The Hindu religion and its supporting infrastructure (temple lands, mutts, foundations and Ashrams) that preserve and promote our treasure religion are being unfairly targeted by the current political environment in India. The result is Hindu temple lands and properties are being sold and a substantial amount of resources are being used for purposes other than Hindu temple activities, including the funding of non-Hindu (Muslim and Christian) projects and activities. Encroachment of the temple lands, mutts, foundations and Ashrams is encouraged by the current political environment and are being taken over. Non‑Hindus have been given major positions at Tirupathi and other temples. All of these activities are wide spread and will ultimately drive Hinduism out of India if not worse.
The Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowment Act which originally had its merit is one main issue causing this situation. Through this Endowment Act only Hindu Temple are taken over by the government which allowed complete control over the temples. All appointments, property, finances, renovations, pujas etc. are monitored and controlled. Mosques and churches are free from government control and are not included in the Endowment Act.
Through the Endowment Act the state governments quickly utilizing their control for personal and political gain. Below are some hard facts of the injustices being executed by state government?
1) All the Hindu temples must contribute 15% of the income per year to the Endowment Department. Of all the funds collected over the past few decades except in the year 1995-96, only a partial amount of money collected for this purpose was used for the maintenance of the Temples.
2) Temples with more than Rs. 50,000 income have to contribute three percent to common good fund.
3) TTD has to contribute Rs. 2.2 crores annually to this common good fund.
4) The government allocates Rs. 6.5 crores to the Mosques for their repairs and renovations
5) The government allocates Rs 1.1 crore to Churches for their repairs and renovations.
6) On August 22, 2006 the State government announced GO 21
6a) This allocated Rs. 80,000 for each church for it's repairs and renovations and 6b) Rs. 1.5 crores for constructing a new church.
It is not publicly disclosed how many churches benefits and ultimately no public way of understanding how many crores were are set aside for this purpose.
7) There are 420,028 acres owned by Temples in Vishakhapatnam, Kakinada, Guntur, Kurnool, Warangal and Hyderabad. Of that amount, 60,843 acres were allowed to be occupied illegally. Currently, 2,349 acres are in litigation. Most of these lands were occupied by the professional land grabbers, not by the poor dalits. One of the responsibilities under the Endowment act is to prevent such actions. With a staff of over 70,000 there seems to a lack of initiative to take real steps to prevent these actions.
8) In August 2005, state government has decided to sell 100,000 acres of Sri Narasimha Swamy Temple in Simhachalam and other nearby Temples.
9) On March 14, 2006, government auctioned 3,000 acres of Temple lands in East Godavari District.
10) In March 2006, government demolished the 1000 pillar mantapam at Tirumala.
11) The charge that 85% percent of revenues from TTD be transferred to state exchequer was not denied by the state government.
12) JRG Wealth Management Limited, a Christian organization, was given the contract to procure "Prasadam" materials for TTD.
13) On November 23, 2005, the government decided to take complete control of Hindu mutts such as Hathiramji of Tirupati, Raghavendra Swamy mutt in Mantralayam, Byragi mutt of West Godavri District, Gavi mutt in Ananthapur and others whose assets are worth crores of rupees.
14) On December 18, 2006, the state government announced that it is considering giving subsidy for Christians to travel to Bethlehem.
15) On January 21, Chief Minister announced the sponsorship of Hockey Tournment on his parents name by using TTD money.
These are only few examples of the state government's effort to undermine the existence and integrity of the Hindu Temples in Andhra Pradesh while giving preferential treatment to the other religions. Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowment Act is the one that allows the state government to have total control over the Temple lands and revenues. It is high time that all the Hindus take a stand to repeal the Endowment Act to make Hindu temple independent of government control and gain the same privileges and rights other religious organizations are enjoying.
Recently we formed a Global Hindu Heritage Foundation (GHHF) to protect, preserve, promote, and maintain Hindu culture, Hindu temples, mutts, peethams, endowments, Trusts and other institutions globally. To achieve this objective, GHHF will take the necessary and appropriate non-violent actions against all laws, policies, activities undertaken by any government, individuals and/or any organizations that adversely affect the Hindu religion, Hindu Temples and other Hindu institutions.
The ultimate goal is to ensure all the Hindu Temples and other Hindu institutions become independent of state government control. GHHF is currently taking steps to challenge the Endowment Act in the High Court and Supreme Court. To this end, GHHF established an organization in the name of Hindu Devalaya Parirakshana Samiti in Hyderabad on December 8, 2006. We successfully got stay order for Temple land auctioning in May 2006 and for GO 21 this month.
If you need any further information on this matter or any documentation for the above cited examples, we will be happy to provide. Please contact:V. V. Prakasa Rao
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