required to be adjudged strictly within the parameters of the right of the individual and the legitimacy of the State for social progress, well-being and reforms, social intensification and national unity. Law is a social engineering and an instrument of social change evolved by a gradual and continuous process. As Banjamin Cardozo has put it in his “Judicial Process”, life is not a logic but experience. History and customs, utility and the accepted standards of right conduct are the forms which singly or in combination shall be the progress of law. Which of these forces shall dominate in any case depends largely upon the comparative importance or value of the social interest that will be, thereby, impaired. There shall be symmetical development with history or custom when history or custom has been the motive force or the chief one in giving shape to the existing rules and with logic or philosophy when the motive power has been theirs. One must get the knowledge just as the legislature gets it from experience and study and reflection in proof from life itself. All secular activities which may be associated with religion but which do not relate or constitute an essential part of it may be amenable to State regulations but what constitutes the essential part of religion may be ascertained primarily from the doctrines of that religion itself according to its tenets, historical background and change in evolved process etc. The concept of essentiality is not itself a determunative factor. It is one of the circumstances to be considered in adjudging whether the particular matters of religion or religious practices or belief are an integral part of the religion. It must be decided whether the practices or matters are considered integral by the community itself. Though not conclusive, this is also one of the facets to be noticed. The practice in question is religious in character and whether it could be regarded as an integral and essential part of the religion an if the Court finds upon evidence adduced before it that it is an integral or essential part of the religon, Article 25 accords protection to it. Though the performance of certain duties is part of religion and the person performing the duties is also part of the religion or religious faith or matters of religion, it is required to be carefully examined and considered to decide whether it is a matter of religion or a secular management by the State. Whether the traditional practices are matters of religion or integral and essential part of the religion and religious practice protected by Articles 25 and 26 is the question. Whether hereditary archaka is an essential and integral part of the Hindu religion is the crucial question? Justice B.K. Mukherjea in his Tagore Law Lectures on Hindu Law of Religious and Charitable Trust, at page 1 observed:

“The popular Hindu religion of

modern times is not the same as a

religion of the Vedas though the

latter are still held to be the

ultimate source and authority of

all those held sacred by Hindus. In

course of its development, the

Hindu religion did undergo several

changes, which reacted on the

social system and introduced

corresponding changes in the social

and religious institution. But

whatever changes were brought about

by time it cannot be disputed that

they were sometimes of a

revolutionary character – the

fundamental, moral and religious

ideas of the Hindu which lie at the

route of their religion and

charitable institution remained

substantially the same and the

system that we see around us can be

said to be a evolutionary product

of the spirit and genus of the

belief passing through different

ways of their cultural

development”.

The basis of Hindu Dharma is two-fold. The first is the Vedas and the second are the Agamas. Vedas, in turn, consist of four texts, namely, Samhitas, Bramhanas, Aranyakas and Upnishads.

Samhitas are the collections of mantras. Bramhanas explain the practical aspects of the rituals as well as their meanings. They explain the application of the mantras and the deeper meanings of the rituals. Aaranyakas go deeper into the mystic meanings of the rituals, and Upnishads present the philosophy of the Vedas.

From the point of view of content, they are viewed as Karma Kanda (sacrificial portion) and Jnana Kanda which explain the philosophical portion. The major portion of the Vedic literature enunciates the vedic sacrifices or the rituals which inevitably cultivate in the philosophy of the Upanishads. That is why the Upanishads are called Vedantha or culmination of the Vedas.

The essence of the Vedic religion lies in Vedic sacrifices which not only purify the mind and the heart of those who participate in the sacrifices but also reveal the true and unfragmented nature of the Karman (Action). Erroneously, Western scholars explained the Vedic sacrifices in terms of either sympathetic magic or an act of offering the fire to Gods emulating the mundane act of offering gifts. Thus, for them Vedic religion is a primitive religion and Vedic Gods are simply representing insentient departments of Nature; but it is not so. On the contrary, the term used for Vedic Gods is “Deva” which literally means “the shining ones”. The adorable ones – bestowing grace on the worshippers. The root `Div’ also means that Devas are the embodiment of unfragmented consciousness, which is ultimately one and non dual. Likewise, the Vedic sacrifice is an act of re-enactment of the cosmic creation; in our mundane life, our life of action is simply a life of fragmented act. This is because of Raga Dvesha whereby the perception is limited. The fragmented acts emanate from our deep rooted attraction and hatefulness. The Vedic sacrifice moves towards “Poorna”, i.e., plenitude and thus overcoming the problem of fragmented action in our lives. Onwards, the seeker moves towards the knowledge of self or the Brahaman. So many Upasanas are taught in the Vedas but not elaborated. The Agamas have elaborated these Upasanas such as Madhu Vidya and Dahra Vidya.

Upanishads speak of Para Vidya and Apara Vidya. Apara Vidya deals with Jnana through various methods. Agamas explain these Para Vidyas. The Agamic texts contain four parts, namely, Vidya Pada, Kriya Pada, Charya Pada and Yoga Pada.

Each text of the Agamas has the first portion, called `Samhita’ which contains the four parts namely the Vidya Pada, Driya Pada, Charya Pada and Yoga Pada. Vidya Psada offers an elaborate enunciation of the philosophy, whereas Kriya Pada deals elaborately with the act of worship. Worship is viewed as Samurta Archana. In other words, the Gods are endowed with form the this form of worship culminates into Amurta or Nishkala Archana by which one worships and realizes the formless. These are the steps to be treated upon one after another.

The temples are taken to be sanctified space where entire unfragmented Space and time, in other words, the entire `Universe’ are deposited and the image of the Deity is worshipped symbolizing the “Supreme”. Although the Deities appear to be many, each and every Deity is again viewed as the Supreme One and, therefore, the Supreme Reality is one and non-dual. The multiplicity of the Gods has been effected in order to offer the paths which are required according to the entitlement and evolution of each and everyone. That is why the progress towards the ultimate evolutionary goal of man depends upon his level of comprehension and his capacity to learn. This is the whole concept of a Guru who knows precisely the extent of spiritual evolution of the seeker and would know what is the stage from which the seeker has to proceed. Hinduism cannot be defined in terms of Polytheism or Hennotheism or Monotheism. The nature of Hindu religion ultimately is Monism/Advaita. This in contra distinction to Monotheism which means only one God to the exclusion to all others. Polytheism is a belief of multiplicity of Gods. On the contrary, monism is a spiritual belief of one Ultimate Supreme and manifest Himself as Many. This multiplicity is not contrary to Non-Dualism. This is the reason why Hindus start adoring any Deity either handed down by tradition or brought by a Guru or Swambhuru and seek to attain the Ultimate Supreme.

The construction of the temple, the nature of the sculpture and the specific way of worshipping the Deity are taught in the respective Agamas, namely, Vaishnava, Saiva, Shakti, Skanda, Saura (Surya) and Ganpatya. The Vaishnava Agamas are divided into pancharatra and Vaikhanasa, whereas Saiva agamas are seen as non-dualistic, dualistic-cum-non- dualistic and dualistic together. Each sect follows its own Agamic tect in constructing the temples, chiseling and consecring the Idol, the Images, as well as performing worship. In was believed that the priest knew the texts, receiving uninterruptedly from their predecessors in the family or from Guru. This succession either through family or through the Guru is called Parampara. It has now taken shape in Agama schools established by the State wherein Agamic education is taught. Purohit, thus educated, becomes an accomplished priest fit to perform rituals according to particular Agama and Sampradaya. The dispensation of these rituals in accordance with the Agamic Shastras is meant for enlightened ones and not as a common rule. The entire Indian history of art owes its development of Agamic texts which elaborate rules of temple architecture, image making, ritualistic celebrations, music, paintings and dane etc. The entire life is thus woven around the temples and the rituals taking place all over the year. This is to symbolise the philosophy that these actions are religious. Worship is a mystic act by which the devotee identifies himself with the Deity which in turn represents the Cosmic Supreme. Thus the form of worship varies from simple `panchopachara’ pooja to `Shodhasopchara’ pooja. The offerings of articles is related to elements of nature identifying ourselves with the Cosmos. The entire basis of Agamas isto support the fundamental supposition of Hindu philosophy that there is the unity of external and internal as well as the Pinda and Bramhanda. Whatever appears as Darkness externally, is ignorance internally. Whatever is light externally, is knowledge internally. This is the reason why in the Agamic way of worship,, there are practices identifying the limited self with the Cosmos, and internalising of the external image. This principle is reflected in:-

“Devobhootva devam Yajet”

In fact the devotee is first expected to transform himself in to the Deity and then approach the Deity and the purificatory exercise is meant to prepare one for being one with the Deity.

`Nyasa’ means depositing the entire Cosmos worship may be simplistic or elaborate. It is believed that the `Kala’ or the `power’ increases along with increase in investment of worship. The logic: “The increased worship is effected into the wider participation – individual as well as social. This is the gradual expansion of the grade bestowed on the greater number of the men and women as well as all creatures. Therefore, right from Panchopchara to Devaupachara to Shodashaupchara and to Rajopachara, all forms of worship have got their won importance. It is a matter of only one’s capability. There is a definite correspondence between Vedic and Agamic worship. Agamic worship is worship of image in or outside a temple. The Mandapa of the temple corresponds to the Vaidika in the Vedic rituals, the Yupa or the post outside the Mandapa corrosponds to the “Dhuaja”. Offerings of articles in the Agamic worship correspond to offering of the Ahuti in Vedic Sacrifice.

Temple has become the most important center of activities – religious, cultural and social among the people, in particular rural India. Temple is conceived in the likeness of human body. Parts of the temple are named accordingly, by which the organic unity of the temple is emphasized. Obviously, therefore, religious people endow their property for upkeep of temples or propagation of religion. Majority people in India are dedicated to Vishnu, Shiva, Shakti, Ganpathi and Hanuman of Hindu Gods. The cardinal principle underlying idol worship is for one of four modes for self-realization. Daily routine life in performing rituals to Deity will be gone through with minute accuracy of Abishek (bathing), changing of clothes, offerings of food and the retirement (rest). Religion, therefore, has occupied a significant place and role in the public life in our country. Hindus, therefore, believe that religion is an essential and powerful factor in raising humanity to higher level of thought and being. The priest (archaka or by whatever name called) would conduct rituals to the Deity as per prescribed Agamas, formas, practices and sampradayams.

Shri Suniti Kumar Chatterji in his Preface to the Cultural Heritage of India, Institute of Culture, Vol.IV at page xv had stated thus:

“Men are equal on the basis of

their common humanity, though no

two individuals are the same in

their intellectual and spiritual

framework, as much as in their

physical complexion. There are some

people who are intellectually

strong, and there are others who

are easy to move emotionally. And

there is a larger group which

reacts to impulses and instincts

more than to anything else. To

people of these three main types of

outlook, and those of other types

also, religion, both as an

individual experience and practice

and as a social vehicle carrying

the individual members of a

particular society in their

progress in life, must ipso facto

present a bewildering series of

diversities. The scriptural

religions like Islam and

Christianity theoretically insist

on dogmas and a uniform and

unalterable reed. Yet we have in

Christianity so many different

sects, sometimes with notions and

ideologies which go counter to one

another. And Islam too recognizes

the seventy-two firgahs or

sectarian organizations. Christ is

quoted to have said, `In my

Father’s house are many mansions’.

Could we not legitimately take it

to mean that a great latitude was

allowed by him in the sum total of

the faith and behavior of the

elect, all together forming the

entire body of the faithful who

believed in Christ? Similarly, in

spite of the preaching in Islam of

the path of orthodoxy as embodied

in a literal interpretation of the

Word of God, Kalam Ilahi, which is

the Quran, one of the Hadith or

traditional sayings as ascribed to

the Prophet runs like this:

“Thruqu-Ilahi ka-‘adadi’ anfasil-

makhluqali” – the ways of God are

like unto the breathing of all

created beings. There are many

people who therefore consider that

it would be nothing less than

blasphemy to assert that the

ultimate Reality can be approached

only by one path – and that path

presumably is the one which the

person making such an assertion

believes in.”

On the `Vaikhanas Early History And Literature’ at page 160- 161, it is stated that the Vaikhanasa Sastra sets great store by purity of conduct, as is evident from Kalidasa’s Sakuntala (I. 22), where King Dusyanta inquires whether Sakuntala observes Vaikhanase-Vrata. Vaikhanasa were entrusted with the management of temples and their land and property. They entered into agreements with the revenue officers and the assemblies in matters relating to the cultivation of assigned lands and sometimes also of unassigned lands. They were the hereditary trustees of Visnu temples, managed their properties, and conducted the divine service. Shrines of Ramanuja and the Alvars were added, and in the associated temples in Tirupati town and Tiruchanur, the pancharatra form of worship was introduced. Jiyars (monks of the Ramanuja school) took charge of the Balaji temple, where the services were performed by Vaishnavas of that School. Yet pooja to Balaji (Sri Venkateswaraswamy) in the sanctum sanctorum continues to be done by the Vaikhanasa according to the Vaikhanasa Sastra which is purely in Sanskrit. There are more temples in South India today under the Vaikhanasa Agama than under the Pancharatra. Devotion (bhakti) and self-surrender (Prapatti) to His will are together the master keys to open the gates of divine grace. Vaikhanasa’s chief contribution to spiritual life is the emphasis on the worship, service, and adoration of the lord of in the acre (image) form in which He `decends with a non- material body’, and in which He is present eversince as the surest means of liberation. Vaikhanasas place grater emphasis on acre worship.

Brighu Kriyaadhikaare states that according to Vaikhanasa Sastra, the Priest (Acharya) must be one who is well-versed in Vedic lore, of dharmic persuasion, thirsting for Janana (wisdom), gentle having control over senses, pure and attached with total dedication to the worship of Lord alone. The priest shall carry on daily rituals of worship and all rites according to sastric injunctions. In Vaikhanasa Prakirnadhikara at page 443, it is tated that an Acharya (fully qualified man) alone should be appointed as the priest. It also indicates dismissal of a priest if he was fund having deflected from his duty and appointment of another person in his place. At page 269 it states that the priest must be provided with Dakshina (money for officiating priest) for his sustenance and maintenance of himself and his family so as to keep the priest in comfort and free from want. It also speaks of employment of an archaka for life. At pages 302 and 303, it is stated that the owner of the temple should appoint one or two archakas according to his capacity. The archakas must be of Vaikhanasa and haying the qualities mentioned above and free from vices. He is enjoined to divide his earnings into three equal parts keeping for himself 2/3rd share for maintenance of himself and his family and 1/3rd share for carrying out dharmik purposes. He is also directed to enjoy the gifted land according to the stipulations.

In Prakirnadhikara, (para 12) it is mentioned that the income from property of the temple be divided into three parts – first part to be retained for himself and his family; the second part for the temple; and the third one for the construction of the temple – taking care of the residence of the archaka. In Kashayappa Jhanakanda, para 21 also mentions the same. The Agama text intended to avoid confusion in procedures of worship by insisting upon the hereditary character of priesthood (either in the family or through teacher pupil line). Prakiranadhikara (17 & 39) says that when a priest is already performing rituals no other priest must enter the sanctum sanctorum. Only one person must do all the things himself prohibiting others to participate. The order of Guru was described as binding as an order of a king. The right to live in comfort on the provisions made by the owner of the temples was intended to keep the priest above want so as to attend his duty without worry and the same finds mention in Prakirnadhikar, paras 17, 84 and 86. It is also insisted that Guru (priest) or in his absence his son or grandson or great grandson or brother or his disciple or his disciple’s disciple or a Brahmachari should be chosen in succession. As is found in Prakirnadhikara, the selected priest must be well-vbersed in Vaikhanasa Statra with qualities lide gentleness controlling senses, purity, character and devotion to the worship of Shri Maha Vishnu etc. The idea is that one devoid of divinity cannot get into any association with divinity. Shri Paramaprush in Chapter II prescribes in para 35 appointment of archaka. The owner of the temple without executing a gift of land in the aforementioned manner fixes monthly salary to the archaka, failure thereof leads to ruination of the owner’s life. The owner should not feel jealous of the earnings of the archaka and his prosperity. It does not specify that archaka should belong to the specific denomination or group of which are temple service is done traditionally according to Agamas. According to Brighu Kriyaadhikara (302-304) Viriti Kalpapnam, a permanent settlement has to be made for their maintenance and the worship of Deities is done properly by qualified priest. In `Sri Panchartraparamyam’ by Dr. V. Vardacharyamaharshya at page 21, he has stated that the Sanskaras like Niseha must be performed according to one’s own sutra or by the method of Pancharatra as might have been followed by one’s own family hierarchy. At page 70 he has further stated that in Lakshmitantra in Telugu manuscript all priests do not have the right to perform worship in temples. Only panchratra followers who know the kunna and madhyandina sahta are entitled to perform the worship in Vishnu temples; only such great munis (Rishis) in the line of succession have right to perform rituals. In Jayakhyasamhita of Pancaratra Agama by E. Krishnamacharya at page 22, it is stated that priest of Vaishnava cult has the right to perform worship by heredity. In Satvata-Sanihita at page 411, the way the abhiseka (the ablution) may be done by the principle priest, is mentioned. Others who had initiation (Diksha), disciple of Guru, or the son, or disciple with good qualities mentioned above are eligible to perform pooja. In this way the abhiseka would be done only by those who are born in the family of Acharyas. The right of karsana etc. vests only in such persons. In “Laksmi- tantra”, a Pancharatra Agama by Pandit V. Krishnamacharya, it is stated at page 1 that in the Vaikhanasa system only those priests who by the tradition of heredity belong to the Vaikhanasa sutra perform the worship for sacraments like the birth ceremonly, naming ceremony etc. and follow the rules prescribed therein, i.e., the Vaikhanasa sutras. At page 2, he has stated that in the Pancharatra system all priests have a right to worship the images (established in their houses) for their own benefits. But for conducting worship in the temple particularly in famour temples only the descendants of the priests properly initiated (Diksha) especially by family traditions, are entitled to be the priests. Others have only a secondary right. The special initiation to others is not prohibited. This is the current tradition. It is stated in Padma Samhita that for conducting worship for others, Brahmins only are entitled to perform worship. At page 165, he has stated that there afterwards the text prescribed that in the matter of performing worship for others only the descendants of the family of Kashyapa etc. have the right, which is not universal. But that text is found only in the manuscript in Telugu script. There is some `scope to conclude that this portion might have been contrived by some elements who wanted to establish their own exclusive right to perform worship for others in the temples. That portion is also against arrangements prevailing these days. In a narrative dialogue, he has stated that Rishi Marich is stated to have said that `O Padma’ only those who are initiated inthe Diksha spoken by you have a right to do the worship of Vishnu. All others have no right in that worship. The worship for others should be performed by persons born in the best gotra of the Kashyap Muni etc. If the worship for others is done by other Bhagavatars on account of ignorance, there will be much fall of the kings and the country. Therefore, through all efforts one who is born in Kashyapa family duly initiated, though illiterate, should be appointed as priest by the Bhagavatars. He who collectivate pure behaviour is the most deserving to perform worship.

The Agamas, thus, are a stream of traditions which have grwon along with the tradition of the Vedas. Many earlier works of Agama literature are fairly ancient in times. They are not anti-Vedic but the worship of God in the form of Idol. In the Vedic tradition, a very limited number of Brahmins were conversant with the ritualistic lore but under Agama they performed rituals visualizing the Deity whom they invoked by Mantras. Vedas deprived others including women and Sudras of the opportunity to participate in the rituals. But Agamas provide opportunity to all to perform worship of the God. Purity, good conduct, devotion and dedication is insisted upon. In Mahabhartha, it is ordained thus: Na Jatir na Kulam Tat Na Swadhyayo

Na cha Shrutam Karnane Durjatwasya

Brittameb he Karnam.

“Not by caste, not by ancestry

nor by scholarship nor by study of

Vedas does one acquire the twice-

born status. One acquirs it only by

virtue of his work”.

As far as Vaishvanism is concerned, the Agamas are of two types – Vaikhanasa and Pancharatra. While the former is based purely on Vedic traditions, the latter has Tantric character. Vaikhanasa and Pancharatra followers have been known to be attacking each other on the ground of acquiring more powers and emoluments in cash and kind from the temples. The Vaikhanasa turned to the Pancharatra Agamas for information on several religious issues. The Vaishnavas is much indebted to the authority of the Pancharatra Agamas. The Agamas categorise worship as Svartha, i.e., for self in one’s own home and Prartha, i.e., one performed by the priest for others in a temple. The priests in order to be eligible have to undergo Diksha, which is described elaborately in the Agamas. Some of the Agamas state that while worship for oneself can be performed by any oen who is initiated into the ritual but the worship to be performed for others in a temple has to be by the priest who has inherited authority of acting as priest by family succession. Krishnarcharya has rationalized the synthesis between Vaikhanasa and Pancharatra.

From the Vaikanasa literature referred to above the following prominent features would emerge: Temples were constructed by private owners or kings. In the respective Agamas of either Vaishnava or Saiva form of worship, priests appointed are from amongst the sects who have implicit faith, devotion, dedication of a man of good character, integrity and pierty. He must also be an accomplished man to perform ritual in ceremonial form of worship steeped with profound knowledge in Agama rules, proficiency in recitation and performance of rituals accurately and systematically with total identification and personification. The right to work as priest is traceable to an appointment for life. The priesthood was systematised among the families of priests having faith and devotion initiated with Diksha and learning in the respective Agamas. They succeeded from generation to generation subject to good conduct and were terminable due to acts of misconduct. Hereditary succession is not an eyorable rule. Due to non- availability of persons from the family eligible to be priest, outsiders would also become eligible. Normally, succession to the priesthood upto the lifetime of the priest is open to his successors. In some instances, priests from same Gotra were inducted and in their absence, even the disciples of the Guru and others were initiated. The property dedicated to the temple or income derived from the offerings of devotees was enjoyed by the priest for himself and his family maintenance and the temple. The object, thereby, appears to be to keep the priest above want and free from family worries to enable him to dedicate himself totally to perform daily rituals to the Deity. Generally, the person acquainted with same Agama rules and Sampradaya, practising and professing same religious faith and hailing from the same sect remained in the same temple or similar temples elsewhere.

The protection of Articles 25 and 26 of the Constitution is not limited to matters of doctrine. They extend also to acts done in furtherance of religion and, therefore, they contain a guarantee for rituals and observances, ceremonies and modes of worships which are integral parts of the religion. In Seshammal’s case [supra] on which great reliance was placed and stress was laid by the counsel on either side, this Court while reiterating the importance of performing rituals in temples for the idol to sustain the faith of the people, insisted upon the need for performance of elaborate ritual ceremonies accompanied by chanting of mantras appropriate to the Deity. This Court also recognized the place of an archaka and had held that the pries would occuphplace of importance in the performance of ceremonial rituals by a qualified archaka who would observe daily discipline imposed upon him by the Agamas according to tradition, usage and customs obtained in the temple. Sri P.P. Rao, learned senior counsel also does not dispute it.

The main controversy is only of hereditary succession as an archaka. The question is: whether abolition of hereditary right to perform such service is an integral part of the religion? Sri Parasaran contended that sine this Court in first Shirur Math’s case had held that the doctrine of a particular religion or usages and practices would include food and dress, priest being an inseparable part of the Agamas without whom the ceremonial temple worship would not start, archaka becomes part of idol worship and a part of religious practice. Therefore, the abolition of hereditary right to perform ceremonial worship by the priest would be an affront to matters of religion offending Articles 25(1) and 26(b) of the Constitution. He contended that in Seshammal’s case what was upheld by this Court was the doing away of the line of succession on hereditary basis but not hereditary right itself. This Court had upheld hereditary right as such and given acceptance to legislative sanction to doing away with the line of succession to hereditary descendant from the same family and gotra. On the other hand, Sri Rao contended that the office of archaka is not done away with. Archaka is an important employee of the temple to conduct daily ritual ceremonies in accordance with the Agamas, customs, practices or Sampradayams prevalent in the concerned themple. His service is akin to that of any other employee of the temple. The hereditary right offends Articles 14, 15(1) & (2) and 16(1) of the Constitution. There is a distinction between religious service and the person who performs the service; performance of the religious service according to the tenets, Agamas, customs and usages prevalent in the temple etc. is an integral part of the religious faith and belief and to that extent the legislature cannot intervene to regulate it. But the service of the priest (archaka) is a secular part. As seen earlier, the right to perform religious service has appointment by the owner of the temple or king as its source. The legislature is competent to enact the law taking away the hereditary right to succeed to an office in the temple and equally to the office of the priest (archaka). The hereditary right as such is not integral part of the religious practice but a source to secure the services of a priest independent of it. Though performance of the ritual ceremonies is an integral part of the religion, the person who performs it or associates himself with performance of ritual ceremonies, is not. Therefore, when the hereditary right to perform service in the temple is terminable by an owner for bad conduct, its abolition by sovereign legislature is equally valid and legal. Regulation of his service conditions is sequenced to the abolition of hereditary right of succession to the office of an archaka. Though an archaka integrally associates himself with the performance of ceremonial rituals and daily pooja to the Deity, he is an holder of the office of priest (archaka) in the temple. So are the other office-holders or employees of the temple. In Seshammal’s case, this Court had upheld the legislative competence to take away the hereditary right as such.

The real question, therefore, is: whether appointment of an archaka is governed by the usage and whether hereditary succession is a religious usage? If it is religious usage, it would fall squarely under Article 25(1)(b) of the Constitution. That question was posed in Seshamal’s case wherein this Court considered and held that though archaka is an acomplished person, well-versed in the Agamas and rituals necessary to be performed in a temple, he does not have the status of a head of the temple. He owes his appointment to Dharmakarta or Shebait. He is a servant of the temple. In K. Seshadri Aiyangar v. Ranga Bhattar [I.L.R. 35 Madras 631], the Madras High Court had held that status of hereditary archaka of a temple is that of a servant, subject to the disciplinary power of the trustee who would enquire into his conduct as servant and would be entitled to take disciplinary action against him for misconduct. As a servant, archaka is subject to the discipline and control of the trustee. The ratio therein was applied and upheld by this Court and it was held that under Section 56 of the Madras Act archaka is the holder of an office attached to a religious institution and he receives emoluments and perks according to t he procedure therein. This Court had further held that the act of his appointment is essentially a secular act. He owes his appointment to a secular authority. Any lay founder of a temple may appoint an archaka. The Shebait or Manager of temple exercises essentially a secular function in choosing and appointing the archaka. Continuance of an archaka by succession to the office from generation to generation does not make any difference to the principle of appointment. No such hereditary archaka can claim any right to the office. Though after appointment the archaka performs worship, it is no ground to hold that the appointment is either religious practice or a matter of religion. It would thus be clear that though archaka is normally a well-versed and accomplished person in the Agamas and rituals necessary to be performed in a temple, he is the holder of an office in the temple. He is subject to the disciplinary power of a trustee or an appropriate authority prescribed in the regulations or rules or the Act. He owes his existence to an order of appointment – be it in writing or otherwise. He is subject to the discipline at par with other members of the establishment. Though after appointment, as an integral part of the daily rituals, he performs worship in accordance with the Agamas Sastras, it is no ground to hold that his appointment is either a religious practice or a matter of religion. It is not an essential part of religion or matter of religion or religious practice. Therefore, abolition of the hereditary right to appointment under Section 34 is not violative of either article 25(1) or 26(b) of the Constitution.

It is true that the position of the office of Pedda Jeeyanagar or Chinna Jeayanagar as a religious head in the context of matadhipathi of Ramanuja sect was upheld by the Privy Council, yet as regards his right in the Lord Venkataramana temple, he performs the office as a nominee and, therefore, he also owes his existence to the nomination which is antithesis to hereditary succession. Every Mirasidar or Gamekar equally cannot claim hereditary right to continue to perform the duties from generation to generation. They all are servants or members of the establishment liable to disciplinary jurisdiction. Consequently, they stand along with the priest (archaka) of the temple of Sri Balaji. It is true that hereditary rights of archaka or other office-holders are in vogue in most of the State Acts and no attempt therein appears to have been made to abolish them, yet their inaction or omission to amend the law is no ground to hold that the legislature lacks the power to do so or that they are in violation of the Constitution. In fact, it is not the submission of Sri Parasaran that the legislature lacked competence to enact Sections 34 and 144 of the Act. Therefore, the abolition of their rights do not violate either Article 25 (1) or 26 (b) of the Constitution.

The next question is: whether abolition of the emoluments attached to the office is invalid in law? Shri Parasaran has forcefully and with vehemence at his command repeatedly argued that appointment of archaka and right to receive emoluments or share in the offerings is an integral usage and practice prevalent in Makras Province from centuries. In Seshammal’s case, the usage was not an issue since the hereditary right or usage or practice was not avoided in the Madras Act. Section 34(1) (b) has done away with the appointment on usage or custom; when the appointment is on the basis of usage and custom which acquired the status of law and is a part of religious practice, Section 34(1)(b) is unconstituttional. It is true that in Seshammal’s case the issues whether appointment of an archaka should made on the basis of custom or usage prevalent in an institution or whether such appointment is in contravention of Article 25 [1] or 26 [b] of the Constitution were not directly addressed. So long as the statute did not intervene regulating the secular appointment of an archaka, the appointment according to prevailing usage or custom was upheld by the courts. Consequently, the right to succession or appointment remained valid. But with the statutory intervention, unless the custom or usage is held an integral part of the religion, the legislature has power to regulate the appointment of an archaka or other office- holder. In view of the settled legal position that the appointment of an archaka is a secular act, the previous custom or practice or usage in making an appointment to the office of an archaka is regulated under the Act. As an object in that behalf the hereditary right or custom or usage, pervalent in that behalf, was statutorily abolished. In Gazula Dasaratha Rama Rao v. State of Andhra Pradesh & Ors. [AIR 1961 SC 564] the question arose: whether the hereditary right to hold office of village Munsiff under the Madras Hereditary Village Offices Act, 1895 was constitutionally valid? A Constitution Bench of this Court held that the appointment on grounds of `descent’ violates the fundamental right under Articles 14, 15 and 16 [1] of the Constitution. In that context, after elaborate consideration, the Court had held that what goes with the office is its emoluments – whether in the shape of land, assignment of revenue, agricultural produce, money, salary or any other kind of remuneration. They are granted or continued in respect of or annexed to the office by the State. Apart from the office, there is no right to the emoluments. In other words, when a person is appointed as Village Munsiff, it is an appointment to the office by the State to be remunerated either by use of land or by money or salary etc. When the emoluments consisted of land, the land did not become the family property of the person appointed to the office whether by virtue of an hereditary claim to the office or otherwise. It was an appendage to the office, inalienable by the office-holder and designed to be the emoluments of the officer into the hands of whosoever the office might pass. It does not take out from the purview the office under clauses [1] and [2] of Article 16 of the Constitution. An office has its emoluments and it would be wrong to hold that though office is an office under the State, it is not within the ambit of Article 16 to take away the emoluments attached to the office, because prior to the Constitution the law recognized a custom by which there was a preferential right to the office in the members of a particular family. The customary pre-existing right of the family to the property in the shape of emoluments of the office is not independent of or irrespective of the office. There was no pre-existing right apart from the office. It was accordingly held that appointment on principle of descent was violative of Article 16 [1] and [2] of the Constitution.

It deserves to be noted that Section 13 contains an injunction to the officer mentioned therein and every other person exercising the power or performing the functions under the Act that they shall not interfere with and shall observe the forum, usages, ceremonies and practices obtaining in and appropriate to the religious institution or endowment in respect of which such powers are exercised or functions are performed. In Shirur Math’s case this Court had upheld similar State action where the offending provision was in conformity with the rules, practices, usages or customs of the Math in dealing with the right of the head of the Math. Similarly, Section 142 preserves continuance of existing customs etc. by a savings class as under:

“Savings:- Nothing in this Act

shall –

(a) affect any honour to which any

person is entitled by custom, the

performance of or interference with

the religious worship, ceremonies

and poojas in religious

institutions according to the

sampradayams and Agams followed in

such institutions. or (b) authorise

any interference with the religious

or spiritual functions of the head

of a math including those relating

to the imparting of religious

spiritual service.”

A conjoint reading thereof preserves the existing customs, performances, religious worships, ceremonies and poojas according to Sampradayams and Agamas followed in such institutions. Section 142 issues an injunction against officer from interfering with such observances. Yet it would not, by operation thereof, amount to revival of which has been expressly abolished under Section 34(1)(b) of the Act. Abolition of hereditary principle on the basis of custom or usage to a holder of an office for continuance in that office is one facet, and performance of ceremonies, practices, customs of usages is another. Both cannot be mingied in the same water. Both are distinct and separte from each other. It would, therefore, be incongruous to accept the contention of petitioners that the right to continuance in office on the basis of custom and usage independently survives. The further contention is that interference with matters based on custom or usage relating to `religious institution’ as defined in Section 2(23) amounts to interference with the freedom of conscience and free practice of religion. Therefore, it is violative of Article 25(1) and is untenable in law. As held earlier, being secular actions they are not integral part of the religion or religious matters.

It is next contended that as per rules laid down in Agmas, the archaka of particular denomination alone is entitled to enter sanctum sanctorum and touch the image of God. A touch by a person of different denomination defiles the image of God. Therefore, persons belonging to that particular family, sect or denomination alone are entitled to perform pooja or ceremonial rituals of daily worship and that the abolition of hereditary right amounts to interference with the religion offending Article 25(1). Ex- facie the argument being attractive, we had put a pointed question to Shri Parasaran that when with the advancement of education and the liberty of a person to pursue liberal higher education of his choice to improve his excellence, persons born in a particular sect or denomination acquire liberal education and migrate, as is usual, to a foreign country and settle themselves in profitable avocation, and no other person from that particular family, sect/sub-sect or denomination having knowledge, proficiency and accomplishment is available, what would happen to the preference of rituals in that particular temple. The counsel, after due consideration, was frank to submit that in that eventuality the management of the institution has to seek a suitable person from outside the family, sect/sub- sect or denomination. With increased modern facilities for liberal higher education and learning and ample opportunities to improve excellence to seek advantageous avocation, a child in traditional Vedic family may not fall in line with father to practise his archakatwam, avocation or services and no one can compel him to do so. Therefore, what would be relevant is not that the candidate who seeks to serve as an archaka must be from that family etc., but must be an accomplished person in Agama rules having faith and devotion in that form of worship and also proficiency to perform rituals and rites, ceremonial rituals appropriate to the temple according to its customs, usages, Sampradayams etc. In other words, the faith and belief in the religion, customs, usages or Sampradayams in that particular Agamas and proficiency in performance of the rituals to the image of God in those particular rituals are conditions precedent to be eligible to hold office of the archaka. One who fulfils those pre-conditions is eligible to be considered and appointed to the office of archaka or other similar offices. The regulation of this secular activity, therefore, does not offend any faith or belief in the performance of those duties by a person other than one hailing from the family, sect/sub-sect or denomination hither to performing the same. Earlier, the field of choice to appoint a particular archaka was confined and limited to that family, sect/sub-sect or denomination, but after the statutory regulation the field of choice is widened and all eligible candidates including those available from the family etc. will be considered; competency is tested and when one is found qualified, appointment is made to the office of archaka according to the prescribed procedure. We, therefore, hold that abolition of hereditary principle under Section 34 is not violative of either Article 25(1) or 26(b) of the Constitution.

It is next contended that there are no proper guidelines in the Act to exercise the power and wide discretionary been conferred on secular authority, i.e., the Commissioner to decide as to who should be appointed to the offices abolished under Section 34. The State has no jurisdiction either to exercise adjudicatory power or legislative power in matters relating to freedom of conscience. We find no force in the contention. It is settled law that existence of rules is not a condition for the Act to become operative. The rules made under the predecessor Act 17 of 1966 are in vogue. Section 35 prescribes procedure for appointment of office-holders and servants. Section 36 prescribes qualifications. Section 37 regulates disciplinary conduct. The rules have been made in exercise of the power under Section 155 to supplement these provisions. Three schools to impart education in Agama Sastras etc. are established one each in Andhra, Telangana and Rayaiseema regions. Vide GOMS 2920 dated December 19, 1958 Board of Examiners from Specialist Pandits was constituted to impart training and conduct examinations and papers were set out on each subject; GOMS No.1252 dated November 30, 1971 prescribes rules to conduct examinations in Agamas; Vide GOMS No.1051 dated September 20, 1976 Advisory Board, consisting of eminent Pandits in several Agama specialities, was constituted to regulate examination system. Thus, apart from the provisions in the Act, there are rules which elaborately provide for training facilities and conducting examinations in the prescribed manner. The Act, therefore, is not arbitrary. The proceduce prescribed therefor is neither vague nor arbitrary. Yet another serious contention of Sri Parasaran is that the archaka and other office-holders have a right to a share in the Prasadam offered to the Lord. It cannot be characterised either as an economic, political or secular activity associated with religious practice. Food offered to God becomes Prasadam. The devotee as well as office-holders are eligible and entitled to a share in the Prasadam. The archakas are entitled to remuneration from the worshippers for services rendered to the worshippers. For instance, 1/2 of each broken coconut is offered to the Deity as Neyvedyam. Similarly, in Anjitasawas, worshippers make payment for such services. Devasthanams/temple charges fee from devotees, and from it archakas are entitled to their share as they render services to the Deity. They are entitled to separate remuneration for the services they render to the worshipper. The denial thereof, therefore, is unconstitutional, unjust and unfair. He placed strong reliance on a decision of the Madras High Court in Tirumalai Tiripati Devasthanam Committee, by its Commissioner v. Archakam Seshachalam Dikshithulu & 2 Ors. [1990 (1) LW 34 at 37 – Journal Section]. Shri Rao resisted the contention and pointed out that the archaka and other mirasiders had under a contrsact certain percentage of shares in the offerings to the Lord Venkteshwaraswamy. The statute has nullified the contract and introduced principle of payment of salary for services rendered. Prasadam is actually offered to the Lord at the time of worship and a part thereof is given for personal consumption. The archaka or other service holders have no right to a share in other collections. The decision of the Madras High Court has no application to the facts of this case.

Having given our anxious consideation to the pespective contentions, we find that there is no force in the contentions of Sri Parasaram. Lord Venkteswaraswamy Temple of TTD has its centuries old history. It had its golry with the patronage of Cholla Kings, Pallava Kings, Vijayanagara Kings who donated large tracks of lands for its maintenance and upkeep. Equally, it supported the plunder by the French invaders and British empire who used its income as part of public exchequer. It has regained its resplendent glory with immense faith and devotion the people have in Lord Venkteswaraswamy who visit daily in lacs, wait in queue for a day for darshan for a few seconds. Its income grew from voluntary offerings in Hundi and sale of Prasadams (food) and Laddus (Sweet-meat). Its administration and management is a systematised feature. The Act and the predecessor Act 17 of 1966 regulated the same in providing every facility to the pilgrims and devotees and cared to minimise inconvenience to devotees during darshan-stay in the precincts or outside-wait at Thirumalai and at Tirupathi down the hills. Chapter VIX of the Act exclusively deals with the management of TTD. It is seen that so long as hereditary archakas, mirasidars or office-holders had their hereditary right, as a part of their rendering service they were entitled to a share in the Prasadam or collections offered to the presiding Deity or other Deities of the temple as per the custom or usage prevailing in the particular temple or agreement between the management and the office-holders. But on abolition thereof, as a corollary, the right to a share in coliections, Prasadam etc. also ceased to operate and also stood abolished. Apart from the hereditary right, they have no independent right to a share in the offerings etc. Therefore, with the abolition of the hereditary right, the right to receive customary payment associated with an office equally stood abolished under Section 144. Section 144 is consequential to Section 34 and other similar rights like Section 16 of the Act. Resultantly, the right to receive a share in the Prasadam etc. stood abolished. Holder of an office is entitled to payment of salary prescribed under the rules for services rendered by an archaka etc. Consequently, the right to a share by customary pactices or usages or under a contract with management also stood abolished. They are regulated by making payment of the monthly salary to the holder of an office in accordance with the scales prescribed under the rules made thereunder. The Division Bench of the Madras High Court had gone into the question prior to the abolition of the rights. Therefore, principle laid therein no longer operates in view of the statutory interposition abolishing those entitlements.

The gamekars (who prepare food items offered to God including Laddus) are species of mirasidars doing service to Lord Deity on hereditary principle. Though they perform the duty of perparing food etc. according to Agama prescription, usages and practices obtaining in each temple, their rightsd being founded on hereditary principle stood abolished. This abolition, in respect of archaka and other service holders having already been upheld, the case of gamekars cannot independently stand on any higher footing. Therefore, abolition of their rights under Sections 34 and 144 is equally valid in law.

It was next contended that prescription of the qualifications to the archaka is arbitrary, unjust and unfair. We find no force in the contention. It is true that prior to the Act came into force, the succession to the office was based on hereditary principles. But Section 37 of the predecessor Act 17 of 1966 prescribes qualifications of archaka which are in pari materia with those prescribed in Section 36 of the Act. It is common knowledge that many an archaka are not highly educated but have working knowledge in the performance of ritual and daily pooja to the presiding Deity of the temple and other Deities installed in the temple. To obviate deficiency in learning etc A gams training schools in the respective regions, viz., Andhra, Telengana and Rayalseema were established and training in fact is imparted to the canndidates. The recognition of the qualifications by the Commissioner is one of the conditions, but we have seen the rules made in this behalf. Rules provide elaborate procedure. Competent epersons having specialised knowledge in the respective subjects set the question papers and evaluation thereof is done by equally competent persons on the subjects. As regards the recitation and clarity of pronunciation of Vedic mantras, the candidates are adjudged by the expert persons well-versed in Vedic mantras and Agama sastras. A pandit in that branch of speciality is in service of the department. With his assistance and of other persons, the Commissioner would adjudge the suitability of the respective candidates. Similarly, the word `Sapthavyanams’, i.e., seven bad habits, has been clarified in the Explanation of Appendix to Section

36. Therefore, the authority would have no difficulty in adjudging whather a candidate is free from seven voices or any of them. If there is any error of judgment or denial of appointment on that basis in any individual case that would be a matter for consideration in an appropriate forum. The provisions, therefore, are not arbitrary, unjust or unfair. Yet another serious contention of Sri Parasaran is that the power of transfer under Section 39 is within the grinding teeth of Article 25 (1) of the Constitution. It is his contention that each temple has its own rules laid down by Agamas, practices and customs prevalent in that temple; archakas will have special knowledge of working in the temple; an archaka transferred to another temple or transferee-substitute bereft of that knowledge inthe performance of rituals defile the image of the presiding Deity, leading to serious repercussions and, therefore, Section 39 is ultra vires the Constitution. We find no force in the contention. It is seen that Sections 13 and 142, which have already been adverted to, would take care of the apprehended catastrophe. On mere apprehension, Section 39 cannot be declared to be ultra vires. If in any individual case any transfer was effected of a person who had no accomplishment of Agamic rules, customs, practices or sampradayams applicable to that particular temple, it would be considered and dealt with accordingly. It cannot be expected that the Commissioner would act in violation thereof and would act in a way inconsistent with Sections 13 and 142. Each case would be considered on its own merits and correctness of such transfer would be tested in an appropriate proceedings. Therefore, on that score alone, Section 39 cannot be declared arbitrary or ultra vires or unjust.

In Andhra Pradesh there are as many as 32,201 temples out which 7761 temples are assessible institutions; the remaining 24,440 temples have income of less than Rs. 1,000/- per annum, only 582 out of them have income of more than Rs.10,000/- per annum. Only around 8 temples have income of more than Rs.20,00,000/- per annum. All the archakas or employees in these categories of 24,440 small temples would be deprived of their livelihood by abolition of their hereditary rights and introduction of graded scales of pay. This information has been furnished in the written arguments submitted by Shri Markandya but we did not have the occasion to have them verified during the course of hearing. It would be seen that the principles in fixing the scales of pay and method of payment of salary introduced by the rules are required to be adjudged. In the absence of any material it is difficult for us to give any finding in that behalf. Suffice to stated that liberty is given to place those necessary and material evidence before the Government which would constitute a Committee consisting of Deputy Secretary, Finance Department. Joint Secretary to the Government, Revenue (Endowment Department) and Joint Commissioner, Endowment Department. The Committee would go in the question to rationalize the pay-scales of all the archakas in different temples and the modality for payment of salary to them. After approval of the rules by the State Government, the respondents should place the same before the Court for further approval.

Though we have upheld abolition of hereditary right to appointment as an archaka or other office-holders, the evidence from Vaikhanasa literature and other material indicate that archaka should bestow his total dedication to the Deity in the performance of daily rituals; at the same time, he and his family members must be kept in comfort. The property endowed for his services or the income derived from the offerings or the payment of salary, if any, is identified as a source for his living in comfort. The State exercising its secular power regulates appointment of archakas, as upheld hereinbefore; equally, he, along with his family, is required to be kept with daily comfort so that he would continue to dedicate himself to perform the ritual worship of the Deity. As indicated earlier, the State is required to determine his service conditions, scale of pay and other emoluments according to the grade of the temple in which he works and to regulate the period of duty and of service. That apart, welfare measures in addition should be initiated as a measure of social welfare to the archakas and other employees of the temple and pandits working in the temples and under the supervision of the Commissioner. Therefore, the State should come forward with a scheme to provide the archakas, other employees and their family members like suitable accommodation, education by way of refresher courses and courses in Agamas in the respective region, medical facilities, educational facilities to their children, loans for construction of their own houses, and wherever accommodation in the temple is available letting the same to them on reasonable rent, group insurance scheme, unforeseen contingencies like accident, death etc., rehabilitation of the widow or educated unemployed youth or such other measures as may be incidental and part of economic welfare. The extent of the similar facilities already existing and provided for may be excluded from c scheme. For other items appropriate scheme should be formulated.

In that behalf the State Government is directed to constitute a Committee consisting of the Additional Commissioner, Endowments Department, a Joint Secretary/Deputy Secretary [Endowment] Revenue Department; two representatives of the archakas to be nominated by their associations and one representative of other officer/servants of the temples. It would be open to the representatives of the archakas etc. to place their views and material before the Committee in the formulation of the scheme. The Committee will undertake an indepth study into the schemes and formulate the same. After the scheme is formulated, the Government would take a decision thereon and would place the duly approved scheme before this Court within six months from today for further action thereon. We are of the view that to effectuate the scheme, tentatively a consolidated fund of Rs.75 crores would be set up as corpus and procedure would be evolved by the Government as to in which nationalize Bank or income yielding Government Securities the same would be deposited; as to who would operate and disburse the income accrued from the fund from time to time. Subject to further revision, if any, in the above consolidated fund, the TTD is directed to deposit a sum of Rs.20 crores into the fund during the financial year 1996-97 by end of June 1996. Each financial year, a sum of Rs.10 crores be deposited till the corpus of Rs.75 crores is reached. The Government is also directed to call upon other major temple like Narasimhaswamy temple. Yadagirigutta; Sri Malikarjunaswamy temple, Karimnagar; Ugra Narasimhaswamy temple, Visakhaptam; Satyanarayanaswamy temple. Annavaram; and Kanakaduragmba temple, Vijayawada etc. with annual income of Rs.20 lakhs or more, to contribute to the said fund of Rs.75 crores. These temples may deposit the amount in annual instalments spread over a period not exceeding five years. During the financial year 1996-97, a sum of Rs.5 crores by each of the major temple may be directed to be deposited and in subsequent four years, a sum of Rs.1 crore every year may be directed to be deposited. In case of any difficulty, the Government would be at liberty to seek from this Court further directions or clarification or modification in that behalf. It would also be open to the Government to seek donations from other charitable institutions within or outside the State of Andhra Pradesh or from non-resident Indians. The State Government would also approach the Income-Tax Department and the Government of India to exempt from the income-tax the said donations as well as the income derived by way of interest or otherwise on the corpus of or further amounts deposited in the Fund.

When the matter had come up for admission, on June 22, 1987, this Court had directed status quo as to the rights of the hereditary archakas, trustees and mirasidars as on the date the Act had come into force. This Court had further directed that the archakas, trustees and mirasidars “shall keep an account of the offerings, both in cash and in kind, and the value thereof as may be taken by the hereditary archakas, trustees, mirasidars as their remuneration, salary and perquisites as used to be taken by them immediately before the commencement of the Act and submit the same to the Executive Officer or to the Commissioner of Religious Endowments, as the case may every month by the 15th day of the next succeeding month. The first of such accounts shall be submitted by 15th July, 1987 for the month of June, 1987”. On October 13, 1987, the said order was modified to the extent of archakas receiving more than Rs.10,000/- as monthly emoluments. Direction was given to furnish security either by way of bank guarantee or immovable property security as ordered for archakas and gamakars in the main case. By further order dated August 25, 1987, an order was made to protect the interests of the TTD and two working groups, viz., archakas and gamekars thus: “Therefore, as an interim

arrangement we direct that archakas

shall furnish a consolidated

security of Rs.20,00,000/- [Rupees

twenty lakhs] either by way of bank

guarantee or by way of property

security to the satisfaction of the

Additional District Judge. Tirupati

within four weeks hence. Similarly,

the other group who is incharge of

preparing prasadams will furnish

either bank guarantee or property

security to the satisfaction of the

same Additional District Judge of

Tirupati of Rs.20,00,000/- [Rupees

Twenty lakhs] within the same

period. This amount has been fixed

taking into consideration the

possibility of this case being

disposed of by this Court in course

of 1988.”

Though liberty was given to obtain further directions if the cases would not be disposed of by the year 1988, we do not find that any further directions were given by this Court. This Court had reiterated the interim direction dated June 22, 1987 referred to hereinabove.

In view of the fact that writ petitions and transfer cases are being disposed of, it would be open to the Executive Officer of TTD etc. to work out the payments made to the archakas, mirasidars and gamekare etc. and also the rights consistent with the law and would take action accordingly.

The writ petitions and the transfer cases are dismissed subject to the above directions. In the circumstances of the case, however, the parties are directed to bear their own costs.

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