Hindu dharma is implicitly at odds with monotheistic intolerance. What is happening in India is a new historical awakening... Indian intellectuals, who want to be secure in their liberal beliefs, may not understand what is going on. But every other Indian knows precisely what is happening: deep down he knows that a larger response is emerging even if at times this response appears in his eyes to be threatening.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

‘Secular’ governments, vying with each other to control Hindu temples

While the ‘secular’ government of India is very eager to take control of the famous and ancient Arunachaleswarar temple in Tiruvannamalai, Tamil Nadu, dedicated to Lord Shiva, as a national heritage monument, with a view to implement its proposed scheme for its development on the lines of the Vaishno Devi shrine in Jammu, and ‘to create an opportunity for its conservation, restoration and preservation through the direct investment by the Government of India’, the ‘secular’ State Government of Tamil Nadu wants to retain its firm grip over Arunachaleswarar, dubbing the Center’s scheme as “ill conceived and unsuitable, attempting to highlight the temple and the town as a tourist centre forgetting the religious aspects involved.” The Tamil Nadu government has opposed the preliminary notification issued by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) in the Supreme Court. The State government contended that the notification, if implemented, would affect the temple’s functioning and interfere with the normal day-to-day activities. Further, the larger interest of the devotees was more important than the tourism aspect, which had been projected in the center’s scheme, the state government contended. The ASI was told by the SC to withdraw the temple notification.

Thus, while both the state and central governments are busily engaged in competing with each other to control the Hindu temples, and the state government in particular contends that the centre is interfering with the activities of the temple, the sad irony is that the complacent and negligent Hindus are not at all bothered about their temples, and they are not even prepared to question the ‘secular’ governments, both state and central, as to what business they have to poke their nose into the administration of the Hindu temples; why the so-called ‘secular’ government should control the Hindu temples, and interfere in the affairs of the Hindu religious institutions. Some wonder whether the Hindus have been emasculated!

‘Freedom of religion is a fundamental right, and religion is an inseparable accompaniment of human consciousnesses’, pointed out a legal luminary. ‘Article 25 of the Constitution stands by the citizen’s fundamental freedom to profess, practice and propagate religion… Article 25 and 26 of the Constitution embodied the principles of religious tolerance that had been a characteristic feature of Indian civilization and Article 26 guaranteed to every religious denomination the right to manage its own affairs in matters of religion. It also gave them the right to establish and maintain institutions for religious purposes.’ But in reality and in practice, only minorities in India seem to take full advantage of this provision in the Indian Constitution, while the majority, self-centered Hindus, bereft of social and political consciousness, seem to be contented in their day-to-day ‘bread and butter’ activities! What an irony!

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