Categories: Opinion

Temple takeover – Let us take pledge that no place of worship should be controlled by the government.

Many battles have been fought in the Indian courts against the illegal take over of temple & its administration over the years

There is a famous quote attributed to Jack Welch as it says “Control Your Own Destiny or Someone else Will.” This is so true in the case of Hindus and their control over the temples. Be it from the time of the invaders, the Mughals, and the British later on, the temples of India have been the target of loot, plunder, and gross misappropriation of funds. This is evident from the loot that is displayed in the museums & art galleries of the world.

Indians, post-independence, hoped that this looting & plundering would stop now that they became independent. Alas, little did they realize that this culture of looting will only increase, albeit by their own kind.

Many battles have been fought in the Indian courts against the illegal take over of the temple & its administration over the years. With great thanks to a few landmark victories like the Dr. Subramanian Swamy Vs State of Tamilnadu, they have started to turn the tide ever so slightly towards taking back the control from the government.

In an interview with The Indian Express, the Sankaracharya said, “On the one hand, the CM refuses skull caps. On the other hand, he tries to cut wings of Hindu institutions and temples through the Gujarat Public Trust Act.

Many bottles of ink, reams of paper & bytes of data have been spent by hard-working individuals to fight the draconian government control of temples, each worthy of its own epic.

In 2014, the Hindus in India voted a Hindu Majority government headed by Narendra Modi, hoping that this illegal plunder would come to an end. While many Non-BJP states continued to enact more laws to take control of more temples, especially in Southern India, where looting temples became an accepted practice. Examples include the world-famous temples of Sabarimala & Padmanabaswamy temples in Kerala & the Tirumala Tirupati temple in Andhra Pradesh[1].

Then came a shocker in 2011. A BJP ruled state led by none other than the Narendra Modi government in Gujarat, in 2011 passed the “Gujarat Public Trust Act 2011” to take over temples and trusts. This superseded the Bombay Public Trusts Act, 1950.

There were vociferous protests from all Hindu sampradayas across the state and the country[2]. In fact, the Sankaracharya of Dwarka Peet Pujyashri Swaroopand Saraswati slammed this move[3]. In an interview with The Indian Express, the Sankaracharya said, “On the one hand, the CM refuses skull caps. On the other hand, he tries to cut wings of Hindu institutions and temples through the Gujarat Public Trust Act. When saints are forced to do agitation, what kind of Sadbhavana is it? The mission has no meaning at all.”

Bowing to the mounting pressure the Modi government repealed the act in early 2012[4].

The copy of Gujarat Public Trusts Repeal Act 2012

Alas, this repeal had little effect as in November 2012, the same government took over 30 temples in Bhavnagar district and bringing the tally of temples under government control, to nearly 250 temples[5]. The cheeky reasoning was given, by the then Tourism Minister Jay Narayan Vyas to a question in the state assembly in which Vyas stated that the state government, till January 2012, had administrative control over 244 major temples in 16 districts, which were now being managed by government-appointed administrators. So instead of “government-administered”, it was “government-appointed administrators.”

The bottom line is this. If the Hindus elected a Hindus Majority government in BJP to get rid of this practice of government control of temples, why are we seeing more of it and that too from BJP led states?

Earlier in 2008, the same Modi-led government in Gujarat, in its development mantra (sic!) demolished about 150 plus temples. This caused a furor and prompted the then VHP President Shri Ashok Singhal to say “The Gujarat government is acting like Aurangzeb”[6]. Modi, who was on a visit abroad, rushed back & halted further demolition, bowing to the mounting pressure.

In 2018, the BJP government in Maharashtra courted more controversy by passing an act to take over the famed Shani Shingnapur temple, namely “The Shree Shanaishwar Devasthan Trust (Shingnapur) Act, 2018[7].

Fast forward to 2020, the BJP led Uttarakhand government under Trivendra Singh Rawat, passed an act to take over the 50 plus temples including the Char Dham. The Sants and Mahants have raised protests and have demanded that the government abrogate the act[8]. This illegal act is now being challenged in the Uttarakhand High court, again by Dr. Subramanian Swamy.

The bottom line is this. If the Hindus elected a Hindus Majority government in BJP to get rid of this practice of government control of temples, why are we seeing more of it and that too from BJP led states? With more than 75% of the population, are we Hindus incompetent to find a way to manage our own temples?

There have been fervent cries for help from all parts of World to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi to end this practice & free Hindu temple from government control, be it the adverse decision by the Honorable Supreme Court in Sabarimala case, the interference of government in Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam (TTD). This cause has now degenerated to a “Poll/election Jhumela”. Nothing more. The Hindus are being betrayed by the very party they elected to help them.

Temples, attracting devotees by the millions, have become the easy target to meet fiscal deficits, development work under that garb of providing “Better Administration”
Its time to “Take Control” of our temples or we will continue to be looted, plundered & destroyed. We have to work to quell this insatiable appetite of the government (BJP or otherwise) and pass an ordinance to abolish all Acts or Laws across the country that control our temples.

Let us take a pledge and say that No place of worship should be controlled by the government.

I would like to thank Shri Jagdish Shetty & T R Ramesh who also helped me in collating the data for this article.

Gujarat Public Trusts Act 2011 by PGurus on Scribd

Gujarat Public Trusts Act, … by PGurus on Scribd

Shree Shanaishwar Devasthan… by PGurus on Scribd

Note:
1. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of PGurus.

References:

[1] ‘Free temples from State control’Oct 12, 2015, The Hindu

[2] Gujarat Trust Act breeds mistrustDec 13, 2011, India Times

[3] Dwarka seer slams Modi move to rein in trusts, NGOsJan 07, 2012, Indian Express

[4] Religious leaders greets CM for the decision of abrogating Gujarat Public Trust ActFeb 14, 2012, Narendra Modi

[5] Govt in overdrive to take over templesSep 22, 2012, Indian Express

[6] ‘Aurangzeb’ tag on ModiNov 20, 2008, The Telegraph

[7] Maharashtra govt to take control of Shani Shingnapur templeJun 21, 2018, India Times

[8] Won’t budge on demand for temple Act abrogation: Uttarakhand priests to CMFeb 27, 2020, The Tribune

Ramesh Swamy

Ramesh Swamy is a New Jersey based entrepreneur. He is passionate about technology, Sanatana Dharma and law

View Comments

  • Modi is a TRAITOR and a DOG who has BETRAYED us Hindus. He is a filthy snake who has done blatant Muslim appeasement ever since he got reelected in 2019.

    I will only vote for the BJP again if they FREE HINDU TEMPLES FROM GOVERNMENT CONTROL, AMEND ARTICLES 25-30 OF THE INDIAN CONSTITUTION, AND REPEAL RTE TO GIVE FULL FREEDOM TO HINDU SCHOOLS TO RUN WITHOUT GOVERNMENT INTERFERENCE.

  • Modi n almost all of his friends who pose outside as enemies are all run by missionaries...
    Mamta, odissa CM..(remember destruct of age old mutts in the name of development), raul vinci...(most of Italy's museums had temple properties and the CM was modi...)
    Remember how he immediately went to that church firing in srilanka...but to avoid suspicion went to Guruvayur temple on the way..(not with bhakthi of course )

    We realise a little late...
    But his own bad karma will give him an end...
    For his act of getting Hindu votes and working against Hindus ..
    Why should we bother... He will be in hell burning...for every bad thing he did against Hindus...
    You can see all international media n missionary countries praising him...but he will spend his entire after life in hell...
    I now recall the tragedy of earth quake in gujarat... Way back ... Now I know the reason...it's because of christian atrocities...
    Tsunami was also against christian atrocities...
    Dhanuskodi was also against the church atrocities there...
    Who knows ?
    Maybe the kedarnath floods were also because of the anger of Bhagwan Shiva...
    We people might not know...
    But all those christian culprits will know it in their heart...
    Let their own bad deeds brought all the missionary countries of USA and EU to face corona ...

    God has his own means and ways of punishing these people...
    We shall remain mute spectators (but pray with all heart to punish Hindu haters) and look up eagerly to his punishment of the culprits... Sooner or later ..

  • The management of temples should be left to the Hindu community.We must put and end to the loot of temple property by politicians and minority religious organisations. Even if temple management is handed over to us do we have the wherewithal to manage and run them properly? Not at present. Do we then hand over temples to the avaricious priesthood? No. The end result will then be worse than the present malady. Our community leaders need to ponder over this problem and find a solution. Hindu religious institutions and property should, i feel, be managed by groups of eminent and dedicated Lay Hindus. The organisation(s) that is to manage our religious establishment should be somewhat based on the Muslim/Christian systems minus their flaws. It should be an electable system with a selected electorate that is, as far as possible, free of the shortcomings of elected bodies. The priesthood needs to be paid employee. Once a decision on the basic structure is taken further planning of the organisation can be initiated. Releasing temples from Govt control without an alternative organisation being in place will invite disaster. As far as Modi demolishing temples is concerned i think it was a good idea. These were hardly temples. They were structures put up to occupy public land and prevent widening of roads. The Muslims did the same. This is a common practice all over India.

  • Modi always had a dubious past in dealing with Temples. He shivered when Ashok Singhal in 2008 equated with Auragazeb for demolishing Temples for his so called development agenda. After getting earful from Sinhal ji, Modi stopped the demolition of temples

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