Wednesday, February 09, 2011
A charge has been made by a foreign writer, Stephen Knapp in a book (Crimes Against India and the Need to Protect Ancient Vedic Tradition) published in the United States that makes shocking reading. Hundreds of temples in centuries past have been built in India by devout rulers and the donations given to them by devotees have been used for the benefit of the people. If, presently, money collected has ever been misused (and that word needs to be defined), it is for the devotees to protest and not for any government to interfere. This letter is what has been happening currently under an intrusive law. It would seem, for instance, that under a Temple Empowerment Act, about 43,000 temples in Andhra Pradesh have come under government control and only 18 per cent of the revenue of these temples have been returned for temple purposes, the remaining 82 per cent being used for purposes unstated.
Apparently even the world famous Tirumala Tirupati Temple has not been spared. According to Knapp, the temple collects over US$683 million every year 'and the State Government has not denied the charge that as much as 85 per cent of this is transferred to the State Exchequer, much of which goes to causes that are not connected with the Hindu community'.
Knapp writes, '25 per cent of the 200,000 temples or about 50,000 temples in Karnataka will be closed down for lack of resources.' Knapp then refers to Kerala where, he says, 'funds from the Guruvayur Temple are diverted to other government projects denying improvement to 45 Hindu temples'. Land belonging to the Ayyappa Temple, apparently has been grabbed and 'Church encroaches are occupying huge areas of forest land, running into thousands of acres, near Sabarimala'.