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Laissez Faire for our Temples

In God we Trust” may be the official motto of the United States, but when it comes to managing Hindu Temples, the official motto in India should perhaps be changed to “In Government we Trust“.

So how exactly did a so called “Secular State” come to administer the richest Hindu Temple ?

TTD was established in 1932 as a result of the TTD Act of 1932. According to the act, administration of the temple was vested to a committee of seven members and overseen by a paid commissioner as appointed by the Madras Government

While most modern accounts of the TTD’s management start with the 1932 Act, the reality however is that the British East India Company was controlling the Temple  management for more than a century before that having received control from the Nawabs of Arcot.

After the fall of the Hindu empires, the Tirumala and Tirupati temples came under the sway of the Nawabs of Arcot, and with the advent of the English, the management passed into the hands of the East India Company in 1801. Archival evidence shows that Lord Clive gave instructions to the Nawab of Arcot in 1800 in connection with the arrangements to be made for providing convenience to a dignitary who wished to go to Tirumala on a pilgrimage. The Mackenzie manuscripts of 1801 (Vol.XVI page 476-C) have recorded the boundaries of the seven hills, spread over 250 sq km. The Company managed the Tirumala temple under the well-defined rules contained in the Bruce Code drawn up in 1821 on the basis of previous usages and customs and did not interfere in its day-to-day affairs. In 1843, it transferred the management of the temple to the head of the Hathiramji Mutt, Tirupati, who managed its affairs until the Tirumala-Tirupati Devasthanams Act of 1932 was enacted.

The British Imperial Gazetteer in 1887 records that Tirpati had been the center of many struggles over the last century for posession of the considerable revenues from it. The Madras Handbook of 1850 mentions that North and South Arcot came under the control of the East India Company in 1801 and that included a 500 year old fiefdom granted for the exclusive protection of Tirupathi.

A detailed glimpse into the administration and management of Tirupati between 1801 and 1907 comes from this Law suit in the Madras High Court.  It also highlights that the malaise of misappropriation of Temples funds is more than two centuries old and so is this disgraceful precedent of Judicial and State interference in Temple affairs.

Post Independence State control of Tirupati was furthere solidified with the 1950s act

Madras Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Act (1951) superseded the 1932 act and sections 80 to 85 of the act were devoted to administration of TTD. Section 80 laid that a Board of Trustees consisting of five members as appointed by the Madras state government will look after TTD with the members holding office for five years. The act provided for the appointment of an Executive Officer (EO) who would be responsible for the properties and operations of TTD

In the 1960s further ammendments were made paving the way for direct political interference

Andhra Pradesh Charitable and Hindu Religious Institution and Endowments Act (1969) superseded the 1951 act with section 85 to 91 laying the provisions for TTD. Board of Trustees was expanded from five to eleven (11) with compulsory representation from certain communities. Three members from state legislative assembly, one person belonging to the scheduled castes and one woman member was made mandatory in the board of eleven whose term was fixed at three years. AP government was mandated with the appointment of EO and Deputy EO (DEO).

Three more ammendments followed in 1979, 1987 and 2006 all highlighting how Temple management was now at the mercy of state politics. Perhaps the most disgraceful acts of interference was the Office of Profit Constitutional Ammendment from 2006 that institutionalized the current practice of appointing Members of Parliament and Members of Legislative Assembly as Chairperson of the TTD.

The current malaise afflicitng the TTD has been quite extensively reported on lack of accountability, misappropriation of funds, missing jewels and poor administration. The lack of transparency in the process of appointing TTD Chairperson deepens the political intrigue surrounding that office.

It is a shame that 63 years after Independence, the so called “secular  State” continues to run Hindu Temples by proxy. It is a reflection on the all pervasive twisted Left Liberal mindset that there is a  total political consensus on the “secular” State controlling richest Hindu Temple. It is also a commentary on the average Hindu worshipper of Tirumala that he or she reposes more faith in the Government than in God that they trust corrupt bureaucrats and opportunistic politicians more than fellow Hindus in running the Temple affairs.

It is a shame that so called Hindu Organizations like the VHP have done little to nothing on lobbying to end this practice of political and state interference. In fact their recent conduct from the decade gone by has been to encourage the opposite with the clamour for Parliament to legislate the building of Ram Temple in Ayodhya. Part of the problem lies with the Hindu Organizations themselves who are barely transparent about their own affairs and can hardly be called representative bodies. It is anybody’s guess who Ashok Singhal is accountable to.

 It is ironical that the Ayodhya movement is described as a high point of Hindu Consciousness when Hindus continue to be unaware of where their enlightened self interest lies. If anything the Ayodhya movement was a juvenile expression of unresolved emotions. True Hindu Consciousness would be when Hindus start to trust each other more than they trust corrupt bureaucrats and opportunist politicians to manage their own Institutions.

In closing let it be said there is only one Hindu cause worth espousing and it is to free Temples like TTD from government and State control. The rest is mere political gimmickry. If given a choice between the State relinquishing control of TTD and Hindus relinquishing a political claim over the disputed structure in Ayodhya, in choosing the former is where a Hindu’s enlightened self interest lies.

Related tweets:

bagdu @offstumped for all its faults,Sikhs have got a democratic form to govern their relegious institutions that works,why not same for Hindus?

bagdu @offstumped pol interference or no,Men of God are not that holy either,its a complex issue:liberating the diety from its watchmen

NR_Tatvamasi @nharipra @offstumped and thats where malabar model seems to be headed

NR_Tatvamasi @nharipra @offstumped but rest needs to be maintained by local committees, with apex body overseeing for violation/external influence

NR_Tatvamasi @nharipra @offstumped IN TN Adheenam mutts run a host of temples in delta dists, pretty well maintained despite the money needed

NR_Tatvamasi @offstumped hindu has more details. vigilance has submitted report naming 55,6DY EO,3 board members, besides two for hacking computers

nharipra @NR_Tatvamasi @offstumped, to an extent Udupi temple adm is free from Govt control, the 8 mutts run the temple. Running well, consequently

NR_Tatvamasi @offstumped malabar people have formed an apex committee of all local committess to oppose takeover by new malabar devaswom

 NR_Tatvamasi @offstumped surprisingly no movement in karnataka. @Swamy39 has filed a case in SC on temple control

NR_Tatvamasi @offstumped there is movement in ap, kerala. last huge convention was held in kerala, local people are taking on malabar devaswom

shrirangster @offstumped Bigger Hindu cause would be fighting caste based atrocities and discriminations. VHP is found doing little on this too

rishikalia @offstumped : A Hindu temple committee would help in rekindling our society & faith

rishikalia @offstumped : We need on organisation like SGPC to manage Hindu temples. 

Behold the secular State http://j.mp/byAND5 how many know there are Government aided mosques ? (forget paying the imam’s salaries)

Make no mistake the Sonia Rahul Gandhi Congress is equally complicit in this Competitive Communalism http://j.mp/9h7c4s

If there are government aides mosques and we are going to pay Imam’s salaries we should get to legislate what kind of Islam is practiced ?

On govt aided mosques Rt “@cbcnn_Pilid: @offstumped I believe this is the 1993 judgement referred to: http://indiankanoon.org/doc/1929233/

Having read 1993 Supreme Court judgement on Imams salaries it is clear there is a grand Left Lib consensus between Courts and politicians

On one hand Secular State of India controls the richest Hindu Temple and on the other it subsidizes Islam – makes you feel so “progressive”

And this is the “Nehruvian Secularism” that Ramachandra Guha and @ShashiTharoor can’t stop gushing about – such intellectual dishonesty

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Filed under: amarnath controversy, betrayal of aam admi, Narendra Modi, Nitin Gadkari, UPA-II Critical Appraisal

5 Responses

  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Offstumped, N.James. N.James said: Brilliant article on TTD.How political parties are screwing it up RT @offstumped Laissez Faire for our Temples http://wp.me/ptnDV-Ly [...]

  2. Vikas says:

    The biggest travesty of “Secular India” is the brazen interference of government in religious affairs.

  3. seadog4227 says:

    Firstly, do not blame the Hindus going there; they have their own problems and do not comprehend what is going on.
    Secondly, people like YSR have grievously misused their authority and entered the temples for puja whenever they chose to do so, disregarding all traditions and protocol: he got the end he deserved.
    Thirdly, I have for long given money only to the poor and the Brahmins there.I refuse to contribute anything to the TTD.
    Lastly, there is a saying at Tirupati that fools would do well to remember: Sins committed anywhere else are forgiven at Tirupati but sins commited at Tirupati are not forgiven ANYWHERE.

  4. [...] for Politicians and Bureaucrats to milk the system at the devotee’s expense. There is an opportunity to set the right precedent here, but it will take imagination and leadership, more than anything else selflessness on the part of [...]

  5. [...] in Thiruvananthapuram has thrown up many questions. Most significant of these questions is the issue of how Hindu Temples with a long history ought to be managed in these modern times. Least significant of course is the gratuitous advise that has been emanating from some quarters on [...]

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