News Reading Practice #50

(100 Day Challenge)



Sankar Datt Panaru, trained in Kashmiri tantric tradition, came to Thrissur in 2014 in search of a priest who used to frequent Haridwar and to work under him. Now well-versed with the Kerala tantric rituals, he is assisting the Tantri of Painkannikkavu Sreekrishna Temple
Sankar Datt Panaru circumambulating the Sreekovil at Painkannikkavu Sreekrishna Temple with the idol as part of the installation day ceremony at Kattoor in Thrissur.

Dhinesh Kallungal

When 21-year-old Sankar Datt Panaru boarded a general compartment in a Kerala-bound train from Haridwar in the Himalayan State of Uttarakhand in 2014, he knew nothing about Kerala, except the tantric tradition followed in the southernmost State. A follower of Kashmiri tantric tradition, Mr. Panaru had his tantric education at Gita Kutir Vishwavidyalaya at Ludhiana in Punjab, which was followed by a year-long higher Vedic education at Haridwar.

Though Mr. Panaru started making a living at a very young age by doing odd jobs at small temples in Haridwar, a steady income continued to elude him even after his education. It was a sage at Haridwar who told Mr. Panaru about a priest from Kerala, who used to visit Haridwar at regular intervals. The only detail available was that the priest hailed from Thriprayar in Thrissur.

"When I boarded the train, I did not even know how much time it would take to get to Kerala. The train reached Thrissur after three days. I had not eaten anything all those days as I had hardly ₹400 with me. I just wanted to meet the priest. Though I caught a bus to Thriprayar from Thrissur, the conductor dropped me off at Puzhuvil, around 10 km away from my destination," says Mr. Panaru.

"I described my plight to the people nearby, but no one could guide me to the priest. An autorickshaw driver told me about a priest at Painkannikkavu Sreekrishna Temple nearby who used to visit the Himalayas and took me to the temple. It was the priest I was looking for. When I narrated my ordeal, he first served me a plate of porridge. It was the beginning. I have been his trusted lieutenant at the temple for more than 10 years now. Over the years, he taught me the rituals in the Kerala tantra," says Mr. Panaru.

Though Kerala has one of the largest north Indian migrant populations in the country, hardly anyone comes to Kerala for priestly jobs since the rituals in the Kerala tradition are more complex and deeper than those in Kashmiri Saivism or other tantric traditions.

On the other hand, priests from Kerala have been at the helm of the affairs at temples like Badrinath. Though he knows both traditions now, Mr. Panaru says the spiritual experience he receives while performing the rituals in the Kerala tantric tradition is more encompassing.


Though Kerala has one of the largest north Indian migrant populations, hardly anyone comes here for priestly jobs


TRADITION: A set of spiritual practices and rituals often associated with mystical or esoteric aspects of Hinduism. (പാരമ്പര്യം)

FREQUENT: Occurring or happening at short intervals.(ഇടക്കിടെ)

WELL-VERSED: Knowledgeable or skilled in a particular subject or activity.(നല്ല പരിജ്ഞാനമുള്ള)

CIRCUMAMBULATE: Moving or walking around a sacred object or idol as a form of religious devotion.(അനുഷ്ഠാനങ്ങള്‍, ചടങ്ങുകള്‍)

BOARD: Entered or got on a train or other mode of transportation.

(വിമാനം/തീവണ്ടി എന്നിവയില്‍ കയറുക)

 KERALA-BOUND – Going towards Kerala (കേരളത്തിലേക്കുള്ള)

 MAKE A LIVING – To earn money that one needs to pay for housing, food, etc. (ഉപജീവനത്തിനായി മാത്രം സമ്പാദിക്കുക.)

 ODD JOBS: Irregular or miscellaneous tasks, usually of a simple nature. (ചില്ലറപ്പണികള്‍, ചെറിയ ജോലികള്‍)

 ELUDE: Evade or escape from, especially in a skillful or cunning way.(ഒഴിഞ്ഞു കളയുക)

SAGE – A wise man who has attained enlightenment through spiritual practice(ഋഷി, യോഗി)

HAIL FROM – A native person of a certain region.(സ്വദേശിയാവുക)

DROP (SOME ONE) OFF- To take someone or something to a place by a vehicle and leave them there on your way to another place. (ഇറക്കുക)

PLIGHT: A difficult or adverse situation.(കഷ്ടാവസ്ഥ)

LIEUTENANT- A devoted servant. (തൊട്ടുതാഴെയുള്ള സേവകന്‍)

MIGRANT   POPULATION – People who moves from one place to another, especially to find work or better living conditions. (കുടിയേറ്റ ജനസംഖ്യ)

ON THE OTHER HAND – In another sense; introduce a contrasting point of view, fact, or situation.(മറുവശത്ത്, മറ്റൊരര്‍ത്ഥത്തില്‍)

HELM: The position of leadership or control.(ചുക്കാന്‍ പിടിക്കുന്നത്)

ENCOMPASS: Including or covering a wide range.(കുടുതല്‍ പൂര്‍ണ്ണമായ)