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Why is there no 'separation of temples and state' in India?

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prasad1

Well-known member
Sure. Let us have some FACTS before we discuss and debate.
When Patel, K. M. Munshi and other leaders of the Congress went to Mahatma Gandhi with their proposal to reconstruct the Somnath temple, Gandhi blessed the move, but suggested that the funds for the construction should be collected from the public and the temple should not be funded by the state. He expressed that he was proud to associate himself to the project of renovation of the temple. However, soon both Gandhi and Sardar Patel died and the task of reconstruction of the temple continued under Munshi, who was the Minister for Food and Civil Supplies, Government of India headed by Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru.

The ruins were pulled down in October 1950 and the mosque present at that site was shifted few kilometres away by using construction vehicles. In May 1951, Rajendra Prasad, the first President of the Republic of India, invited by K M Munshi, performed the installation ceremony for the temple. The President said in his address, "It is my view that the reconstruction of the Somnath Temple will be complete on that day when not only a magnificent edifice will arise on this foundation, but the mansion of India's prosperity will be really that prosperity of which the ancient temple of Somnath was a symbol.". He added "The Somnath temple signifies that the power of reconstruction is always greater than the power of destruction.

 

prasad1

Well-known member
Your kind attention is invited to the high-lighted portion of your own message.

How did the British enact a law to oversee the religious affairs of Hindus in 1982, a good thirty five years after Indian Independence? Did the parliament outsource law making to the British?

Please have a good read of the messages before you post. These factual errors lower the level of participation.

As you might be knowing, Quora is a medium of Q & A's and is not necessarily AUTHENTIC.
You are right the date was wrong.

In 1923, Madras Hindu Religious Endowments Act was passed by Madras Presidency. In 1925, the Government constituted "The Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Board" consisting of a President and two to four Commissioners nominated by the Government to function as a statutory body. Subsequently, it was modified and in 1960 it became The Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments department by Tamil Nadu Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Act XXII of 1959 which came into force with effect from 1 January 1960.

From 1991, no religious and spiritual leaders are involved in maintenance and administration of the Hindu Temples and Charitable Endowments. However, the maintenance and administration of the Jain temples are under the administration of Jain religious and spiritual leaders.

The act controls 36,425 temples, 56 mutts or religious orders (and 47 temples belonging to mutts), 1,721 specific endowments and 189 trusts.



The wall of separation between temple and colonial state in India was achieved in 1863, when a law was enacted which said that it would no longer be “lawful” for “any Government in India, or for any Officer of any Government” in his official capacity, to take over the “superintendence of any land or other property” belonging to a “Mosque, Temple, or other religious establishment”, to take part in the “management or appropriation of any [religious] endowment”, to nominate or appoint any trustee in a religious institution, “or to be in any way concerned therewith”. Referring to this law in the legislative council, the Lieutenant Governor of Bengal said that it would “rid” the government of a “burden”.

However, this colonial vision of secularism was rejected by India’s founding fathers. After the Government of India Act, 1919, Indian legislators came to power at the provinces. Indian political leaders enacted the far-reaching Madras Hindu Religious Endowments Act, 1926, which virtually took over the management and administration of Hindu temples in the province. It established “boards” appointed by the government. Temple trustees had to furnish accounts to and obey the instructions of the boards. Temples’ surplus funds could be spent by the boards themselves, on any “religious, educational or charitable purposes not inconsistent with [their] objects”.

 
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prasad1

Well-known member

Let us examine the history of Relation between state and Church.
The separation of church and state is a philosophic and jurisprudential concept for defining political distance in the relationship between religious organizations and the nation state. Conceptually, the term refers to the creation of a secular state (with or without legally explicit church–state separation) and to disestablishment, the changing of an existing, formal relationship between the church and the state.

For centuries, monarchs ruled by the idea of divine right. Sometimes this began to be used by a monarch to support the notion that the king ruled both his own kingdom and Church within its boundaries, a theory known as caesaropapism. On the other side was the Catholic doctrine that the Pope, as the Vicar of Christ on earth, should have the ultimate authority over the Church, and indirectly over the state. Moreover, throughout the Middle Ages the Pope claimed the right to depose the Catholic kings of Western Europe and tried to exercise it, sometimes successfully, sometimes not, such as was the case with Henry VIII of England and Henry III of Navarre.

The concept of separating church and state is often credited to the writings of English philosopher John Locke (1632–1704). According to his principle of the social contract, Locke argued that the government lacked authority in the realm of individual conscience, as this was something rational people could not cede to the government for it or others to control. For Locke, this created a natural right in the liberty of conscience, which he argued must therefore remain protected from any government authority. These views on religious tolerance and the importance of individual conscience, along with his social contract, became particularly influential in the American colonies and the drafting of the United States Constitution.

The first amendment to the US constitution says:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

The "establishment of religion" clause of the First Amendment means at least this: Neither a state nor the Federal Government can set up a church. Neither can pass laws which aid one religion, aid all religions, or prefer one religion to another . . . in the words of Jefferson, the [First Amendment] clause against establishment of religion by law was intended to erect 'a wall of separation between church and State' . . . That wall must be kept high and impregnable. We could not approve the slightest breach.

"Freedom of religion means freedom to hold an opinion or belief, but not to take action in violation of social duties or subversive to good order." In Reynolds v. United States (1878), the Supreme Court found that while laws cannot interfere with religious belief and opinions, laws can regulate some religious practices (e.g., human sacrifices, and the now obsolete Hindu practice of suttee). The Court stated that to rule otherwise, "would be to make the professed doctrines of religious belief superior to the law of the land, and in effect permit every citizen to become a law unto himself. Government would exist only in name under such circumstances." In Cantwell v. Connecticut (1940), the Court held that the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment applied the Free Exercise Clause to the states. While the right to have religious beliefs is absolute, the freedom to act on such beliefs is not absolute.

 

prasad1

Well-known member
We are also told that we “should not mix religion and politics.” Again, this saying has a powerful truth: that when religion is used for political purposes, it empties religion of its eternal meaning and becomes just one more cynical method of acquiring power.

But there is also a disclaimer hidden in that phrase: that sometimes when people say “Don’t mix religion and politics,” they actually mean “Don’t bring your faith into the public square where I can see it.” In other words, hide your faith outside of your place of worship because we have a “separation of church and state.” Separation of church and state is too important a concept to be misused — especially not as a tool for silencing opposing views. As a matter of fact, it just might be as important as ever to consider the true meaning of church/state separation and religious freedom.

 

prasad1

Well-known member
On October 18, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh chief Mohan Bhagwat urged the Narendra Modi-led Union government to enact a law to enable the construction of a Ram temple in Ayodhya.

With just months to go for the Lok Sabha elections next year, the statement has led to speculation on whether the Bharatiya Janata Party is preparing for a legislative coup in the Ayodhya-Babri Masjid matter. On Saturday, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath urged the Supreme Court to deliver its order on the Ayodhya title suit appeals soon, exposing the party’s eagerness to milk the communally-sensitive case for electoral benefits.

If the central or state governments acquire land stating that they want to build a Ram temple or hand over the land to those who want to build a Ram temple, it would be a complete negation of the secular ideals of the Constitution, which the Supreme Court has declared are part of the basic structure of the document itself.
Is that an acceptable Government interference in Religion?

 

prasad1

Well-known member
I think one reason could be that temples have great revenue. Devotees whole heartedly drop money into hundi. In Tirupathi it is said individuals drop lakhs of rupees. When the issue of monitoring finance is involved, the control may have been imposed by government.

Mosques & Chruches are prayer halls and there is no such financial contributions involved. However, the Muslim Durgahs have graves of saints and people of all communities visit and drop their desired amount into hundi. Therefore Durgahs are also under government control.

 

prasad1

Well-known member
When a Hindu goes to a temple and makes an offering to the Deity of his choice he assumes that money and gold he donates goes to temple to support poor hindus or renovate temple, schools or hospitals, NO, it goes to the State Government.

The state governments have based their policy on the recommendation of the Hindu Religious Endowments Commission headed by C P Ramaswamy Aiyer in 1960 that Hindu temples and maths be considered as belonging to the public. In ill-advised judgments, the courts have upheld government regulation of the financial aspects of an endowment, as if financial control has no bearing on the management of religious affairs.
 

tbs

Well-known member
When Patel, K. M. Munshi and other leaders of the Congress went to Mahatma Gandhi with their proposal to reconstruct the Somnath temple, Gandhi blessed the move, but suggested that the funds for the construction should be collected from the public and the temple should not be funded by the state. He expressed that he was proud to associate himself to the project of renovation of the temple. However, soon both Gandhi and Sardar Patel died and the task of reconstruction of the temple continued under Munshi, who was the Minister for Food and Civil Supplies, Government of India headed by Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru.

The ruins were pulled down in October 1950 and the mosque present at that site was shifted few kilometres away by using construction vehicles. In May 1951, Rajendra Prasad, the first President of the Republic of India, invited by K M Munshi, performed the installation ceremony for the temple. The President said in his address, "It is my view that the reconstruction of the Somnath Temple will be complete on that day when not only a magnificent edifice will arise on this foundation, but the mansion of India's prosperity will be really that prosperity of which the ancient temple of Somnath was a symbol.". He added "The Somnath temple signifies that the power of reconstruction is always greater than the power of destruction.

hi

i recently visited somnath /dwaraka temples in gujarat on december 2018....it was really reconstructed

and beautiful temple on the shore of sea...just info...
 

a-TB

Active member
If public money is offered to a religious place, irrespective of religion, it has to undergo proper scrutiny and audit.

When Govt interference is doubtful, eminent people from public life may be asked to help and conduct the proceedings, to avoid controversies.

As far as TN is concerned, the functioning of DMK and AIADMK Govts. in respect of temple administration needs close scrutiny by a third party.
Indeed when public money is involved laws and enforcement is needed. That happens in every lawful place. In USA though there is a separation of Church and State, there are still laws that apply to the temples such as book keeping, activities that are lawful

Temples are bound by the law of land. That does not mean Government has to play role in the operation of the temple or steal money from the contributions of the devotees. The fact that Indian government does this must be a concern for every citizen of India. Tomorrow this can apply to every other religion on also and not just to Hindu temples.

Your point is well taken.

I hope we will get more relevant post for this thread.
 
[QUOTE="a-TB, post: 418685],

Tomorrow this can apply to every other religion on also and not just to Hindu temples.


[/QUOTE]

At that time, everyone will shout "secularism is in danger". Secularism in India has always been only selectively applied. You just have to follow the Sabarimala case to understand this. The court went through a whole gamut of arguments to decide whether Iyappa devotees qualify to be a separate religious denomination. Why is this necessary? After all if the issue is that of fundamental rights of women, why should the question of separate denomination arise?

Also, management of temples is only one issue. Your head will spin when you learn of all the differential rules that apply for running an educational institution. Basically one set of rules for hindus and another set of rules for everyone else. The two pillars of any society are the temples through which you can propagate your culture and schools through which you can safeguard. Hindus don't have the same freedom as others. These are actual laws, that impacts every citizen, and is the current scenario in India. You would think the people who bat for secularism will question all these discriminatory laws. Generally they don't if the laws discriminate against hindus and favor non-hindus. Instead they will go after anyone who says remotely anything about Ram Mandir or Ayodhya, the issue which has remained status quo for the last 25 years. This is the biggest anomaly.
 

a-TB

Active member
[QUOTE="a-TB, post: 418685],

Tomorrow this can apply to every other religion on also and not just to Hindu temples.
At that time, everyone will shout "secularism is in danger". Secularism in India has always been only selectively applied. You just have to follow the Sabarimala case to understand this. The court went through a whole gamut of arguments to decide whether Iyappa devotees qualify to be a separate religious denomination. Why is this necessary? After all if the issue is that of fundamental rights of women, why should the question of separate denomination arise?

Also, management of temples is only one issue. Your head will spin when you learn of all the differential rules that apply for running an educational institution. Basically one set of rules for hindus and another set of rules for everyone else. The two pillars of any society are the temples through which you can propagate your culture and schools through which you can safeguard. Hindus don't have the same freedom as others. These are actual laws, that impacts every citizen, and is the current scenario in India. You would think the people who bat for secularism will question all these discriminatory laws. Generally they don't if the laws discriminate against hindus and favor non-hindus. Instead they will go after anyone who says remotely anything about Ram Mandir or Ayodhya, the issue which has remained status quo for the last 25 years. This is the biggest anomaly.
[/QUOTE]
Dear Mr KB,

Your comments highlight a serious problem and it is with the 'educated' masses. If someone is for the principle of truly secular democracy they will speak up against any kind of atrocities and injustice. If they selectively speak then they lack integrity and do not stand for anything. Such people are more dangerous to a country than the ones who are openly against Hindus.
 

tbs

Well-known member
Indeed when public money is involved laws and enforcement is needed. That happens in every lawful place. In USA though there is a separation of Church and State, there are still laws that apply to the temples such as book keeping, activities that are lawful

Temples are bound by the law of land. That does not mean Government has to play role in the operation of the temple or steal money from the contributions of the devotees. The fact that Indian government does this must be a concern for every citizen of India. Tomorrow this can apply to every other religion on also and not just to Hindu temples.

Your point is well taken.

I hope we will get more relevant post for this thread.
hi

in USA....every hindu temple is a non profit organisation category....every thing is audited properly...

even priests has to file tax forms and properly accounted.....IRS is very particular about tax relative matters...

i have more than 15 years experience in USA hindu temple/priest matters...
 

KRN

Active member
With my limited knowledge, let me provide answers to some of the queries raised -

Let me restate the question.
What is the reason that the Government Of India is allowed to interfere with a religion in India.
I think the historical reason is that most of the hindu temples pre-independence were managed by the nattu-rajas, or by trusts directly reporting to them. In the British ruled areas, whenever the the British took over the administration from the rajas, they took over the temple administration as well. These rajas were mostly believers and had good advisors who were grounded in religious matters. With independence, the administration was taken over from the rajas by the government. In the initial euphoria of freedom, people didn't mind it that a Government democratically elected by themselves, should administer the temples.

But in the course of time there has been rampant corruption and nepotism and all other vices that come with political parties. Also the colossal ignorance of the new administrators also led to erosion of many of the good customs and practices like Veda-parayanam, nama-japam etc from the temples.

Within Indian constitution is there a provision for religions freedom for expression without interference? Why have the courts have not taken up this issue in a very long time?
SC has interpreted the "religious freedom" in constitution to mean that the Government can manage the administration of temples (like appointment of priests, payment of his emoluments etc) but cannot interfere in the religious practices followed in temples.

We know from experience that SC's interpretations of the constitution can change with time. Hence it will be in the interest of the Hindu community to keep agitating in courts for more freedom, in the spirit of the constitution.

Regardless of what one's religion is, a citizen of India may not want Government management and interference as well as stealing of funds from temples.
This is the moot point and I hope you might have noticed my highlighting this corruption angle to the Sabarimala issue in the earlier thread. Recently Subramanian Swamy raised a PIL before SC against state control of the Kerala temples through Devaswom boards given the corruption at unprecedented levels in the administration of Devaswom boards.


I think that is a step in the right direction, rather than agitating in the streets over a constitution-based SC verdict.
[/QUOTE]
 

KRN

Active member
We are also told that we “should not mix religion and politics.” Again, this saying has a powerful truth: that when religion is used for political purposes, it empties religion of its eternal meaning and becomes just one more cynical method of acquiring power.
The man whom we revere as the father of our nation writes thus in the introduction to his Autobiography, "My experiments with truth":

"My experiments in the political field are now known, not only in India, but to a certain extent to the 'civilized' world. For me, they have not much value; and the title of Mahatma that they have won for me has, therefore, even less. Often the title has deeply pained me; and there is not a moment I can recall when it may be said to have tickled me. But I should certainly like to narrate my experiments in the spiritual field which are known only to myself, and from which I have derived such power as I possess for working in the political field.

What I want to achieve,—what I have been striving and pining to achieve these thirty years—is self-realization, to see God face to face, to attain Moksha. I live and move and have my being in pursuit of this goal.
All that I do by way of speaking and writing, and all my ventures in the political field, are directed to this same end."

In the land of Karma Yoga, I don't think there is a more unequivocal way of saying that one should mix religion with political activity, in fact with every activity that one is blessed to perform in life :)
 

KRN

Active member
Also, management of temples is only one issue. Your head will spin when you learn of all the differential rules that apply for running an educational institution. Basically one set of rules for hindus and another set of rules for everyone else. The two pillars of any society are the temples through which you can propagate your culture and schools through which you can safeguard. Hindus don't have the same freedom as others. These are actual laws, that impacts every citizen, and is the current scenario in India. You would think the people who bat for secularism will question all these discriminatory laws. Generally they don't if the laws discriminate against hindus and favor non-hindus. Instead they will go after anyone who says remotely anything about Ram Mandir or Ayodhya, the issue which has remained status quo for the last 25 years. This is the biggest anomaly.
Well, if instead of chanting Ram Mandir and Ayodhya, the present central Govt and the ruling party, with the rare opportunity of a near two-thirds majority to boot, focused on correcting these anomalies, how much better would things have been!
 

Vaagmi

Well-known member
About the Ayodhya issue:
My view: The Hindus in India will have the same rights as the Muslims in Pakistan have in such matters. Reason--India was partitioned on the basis of religion.

About Secularist Government in India:

The numerous temples spread all over the country also need protection from the hindus themselves. all the hindus are not pious and god-fearing. Most of the temploe properties have been gobbled up by Hindu trustees themselves. At least in Tamilnadu, there are numerous temples where no pooja is done and the temples remain locked up even though there are endowments in the name of these temples and properties which yield income substantially are there. In my village there are two temples-one a temple for Krishna and another for Meenakshi Sundareswara. These temples own substantial irrigated lands in their name and many valuable ornaments had been donated to these temple by the ancestors who lived in the village as a propsperous community. Today these temples remain locked and no pooja is done. The temple lands and ornaments are in the custody of the HRCE board. The tillers who are a well organized group of people virtually own the lands and enjoy paying a pittance to the HRCE and the Govt. conveniently has turned a blind eye to this. This is the story of just two small temples in a village with a single street agraharam. There are bigger temples in the nearby town where also the story is the same.

Hindus would like to know why should salary, allowances, perks and "other income" be paid to a Khader Bhai or a Brother John (they are the clerk and peon in the HRCE Department) from the income earned from a temple while refusing to grant the poor archaka of the temple the regular Government employee status just because he happens to be a brahmin.

There are several such issues which need to be addressed.
 
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KRN

Active member
"The numerous temples spread all over the country also need protection from the hindus themselves. all the hindus are not pious and god-fearing."

Very true and I agree wholeheartedly.

Hindus most often are enemies to Hindus so much so that I have come to believe that, in the present circumstances, it's best to focus on our TB practices and not take sides or expend energy on politico-social issues like the one on Sabarimala.
 

Vaagmi

Well-known member
How I wish that someone resourceful amongst the Tamil Brahmins file a suit in the supreme court of India asking for granting TBs the status of followers of a minority religion in India like the Parsees. Yes, our faith and practices are far different from what is followed by the majority of the socalled Hindu religion at least in Tamilnadu.
 

a-TB

Active member
With my limited knowledge, let me provide answers to some of the queries raised -



I think the historical reason is that most of the hindu temples pre-independence were managed by the nattu-rajas, or by trusts directly reporting to them. In the British ruled areas, whenever the the British took over the administration from the rajas, they took over the temple administration as well. These rajas were mostly believers and had good advisors who were grounded in religious matters. With independence, the administration was taken over from the rajas by the government. In the initial euphoria of freedom, people didn't mind it that a Government democratically elected by themselves, should administer the temples.

But in the course of time there has been rampant corruption and nepotism and all other vices that come with political parties. Also the colossal ignorance of the new administrators also led to erosion of many of the good customs and practices like Veda-parayanam, nama-japam etc from the temples.



SC has interpreted the "religious freedom" in constitution to mean that the Government can manage the administration of temples (like appointment of priests, payment of his emoluments etc) but cannot interfere in the religious practices followed in temples.

We know from experience that SC's interpretations of the constitution can change with time. Hence it will be in the interest of the Hindu community to keep agitating in courts for more freedom, in the spirit of the constitution.



This is the moot point and I hope you might have noticed my highlighting this corruption angle to the Sabarimala issue in the earlier thread. Recently Subramanian Swamy raised a PIL before SC against state control of the Kerala temples through Devaswom boards given the corruption at unprecedented levels in the administration of Devaswom boards.


I think that is a step in the right direction, rather than agitating in the streets over a constitution-based SC verdict.
[/QUOTE]

Dear Mr KRN,

I think you have answered my queries fully. Thanks for doing that,.

Kingdom control to alien power of English can mean English managed the affairs of the temple. But an Indian Government , especially one that was elected democratically should have stopped control of temple affairs in support of the constitution.

The SC definition of not interfering with temple practices but allowing control of temple management and the purse is contradictory.

I think secular thinking need not be a bad thing. The issue is we have pseudo secularist who lack integrity or lack the ability to think or both. If there are true secularists out there they can joint hands in getting rid of these unfair practices against Hindus .

Once again thanks for your response
 
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