Jaggi Vasudev, the founder of Isha Foundation founder, said that the people of Tamil Nadu must talk about the dilapidated condition of temples in the state. He was in conversation during a press meet with Tamil actor Santhanam on March 13.
The self-proclaimed godman had started a series of tweets, tagged as #FreeTNTemples, talking about how the temples in Tamil Nadu are going dry without revenue and thus, for proper maintenance, needs to handled by the “common people” and not the Tamil Nadu government, in a press meet held on Saturday.
A HR&CE audit report states “1200 ancient idols stolen from Tamil Nadu temples in 25 years”. Temples must be unshackled from greed. Only those with Hearts full of Devotion should manage them. –Sg #FreeTNTemples @CMOTamilNadu @mkstalin @rajinikanth https://t.co/ljZ0SYcCkP
— Sadhguru (@SadhguruJV) March 2, 2021
Quoting the Tamil Nadu’s Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Department and their submission to the Madras High Court, he said that 11,999 temples have no revenue to perform even a daily puja.
He said that, out of the 44,121 temples under government control in Tamil Nadu, more than 37,000 were starved for funds and were forced to appoint only a single person for priestly and caretaker duties. “And 34,093 temples are struggling with less than ₹10,000 as annual income and are consequently neglected,” he said.
Santhanam had supported Vasudev’s stand. Prior to the press meet, he had tweeted:
Completely agree with @sadhguruJV. Leave it for devotees. Sad to see so many places of worship without a single pooja taking place. Very little done for maintenance,security etc. #FreeTNTemples
— Santhanam (@iamsanthanam) February 27, 2021
Their statements received flak from a DMK MLA from Madurai, R Palanivel Thiagarajan, who on March 4 called them “evil forces who want break religious harmony and instigate communal riots” and explained that while there are lakhs of temples in the state, the government maintains only 34,000.
He said, “In Tamil Nadu, only a small number of temples come under HR and CE department. Rest of them are with private members. There are 3 types of temples. Ones under HR and CE, one that have hereditary trustees and function outside the government, and third are temples that even laypersons can build. The ones with HR and CE are properties built by kings and rulers. Who should maintain them now?”
He called Santhanam and Vasudev “dark forces” who threatened the country’s religious harmony.
“I too believe that the upkeep of temples by the government must be improved. I endorse the view that encroachments in temple lands must be cleared but this must be done by people’s representatives who have been abling upkeep for years since rulers and kings have passed on,” he said.
The MLA referred to the contribution of his family of elected representatives starting from his grandfather PT Rajan to his father PTR Palanivel Rajan in both creating an accountable department under the Tamil Nadu government and their personal contribution to famous temples, like the Vadapalani Murugan temple and the Meenakshi Sundareswarar temple.
“My family of elected representatives which had helped create an accountable department for temple maintenance in the Tamil Nadu government has helped on the ground. Jaggi on the other hand has only been corrupt. He does not have any right to take space in this discourse. These people are parasites who prey on religion and people to further self interest,” he said.