Padmanabhaswamy temple at Tiruvananthapuram has been in the news now for about a week, where under the directions of the Supreme Court of India and the oversight of the RBI a committee headed by a retired Justice was constituted. They are inventorying the valuables kept in the various cellars. There’s one more cellar to be opened and the unofficial estimates put the value of articles inventoried at one lakh crores.
The issue is whether the valuables belong to the State or the Temple?
The answer is very simple- the temple. But the problem is who would manage the temple property? Under what authority should the Trustees be empowered to run the temple affairs?
Kerala history is mired in all sorts of mysticism woven with some facts. Historians are not congruent on most of the facts. In fact when the Princely state of Travancore was liberated from the clutches of the British, the then Dewan Chetput Pattabhirama Iyer, along with the then King Sree Chithirai Thirunal DECLARED INDEPENDENCE of Kerala and proclaimed Kerala as a Sovereign NATION. This history is not a part of what one is taught in schools. Very inconvenient piece of history.
When, on June 3, 1947, United Kingdom accepted demands for a partition and announced its intention to quit India within a short period, the Maharaja of Travancore desired to declare himself independent. Supported by the Diwan, C. P., Chithira Thirunal issued a declaration of independence on June 18, 1947.
As Travancore’s declaration of independence was unacceptable to India, negotiations were started with the Diwan by the Government of India. Family sources indicate that C. P., himself, was not in favour of independence but only greater autonomy and that a favourable agreement had been reached between C. P. and the Indian representatives by July 23, 1947 and accession to the Indian Union could not be carried out only because it was pending approval by the Raja.
Nevertheless, an assassination attempt was made on C. P. on the July 25, 1947 during a concert commemorating the anniversary of Swati Thirunal. C. P. survived with multiple stab wounds and hastened the accession of Travancore state to the Indian Union soon after his recovery.
Further one has to search through many palm leaves and books to cull out freedom fighters from Kerala. But somehow, of late many persons from Kerala have been listed as FREEDOM FIGHTERS. Most of those had been educated in Madras State, who from there had picked up the idea of Independence. But as a grass root movement nothing much was done or achieved from Kerala towards independence. They were a happy lot and insulated with their mantras, tantras, local concoctions and good living.
If one were to look up history, till the Temple Entry Proclamation of 1936 there was no internal participation in temples by the common man. It was a caste based oligarchy of the temples and the palace. With this as the back drop, still industrialization was made possible between 1936 and 1946 by the efforts of C P Ramasamy Iyer- aluminium cables & ceramics from Kundara, ammonium sulphate from FACT , Travancore Rayons at Perumbavoor were all initiatives at industrialization, besides hydro projects and the noon meal scheme for the poor. In fact it needed the trust of Sree Chithirai Thirunal on CPand the ability of CP Ramasamy Iyer to bring Kerala to what it is today.
Had not CP stood against the Communists so stridently, the state of Kerala would have had worse work force than what it has today. A work force which seriously over-estimates its contribution to the economy and judges its worth independent of the capital brought in! Yet as a tourist destination Kerala is unmatched and the economy booms during the season. It is the nly state in India where a driver works for 6 months a year and takes a long aimless sabbatical the other six months. The car drivers live off the tips received and other chicanery practised for 6 months!
In this background, we have to read the valuables being inventoried at Sree Padmanabha Swamy temple.
DEITIES in India are JURISTIC PERSONS. Thereby, they could own, lease, mortgage and alienate properties in their own names. These properties are called DEBUTTER PROPERTIES. These DEBUTTER PROPERTIES have to be handled through the human medium and therefore we have TRUSTEES. ALL THE VALUABLES BEING INVENTORIED BELONG TO THE DEITY. period.
So the fight is all about who is to decide, as to how the properties are to be maintained and managed.
The temple was to be managed by the Travancore -Kochi RULER with the assistance of an Executive Officer appointed by the Ruler. This was as per an Act called TRAVANCORE -COCHIN HINDU RELIGIOUS INSTITUTIONS ACT, 1950. With the 26th Amendment to the Constitution of India, all privileges and privy purses to the erstwhile rulers were abolished along with their titles in 1971. So the order dated 31/01/2011 of the High Court of Kerala determined that upon the death of Sree Chithiral Thirunal in 1991, there was no ruler, therefore the State of Kerala steps into the shoes of the former King of Travancore. So a Government supposed to be secular, manages the temple affairs through the trustees appointed by the Government.
If the power of appointment of TRUSTEES is with the GOVERNMENT OF KERALA, where a Communist party has been alternately forming the Government for more than 4 decades, what kind of TRUSTEES would they appoint?
Next, is that the Government may have oversight on ADMINISTRATION of the affairs of the temple, but how can a secular Government set THE AGENDA FOR PROPAGATION, PURIFICATION & SPIRITUAL ISSUES RELATING TO THE HINDU FAITH? I see that the Courts have enlarged the scope of the Govt. of Kerala on religious issues.
In effect, since the erstwhile rulers of Travancore had been the “trustees” of the Temple for so long, the TRUSTEES should ONLY BE from the royal family, as POLICY cannot be left in the hands of some popularly elected members of the society, who have no grounding in the HINDU faith.
Now that the valuables have far exceeded the imagination of many, the cackle of wanting to put the money generated to social causes is bunkum. It is a classic case of robbing Peter to pay Paul. He who has not contributed or who has had no connection with the temple property, should not even think on these pseudo socialistic lines.
One should see the provisions regarding Hereditary Trusteeship and the choice thereof from
THE MADRAS HINDU RELIGIOUS AND CHARITABLE ENDOWMENTS ACT, 1951
48.� Appointment of office-holers and servants� in Religious Institutions.-(1) Vacancies, whether permanent or temporary, amongst the office-holders or servants of a religious institution shall be filled up by the trustee in cases where the ofice or service is not hereditary.
(2)� In cases where the office or service is hereditary, the next in the line of succession shall be entitled to succeed.
As per the Act, applicability is restricted to Tamil Nadu, therefore Kerala temples are outside the territorial jurisdiction, however Tamil Nadu has the maximum temples in this country, therefore borrowing provisions therefrom would be ideal. As per Section 48 subsection 2 “THE NEXT IN THE LINE OF SUCCESSION SHALL BE ENTITLED TO SUCCEED.”
In this case, the nephew9as per their Matrilineal laws) of Sri Chithirai Thirunal would be entitled to succeed to the HEREDITARY TRUSTEESHIP, based on a PRINCIPLE which is existing in neighbouring state’s statute. But in the light of ARTICLE 26 of the Constitution of India, for the Kerala Government to step into the shoes of the dead “ruler” seems beyond the mandate of the Constitution.
This country is already suffering because of ostensible socialism. Only committed persons should be made trustees and that with the consent of the royal family which had surrendered its sovereignty, based on the promises held out by our CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY MEMBERS, and not by politicians who did not keep the promises of our Constituent Assembly members by abolishing the PRIVILEGES of the erstwhile rulers for political reasons.