A couple of months ago the India Today magazine carried an article stating that in Karnataka state temple collections did not become part of the Temple Fund corpus but were credited to the State Treasury. Further the article stated that of the 70 odd crores collected in 2002 a meager 3-4 crores was used for temple maintenance.
A friend of mine from London, Jayant, always complained that we had such beautiful temples but did not maintain them well. I always blamed the temple management for being inefficient till I read the articles below. I then realized that in most cases temple collections became part of the State Treasury. And we all know how difficult it is to get the Governments to act!
I was shocked! When a Hindu goes to a temple and makes an offering to the Deity of his choice he assumes that the money/gold he donates to the temple would be used to maintain the temple or used by the temple trust to support poor Hindus, open schools & hospitals. BUT, in India it is different.
The following table gives you the Karnataka story. I quote Sri Sri Ravi Shankar (Art of Living Foundation) from Arsha Vidya Newsletter of Dec 2003). He said “There are as many as 2,07,000 temples in Karnataka and the total income of these temples amounts to Rs 72 crore only a sum of Rs. 6 crores is being spent by the Government for their upkeep. On the other hand, the Government spent a phenomenal amount of Rs.50 crores for the madrasas and Rs.10 crores for the churches, and for the Hindu temples only a partly sum of Rs.6 crores is being spent”.
Statement of Temple Collections & Utilization 1997-2002. (Data received from the Revenue section of Tourism & Temples, Govt of Karnataka, excerpts from an article by Anjali Patel dated 29/10/2003 (firstname.lastname@example.org). Figures in Crores.
% of Revenue
$ are in Million Dollars exchange rate Rs 45 to a dollar.
I asked a few lawyer friends how the Government could transfer temple offerings to the Government Treasury. They brushed me off by saying that the matter is too complex. Thereafter I tried hard to get some information on the legal provisions that make government control of temples possible but for now, my efforts have not born fruit. Thereafter I contacted a few friends who forwarded me some interesting articles on the subject. I have reproduced them for you. The chapters are –
Status of Hindu Temples by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.
Temple Legislations, Maharashtra by Dr. Shrikant Jitchkar.
Hindu Temples and Endowment Boards Sri V.R. Gowrishankar.
Nationalization of Hindu Temples by Sandhya Jain.
A Looming Disaster by Siddharth Kak.
Temple Funds diverted by Anjali Patel.
We need Dharmic Councils by Krishan Bhatnagar.
Temples, Andhra Pradesh.
Status of the Hindu Temples, Karnataka chapter 1
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
Art of Living Foundation, (Courtesy: Arsha Vidya Newsletter, Dec. 2003)
Synopsis - Need for frequent Acharya Sabha Meetings – Misuse of temple funds in Karnataka – The temple money should be spent solely for the requirements of the temples – Temples priests should be trained well – Temples should propagate Hindu Dharma – Hindus must have one voice.
Misuse of temple funds in Karnataka - There are as many as 2,07,000 temples in Karnataka and the total income of these temples amounts to 72 crores and only a sum of Rs. 6 crores is being spent by the Government for their upkeep. On the other hand, the Government spent a phenomenal amount of Rs.50 crores for the madrasas and Rs.10 crores for the churches, and for the Hindu temples only a partly sum of Rs.6 crores is being spent.
The temple money should be spent solely for the requirements of the temples -
In a period of five years 50,000 temples had been closed for want of funds and priests no more want to train their children in temple work. The temple money should be spent solely for the requirements of the temples and if this is done, no other grant will be required.
Temple priests should be trained well - Temple priests should be trained well so that they can talk to the devotees who come to the temples, as is being done in the churches.
Temples should propagate Hindu Dharma - Every major temple should take upon the responsibility of propagating the Hindu Dharma around their region. Their failure to do so has resulted in not only Dalits being converted but also other educated Hindus. This trend would continue if the priests were not looked after well and property trained.
Temple Legislations, Maharashtra chapter 2 What Acharyas can do?
Dr. Shrikant Jitchkar, (Courtesy: Arsha Vidya Newsletter, Dec. 2003)
Synopsis - The temple funds should not go to the consolidated fund of the State – The different temples or Mutts must have different legislation – Twin examples of Maharashtra – Separate legislation prevents misuse of temple funds – Why the Church is the biggest landlord in the country Hindu temples too should take the benefit of the Societies Registration Act of 1860 – Legislation is made by the representatives elected by the people – These constitutional authorities run the country – These are the opinion makers in this country – Four parties contest these opinion making bodies.
The temple funds should not go to the consolidated fund of the State - Legislation concerning the temples is a State subject and the Government of India does not come into the picture. The legislation is passed because of the dispute about the temple property. All of us know that the famous landmark case viz. Keshavananda Bharati. It concerned a land dispute. Legislations would come up if society and situation need it. Opposing the legislation might not be practical. But we ought to understand that the temple funds should not go to the consolidated fund of the State. If it did, the legislature of the State had power over the money.
The different temples or Mutts must have different legislation - We must see to it that the different temples or Mutts have different legislation. Then the money would not go into the consolidated fund of the State. The Tirupati temple is an example. Its money does not go into the consolidate fund of the Andhra Pradesh.
Twin examples of Maharashtra - In Maharashtra, there is a separate Act for the Siddhi Vinayaka Temples as well as the Shirdi and Pandaripur temples. Because of the legislation, the Pandas could not appropriate the money and it ensured that the money could be spent only for the temple and it could not be appropriated for any other purpose. The development of Shirdi had come after the Act had come. Government needed the Dharma Acharyas to be in the Committee for the management of these temples.
Separate legislation prevents misuse of temple funds - If the legislations were separate, then the problem of temple funds being misused would not arise. Acharyas should tell the Government to have separate legislation for each.
Why the Church is the biggest landlord in the country - Church was the biggest landlord in the country and all of them get protected because of the Societies Registration Act of 1860, which was enacted by the British only for the purpose of protecting the church. All of them had taken the protection of this Act.
Hindu temples too should take the benefit of the Societies Registration Act of 1860 - No amendment had taken places so far to the Societies Registration Act of 1860. Hindu temples also should take the benefit of this Act. The Acharyas could make a detailed analysis of this.
Legislation is made by the representatives elected by the people - This legislation is made by the representatives elected by the people. There are 550 Lok Sabha members in this country, 250 Rajya Sabha members 300 MLSs, 700 MLCs, 500 Zilla Parishad members, 39,600 Panchayat Samiti members, 28,000 Corroborators, 3,700 Municipal presidents, 11,200 Municipal members, 12,600 other Board members.
These constitutional authorities run the country - These 1,25,000 constitutional authorities are the people running the country. Whether we like it or not, they are the constitutional authority and they are running the country. in this, the village panchayat people have been excluded.
These are the opinion makers in this country - There are six lakh villages in this country and four lakh village panchayats, and there are 40 lakhs panchayat members. They have 1,25,000 members who are the opinion makers in this country.
Four parties contest these opinion-making bodies - Four parties contest these opinion-making bodies, viz Congress Party, BJP Party, local party and independents. As many as 3,75,000 people are defeated. Together they make a total of five lakhs.
Who would be the voice of the Acharyas? - Most of these five lakh people are the devotees of the Acharyas. You need to have only 10% of them, who would be committed. They would be your voice.
End of matter.
Mumbai's Famed Siddhivinayak Temple in Trouble Over Funds http://www.ndtv.com (the link takes you to the NDTV site).
MUMBAI. INDIA, February 3, 2004: The Maharashtra government has
admitted to the Bombay High Court that funds from Mumbai's
Siddhivinayak temple are being diverted to a charity run by a
politician. In response to a Public Interest Litigation (PIL), the
state said that US$190,000 from the temple trust was transferred to
Dada Undalkar Smarak Samiti -- a trust run by Minister for Welfare,
Rehabilitation and Textiles Vilasrao Patil Undalkar.
After the Saibaba
Temple at Shirdi, the Siddhivinayak is the second richest in the state.
But unlike other temples, whose finances are regulated and controlled
by a charity commissioner, the finances of Siddhivinayak are under the purview of the state government. It also decides on the distribution of
funds, something the PIL argues is being misused by the politicians for
their benefit. The Siddhivinayak Temple trust has now countered those
charges in their own affidavit.
But the petitioners' claim that at the
time when the funds were sanctioned in April 2000, Undalkar was the
Minister for Law and Judiciary -- the department that regulates the
distribution of money from the Siddhivinayak trust. "Why did the temple
give out $190,000, when the demand was made only for $165,000 according
to the affidavit, was the extra $25,000 given because he is a
politician?" queries Kewal Semlani, petitioner. The Siddhivinayak
temple sets aside about $1.3 million every year for funding welfare
While the temple denies all charges of siphoning funds, it
does say that it's worried about the money being sent to the two
charities -- the Shikshan Prasarak Mandal at Kankavali and the Shivtej
Arogya Sewa Sanstha at Khed. And these worries will be addressed when
the case comes up for hearing on the February 4, 2004, in Mumbai.
Hindu Temples and Endowment Boards chapter 3 Sri V.R. Gowrishankar, Administrator, Sri Sharada Peetham, Sringeri (Courtesy: Arsha Vidya Newsletter, Dec.2003)
Synopsis - Need for a united, concerted and equivocal effort to solve the confronting problems – The draconian law of Karnataka affecting the Matadhipathis and Acharyas – A Parliament of Religious Leaders should be the sole authority as far as the management of temples and Hindu Trusts are concerned – We do not want our freedom to be taken away just for sake of giving freedom for somebody else – A concerted movement is the need of the hour – Hindus as a majority are harassed in all ways – Interference of the Government in the affairs of the Hindu temples – We have to fight collectively for the common cause of the Hindus – Our strength is in our commitments.
Need for a united, concerted and equivocal effort to solve the confronting problems - The Sanatana Dharmis are now at cross roads and the fight that they are facing are from several sides and any attempt that they make should be united, concerted and equivocal so that a few years later, the Acharyas who have assembled are held as the supreme leaders of our Hindu society.
The draconian law of Karnataka affecting the Matadhipathis and Acharyas -
Many Acharyas have highlighted the problems faced by them because of the clutches of the Endowment Act. In the year 1992-93, the Government of Karnataka, in the process of bringing a common law for all the five sub-regions in the State, as per the directions of the Supreme Court, came out with a draconian law as per which a Matadhipathi, an Acharya, who we treated as equal to God, had to take permission for making any expenditure above Rs.100 and that permission had to be got from Government official of the level of a Tahsildar and not even at the level of an Assistant Commissioner.
A Parliament of Religious Leaders should be the sole authority as far as the management of temples and Hindu Trusts are concerned - The Acharyas in the State of Karnataka of various sects came tighter in 1993, fought and saw to it that Act got changed. But even now the Act, as implemented, had many problems and if they had to be solved, at some point of time, we should have a Parliament of Religious Leaders, which would be the sole authority as far as our Hindu Dharma, management of temples and management of Hindu Trusts are concerned and it is not political leaders who would say what you should do and what you should not do.
We do not want our freedom to be taken away just for sake of giving freedom for somebody else - It was mentioned in this assembly that a Deputy Commissioner who did not even believe in our dharma is supposed to sanction anything that we do and how could one expect justice to come. We did not want to come in the way of somebody who was following his religion. At the same time, we wanted to have our freedom. We do not want our freedom to be taken away just for sake of giving freedom for somebody else.
A concerted movement is the need of the hour - This sort of a concerted movement could take momentum only if we come together and have a forum, which would tell how our religious institutions should be run. What I am trying to suggest is nothing new. If we go back a hundred years, the Maharajas, the rulers had a Raja Guru and whatever the dictums that he gave were taken as the final, as far as the religious matters were concerned. The time has come when we should fight for this and the parliament of Religious Leaders could have the power to implement and look after the cause of our dharmic institutions.
Interference of the Government in the affairs of the Hindu temples - Interference of the Government in the affairs of the temple is another important aspect to be considered by the Acharya Sabha. To have darshan of our Lord, special tickets have to be purchased whereas the Government gave airfares to other religionists to go to their place of worship. Even the Tirumala Trust is not independent of the Government. If the Government gives directions for diverting the funds of the temple to some other purpose, the Chairman and the Executive Officer has to comply with the same. Similar is the state of affairs with the Shirdi temple. The Government appoints the Charity Commission for the temple and he has to comply with the Government orders. The Siddhi Vinayaka Temple in Bombay had the maximum collection. Seventy lakhs out of this temple collection was sanctioned to a private trust run by a minister in the name of his father.
Nationalization of Hindu Temples chapter 4
By Sandhya Jain (courtesy Daily Pioneer 7th October,2003)
There is some unrest over a Karnataka Bill whereby private or trust-run temples must pay a minimum tax. But what is truly upsetting the community is the use of income collected from Government-controlled temples, says the author.
There is a growing sense of disquiet in the Hindu community in several parts of the country on the issue of state management of temples, particularly the attitude of certain regimes towards temples well endowed with land and funds. While sharing the Hindu apprehension that this could cause the closure of hundreds of temples, I would like to first express concern at the virtual derailment of the social reform agenda that has been the distinguishing feature of the Hindu community for the past 200 years.
On Gandhi Jayanti this year, I tried to put my finger on a sense of something missing. I soon realized that secularism and modernity had taken us so far ahead that we were finally spared the hypocritical spectacle of political dignitaries queuing up to clean public toilets previously cleaned by zealous municipal workers. We were also spared platitudes against untouchability, uplift of women, and other issues to which Bapu addressed himself so eloquently. No matter what our present-day difficulties with parts of his political legacy may be, on the issue of social reform Mahatma Gandhi was second to none.
Hence the surprise that his agenda merited no affirmation or renewal when it is nobody’s case that we have resolved the problems Gandhi struggled to overcome in his lifetime. This is confirmed by the unease in a section of society in Uttar Pradesh after Ms Mayawati foolishly squandered her Government away. I am most disturbed by caste-based rape, disrobing and other form of abuse of women, which is intended to humiliate families and communities.
I also find it unacceptable that upper caste Hindus distance themselves from these atrocities by pinning the blame for such incidents on a certain social stratum. This is too clever by half. So long as caste-based discrimination persists in Hindu society, all Hindus will have to be concerned about it.
Temple entry is another issue we have to face. Despite laws, decades of sensitization and awareness, we still find Dalits being beaten for entering a village temple. We must forthwith end this negation of the very humanity and dignity of our fellow-beings. Until we do so, we lack a cast-iron case against encroachment in the religious realm. Temples that prevent free access to citizens espousing the same religion cannot in justice claim the freedom to manage their affairs without let or hindrance.
Having said that, we many in fairness examine some of the issues agitating Hindus in different parts of the country. there is some unrest over a Karnataka Bill whereby private or trust-run temples must pay a minimum tax. But what is truly upsetting the community is the use of income collected from Government-controlled temples. One does not know the veracity of the allegations, but they are serious enough to merit a public debate.
It has, for instance, been claimed that, in 1997, the Karnataka Government received a revenue of Rs 52.35 crore from 2,64,000 temples. Of this, Rs 17.33 crore was returned to the temples for maintenace; Rs 9.25 crore allocated for Madrasa development and Rs 3 crore for church development. The balance Rs 22.77 crore was diverted towards Government programs. The situation was much the same in 1998.
However, in 1999, it is alleged, the State collected Rs 65.35 crore in revenue; gave Rs 15 crore for temple maintenance, and diverted Rs 27 crore to Madrasa development and Haj subsidy and Rs 8 crore for church development. No details were available about the use of the balance Rs 17.35 crore.
In 2000, the temples generated a revenue of Rs 69.96 crore, but received only Rs 13.75 crore for maintenance. The Madrasa-Haj subsidy rose to Rs 35 crore. In 2001, temple revenue further rose to Rs 71.60 crore, while maintenance grants shrank to Rs 11.50 crore, and Madrasa development funds rose to Rs 45 crore. Church development received Rs 10 crore. In 2002, the State received Rs 72 crore as revenue, returned Rs 10 crore for temple maintenance, and granted Rs 50 crore for Madrasas and Rs 10 crore for churches. Hindu friends protest that this studied neglect of temples under the direct control of the State Government could cause as many as 50,000 of the 2.6 lakh temples in Karnataka to close down within five years. Many ancient temples are in extremely poor condition, and their managements and priests carp about inadequate funds. Even salaries are not disbursed regularly, and priests are forced to survive on donations made by devotees in the aarti plate.
In neighboring Andhra Pradesh, the Government withdrew a demand for Rs 36 crore from the Sri Venkateshwara Temple at Tirupati in July after a public furore and litigation in the High Court. There is, however, a move to take away temple lands and distribute them among poorer sections in the name of social justice. Around 3,000 acres of temple lands have been identified for takeover.
Yet Government sources themselves admit that nearly 80 per cent of the State’s temples have no income other than that received from the vested lands. Thus, once the lands are seized, many temples may fail to conduct daily puja. What is more, the Andhra Pradesh Government has failed to pay the Rs 28 crore compensation towards temple lands previously acquired for building bus terminals, police stations and other public utilities.
There can be little doubt that this is a grossly unfair situation. Many issues are involved here. To begin with, state presence in the management of Hindu temples makes a mockery of a separation of religion and state. But even worse, it militates against the fundamental right to freedom of religion because state intervention is creating obstacles in the functioning of temples by depriving them of their legitimate funds and putting their very existence in jeopardy. This is an act of cultural vandalism, consistent with the agenda of a communist State; the respective State Governments should, therefore, clarify their political ideology and agenda.
It is suspected that there is a purpose to this de facto nationalization of Hindu temples. The strong economic foundations of temples are being to support activities inconsistent with the legitimate goals of Hindu dharma, which is what the Haj subsidy, Madrasa and church development, must be acknowledged to be. These monotheistic creeds are not only at variance with Hindu dharma, but their very raison d’etre is expansion by the eradication of Hindu dharma and culture. Hence, when the state acts in a blatantly partisan manner to promote these faiths, the adherents of Hindu dharma certainly have a genuine grievance.
Above all, at a time when Governments are rushing to abandon the commanding heights of the economy, state presence in the management of places of worship is incongruous to say the least. Hindu temples were once great centers of learning, and even today illustrious spiritual leaders like Sri Sathya Sai Baba and Amritanandamayi Ma have inspired magnificent medical and educational institutions through community service.
The argument that the managements of cash-rich temples are necessarily corrupt and need regulation is simply irresponsible and arrogant, especially when it is the established corruption of state-controlled managements that is prompting Central and State Governments alike to shed equity in the public sector! It is high time the state similarly retreated from the temple precincts.
A Looming Disaster chapter 5
By Subhash Kak, September 08, 2003
We have received some great news about Indian economy lately, but progress could be jeopardized if resentments related to government interference in religion are not addressed. In particular, there is long-simmering discontent about the policy of government takeover of temples and it is quite likely that this will become the next unmanageable problem for the country.
The state governments have based their policy on the recommendation of the Hindu Religious Endowments Commission headed by C P Ramaswamy Aiyer in 1960 that Hindu temples and maths be considered as belonging to the public. In ill-advised judgments, the courts have upheld government regulation of the financial aspects of an endowment, as if financial control has no bearing on the management of religious affairs.
The government entered into the religious sphere when the Indian government was very aggressively pushing state control over all aspects of Indian life. Socialist ideas had very little challenge amongst intellectuals or in the media at that time. The HRE Commission made its case based on accounts of corruption and mismanagement in the temple management boards.
Even assuming that the corruption charges were true, it did not require government take-over to fix things. A legal framework guaranteeing autonomy with checks and balances to ensure good management could have easily been devised. Such a system would have had the capacity to been proactive with reforms. One could have even hoped for a declaration that all jatis are equal, and aptitude and training, not birth, is the sole criterion for priesthood.
It would have been easier for the government to achieve such a result by not becoming a part of the system. As things stand, the government temple departments have been timid in the matter of social reform, often perpetuating vested interests. Neither have they done an effective job at producing texts, doing heritage research, or training priests. Critics charge that the level of corruption is now much greater than it was during self-management.
Some Hindus supported this process of consolidation in the hope that this will provide a legal framework for the management of temples (many of which had only traditional authority and no clear legal charter) and eventually they would be separated from the control of the State.
Having 'nationalized' temples, governments in several states run full-fledged ministries for their administration. For example, the Andhra Pradesh government runs 33,000 temples and endowments with a staff of 77,000 employees to 'ensure the proper performance of pujas.' The numbers in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala are equally mind-boggling. Many north Indian states have also established similar ministries.
Last time I checked, India's Constitution had an explicit declaration about its 'secular' character, but who cares. Meanwhile, the power-grab is great for the politicians:
Temple lands are often in prime localities. The politicians can sell parcels to the land mafia. The property need not be sold legally; one merely looks the other way as the mafia builds on it. Once the structure is up, India's system, which allows squatters to become lawful owners if they have occupied a property for more than twelve year, makes it virtually impossible to reclaim the land. (The squatter's law is also a reason for many communal riots when frustrations about land-grab by criminals take on religious overtones.
Most of the donations to the temples are made in the collection box (hundi). There are no accounting standards and the hundi can becomes a source for cash to the management.
It grants prestige.
Temple funds can be used in a variety of (non-temple) projects to help the government's popularity.
There might exist local pressure on the government to take over the function and upkeep of rural temples in return for the salary of the priest, using the income from the successful temples to subsidize the poor ones. But providing government jobs to a few priests can hardly be made the basis of public policy.
Whatever legitimate reasons one can think of, related either to good-management or temple tourism, can be taken care of by autonomous temple boards. The monolithic state-wide temple administration system, when it eventually becomes free of government control, would be a source of political infighting as seen in the case of the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee in recent years. The policy of the nationalization of temples is leading to the very danger of politicization of religion that we must avoid at all costs.
Furthermore, it is doing untold damage to the principle of separation of government and religion. It is corrupting the bureaucracy and subverting the integrity of the political system. There is also resentment because the government has only taken over Hindu temples and not Christian churches or Muslim mosques.
The fact that such a policy has continued for years shows the bankruptcy of ideas in the bureaucracy. The government must define its mission with clarity. In matters outside of security, it should take care not to turn into sarkar (do-all) or hukumat (dictatorship) but rather shasan (regulator).
The longer the government continues with its temple administration, the greater the damage done to the national polity. It is a poison that the country can do without. Can't we leave the temples to the religious folks and move on with the challenges of making India a great and successful power?
Temple Revenues diverted chapter 6
By Anjali Patel,email@example.com,October 29,2003, Courtesy : www.indiacause.com)
70% (Rs. 50.00 Crores) of Hindu Temples money is diverted for Muslim Madarasas and Haj by Indian Government.
5,000 Temples in Karnataka to be closed down due to lack of funding and maintenance.
During Kumbh Mela in Nasik each Hindu was forced to pay Rs.25 to Rs.50 for a dip in the holy water. Congress, BJP and Shiv Sena said nothing about this (while giving money to Muslims and Christians).
Today, if a Hindu or Sikh wishes to visit holy places in Kailash Mansarovar or Gurudwara in Pakistan, leave alone subsidiary, they are forced to shell out large amount of money to visit their holy places (while Islam enjoys massive 70% share of Hindus hard earned money to visit Haj in Saudi Arabia)
Details - The Congress Government of Karnataka has made another breakthrough in appeasing the Minority Communities in Karnataka. The Government passed a bill in the assembly that all private owned temples and the temple comprising of trustees in Karnataka must pay minimum tax to the Government every year. Failing to which, the authorized people of the temple would be liable and or would be prosecuted. This law is being passed in order to generate income for the development of Madarasas and provide subsidies to Haj Pilgrims in Karnataka.
Earlier to this the Government was collecting the entire income from all the Government Controlled temples in the state.
Statement of Temple Collections & Utilization 1997-2002. (data received from the Revenue section of Tourism & Temples, Govt of Karnataka). Figures in Crores.
% of Revenue
$ are in Million Dollars exchange rate Rs 45 to a dollar.
It looks like the Congress Government of Karnataka is more concerned about the Madarasas and the Haj Committee, but it has turned a blind eye at the fate of 2.5 lakh Hindu Temples in Karnataka, which is actually under their direct control. If the Government continues its neglect towards the maintenance and development of these temples for other few years, we will not be surprised to see that over 50,000 Temples will be forced to close down in next five years. Karnatka is the 4th State in India of having highest number of temples; out of which large number require immediate financial aid.
In regard to this, we made a visit to few ancient temples in Karnataka. We felt very said seeing the pathetic conditions of the poorly maintained temples by the Government. We had spoken to a few temples Uttaradhikaris and priest in Government owned temple. Each and everyone expressed their displeasure and at the attitude of the Government. They say that they are not receiving any financial aid for day-to-day maintenance of the temple. They even said that they were employed on salary basis, which they are not receiving regularly. Some priests told us that they have not received salaries for over 6 months period and they are surviving only on collections donated by the devotees by the in the “Aarti” plate.
In view of the coming Lok Sabha elections, the Government would like to appease their precious vote bank by even taxing the individual owned temples in Karnataka to generate more money for Madarasas development and Haj Subsidy. It is unfortunate that even the opposition party like the BJP, which has come to power at the center on the Hindutva platform, has remained quite in his matter. Today if a Hindu or Sikh wishes to visit our holy place in Kailash Mansarovar or the holy Gurudwara in Pakistan, leave alone subsidy, they are forced to shell out large amount of money to visit their holy shrines.
Few days back, during the Kumbh Mela in Nasik, each Hindu was forced to pay Rs.25/- to Rs.50/- to have a dip in the holy sangam. In Maharashtra, too there is a Congress Government and it is the same silent opposition BJP and Shiv Sena.
Is anybody seriously concerned about this? The Hindus and their temples have no source of income from anywhere. They are forced to generate all the finance in India itself. But it is not the same in the case of Muslim and Christians. The Muslims received aid from many Muslim countries in various forms and the Christians receive bountiful grants in the form of charities from their Christian Brothers in Vatican City, Europe, and America, Australia etc.
To further appease their precious vote bank what has the Governments in store for Hindus in the future? Tomorrow they may collect taxes Hindus, if Hindus want to survive in Hindustan.
Wanted Dharmic Council chapter 7
By Krishnan Bhatnagar, firstname.lastname@example.org
We need Dharmic Councils to administer temples. Temples and Mutts are a great spiritual institutions entrusted to us by our ancestors for the spiritual upliftment of our nation and it is our bounden duty to hand them over to our successive generations through proper administration and development activities in accordance with the wishes of donors and the forefathers.
The task is not merely limited to the routine management, but it is one of planning for development and administration, keeping in view the increasing population and growing spiritual needs all over the country and in each state and area. It is a task that should aim at qualitative and quantitative improvement commensurate with the growing population and the needs.
As things stand, temples and Mutts in some states are under the management of the government and in some others are under scattered and local private managements. Government being secular according the written constitution, it has neither an obligation nor a right to administer an essentially Hindu Dharmik institution. Some question its locus standii in this connection. The zeal that is required in promoting the spiritual cause cannot be expected of a secular government with all its political involvements. Neither it could be expected of scattered local private managements to plan for a whole state and in the country.
We thus see lacuna and the absence of an appropriate instrument for the management and development of the temple and Mutt institution in the states and the country. In view of this, there is a dire necessity to conceive and evolve an authority for the purpose in states and the country.
After considerable deliberations and consultations for over a period of two years, the Vishva Hindu Parishad has come up with certain views to be placed before the people in various states, for their earnest consideration. The following are some of the views:
Basic Changes and steps are required on the following lines
(a) Integration of all charitable and Hindu religious institution and endowments at the state level, and are to be brought under a fresh special legislation.
(b) Formation of state-level Dharmik Council, as a statutory body, to formulate and decide all policy matters. It shall be given quasi-judicial powers also. The council shall consist of Dharmacharyas and Scholars of various Sampradayas (cults) and Shastras, prominent Hindus and workers of Hindu causes, representatives of socio-religious organizations, expert Hindus in the federal law, administration, etc. The council shall be very broad based.
(c) Formation of administrative and religious services set up to work for and under the council. The personnel shall be selected by a temple service commission. Existing personnel shall be absorbed appropriately.
(d) State-level temple planning, development, rejuvenation body, state level budgeting, together with temple-level budgeting, state level fund with temple level surpluses, temple bank to receive deposit (not a commercial bank).
(e) Specific part of the fund shall be utilized for religious and basic humanitarian services in the areas of neglected sections like Harijans, Girijans, etc. could be adopted for these service purposes by temples.
(f) State level Dharmik Sahitya Academy, publications pool, etc. shall be formed for even distribution of publicity and propaganda literature.
(g) Temples under the legislation shall include all places of worship by Hindus: the Mutts and other charitable institutions of Hindu Dana philosophy as expressed in Sapta Santana Vidhi. However, separate provisions for the Mutts and endowments shall be included in the legislation.
(h) All temples, their properties and funds belong to the devotees and the Hindu society. No property shall be transferred to any individual, non-Hindu, or secular organization by way of sale, auction, and acquisition or by any other means. Under all circumstances, and forever, the properties belong to the respective institutions and they shall be administered according to the politics laid down by the Dharmik Council.
(i) All illegal occupations shall be vacated by a suitable ordinance and ensured to the Dharmik Council.
(j) An interim Dharmik Council shall be formed by the Chief Justice of the High Court. The same shall be entrusted with the job of formulating details on that above lines, and in the light of the experience under the Act in the state and elsewhere. Members of the Council shall be nominated by the Council itself toward the end of each term. Thus, the question of nomination by government or any political body shall be eliminated and the authority and supremacy of the Hindu institution shall be restored. The Council shall have the authority to settle dispute among the institutions covered by the special legislation.
(k) The involvement of the state or government shall be limited to provide security which is due to any individual or institution of the land and rendering any legal or administrative services if required by the Council.
(l) All persons working in the temple institution shall from the member of the Council at the top down to the level of local temple servants and the tenants. Shall make a declaration on oath that he or she is a Hindu, a believer in God and the temple institution and he or she has no other interests than service and the agreed remuneration and he or she will; abide by the code and discipline laid down.
Temples Andhra Pradesh chapter 8
Caretaker Gifts Kuppam Land - Deccan Chronicle, Nov 30, 2003
Hyderabad, Nov. 29: Believe it or not, the caretaker Telugu Desam government has offered ayurvedic giant Dabur as much as 120 acre of land for a monthly lease of Rs 5,833 to set up a hi-tech herbal park in Caretaker Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu’s Kuppam constituency.
The government gave away the land on a platter to the company through an Order (GO Ms No 1199 dated November 25, 2003) by Revenue Principal secretary A K Goyal granting lease of 120 acre for 30 years. The land belongs to Kodanda Rame Swamy temple in Ramakuppam village of Timmasamudram mandal in Chittoor district. The area comprises 109.52 acre of dry land and 10.83 acre of wet land.
Official sources told Deccan Chronicle that Dabur India approached the State government with a proposal to set up herbal park to grow medicinal plants. To mark the beginning of the “association” between the firm and the government, the latter allotted the land on lease for just one year (2003-2004).
The firm then proposed that it would pay one rupee per acre per day (Rs 43,800 per annum) or a lumpsum amount of Rs 5,000 per month (Rs 60,000 per annum). Apparently, keeping in view the larger interests of the State revenues, the caretaker government did not compromise on the price quoted by the company but decided to grant the lease for Rs 70,000 per annum.
Based on the directions of the government, the revenue department issued A-I notice-inviting objections from people over transfer of land to the company on lease. The local revenue authorities claming to have issued the notice reported back to the government that there were no objections from people.
Significantly, the procedure of gram panchayat issuing A-I notice would be adopted only when government lands are transferred and not in the case of endowment lands. For endowment lands, the department issues form FI inviting objections from the existing leaseholders over the cancellation of lease and going in for fresh auction.
The Endowments Department had launched statewide drive canceling existing low lease amounts and issued fresh lease based on the current market value. As per the amended Act, the Endowments Department should not give lease for more than three years and should go in for fresh auction after the expiry of the lease period.
“There is a special provision with which the government can take control of endowment land for a cost and utilize for whatever purpose it wants,” Endowments Minister D Sivarama Raju said, while admitting that the GO was issued after the file was circulated to the Chief Minister through Revenue secretary and himself.
According to revenue authorities, the government takes over possession of endowment land to extend “social benefits” like construction of houses for weaker sections and distribution of land pattas for poor but not for commercial ventures like the Dabur activity. When contacted principal secretary Goyal refused to talk “as he was ill.”
Now Naidu Eyes Temple Lands Hindustan Times, July 07, 2003, Ashok Das (Hyderabad, July 6), Courtesy: www.hindustantimes.com The temples of Lord Venakateswara at Tirupati is lucky. The Andhra Pradesh government has finally backed off from its demand Rs 36 crore from this cash-rich shrine, in the wake of public outcry and a litigation in the high court. However, lesser-known temples are not so lucky. The government has initiated moves to take away temple lands and distribute them among poor sections in the name of social justice. According to endowment department sources, around 80 per cent of the 27,000-odd temples have no income other than what they get from the vested lands. And once the lands are taken away, puja in many temples will have to be stopped.
The decision to acquire endowment lands was prompted after district collectors reported the unavailability of adequate government land and secondly because of litigation involving available lands. The government fixed a target of 8 lakh house site pattas this year, after Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu made the announcement at the TDP’s Tirupati meet.
Revenue officials said, the state needs around 40,000 acres to meet the target and by tapping endowment properties, the state could meet only one third of the requirement. 3,000 acres of land have been identified for acquisition.
TDP leaders defend the government’s said. “The lands are under the temples’ control for namesake only. The people cultivating them are giving little or nothing. At least this way, it will serve a better cause,” said a TDP member.
Opposition parties have assailed the move. ‘The endowment lands come free as government-appointed officials control the temples and few would dare to challenge the order,’ said a BJP leader.
Endowment records show the government acquired temple lands several times in the past for bus stands, police stations, government offices, hospitals, power stations etc. It was yet to reimburse Rs 28 crores to the endowment department towards the value of the acquired land.