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Cries for Freedom of Hindu Temples reverberate, as Unethical attempts by TN, Andhra made to sell Temple land

  • INDOLOGY
  • Team PresentMirror Indology | Updated: Nov. 9, 2020, 7:19 p.m.




The government of Tamil Nadu has been in the spotlight in the recent years for the worst ever attempts made in acquiring temple lands or be it letting of Idols stolen from temples and smuggled to other places. Now, the TN government is trying to take over Shri Nareeswarar Temple land located at Veeracholapuram, Kallakurichi district, which was built around 1,500 years ago by the longest-ruling Chola Dynasty.


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Freedom of Hindu Temples from state control must be one of the non-negotiable demands of Hindu society. But for some strange reason, it hasn't found the required amount of support and traction even among those people who are well aware of the survival threats being faced by Hindu society currently.

State control of Hindu Temples greatly weakens the Hindu society internally as they are one of the most important religious institutions of Hindus which represent their identity. Apart from their immense spiritual and religious significance, they possess a huge amount of wealth and real estate. Ironically, the Indian states have been alleged to loot money from Hindu Temples and use it to fund NGOs accused of anti-national activities. A large chunk of the temple owned real estate has also been usurped by corrupt state officials and other elements hostile to the Hindu society.

State control of Hindu Temples also encourages corruption. State officials along with police officers from several states have been found to have connections with the idol thieves operating internationally, who steal ancient valuable idols and jewellery from Temples which are worth a fortune owing to their antiquity. As per records available with the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowment (HR&CE) Department for year 1992-2017, 372 stone idols and 832 icons belonging to 387 temples were stolen. Officials from HR&CE , were arrested by the Idol Wing of the CB-CID in connection with a case related to the theft of an idol from the Kapaleeswarar temple at Mylapore in Chennai.

Some significant Idol Thefts of various temples that were reported can be tracked here .

Freedom of Hindu Temples from state control will be greatly effective in fighting fraudulent conversions. Many communities like priests, sculptors, flower sellers, performing artists etc are largely dependent on the Temples for earning their livelihood. The livelihood of these communities is adversely affected due to which they become the easiest victims of fraudulent proselytization by missionaries.

Another most outrageous fact is that non-Hindus are appointed as administrative officers of Hindu Temples by the state while the reverse case never happens. 44 non Hindu employees were appointed in the TTD. As expected, such people don't care about protecting and preserving the sanctity, traditions and customs of the Temples but work for their destruction. Also, state officials are often seen violating the rules and regulations of Temples and destroying its age old traditions and rituals in the name of equality, social justice, women empowerment etc.

The step-motherly treatment meted out to the majority Hindu community by the Indian state is in full display as the state, which proudly proclaims itself to be secular but is verily partial to one faith, Hinduism. Government control is limited to just one faith, thereby engages in the blatantly discriminatory practice of interfering in the administrative affairs of Hindus only. State interference in Hindu Temples also brings a bad name to the Hindus as certain discriminatory practices like "Darshan queues based on payment" have been enforced by the govt without consent from the community but it is the community which takes all the blame.

The Hindu Munnai and it's allegations :

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Image File : Shri Nareeswarar Temple , Veeracholapuram, Kallakurichi, Tamil Nadu

The Hindu Munnai Alleged that Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Department HR & CE (a department set by the Government of Tamil Nadu which manages and controls temples administration) has placed an advertisement in newspapers about the intention of the sale of temple land of Shri Nareeswarar Temple , Tamil Nadu, or a price of Rs 1.98 crore where the actual cost can cross Rs 90 crores.

• In Spite of renovating the temple which is already in a damaged condition, a clear ancient heritage, the government is unethically trying to sell it for an inconceivable amount.

• The most interesting thing in this issue is, the state CM Palaniswami himself is laying the foundation stone for the construction of a collectorate in the area on October 23, even before the HR & CE handed it over to the government.

Note: Hindu Munnai is a Tamil Nadu based Hindu cultural organisation, which was founded by Ramagopalan in the year 1982. The founder started the organisation immediately after the Meenakshipuram conversion, the conversion was about a chunk of low caste Hindus in the village converting into Muslims. From then the organisation has been working to defend Hinduism and protect hindu religious monuments.

A temple activist by name Rangarajan Narashiman, lashed out at the illegal attempt that is being made by the state government to alienate the temple "for a pittance" when the actual price is far higher. He further mentioned the proposal to sell land is illegal According to the Section 34 of the HR & CE act .

Watch the video message by Rangarajan Here:



Like the Tamil Nadu government, in the earlier half of this year, The Andhra Pradesh, Jagan Reddy run government along with Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam trust, an independent group which manages all the affairs related to Venkateshwara Temple, had also made an attempt to sell away 50 properties located in (Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Rishikesh in Uttarakhand) which are termed by TTD as unviable and unmaintainable lands.

Background story of Andhra Pradesh government attempt to sell off TTD lands

While TTD was intended to sell lands, the Opposition pointed out that the Christian Jagan Reddy led government is making an anti-hindu move. But the most intriguing thing is that selling of unviable properties is not new for the Temple board. As the board sold away 129 properties donated by the devotees to the Venkateshwara Temple from 1974 to 2014 and termed the move as a viable one. So, TTD is continuing it's old tradition of selling the lands donated by its devotees and using the earned finances for temple services.

Why is TTD selling away donated lands? Can't it try to make Bajan mandaps in the lands for the devotees or think about any alternative, and change the tradition of selling away lands? The State Governments and the trust should act as the protectors of the money and properties denoted by the devotees in the name of god to provide services. No one has a right to sell the properties. Does the state government also deal in the same manner with regards to properties of the Waqf?

Sabarimala Temple is administered by TDB. But the Devaswom Board have no book of account and the local Hindus are kept in Dark about the same. Present Mirror came to know that even a peon in TDB earns Rs 5,00,000 per annum. Often it has been alleged that the post of the chief priest is auctioned to the highest bidder.

Autonomy of Hindu society over its Temples will also ensure that it can run its own institutions like schools and hospitals to provide free education and healthcare to the poor and marginalised sections of its society, thereby again preventing fraudulent conversions. Temple run schools can also provide education in local languages and teach the students about their own religion, culture, moral values, history and civilisation unlike the current education system which teaches Macaulayism and produces deracinated and self-loathing Hindus who have zero knowledge about their own Faith and identity.

Hindu Temples have always played a pivotal role in forging a sense of religious and civilisational unity amongst Hindu society since centuries. Hindu Temples have all the required resources for the cultural resurgence of Bhārata. Freedom of Hindu Temples from state control will undoubtedly play a significant role in internally strengthening Hindu society and therefore, will act as a major stepping stone for Hindu Renaissance.

This article uses research and inputs by Smarak Prasad Sahoo and Vishnu Vardhan.

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