“We Will Not Tolerate Any Single Interference In The Temples.” —Ashok Singhal, International President, VHP
Government is planning to take over the administration of some temples. How do you react to it?
If we observe one can easily find out that the government is eyeing on the administration only of those temples which are very rich or where a heavy sum of money is being donated. Government is trying to establish that these temples are badly administered and there are irregularities in their operations. For example they have named Jhandewala Temple in Delhi. Devotees are coming here in a very large number and they also donate a huge sum of money. But the management of that temple is very good. In fact, it is one of the best managed temples of this country. This temple is developed to a great extent in a very short span of time. Therefore, it is very clear that government’s allegations of irregularities and bad administrations are false. Government is eyeing on their money only. It has nothing to do with their management.
Don’t you think that if government takes over the management of these temples their wealth can be used for benefit of the society?
It is an open fact today that whenever and wherever the government takes over the management of temples, the administration and government officials misuse the money of the temple. It has never been used for the development of Hindu dharma and society. Actually the government is planning to establish a Shrine Board and to put all the temples of Delhi under it. This will suck the autonomy of the temples. Their autonomy must be protected. The temples are generally run by the committee in which local people are involved. Government cannot organise the local people, they will only misuse their money in many ways. Our political parties especially the UPA is constantly looking for the rich institutions from where they can make loot.
If the government is talking about the mismanagement has it given any proof?
No, no proof or any details have been provided yet. They have only provided a list and said that the government will take over these temples as there are many irregularities.
There are many temples in our country which are not properly managed. Do you think the government should concentrate on those at first?
Mismanagement is on the part of the government. There are many temples is under the government and all those temples are victim of mismanagement. In south India the government has overtaken more than two lakh temples, all the temples are not only mismanaged but their property was also looted. For example, in Andhra Pradesh more than 25000 temples are under the administration of government. These temples have lakhs of acres of lands, but the earning from these lands doesn’t go to the temple or used for the development of temples. That money is of God. That cannot be given to the government only for taking care of that temple. It is a sin. Government should pay the administrators from its account and the income of the temples should be deposited in fund established in the name of God. It is our tradition and you can see it in the case of Padmanabh temple. There was such a huge treasure, but not a bit of that treasure was used by any King.
It is argued that this is a kind of wastage of money to store in the temple. Instead, it could be used for the welfare of society. Don’t you think that if this property is not handed over to the government it must be used for the welfare of the nation?
That can be done but not by the government. If government claims itself as secular then we will not tolerate any single interference in the temples. We have a great tradition of saints, muths, they are capable enough to decide the use of that money. Today the biggest problem of our nation is that of conversion. Recently a news report published in Hindutan Times stated that 42000 crore rupees have come to our country in last five years for conversion and that money was given to the churches. Why is the government not looking after this money? Government is not watching the irregularities done in the property of Wakf Boards. But they are eyeing on temple’s properties. This is injustice. The money should be used to educate the society. But it should not be decided by the government.
Why are you suspecting the government? After all the government is doing all the development works in the country.
Government cannot do that. Government is managing Tirupati temple. Its income is said to be more than 3000 crore per annum. Nobody knows where this huge amount of income is used. That is why we want that government should stay away from it. All the money of temples which is deposited in the government funds should be taken back and that must be deposited as a fund established in the name of God.
Do you see any conspiracy against the Hindus?
Yes, there is a conspiracy but it is not a new one. In fact, this conspiracy was initiated by the Britishers. One third of Kerala was the property of temples. Britishers had allotted those properties to church. Similarly, there was 7000 acres of land allotted to Bhagvan Jagannath. Where is all that land? Government officials have looted all that property. Therefore we don’t see any need of government interference in it. All the temples should be autonomous.
If the government takes over the management of temples, wouldn’t it affect the secular format of our government?
Our governments are leaving no efforts to destroy the Hindu society. It uses every possible ways to loot the Hindu society. Overtaking of temples is one of them. Churches and Wakf boards have also a lot of properties. Churches are getting money from the European countries and mosques get funds from West Asia. That is the illegal money and government is expected to stop it. But the government is doing nothing to check it and instead eyeing on the properties of temples.
How will VHP protest?
VHP will protest at all fronts. Previously, government had tried to make a law to overtake the temples in Maharashtra. We had organised a big movement against that. Our saints also protested and they stopped Vithoba Yatra in the middle demanding the revocation of the said law. Government was forced to withdraw that law. Similarly, if government tries to do such thing, once again we will start a big movement against it.
By Ravi Shankar