Chennai: Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev who is the founder Isha Foundation has urged Tamil Nadu citizens to speak up about the state’s negligence towards the ancient vibrant temples.
Sadhguru, in a conversation with Tamil actor Santhanam, encouraged the Tamil people to think about the ancient, vibrant temples which were in a state of neglect, mismanagement owing to being under government control.
“Secularism means no religion in government and no government interference in religion, then why do temples have to be administered by Governments, which can’t (profitably) run airlines or hotels” asked Sadhguru.
Quoting the Tamil Nadu Government HR&CE (Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Department) and their submission to court, he said that 11,999 temples have no revenue to perform even one daily puja. He added that, out of 44,121 temples under government control in Tamil Nadu, more than 37,000 were starved for funds and were forced to appoint a single person for priestly and caretaker duties.
34,093 temples are struggling with less than Rs 10,000 as annual income and consequently are grossly neglected.
Sadhguru has also launched a missed-call campaign, urging the Tamil people to dial 83000 83000 to register their support towards the cause of freeing temples. When asked about the intention, he replied that it was foolish to expect a missed call would revive River Cauvery or Free Temples, adding that it was meant to create awareness and awaken responsibility in citizens.
Suggesting that temples be handed back to the community of devotees, Sadhguru said that sincere devotees irrespective of caste and creed could be trained to perform priestly duties in temples. He pointed out that leaving temples to government staff (priests) led to rampant idol thefts and mismanagement.
In terms of the long-term plan, he emphasized that a supervisory body of 20-25 devotees (irrespective of their differences), with retired Supreme Court Judges at the helm could work out a detailed community-driven solution to administer temples, even if the process takes over a decade to fructify.
When questioned about the timing of the campaign (close on the heels of state elections), he said, this was the time for people to convey their expectations to the political parties.
“Before the election, every citizen should express (their expectations about) what should be happening in the country. If we don’t do that, we are unfit for democracy. Before elections we don’t say anything, but, after it happens we protest and cause problems” he reasoned.
Actor Santhanam added that he had lent his support to this cause after having seen several temples in the state in a poor condition.
“During my travels for film shoots, I’ve noticed that only the main temples are maintained fairly well, but that’s not the case with smaller ones. In some cases I’ve also provided some donations to help the temples,” the actor said.
Sadhguru added that government allocating funds to maintain temples was not sufficient, as the situation would return to square one in a matter of a few years.
Earlier this month, Sadhguru wrote to the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister K. Palaniswami as well as Opposition Leader MK Stalin, calling on them to declare “their intentions and plans” on this issue in their respective parties’ election manifestos.