History of Sthanika
In Mourya Kingdom,” Sthanika” held position as local authority and Tax collector for the kingdom. During that time Sthanika means Officer of the Sthana. Sthana means territory, created by the King, for administrative convenience. In Tulu Language Sthana also stands for Devasthana (temple) or Matta. Sthanika means Officer (Dharmadhikari) or Head of the Devasthana (Temple). Making arrangement for all religious performance of the Temple and Deity, was his prime duty. Sthanikas were very popular as Temple chief officer, Dharmadhikari and sometimes as Purohit or Sahiti. Sthanika means position of respect. Sthanika’s are Smartha Brahmin and followers of Panchayatana Puja Paddati (performing pooja of five deities – Shiva, Durga, Ganapathi, Vishnu, and Surya) and held high position and respect in the society/village. Out of Sapta Kshetra in Tulunadu, Sri Kukke Subrmanya Kshetra is one of the important Kshetra and Sri Subramanya is worshiped by Sthanikas and hence they are called Subramanya Sthanika Brahamins. Sri Shringeri Sharada Peetam is the Guru Peetam of the Sthanika Community.
At Kukke Subramanya Temple, still there are Panchayatana (Five Panchaloha Deities) idols, representing Panchayatana Pooja System.
In Kadaba, near Subramanya, one of the oldest temples of Shrikanta, a very rare Jatamukuta Ganapathi, is located in the main temple complex. This temple, even today is managed by Sthanika Brahmins. History says that Sri Adi Shankaracharya visited this place and that time this place was known as Ganapatyapura. During that time he has also visited Talaaki, a nearby village and established a Matta and preached Pachayatana Puja Paddati. Pachayatana Puja Paddati were practiced in the important temples of Dakshina Kannada district like Kadri Manjunatha Temple, Mangalore, Kukke Subramanya Temple, Maddur Shiva Temple, Kasargod, Mahalingeshwar Temple, Puttur, Anantheshwar Temple, Udupi, Kotinatha Temple, Koteshwar, Nakareshwar Temple, Basarur, Mookabhika Temple, Kollur and Hattukeriya Temples, Barakur, as per Inscriptions and records.
Sthanika Brahmins also took active part in the freedom movement of India and fought against British rule. The Sthanika Brahmins who were at the helm of affairs in anti-British movement, were sacked from their traditional posts and their hereditary trusteeship of the temple was also cancelled. A large number of people from the community also have been hanged to death by British rulers. Because of continuous oppression by the then rulers, Sthanika community lost its power, position, property and wealth.
As time passed, due to change in the local administration, political practices, subsequent government policies, the importance of Sthanika Brahmins came down, the position and power held by them are taken away by the other powerful sections, who came to prominence at that time in the society. With the change in economic and political situation, Sthanika Brahmins, having lost their importance, concentrated on higher education to their children and choose to explore the newer possibilities, outside their main area of temple management and other Dharmic activities.
(Reference the Sthanikas and their Historical Importance (1938), by Dr. B. A. Saletore, M. A., Ph. D. (London) D.Phil (Giessen) and Tulunadina Ithihasa of Prof. P. Gururaj Bhat).