[GHHF] High Court stops TTD from Land Allocation; High Court stops illegal gold covering of TTD walls; Hindu Acharyas organized Dharma Sadassu in Chennai
Permanence, perseverance and persistence in spite of all obstacles, discouragement, and impossibilities: It is this, that in all things, distinguishes the strong soul from the weak. Thomas Carlyle
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Whenever we take up any task to perform, any mission to execute, any duty to complete, and any undertaking to carry out, we have to have the unhesitating faith, total conviction, overwhelming fervor, unbridled passion and unwavering zeal to succeed in whatever cause we take up. There will be many roadblocks, numerous difficulties, innumerable problems, countless hardships and several adversities. These difficulties multiply hundred fold if you have to challenge the government with all it’s power, muscle, clout, influence, might, force and deception. Global Hindu Heritage Foundation, Hindu Devalaya Parirakshana Samithi, TTD Parirakshana Samithi and other organizations have taken up the task of challenging government’s the legitimacy of taking over Hindu Temples and it’s total mismanagement of them to the extent of dismantling the Hindu edifice.
As many of you are aware that the many Hindu Temples making more than 50,000 rupees are taken over by all four southern state governments and many major Temples in Northern India. These governments are selling the lands at will, looting the Temple money whimsically, make decisions arbitrarily, demolish Temples and other structures without having any respect for the heritage, implement plans without even consulting the Hindu leaders and acharyas, allocate lands to employees without respecting the wishes of the donors, appoint secular corrupt and liquor barons. The Boards of these Temples, refuse to meet and seek advise from the Hindu Saints and leaders, and allow some Temples to collapse. These governments deny Hindus their freedom liberty and independence to manage their own Temples. The same governments do not have the guts to enforce the policy of taking over the Mosques and Churches. In fact they use Hindu Temple money to promote the other faiths by granting money for the repairs of their houses of worship, subsidize their travel to Mecca for Muslims and Bethlehem for Christians, allocate funds to Madarssas and subsidize the festivals of other faiths.
If you have to succeed in fighting with the governments to free the Hindu Temples from their control, we need unlimited patience, determination, perseverance, persistence, endurance, tolerance and will power. The road to success is arduous, hard, tough, strenuous, and demanding. But the mission to free Hindu Temples from the government is every Hindu’s responsibility, duty and right. Hindus have to make it as their dream to enjoy the freedom other religions are enjoying. In order to make this dream a reality, we should never give up to give our best, should never despair over the setbacks, should never quit challenging the government, should never run out of our patience, should never run away from our responsibility, should never give up our rights and should never forsake in believing ourselves.
Success seems illusive at times; but you can achieve it with total determination and full faith. We should never be fearful and afraid to work for the cause we believe in. Preservation of the richness of Sanatana Dharma is worth fighting for. In our pursuit to free the Temples, we may stumble some times; but we need to get up and pick up the pieces and put them together. Success is granted to those who persevere, persist, and endure. We have to believe deep down that we are going to achieve our goal, and succeed in our efforts to free the Hindu Temples.
Aftermath of Srikalahashti Gopuram Collapse
Global Hindi Heritage Foundation (GHHF) and Hindu Devalaya Parirakshana Samithi (HDPS) have made a number of recommendations to TTD and the government of Andhra Pradesh. Many of them have been implemented. However, three most controversial issues facing TTD are: 1) allotment of land sites to the Temple employees on the lands donated centuries ago to TTD; 2) gold plating of TTD walls which have significant inscriptions about the history of the Temple; and 3) Veyyi Kalla Mandapam (Thousand Pillar Mandapam). Let us see how TTD has handled these issues:
1) Allotment of House sites / apartments on TTD Lands donated by Devotees Centuries ago; High Court issued Stay orders on November 29, 2010
GHHF and HDPS have recommended that the TTD lands should not be used to allot Housing sites or apartments to the employees of TTD. We strongly feel that those lands should be used for the promotion of Hindu values, for colleges, for feeding the cows by raising grass and other crops, for providing housing to Leprosy patients and other matters strictly for religious matters.
The TTD Board resolved in their meetings on July 25, 2007 and subsequently on June 30, 2008 to allot the land and apartments at the following venues for house sites/apartments to the eligible employees under “Own Your House Scheme.”
The venues / lands are located at the follows areas/ villages:
a) S. V. Poor Home Lands: 25 acres to be used for 462 house sites at a cost of rupees 44,355 per site
b) S. V. Dairy Farm Lands: 20 acres to be used for 407 house sites at a cost of rupees 55,000 per site
c) Brahmanapattu Village Lands: 100 acres to be used for 1800 house sites at a cost of rupees 11, 459 per site
d) Sri Vinayaka Nagar Lands: 7 acres to be used for 500 apartments at a cost of rupees 25,000 per each apartment space
e) S. G. S. Arts College Grounds; 5.2 acres to used for 350 apartments at a cost of rupees 25,000 per each apartment space.
Ever since the GO was issued, a group of dedicated organizations and a group of devout Hindus have requested TTD to with draw it’s GO pointing out the implications and possible consequences of these neighborhoods becoming the colonies for other faiths.
First, over the years these colonies may not see any Hindu living in these colonies and apartments. That means that other faith people will be occupying the lands that were donated to TTD and practicing their faith few kilometers away from Sri Venkateshwara Temple itself.
Secondly, our organizations have already acquired documents to show that some of the employees who were supposed to have these housing sites have already sold them at a higher price. That means that the assigned employees have no need for it. Instead of using the house site for building a house or apartment, it is being used for business purpose.
Third, that the Hindu people with poor economic background, leprosy patients, cows, and College students will be denied to have their regular activities.
With this in mind, TTD Parirakshana Samithi (TTDPS) had taken a major responsibility to identify the donor of 100 acres so that a case may be filed against TTD and stop the allotments of lands for the employees. Sri D Narendra, Sri Narra Munichandra, Sri Pravatarao Sunkaravalli and other members of TTDPS started investigating the whereabouts of these donors. They approached Sri Kamala Kumar Swami and M Subrahmanya Yadav of Hindu Devalaya Parirakshana Samithi for their support. These and many others have collaborated in this effort.
In order to file a case they needed the names of the donors. It took few months to locate them. What all these devout Hindus have done is remarkable and it took two years to get STAY ORDER from High Court.
This 100-acre land was donated way back during Sri Krishna Devaraya time (around 1560s) by a gentleman called Sri Pativadi Bhayankara Annan (Annacharyulu). He was a great devotee of Lord Sri Venkateshwara. The most SURPRISING historical fact is that it is he who composed SUPRABHATAM to Lord Venkateshwara. What a history to this land? TTD wants to dispose it off to people who may not even recognize the donor’s wish and preserve it for Lord Venkateshwara.
Sri Narendra, Sri Narra Munichandra, Paravatirao Sunkaravalli, Sri Kamala Kumar Swami, Sri M Subrahmanya Yadav used all legal means to locate and identify the original donor and trace the lineage to the present time. Salutations are in order for all these and others involved in the sacred mission. They used RTI Act to obtain the name of the original donor, which took more than a year. After knowing that Sri Prativadi was the donor, finally they were able to trace the 16th generation family member who is 82 years old and who happens to live in Tirupathi. He has two living sons – one in Chennai and the other in New Delhi.
With the assistance of the original donor’s 16/17 generation son Sri Prativadi Bhayankara Ramesh from Chennai, Sri Narendra Dommalapati and Sri P Balasubrahmanyam filed a case in High Court of Andhra Pradesh to stop the “Own Your House Scheme.”
On November 29, 2010 a two judge bench of the AP High Court comprising Acting Chief Justice B. Prakash Rao and Justice V. Suri Appa Rao stayed the decision of the state government and of the TTD in allotting 100 acres in Brahmanapattu village near Tirupati to the employees of TTD.
The court admitting a writ petition filed by P. B. Ramesh and two others that opined that the land allotment was arbitrary, illegal and without the authority of law. In fact the petitioners pointed out that the allotted land in the first place did not even belong to the TTD. It belonged to Lakshminarayanaswami Temple from the times of Sri Krishna Devaraya. The management of the temple was taken over by the TTD. The petitioners argued that mere takeover of the management of this Temple by the TTD did not guarantee the power to alienate the land.
II High Court decrees Gold plating of TTD walls illegal and unconstitutional
Following his appointment as Chairman of the Board of Trustees of TTD in 2008, Sri Adikesavulu Naidu initiated the gold covering of three walls of Ananda Nilayam with gold. On October 1, 2008, the then Chief Minister Y S Rajashekara Reddy formally launched the first phase of the Rs 100-crore worth gold plating program for 'Ananada Nilayam' at Sri Venkateshwara Temple. To assuage the concerns of many concerned Hindus about the written inscriptions on the walls, the TTD had given an assurance that valuable inscriptions on the walls will be digitalized and preserved and half-an-inch gap will be maintained to ensure the safety of the ancient scriptures dated 12th century. The name of the scheme was later changed to Ananda Nilayam Anantha Swarnamayam Scheme (ANASS). It is expected to cost US$22 million and requiring over 440 lbs. of gold.
A number of people wrote to the then Chief Minister K. Rosaiah and the governor requesting them to ask the TTD not to pursue the project. The primary worry here is that the gold-plating would obscure invaluable heritage in terms of the wall inscriptions, dating from the 10th to the 18th century. “They contain epigraphs which throw light on social aspects, the rural economy, the traditions of the Cholas, Pallavas, Yadavas and the Vijayanagara kings, mainly Krishnadevaraya,” says Prof Kirankanth Chowdary of the department of ancient Indian history, culture and archaeology, SV University, Tirupati. The TTD plan was to build copper frameworks a few inches from the wall on which sheets would be attached. “The sheets will prevent light and air from falling on the granite walls, spurring a chemical reaction which will damage the walls,” says Chowdary.
The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) also appealed to the administration of Lord Venkateshwara in Tirumala to drop the work on gold plating of the outer wall of sanctum sanctorum, saying it was “an interference in the religious nature” of the structure.
“There is a craze for covering temple walls and other structures with gold. There is no religious sanction for these acts (as) it is the willful desire of some politicians and individuals (to do so),” VHP International Working President S. Vedantam said.
Dr. Subrahmanian Swamy of Janata Party, G Rahava Reddy of Devalaya Parirakshana Samithi and others filed case in High Court requesting to it to scrap the entire project. On April 22, 2010, a division bench of the AP High Court comprising D Prakash Rao and Justice Reddy Kantha Rao issued an interim STAY ORDER holding the gold plating project of the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam.
On May 31, 2010, arguing before a division bench consisting of Justice B. Prakash Rao and Justice Reddy Kantha Rao which is dealing with the batch of writ petitions challenging the gold plating project of TTD, Dr Swamy said that a secular government functioning under a secular Constitution cannot take up the project of gold plating of the sanctum sanctorum of the main temple at Tirumala. Dr Swamy made it clear that the proposed project was against the spirit of Article 25 of the Constitution. Recalling the TTD Executive Officer's counter affidavit, he said a similar proposal was dropped in 2005 after consultations with Agama experts. In the present instance, the full-fledged Agama committee had not been consulted.
On September 7, 2010, the former chairman of the TTD Trust Board, Mr. Adikesavulu Naidu, defended the board’s decision to undertake gold plating of the sanctum sanctorum of the main temple at Tirumala before the Andhra Pradesh High Court.
On November 29, 2010, The AP High Court declared that the gold plating project of the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams was “illegal, unconstitutional and would damage the inscriptions on the walls of the temple,” which are of heritage value. The verdict was delivered by a division bench comprising the acting Chief Justice B. Prakash Rao and Justice R. Kantha Rao which put a permanent full stop to the controversial project. The bench declared that“any meddling with ancient inscriptions on the walls of the sanctum sanctorum would amount to interfering with the religious aspects of the institution and it can’t form part of any secular activity and as such the same is without any jurisdiction.”
The bench found fault with the TTD for taking up the project in a hurry in a “whimsical manner,” unmindful of the religious sentiments involved. The court considered the report of the Archeological Survey of India, which stated that covering the walls with copper plates on the outer surface may encourage formation of moss and lichen, producing acids which will cause irreparable damage to the structure.
The bench also opined that “once the gold sheets are fixed, there is no possibility of cleaning the surface at regular intervals or applying preservative coats to the structure.” The bench further observed that “the inscriptions pertain to the temple deity and are of immense value. They cannot be treated like bare structures unconnected with the deity…. No project report was prepared, which shows a whimsical approach.”
Referring to the Section 97 and 97A of the Endowments Act, the bench observed, “The TTD Board’s decision to gold plate the walls is bereft of adherence to the bare procedure contemplated under law.” The High Court went on to say that the government was meddling in the temple affairs without considering religious practices, beliefs and sentiments of devotees. The bench also held that the action violated Articles 25 and 27 of the Constitution of India.
III Dharma Rakshana Samithi held on November 29, 20010 in Chennai.
Sri Kamal Kumar Swamiji, President of Hindu Devalaya Parirakshana Samithi held a news conference in Tirupathi on November 28 and dubbed the cancellation of Sanatana Dharma Prachara Sadassu by TTD authorities is an ‘insult' to the religious heads as they were invited and sent back thrice. He also said that the congregation of 65 spiritual leaders would have given suitable guidelines not only on the administration of the temple in a Dharmic way, but also on propagation of the cherished Hindu values.
“This apart, it could have aided the TTD take a correction course, thus help it wriggle out of the scores of scams and corruption charges heaped against it, of late,” he told. Swamiji also asked the TTD to break free from political interference and infuse a tinge of spiritualism into all its activities. Instead of brushing aside the ‘Sadas' as yet another event, he appealed to Mr. Krishna Rao to understand its potential to emerge as a major conclave that could set several things straight in Tirumala. He demanded that Sadassu (Meeting) be convened immediately. “Our intention is to protect the sanctity of Tirumala and we will not allow it to convert into a political and commercial center.”
However, Mr. T. Ravi, TTD public relations officer said that Dharmacharya Sadassu is not cancelled.
On November 29, a private Hindu forum Dharma Rakshana Samithi (DRS) organized the Dharmic Sadassu under the leadership of Sri Dayananda Saraswati of Arsha Vidya Gurukulam and Sri Jayendra Saraswathi of Kanchi Sankaracharya Muth. DRS has taken up the agenda prepared by TTD and discussed the need for working together to strengthen the spirit of Sanatana Dharma and operate Hindu Temples as Dharmic Centers to propagate the richness of our culture. The also opined that because of outside political interference at TTD, the planned Dharmacharya Sadassu was cancelled. They have passed a resolution that outside political interference should be stopped and the Hindu Temples must operate to propagate Sanatana Dharma.
This Sadassu was attended by about 30 Swamiji’s and Peethadhipathis including Sri Swami Dayananda Saraswathi, Sri Jayendra Saraswathi Swamigal, Sri Vidya Narahari Swami of Pushpagiri Peetham, Sri Arjun Das of Hathiramji Peetham, Sri Kamala Kumar Swami, President of Hindu Devalaya Parirakshana Samithi, Sri Pejewar Swami of Udipi Muth, Sri Yogananda Saraswathi of Gopala Krishna Mutham, Sri Siva Swamy from Guntur and others attended. Sri Kamal Kumar Swamiji spoke about the activities of GHHF and HDPS in Andhra Pradesh. Sri Dayananda Saraswathi came and sat next to Sri Kamal Kumar Swami and expressed his appreciation of our efforts in Andhra Pradesh. Sri Jayendra Saraswathi also recognized the efforts of HDPS and GHHF in the state. He also said that protection of Sanatana Dharma is the responsibility of each and every Hindu and they should work together.
Let us all work together. Your involvement is crucial. We have to be freed from the clutches of government control. Let us free our Temples from the secular government. As Swami Vivekananda said:
Arise, awake and stop not till the goal is reached
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