Hindu temples and religious trusts exclusively, have been subject to government intervention and scrutiny since times immemorial. At a time when Hindus around the world are calling for the governments to withdraw from interfering and administrating temples, a rather shocking call for loot is being made in India during the CoVID-19 crisis.
Filmmaker Subhash Ghai took to Twitter to authoritatively demand temples across India to ‘surrender’ their gold reserves to the government, as if the said reserves are a fruit of criminality that ought to be ‘surrendered’.
Ghai’s demand for stripping Hindu temples off their treasuries came after an overzealous Prithviraj Chavan, former CM of Maharashtra and senior Congress leader suggested a strategy on similar lines, of appropriating gold from all religious trusts in India.
#Stimulus.@PMOindia Govt. must immediately appropriate all the gold lying with all the Religious Trusts in the country, worth at least $1 trillion, according to the #WorldGoldCouncil. The gold can be borrowed through gold bonds at a low interest rate. This is an emergency.PC
— Prithviraj Chavan (@prithvrj) May 13, 2020
Only recently, the Tamil Nadu government asked 47 major temples of the state to cough up a total of 10 crore rupees as ‘contribution’ to the CM’s relief fund, so as to aid in the fight against COVID-19. Meanwhile, Kerala’s Guruvayur Temple was made to ‘contribute’ Rs. 5 crore to the CM’s Relief Fund by the Communist government of the state, using its proxies in the Guruvayur Devaswom Board.
The brazen demand among a section of Indian society, which is asking for temples to be forcefully robbed off all their wealth is shocking, to say the least. Obviously some are using softer words like ‘lending’, etc, however, the messaging is clear.
If @PMOIndia has true political will to tackle the Covid financial emergency it must persuade Indian households & temple trusts holding 25000 tonnes of gold -valued roughly at $ 1.4 trillion- to lend RBI just enough gold so it can print fresh currency against it.
— M K Venu (@mkvenu1) May 5, 2020
RBI can then monetise the gold & lend to the government for emergency expenditure. Even if about 10 to 15% of gold lying with rich Indians & Temple Trusts is harnessed by government it could generate additional resources upto Rs10 lakh crore through asset backed currency.
— M K Venu (@mkvenu1) May 5, 2020
It remains a mystery why India's rich temples haven't come forward to take larger responsibility for the poor. In times of serious trouble, women sell their gold, surely the temples should be doing that? As for the really rich,they continue to be parasitic https://t.co/KNeFmwDa4c
— Sunil Jain (@thesuniljain) May 8, 2020
All Indic communities are playing their part in helping society in this hour of crisis. As a matter of fact, many temples, including the Somnath Mandir, Shirdi Sai Mandir, Tirupati Tirumala Devasthanam, etc, have all donated large sums of money to aid in the fight against COVID-19. Further, temples have also been providing essential supplies and relief packages to the needy. Gurdwaras across the country have opened their coffers and are extensively involved in providing langar and relief packages to those who have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown.
Yet, there is an incomprehensible demand arising from those quarters who, perhaps, have not contributed a tiny bit towards society in this crisis, yet, are at the forefront of seeing temples being looted off their gold reserves. How can any sane individual demand that temples be made to compulsorily ‘surrender’ their wealth to the state? Because such people are well aware that temples fall under direct government control, and as such, can be arm-twisted into giving up on all their gold reserves. After all, why do temples require such vast gold reserves?
This is a fundamentally flawed way of thinking. The Tirupati Tirumala Devasthanam, which is the world’s richest temple trust was recently in news for being rendered unable to pay its 23,000 employees after witnessing a revenue shortfall of close to 400 crores due to the lockdown. Similarly, Harmandir Sahib or the Golden Temple, one of the richest shrines in India, witnessed a nosedive in daily revenue collection from 23 lakh rupees to around 15,000, and the SGPC told the Indian Express that it would need to rethink on the payment of salaries to its employees.
There are multiple temples that are being made to face revenue shortfalls, even as their social work and relief measures continue unabated. Despite their earnings being dealt a severe blow, temples across the country are doing as much as they can in helping people bear these trying times, and they are certainly doing infinitely more than Twitter warriors demanding the same temples to ‘surrender’ their wealth and gold reserves to the government.
For reasons best known to such people, they are turning a blind eye towards the assets and wealth of Islamic and Christian places of worship. Again, perhaps they are doing so unintentionally, because the wealth of either major Mosques or Churches in India is not quantified, as a result of which it is not out in the public domain.
However, this can also be a sinister ploy, of institutionally looting Hindu temples off their wealth, and weakening the fundamentals of this civilization. The wealthier a religion, the more widespread and largely practised it is. Will the same people ask the Vatican, for instance, to ‘donate’ all its wealth to all countries around the world? We think not. Because estimates aside, nobody really has an idea as to how much wealth the Vatican has amassed over the centuries.
Instead of virtue-signaling Hindus and their temples, liberals and other overenthusiastic temple robbers should rather read up on the wealth amassed by the Wakf Boards, for example. There are approximately 3,00,000 registered Wakf properties in India on about four lakh acres of land, according to Saba Naqvi. According to the Shashvat Committee status report, however, the 35 Wakf boards of India own close to 6 lakh acres of land. Has any of the Wakf board been asked to sell even one acre of their land for the larger good of society? Forget selling, has anyone demanded from them the proceeds of even a fraction of the land they own? We think not.
The Catholic Church, meanwhile, owns the largest portion of India’s non-agricultural land, without really having to ever buy it. The lands were handed out as freebies to missionaries and the Church after the British left India, who are reaping the benefits of such properties to this day. Have these religious institutions been asked to cough up money to aid India’s fight against CoVID-19? Again, we think not.
Since the wealth and treasuries of Hindu temples and other Indic shrines are a subject of public knowledge, many in India seem to be of the opinion that such temples can be asked to surrender their wealth whenever asked for. They will, however, never dare ask Mosques or Churches to donate all their wealth to the government? Why? Because unlike temples, the places of Abrahamic worship are not under government control.
Temples do not need to be told how they must operate and how they must contribute to society. They have been doing so much before the virtue-signallers took birth, and will continue to do so for all times that are to come. As such, liberals might want to keep their dreams of looting temples at abeyance.