Priests win right to manage Natarajar temple at Chidambaram

One of the highlights of our Yatra last year — led by Namarupa’s Robert Moses and, so importantly, Radhakunda Das — was experiencing a Homa ceremony at the temple in Chidambaram.

Amazingly, we never seemed to capture that here on the blog. It was somewhat ineffable, I guess, and tough to wrestle into words. But I know it was supposedly worth 1,000 asana practices — which bumped up my “time” practicing nicely. (I’m at nine years instead of six.)

I’ll sum it up and say, if you ever have a chance to go to Chidambaram and visit the Natarajar temple there, do so.

Celebrations at the temple in Chidambaram after the ruling, via the Hindu

Swirling memories of fire, unearthly music and hours of chanting came roaring back when I saw this story at the Hindu:

The Supreme Court on Monday quashed the Tamil Nadu government’s February 2009 order appointing Executive Officer to manage the affairs and properties of the  Natarajar temple at Chidambaram.

A Bench of Justices B.S. Chauhan and S.A. Bobde, allowing a batch of appeals filed by BJP leader Subramanian Swamy and Podhu Dikshitars against the Madras High Court verdict upholding the GO, held that the right of the Dikshitars to manage the temple could not be taken away by the government. The Bench accepted the contention of the Dikshitars that they were a religious denomination as per the Article 26 of the Constitution “which guarantees right to establish and maintain institutions for religious purposes.”

There’s more background at this follow-up story:

One of the earliest documented incidents relating to the status of Chidambaram Natarajar temple or Sabanayagar temple as it is officially known dates back to 1885. The Dikshitars or the priest community who administered the temple approached the Madras High Court to designate the temple as a private one. The judges, Muthuswami Iyer and J.J. Sheppard, after hearing the arguments, made it clear that the Chidambaram temple was a place of public worship and not a private property of the Dikshitars.

Oh, and I see that Robert Moses at Namarupa noticed, too. Now I don’t have to mention it to him.

By the way, I bet you still could go on the Namarupa Yatra this year.

Posted by Steve

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Two Ashtangis write about their practice and their teachers.

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