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Bashiakar and anr. Vs. Venkata Varada Thatha Chariar Alias Cihnnasawmy Thatha Chariar and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
Decided On
Reported in7Ind.Cas.148
AppellantBashiakar and anr.
RespondentVenkata Varada Thatha Chariar Alias Cihnnasawmy Thatha Chariar and ors.
Cases ReferredKrishnasami v. Krishnama
civil procedure code (act xiv of 1882), section 11 - suit for maintenance of office--right to recite mantras at religions procession--suit of a civil nature. - .....these three villages to aiyangar kulam temple, stotrapatam takes place, and the tengalais do not recite prabandham. this is strongly supported by exhibit q, the report of the sub-magistrate that the tengalais were attempting an innovation in 1902 and it was not the practice for about 50 years to sing prabandham. this report was acted upon (exhibit ii). the village is inhabited, by the vadagalais. we accept the plaintiffs' evidence accordingly on this point. the plaintiffs' 21st and 22nd witnesses--the petition manager of the revenue board and the assistant superintendent of survey--speak to the stotrapatam between the palar river bank and the ural. they are both vadagalais but their evidence is supported by the admissions of the tengalais, including the 1st defendant, that before the.....

1. The plaintiffs, who are the descendants of one Kotikannikadanam Sri Thatha Desikar of Conjeeveram, claim for themselves and others belonging to that family the stotrapata miras in the pagoda of Sri Devaraja Swami and the other minor shrines in Conjeeveram. They allege that it is their duty or their right to recite the Sanskrit stotrams in praise of these various deities at the times and places referred to in the schedule attached to the plaint. The defendants are some of the Tengalai Brahmins of Conjeeveram and they are sned on behalf of all the Tengalais. They have got the adyapakam miras in all those temples, i.e., the right to recite the Tamil prabandhams. It is the plaintiffs' case that when they recite the stotrams, they are disturbed by the Tengalais reciting their prabnndhums, and they accordingly seek for a declaration of their right to recite the stotrams on the occasions referred to in the plaint schedule and also for an injunction to restrain the Tengalais from interfering with their stotrapatam by themselves reciting the prahandham or in any other way. The defendants contetided that there is no such office as alleged by the plaintiffs and there was no income or honour attached to such office and that the recital of the stotrapatam has been given up after 1882 when their right to adyapakam miras was established by the High Court. And they also pleaded limitation. They admitted that before 1882 both Vadagalais and Tengalais together recited stotrams during the processions of the deity; but such recitals were always made in rear of the idol and never in front. The District Judge found in favour of the plaintiffs' contention that there is such an office as claimed by them, and that the plaintiffs are entitled to recite the stotram, not on all the occasions referred to in the plaint, but on certain occasions which are referred to in the schedule attached to the decree. He also found that office belongs exclusively to the Thathachari family of Conjeeveram to which the plaintiffs belong. He further held that the emoluments are 1/56 of the cake offering, 1/16 of the rice offering, if the total is less than 10 measures, and if more, then 1/10. He also found there were certain honours attached to the office; and they are sadagopam and umbrella, In appeal both parties take exception to the findings of the District Judge, the Tengalais--the defendants--contending that the plaintiffs are not entitled to recite stotrams on any of the occasions referred to, and the plaintiffs, on the other hand, maintaining their contention in the lower Court that they have proved their right to recite on all the occasions referred to in the plaint. It was also contended that no such office as the recitor of the stotrams has been established.

2. It appears from the judgment reported in Krishnasami v. Krishnama 5 M. 313 that the Tengalais and the Vadagalais have been disputing as to the form of the ceremonial worship conducted at Chinna Conjeevaram from the year 1799, as we find that in that year the Collector had to prohibit the Vadagalais from reciting their mantram in the pagoda devoted to their own spiritual teacher. There has been continuous litigation from that time till 1900 and the present suit was instituted in the year 1902. Almost every religious ceremony has been in dispute between the parties. It is, however, settled that the Vadagalais are entitled to recite the vedas in all processions behind the idol, and also on other occasions when the vedas have to be recited. In the lower Court the right of the Tengalais to join even as worshippers was denied, but this contention has not been maintained before us; and it is now settied that the Tengalais may join in vedaparayanam as worshippers. It is also finally established that the Tengalais have got the right to adhyapakam miras, that is, the right to recite the Tamil prahandham in front of the idol on all occasions when the Tamil prahandham has to be recited, both at the time of the processions and at services in the pagoda. They obtained a decree in the year 1882 declaring their right to the effect above mentioned and enjoining the Vadagalais not to interfere with the Tengalais in the recital of the mantram and the prabandham otherwise than as ordinary worshippers. The contention of the plaintiffs now is that the Tengalais are reciting the prahandham even at those times when and at those places where they (the plaintiffs) are entitled to recite the stotras in front of the idol, and the contention of the Tengalais is that this suit is merely an attempt by the Vadagalais to stop them from reciting the prahandhams as they are entitled to do in all the processions and also at services in the pagoda. It is conceded on both sides that when the prabandham is recited stotras cannot be recited and vice versa. The question, therefore, that we have to determine is whether on the occasion referred to in the plaint schedule it is the stotram or prabandham that has to be recited.

3. The burden of proof is, of course, on the plaintiffs. And it has also to be remembered that the prabandham is to the Tengalais what the vedaparayanam is to the Vadagalais. In support of their contention that stotrapatam is an office, the plaintiffs rely on Exhibit J. This purports to be an extract from some record filed about 1810. Its authenticity was disputed when it was first produced about the same year. The Sadder Amin before whom it was first filed considered it to be genuine. The appellate Court did not act upon it. The parties are not agreed before us as to whether it was found genuine by the appellate Court or not. On certain other occasions when it ought to have been produced it was not produced, and it is difficult to say at this distance of time whether the original of Exhibit J is genuine or not. The document states that stotram is recited in Panguni, and there is no claim so advanced to recite the stotram on that occasion. It refers to two other occasions when the stotram is recited, but it is not clear from the document that the recital carries with it any special emoluments. In these circumstances we prefer to base our conclusion in favour of the plaintiffs' contention upon the other evidence in the case.

4. In 1876, in the suit which was brought by the Tengalais to declare their rights to the adhyapakam miras, the Vadagalais raised the same contention that is now raised on behalf of the defendants; and it was held by the High Court in the case of Krishnasami v. Krishnama 5 M. 313, that the suit was one of a Civil nature and that the Tengalais were entitled to the declaration of the right which they claimed, that is, the right to the adhyapakam miras and we tfan see no distinction between adhyapakam and stoirapatam. The one is as much an office as the other. And if the plaintiffs' case is true, the plaintiffs are as much under the obligation to recite the stotrams as the Tengalais were to recite the prabandhams. The only difference alleged is that, as the prabandham stands to the Tengalais on the same footing as the vedas, prabandha-parayanam must be regarded as compulsory and standing on a far higher footing than stotrapatam. We do not think this distinction is material so far as this contention is concerned. It may be that where the offerings are voluntary, damages cannot be awarded, but when voluntary offerings have been actually contributed, then the refusal of a person's right to participate in the fund causes damage which is a natural consequence of the refusal, and the Courts are entitled to award damages in such cases. For the reasons, therefore, given in the case of Krishnasami v. Krishnama 5 M. 313, for upholding the contention of the Tengalais in that case, we hold that the suit is one cognizable by a Civil Court.

5. Then the next question is whether the plaintiffs have proved their right to recite the stotrams at the times and places referred to in the plaint.

6. It is first contended by the plaintiffs that 'It is usual to recite an Tiru Avatara days (the birth days) of Sri Swami Perumal, Thayar, Andal, Alwar Achariar etc., the Varadaraja sthavam, Varadaraja panchasathu and the stotrams made by the respective Achariars relating to themselves and recited in Achariar sannadhies on their respective sathumurai days after the performance of pooja and nivedanam at the asthanams and the recital of vedam and prabandham that is, after the recital of the vedam and immediately after the last two verses of the prabandham recited before nivedanam.'

7. The plaintiffs have examined four witnesses in support of this claim. Of these the evidence of the 10th and 17th is not entitled to any weight. The 10th is a relative of The thachariar's family and, in his own words, is a bigoted Vadagalai, and the 17th is a stania and paricharaka. It is not clear that the 22nd witness refers to this claim. The 21st witness is the Petition Manager in the office of the Board of Revenue. He says that after the Tengalais chant the prabandham, he has heard the stotras recited in the asthanam of the principal deity. His son-in-law performed the utsavam for the last 3 or 4 years and before that the latter's father. This witness is, no doubt, a Vadagalai, by this evidence receives considerable support from the admissions made by one of the principal defendants in the case. The 3rd defendant, as the 21st witness for the defendants, admits that it was usnal to recite stotrapatam inside the temple before the chief god during tiruavataram festival after the sathumurai of the prabandham. His case is that after the adhyapakam miras decree of 1882, the Vadagalais stopped it. We accept the plaintiff's evidence so far as the stotrapatam before the chief deity alone is concerned. The rest of the plaintiffs' claim as set out above is disallowed.

8. The 2nd occasion referred to in the plaint is the tope festival. It is said that when the Swami is taken in procession along the street, it is usual to recite Varadaraja sthavam and Varadaraja panchasathii. The, oral evidence is that of the 15th witness. Though a temple servant and his evidence, if unsupported, not of any weight, it is supported by the statements made by a number of persons belonging to the Madhvasect before the Second Class Magistrate in 1899 in the presence of both Vadagalais and Tengalais who pat questions to them when they were examined in connection with stotrapatam. Two of the defence witnesses, Nos. 21 and 23, admit that stotram is recited when the idol returns to the temple, but they say it is recited behind and not before. But as it is admitted that the recital follows the prabandham which is chanted in front, and any stotrapatam behind the idol cannot, therefore, interfere with it or give rise to any dispute, it is probable this explanation is made to get rid of the evidence of the Madhvas in 1879. It is conceded before us that the Tatachariar's claim to recite the stotrams only on the return of the idol to the temple and not when it is taken to the tope. We think this claim so modified is proved. The decree will be modified accordingly.

9. It is next stated in the plaint that when the Swami is taken to Aiyangar Kulam on the morning of the Chitra Powrnami day, the stotrams would be recited in the streets and twice on returning in the night.

10. On the occasion referred to the idol is taken in procession through the streets of Dusi, Abdullapuram, Aiyangar Kulam, to the temple in that village. The plaintiffs' case is that the stotrapatam is recited in the streets of these villages until the deity arrives at the Aiyangar Kulam temple and on the return of the idol from the bank of the Palar to the ural and also from the Vilakkoli temple to the Devaraja Swami temple.

11. There is no reliable evidence that it is usual when the idol returns to sing stotrams between Vilakkoli temple and the Devara-jaswami temple. We, therefore, disallow the plaintiffs' contention. The evidence of the plaintiffs' witnesses Nos. 4, 5 and 6, all Sivites, two of them Village Munsifs, and the third a Revenue Inspector, is that while the idol is taken in procession through the streets of these three villages to Aiyangar Kulam temple, stotrapatam takes place, and the Tengalais do not recite prabandham. This is strongly supported by Exhibit Q, the report of the Sub-Magistrate that the Tengalais were attempting an innovation in 1902 and it was not the practice for about 50 years to sing prabandham. This report was acted upon (Exhibit II). The village is inhabited, by the Vadagalais. We accept the plaintiffs' evidence accordingly on this point. The plaintiffs' 21st and 22nd witnesses--the Petition Manager of the Revenue Board and the Assistant Superintendent of Survey--speak to the stotrapatam between the Palar river bank and the ural. They are both Vadagalais but their evidence is supported by the admissions of the Tengalais, including the 1st defendant, that before the decision of the High Court in the adhypakam suit, it was usual to recite both stotram and prabandham.

12. The next item in the plaint refers to the elaim to recifethese stotrams on the 3th day, the Mohini vesham day, during the Brahmotsavam, between Iyalsathu mantapam and the temple asthanam, on the return of the deity to the temple. There is a considerable body of oral evidence in support of this claim. Subba Rao, a second grade pleader, swears that he was present for 4 or 5 years before 1900 when stotram was recited. Sanjivi Naidn, Tahsildar of Saidapet, says that he saw the Vadagalais reciting the stotram in front of the deity. The Petition Manager of the Board of Revenue was present in 1894 when the stotram was recited. The Assistant Superintendent of Survey says he was present in 1895, 1896 and 1897 when also the stotram was recited. The plaintiffs' 23rd witness, now a District Judge, also supports the plaintiffs. Mr. Hartnett as defence witness admits the Tengalai goshti breaks up at Iyalsathu mantapam. The evidence on behalf of the defence is not sufficiently strong to rebut this. We, accordingly, uphold the plaintiffs' contention.

14. The plaintiffs next allege that they are entitled to sing the stotrams between the toll gate and the temple during the Vijia Dasami parvettai festival and Rayajikulam floating festival. We have been referred to the evidence of the 10th, 15th and 17th witnesses. Of these the 10th is a relative of the plaintiffs and a bigoted Vadagalai. The others are temple servants. There is only one witness who supported the plaintiffs' contention. We agree with the District Judge that this claim has not been proved.

15. It is then contended that when Desikar etc. return to their sannadhies after going round with the Perumal on sathumurai day Alavandra stotram and sapthathi are recited. We have already considered the evidence with reference to the cases of all the saints except Desikar. The plaintiff's 16th witness, a Thathachariar trustee, alone gives evidence to support the plaintiffs. The evidence of the 22nd witness, the Superintendent, is not clear. We are not satisfied that the claim is proved. We disallow it.

16. The next claim is to recite the stotram during the Pagalpathu uthsavam on the days when Desikar is taken to the sannadhi on the Tirunakshal ram day ; in Kottayi uthsavam during the ten days; on the Iyalpa sathumurai day; and when Nammalvar, Kaliyan, Udayavar, Desikar are taken to their sannadhies. 'The claim attempted to be proved by the evidence is very different from this. See item No. 21 in Exhibit U. And the only evidence in favour of the plaintiffs besides that of the Thathacharis is that of the plaintiffs' 1st witness, a Deputy Collector. He was present only in 1901. We are unable to hold that the claim is proved and we accordingly disallow it.

17. The next claim is to recite Varadaraja panchasathu during vanabojanam festival, when the Swami is taken along the streets in the night. The plaintiffs' 8th, 10th, 15th and 21st witnesses, no doubt, support the claim. The 10th witness is a relative of the Thathachariar and a 'bigoted Vadagalai.' The 15th is a temple servant. The 8th is a Sivite Head Constable, and the 21st is the Vadagalai Petition Manager of the Board of Revenue. The evidence of the 8th witness is unreliable. He is not able to say whether Vedaparayanam was going on. The 21st witness was present only on one occasion, twenty years before he gave evidence in this case, about the time of the adhyupakam litigation. There is strong evidence on behalf of the defence. Among the defence witnesses is a Madhva Village Munsif who pays a beriz of Rs. 600. We disallow the plaintiffs' contention,

18. With reference to the claims Nos. 9 and 10 in the plaint, the right to recite the stotrams during the Anushtana Kula Utsavam and Bogi Utsavam, we agree with the District Judge that they have not been proved. The only oral evidence, besides that of the Thathachariars is that of the 15th witness, an obviously unreliable witness.

19. The plaintiffs next claim to recite Varadarajastavam and Varadaraja panchasathu during the Seevaram parvettai festival.

20. It is conceded that the prabandham is sung till the idol reaches Seevaram ; but it is said that from the mantapam in the agraharam where it halts, till it reaches the hill, there is stotraparayanam and on its return also from the toll gate to the temple.

21. No oral evidence has been referred to in support of this latter claim. Exhibit QQ is insufficient to prove it. That the Vadagalais chant the stotrams from the mantapam to the top of the hill is proved. The evidence of the Revenue Board Petition Manager is supported by that of the 9th witness--an apparently disinterested witness. The defence 11th witness first admitted that Vadagalais recited Sanskrit prayers in front of the idol. And the 13th witness, a Sivite, while swearing to the Tengalais reciting the prabandhams during the return procession, is significantly silent as to the procession from the mantapam to the top of the hill.

22. There remains for consideration the 12th claim, that is, the right to recite stotrams when Vedanta Desikar of Vilakkoli Kovil is taken in procession to the Devaraja Swami temple on the Desikar Sathumurai day. In this case fortunately we have documentary evidence as to the practice that prevailed. It is proved and not disputed that the Vedanta Desikar idol leaves the temple of Vilakkoli Kovil in the morning with Tengalais chanting the prabandham in front and Vadagalais chanting the vedas behind. The idol is brought to the four-pillar mantapam. There is conflict of evidence as to the usage that obtains during the procession after this stage is reached. The evidence of the police reports is to the effect that the Tengalais continue to sing prabandham even afterwards. But this is opposed to the reports of the Magistrates. It appears therefrom that the Tengalais stopped their prabandham and the Vadagalais vedaparayanam after the idol reaches the four-pillar mantapam and after163 that they begin to sing the stotrams composed by Desikar. In 1892 the Magistrate Sanjivi Naidu was present when the parties stopped prabandham and vedaparayanam respectively. Before the Magistrate Subbier in 1900 the Tengalais admitted that this was done in 1892, but only contended that the practice was discontinued. It is difficult to believe this statement. He ordered that the same practice should be followed. The proceedings of Narasinga Rao shows this was the practice in 1889. The probabilities are also in favour of this view.

23. We hold accordingly that both prabandham and vedaparayanam must be stopped at the four-pillar mantapam. Then the idol is taken to the Vahana Mantapam which is very near the four-pillar mantapam and when the Desikar idol starts from the Vahana Mantapam, the stotrams composed by Desikar are chanted till the idol comes back to the mantapam after going round the prakaram Then the stotraparayanam is stopped and the idol is removed to a palanquin and the prabandham and vedaparayanam are re-commenced.

24. The decree of the lower Court will be modified according to the above findings.

25. The parties will bear their own costs throughout. Decree modified.

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