An open letter to Sabarimala petitioner Naushad Ahmed Khan – True Indian Woman

Women yatris to Sabarimala

Swedish women pilgrims to SabarimalaA lawyer who is fighting for the right of women to enter the famous Sabarimala Ayyappa Temple in Kerala has told the Supreme Court that he has received hundreds of death threats warning him to drop the petition, making him seek police protection.

Naushad Ahmed Khan, President of the Indian Young Lawyers Association, is one of the two lawyers who had filed a plea in the Supreme Court against women been barred from entering the temple.

Here is an open letter written by a professional women from Kerala slamming all these double standards people, who cannot work on women’s equality in their own religion but poke their nose into other religions. It was first published by Mission Bengal on 30 January 2016.

Here is her letter —

Mr Naushad Ahmad Khan, have you travelled in an air plane? There while giving security instructions, they say, fix your own safety mask first before helping others. I request you to fix women rights problem in your own religion first before helping other religions.

I am a Hindu woman from Kerala and I don’t want to go to Sabarimala. You will find hundreds of thousands of us in Kerala and elsewhere. Highly educated professionals, writers, etc. who will agree with me. Why? Because, Kerala Hindu women have temples and festivals exclusively for themselves. Ours was a matriarchal society where only the women inherited.

We have a temple where once a year the priests there will wash the feet of every woman devotee who comes there because a woman is the representation of the Goddess. We have a temple in Mannarashala where the priests are exclusively women, We have Thiruvathira, which is an exclusively women’s festival and no men allowed in the vicinity. We have Pongala a pooja where lakhs and lakhs of women take part in it at Tiruvananthapuram. Since the temple cannot hold all these vast numbers, Trivandrum literally shuts down and it’s streets are full of women. Yes, exclusively women.

Contrary to that, Sabarimala is the one place in Kerala which is exclusively for men. This is where our men go together. It’s a male bonding thing like fathers and sons, brothers, uncles, grandfathers, all the male members in a family or community or friends. The whole community irrespective of caste, wealth, creed joins in including the women. Yes, many of us keep fast with the men in our family. Also women of young age and older ones above 60 are allowed inside Sabarimala, which is never shown by media. This is done because Lord Ayyappa was a brahmachari, which, pseudo secular morons fail to understand.

These forty days are a source of great joy and peace for us. In many homes, it is the only time of the year when men don’t drink, no non-veg food, every one gets up very early in the morning around 4:00 am, bathe, do their pooja, visit the nearest temple, the family gets together and it brings family members in together.

Our men don’t do this bonding by drinking, drugs or whoring, Instead it is through 40 days of detox. Every one is in it. The women as well.

There is peace in society because many alcoholics are detoxing. There is a bond not only in the family but in the community. You go for bhajans in the evening. Again the family goes together. The community gets together, very important in this day and age when everyone is working especially in Kerala.

After 40 days the men go to Sabarimala, sometimes taking their aged mothers with them and maybe the older children including girls who haven’t yet menstruated.

The women have the home to themselves. Three days or until the men come back to do as they please. What do they call this is modern terms? Yes, men having their own space and women their own space and time out. Well, we have been doing this for a long time—keeping our cultural ethos and values in mind while doing so.

So request all the pseudo secular people, media and peaceful minority to mind their own business and work on women equality in their society, which is indeed in a shameful state. Please mind your own business and let us do the same.

A True Indian Woman

Women yatris returning from Sabarimala

Science, Secularism and Saturn – Ashish Dhar

Shaneshwar at Shingnapur

Ashish Dhar“Most Indians are deeply religious in temperament and therefore, many laws that are derived from a secular constitution find few instinctively eager takers. This dichotomy, though, is brushed aside by deracinated, elitist intellectuals appealing to the authority of reason, which is deemed sacrosanct.” – Ashish Dhar

Rationality is an extremely useful state of mind. Alas, it is not the only state of mind. Somewhere between rational enquiry and irrational mumbo-jumbo lies the non-rational world of art, poetry, music, mythology and much else. Of course, the non-rational does have rational as well as irrational building blocks, the concept of harmony in music and skilful exaggerations or logical contradictions in story-telling for instance, but as a cognitive phenomenon, non-rationality refuses to be tied down to either rationality or its opposing binary.

In other words, the pleasant experience of listening to music or reading poetry has little to do with our knowledge of sound waves or neuroscience. In contrast, rationality becomes indispensable in scientific enquiry and in societal matters, where forming explicit consensus over issues of importance is unavoidable. Hence it finds an extraordinary, if not supreme, place in our collective imagination.

However, as proposed above, rationality ought to have its reasonable limits and not just in the fields of aesthetics or art but also when we ascribe meaning to our everyday existence. The legendary propensity of human beings to interpret the infinite expressions of a limitless universe within the rigid constructs of reason makes us unrealistically optimistic about the success of this hopeless endeavour. On a more grounded, less speculative note, the reliance on reason alone as our sole moral compass is sure to lead to disastrous navigation in social life. It is worth considering that psychopaths mostly self-identify as impeccable rationalists. The “Rationalist Delusion“, with its fair share of caveats (pdf), is an accurate description of the belief system of a large and diverse section of humanity, one that worships reason as a panacea for all moral ills whereas evidence indicates that the reasoning faculty actually evolved to help us Rene Descarteswin arguments and rationalize our choices in hindsight rather than arriving at some higher objective truth.

The sacred privilege granted to rationality in contemporary society can be traced back to the European scientific revolution, when long-held beliefs of an entire civilization were brutally humiliated under the penetrating gaze of reason and science, subsequently liberating the whole populace from the stifling grip of religious superstition and prejudice. Descartes famously proclaimed, “I think, therefore I am” directly undermining the legitimacy of emotional and spiritual states of being.

Ironically, this apparently radical statement was an inadvertent rehash of the ideas of Plato and other Greek philosophers, who made a name out of deifying reason, long before Christianity had come about. In terms of the philosophy of science, the privileging of rationality became the basis for positivism and empiricism, which hold that any knowledge must ultimately derive its authority from reason.

Predictably, the triumph of rationality had a massive political impact culminating in the French Revolution, with its celebration of liberty, equality and fraternity. Earlier, the growing trust in rationality had gone hand in hand with the Protestant Reformation and had witnessed a rift between the Church and the State, giving currency to the concept of secularism, the formal separation of religion and state.

Cross Crossed-OutBy the 20th century, as the authority of Christianity was taking a nosedive in many parts of the West, blind faith in Jesus gave way to an unlikely alternative, blind faith in reason, marked by the rise of ideologies like Communism and Atheism, which are essentially Godless versions of Christianity in their obsessive urge to reduce all of history to a handful of simplistic ideas and the promise of “deliverance” from aeons of oppression. Another feature that these secular creeds inherited from Christianity is a compulsive need to define an enemy, a secular Satan.

Communists profess hatred for the bourgeois, capitalists abhor communists, atheists blame religion for all evils and so on. In the middle of the same century, India ceased to be a British colony and in the true spirit of a colonized people, the country adopted a secular constitution inspired by the cherished values of the colonizer, which would not necessarily be a bad thing if only enough number of citizens subscribed to those values.

To come to an understanding of the schism between what the Indian Constitution upholds and what various sections of the society believe in, let us first take a rudimentary look at the religious demographics in India. Hindus form the majority, Muslims are the largest minority and Christians are a distant third, followed by numerous other groups, some organically connected with Hinduism and others not.

Hindus themselves are an incredibly diverse polylith that allows for decentralization of customs, rites and rituals, often based on local geography and environmental constraints. Regardless of which religion they currently belong to, as a consequence of their dharmic past, most Indians are deeply religious in temperament and therefore, many laws that are derived from a secular constitution find few instinctively eager takers. This dichotomy, though, is brushed aside by deracinated, elitist intellectuals appealing to the authority of reason, which is deemed sacrosanct.

Constitution of IndiaNevertheless, in the real world of action, it creates irresolvable conflicts in legislation and law enforcement. Imagine the emotional turmoil faced by a devout Sikh cop being asked to supervise the demolition of a gurudwara to make space for a flyover. To be fair to the Constitution, it is not a static document and has been amended nearly a hundred times since independence already but in an adversarial political environment where an elected government cannot pass regular, non-controversial bills in the parliament, expecting serious constitutional amendments that can have political consequences is asking for the moon. Thus, in practice, Indians are condemned to live with whatever has been thrust upon them by their colonial past.

It could be argued that given the mind-boggling plurality of Indian society, to which modern secularism can make no claims of contribution, it would be impossible to work out a common minimum program that functions equally well for all sections and therefore, a code has to be enforced “from the outside” with or without the consent of the masses. In their defence, the secularists declare that in time, such laws would trickle down into the consciousness of people and within a few generations, their primitive religious intuition would be replaced by a humane and rational outlook. This hope, other than being a product of the rationalist delusion mentioned above, also turns out to be a non starter for Indian society, which has a by and large successful history of resisting such attempts of acculturation by the powers that be, the Islamic invader, the colonial empire or the modern state. For the people don’t identify with the events of another time and place—read reformation in Europe—in which their own ancestry had absolutely no role to play.

This resentment is further accentuated by the glaring historical facts that point to a remarkably more harmonious social order in their own civilization. So, a relevant question to ask in this context is, if Hindu society never faced conflicts between the ruling class and the clergy, obviously due to its non-Iain T. Bensonecclesiastical make up, why should it accept a false consciousness imposed via hazy platitudes of secularist discourse? The most common answer is that Indian society is not entirely Hindu and it has to fulfil the aspirations of the minorities as well and secularism ensures that. Never mind the self referential circularity of secularist logic, let us now examine how secularism indeed provides a breath of fresh air to the minorities by effectively suffocating the majority.

A secular state can choose to interact with religion(s) in the following ways as defined by Iain Benson, a Canadian-British legal philosopher:

  1. Neutral secular: No support to any religion in any way
  2. Positive secular: State creates general conditions favourable to all religions without favouring beliefs of anyone
  3. Negative secular: State not competent in religious matters but does not inhibit religious manifestations
  4. Inclusive secular: State not controlled by a single religion but works in the widest interest of different faith groups including non religious

It would be interesting to find out which of the above is the accepted definition of secularism in India. As the word was added to the preamble hastily at the time of 1975 emergency, it is unlikely that Mrs. Gandhi or her colleagues would’ve had the time to delve into such intricacies. But it is never too late to get to the bottom of a conundrum that is an inexhaustible source of sensationalism for the Indian media. From the above definitions, it is clear that in the Indian experience, putting a finger on one of the four variations turns out to be a near impossibility. It appears that our secularism is a “contextual” secularism that changes its function as per political convenience.

The state turns positive in relation to Hajj subsidies and negative regarding issues such as large-scale conversion by Christian missionaries. When it comes to Hindu issues, it becomes a neutral secular state, expressly suppressing facts through proxies and poking its nose into issues it has no business to be worried about. In states like West Bengal, the state adopts another form of secularism, that is, criminal secularism because it refuses to link appalling acts of crime to a “particular religion”.

The BJPs Secularism!Evidently, secularism in India is a false construct that only applies to the majority religion, whether it is in the form of the government control of temples or an unwarranted interference in educational institutions run by the majority community. This contextual secularism has serious repercussions for the Hindu society as it reopens the wounds that it has endured under a thousand years of largely exploitative rule by outsiders and alienates its various sections into becoming self loathing anglophiles, hardliner reactionaries or indifferent, apolitical and uninformed bystanders.

Hindus, under the influence of the dominant secularist discourse, are fast forgetting the art of speaking of their own dharma on their own terms and it is getting increasingly common to find well-meaning Hindus getting embroiled in inane debates about the “right” to worship according to rules created in 16th century Europe.

Shingnapur, a relatively unknown village of Maharashtra, was dragged into one such duel between reason and “superstition”, when a group of self-proclaimed feminists declared their intent to offer oil to the murti of Shanidev (Saturn) at the temple, a practice traditionally restricted to only males. Keeping with the arrogant trend of rationalist interventions, it was decreed that the practice was an expression of deep-seated patriarchy prevalent in Hindu society and how such discriminatory practices must end.

Darandale Shivajirao AnnasahebThe Shani Shingnapur Temple technically belongs to the Shri Shaneshwar Devasthan Trust and more broadly to the residents of this village, whose many generations have adored and worshipped the deity in a particular way. Further, there is no evidence of these unique customs originating from social compulsions or tyranny of any kind. They belong to the realm of the esoteric and must be spared the jibes of secular rationality. Most importantly, the arrangement works for the locals, whose faith in the power of the deity’s presence inspires them to do away with doors for their houses and locks for their valuables, an ideal worth emulating for outsiders.

In Hindu mythology, Saturn is easily the most difficult planet to propitiate. It symbolizes death, disease, poverty and all that we abhor in life. It brings about great hindrance in self-expression and self-manifestation but only through these finite obstacles does it offer a gateway to infinite potential. The state of Hindu society for the last one thousand years also seems to have been strongly afflicted by Saturn, characterized by widespread poverty, subjugation, self-pity and exploitation by external forces beyond its control.

Reasoning (yukti) has been a phenomenal asset for the Indian civilization, yet it has never been worshipped or put on a holy pedestal. Experience (anubhava) has always superseded reason as far as its proximity to the truth is concerned. Saturn is the planet that grants us anubhava. Let us not permit petty political reasons to overrule the spiritual experience of our diverse communities, who’re anyway suffering the tyranny of secularization for no fault of theirs. Let Saturn be our guide to self discovery, in Shingnapur and elsewhere.- IndiaFacts, 4 February 2016

» Ashish Dhar is a mechanical engineer and an entrepreneur who lives in New Delhi. He is co-founder of www.pragyata.com, an e-learning portal dedicated to Indic knowledge systems.


Secularism of Congress

See also

How India forgot about Pakistani Hindus – David Frawley

Sitala Temple, Lahore, Pakistan. Photo (C) Haroon Khalid

David Frawley (Vamadeva Shastri )“Hindus in India do not give adequate attention to the plight of Pakistani Hindus. … Yet should they raise the issue of mistreatment of Hindus in Pakistan, they are criticised as communal or disturbing social harmony. The negation of Pakistani Hindus has been so successful that if one raises the issue, many people think that one is exaggerating or making up their plight.” – Dr David Frawley

Pakistani Hindu WomenWhich religious group has the least amount of human rights in South Asia? The probable answer, perhaps surprisingly, is a group that few think about or recognise as existing—Pakistani Hindus.

The plight of Pakistani Hindus is among the direst of any community in the world and has been so for decades. Yet not many in the world are aware of, much less have any concern for them, even in India.

Hindus in Pakistan are a targeted community and losing their numbers, unlike Muslims in India who are increasing. While there were similar percentages of Hindus in Pakistan and Muslims in India at the time of Partition, Pakistani Hindus have been continually oppressed, marginalised, converted or simply eliminated. The result is that only two per cent of Pakistan is Hindu today.

Most Hindus in Pakistan live in Sindh ProvincePakistani Hindus are among the poorest of the poor and do only the most menial jobs. The most basic human rights are not given to them. Pakistani Hindus cannot own land or register their marriages. Their women are commonly abducted and there is little they can do about it. Pakistani courts seldom hear their pleas, or if they do, seldom rule in their favor. Sometimes paying of high ransoms may work to bring their daughters back, but overall Pakistani Hindus are too poor to afford these. A Pakistan Hindu Marriage Act has been in the courts for years but has not yet been approved, though Pakistan has continued a Christian Marriage Act from the British era.

Hinduism is denigrated in Pakistan textbooks as unholy and the Hindu past of Pakistan is almost eradicated from the record. Pakistanis are taught to distrust and look down upon Hindus, as kafirs, if not subhuman. The result is that Pakistani Hindus often face fierce religious hatred by people who do not even know them.

You will not see any thriving Hindu temples left in Pakistan comparable to the great mosques that have continued in India. Hindu temples are neglected, occupied or destroyed. There are no Hindu religious schools of any size or any group funding them like the Saudi-funded madrasas in India. There are no government honoured Hindu holidays in Pakistan, such as Islamic holidays in India.

There has never been any major Pakistan political leader who was a Hindu. Hindus have no real representation in government and are afraid to even try to vote. There are certainly no comparable Hindu actors lauded in Pakistan movies as there are Muslim actors like the Khans in India. In fact, Hindus have no presence in the media or any social influence. The Hindu organisations that do exist often come under vandalism or outright attack, and try to function in secrecy.

Desecrated India FlagWhere is the outrage from any corner?

Ignoring the plight of Pakistani Hindus began with the government of India after 1947, perhaps fearing that highlighting their plight might inflame anti-Muslim sentiments among Hindus in India. It has continued ever since, almost without any question as to its consequences.

The Indian media and academia followed suit after the government, and the foreign media and academia naturally followed their examples. Well-funded pro-Muslim lobbies have naturally not wanted to have the issue addressed, and the large pro-Pakistan lobby in America has invested heavily in trying to show that Pakistan is much more tolerant than it is.

The Left in India has been averse to addressing the cause of Pakistani Hindus, probably because it considers Hinduism to be Right wing and the enemy. Human rights and NGO groups afford them little attention as little funding is available to favor their cause. Even feminists have ignored the plight of Pakistani Hindu women, though Pakistani Hindu women are among the most ill-treated in the world.

Hindus in India do not give adequate attention to the plight of Pakistani Hindus, either. Yet should they raise the issue of mistreatment of Hindus in Pakistan, they are criticised as communal or disturbing social Pakistan Hindu Girls: Abducted, converted, then forcibly married!harmony. The negation of Pakistani Hindus has been so successful that if one raises the issue, many people think that one is exaggerating or making up their plight.

The need for action

Should not all groups in India insist that Pakistani Hindus be afforded the same rights as Indian Muslims? After all, they are both human beings.

Fortunately, the Narendra Modi government is beginning to address the plight of Pakistani Hindus and a few India media groups are making better efforts as well. Yet so far they are only scraping the tip of a massive iceberg of oppression and abuse that will require persistent and determined struggles to effectively correct. – Daily-O,  14 January 2016

» Dr David Frawley (Pandit Vamadeva Sastri) is an American Hindu teacher and author who has written more than thirty books on Hinduism. He is the founder and director of the American Institute of Vedic Studies in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Pakistani Hindus Protest

Also read

 

Headley asserts Pakistan’s ISI, Army’s hand in 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks – Manoj Gupta & Shawan Sen

David Coleman Headley

CNN-IBN“Headley is the first one to depose before Indian court from foreign soil. Sources said Headley had initially refused to confess and after which Doval met US officials four months ago. According to the sources Doval put pressure on US to make Headley turn approver. The sources said that Headley’s confession will help India isolate Pakistan completely.” – Manoj Gupta & Shawan Sen

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2008_Mumbai_attacksA day before 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks convict David Coleman Headley will depose in court, his confession has nailed Pakistan’s Inter-Service Intelligence and Army‘s role in the attacks.

On the basis of National Investigation Agency‘s interrogation report accessed by CNN-IBN, Headley said 26/11 attacks were launched with Lashkar-e-Toiba Hafiz Saeed‘s approval. He said attacks were executed with the help of ISI and the money was given for recce.

Headley added that apart from Mumbai, he had recced residence of the Vice President, India Gate and CBI office in the national capital.

Headley further said that ISI’s major Iqbal and Sameer Ali were my handlers. He also said that LeT’s Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi‘s handler was ISI brigadier Rivaz and added that ISI chief Shuja Pasha visited Lakhvi after his arrest, post-26/11 terror attacks.

It was a major success for India in 26/11 case after Headley turned approver through efforts of NSA Ajit Doval.

Headley is the first one to depose before Indian court from foreign soil. Sources said Headley had initially refused to confess and after which Doval met US officials four months ago.

Ajit DovalAccording to the sources Doval put pressure on US to make Headley turn approver. The sources said that Headley’s confession will help India isolate Pakistan completely.

All this comes just a few days after US President Barack Obama sent a strong message out to Pakistan on terrorist groups operating from its soil and lauded India’s efforts to reach out to its neighbour. He had said, “Pakistan should de-legitimise, disrupt and dismantle terrorist networks on its soil. Both Modi and Sharif are advancing a dialogue on how to confront violent extremism and terrorism across the region. India can be an anchor of stability and security in the Asia-Pacific region.”

Headley is currently serving 35 years in an American prison after being convicted of being involved in the planning and execution of the Mumbai terrorist attacks on November 26, 2008 in which 166 persons were killed. – IBNLive, 7 February 2016

Barack Obama & Nawaz Sharif

Congress attempts to takeover Kamakhya Temple – Jayant Chowdhury

Kamakhya Temple, Nilachal Hills, Assam

Journalist“This is a shameless attempt by the Tarun Gogoi government to run the temple through its chosen agents. The government has no business to run a temple or any place of worship, be it a mosque, church, gurdwara or synagogue. The Kamakhya Temple is being run perfectly well and the Tarun Gogoi government was trying to subvert last year’s Supreme Court verdict restoring the task of running the temple to the Dolois, as has been the age-old practice. We will strongly oppose any attempt by this government to resuscitate the bill,” said BJP leader Himanta Biswa Sarma. – Jayant Chowdhury

Tarun GogoiAn attempt by the Tarun Gogoi-led Congress government in Assam to take over the management of the ancient Kamakhya temple has been nixed, albeit temporarily.

The state government had introduced a bill (the Assam Sri Sri Maa Kamakhya Devalaya Management Bill, 2015) in the state assembly on Monday that would have led to the creation of a board, headed by a serving or retired IAS officer and comprising members nominated by the government, representatives from the temple management, and the district administration as well as the state revenue and finance departments, to look after the management and development of the temple.

After Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) members objected to the bill, the government withdrew it temporarily.

But to fully understand the sinister motive behind the Congress government’s attempt to take over the Kamakhya Temple, it is important to delve a bit into its history. The management and administration of the Kamakhya Temple, one of the most powerful Shakti peeths and an important religious site for Hindus, has been under two ‘Dolois’ who are elected by the ‘Bardeuris’ or priests of the principal Kamakhya Temple, since the time of the Ahom kings.

These Bardeuris are descendants of the famous Kanyakubja Brahmins of Kannauj and were brought over to run the Kamakhya temple by Maharaja Dharmapala of the Pal dynasty in mid-11th century. There are four clans of Bardeuris and each adult male of the four clans (there are around 450 of them) can stand for election to the post of the two Dolois .

The person getting the highest number of votes becomes the ‘Dangor Doloi’ and the one getting the second-highest votes become the ‘Xoru Doloi’ (‘Dangor’ means ‘elder’ in Assamese, and ‘Xoru’ is ‘younger’). The two Dolois have five-year tenures.

In 1992, Jnananda Prasad Sarma and Paran Chandra Sarma were elected as the ‘Dangor’ and ‘Xoru’ Dolois respectively. But when their terms were about to end in 1997, they constituted the Kamakhya Debutter Board to run the temple. Over time, this Board came to be packed with priests and pandas loyal to the Congress, which has been in power for most of the time in Assam since Independence.

The Kamakhya Bardeuri Samaj filed a case against the Debutter Board at the Gauhati High Court in 1998 and the High Court, in November 2011, ruled that the Board had no locus standi and the affairs of the temple should be handed over to the Bardeuris. But the Board challenged this verdict in the Supreme Court which, on July 7, 2015 upheld the High Court verdict. This was a big blow to the Congress government in Assam, which could no longer remote-control the affairs of the temple through the Debutter Board that was packed with its loyalists and lackeys.

Kamakhya DeviBut the state government did not honour a vital part of the SC order. “The Supreme Court had asked the district authorities to seize the premises, accounts and properties of the Kamakhya Devalaya from the Debutter Board and hand them over to the Bardeuri Samaj. But even six months after that order, we haven’t got the accounts of the temple and most of the properties. So we filed a contempt petition in the Supreme Court last month,” said Bhaskar Sarma, the secretary of the Kamakhya Bardeuri Samaj.

The bill brought by the Tarun Gogoi government is, thus, a sinister attempt to subvert the Supreme Court order and take over the management of the temple. On getting to know of the state government’s plans to introduce the bill, members of the Bardeuri Samaj launched an indefinite hunger strike from January 30.

The state’s move attracted criticism and widespread condemnation from intellectuals and cultural personas of the state as well as the powerful All Assam Students’ Union and the opposition BJP and the AGP. When the bill was tabled, Opposition members questioned the motive behind the bill, especially since the Kamahya Temple was being run perfectly well by the two Dolois and the Bardeuri Samaj. They also said the age-old traditions of the historic shrine should not be interfered with, and pointed out that the Bardeuri Samaj had not been consulted. Facing flak within and outside the Assembly, the government kept the bill in abeyance. However, it has not dropped the bill and chances are that it would try again to introduce and pass the bill.

The Opposition, while questioning the Congress government’s motives, has also pointed out that governments have no business managing the affairs of religious places. “This is a shameless attempt by the Tarun Gogoi government to run the temple through its chosen agents. The government has no business to run a temple or any place of worship, be it a mosque, church, gurdwara or synagogue. The Kamakhya Temple is being run perfectly well and the Tarun Gogoi government was trying to subvert last year’s Supreme Court verdict restoring the task of running the temple to the Dolois, as has been the age-old practice. We will strongly oppose any attempt by this government to resuscitate the bill,” said BJP leader Himanta Biswa Sarma.

AGP leaders also spoke in the same vein and wondered why the Tarun Gogoi government is targeting the Kamakhya Temple. “In that case, the government should take over the management of all mosques and churches in the state. Can Tarun Gogoi dare do that?” wondered a senior AGP leader.

In Assam, a wide cross-section of the citizenry are dismayed by the Congress government’s attempts to interfere in the management of a Hindu place of worship and are asking if Tarun Gogoi can even think of taking over the management of any mosque or church in the state. – Swarajya, 4 February 2016

» Jayant Chowdhury is a commentator on politics and society in Bengal and eastern, including north-eastern, India.

Sonia Gandhi & Tarun Gogoi

TTD’s hundi income to cross Rs 1,000 crore in 2016-17 – G. P. Shukla

Venkateshwara Temple Tirumala

Tirumala Tirupathi Devasthanams“For the first time in the history of the TTD, the income derived from the temple hundi by way of offerings is put at Rs. 1,010 crore, surpassing the one thousand crore mark.” – G. P. Shukla

The Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam (TTD) on Saturday has approved its annual budget for the year 2016-17 with an estimated revenue of Rs. 2,678.07 crores.

For the first time in the history of the TTD, the income derived from the temple hundi by way of offerings is put at Rs. 1,010 crore, surpassing the one thousand crore mark.

The second major source of income is interest on investments with the estimates being pegged at Rs. 778.93 crores.

The TTD also expects an income of Rs. 209 crores by way of the sale of Rs. 300 special entry darshan tickets and a whopping Rs. 175 crores by way of sale of prasadams, Rs. 150 crores by sale of human hair followed by Rs. 114.5 crores by way of sale of choultry receipts and Rs. 55 crores through the sale of arjithas seva tickets.

Other receipts include Rs. 37.39 crores by way of loans and advances to the employees, EMD, security deposits etc., in addition to Rs. 15 crores from the sale of gold dollars, besides a staggering income of Rs. 133.25 crores by way of lease, rents from hotels and shops, kalyanakatta, engineering, toll gate and other capital receipts.

Tirumala Tirupati HundiThe payments side shows a bulk outgo of Rs. 757.06 towards corpus and other investments as against Rs. 629.83 crore in the last year. The next major outflow is Rs. 500 crore towards salaries and wages followed by Rs. 320 crore towards the procurement of materials.

Other major expenses include grants and commissions (Rs. 165 crore), fixed assets, engineering works (Rs. 160 crore), out sourcing expenses (Rs.199.25 crore), pension trust and gratuity payments (Rs. 120 crore), pension fund contributions (Rs. 75 crore), electrical charges (Rs. 55 crore), repairs and maintenance (Rs.80.20 crore), loans sand advances to employees, EMD, security deposits (Rs. 41.50 crore), other benefits like reimbursement of fees, books, Brahmotsavam bahumanam (Rs. 23 crore), besides Rs. 129.96 crore towards other capital and miscellaneous expenses. – The Hindu, 30 January 2016

Tirumala with Sri Venkateshwara Temple

K. K. Muhammed: Left historians thwarted Babri compromise – S. Rama Krishna

K. K. Muhammed

“Left-leaning historians led by Irfan Habib, who was the chairman of the Indian Council of Historical Research at the time, impelled Muslim groups active on the Babri Action Committee not to accept the Hindu groups’ argument that they had a claim on the site owing to the existence of a temple beneath the mosque’s structure.” – K. K. Muhammed

Prof Irfan HabibArchaeologist K. K. Muhammed has alleged that Left-leaning historians are to blame for not letting a compromise take place between Hindus and Muslims on the building of a Ram temple at Ayodhya even though archaeological evidence pointed to the presence of a Hindu temple beneath the site of the now demolished Babri Masjid.

“Left-leaning historians led by Irfan Habib, who was the chairman of the Indian Council of Historical Research at the time, impelled Muslim groups active on the Babri Action Committee not to accept the Hindu groups’ argument that they had a claim on the site owing to the existence of a temple beneath the mosque’s structure,” Muhammed told this newspaper. Muhammed has mentioned in his recently published autobiography, Njan Enna Bharatiyan (I am an Indian), that a temple existed at the site, a revelation that created ripples.

Muhammed, 63, was born in the Muslim dominated Calicut. He studied in Delhi and worked at various places in North India. When he was studying at the School of Archaeology in Delhi, he participated in the excavation works at the Babri Masjid site in 1976-77. He was a part of a team led by the then ASI director general, Professor B. B. Lal. “We had found 14 pillars of a temple, which must have belonged to the 11th or 12th century. The masjid was apparently built on the debris of the temple,” Muhammed has mentioned in his autobiography written in Malayalam.

Muhammed said this was not the first time that he had mentioned about the existence of a temple pre-dating the mosque. “An amicable settlement should take place in the Babri Masjid dispute. The site can be handed over to Hindus for the construction of a Ram temple, but Hindus should take the initiative to offer an honourable settlement to Muslims. Direct talks should be held between Hindus and Muslims and no third-party should be involved,” Muhammed told this newspaper.

Muhammed, however, denied media reports that he had commented on the Taj Mahal or other monuments built by Muslim rulers. “I am an archaeologist and historical facts are important to me. I am not a spokesperson of the RSS or VHP,” he said.

K. K. Muhammed's book in MalayalamMuhammed is surprised to see the response to his autobiography. The 159-page book hit the stands on 16 January, and its first edition got sold within two weeks. Mathrubhumi, which published the book, is planning a second edition, while talks are also underway to translate the book into English and several other Indian languages.

When asked about the reaction of Muslims to his book, Muhammed said that most of them have appreciated his observations. “There are several Muslims who think that a reasonable solution can be found to the dispute. After all, Ram temple is to Hindus what Mecca and Madina are to Muslims,” said Muhammed, who retired from ASI two years ago and is currently working as project director of the Aga Khan Trust for Culture in Hyderabad. The trust has taken up the restoration of world heritage monuments Qutb Shahi Tombs at a budget of around Rs 100 crore.

Muhammed is also known for his restoration of the millennium old Bateshwar temples in Madhya Pradesh. He had also persuaded the Maoists in Chhattisgarh to join the restoration work of many temples in the forest areas. “The uniqueness of India is its secular credentials. We should all work to protect them,” he told this newspaper. – Sunday Guardian, 31 January 2016

K. K. Muhammed with Obamas

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