Showing posts with label Badrinath temple. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Badrinath temple. Show all posts

Hinduism - Who Are The Rawal Among (Nambudiri) Brahmins?

The top priest (pujari) of the Badrinath temple in the Himalayas is known as Rawal.

The Rawal is generally a Nambudiri brahmin who, in order to keep his rank, must stay unmarried.

Badrinath is one of the four dhams ("divine abodes") associated with the philosopher Shankaracharya, according to Hindu tradition.

Shankaracharya reportedly designated one Hindu holy location in each corner of the subcontinent, and at each created a Dashanami Sanyasi monastic institution (math) to teach scholarly monks, in order to counteract the spread of Buddhism and rejuvenate Hindu religion.

Badrinath is linked to the Jyotir Math in Joshimath, Himalayan town forty miles south of Badrinath, which is also where the god Badrinath is symbolically moved for the winter.

According to Badrinath temple records, Dandi Sanyasis, who were also Nambudiri brahmins, occupied the post of chief priest for many hundred years, the same caste into which Shankaracharya is said to have been born.

When the last of them, a non-ascetic Nambudiri brahmin, died without a successor in 1776, the shrine's protector allowed a non-ascetic Nambudiri brahmin to serve as the temple's priest.

This priest was granted the title rawal (from the term raja, which means "deputy"), and his extended family has been in charge of the shrine ever since.

The rawal was the only person who could touch Badrinath's picture and was in charge of conducting worship during the six months the temple was open.

Because of these responsibilities, the rawal was compelled to remain a bachelor, lest the ceremonial impurity associated with childbirth (sutakashaucha) prevent him from performing his obligations.

The rawals held exclusive rights to the offerings presented at the shrine until the Badrinath Temple Act of 1939 established a temple board as the final authority.

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