March 6, 2021
Intensifying his campaign to #FreeTNTemples from government clutches, Sadhguru, Founder-Isha Foundation, has written open letters to Tamil Nadu Chief Minister E. Palaniswami as well as Opposition Leader MK Stalin, calling on them to declare “these intentions and plans” in their election manifestos. Describing the appeal as a “Cry of Tamil People to free temples from governmental controls,” the letters urge the political leaders not to take for granted “the forbearance” of the “wonderful Tamil people” and to instead “act on their behalf.” Isha volunteers handed over the letters in person on behalf of Sadhguru to the CM and the Opposition leader.
In his letter, Sadhguru refers to the “eroding sanctity and vitality of Tamil Temples, the Soul of Tamil Culture,” under state control. The Hindu Religious & Charitable Endowments (HR&CE) department recently submitted to the Madras High Court that “11,999 temples have no revenue to perform even one daily puja; 34,093 temples are struggling with less than Rs 10,000 as annual income; and of 44,121 temples under its control in Tamil Nadu, more than 37,000 do not get enough revenue to appoint more than one person, who has to carry out all tasks including priestly and caretaker duties.”
“I have requested the TN CM & Opposition Leader to declare their intent with regard to freeing Temples in state control. We cannot preside over decades of neglect & apathy. Amounts to spiritual suicide for Community,” Sadhguru tweeted after the letters were handed over to the CM and the Opposition Leader.
The #FreeTNTemples campaign has been endorsed by tens of thousands of people on social media. Every day, Sadhguru has been releasing alarming facts about the extent of temple degradation in the state. UNESCO, the UN body that acts as a watchdog for the preservation and promotion of world heritage sites also commented on the state of temples in Tamil Nadu in a 2017 study. UNESCO’s findings included “gross violation of rules” and “some truly shocking scenes of demolition and massacre of historic temples” in Tamil Nadu.
Sadhguru’s letter to Mr. Stalin and CM also highlights other issues such as “revitalization of our beloved Cauvery, enhancing Farmers’ incomes by enabling FPOs and policy reforms, empowering the Tamil Youth through world-class skill development centers and state-supported quality private education for all, bringing in Investments by focusing on ease of business.”
Though the Indian Constitution allows all communities to manage their spaces of worship, the HR&CE law gives the state control over Hindu Temples which has long been a cause of disgruntlement in the majority community. HR&CE laws distorted the very constitution of a secular Nation, by taking over and mismanaging places of worship.