Amidst the rendering of traditional nadaswaram, reverberating rhythm of thavil and the chanting of Vedic hymns by priests, Chilkur Balaji Temple Archaka C S Rangarajan carried Aditya Parasri, a devotee hailing from the Hindu Dalit community, on his shoulders into the sanctum sanctorum of the famous Sri Ranganatha temple at Jiaguda in Hyderabad last evening. Parasri was sporting a turban and was garlanded with flowers.
A massive crowd had gathered to witness the event. The crowd burst in to several rounds of applause appreciating the significance of the event.
In the Sri Vaishnava tradition the Muni Vahana Seva is traced to the deity Sri Ranganatha himself. A priest, who meted out discriminatory treatment to Tiruppana, a ‘lower caste’ devotee of Sri Ranganatha himself, found the temple doors bolted from inside. The voice of Sri Ranganatha informs the priest that lord himself is grievously hurt by the act of the priest and doors of the temple would be shut for the priest unless he circumambulates the temple carrying the devotee on his shoulders.
Many Vaishnavas still worship Tiruppana as ‘Munivahana’ because a Brahmin named Muni had carried him (served as his vahana) around the temple.
Telegana Today quoted priest Rangarajan explaining the reason for re-enactment of ‘Muni Vahana Seva’ a 2,700-year-old ritual that originated in Tamil Nadu.
“This is the re-enactment of a 2,700-year old incident. It is being done to re-establish the greatness of Sanatana Dharma and to propagate equality among all sections of the society.”
Rangarajan also added that many vested interests are trying to disturb the peace and harmony in the country. He said, “This act is enacted as a means to stop the oppression of Dalits and promote universal brotherhood among different sections.”
Rangarajan said that the programme is also aimed at propagating equality of people and the ritual was performed coinciding with the 1000th birth anniversary celebrations of Vaishnavaite saint Sri Ramanujacharya, who preached equality of human beings. Sri Ramanujacharya was a Hindu philosopher and a stellar exponent of the Vaishnavite tradition.
Rangarajan is also the chairman of the Telangana Temples Protection Committee that is spearheading the movement to free temples from state control.
Parasri is a brahmachari and a devotee of goddess Devi. He said that he was honoured to receive such a warm welcome. He also hoped that this was the beginning of breaking the barriers of social evils like untouchability and caste discrimination.
Deccan Chronicle quoted Parasri as saying that “being a Dalit, my family was oppressed and was humiliated when I was denied entry into Lord Hanuman temple in my native Mahbubnagar. This practice still exists in several temples. It is said that although our Constitution provides for the protection of the downtrodden sections, we are still being looked down upon.”