“Few temples completely lack any system of governance. Instances of misappropriation of movable and immovable assets of temples have come to light,” Bhagwat said.

Mohan BhagwatPTI
news Governance Friday, October 15, 2021 - 15:49

Expressing concern over the state of affairs of some temples in the country, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat on Friday, October 15, said the operating rights of such entities must be handed over to Hindus and its wealth be utilised for the welfare of the Hindu community only. Speaking at the annual Vijayadashmi address at Reshimbagh here, he said temples of south India are fully controlled by the state governments, while in the rest of the country some are managed by the government, some others by devotees.

Citing the examples of government-run temples like the Mata Vaishno Devi temple, he said it is being run very efficiently. Similarly, the Gajanan Maharaj temple at Shegaon in Buldhana district of Maharashtra, the Jhandewala temple in Delhi, which are operated by devotees, are also being run very efficiently. "But there is a loot where temples are not being run efficiently,” he said. “Few temples completely lack any system of governance. Instances of misappropriation of movable and immovable assets of temples have come to light,” he added.

"The wealth of Hindu temples is used for non-Hindus – who have no faith in Hindu Gods. Even Hindus need it, but it is not used for them," Bhagwat said. He said there are Supreme Court orders related to the management of temples. "It (the Supreme Court) has said that no one else can be the owner of the temple but god. The priests are only the managers. It has also said that the government can take control of it for management purposes, but only for some time. But then it has to return the ownership. So a decision on this needs to be taken properly. And a decision also needs to be taken on how the Hindu society should maintain these temples," he added.

In his written speech shared by the RSS, Bhagwat said a non-discriminatory ease of access and opportunity for seeing, worshipping god's shrine, to all devotees irrespective of caste and creed is also not practised everywhere and this should be ensured.

It is apparent for all that many decisions regarding the religious code of conduct of the temples are "whimsically made" without any consultation with the scholars and spiritual teachers and within difference towards the sensitivities of the Hindu community, Bhagwat's written speech observed.

"The injustices such as the exclusive appropriation of Hindu religious sites for decades and centuries, handing over of the operations to the non-devotees/irreligious, unethical heretics despite the state being secular must be expunged," it said.

It is also necessary and only reasonable that the "operating rights of Hindu temples be handed over to the Hindu devotees and the wealth of the Hindu temples is utilised for the worship of the deities and the welfare of the Hindu community only", he said. The written speech said it is also necessary to devise a scheme to once again make temples the epicentre of our social-cultural life while ensuring appropriate management and operation of the temples based on the strength of the Hindu society.

Bhagwat is not the first to allege that Hindu temples are being “looted” and their wealth being misused. Self-proclaimed spiritual guru Jaggi Vasudev has also been demanding to “free Hindu temples” from government “control”. It should be noted that administrative aspects of many temples are governed by the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments (HR&CE) Act, and states have their own acts as well. Though there is corruption, these laws pertain only to administrative management, and stipulate that the temples’ funds cannot be used for any other purposes that the upkeep and betterment of the temple and related activities. Further, experts have argued that management of temples needs to be regulated to have checks and balances and against misuse and corruption. Read more here: Jaggi Vasudev says ‘free Hindu temples’ — but how much are they under govt control?

(With PTI inputs)

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