Government control of Hindu religious infrastructure is the instrument of decimating Hindu religion and culture. Hereunder are the examples of the abusive control by states in South India that are virtually engaged in demolishing the Hindu religious infrastructure. The abundance of available evidence has proved beyond any doubt that under government control, the Hindu temples have not only been exploited injuriously but are also being driven to their ultimate extinction.
Nationwide, the famous temples of Jagannath Puri, Tirupati, Kashi Vishwanath, Vaishno Devi, Shirdi, Guruvayoor, Chamunda Devi, Dattapeeth, Kali Mandir of Patiala, Amarnath, Badrinath, Kedarnath, etc. have already been taken under the government control.
Andhra Pradesh: AP government'scontinuing blitzkrieg against Hinduism with massive sale of temple lands seems a policy of looting temples for bringing down Hinduism.
Andhra Pradesh government is going all out for controlling the entire spectrum of Hindu religious institutions. The Endowment Minister Shri Diwakar Reddy announced on March 12, 2007 that AP government plans to take over all temples, mutts and religious trusts in the state. Furthermore, the government is planning to amend the AP Endowments Act to enable the endowments commissioner to oversee the day-to-day administration of mutts.
Injurious Governance: As per recent information there are more than 1,84,000 temples under government control, which is taking away all the donations given by devotees in the form of cash, clothes, jewellery or in any other form. In return only 18 per cent of the revenue is given back for the maintenance of temples and to pay salaries of priests. More than 40,000 priests are earning salary below Rs. 500 per month and over 3,000 priest earns 400 for the whole year.
The major chunk of money is used by government for various schemes under Indira Yojna, Rajiv Yojna, etc, which in no way help either the Hindu community or Hindu temples.
In 2004, the AP government engineered the entry of JRG Wealth Management Limited, an organisation owned by Christians, into the decision-making and procurement process of prasadam materials for use in Tirupati temple. Furthermore, the criminal destruction of centuries-old historic Mandapam at TTD with official participation has been universally condemned by all Hindu ranks and has generated enormous resentment. The fact that even with huge battalions of staff for oversight, the government could not protect the temple lands simply proves incompetence and indifference of the authorities in performing their responsibilities. Such an irresponsible establishment cannot and must not be trusted to handle these centuries-old estates and temples belonging to Hindu community.
Unwarranted and Illegal Actions: Against the spirit of the law, strong opposition and wishes of the Hindu community the AP government wants to: a) take away Rs 500 crore from TTD (Tirupathi Tirumala Devasthanam) supposedly for irrigation projects on top of Rs. 1,500 crore it already owes to them; b) build a ropeway at TTD for turning the sacred shrine into a tourist attraction thus commercializing and desecrating the deeply revered shrine and vitiating its religious sanctity; and c) to take over the 500-year-old Chilkur Balaji temple so efficiently run by the pujaris and locals. These highly provocative, unsettling and expeditious measures amongst many others are being taken without any public debate or the approval of the Hindu community, who are the real owners.
The world famous Tirupathi Tirumala Temple is under complete control of the ruling government of Andhra Pradesh. The temple receives an annual income of Rs three thousand one hundred crore in the form of direct cash collected from (a) Hundi collections (b) Donations towards annadanam scheme (c) Large amount of donations collected from devotees (d) Thula Bharam (e) Renting out 12,000 cottages to devotees on daily basis (f) Sale of prasadam (including ladoos) (g) Leasing of premises to commercial establishments including shops and hotels on the hills (h) Profit from export of tonsured hairs of devotees (i) Profits from TTD publications (j) Income generated from sale of Sewa Tickets (k) Television rights
Apart from this, the TTD also generates income in the form of collecting and pledging the same for government schemes.
In the financial year 2005-06, the TTD collected 2,400 kilograms of gold, 2,33,000 kgs of silver and 543 kgs of other precious stones including diamonds, rubies etc. from devotees.
Situated 15 kilometres from the port city of Vishakhapatnam, Simachalam is the ancient temple of Narasimha Swamy. Very recently the temple has come under the siege of Christian missionaries, who have illegally occupied over 300 acres of temple land with the help of Christian land mafias and local Congress leaders. The devotees are restricted at the foothills by the Christians who abuse our God as demons and physically try to stop Hindus by luring them to provide them basic day-to-day needs. On many occasions the devotees have complained to the local administration, who are watching all this helplessly. In a span of 20 months, four churches and three convent schools have come up in the vicinity of the foothills and a small temple of Hanuman has also been demolished overnight.
Bhadrachalam is a famous temple dedicated to Sri Ramchandra and situated on the banks of the sacred river Godavari. Today this temple is also under the siege of Christian missionaries who have influenced the government to donate 884 acres out of 1289 acres of the temple land for their activities. The temple which had a passage of eight entrances has been left with a narrow passage for the devotees to enter the temple.
At Arasavalli, which is practically the same as Srikakulam, the headquarters of the northernmost district of Andhra, there is a temple of Lord Surya. Temples dedicated to the worship of Lord Surya are rare in our country.
Seventh Day Adventist Church has constructed a church right in front of both the entrances. The number of devotees visiting the ancient temple has come down by 85 per cent in just one year.
Srisailam is situated in the thick and inaccessible forests of the Nallamalai hills, in the northeastern portion of the Nandikotkur taluk of Kurnool District. It lies on a straight line west of Vijayawada. It is 73 miles north of Nandyal railway station.
Puranas have described this abode of Mahadev as Pranta Jyotirlinga which is surrounded by mountains. The Endowment Department has sold over 1,600 acres of temple land surrounding the temple to various Christian organisations including Tribal Gospel.
Mangalagiri is situated on the Bezwada-Guntur road and is about eight miles by road from Vijayawada. On the top of the Mangalagiri hill there is a famous temple called the Panakala Nrusimhaswamy temple, which has been attracting pilgrims for a very long time, and from all parts of the country. The nearest railway station is Mangalagiri on the Guntur-Vijayawada line but to visit the temple, the better course would be to get down either at Vijayawada or at Guntur and take a bus.
This anicent temple, which has the largest Gopuram?approximately 14 floors, constructed by King Yudhishthra, has been under the attack from Christian Missionaries. Due to poverty over 35 per cent of the population are forced to convert to Christianity and others are coerced to convert. Hindus are forced to visit the temple between 10 A.M and 1 P.M because of fear of attack from Christians who are residing in large number at the foothills.
Ahobilam is located in Karnool District of Andhra Pradesh in the hills of the eastern ghats, about 400 km northwest of Chennai. The temple consists of nine shrines to Lord Narasimha located around a 35-km circle in dense forest.
Not many know, Ahobilam is the same place where Lord Narasimha had taken incarnation and had killed the demon Hiranayakashyap. Lot of evidence are available even today – e.g.: (a) Place where Lord Narasimha appeared, (b) Cave school of Prahalad, (c) Vascul (door entrance) on which Lord killed the demon; (d) Palace remains of demon Hiranayakashyap.
Unfortunately, no government of Andhra Pradesh took any interest to develop or provide facilities to the oldest temple on this earth. Poojas and aartis are conducted in only three temples daily and annually once for the remaining nine temples which are in thick forest.
The negligence on the part of the government is helping Christian missionaries to illegally occupy Temple land and they have slowly taken up the task to destroy the ancient remains of Hindu temples.
In Tamil Nadu, H.H. Shankara-charya, whose status is not less than that of the Pope for Hindus, was arrested on Diwali night. He was humiliated, put in jail without bail and treated like a common criminal. Such a barbaric action against the most revered leader of the highly civilized and non-violent faith was tantamount to a serious assault on Hindu religion and psyche. It is over two years now and neither the case against him has been proven nor has he been exonerated.
The statue of E V Ramasamy Naicker – Periyar for the devotees of Dravidianism has been allowed to be installed in front of the Rajagopuram of Srirangam temple. He was a known Hindu-baiter and will obviously hurt the sentiments of many. He was a man who made a life out of mocking the Hindu sensibilities and sentiments. But he did that in his individual capacity. By installing his statue, where Hindus congregate in large numbers, the government seems to have given institutionalised legitimacy to his acts.
In Kerala: The government hastily promulgated an ordinance on February 4, 2007 to disband the Travancore and Cochin Autonomous Devaswom Boards and usurped its authority. The timing, intent and integrity of the said ordinance was extremely suspicious and questionable particularly in view of the impending session of the state Assembly and the existence of a three man commission appointed by the High Court for investigating the allegations of corruption.
In the current fiscal year, secular Kerala'streasury was filled with Rs 268 crore solely by the revenue from temples under Travancore Devaswom Board, Cochin Devaswom Board and Guruvayur Devaswom. How much of the money has been used for temple maintenance and Hindu causes is not revealed.
According to the latest reports, out of tens of thousands of temples that have abnormally been rendered dysfunctional, only a few hundreds are currently fully operational. As if that is not enough, under the Kerala Land Reforms Act, 13,000 acres of Guruvayoor'sland has been reduced to 230 acres amounting to 98 per cent land loot. The revenue of this Hindu entity is subject to misuse, even loot by the state authorities. In order to appease the officially inspired Christian protesters and promote their electoral base the ?secularist? politicians unilaterally abandoned the construction of railway line from Kottayam to Erumeli to Hindu Hill shrine.
(The writer can be contacted at Hindu Jagaran Forum (USA), e-mail [email protected])