Months after he was unceremoniously sacked by the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam (TTD), the religious body's former chief priest AV Ramana Deekshitulu has written to the authorities of the TTD seeking his old job back.
Ramana wrote a letter addressed to TTD Executive Officer Anil Kumar Singhal days after the Hyderabad High Court's judgement which directed that the former chief priest be reinstated.
According to media reports, in his letter, Deekshitulu pointed out that the HC judgement on hereditary rights was applicable to all temples including the Lord Venkateswara temple atop Tirumala.
The TTD is yet to respond on the developments. Despite multiple attempts, TNM could not reach TTD EO AK Singhal over phone.
In November last year, a massive controversy broke out between the archakas (priests) and the administration of the TTD, which is headed by an IAS officer.
The controversy was seen as a clash between the archakas, who are seen as messengers of tradition and hold hereditary appointments in high regard, and the IAS officers/administrators who function like a mini-government to ensure that protocol is maintained in the temple town.
In May this year, Deekshithulu, who had already earned a reputation of not toeing the line of the TTD authorities, alleged in a press meet that several old precious jewels were missing from Tirumala. He also alleged financial irregularities by the TTD, besides stating that the TTD authorities with scant regard for the heritage monument were vandalising it.
He demanded that the TTD should be brought under the ambit of RTI for transparency in its functioning.
Following his allegations, the 69-year-old was sacked from the TTD on grounds of exceeding the retirement age of 65. This was after the TTD Trust Board passed a resolution to state that all 'mirasi archakas' (hereditary priests) must be retired on reaching the age of 65.
However, Deekshithulu continued making the allegations and even moved court, inviting a Rs 100 crore defamation suit from the TTD.
While the TTD is yet to respond, another prominent Hindu seer Swaroopanandendra Saraswati welcoming the High Court's verdict on protecting hereditary rights of the priests.
Following his visit to the temple, Saraswati spoke to the media on the latest developments, and said that neither the government nor the TTD had any authority on the appointments of priests.
He further said that it was âatrociousâ for the government and TTD to take decisions on the retirement of the priests.
âHow can temples exist without priesthood? It is because of priests that these many devotees visit the temple,â he added.