Isha Foundation founder and spiritual leader Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev has asked the Tamil Nadu government to give up control of temples in the state and hand their management to devotees to stop them from being “gradually ruined”.
In a series of tweets posted with the hashtag ‘Free TN Temples’, Sadhguru said the temples should be freed from the “clutches of the government” as he claimed there was an alarming decline in their condition under state control. He tagged chief minister Edappadi Palanisamy, DMK leader MK Stalin and actor Rajinikanth in his tweets, as he sought to make it an issue ahead of the upcoming assembly elections.
He said that all political parties must promise to the people of Tamil Nadu that freeing temples will be a part of their political agenda. “You have to give this commitment to the people if you want to win the coming elections, whether it is the ruling party or other parties. The temples in Tamil Nadu should be freed from the slavery of the government,” he said.
In a video message, he described the temples as “the source of our Tamil culture,” and said they must be cared for and managed by devotees who “value temples more than their lives.” He termed the desecration of temples “slow poison”, and added that he was pained by the neglect and apathy towards these vibrant spaces of worship.
The spiritual leader wrote on Twitter that if the government has to manage temples, it should declare that it is ‘theocratic, not democratic”, as he pointed out that the government should have no role in managing places of worship in a secular society.
Sadhguru said the term ‘secular’ means that state and religion will not interfere in each other’s affairs, a right enjoyed by all religions except the Hindu faith. “East India Company not just stole the wealth of our nation but also enslaved and suffocated our spirituality by taking over temples… Today, we have Sarkari souls, systematic suffocation.”
Sadhguru said the government’s own department, the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Department, had submitted to the Madras High Court last year that 11,999 temples are dying and not a single ceremony has taken place there. “34,000 temples are struggling with (revenue of) less than Rs 10,000 a year and 37,000 temples have (appointed) just one person for pooja, maintenance, security etc,” he said.
The Isha Foundation founder said it was shameful that temples captured for greed by the East India Company 300 years ago continue to languish in dilapidated states of utter neglect even 74 years after freedom from colonial rule. “If the same situation persists, all but 10 important temples will not exist in the next 100 years,” he said.