This article covers “Daily Current Affairs” and the topic details “Agamas”. This topic has relevance in the Governance section of the UPSC CSE exam.

For Prelims:

About Agamas?

For Mains:

GS 2: Governance

About Reforms in the Agamanic System?

Challenges to reforms?


Why in the news?

The Supreme Court has ordered the status quo on the appointment of archakas (priests) in Agamic temples in Tamil Nadu.


About Reforms in the Agamanic System:

The Srirangam Koil Miras Kainkaryaparagal Matrum Athanai Sarntha Koilgalin Miraskain-karyaparargalin Nalasangam, an association of archakas, has raised concerns and legal challenges against reforms introduced by the Tamil Nadu government. These reforms are perceived as an attempt to alter the hereditary system of appointing archakas (temple priests) in Agama temples. This article explores the key details of this issue and the significance of Agamas in Hindu practices.

Challenges to Reforms:

  • Petition for Quashing Government Orders: The petitioners seek the quashing of the state government’s orders and letters that enable individuals trained in Agama Sastra, regardless of their caste and gender, to assume priesthood.
  • Allegations of Unlawful Appointments: The petitioners argue that the state government is unlawfully trying to appoint non-believers as archakas, which they view as a violation of religious rights protected under the Constitution.
  • Importance of Agama Knowledge: The petitioners contend that the knowledge of Agamas, which hold significant religious practices, cannot be acquired through the government’s one-year certificate course. Instead, it requires years of rigorous training under learned Gurus.


Historical Background: 

  • 1971 Amendment: The DMK government amended the Tamil Nadu Hindu Religious & Charitable Endowment (HR & CE) Act in 1971 to abolish the hereditary appointment of priests and allow individuals from all castes to become priests.
  • 2006 Declaration: In 2006, the government declared that all qualified individuals were eligible to be priests.
  • Supreme Court Intervention: In 2015, the Supreme Court overturned the 2006 declaration, emphasizing the importance of adhering to Agama Sastras while ensuring that constitutional rights were not violated.
  • Madras High Court Ruling: In 2009, the Madras High Court ruled in favor of a woman priest facing opposition from male priests, highlighting the need to eliminate gender bias from temples in accordance with constitutional mandates.
  • Guruvayoor Devaswom Case: The Supreme Court upheld the appointment of non-believers to temple trust boards in 2004.
  • N Adithayan Case: In 2002, the Supreme Court ruled that no custom pre-existing the Constitution could exclude non-Brahmins from performing puja in temples if they were trained and qualified.


Significance of Agamas:

  • Description of Agamas: Agamas are a collection of Tantric literature and scriptures of Hindu schools, covering cosmology, philosophy, meditation, yoga, mantras, temple construction, deity worship, and ways to attain desires. They are in Tamil and Sanskrit.
  • Main Branches: Agamas are categorized into three main branches: Shaiva, Vaishnava, and Shakta.
  • Origin and Chronology: The origin and chronology of Agamas are unclear, with some being Vedic and others non-Vedic.


The challenges to reforms in appointing temple priests in Tamil Nadu highlight the complex interplay between tradition, religious rights, and constitutional mandates. The Agamas play a central role in temple practices and are subject to interpretation in the context of evolving societal norms and legal considerations.



Download Yojna daily current affairs eng med 3rd Oct 2023


Q.1 With reference to the Agamas in Hindu practices, consider the following statements:

  1. Agamas were written exclusively in Tamil language.
  2. The three main branches of Agama texts are Shaiva, Vaishnava, and Shakta.
  3. The government in Tamil Nadu has allowed individuals from all castes to become temple priests.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) 1 and 2 only

(b) 2 and 3 only

(c) 1, 2, and 3

(d) 1 and 3 only




Q.2 Agama are related to which of the following religion:

(a) Jainism

(b) Buddhism

(c) Hinduism

(d) Sikhism




Q.3 Discuss the tensions between the principles of equality and non-interference in religious matters in the context of the appointment of temple priests in Tamil Nadu. How can a balance be struck between ensuring equality and respecting religious autonomy?

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