ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Radical Reformer

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With reference to the article “M Karunanidhi: The Dravidian Sun Sets” by A Kalaiyarasan and Karthick Ram Manoharan (EPW Engage, 8 August 2018), I would like to add that one of the signi­ficant achievements of M Karuna­nidhi was the passing of two amendments to the Tamil Nadu Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Act, 1955. The first amendment did away with the appointments of archakas (priests) on a hereditary basis. The second one aimed at the appointment of archakas from all communities to the temples under government control, provided they were properly trained in agamas (scriptures).

The most conservative Brahminical hegemonic forces petitioned the Supreme Court and successfully got the second amendment nullified. The judgment invoking Articles 25 and 26 of the Constitution ruled that the second amendment was in contravention to the constitutional provisions that guarantee the continuance of customs and practices in all the respective religious communities. To buttress this reasoning, it quoted from the History of Dharmashastras written by a Maharashtrian scholar, P V Kane. (One of the quoted pages said that an idol is rendered impure if it is touched by “beasts like donkeys” or outcastes.) This was a big blow to Periyar E V Ramasamy, who had encouraged Karunanidhi to get these amendments passed unanimously in the state legislature. As Karunanidhi was trying to seek constitutional amendments, his government was dismissed during the Emergency.

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Updated On : 17th Aug, 2018
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