Gold for Pomp and Brick for Bakthi!

via B.R. Haran published on August 27, 2007

At a place called “Malaikodi” (Hill-end), 6 kms from Vellore, North Arcot district of Tamil Nadu, a “Golden Temple”, yes, literally a golden temple, has been built for Goddess Mahalakshmi and the ‘consecration’ was performed on the auspicious day of “Varalakshmi Viratham”, which fell on Friday the 24th of august 2007. The area of 100 acres covered for the Temple is called “Sri Puram” or ” Spiritual Park”, which is worth 600 crores. Apart from the Temple, the park also comprises a hospital & a guesthouse and a hotel is being constructed. The Temple constructed area is 55,000 Sq.Ft. and the entire Temple is covered with Gold plated Copper sheets. The main deity Mahalakshmi is made of Granite and covered with gold plating and jewels. The exterior walls and 36 pillars were all covered with gold plated Copper sheets and all the pillars have glowing motifs of elephants, swans and lotuses. Around 15 crystal Austrian chandeliers are placed in the ‘Mukha Mandapam’ and the central chandelier is supposed to be made of 24 carat Gold. The total quantity of gold used in building the Temple is a phenomenal 1.5 tonnes. More than 500 gold smiths & copper smiths, who are the descendents of “Sthapathis” from Thirumala-Thirupathi, are supposed to have worked for six years to create this golden marvel.


This golden wonder has been conceived and designed by a 31 years old God man calling himself as “Sakthi Amma” of “Narayani Peetam”. He claims he is the incarnation of the goddess. He is also called as “Narayani Amma”. He said that he expects millions of devotees from world over to visit this place and return with wisdom & peace of mind. He confirmed that he had mobilized around 300 crores from his followers across the world and the required gold bars have been brought through Reserve Bank of India. He had also trumpeted his ‘secular’ credentials by saying “300 messages of wisdom taken from the Gita, Bible and Quoran have been written along the pathway, which lead to the Temple”. One wonders what has Bible & Quoran have got to do with Hinduism & Mahalakshmi! Why couldn’t he choose from the millions of messages of wisdom flooded in the Vedas & Upanishads? He had also said “The Taj Mahal was built for “love”, but the Sri Puram is now built for “unconditional love”. This is also one of the wonders of the world!”


Is it an attempt to equate Taj with Temple or Mumtaz with Mahalakshmi?


This man “Sakthi Amma” alias “Narayani Amma” is just 31 years of age and it is believed that his Narayani Peetam was instituted in the year 1992, during which time he must have been 16 years old! Despite the fact that the ‘Sthapathis’ have been working on this project for the last six years, it is a surprise that neither the project nor the God man hit the headlines all these years! No one seems to know about the development of such a glorious campus covering 100 acres! Who is this god man? From where he had come? Who is his guru? What is that he had learnt in such a short span of life to call himself as a spiritual leader? What are his qualifications & credentials? What is his antecedent? Who is behind him? All these questions have to be answered and a thorough probe is needed.


Forget about this god man! But this story of the golden Temple is truly disturbing! I have great fascination towards visiting Temples and I love pilgrimages and even during my official / business tours I used to steal some time amidst my work to visit the Temples of historical importance, which are situated close to my staying place. I have visited tens of hundreds of Temples in Tamil Nadu. I have seen the extreme cases, that is, Small & Big Temples, crowded & bringing terrific revenue to the governments and Small & Big Temples in a pathetic state earning for some one’s attention. I would say that our lifetime is not enough to cover the Temples of just Thanjavur (erstwhile Thanjavur comprising Thiruvarur & Nagapattinam) district alone and the same holds good for Chingleput (Kanchipuram) and Thirunelveli districts also. Even the “Coimbatore-Erode-Salem” region has fantastic Temples of ancient times. The architectural wonder, artistic splendor and the engineering marvel of the Temples of Tamil Nadu are amazing!      


During my travels, I have come across many Temples in extremely dilapidated conditions craving for the people’s attention. Many Temples do not have even oil for lighting the lamps and many other Temples do not have the money to perform even a single time pooja! And mind you, most of them are a minimum of 800 to 900 years old with ancient history and “Sthal Puran” behind them! Most of those Temples have deities praised by either “Nayanmars” or “Alwars”! Lack of priests is another problem faced by these Temples and I have seen single priests running around for the maintenance of five or six Temples trying to perform at the least one time pooja. While visiting such Temples, I used to shed tears and I have spent sleepless nights after seeing the condition of those Temples and the poor & sincere priests. There are many Temples, which are surviving simply because of the devotion & dedication of those poor priests.


At this juncture, we all must remember the clarion call given by the Great Sage of Kanchi, Shri. Paramacharya advising us to take the renovation & consecration of thousands of dilapidated Temples in our country as an ardent duty & sincere commitment, instead of going on building new ones.


Let us not spend our hard earned money on self-styled god men. Let us resolve to help the renovation and consecrations of thousands of dilapidated Temples in our country, where the Almighty god truly resides!


The need is not gold or granite, but brick & cement and oil & lamp!


May God Bless us All!

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