Abuse of Tamil Nadu temples' properties, HR & CE's sceptical roles - Many painful facts - 03

Tamil Nadu: Rameswaram temple prakaram. StreetSmarts Travel

Deepa puja being done, Rameswaram temple prakaram. IndianHoliday

The Tamil Nadu Govt.'s machinery in charge of Hindu temples - HR & CE department is bogged down by all kinds of irregularities and miserably failed to do their duties as the custodian of more than 37000 Hindu temples, more than 50 Mutts, etc. They have no doubt got a lousy name in the public as their style of administration is ridden with all kinds of unpalatable things - corruption, nepotism, abusing temple lands and buildings to make fast bucks. All these things are done with blessings from the ruling parties. These heinous act continue unabated and any protest by people may face threats 

The most horrible things are stealing god's age old jewelry, idols, artifacts, stone carvings and images, etc. It is to be borne in mind that not all employees are dishonest, either they are gagged or unwilling to blow the whistle on the wolves in the department fearing threats toto their lives. A small section of employees who are neither  God-fearing nor followers of Hindu Dharma, but given  to rationalistic views,  may be behind such obnoxious acts, spoiling the sanctity of the holy places and destroying our heritage according many critics. There may be many explanations over the lack of integrity and honesty of Govt. officials, but,  the moot question is: why are they targeting the Hindu temples and their assets?

Jambukeswarar Akilandeswari Temple, Thiruvanaikoil, Trichy. justdial.com

Despite criticism and resentment in the public, the HR & CE higher ups keep committing the same mistakes over and again and are not transparent in their dealings related to temple assets, etc. which belong to the people. This being due to lack of deterrence  in the form of  severe punishment. Literally, they have a run  on the public temple and the govt appears to be blindfolded.

The following will give you some idea about the disparity among the religious institutions in terms of State government's interference in the day to-day functioning. Religious Institutions--- Hindu, Muslim & Christian:

1. Scope of Religious Endowments Acts Like  Tamil Nadu Act of 1959 and A.P. Act of 1987:  All Institutions including Temples, Mutts and Endowments.  Muslim Institutions: Only Trusts and Endowments. Places of worship i.e. Mosques are not included.  No Acts or legislation to regulate or control Christian Institutions or Trusts

2. Executive Officer : Appointed by the Commissioner who is a Servant of the Government. Muslim institution:  Appointed by non-Government Wakf Board.  Christian institutions:   No such appointments.

3. Status of Executive Officer:  Government Servant.   Muslim institution: Non-Government Person alone can be appointed. Christian Institution:  No such appointments.

4. Powers under the Acts: General Superintendence and control of Temples, Mutts, endowments and their properties.  Muslim Institution: Can Supervise only Wakf properties. Christian institutions:  None.

5. Religious Matters:   High level of interference in Hindu religious matters including daily poojas.     Muslim Institutions: Interference in religious matters specifically prohibited. Christian institutions:  None.

As for the HR & CE's plan to take over some of the lucrative Hindu temples  in Tamil Nadu under the pretext of financial mismanagement, the Supreme Court Verdict of 2014 is a great blow to the illegal activities of Govt. temple administration.  The Supreme Court, in the 2014 Chidambaram case has firmly held that the government cannot arbitrarily take over temples, which is what has been happening in Tamil Nadu since late 1960s

Of late antique idol theft from Hindu temples of Tamil Nadu India  has gone up  in a menacing proportion over which the public is quite concerned about the safety of tens of thousands of amazing metal idols of deities and sub-deities.  India signed the 1970 UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Trafficking in Cultural Property. The Antiquities and Art Treasures Act, 1972, too has provisions for regulating trade in antiques.  When it comes  to the retrieval of Indian art objects stolen or illegally exported to other countries, what we need  is a better coordinated and concerted approach. In any given decade starting from the 1950s, the number of idols smuggled out of India was between 10,000 and 20,000, and the worth was about Rs 20,000 crore. “Next to human and drug trafficking, art is the most profitable business,” says Prateep Philip, Additional Director General of Police, Tamil Nadu’s economic offences wing.

https://the week. in/the week/cover/illegal-trade-of-art-and-artefacts.html
In the theft of national art and treasures of immense value from temples  what we lose is our long cherished artistic works of historical and cultural values, besides our national pride and dignity. It is painful to reconcile ourselves to the fact that divinity is involved in these cases and the crime takes place on the premises of temple.

shops in temple mandapam, abuse of religious places. Mapio.net

Part Tamil nadu state. .mapsofindia.com/

Abuse of Hindu temples' properties - Many  facts about the HR & CE, a TN Govt. Organization:

01. Misuse of FD funds, etc: As there is no separate Accounts Committee to watch the financial dealings linked to temple administration, the officials have a free-for-all situation to manage vast FD funds deposited with public banks.

02. Temple funds and natural calamity:  For the state Government and the ruling party to meet expenses during emergency situation arising out of natural disasters like cyclone, flooding etc., temple FD funds become handy. Temple funds will get transferred to Minister’s relief funds, flood relief, etc. Politicians use the temple money for wrong purposes and get the credit. Money taken from the temple won't be replaced. It affects upkeep of huge temples. There is no proper auditing either with respect to fund transfers!!

03. Luxury galore: Many large temples have a fleet of luxury cars with drivers for the use of VIPs,  Joint Additional Commissioners of HR & CE and, of course, the Commissioner himself. Their offices appear like corporate suite with luxuries like false ceilings ACs, huge TVs etc. What is the reason for  this extravaganza at a religious place? Why this squandering of temple  money that belongs to the public? This kind of money could have been used for better purpose.

04. No attention is paid to damaged old temples:  With excess money, they can  renovate ancient monuments - 300 to 1000 plus years old across the state which otherwise  can never get renovated. 

05. Wilful collection of administrative fees: The HR & CE takes away annually around Rs.89 crore from the temples as administrative fee. The expenditure of the department including salaries is only Rs.49 crore. Where does the balance money go?

06. No  Gosalas or patasalas: HR & CE never takes interest in maintaining or establishing  Gosalas, Patasalas for priests and , Othuvars  or improve the amenities for the devotees.

07. No proper record of temple jewelry: Many Hindu temples are store houses of treasures - mostly valuable antique jewelry and gemstones. Regular auditing of temple gold jewelry, etc having been stopped in 1985, none of the temples in Tamil Nadu openly listed details like how many jewels they have and their worth, etc. No clear report on temples jewels is made public by the government since 1960s

Tirupati temple old diamond jewelry and golden vimana postcard.news

,Above image:  One of richest temples in the world. Well managed Perumal temple, Tirupati, Andhra state. store-house of vast diamond jewels. Gold-plated vimana..............................

08. No response to RTI: RTI application asking for the accounts of jewels pertaining to the temples, say for example,  Mannargudi Rajagopalaswamy Temple or Thiruvarur Thiyagarajaswamy Temple, no answer was forthcoming from the government.

09. Quality of jewelry: With reference to purity of temple jewls, devotees need reasonable answer. What is the proof that the   jewels of the thirty five thousand plus temples are safe, pure and  are not tampered with by unscrupulous temple employees of HR & CE?

10. Theft of jewelry: It is strongly believed that at many temples, valuable gem stones and diamonds  in jewels have been removed and carefully replaced with similar- looking  ordinary stones. How daringly the HR & CE officials stoop to such a low level steal God's own jewels? Is it not nauseating?

11. Thief caught red-handed: The Crime Branch CID of the Tamil Nadu police in the recent past arrested  A. Elamparithi, Executive Officer of Arulmigu Vadapalani Andavar Thirukoil, in connection with the theft of gold and diamond.  Ancient monuments 300 to 1000 plus years old are never ‘renovated’, only ‘restored’, a distinction that escapes the babus jewels from the Sri Oppiliappan Temple (dedicated to Vishnu) in Thirunageswaram, Kumbakonam, where he served a few years ago.  Original stones and gold jewels worth several crores of rupees owned by temple were replaced with fake ones. The thief is behind the bar.
Tamil nadu stolen idols. Times of India

12. Idol -theft: Only on March 17, the idol wing sleuths had seized Maragatha(emerald) lingam weighing over `7kg worth over Rs 25 crore ($3.7 million) in Tharamangalam near Salem, and five persons including a woman, were arrested.

Temple idol theft, Tamil Nadu. Times of India

13. Idol-smuggling: Sharad Kumar Dugar is yet another  Major idol smuggler who is running a big racket and smuggled out valuable temple idols of Tamil Nadu worth crores of rupees.  Similarly Subhash Kapoor who ran an art gallery in New  York smuggled out of  Tamil Nadu countless antique idols worth millions of dollars. People strongly feel that there are certain black sheep in HR & CE who had regular contact with smuggling rackets. Otherwise stealing idols from temples is not easy. 14. Stolen-icons: HR and CE Commissioner of R Jaya said that according to records available with the department from 1992 to 2017, it was reported by temple authorities that 372 stone idols and 832 icons belonging to 387 temples were found stolen.  Among the more than 30,000 temples, 11,512 temples have strong rooms and security gadgets.


According to the National Crime Records Bureau, 4,408 items were stolen from Indian temples between 2010 and 2012. In the past two decades, only 2,913 idols and antiquities have been traced to museums abroad. A big chunk is from Tamil Nadu.

15. New temple raider: HR & CE 's keen interest to take over more temples has one singular motive that can not be denied. It is  to misappropriate temple income and lay hands on antique idols and jewels.

16. Futile attempt to control Chidambaram temple: HR & CE' attempt to take over the Chidambaram temple is a good example. The Supreme Court delivered a landmark judgement on January 6, 2013, allowing my Special Leave Petition that sought the quashing of the Tamil Nadu Government’s G.O. of 2006 which had mandated the government takeover of the hallowed Sri Sabhanayagar Temple (popularly known as the Nataraja temple). The govt. sited financial mismanagement as a ground to take over the administration. The temple is under the management of Pothu Dikshtars - a sect of Brahmin community. 

17. Why are they targeting Hindu temples? Many leaders in the Hindu communities ask questions over the dubious role played by the government which openly displays its rationalistic views. Why does the secular state government site financial mismanagement and take over other religious institutions? Why does it target only Hindu temples? Is their  action not arbitrary? 

18. Supreme court on temple-take over: The Supreme Court has opined that any G.O. that legally mandates a takeover of a temple must be for a fixed limited. Dr. Subramanya Swami, Politician and  well-known Economist had suggested a three year period for temporary take over.  After which the temple management should be returned to the original community /organization..

Nasiyanur temple mandapam  pulled down. tamilhindu.com

Nasiyanur temple  mandapam. tamilhindu.com/

19. Stealing the entire mandapam, Nasiyanur!!:  Can you ever imagine a big hall (mandapam) of a Hindu temple with ornate pillars and nicely carved images was stolen by HR & CE's dishonest officials? This nefarious criminal act on the temple premises was conducted by anti-social people in collusion with HR & CE's corrupt officials. In the case of  temple in Nasiyanur (dedicated to Murugan),  Erode district, an entire temple mandapam disappeared, leaving behind a deep trench all around in the ground literally; ornate pillars' carrying stone images were cut to size and removed to be sold to international smugglers. This was done under the pretext of building a  new mandapam in the place of an old one (meaning demolishing the old historical structures to make fast bucks). The new mantapam was being built with poor quality materials to swindle additional bucks!!

20. Marble flooring in South Indian temples: In the temples of  Tamil Nadu, marbles were never used for flooring.  Recently the government started covering the floor of Tiruvotriyur temple with marble. The original floor was of ancient granite slabs with historical inscriptions.

Sri Andal temple, Sri Villiputhur.  QuoraA

Above image:  The eleven tiered and 192 feet high gopuram of Vatapatrasayee-Andal temple, Sri Villiputhur, believed to be built by Tamil saint / poet Periyazhwar (father of Andal) is the emblem of the Tamil Nadu state. Because of illegal sand-blasting  many historical inscriptions and stone images  are damaged beyond redemption. Callous attitude of  HR&CE is writ in every phase of renovation work done in the recent past. This obviously resulted in many serious objections and complaints against the department by the devotees and local communities.........................

21. Mark-up galore: Since there are countless money-making opportunities in temple renovation works, etc., available, the HR & CE comes up with several initiatives for ‘renovation’ of temples. It is to be noted with destine, the temple officials never  consult archaeologists or heritage experts.  The work will be given to various contractors, it means more commissions for the big officials. At the same time, they give scant respect for the heritage values of the structures that represent many dynasties of great rulers. Self-destruction of our culture.

22. Agama shastras thrown to the winds: Without knowledge, experience and expertise without any initial trials, they  use inappropriate chemicals on ancient murals, insert concrete/cement structures, use ceramic tiles to ‘embellish’ garbhagriha /sanctum sanctorum. By doing so, they spoil the sanctity of the holy place, ignoring the principles of Agama sastras. Virtually, these non-God-fearing people give a damn to the sentiments of millions of Hindus. 

In 2015 the right intervention of the High Court saved the arbitrary decision by the government to demolish four ancient Hindu temples without assigning proper reasons"Alarmed by demolition of at least four ancient temples, one of them built 400 years ago, by Tamil Nadu government on the basis of a report by its 'consultant-archaeologist', Madras high court has issued blanket ban on demolition of anymore heritage temples". The honorable judges came down heavily on the consultant and said,"Consultant's report a 'superstitious mumbo jumbo' not tested by anyone". A 700-year-old temple -- Rasa Kovil at Vellode in Erode district is lucky and has survived the demolition attempt By HR & CE.  Dec 1, 2015: 
https://timesofindia. indiatimes.com/city/chennai/HC-ban-saves-temple-from-demolition/articleshow/49989896.cms 

If you bring in a wolf to guard the sheep farm what will happen in the aftermath. The ancient temples of Tamil Nadu with historical and heritage value are facing a similar situation like the sheep being guarded by a wily wolf.  When the wolves in the Temple administration are  on guard at places of worship, it is the responsibility of the public to protect the temple assets, particularly,  jewels and idols  before they  land in the smuggling mafia groups.