To search this blog

Thursday, April 1, 2010


Today’s news item of ‘5 panchaloha idols missing from Nagapattinam temple’ makes a very sad reading. Regularly, there are thefts from temples - there are thousands of devotees who want to do lot for the temples – so you find many offering cash in hundis, providing material, doing repair / renovation work to temples, donating property including cattle and lands to temple.

But have you ever thought what happens to the donations made by devout God believing people.

Temples are not at all properly maintained. In olden days, when temples were built, local chieftains, Rajas and others gave huge land donations, primarily for upkeep and maintenance of temples. There have been many devout persons who have donated their entire property for the temples, thinking that they would be maintained and would feed poor in the process. The administration is so lackadaisical in their approach that revenue is not properly generated, politicians and others misuse temple property and do not pay tenancy regularly. Many a times the lands are grabbed by ruthless people and some officials aide them in this heinous acts. The poor upkeep and security provided (regardless of the fact of many on the rolls as security taking salary) is one the reasons why theft occurs. Temple property is looted, gold in vahanams and other places are taken away. Money is swindled by fraudulent accounting. Added to this, robbers enter the premises and the idols have also been taken away. What a grisly crime ?

In the recent incident reported, Five ancient panchaloha idols are reported to be missing from the famous Naganathaswamy Temple, one of the Navagraha Sthalams, located near Sembanarkoil in Nagapattinam district. The ancient temple at Thirukalacheri was used as a storehouse for panchaloha idols from smaller temples in the region for the past few years after rampant idol thefts. In all, 135 idols of varying sizes were kept in a guarded room of the temple. The last time they were verified was on August 17 last year when all the 135 idols were found to be safe.

Reports have that the temple’s executive officer was recently issued transfer orders and was about to get relieved and join another temple in Villupuram. Before handing over charge to his successor, a physical verification of the idols was made on March 25 when five of the panchaloha idols — Lord Selvar, Manickavasagar, Vinayaka and Goddesses Sivakamiamman and Thirumangai Azhvar — were observed missing.

An internal probe stands ordered and complaint lodged with Porayar police. The exact value of the panchaloha idols, all measuring about one foot in height, is not known. To the devout hindu, it is not the material value that matters but the vigrahams are manifestations of God and we worship them. There were no marks of forced entry, this is not robbery but plundering by some insider coming to light at the time of verification. Who would be held liable for this ? will there be justice or would this be closed without a whimper after some time, as public memory is always short lived. When there will be accountability ?

You would know that temples in Tamil Nadu are managed by Hindu Religious & Charitable Endowment, a Govt. body. As the revenue from the temple increases, the rank of the administrative head of the temple raises, the no. of employees raise as also their salaries. Needless to mention of the various other revenues some unscrupulous officials make. But what happens to the temples. The temple would continue to remain as it is, the revenue would go to the Government which would indulge in all other schemes which will have nothing to do with the temple. Pathetic would be the ways of temples which do not generate high income. While the income / collection from the temple riches the coffers of the Govt., it does not pay much attention to the plight of many other temples. You can see this for yourself whenever you visit temples – not so frequented by devout.

HR & CE came into being many decades back and took control of administration of temples and endowments. Many a times there are non believers heading this and little effort made to properly retrieve the temple property and collect revenue and spend it in temple oriented affairs.

A specialised Idol wing of CID was formed in 1983 to investigate idol theft cases. There are many good Investigating officers who have involved themselves in finding out the stolen idols and bringing the culprits to book. But the lure of money and the thriving export market has provided room for many thefts of idols, some from very ancient and religiously important temples.

The growing thefts and improper ways of administration of some of the temples present a strong case for formation of Temple Protection Force consisting of Religious and Spiritual leaders, especially those in the same locality, who have faith and who knows and understands the agama and sampradhaya associated with the temple.

It is the need of hour and bounden duty of all God fearing temple to do our mite towards protection of temple. Some of them could be :
a) Going to temples regularly and providing some monetary assistance to the locals engaged in temple related actitivies.
b) Encourage Nadhaswara / Thavil vidhwans, Sri padham thangis and all other temple workers
c) do something which will ensure that daily poojas are conducted regularly
d) do something to ensure some revenue for the temple and for those who do service to perumal in such divya desams.
e) Take up with Govt authorities to ensure that temple lands remain the property of the Lord for ever and reasonable revenue is earned out of such properties
f) Ensure that the temple is administered only by people who have faith in God and who can administer the temple without interfering with the religious practices.
g) Consider it our duty to do daily pooja to Perumal and do something for the temple atleast once a year
h) Visit Divya desams and abhimana sthalams regularly ; teach our children on the importance of these places and the need for preservation of pristine glory of temples.
i) Have regard for our Elders, respect those who do kainkaryam to perumal and do everything that is possible in assisting them to continue with their services
j) Apportion some fixed percentage of our earning for renovation of temples, maintenance of temples, helping bagavathas
k) Think of Emperuman all the time and never speak ill of any bagavathas.
l) Buy atleast some of the sampradhaya journals. Understand that running a magazine is very difficult and those who have been writing on our sampradhayam and running sampradhaya magazines are not doing it for the sake of earning money. They love to preach and spread the glorious concepts of our sampradhayam and they need to be preserved for posterity.

With some anguish at the present state of affairs

Regards – Sampathkumar. S

No comments:

Post a Comment