At the time of annexure of Indian kingdoms, vast tracts of land and various treasures were ‘owned’ by temples, particularly in the Thanjavur, Madurai and Tirunelveli areas.
Over long periods these had been donated to temples for their preservation and sustenance.
The East India Company decided to take responsibility for temple lands in South and East India. Accordingly two acts were brought into force:
In 1863, the British Government later decided to hand over control of temple properties to be managed by Trustees of respective temples, via The Religious Endowments Act, 1863
The British Government, or more precisely the administrative officers, commonly and deservedly called ‘babus’ saw in the temple properties a vast treasure trove that they could usurp and exploit as they pleased. Accordingly, the Madras Hindu Religious Endowments Act, 1926(Act II of 1927) was engineered and imposed.
Under this act, Government could just ‘issue a notification’ and take control of temple properties. The other interesting feature was this act applied ONLY to Hindu Temples – the earlier two regulations and act were also applicable for Mosques!
In 1951, the then Madras government passed THE MADRAS HINDU RELIGIOUS AND CHARITABLE ENDOWMENTS ACT, 1951, repealing all earlier acts, passed since 1817, thereby consolidating Government’s hold on Hindu Temple properties.
This act gave absolute powers to ‘Commissioners’ and their paraphernalia of supporting babus to take over temple properties and their management. In 1954, Supreme Court in a landmark judgment stuck down several sections of this act as unconstitutional. It even held a section to be ‘ beyond the competence of Madras legislature’
Later after the reorganization of southern states in 1956, each state legislature enacted their own legislation to control Hindu temples and their properties.
In many temples under the ‘management’ of HR&CE proper worship and rituals as per agama sāstras and by duly qualified and trained persons are not conducted. It is to be noted that every temple has a tradition of worship that were sustained over centuries, known to the local communities whose ancestors have preserved them.
By its own account the HR & CE Dept administers:
– 36,425 temples
– 56 Mutts
– 47 temples belonging to Mutts
– 1721 Specific endowments and 189 Trusts
To put this in perspective, the TN HR&CE claims to ‘manage’ 4.28 lakh acres of agricultural land, 22,600 buildings and 33,600 ‘sites’. During 2011 the total rent for these properties is claimed to be just Rs.303.64 crores and just Rs.36.04 crores was collected. Temple properties are neglected and forfeited to squatters and other vested interests.
Some argue that temple properties may be rented / leased at subsidized rates to ‘public’ or ‘charitable’ organizations – this has no logic. Temple must realize market value for the property. The funds must be expended in the first place for the purpose for which they were donated. Any surplus must be applied to the functions of that temple. If public cause is to be met, then it should be at the discretion and pleasure of the temple, not the arbitrary dictates of the ‘Secular’ Government!
The Tamilnadu HR and CE have given a shocking statistics that over 1204 statues and idols were stolen in the past 25 Years.
Isn’t it this Statistics raises the question of the very purpose of the Existence of the HR and CE?
The “Maragatha Lingam” woth more than 30 Crores, which was stolen from Sri Thyagarajaswamy temple at Thirukaravasal in Tiruvarur district in 1992 and which was recovered by the police recently, was handed over to the temple authorities by the idol wing police at Thirukaravasal. Click here to read complete news article
The idols of the Great Chola King of Tamilnadu – Raja Raja Cholan who built the World Famous Thanjavur Brahadheeshwara Temple and His Queen’s Deity was stolen 60 year before from the Temple . It was was recently found by Special wing led by Inspector General (IG) of police A G Pon Manickavel and who recovered it from a Gujarat Museum. They were handed over to the Temple and placed in the Temple. Click here to read complete news article
|The 1050 years old “Panchaloka Ardhanareeshwara Idol” worth for several Crores, from the Vridhachalam – Vridhagirishwarar Temple, Tamilnadu, was stolen and was found at Australia. Upon Efforts by Hon’ble Prime Minister Modi, the Australian government has accepted to return the Idol and it was returned to India. Click here to read complete news article|
The HR and CE spend crores of Money for alteration or maintenance of Old Temples. But ultimately they cause damage or disfigure the beauty of the Temples. Recent News article mentions that in past 7 Years, at least 17 Temples got damaged because of the Renovation Works done by the HR and CE Department. Crores of Money was spend just to do Corruption in the disguise of Maintenance Work.
Notwithstanding the clear directions of the Madras Government in 1947 to drop notification proceedings and the clear direction of the Hon’ble Madras High Court in 1939 that the Board cannot undertake notification process on frivolous grounds, the Board started the notification process of the Chidambaram Shri Sabhanayagar(Natarajar) Temple in 1950 and the then Madras Government issued a Government Order (G.O.) Ms. 894, Rural Welfare Dept. dated 28-8-1951 published in the Fort St. George Gazette on 4-9-1951.
Meanwhile, India after gaining independence from British rule had become a Republic on 26 January 1950, with its Constitution guaranteeing certain fundamental rights to its citizens. Special religious and administrative rights were guaranteed to Religious Denominations or sections thereof.
The Board also tried to take over the famous Shri Guruvayurappan Temple in Guruvayur, Udupi Shri Krishna Temple under the management of Shri Shirur Mutt of Udupi and Shri Venkataramana Temple belonging to the sect of Gowd Saraswath Brahmins in Mulkipetta of South Kanara district.
All the above religious institutions challenged the takeover by the HRE Board. In the meantime, a new Hindu Religious Act was passed by the Madras Government, known as the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Act, 1951. The Board was now replaced by the Hindu Religious & Charitable Endowments Department, headed by a Commissioner who was given vast powers under the Act.
On 13 December 1951, a Division Bench of Hon’ble Madras High Court presided by the Learned Judges Justice Satyanarayana Rao and Justice Rajagopalan passed two landmark judgments.
In 1970, a division bench of the Hon’ble High Court of Madras came down heavily on the practice of HR & CE in not following natural justice while appointing an Executive Officer for a temple. If one imagined that the Department would have corrected itself and adhered to the principles of natural justice after this judgment one could not be more wrong.
1. There have been instances in recent times where HR &CE officials demanding bribes to cancel takeover proceedings were arrested. In 2009 a Joint Commissioner of HR & CE Dept was caught accepting bribes for this purpose. Judge of Special Court for Prevention of Corruption Act Cases B. Mohan on Friday sentenced a Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Department official to undergo three years imprisonment for demanding and accepting bribe of Rs. 10,000 from priests at Rajaganapathi Temple in 2009.
2. The idol wing police registered a case for alleged misappropriation of gold collected by way of donation for making the processional idol of the famous Lord Sri Dhandayuthapaniswamy temple, Palani in 2004. He is one among the accused in the case. According to the FIR, an estimated 200kg of gold was collected for the idol but only a small quantity was used and the remaining had been misappropriated. The petitioner contended that the case had been filed 14 years after the idol was made and pleaded that he had no connection to the case. Police have so far arrested four people, including two officials of the HR&CE and a sculptor, in connection with the case.
3. The idol wing police have arrested two people including the joint commissioner and a retired employee of Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments (HR&CE) department in connection with the theft of six idols from the Pasupatheeswarar temple at Panthanallur near Kumbakonam in Thanjavur district.
4. The Crime Branch CID of the Tamil Nadu police on Thursday arrested A. Elamparithi, Executive Officer of Arulmigu Vadapalani Andavar Thirukoil, in connection with the theft of gold and diamond jewels from the Sri Oppiliappan Temple in Thirunageswaram, Kumbakonam, where he served a few years ago
4. A case was filed against the chief ‘sthapathi’ of its Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments department M Muthaiah, in a gold theft case from a temple in Kancheepuram. The Tamil Nadu government had also opposed an anticipatory bail plea of the chief ‘sthapathi’ of its Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments department, The public prosecutor opposed the bail plea of Muthaiah. Muthaih had moved a petition apprehending arrest by the Idol Wing CID police in the case related to ‘hiving off’ 5.75 kg of gold from the idol of Lord Somaskandar at the Lord Ekambaranathar Temple. The idol wing had recently registered an FIR against nine persons, including the temple executive officer Murugesan, Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments (HR and CE) department ‘chief Sthapathi’ (temple architect) Muthaiah, sculptor Masilamani and priest Rajappa.
And there are many believable amount of crimes done by the officials of HR and CE which have not been exposed till now.
Paramahamsa Nithyananda – The Rightful Owner of the Tiruvannamalai Aadheenam Property
Thiruvannamalai is the Birth Place of the Avatara Kshetra – Birth Place of Paramahamsa Nithyananda.
A devotee from Tiruvannamalai, willingly donated His Land to Paramahamsa Nithyananda for the Purpose of establishing a Aadheenam which would do spiritual service ranging from Pooja, Meditation, Annadhaan, Medical Camps. The Land was located in Adi Annamalai, on the eastern side of Girivalam path adjacent to the Mountain and Forest Areas. The doesn’t come under the category of Governments Land or Reserve Forest land, or any such type.
The Land is a Patta land – Private property, owned by Local Villagers for several decades via sale deed. Then it was donated to Paramahamsa Nithyananda, by Shri. B.Soundaram S/O Bhanunainar, an ardent devotee of Paramahamsa Nithyananda, thus become the Legal Owner with absolute Rights over the Property.
Below is the Photograph of Paramahamsa Nithyananda with the Devotee Shri. B.Soundarajan S/O Banu Nainar, the donor of the Tiruvannamalai Land.
Then Ashram was built and inaugurated on April 19, 2008 in just a short span of 15 Days.
Since then from April 2008, the Ashram was continuously doing “Annadhaan 24 hours a day”, And Special Annadhaanam during Pournami Girivalam where thousands of people are fed, and ore than 10 lakhs of people are provided food during the Deepam festivals. “Free Multi Specialty Medical camps” were conducted every Week. Many people in and around the 40 Villages who did not have proper access to Medical care were benefitted from these Free Medical Camps. Apart from these Services “Free Yoga and Meditation Programs” were conducted Free of cost. “Spiritual Healing” Services are given free of cost, where people were benefitted and came out of many uncurable diseases like a miracle. “Spiritual Counselling”, “Life Solutions” were provided free of Cost.
Various attacks broke out against Paramahamsa Nithyananda, because of the repeated telecast of “Morphed Video” by SUN TV.
On march 02nd night, the Tiruvannamalai Aadheenam was attacked by Rowdies..
Sannyasis were attacked and attempt to murder was executed against an innocent Sannyasi who was in the aadheenam. All the free services provided by the aadheenam to the welfare of the public were stopped by the Acts of the Miscreants
the Assistant Commissioner of HR &CE Department, Tiruvannamalai, issued the show cause notice to the trust. The officer stated that an inspector of the department had conducted an enquiry and found that the place was used by Hindu devotees who thronged the institution as a place of Hindu public religious worship.
It was an attempt by Some vested Interests who were afraid of the Growth of Paramahamsa Nithyananda. They did not want Paramahamsa Nithyananda to grow in popularity among the masses.
The manager of the Dhyanapeetam filed a petition seeking to quash the notice by HR and CE Assistant Commissioner. G. Rajagopal, senior counsel for the petitioner, contended that the trust was neither a mutt nor a temple and it was not its intention to confine the activities to the Hindu religious community alone.
Disposing of the petition, Mr. Justice Chandru said it could be seen that the trust deed does not show that it is intended to be created as a Hindu religious institution, whereas the organisation was open to all persons without caste, creed or religion. Setting aside the show-cause notice, he noted, “The Inspector of HR &CE had not collected material particulars of the trust, including the trust deed, before sending the report.”