Temple Priest : What, Astrologer, people don’t visit temples as before. It’s becoming difficult to manage the family.
Astrologer : Why?
Temple Priest : All because of this accursed Self Respect people.
Astrologer : Self Respect is the reason? Because they propagate there is no god or no demon and ask people not to go to the temple?
Temple Priest : No, not at all! We are not afraid of that. Let them say a thousand times there is no god. Let them even destroy the temples. That will not hurt us in any way.
Astrologer : What else in the reason?
Temple Priest : Devadasis used to visit the temple. These people have said a lot of things against it and have stopped their coming to the temple, that is why.
Astrologer : How is it connected with devotion? Will people’s devotion to god come down because of that?
Temple Priest : What do you mean by devotion? God is present everywhere. Then why should anyone go to the temple?
Astrologer : What do they come there for, then?
Temple Priest : They come to the temple for two reasons.
(1) One is that the others should notice and praise their devotion.
(2) The other is that men want to ogle at the women, and women want to ogle at men.
Most people come to the temple only for this purpose. They are youngsters, fun loving middle aged men and people who run after women. If such people do not come in good numbers, women from good families stop coming there. Only if they come in crowds, we can get offerings, and brokerage for arranging liaison. What is the use in merely performing pujas? Of what use can be our small salary?
Astrologer : In that case, there is nothing we can do?
Temple Priest : What can we do?
Astrologer : Let our people have each two or three wives. Let them beautify themselves and visit the temple in the mornings and evenings. What do you think?
Temple Priest : Is it possible? Should they not have gorgeous sarees, jewels and make up? Should they not go to various places and get acquainted? Is it possible? Shouldn’t we have good houses, beddings and furniture? How can we afford them? We use our acquaintance with the devadasis. Then get hold of one or two men, scare them with loss of secrecy, and manage to collect a decent amount. Is it not easy? Is it possible for women to behave like devasasis?
Astrologer : Not only you. Even we astrologers have got into bad times.
Temple Priest : What happened to you?
Astrologer : Which bastard comes to us for predictions? Even fixing marriage compatibility is not seen.
Temple Priest : Why?
Astrologer : Now boys and girls themselves fix such things
Temple Priest : Let it be. Won’t people come to find the bad influence of planets?
Astrologer : Of course, it may be all right if they come for that. These bastards go to doctor when they fall ill. They don’t come to us. If we ask ‘Why’, they say ‘Self Respect’.
Temple Priest : After so much has happened, there is one thing I can still think of.
Astrologer : What is it?
Temple Priest : We should also pretend to carry on Self Respect propaganda and enter into their fold. Do you ask how we can destroy them? Now there are some Tamil Pandits who are doing it. They proclaim themselves as followers of Self Respect, get entry and try to destroy the movement.
Astrologer : That is an effective method. That’s what our ancestors did in Buddha’s period. But the Self Respect fellows have learnt about our plans. So they have decided not to admit Purana Respect people, that is Brahmins, into their movement.
Temple Priest : Is that so? Then let these fellows who cause so much of heartburn to poor people like us meet with woes. Let them go to hell. We will go and join the Congress Party.
Source : Kudi Arasu, 10th May 1931
– Tamil Weekly, published by
Thanthai Periyar from 1925 to 1949
Translated by Prof. A. Ayyasamy