The Threat Against Hindu Temples and Vedic Culture in India
This article shows how the Indian government is purposely jeopardizing the future of Hindu temples.
With a little attention, anyone can see how Hindu institutions and Hinduism in India are unfairly targeted by a combination of vote bank politics and unscrupulous politicians and businessmen. Particularly alarming is the destruction of Hindu institutions and the illegal mass conversions by other religions.
Through the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowment Act (HRCE Act) of 1951, state governments have appointed managers to the boards of temples in the name of better administration, while mosques and churches are completely autonomous. This Act allowed the state governments and politicians to take over thousands of Hindu temples and maintain complete control over these temples and their property. Many abuses are committed by multiple state governments using the power accorded through this Act. Then they can sell the temple assets and properties and use the money in any way they choose. Often the temple and the devotees who patronize them do not see any of the money, nor does it come back to assist the Hindu community to which the temple belongs. Some of this money is that which is directly donated by the pilgrims and devotees who attend the temple, given for the temple upkeep, or for the priests and deities. However, some of the money is disbursed by the government for ulterior causes or to other non-profit organizations based on political connections.
In Andhra Pradesh under the Chief Minister, tens of thousands of acres of temple lands are sold away leaving temples with little economic basis. This is done without the permission of the local Hindu community. The state government and the endowments department, whose duty is to safeguard the temple properties, have turned a blind eye to such encroachments or take overs of temple properties. The state government recently went to the extent of regularizing encroachments at nominal prices. These encroachments are often found to be closely associated to various political parties.
In Andhra Pradesh, Hindu temples, institutions, and Hinduism itself are illegally targeted by the crusade of the government. Under the Temple Empowerment Act, about 34,000 temples had come under government control. Only 18% of the revenue of these temples is said to be given back for temple purposes, while the remaining 82% is used for other things by the government at their discretion. Such looting, massive sale of temple lands, demolition of temples, encroachments of temple properties, and the utilization of aggressive religious conversion tactics by Christians in the vicinity of temples is occurring all over Andhra Pradesh. The government, which is supposed to be a protector has become a destroyer of the culture, which threatens the very existence of Hindu institutions. Only after large public protests has the state government given back a majority of the temples, yet the most profitable were still kept under state control.
Even the world famous sacred temple at Tirumala-Tirupati is not spared. This temple collects over Rs. 3,100 crores (tens of millions) every year, and the state government has not denied the charge that as much as 85% of this is transferred to the state exchequer, much of which goes to causes that are not connected with the Hindu community or Vedic temples. The government also attempted to take over 5 out of 7 Tirumala hills for churches and tourism for the profit of development companies and other affiliates not connected with the temple. The 1000 pillar Mantapam hall was illegally demolished. Recently, in response to Sri Chinnajeeyar Swami’s petition, the Andhra Pradesh High Court has declared the demolition illegal and instructed the TTD management at Tirupati to reconstruct it. If anyone has seen the Tirupati temple and the difference there is without the 1000 pillar hall, it is shocking.
The Andhra Pradesh government also allowed the demolition of at least 10 temples for the construction of a golf course. Imagine the outcry, protests, and riots that would have happened if that would be suggested for a mosque. The son of the Chief Minister even blew up the Sunkulamma Hindu Temple in Anantapur, and his brother, by constructing his own building, has encroached on Gurukula trust lands worth crores (tens of millions) of rupees. While taking extra precautions to protect churches and mosques with money from the state treasury, the government has been selling or donating, for various government schemes and non-Hindu purposes, tens of thousands of acres of temple lands worth thousands of crores of rupees that are meant for the perpetual sustenance of the temples. This will irreparably cripple these Hindu institutions. Of course, that seems to be part of the plan.
The temples and Maths that did not earlier come under government supervision are taken into government control for selling away their lands. The State Endowment Board with 77,000 employees, all of whom are supported by 15-18 percent of the income from 33,000 temples, has done little for the welfare of the Hindu institutions. At the same time, priests of temples are penniless and temples are decaying due to lack of maintenance. Hindu priests do not want to train children in priestly activities for lack of economical basis. This seems to be the goal of the government to systematically wipe out Vedic culture across India.
Even while this is going on, the Andhra Pradesh government pays 12,000 rupees per pilgrim for the Haj trip to Mecca each year, and is considering proposals to pay Christians for trips to Bethlehem. At the same time, the government has imposed a 50% raise on the fares of state buses on MahaShivaratri festival day, like a tax that takes advantage of the Hindu community and makes it even more difficult for them to observe their own holidays. This is not unlike the jizya tax the Muslims imposed on Hindus years ago just for being Hindus. Furthermore, the most important Hindu holidays, such as RamaNavami, are being taken off the government holiday list to be replaced by secular holidays.
The net result of this strategic and planned selling of all temple properties, along with taxing the Hindu community while providing funds for Christian purposes, seems to be designed to systematically and completely cripple Hindu institutions in the state with little hope for their survival. The Andhra Pradesh government Order 21 gave crores (tens of millions) of rupees for the renovation and construction of churches, thus helping to pave the way for major Christianization of the state using illegal techniques for mass conversions. Almost all these activities are a violation of the Indian constitution that is supposed to separate the state and religion. The government also controls the media that ignore any Hindu representation. Even the rare newspapers like Eenadu that do represent the Hindu view of things are persecuted by unfair tax raids, and attempts to stop their Hindu devotional telecasts. They then use the secular news media to spread false claims of attacks on Christians by fundamentalist Hindus, and to defame popular Vedic saints who make great strides for the Dharmic cause. Their next step has been to convert movie stars to gain influential voices, and with large amounts of money buy the cooperation of more politicians.
Activities in other parts of India include providing provisions to the poor, as long as they convert to Christianity. I have also seen where hospitals provide free medical care, such as for women giving birth to babies, as long as they sign papers that say they convert to Christianity. Or new water wells established in a poor village, but in front of a church where the pastor makes sure no non-Christians are allowed to draw water. Or large corporations hire people for upper management only if they are Christian. In these and other ways, the plan is to convert with goods and allurements.
Other strategies include that Hindus and tribals are told that the worship of Vedic gods is actually the worship of the devil or Satan. Or create a fear in them of hell that can only be rectified by accepting Christianity, and tell them that they remain poor because they have not converted. The newly converted are asked to make other converts, and to destroy Vedic temples to prove their dedication to their new faith. These are all strategies that often involve trickery and lies that actually go against the real teachings of Jesus.
In Karnataka, for example, in 2003, as reported by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and in “India Today”, 79 crores ($790,000,000) was collected from about two lakh (200,000) temples. From that, temples received 7 crores ($70,000,000) for their maintenance, Muslim Madrassas and the Haj subsidy (for trip to Mecca) was given 59 crores, and churches about 13 crores. Because of tactics like this, twenty-five percent of the two lakh temples i.e., about 50,000 in Karnataka, will be closed down for lack of resources. The only way the government can continue to do this is because people have not stood up enough to stop it.
In Kerala, funds from the Guruvayur temple are diverted to other government projects denying improvements to 45 Hindu temples. Land belonging to the Ayyappa temple (in Sabarimala) has been grabbed and church backed encroaches are occupying huge areas of forestland running into thousands of acres near Sabarimala. The communist state government of Kerala, which naturally has little to no respect for the Vedic culture and religion, wants to pass an ordinance to disband the Travancore and Cochin Autonomous Devaswom Boards (TCDB) and take over their limited independent authority of 1800 Hindu temples. In this way, the looting of temple finances and properties continues unabated. It is said that this state alone has 29,000 Christian missionaries and clergy and 19,000 in Muslim counterparts whose main preoccupation is conversion of Hindus. Kerala is a precursor for the state of things to come for the Hindu community in India. With a 56 percent Hindu population, it hardly controls 25 percent of the economy.
The Maharasthra state government has been moving to pass a bill that would enable it to take over the 450,000 Hindu temples in the state. This would supply a huge amount of revenue to correct the state’s bankrupt condition after its bad economic policies. So, now that the state politicians have ruined the financial condition of the state, they want to take money from the Hindu temples and community to adjust the situation. This is but another crime against India and its Vedic culture at the hands of its incompetent political leaders.
This is a precursor to repeat the process already happening in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, and Kerala. Articles 25 and 26 of the Indian Constitution, which guarantees public establishment and maintenance of religious institutions and to administer such property in accordance with law, has been completely ignored toward Hindu foundations. While looting Hindu institutions, the Governments subsidizes the “Hajj” pilgrimage for the Muslims to the tune of Rs. 380 crores annually (including subsidy to airlines), and provides 1000 crores per year for the salary of Imams, and provides funds to churches.
You may be questioning why the same pilgrimage privileges are not given to Hindus to go to Tirupathi, Varanasi, Rameswaram, Ayodhya, Dwaraka, Badarinath, etc? It is very simple, Hindu brothers and sisters are in deep slumber. They seem to be in denial, are pacifists, and are certainly disunited. Plus, they do not seem to know what to do or what plan to use. Otherwise, why should they not stand up to demand the same privileges, or to stop this kind of unfair discrimination?
The state government of Bihar has also paved the way for the loss of Rs. 2000 crores of temple owned property because of its Endowments department, according to the religious trust Administrator. In Orissa, the state government intends to sell over 70,000 acres of endowment lands from the Jagannatha Temple, the proceeds of which would solve a huge financial crunch brought about by its own mismanagement of temple assets. The state government of Rajasthan also wants to auction various Hindu temples to the highest bidder, regardless of whether they are Hindu or not. This flagrant diversion of wealth from Hindu temples is directly opposite the ideal of a secular country, and a bold travesty of the principle of separation of church and state.
Why such occurrences are so often not known is that Indian media, especially the English television and press, are often anti-Hindu in their approach, and, thus, not inclined to give much coverage, and certainly no sympathy, for anything that may affect the Hindu community. Therefore, such government actions that play against the Hindu community go on without much or any attention attracted to them. If it was not for the attention drawn to these matters by such organizations as the Hindu Dharma Acharya Sabha, convened by Swami Dayananda Saraswati, or the Global Hindu Heritage Foundation in the U.S., there would probably be little organized protest of such activities against the state governments of India. However, it is because of these organizations and the volunteers who work with them that the public is being notified and called to action to do something about this. And also why I’m writing about it here. In this way, the constitutional validity of the HRCE Act is being challenged. It is time that the same rights as the minority religions of India are given to the majority Hindus and followers of the ancient Vedic Dharma.
PROTECTING VEDIC TEMPLES
It is obvious that the current laws in the country are discriminatory and against Hindu religious institutions, and it is important that Hindus demand that the government accord Hindu institutions the same status as Muslim and Christian institutions. The existence of the Hindu majority of India is being threatened in their own homeland. Selfish politicians seem to be bent on destroying the Vedic Dharma.
It is a strange thing to see, at least for me, when the bulk of the Hindu population does not protest when a strong reaction should naturally be there. You easily see a protest against any Hindu activity from the media, the so-called secularists and intellectuals and any other anti-Hindus. But the Hindu majority does not speak out. This may also be due to the continued influence of a foreign rule, or a slave mentality that remains after so many generations of being dominated by outsiders. But this will not help to preserve the culture. There is a need for another leader who can help them focus their energy in a constructive way for them to rise up in a defensive manner.
It may also be the result of living under a constitution that does not hold the values of the Vedic path. If the state does not recognize your personal culture as a citizen of Dharma, then you will need to fight against it. Otherwise, your own values, tradition and the Vedic path itself may begin to wane and even you will lose the rights to pass it along to your children in an effective manner.
If the state is not taking care of your heritage, preserving your religion and traditions, and all the monuments or temples that are meant to uphold your culture, then you must refuse to merely be a citizen of the Republic, and be a citizen of Bharata Varsha, the Vedic society.
There are many intellectuals in America, I know as I am one of those who wonder why the Indian people tolerate so much while they see their culture being denigrated by their own so-called leaders, the politicians who have been voted into office. There are many Westerners that are sympathetic to the Vedic path and what it has offered. But, when they hear of the injustice within the Indian country, how others have the rights and government assisted funds to go on the Haj pilgrimage, or how minorities have rights and funds to build and operate their own schools and churches, then they wonder why do the majority Hindus tolerate this and not demand equal rights?
The trouble can be found in the Indian constitution itself, which was formed by those who had less respect for Vedic society and provided laws to protect the minorities at the expense of the majority. The anti-Hindu, anti-India attitude must be changed. If we are going to see the continuation of the tradition that gave the world Yoga, then we must work against this neglect toward the profound history of India and its unique and deep Vedic tradition. Every religion should be given the same rights by establishing a uniform code of conduct that every Indian must follow, not that the Hindus are second class because the Muslims or Christians are minorities and must be offered extra rights and advantages, as outlined in the constitution. As these minorities have used these rights for their own advantages, and they have grown to a sizable society that can take care of themselves, then they no longer need these extra privileges. Thus, the constitution can be changed to provide a uniform code for everyone, and the people should demand it so that everyone can live under the same rules and laws, without some minorities having special privileges. This should be the goal of a true democracy, if that is what India is going to be. And there should be no fear to express this. This should be the goal. Otherwise, if equal rights and a uniform code are not to be found in India, then India is not a true democracy.
Therefore, readers are requested not to merely stand by and hope that nothing will happen to Hindu Vedic Dharma, the culture that brought us the system of meditation, pranayama and so many other things. One thousand years of foreign rule has resulted in the loss of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and the cultural loss of Kashmir. Today a half-million Kashmiri pandits are living as refugees in their own mother land for more than a decade and are dying in large numbers. There has also been the cultural loss of the four states of northeast India which were a Hindu majority as recently as 1948. Next in line for losing its traditional culture is Andhra Pradesh.
Hindus who are complacent need to understand the consequences if the current situation continues. Missionaries with the help of leftists and crooked politicians, pseudo-secularists, working in a democracy with a highly corrupt political system, a culturally deprived intelligentsia, with billions of dollars and little scruples, have the potential to convert a majority of India’s population away from the culture of their homeland in just a few years. This, along with vote bank politics, can result in complete marginalization of Hindus and the division of India. In such a situation, those who do not convert will be at an enormous disadvantage economically and spiritually.
Any Hindu or Dharmist who is more concerned with himself, his family, and his own personal occupational advancement over and above his contribution to his society and culture, only decreases the future well-being of them and its traditions, and reduces his own participation in securing a positive future for them.
Nowhere in the free, democratic world are the religious institutions managed, maligned, and controlled by the government, thus denying the religious freedom of the people of the country. But it is happening to Hindus in India. Government officials have taken control of Hindu Temples because they smell money in them, they recognize the indifference of Hindus, they are aware of the unlimited patience and tolerance of Hindus, they also know that it is not in the blood of Hindus to go to the streets to demonstrate, destroy property, threaten, loot, harm, and kill. They also do not vote as a block in the elections like the Christians and Muslims. The government has usurped the freedom of Hindus to manage their temples, denied their human rights, and engaged in continued discrimination of Hindus.
Times have changed. The threat to the survival of Hindu civilization is real. Billions of dollars are pouring into India every year for conversion purposes to both Christian and Islamic groups. Even Mahatma Gandhi who fought all of his life for social justice and religious tolerance called religious conversions by missionaries the deadliest poison that ever sapped the fountain of truth.
Many Hindus are sitting and watching the demise of their culture. Hindus should not sit quiet, but must be active. They need to contribute generously to promote their culture. They have to exercise their right to fight for their freedom. They need to express their views loud and clear. It is time for all of us to wake up and see what is happening to our Hindu culture before we lose the freedom to practice it. As I have said numerous times, the way things are going we practically have more freedom to practice the Vedic traditions in America than in India. If we are not careful, in the future we may have to import the Vedic path back to India from America.
Another example of the instrumental process of losing the Vedic culture and accurate rendition of India’s past is that in 1982, the (NCERT) National Council of Educational Research and Training issued a directive for the rewriting of school texts. It stipulated that the “characterization of the medieval period as a time of conflict between Hindus and Moslems is forbidden.” Thus, denial of history, or negationism, has become India’s official educational policy. In this case, how will people ever understand or know of the real history of India and the trials, tribulations, and sacrifices that were made in order for their Vedic tradition to endure? Hence, every Hindu has an obligation to read and learn the history of our forefathers who were subjected to violence, cruelty, atrocities, and carnage. Such sacrifices under the torture of the invaders of India were the only way that we still have the freedom to participate in the Vedic customs that still exist today.
It is time for all Hindus and supporters of Vedic culture to stand strong for Dharma and to unite and work together to preserve and protect their culture and glorious past by consolidating their votes to remove those politicians who are not supportive of Vedic Dharma, and to bring in those who are. We must remove all superficial differences among the numerous Hindu organizations and realize that without a unified platform, all forms of discord will be taken advantage of by those who work against us and wish to see the demise of Vedic culture. This must never happen, and we can all work together to prevent it. Now is the time to work together more than ever.
In conclusion, we need to understand that it is necessary for all Hindus across the globe to participate in the protection and even revival of the Hindu heritage, in freeing the temples from government control, and in bringing unity among different sects, sampradayas, and varnas or castes. There is a need in preserving and protecting the rights of Hindus in different countries, and in restoring our prestige, honor, and the essence of the Vedic tradition. Our motto should be “Let us work together to protect, preserve, and promote our Vedic/Hindu culture.”
The point is that if Hindus do not preserve their culture, who will preserve it? If Hindus do not promote their culture, who will do it? If Hindus do not learn and practice their culture, who will do it? If Hindus do not defend their culture, who will do it? Therefore, let us all join our hands and pray that we all will serve as guardians and champions of our heritage, so that we will not be condemned or mistreated as we have in the past, and that our rights to observe our Vedic traditions will go on long into the future.
For a complete report on the U. S. Government=s connection with and support for evangelistic organizations committed to conversion activities all over India, please see this article on Tehelka.com at:
Articles on www.stephen-knapp.com that compliment the purpose of this report include:
1. AHindus Must Stand Strong for Dharma@,
2. ATime to Plan the Survival of Vedic Culture@,
3. AAn Action Plan for the Survival of Vedic Culture@,
4, ASave Your Culture@,
5. APreaching in India=s Northeast for Cultural Preservation@,
6. AMy Northeast India Mission in 2003-4@
www.christianaggression.org -- to keep up with events and plans of Christian aggression.
www.crusadewatch.org -- latest news on the plans and attempts of Christian organizations to make the world Christian.
Www.hinduministries.org/pointers.htm -- is a Christian site that provides training missionaries and Christians worldwide how to win the hearts of Hindus to Christ.
Also: www.hinduministries.org/hindu_links.htm -- links for different approaches to win Hindus. This gives inights into the techniques that can be expected that Christians use to bring Hindus to Jesus.
Many more sites like this can be found.
How India is Losing It’s Culture
by francois gautier
Democracy in India has been hijacked. It takes a fortune to be elected. Politicians, elected by and for the people, once they are locked in the ivory tower that is Delhi, forget all about the people.
What is it that which India is fast losing as you read this article? Its culture. Entire patches in the northeast are being converted to Christianity. Missionaries tell tribals that it is sinful to enter a temple, women are asked not to wear bindis, and children are taught to look down on their culture as animist or heathen.
India is fast losing communal harmony. Today, even the Sikh community feels it wants to separate from its Hindu brothers, and Christians and Muslims are encouraged to look down upon Hindus.
In the Indian media, there is a witch hunt against gurus, a deriding and mocking of Indian spirituality, a marginalizing of Hinduism and Hindus, who constitute the immense majority in India and are a billion worldwide, one of the most law-abiding, religious, educated, affluent communities in the world.
More and more, Indian television particularly, but also newspapers and magazines, are casting a look on India that is not only very critical (if you open any newspaper nowadays, you can only end up depressed), but which in its very nature is a Western look -- which judges India according to Western standards.
India's intellectuals defend an artist who paints one of the most revered ancient Hindu gods doing unmentionable things to a Hindu goddess. Someone who is part of a diabolical plot to kill Indian leaders and storm Parliament gets the benefit of the doubt from the same intelligentsia in the vision particularly, but also newspapers and magazines, are casting a look on India that is not only very critical (if you open any newspaper nowadays, you can only end up depressed), but which in its very nature is a Western look -- which judges India according to Western standards.
India's intellectuals defend an artist who paints one of the most revered ancient Hindu gods doing unmentionable things to a Hindu goddess. Someone who is part of a diabolical plot to kill Indian leaders and storm Parliament gets the benefit of the doubt from the same intelligentsia in the name of judicial correctness. Some Indians are more and more divided. Instead of feeling first Indians, they feel they are first Muslims and then Indians, first Dalits and then Indians, first Christian and then Indians. This is a dangerous trend and it spells the death of the minimum unified nationalistic pride that can take a country forward. Instead, Indians today take pride in melting abroad, or adopting a 'secular' creed, which basically makes them soul-less and identity-less, however brilliantly they ape the West.
As a foreigner who loves India, I feel that this blind copying of the West's ignorant and doubting mind, the aping of whatever is has proved wrong in the West - wild consumerism, or savage capitalism - will be a tragedy for India. The Westernization of India must not be at the cost of her culture and spirituality. Yet, there are signs that it is already happening here.
[This article and more information at www.stephen-knapp.com]