TIRUPATI: The newly constituted Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD) Board of Trustees which met for the first time in Tirumala on Wednesday, decided to retire archakas who have crossed 65 years of age.
The decision comes a day after Tirumala Temple chief priest AV Ramana Dikshitulu leveled allegations of impropriety, corruption, and lack of commitment among TTD administrators in upholding the traditional ethos and sanctity of the temple during a press conference in Chennai.
Hitting out at TTD Board of Trustees for its decision to retire archaks of the temple who crossed 65 years of age, Ramana Deekshitulu told TNIE that he will move the Court against the decision of the TTD
Earlier disclosing the decisions of the TTD Board of Trustees, TTD Executive Officer Anil Kumar Singhal said presently, priests are working on contract basis, Smabahavan Archaka basis and Prardhana Archakas (Hereditary system) .”Priests working at any system has to retire according to their age,” he said. There are 42 archaks working under the hereditary system.
With regard to allegations made by Chief Priest Ramana Dikshitulu, TTD EO said, as per the decision by TTD board, notice will be sent to him seeking his explanation for allegedly making some derogatory remarks on TTD.
Speaking to TNIE, Chief Priest AV Ramana Deekshithulu said as Archakas under Mirasidhar system (hereditary system) they have dedicated themselves to the temple service for several generations.
He said Mirasi system was abolished by the State Government in 1982 and after a long legal battle, Supreme Court upheld the State Government’s decision in 1996. “Till the Supreme Court’s decision, we remained custodians of the Lord’s jewelry and used to maintain up-to-date records of the inventory. From 1996 till 2004, we followed what the State Government has directed our duties and we were paid from Rs 4000 to Rs 10,000 as monthly salary. In 2004, certain provisions of the hereditary system were reintroduced by the State Government,” he explained.
The TTD Board’s decision invoked an immediate response from various quarters. Former Chief Secretary IYR Krishna Rao, who also served as TTD EO in the past, found fault with TTD Board’s decision.
“Kainkaryam is a lifelong duty which a person performs as long as he is physically and mentally active.T here cannot be a retirement for such kainkaryams since it’s not a secular duty. Further priests of Tirumala temple have not opted for a scale of pay with promotion benefits and are also not eligible for any post-retirement benefits. That being the case without the benefits of regular employment it would be unfair to insist on their retirement. TTD board has no powers to retire them. They are continued under a scheme approved by the dharmic Parishad as under the Act. Present government for reasons best known has not constituted the dharmic Parishad. In the absence of the dharmic Parishad, the board cannot retire the priests. The message seems to be if you question on relevant issues you are out,” he said.
Other decisions of the TTD Board:
Local Advisory Committee constituted for Sri Venkateswara Swamy temple in New Delhi.
For TTD investing deposits in banks, a sub-committee has been constituted.
On the advent of Punarvasu Star every month, Arjitha Kalyanotsavam will be performed Chandragiri Kodanda Ramalayam temples which were introduced in the month of January this year and it is approved by the board.
Following TTD Board Decision to implement 65 years as the age of retirement for archakas, along with Ramana Deekshitulu, who is 70-years of age, three other head priests Srinivasa Dheekshithulu (68), Narasimha Dhekshithulu and Narayana Dheekshitulu, both 66, have to retire.