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Government Control of Hindu temples


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A brief, data-driven presentation that highlights various negative consequences involved in Government control of Hindu temples in India.

Published in: News & Politics

Government Control of Hindu temples

  1. 1. Government Control of Hindu Temples Government run Temples & Devotee managed Temples
  2. 2. The origin of the Hindu Temple Endowment board • For a thousand years India has faced invaders who came to loot, pillage and plunder her repository of wealth, her temples. The Somnath temple is a standing testimony to this. • The arrival of the East India Company heralded a new sophisticated and subtle, organised method of unsettling temple systems and external administration.
  3. 3. The Legacy of the Hindu Temple Endowment / Mujarai Board • There were other rulers who levied taxes on Hindus and temples and this legacy of misusing temple wealth was carried forward after Independence as well. • Thus was born the Hindu Temple Endowment Board or the Mujarai Board as it is called today .
  4. 4. Justification by the Government for controlling Hindu Temples • Alleged mismanagement of funds and property by trustees. • Alleged mismanagement by traditional priest families. • Streamlining administrative procedures • Preserving temple property and wealth • Question: Does problems with some temples and Mutts justify taking control of all?
  5. 5. Facts about Hindu Temples • Ancient temples of India still retain a huge share of gold, silver, precious gems and priceless bronze images even after the centuries of invasions and plunder. Anantha Padmanabha Temple is a good example. • Large temples also owned tracts of arable land • The land was to give self sufficiency to the temple and also to feed the community in times of scarcity. • The entire community was responsible for the upkeep and management of temples
  6. 6. Temples were Institutions • Temples played a pivotal role in the ecosystem of the society. • Religion and spirituality were practiced in temples • They were homes to learning and knowledge. • Dance, music, literature art and temple sciences flourished in temples. • Legal disputes of the community were settled in temples. • Values and culture were imbibed & disseminated via the temple ecosystem
  7. 7. Role of Temples in the Community • Goshalas were maintained • Nandanavanas were nurtured, which helped the ecology and environment • Kalyanis (temple tanks) conserved water • Many temples maintained fish sanctuaries • Annadhanam per the temple tradition was practiced • Facilities were made for pilgrims • Hari Katha and discourses on Shastras were regular features in temples
  8. 8. Disastrous Government Control • Only some puja activities take place • Veda Patashalas have disappeared • Goshalas have vanished • No arable land left for most temples since they have been misused and appropriated by successive governments • No support for music, dance, literature or art • No platform for intellectual dialogue • No more Nandanavanas—thus no support to environment and ecology
  9. 9. Loss of Temple Culture • No more Kalyanis in most of the temples and what is left is not maintained • Cities have developed and consumed these peaceful heritage spaces with no planning or vision to preserve these great institutions • Interference by government in temple traditions and practices • Government interference has unsettled the ancestral lineage of priesthood • Poor pay scales and unbridled government encumbrance= appointment of ill-qualified priests • People of other religions on Hindu Endowment Boards
  10. 10. The differences Government Run Temples • Ancient heritage temples are being run by the government in the guise of saving them • The wealth of the temples— movable, immovable and perpetual offerings by devotees is what the government takes from the temples. • Only a fraction, maybe less than 1% of wealth of a temple is utilized for temple activity. Devotee Managed temples • Private Temples built by communities, traditional Mutts or family trusts are managed by devotees. • In private temples the devotees, philanthropists or Mutts contribute consistently to the temples. • Almost 70% of the income is spent for worship and temple related activities
  11. 11. Mishaps in Govt run temples • Hundis – ‘mamool’ during counting!! Hundis are opened once in two months. In many cases, the officials in connivance with local politicos loot large denomination notes and gold / silver from the Hundis before documentation of collection. They even block or turn off CCTV cameras. From the official documented collection, the Government takes away 12% (TN) 10%(Karnataka) as Admin Fee & 4% (TN) Audit fee. That’s almost one sixth of the revenue!
  12. 12. Incompetence in Government run Temples Temple Properties – Rents and lease are abysmal – Typically less than 0.0005% of the land value is actually collected as annual rent. – In the case of Thiruvannamalai temple land in Chennai, 0.00002% of the value is collected as rent. – As per Governments own audit report for the fasli year 1420, (2010- 11) total collection from 30 acres of prime property within corporation limits worth around Rs. 2,700 crores. Actual rent collected – average of Rs.7,080 per year across last ten years
  13. 13. Leakages in Government-run Temples Temple Land given away between 1986 – 2013 47,000 acres. (in Tamil Nadu – Policy Note 1986 & 2013) Thiruvarur Temple land: 300 acres taken over by the Tamil Nadu Govt without any compensation to temple Pondicherry Government has taken over Temple lands without compensating temple. Under Government watch, many temple properties have been lost to encroachments
  14. 14. Comparative Income Distribution The Government-run Sugavaneswarar temple, Salem: Total income = ₹ 1.45 cr The devotee-managed Jalakandeswrara temple, Vellore: Total income= ₹ Rs.1 cr
  15. 15. Where does the Temple Revenue go? Government Run Temples • Salary and Admin 66% 96L • Govt Appropriation 20% 30L • Temple-related 9% 13L • Puja Expenses 5% 8L • ONLY 14% for Temple activities • No Veda/Agama Patashalas • No Goshala, no Pravachanam • No temple arts, no pilgrim welfare Devotee Managed Temple • Salary and Admin 31% 33L • Temple related 25% 26L • Puja Expenses 44% 45L • 69% for Temple Activities • ONLY 31 % for Temple Administration
  16. 16. An example -Pazhani temple Audit report for fasli year 1419 (2009-10) • Total Income • Admin & Staff • Government Appropriation • Puja • Schools: Arts,Vocation, Music • Orphanage • 88.53 cr • 10.22 cr • 14.00 cr 27% • 1.83 cr 2% • 0.25 cr • 0.13cr 0.5% Veda / Agama Patashala 0.016 cr! Goshala 0.43cr Vehicle maintenance 0.4cr 2.5% Pilgrim welfare 1.25cr
  17. 17. Restore the Temple Ecosystem • Temples to become centers of learning • Maintain Goshalas & Nandanavanas • Nurture music, dance, literature, etc • Take responsibility of our temples • Direct resources to the right activities • Preserve and nurture temple property Please join this movement by signing up on this website:
  18. 18. Temple Worshippers Society 28 (Old M 33/1) 3rd Main Road, Besant Nagar Chennai - 600090, Tamilnadu, India Write to