The most antiquated, anachronistic, discriminatory, and inhuman practice  is still moving from strength to strength in this land of antiquity and ancient  civilization. No one seems  bothered or aware of such a pernicious practice. What startles the thinking community  is it still holds our hands tied  in such  ignominy.

The agamas  have prescribed many such  humiliating  rules  all in the name of gods  but the real tragedy is even the doors of justice  are  shut on the innumerable  hapless citizens  who are 95 per cent of the population. That , only the Brahmins under the guise of agamas should be archakas (priests) in the Hindu temples is  the severest onslaught on  any civilized society. When all  the religious functional departments  make use of all the products of science  why have they not still  started using scientific  methods in their practices ?        

The  Hindu agamas prescribe  that  non-Brahmins  are not allowed to  perform any religious  rites both inside and outside the temples lest the deities installed there be polluted or defiled. Even the gods are attributed to practice caste discrimination a forthright denial of the universality of god. God is thus  portrayed  with an anthropomorphic attribute. The gods directly reflect  all the pettiness, ignorance ,limitation, vices and prejudices of their creators – the human beings.!               

  Dravidar Kazhagam (DK), an atheist movement  has been advocating  the most comprehensive  and pragmatic solution  for this nastiest   unjust practice. Let us now have a short glimpse  of all the continued struggles and steps undertaken by them .In the entire history of India  DK is  the first and perhaps the only one  to take up this hard task of eradicating this evil  through legal remedies. There is an oft repeated criticism against DK that being a proclaimed atheist organisation it cannot interfere in the matters of what happens inside the temples.

We solemnly  proclaim at this juncture that none of us would ever aspire or try to become an archaka! We only  fight for the rights of those who are exploited and humiliated in the name of gods. We are advocating the cause of the defenseless. Atheism is our principle but  the demand that everyone should have the right to become archaka  is our right . The gist of DK’s initiatives , the  list of  struggles and the responsive deeds of   the political rulers of the State  are as follows :   

•    In 1969 more than 2000 D.K.  cadres got ready to force-enter the sacro-sanctum to mark the protest against the practice of caste-based discrimination there.                                      

•    Periyar made a public appeal  and exhorted  to the community  that even the law-courts were supporting the discriminatory practice  enshrined in the outdated and inhuman prescriptions of the agamas. Therefore the show of a mighty protest by the people  was the only answer.   

•    Innumerable  conferences meetings resolutions  and protest-marches throughout Tamil Nadu  were conducted.

•     In 1970 Kalaignar Dr. M Karunanidhi the then Chief-Minister of Tamil Nadu  made a promise in public  that he would soon bring in legislation in the Legislative Assembly and appealed to Periyar to suspend all agitations and protests.

•    A Bill was introduced in the Tamil Nadu Assembly  to abolish the system of only the Brahmins  acting  as archakas and it was passed unanimously .This was said to reflect  the recommendations made by the Elaiya Perumal Committee appointed by Mrs  Indira Gandhi during her Prime Ministership

•    Against the  Bill that was passed in the Assembly, eleven Writ-petitions were filed in the Supreme Court by the Hindu religious heads. Many subsequent  judgments only upheld the laws of the agamas  striking down the appeals and the voices of Social Justice.  Periyar and his followers  had to resort to  newer and alternative strategies .

It was resolved to boycott and prevent  temple entry in the Kabaleeswarar temple in Chennai – Mylapore. Accordingly the DK volunteers  gathered in front of the temple explaining to the devotees  how the system was built on the principle that the non-Brahmins  cannot either enter or become archakas as they are all the children of the sudras (children of prostitutes) On 8th & 9th December 1973  Periyar  made his last resolution spelling out steps to fight this  injustice.    E.V.R. Maniammai  who took over from Periyar continued the struggle. After her, Dr.K.Veeramani  has taken up the  task with a renewed vigour.

•     In 1979 Late M.G.Ramachandran, the then Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu  appointed a Committee of 12 members headed by Justice Dr.L.Magarajan  to study and make suitable recommendations to make persons of all communities  become archakas. This Committee  quite distinctly  recommended  that there could not be any  objection for persons belonging to all communities  becoming archakas after due training, citing the fact that the agamas were originally in Tamil only.

•    In 1984, it was announced  in the Tamil Nadu Assembly that  in that year   the Government would bring in the legislation to allow persons belonging to all communities have the right to become archakas by the Ministry of  Hindu  Religious and Charity  Endowment.

•    The Committee appointed by the Government recommended  that the agama colleges should be started in five cities in the State and that a stipend of Rs.500 to be paid to the students. Mr.R.M.Veerappan, the then Minister HR & CE, announced in the Assembly in  1984 that an agama college would be started in the Palani  temple.

•    In 1991 as  response to the request made by Dr.Veeramani, Dr. Jayalalitha , the then Chief Minister announced   that  the dreams  of Periyar and Anna would be given a Statutory provision forthwith.  This  agama college would adhere to all the rules of reservation  in the admission of the students.                                                       

•    In the meanwhile  there was  the change of the Government. Dravidar Kazhagam  continued its  fight tirelessly through many agitations protests and meetings

•     But it was in the D.M.K. regime the legislation was at long last  was made in 2006.                      

The legal hurdles: In 2007, a case was filed in the Supreme Court of India by the  Adhi Sivachariars' Association, Madurai to cancel the move by the Tamil Nadu Assembly. The Chief Justice K.G.Balakrishnan and Justice Ravindran  gave the verdict in favour of  the  Sivachariars .It said "no one other than the sivachariars  born as brahmins is qualified to act as archakas. the gods erected there would be polluted if others touched the deities installed there. Consequent on this ruling the school of Archakas in Thiruvannamalai was damaged beyond repair.

Current Massive  Agitation  and Picketing : Since then continuous struggles and protests  are being  conducted by the Dravidar Kazhagam. Battles may appear ended but the war will continue  until the goal is achieved. At present the  DK along with the support of the  DMK, the  VCK and other organizations wedded to the cause is on a  massive agitation path from August 1, 2013 through out Tamil Nadu. Already the DK cadres have furnished the list of cadres, prepared for courting arrest and imprisonment indefinitely.        

At this juncture   a humanistic appeal is being made to  all the citizens of this nation of their primary responsibilities to remove this ignominy cast on all of them in order to show to the world  ours is  a civilized nation. We earnestly appeal to all concerned to wipe out this humiliation  from the face of our Motherland.

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