[Advaita-l] SAVE OUR TEMPLES.
suba42 at gmail.com
Thu Mar 7 17:51:29 CST 2013
*Why should Government administer Hindu Temples?*
The Tamil Nadu (Madras) Government created a department called the Hindu
Religious and Charitable Endowments Department (HR&CE) in 1951 out of the
Hindu Religious Endowments Board, which was functioning from 1927. Why
should a secular government seriously involve itself with the religious
institutions of Hindus, is a question Hindus have failed to ask the
Government and the Courts for the past three *generations*! In fact, why is
Government managing *only *Hindu religious institutions is a question that
should also concern us. The answer as we shall see is simple: money,
property and resources coupled with ignorance and indifference of Hindus.
Successive Governments have deliberately exploited and neglected at will
the vast resources of Hindu religious institutions. Properties and
resources of other religious institutions though substantial are much less
What we Hindu citizens forget or are not even aware is that there are no
special religious rights or privileges for the so-called minorities. All
citizens in India are guaranteed the *same religious rights*. However, only
Hindu religious institutions are subjected to total government control. The
following chart would illustrate how Governments target only Hindu
1. Scope of Religious Endowments Acts Like Tamil Nadu Act of 1959 and A.P.
Act of 1987
All Institutions including Temples, Mutts and Endowments
Only Trusts and Endowments. Places of worship i.e. Mosques are not
No Acts or legislations to regulate or control Christian Institutions or
2. Executive Officer
Appointed by the Commissioner who is a Servant of the Government
Appointed by non-Government Wakf Board
No such appointments
3. Status of Executive Officer
Non-Government Person alone can be appointed
No such appointments
4. Powers under the Acts
General Superintendence and control of Temples, Mutts, endowments and their
Can Supervise only Wakf properties
5. Religious Matters
High level of interference in Hindu religious matters including daily poojas
Interference in religious matters specifically prohibited
*The claim of these State Governments is that they have taken the
administration of temples and endowments in their hands only to ‘safeguard’
their properties and to ‘ensure’ that the income from the vast properties
is properly realised and spent for the primary purposes for which the
temples were established or exist and for purposes the endowments were
*Nothing could be farther from truth. *
To illustrate,, the landed properties of temples, mutts and the related
endowments in Tamil Nadu alone, include 4,78,545 acres of land;
, and 33,627 vacant sites. The vacant sites are 29 Crore square feet in
For this vast and valuable property the HR & CE Department claims to have
demanded a paltry rent of `Rs.304 Crores and collected a paltry Rs.36
crores! For the land under irrigation, the Government charges a yearly
rent of just Rs.3,300 per acre and actually collects Rs.265! In today’s
market rates potential rent from these properties are would not be not less
than Rs.10,000 Crores per annum. Even if we assume that they are rented
out at half their market value these properties should fetch a billion
dollars annually. Year after year the loss to Hindu temples and endowments
is more than Rs. 5,000 crores due to Government’s mismanagement and
corruption. Since 1976, there has been no external audit of temples and
endowments accounts. Internal audits, have made several observations of
serious lapses, yet no action is taken since the Chief Audit Officer is
under the control of the Commissioner HR & CE.
Destruction of our Temples’ antiquity:
Besides not realising the true income of temple properties, Government
officials in HR & CE Department have caused irreparable damage to Hindu
religious, cultural and heritage sites of Tamil Nadu - about 400 of them
are more than 1500 years old - by completely commercializing the temples
with shops and modern offices, laying polished granites and tiles in the
temples, building new and incongruous structures inside the temples, sand
blasting inscriptions and murals, allowing buildings to come up near the
temples, etc. These are unpardonable crimes against not only our holy
places and archaeological treasures but also against our heritage and
*Interference in Religious Matters: *
By law, every temple is to be managed by Trustees, many of them
families have been safeguarding and preserving the temple for centuries.
However the Government by devious means have bypassed the Trustees and made
them subordinate to the Executive Officer(E.O). It is incidental that the
EOs, by law, are supposed to ‘supervise and manage temple properties’ only
for a short temporary period. By the complete control in appointing
Trustees, , Government has ensured that it has full control over all
affairs of the temple including daily poojas, rituals and annual festivals.
The right to plan and worship as per traditions and tenets of the temples
are taken away from the Hindu communities. The Government interferences go
down to the extent of deciding how many bananas and coconuts can be offered
to the deity at what time of the day and at what cost. Besides, the
Governments also decides on which day the consecrations of the temples
should take place, at which spot the yagnas can happen, in which language
archanas can take place, etc.
There is a Joint Commissioner in the Department whose job is to sanction *
balalayams*, installation of idols, *Kumbhabishekam* dates and so on. These
are completely against the fundamental rights guaranteed by the Indian
Constitution to all citizens of India including Hindus. Needless to say
the Government officials do not have the knowledge, qualifications,
experience or understanding of the religious practices – they are in most
cases persons with law graduates who can browbeat even the most ardent
trustee or devotee.
The government Executive Officers’ interferences in the religious matters,
customs and traditions of the holiest of Vaishanava temples, Srirangam Sri
Ranganathaswamy temple and in the holiest of Sri Murugan temples,
Tiruchendur are innumerable.
*Quit Temples: *
The Government mismanages temple properties. They have failed to protect
the properties and have failed to realise the income from the properties.
They have commercialized the temples and have failed to protect and
preserve their antiquity and heritage. They have failed to safeguard the
valuable jewels and icons belonging to temples. They have deliberately
desecrated the temple premises and corrupted the rituals, traditions and
worship. It is high time Hindus retrieve their temples from the clutches of
corrupt, inefficient Governments and restore them to their rightful
grandeur and tradition. We owe it to posterity, that we preserve for the
coming generations, the richness of our religion and culture that has come
down to us over many centuries.
*Temple Worshippers Society:*
A few concerned Swamijis, individuals, professionals, Judges, Lawyers and Civil
Servants have come together to spread awareness of the unfair treatment
meted to Hindu religion and to legally take up issues with the Government.
Hopefully, very soon our temples would be free from Government control
and exploitation. Under their guidance we have formed “Temple Worshipers
Society” *(TWS)* as a registered body under the TN Societies Act last year
and have already started to make our presence felt.
TWS has now filed a Writ Petition in the Madras High Court against the HR &
CE Department’s failure in providing basic and mandatory information under
the Right to Information Act. TWS has also served notices to the Tamil Nadu
Government and the HR & CE Department for improper alienation of valuable
properties belonging to temples and endowments. TWS
Government has effectively hijacked the ownership and running of temples
from the hands of Hindus. It is robbing Hindu Temples and endowments in
Tamil Nadu of crores of Rupees every year. It is destroying our ancient
temple structures and has scant respect for the protection of our sacred
idols, icons, statuary, murals and inscriptions.
In Eangoimalai temple, an ancient Siva Temple near Tiruchirapalli and a
Tevara sthalam, the main deity – an Emerald Sivalingam - was stolen. The
value and significance of this sacred Sivalingam is beyond ordinary
reckoning. The commercial value of an emerald object of that size is said
be around Rs.2,000 – 3,000 crores. The Tamil Nadu Government and the HR &
CE Department has done nothing to recover the deity. Law enforcers in the
US and other countries have seized scores of antique icons and statues
stolen from our temples and smuggled out of India. The HR & CE department
has not shown any true interest in recovering these idols and getting them
back to our temples.
TWS is embarking on a big legal battle to throw the HR & CE Department and
the Government out of our temples in Tamil Nadu. It is not going to be an
easy or quick battle given the tendency of Courts, particularly Madras High
Court to side with the Government when issues are raised regarding temples
and their administration. Considering the seriousness of the matter and
the questions of law involving Constitutional rights and the planned
discrimination meted out to Hindus by successive governments, TWS is taking
this issue through a writ petition in the Supreme Court of India.
TWS will engage Senior Counsels who are well versed in Constitutional Law.
TWS would also continue to wage smaller battles against specific atrocities
of the HR & CE Department in Tamil Nadu courts whenever necessary and to
recover some of the important properties of temples. There are hundreds of
not well-known temples whose properties have been systematically alienated
or criminally encroached. TWS would be fighting against these temple
looters in various Courts – Civil and Criminal – besides fighting the main
war in the Supreme Court.
*Temple Worshippers Society – Writ Petition in the Hon’ble Supreme Court of
India – against the T.N. HR & CE Act, 1959 and against the mismanagement of
temples and interference in religious matters by the HR & CE Department and
the Tamil Nadu Government and other related cases to be filed in Tamil Nadu.
*Expense Budget for the first year:*
1. Office rent, electricity, etc. Rs.15,000.00 p.m. 180,000.00
2. Telephone, mobile and Internet Rs.7500.00 p.m. 90,000.00
3. Trial Court and High Court advocate fees for drafting,
filing writ petitions and Criminal cases against HR & CE
and Government Officials for Criminal interferences in religious
matters and for Criminal dereliction of duties and recovery
of properties of temples and Endowments in the Madras
High Court and Local Courts–
(About 15 Writ Petitions and 30-40 Cases) 15,00,000.00
4. Senior Lawyer fees in Supreme Court for
the first year (3 to 4 Senior Counsels)
6. Stationery, Postage, Courier, Right to Information
applications, getting RTI documents audit reports, etc
@ Rs.15,000.00 p.m.
7. Travel - to Delhi 9 times a year @ Rs.30,000.00
8. Other travel – Rs. 5000.00 p.m.
9. Fees for Advocate-on-Record, Supreme
Court expenses for filing, Translations etc 200,000.00
10. Miscellaneous expenses and Office 1,50,000.00
11. Legal Books, Research works & materials 2,00,000.00
12. Media Expenses
Computer and Printer are already available with TWS.
Hence Not budgeted.
Payment can be directly made into TWS Bank Account.
The details are:
*Name of Account: Temple Worshippers Society*
*Account No. 6021203312*
*Name of the Bank : Indian Bank *
*Name and place of the Branch - Thousand Lights. Chennai - 600 006.*
*IFSCode - - IDIB000T020*
*This IFS Code will ensure direct remittance to the Branch.*
*We request all temple worshipping Hindus, Hindu Organizations and Pujya
Acharyas to support and contribute to this important and urgent cause. *
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