Tiger By The Tail – Tiger By The Tail

published on September 18, 2011

This saying is no more apt to the current state of affairs related to Padmanabha Swamy Temple’s wealth than ever before. Both the State Government and the apex court are in a dilemma at the way things stand in relation to God’s wealth. There are a number of questions that begs for an answer.

At the moment, the concerns relating to the wealth of Sri Padmanabha Swamy that Hindu believers seriously contemplate are security, temple customs and practices, and funding. There are other pressing questions but these assume priority at the moment.

The recent indications that the apex court’s expert committee favoured opening of Vault B, despite the findings of the devaprasnam to the contrary, is unfortunate. Argument in favour of opening the vault is that without assessment of its contents meaningful security cannot be provided. In the heat of things everybody seems to have forgotten the fact that the current situation is due to the opening of the vaults, and if previous experiences are anything to go by, a similar exercise can only complicate things not provide a respite.

The contention that opening of B vault is imperative for implementation of security lacks credibility in the eyes of Hindu believers. Government agencies’ track record of providing security are not very impressive. Their capabilities have been severely questioned in view of some of the major attacks on the nation namely, parliament, Mumbai, Delhi High Court, etc. Insisting that Hindus should seek protection from such agencies by laying down their Lord’s wealth is without any reason. Hence, this contention not only provide any confidence at the safety of Padmanabha Swamy’s wealth but also are stimulants to raise serious questions at the very logic of such a suggestion.

Acting in violation to the devaprashna, a custom in vogue among the Hindu community, does not go down well with the believers. Temple and temple related customs are not and should not be subjected to interpretation outside of the Hindu religious fold. Definitely, it is not a thing to be discussed and debated in a court of law. In the interest of Hindus such a precedence should not be encouraged at it has the potential to later question the very premise of religious believes of Hindus.

From the very start, the approach to Padmanabha Swamy’s wealth have been ill conceived and mis-managed. The temple was carrying on with its age old traditions in state of oblivion to anybody but the Hindu temple goers. Temple activities were carried out without hinderance from the personal income of the Travancore royal family. Now, the short sighted and unilateral authoritative approach in the name of evaluation of temple wealth has created a situation for which no one has a long term solution. Financial committments resulting from such ill thought out acitivity now runs into crores of rupees to the Indian exchequer. Neither the Committee, nor the State nor the Temple Trust has the kind of money the proposed solution is estimated to cost. Apart from the question of security and finances, nobody has any answer to the question of sustainability of what is proposed by the Committee – how long can huge amounts be diverted from the indian exchequer?

Under the circumstances, it is time that Hindu organisations and believers come forward to find a solution outside of court that is acceptable keeping in view of the Hindu customs and traditions. At the same time, it is important that Hindus sent a message in unequivocal terms to the Indian society that their customs, beliefs, and traditions are not to the subjected to hearings, discussions, or decisions outside of the Hindu fold.

(The author is not a legal expert and the view is expressed without any disrespect to our nation’s courts or individuals)

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