There was this profile of Yedu Krishna who was the first Dalit priest. Today Times of India runs an interview of Yedu who gives you a glimpse of the training and the exams one has to undergo to become a priest.
How was life at the vidyapeedom?
Until the 10th I would live at home and stay at the vidyapeedom on Saturdays and Sundays. There are rituals and customs to be followed, we had to wake up early and our entire day was chalked up based on a regimen of rituals and prayers. After 10th I shifted to Tantra Vidyapeedom and lived there. I would continue my formal education and my Vedic studies in parallel. I did my BA in Sanskrit and am now pursuing my MA in Sanskrit literature.
Have you completed your ritual and religious training?
I have a long way to go. I know enough to perform the rites and rituals that a temple priest needs to know. I don’t think I may ever complete my learning. This is a vast ocean of knowledge. There are several rituals, like those related to consecration of deities and many more scriptural texts that remain to be learnt.
Where do you see yourself five years from now?
I have joined as a part-time shanthi. This is a small temple. After three years I am eligible to be appointed as a keezhshanthi (assistant priest) at a major temple. My MA is a regular course but I may not be able to write my exams this year if my attendance falls short. I want to pursue a PhD too.
Apart from the caste angle. it is interesting to know and learn how the several temples in India are run and governed. While seeing temples across country, one not just sees different architectures but also differences in ceremonies, organisation and governance.