A priest at Sathya Gardens
I do visit temples occasionally, and the one I visited this time was the Sarvashakthi Vinayaga Temple run by Asthika Samaj at Sathya Gardens in Vadapalani. It was quiet and serene inside as I prayed and waited for R. Swaminathan, the Sivachariar or chief priest. Bhasmam and sandal paste smeared across his forehead and arms, the plump priest ushered me into his small room. “The Vinayaga deity here is very powerful. The temple has been a sort of unifying force for all the residents here. Devotees call from abroad or visit, and request us to do jabams to remove barriers – poor job satisfaction or having no children. My 27-year experience here has shown that no prayer goes unanswered,” he told me, adding, “I feel so much at home here and have refused good offers from abroad.”
Swaminathan Sivachariar teaches Vedas and slokas to children; he has taught more than 300 children so far. He conducts Veda classes for the elderly and Devi Mahatmiyam classes for women. He has organised about 500 kumbabhishekams in temples across Tamil Nadu, and more than 1,000 Ganapathi homams as well as Navagraha, Sudarshana, Chandi, Sasthiabdapoorthi and Sadabhisheka homams all over India, including in the metros. He has helped nearly 100 Sivachariar families settle in Madras after installing the priests in various temples. His nephews Ramesh and Suresh officiate as priests at the Sarvashakthi Vianayaga Temple. Swaminathan Sivachariar has been performing pujas in companies and factories the past 25 years; his client list has 1,000-odd names.
Born In Iyyanpettai in Thiruvarur to S. Rama Gurukal of the Meenakshisundareswarar Swami Temple, Swaminathan studied up to Class 5 at Vivekananda Thodakapalli. Then for three years, he learnt the agama shastras from Viswanatha Sivachariar. This was followed by a five-year stint at the Veda Pathasala in Agaramangudi where he studied under Subramania Sharma Gurukal. In 1979, he joined the Madras Sanskrit College and for five years he studied Sanskrit and practiced astrology. His earnings as astrologer are used for the welfare of temples. He is married and has three children.