Chennai. As mentioned in one of the posts earlier, “Free Hindu Temples” is not a privilege, but basic right of Hindus. This basic right is denied by the successive governments for various political and administrative reasons, aided by the innate apathy of Hindus themselves in taking up this issue vigorously.
However, a spate of recent incidents indicate that Free Hindu Temples may become a reality soon, thanks to the activism of Hindu organizations, judiciary and a few state governments.
The movement to free Hindu temples have been taken up by a few individuals in the past and the reactions from Hindus as well as by the governments were lukewarm and insignificant. This trend is changing for good with many Hindu organizations now collectively focusing on this issue and insisting that the Hindu temples be freed from the clutches of the government.
In the case filed by a volunteer in the Madurai Bench of Madras High Court challenging the order of the EO of the Arulmigu Pazhani Andavar Temple, Pazhani, awarding housekeeping contract to a third party contractor in September 2020, Hon’ble Justice G R Swaminathan noted as follows –
“When the interests of the temple are involved, this court cannot adopt a technical approach. Nor will it look the other way. It is the duty of this court to ensure that the administration of the temple is carried on in accordance with the provision of the TN Act 22 of 1959 and the Rules framed thereunder. The tender notification has been issued by an official who is standing on thin ice. Its tenuous nature has already been set out. In any event, a Fit Person (Thakkar) cannot issue a notification of this nature. I, therefore, sustain the stand of the petitioner and quash the impugned tender notification.
“I cannot stop with that. Certain consequential directions have to be issued. The State government as well as the controlling authorities will take all possible steps to ensure that the board of trustees is constituted for the temple as early as possible.
“Referring to certain disturbing developments in the State of Andhra Pradesh, the day’s editorial in The New Indian Express says, ‘….Reconstituting temple trust boards with eminent Hindus and men of impeccable character would be a good start. Leaving the temples in the care of the bureaucracy and politicians has not helped….’. These words are equally relevant to the State of Tamizh Nadu”.
Quoting from Periya Puranam (Great Epic) authored by Sekkizhar, the 12th century saint, the justice pointed out that Shaivism speaks of four modes of worship – Sariyai, Kriyai, Yogam and Gnanam. “Sariyai includes physical service (Uzhavara Pani). Housekeeping contract is the commercial counterpart of Uzhavara Pani,” ruled the judge.
Though this judgement was stayed in the subsequent appeal, it is heartening to note that the judiciary is getting into the nerve centre of Hinduism and has begun to see things in the spiritual manner in which it deserved to be seen not as a legal/technical point.
The recent order by the Uttarakhand government to release 51 temples from the government clutches is also received well by the Hindus and Hindu organizations alike.
Though Hindus have a long way to go, the light is definitely seen at the end of the tunnel, which itself is a good sign. The decades long struggle of Hindus seems to be nearing its logical conclusion – i.e., to get government out of the temples.