NEW DELHI, INDIA, August 17th, 2012 (exclusive report by Hinduism Today correspondent Rajiv Malk for HPI). ” A truly dedicated and qualified priest is supposed to create a new world for his client and his family every time he performs a sanskar or conducts a puja. The job of a priest is of lot of responsibility as he is carrying forward our ancient traditions and culture. It is quite a challenging job and to do justice to it, the priest has to have in-depth knowledge of Sanskrit language and our Agamas and other scriptures. The main focus of the priest has to be on serving the society and not making money, though if he does his job in a satisfactory manner, he will never have any dearth of money. There is a big demand for well-trained and experienced priests who have good knowledge of Sanskrit, in all parts of the world including USA and Europe.” These views were expressed by eminent Sanskrit scholar and author, Professor Radhavallabh Tripathi while delivering his presidential speech at a function organized to mark the launching of Lal Bahadur Shastri Sanskrit Vidyapeeth’s Purohitya Prashikshan Pathyakram, or Priest Training Curriculum on August 16. Dr. Tripathi is Vice Chancellor of Rashtriya Sanskrit Sansthan as well as Vice Chancellor of Lal Bahadur Shastri Sanskrit Vidyapeeth A large number of eminent Sanskrit scholars plus the students enrolled for the priest training program attended the event. The function began with the collective chanting of Vedic mantras and lighting of lamps worshipping the Hindu Goddess of learning, Mother Saraswati.
Professor Radhavallabh Tripathi concluded his speech by stating, “It is high time that our priests do not just perform routine sanskars and pujas but dedicate and channelize their energy towards undertaking research on our scriptures and Agamas. If this is not done seriously, then the time is not far when Oxford professors will teach our priests about our ancient agamas and scriptures as they will have more specialized knowledge about them as compared to our own priests.”
Chief Guest Acharya Ravindra Nagar, a world renowned Sanskrit scholar and a practicing priest himself said in his speech, “Priests whose job is to serve the society have to be highly qualified and knowledgable, but at the same time possess human qualities such as humility and politeness. The biggest quality that a priest should have is of being broad-minded and broad-hearted. Only a broad-hearted person can work for the welfare of the community and win their hearts.”
Acharya is the former head of the Vidyapeeth’s department of priesthood studies and is a faculty member for the current course. He pointed out that the Vidyapeeth was not making any distinction of caste and creed in connection with the enrollment of students for this course. In fact, a few women had also enrolled for the course–quite a revolutionary step as even today, there are many who do not approve of women functioning as priests in the hindu society.
Shri Ram Raj Upadhyaya, Associate Professor of Purohitya Department of the Vidyapeeth, and head of the two-year part time priest training course, also addressed the gathering. He said, “We are extremely fortunate to be having a world-renowned scholar like Dr. Radha Vallabh Tripathi available to us for the launching of this course. We assure Dr. Tripathi that we will do our best to produce high-quality priests who will be able to create a new world for their clients whenever they will perform pujas for them. Our well-trained and qualified priests will be an asset for the society at large and in particular the temples and institutions they will serve after completing their course from this university. The present batch of thirty has come from all parts of India. We also plan to do a refresher course for all those belonging to other countries, who would be willing to come here and learn priesthood from our highly qualified faculty.”