Lord Shiva had blessed Sivagamas, 28 in number which remain as treatise not only on building and maintaining the Temples but also comprehensively on all rituals such as nithya puja, brahmothsavam , aathmapuja, dhyanam, Sivadheeksha etc. Of the available Agamas, the Temples follow whichever was under practice in the past. The Sivacharya sect , a dedicated group of Archakas in Tamilnadu had been doing selfless service over many centuries under the sponsorship of the rulers. Once the monarchy became extinct, the responsibility was taken over by the State Government and the Trustees of Private Temples. Then came the difficult days for the priests as the lands belonged to the Temples were not generating funds to pay salary for them and also to maintain the shrines. Since the Govt kept a blind eye for more than five decades, the situation got deteriorated leading to the migration of priests from rural areas. It became bad to worse as the Sivacharyars reeling under poverty hesitate to put their sons in Temple duties. Hence a deep crisis has formed due to the non- availability of priests for Temples that do not have enough income.
As the livelihood is under threat, the boys opt for other professions that can fetch them assured income. Since the girls also follow suit, young boys who have studied in Agama patasala and follow the footprints of their ancestors fail to get life partners within a reasonable time. If this trend continues for few more years, there is every reason to assume that except the few prosperous Temples, the ritual will face very severe shortage of Sivacharyars.
Now it is time to stop the undesirable shift in our tradition. There may be many options to put a stop to this trend but some practical solution has to be put into force without further delay.
Ardhra Foundation has come forward with what it thinks a”workable solution”. Under this scheme, computer related jobs will be offered with good salary , PF and medical insurance for boys who have completed + 2 at school. The only requirement is that the boy has to conduct Puja in a Shiva Temple of his place twice in a day and should endeavor to learn and practice the agamas. Those in the age group of 8-12 will be assisted to join the Sivagama School and the parent will be given a sambavana of Rs 2000 per child per month. Sivagama students at the end of the fifth year can go back to their respective places to assist their parent. They may also perform puja in the surrounding villages of say 5 km radius thereby more Temples will be under Puja and attract the attention of the local people. Getting a life partner may not be that difficult as the income and status are assured and enhanced. May better sense prevail and we pray Lord Parameswara for the scheme to be received well among the Sivacharya community.