What should be done with the Deities’ Gold?

Pressure on the Indian Rupee has got the government scrambling to find money, and they’re reaching into the coffers of temples.

Indian Temples Fight Back Against Government Gold Grabbing Plot

Zero Hedge – Michael Krieger of Liberty Blitzkrieg – Oct 1, 2013

From Reuters:
The central bank, which has already taken steps that have slowed to a trickle the incoming supplies that have exacerbated India’s current account deficit, has sent letters to some of the country’s richest temples asking for details of their gold.

It says the inquiries are simply data collection, but Hindu groups are up in arms.

“The gold stored in temples was contributed by devotees over thousands of years and we will not allow anyone to usurp it,” said V Mohanan, secretary of the Hindu nationalist Vishwa Hindu Parishad organisation in Kerala state, in a statement.

Guruvayur temple, in Kerala, one of the most sacred in India and boasting a 33.5-metre (110-ft) gold-plated flagstaff, has already told the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) it won’t divulge any details.

“The gold we have is mostly offered by the devotees. They would not like the details to be shared with anybody,” said V M Gopala Menon, commissioner of the temple’s administrative board.

The head of the Hindu nationalist main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Kerala state, V Muralidharan, said the RBI wanted to “take possession” of the gold and maybe sell it for dollars. Go to story


Here we go again. Recall the Sree Padmanabhaswamy temple vaults of treasure opened under court order in 2011:

Render unto Padmanabhaswamy

S.A. – Feb 19, 2013

The Sree Padmanabhaswamy temple has been at the centre of a legal battle for six years. Gods can own properties in India, which might be thought to pose difficulties in even the simplest of juridical proceedings. But for purposes of landholding, gods are to be regarded as minors; they require adult (and merely mortal) guardians. Southern Kerala’s former royal family are this temple’s long-time custodians. However a lawsuit filed in 2007, brought by a small group of devotees, demanded that a new guardian be appointed as, they claimed, treasure was going missing from vaults beneath the temple. The devotees also called for the vaults to be opened for examination. One of those vaults, opened briefly in 2011, confounded even the highest expectations—witnesses said the chamber contained antiques, gems and gold worth billions of dollars. One temple official put the value at $20 billion, although no proper valuation has been done.

The royals are fighting to remain at the helm of a temple now known to be one of India’s richest. Kerala’s High Court ruled in 2011 that the state government should take it over. The royal family appealed to the Supreme Court. An independent report, commissioned at the national level and submitted in November, has supported the royals. It finds that they have not pinched any treasure, which the maharajahs are thought to have amassed largely during their 19th-century heyday, before donating it to the deity, and it warns against allowing the government a role: “Increasingly in this country, political parties and certain members of the political class look for priceless treasures in temples.” Go to story

Temples and the legal custodians of deities can and will continue to argue that the gold, silver and precious gems and other artifacts are the legal property of the deity and temple, but in an increasingly atheistic society given over to politicians who are plunderers, how long can they hold out?

“If the government got its hands on this, it would disappear within two weeks,” said Sheeban Chacko, 24, a hospital worker. (In India, battle continues over Hindu temple’s riches, Los Angeles Times, MARK MAGNIER, March 08, 2012)

It’s not only the government politicians who are clamoring to get their hands on temple coffers and treasures. Communists regard the temple properties and wealth and the properties of the royal families as the property of the people, and even many so-called Hindus rather believe that they ought to be the rightful beneficiaries, that the temples should be distributing their wealth in charity.

In Bhagavad-gita, Krishna says, yat karoṣi yad aśnāsi, yaj juhoṣi dadāsi yat, yat tapasyasi kaunteya, tat kuruṣva mad-arpaṇam: “O son of Kuntī, all that you do, all that you eat, all that you offer and give away, as well as all austerities that you may perform, should be done as an offering unto Me.” His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami, ISKCON Founder-Acharya and author of Bhagavad-gita As It Is, explained in the purport to this verse and in other verses, “Everyone has a tendency to give something in charity; Kṛṣṇa says, “Give it to Me,” and this means that all surplus money accummulated should be utilized in furthering the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement.” (purport, Bhagavad-gita As It Is, Chapter 9, Text 27)

We do raise the question whether it serves Krishna’s purpose better to let the accumulated treasure lie there and collect dust or to convert a portion of it to promote education in the principles of daivi varnashram and Bhagavad-gita and propagation of congregational chanting of the holy names, harer nama sankirtan. Spiritual master His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami told his disciples of a conversation he had with his Gurudev shortly before his Gurudev departed from this world. Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur, founder of the Sri Gaudiya Math, advised him that if he ever got money, he should use it to print books. He said further that if he could, he would rather break the marble in the Gaudiya Math temples and sell it for printing books. He considered that publishing the teachings of Krishna consciousness in English language for western people to to be more important than building temples. Nonetheless, temples are important, insofar as they facilitate the gathering of devotees for congregational chanting, sankirtan. Brihad-naradiya Purana (3.8.126) says, harer nama harer nama harer namaiva kevalam, kalau nasty eva nastya eva nastya eva gatir anyatha: “In this age of quarrel and hypocrisy, the only means of deliverance is the chanting of the Holy Names of the Lord. There is no other way. There is no other way. There is no other way.” Therefore, let the temples open their doors wide and promote harer nama sankirtan festivals, inviting people from all over the world to join in chanting the holy names and take prasadam. This was the vision of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami. He founded ISKCON on this very principle, and established more than 108 temples worldwide. He published more than 60 books, he inaugurated a movement based on chanting the holy names of Krishna, and he established spiritual communities – farms meant to serve as models of Vedic life style. Thus, the temple wealth can be put to use on these kinds of programs, and bring about a spiritual revolution that will bring real prosperity and happiness to the people.

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