Several religious seers and pontiffs met in Tirupati in Andhra Pradesh on Saturday and expressed their regret over the 'unfortunate' turn of events at the Lord Venkateswara temple at Tirumala.
The gathering, which met under the banner of the Tirumala Tirupati Samrakshana Samithi or 'Protection Committee', saw many religious heads including Paripoornananda Swamy, Kamalananda Bharati Swami and Vidyaranya Bharati, who convened the meeting.
Speaking to reporters, those who had gathered condemned the political interference into the religious affairs of the Tirumala temple and demanded the reconstitution of the Dharmik Parishad, a body that would oversee the affairs.
The heads also demanded the outster of all non-Hindu employees working in the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam (TTD).
They also backed the demand to conduct an inquiry into the matter of 'missing jewels' by a sitting judge but condemned former TTD chief priest Ramana Deekshitulu for making the issue political.
â€œThe recent controversies in the temple pained us. Such controversies have caused immense harm to the sanctity of the temple and damaged its centuries of reputation. Our meeting was aimed at restoring normalcy in the temple and suggesting measures to put an end to all the controversies," Kamalananda Bharati told reporters.
In May, Deekshithulu was sacked by authorities on the grounds that he exceeded the retirement age limit. However, this unceremonious sacking came after he levelled shocking allegations against the TTD administration on financial irregularities, and also raised suspicion that several old ornaments from the temple were missing.
He also claimed that the pink diamond which had been part of the platinum necklace of Lord Venkateshwara, had been stolen and smuggled to Geneva. Making these shocking allegations, Deekshithulu demanded for a CBI inquiry, and also pressed for bringing the TTD under the ambit of the RTI for transparency.
Meanwhile, the TTD accused Deekshitulu of â€˜politicisingâ€™ temple affairs and threatened to take legal action against him.
This also comes days after the Supreme Court directed the Centre to set up a committee to study how the temples of cultural and architectural importance across the country were being managed, particularly vis-a-vis facilities for pilgrims and utilisation of donations and offerings.
Observing that "proper management" of the centres of pilgrimage of "great importance" is a "matter of public interest", the court said: "These centres are of undoubted religious, social, historical and architectural importance, representing cultural heritage of our country. Millions of people visit these centres not only for tourism but also for seeking inspiration for the righteous values and for their well being. They also make huge offerings and donations for advancement of such values."
Having emphasised the importance of pilgrimage centres of cultural and architectural value, the court said, the committee can study the management practices of Vaishno Devi shrine (Katra, Jammu & Kashmir), Tirupati temple (Chittoor, Andhra Pradesh), Sai Baba temple (Shirdi, Maharashtra), Somnath temple (Gir Somnath, Gujarat) and the Golden Temple (Amritsar, Punjab).