New Delhi – We live in times where we understand government should not manage airlines, airports, industries, mining, trade but then how is it that sacred temples are managed by the government. What qualifies them? questioned Yoga guru and mystic Jaggi Vasudev (known as Sadhguru). He was being interviewed by Anand Narasimhan for CNN-News18. (The interview is available on Youtube)
Excerpts from the interview
- In 1817, the East India Company implemented the Madras Regulation – 111 to regulate temples; which, was later withdrawn in 1840. Then in 1863, the Religious Endowment Act was introduced. The temples were handed back to the Hindu community. Trustees ran the temples; and government intervention was minimal. The temple money was utilised only for temple work and hundreds of temples were operating according to these laws.
- The British Government at that time enacted The Madras Religious and Charitable Endowment Act 1925. This included all the religions, as the independence movement was gearing up they wanted control on all religious gathering. There was vigorous resistance to this by the minority communities, the government placed them out of the law and a new law was enacted, entitled ‘Madras Hindu Religious and Endowment Act-1926’. (It is a fact that Hindus do not protest firmly, so the rulers do not pay any attention to the opposition by Hindus in the country! – Editor) In 1935, they further tightened the noose which enabled the state to take over any Hindu temple.
- After independence, the Tamil Nadu government passed a new law called the ‘Hindu Religious and Endowment Act’ in 1951. This law was challenged by the mutts and temples, in the Madras High Court and later the Supreme Court. Consequently, the government had to remove many articles from the act. In 1959, the existing Tamil Nadu Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Act was enacted. According to this, the temple Trust was headed by a commissioner and about 60 to 70 percent of the donations received from the temple was spent on administrative work.
- Today, the government controls 37,000 temples. The government controls places of worship belonging to only one religion. You would never have heard of such a thing happening in any other country.One often comes across comments like ‘why only Hindu temples, even churches, gurudwaras and mosques should be under government control. In my opinion, the government should refrain from interfering in the activities of any religious place in a secular country. ‘
- Places where millions of people always go due to their faith and belief should be independent. This should be done to protect their human rights. Some claim, ‘temples were under the control of kings in the past. Now they are in the hands of the government’. This is not true. The king was a devotee. In many kingdoms, the Deity was the king, and the king served as minister of the Deity, and minister rules only as a representative of the deity.
- The government controlled temples are in a very bad condition. This is particularly true of South India. The temples in Tamil Nadu were very beautiful. The goods of some temples have now been stolen. The temples had beautiful artefacts and huge carved stones; they have been painted over with silver paint. Everything is getting destroyed; as, people’s feelings are not so strong. Therefore, temples in Tamil Nadu should be freed from government control.
- If you build a new temple in Tamil Nadu and if it becomes popular, the government will immediately send a notice to control it; it’s ridiculous. How can this ever happen in a secular country?
- The science of temple construction has been destroyed. Is it not a violation of fundamental rights? Now the time has come to free the temples. People say that, ‘this will promote corruption.’ I find it outrageous. Can we not properly control our places of worship?
Support from famous personalities
- Author and scientist Subhash Kak supported Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev’s demand. He said that Sadhguru has raised the right question. There is no logic behind government control over temples. This principle is damaging the politics of the country and corrupting the administrative services.
- Actress Kangana Ranaut also supported it saying “If you have time, you should watch this interview,” It is very important.
Some reactions from social media:
Sadguru Jaggi Vasudev’s views on freeing Hindu temples are also being supported on social media. Here are some of the reactions from Twitter
#Temples in Tamilnadu are in the clutches of Government Administration. Impinging on the sanctity of these powerfully Consecrated places of worship. Time Temples are managed by #Devotees, not by bureaucratic and Political forces. -Sg @PMOIndia @CMOTamilNadu @rajinikanth
— Sadhguru (@SadhguruJV) January 7, 2021
- A Twitter user tagged Yogi Adityanath, Chief Minister of UP, the Prime Minister’s Office, Union Home Ministry, saying, “Please listen to Sadhguru.” To free Hindu temples throughout the country, the government should enact a law like the gurdwara parbandhak committee law of 1935. It is not enough for Prime Minister Modi to lay the foundation stone of Shri Ram temple, there is an urgent need to free the temples also.
- In states where so called secular parties are in government, they are being given the opportunity to misuse the temple funds. The governments of Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala are examples of this. Courts are also unable to help in these cases.
- The democracy is being used to destroy the Hindu culture. Christian missionary activities have increased in Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, North Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. They are building churches in villages where there are no Christians. All this is going on with the support of the government.
- The government either frees the temples, or controls the religious places of all religions. Discrimination against only one religion is not acceptable.
- We are living in a time where Hindus who have become alienated from Dharma think that they can run the country and big business; but cannot run their own temples.