Almost 125 years after Ayyankali first defied the Manusmrti inspired Hindu hierarchical order that purported to show every Dalit his proper place for eternity, a Pulaya youth entered the sanctum sanctorum of an all-caste temple.


On Monday evening, 22-year-old Yadhu Krishnan performed rituals at Manappuram Mahadeva temple at Valanjavattom in Pathanamthitta district. He is one of six Dalits and 36 non-Brahmins recently recruited by Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB), which administers over 1,200 temples including the renowned Sabarimala shrine. Having trained for 10 years in Tantra Shastra, Yadhu stood fourth among the final 62 who made the cut in the exam conducted by Kerala Devaswom Recruitment Board.


Prayar Gopalakrishnan, TDP president, welcomed Yadhu's appointment, saying it will help "achieve Hindu unity", but in a sign of lingering resistance to subalterns taking over the Brahminical mantle, he added that Dalits will be made priests of big temples only if they prove their skill, devotion and knowledge.

Born to Ravi P K and Leela, daily-wage labourers who toiled hard to raise their two sons, Yadhu was fascinated by temples and rituals since he was six when he started going to a temple near his house. "I started as a helper there. Soon I started learning to perform the rituals," he said. Even as a kid, he nursed the dream of becoming a priest and started learning Sanskrit from Class V. Currently , he is doing his second year in MA Sanskrit lit erature from the Vidyapeedam in Kodungallur.


When he reached class X, he became the second priest of Valath temple in North Paravoor. For the last 10 years, he has been a disciple of Anirudhan Tantri of Sree Gurudeva Vaidika Tantra Vidyapeet.Elated at the rousing reception given by residents near Valanjavattom temple, Yadhu told , "this is the culture of Kerala. The nation should follow this".

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