Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Temples, Priests and Corruption!

I wanted to write a blog about the above topic for the past few weeks and interestingly Kavitha has raised the same issue in one of her blogs. TJ Swami has posted a blog detailing the plight of the brahmins in today's world. So I thought it would be wise for me to write about it today.

I have visited almost all the temples in Tamil Nadu and for me they are my passion. At this moment, I would like to thank my Divine Mother for taking me to these beautiful temples during my childhood days. But nowdays, I hesistate going to temples like Chidambaram, Palani and Tiruchendur because of the corrupt priests whose only goal is to make money out of you! Last december, we went to Tiruchendur to do an abhishekam to Lord Muruga. We met one of the temple's main priest Veerbahu Iyer's son who has been performing pujas every year and sending Vibhuthi to my aunty in London. My aunty wanted to give him 50 pounds, so my Mother and I met him and gave him the money and told him that we wanted to perform an abhishekam. He told us that he can do it, and also asked us to come to the temple in the early morning to perform the pooja. So next day early morning, he and his brothers were ready to do the pooja and we went to the temple and performed the abhishekam to Lord Muruga which went really well. Then the climax came, and all his brothers, cousins, uncles, sons, grandfathers, nephews rounded us for money!!! Not only the priests but even the security guards rounded us! We ended giving 100/- notes to each of them and still the priests werent happy. Mind you we gave 50 pounds just the night before apart from the money we paid towards the abhishekam! What the heck! We had a tough time coming out from these priests and I vowed not to go to Tiruchendur anymore!!

According to me Chidambaram is the worst temple when it comes to corrupted priests! There would be a priest in every sanithi asking you for your address and other details, and if you give them your address, then you are dead!! They end up coming to your houses asking for money saying that they are doing some pooja! You cant even say no to them and you end up giving money! Palani is horrid! There the priests used to scratch the navapashanam (9 herbal elements) on the statue of Lord Murugan and sell it, and now poor Lord Muruga's back is completely removed!

Why do these priests behave like this? I heard the Chidambaram temple is not run by the government. So the priests have to find their own earnings and I was told that they eat only the prasadam that was given to Lord Nataraja. But is this the way to earn money? We go to temples for peace but these priests and security guards dont let us get us any peace in there!

Contrary to what Kavitha said, I loved the temples of Tiruvanamalai and Madurai. There everything seems to be regulated. Last January when I did a sanghabhishekam in Tiruvanamalai, the entire monetary process was coordinated by the temple secretary. We didnt have a single problem and at the end we were very happy.

I guess its high time the government does something and regulates these priests and also make sure they have proper earnings for them to live properly. Your views would be appreciated.


At September 20, 2005 3:51 PM, Blogger TJ said...

You want the Government to something about it???
FYKI, the government is the sole reason for this pathetic situation.

Though i am not siding the priests, they tend to think 'if a vastu, lucky gem, numerologist, palmist' or anybody can earn from the current spiritual boom, why cant I?

The society is the reason for priests to have lost the respect and go for neo begging.

We do lots of utsavams in lots of temples every year, and we have a list of payment to be made to everybody, starting from the priest to the sweeper of the temple and distribute it accordingly. So nothing is new. Just a question of getting used to this and managing properly.

At September 20, 2005 4:10 PM, Blogger Sriram C S said...

This runs much deep Arjuna...it is the result of a very deep change that has happened. Something that needs to be rectified from the roots, with lots of effort and lots of time. I'll discuss about this sometime, once I see things much more clearly.

At September 20, 2005 4:27 PM, Blogger Saravana Kumar said...

Dude I think eligibility is the problem here ... when it comes to something like managing a temple like Palani, Its a huge responsibility, beggers will not qualify for that ... The Brahmin should be pure, renounced, happy with whatever he gets, should dedicate his life to the temple, dedicate life for the good of the society, never have any selffish desires.

See what is happening in the society around. Media is infatuating people with sex. How many people you think can remain unattached to these things. These kind of sexual attraction is running into the sub-consious mind of every person right from there young age. I mean it is accepted as normal, which is an abnormal phenomenon.

How do you think we can produce perfect brahmins in the society. My article to restore the pagoda tree is all about that. In fact I've spoke only of the brahmins, if you notice properly.

Lets believe in the words "Yada Yada hi Dharmasya".

At September 20, 2005 5:14 PM, Blogger Kasthuri Srinivasan said...

Good post Arjuna, I think (big) temples should no more be in the property of goverments. Some private sector sould undertake them for their maintainance.

At September 20, 2005 5:53 PM, Blogger Sriram V Iyer said...

I can more than agree to what Arjuna says. Begging is rampant around the temples and people never seem to be happy how much every money we give them. My Tiruchendur trip's experiences were similar to one Arjuna described. I was harassed even in Sri Ranganatha Swamy Temple.

Brahma Gnaani - Brahmana - One who knows the 'Brahman' is a 'Brahmin'. I can only smile when this is the situation in temples.

I think we need some Anniyan kind of guy to set things right :-) (I am fantasising....)

At September 20, 2005 8:01 PM, Blogger Ganesh said...

kalkara super posta pottu
I was discussing this very issue with someone, and you have written about this.
Pasthial pattum parandhupogum

At September 20, 2005 10:06 PM, Blogger Aatma said...

hmmm, you have stated the problem. What do u think is the cause ? Poverty, greed, mismanagement, no/less faith in god -- all of them together.

Modern times my friend has its benefit and its drawback. A priest should become a priest because he wants too, not because he has too. And looks like more and more people are becoming because they have too, Naturally it leads up to situation like this.

Same goes to the teaching profession in India, many graduates become professor because they have too and they have little or no interest in their profession and it clearly shows.

Goverment cannot do anything about it -- we have to do something about it. Stop giving money - go as an ordinary person to temple and come back. What would u have done, if u didn't have the money - do exactly that.

The same money use it for some other cause - buy something and give to the temple or create something for the temple that can be used.

Change or bring in a change -- is the way to go.

At September 21, 2005 6:04 AM, Blogger krishna said...

I agree with what saravana had to say

"The Brahmin should be pure, renounced, happy with whatever he gets, should dedicate his life to the temple, dedicate life for the good of the society, never have any selffish desires"

At September 21, 2005 6:20 AM, Blogger WA said...


You are so right about the temples, and in my view too the Chidambaram temple is one of the worst ones (but there are plenty of other ones to fight for this coveted position!). And yes the Chidambaram temple belongs to the Dhikshatars, I understand from my father that Raja raja Cholan wrote a sasanam that the temple belongs to the Thillai Vaazh andhanars. In fact I think the TN Govt has been all the way upto the Supreme court to gain some control over the temple, but the dhikshadhars won the case. This is one of the richest temples in TN with a lot of land (villages) to its name. The last time I went there, a few months ago I kept my head down totally ignored all the dheekshadhars calling out, went around the temple and had a wonderful darisanam. Beautiful temple and I love the Chitrakoodam part of it too.

At September 21, 2005 6:25 AM, Blogger Anand Ramamoorthy said...

Dear Arjuna,

all your claims are true. Brahmanas are no longer following the duties prescribed for them - even those mentioned as natural duties by Krishna in the Gita (refer chapter 18).

as for management of temples - I have heard of how management used to be during RAMANUJA'S days- if that could be brought back in all temples (the system of management)things would be much better.

The Brahmana way of life became degraded long long ago- there is no point in trying to rectify it now,
materialism is a fact- let's face it , capitalism is a reality and the Brahmana cannot escape the market forces unless he is willing to subsist on yogic practices, air and water. thereofore this entire problem calls for an enlightened revamping of the brahminical system to protect both the vedic religion and the livelihoods of brahmins associated completely with religion.

dear Saravana Kumar,
getting too irritated with permissiveness in society is no solution
two things must be done
1. sex must no longer be considered taboo and people must not be made to fall prey to the charms of perversion perpetuated by the media.
2. ethics and morals must be taught from a vedantic perspective and not from the usual " you do good you go to heaven, good things will happen to you only if you are good" kinda moralistic crap.

nice discussion guys.
solution: bring the Gita back to its rightful position as a guidebook for daily reference by all!


At September 21, 2005 11:16 AM, Blogger Jeevan said...

It happens in all temples. from street end Ganesha to Lord Perumal(Thirupathi).

At September 21, 2005 1:41 PM, Blogger mysorean said...


There was a time when I used to visit temples. That was when I didn't know who God was. God was someone whose name my parents would take regularly and who would protect me during difficult times and give me a good buddhi! During that stage I would visit temples everywhere and ask my dad for money and put it in the hundi. God was my Saviour

Then there was the next stage where I visited temples but only on rare ocassions and festivals. Maybe when we got something new we would go to a temple to get the pooja done. If I had exams coming, then a temple visit was compulsory. Now, God was a crisis-manager for me.

Then came a stage where I completely stopped going to temples. This was when I realised God was not only a Saviour and a crisis-manager but everything I knew was God. Then something dawned on me. Why should I find God in temples? Especially those temples that give me the same feeling as to having entered a "Spencer's Plaza"!

Then came a stage when I went to temples where the environment would be peaceful. So that I could just sit in that peace and try to get that inner chaos settle down with that peace. Even today if I find any such temples I do make it a point to go there. Though not regularly.

During the olden days, temples were energised by the learned sages and kings. The idols would derive energy from these realized men and hence when ordinary people went near those idols with a pure mind, then the chances of something good happening increased. Nowadays the idol is installed and inaugurated by a well-known politician.

Temples have lost their purpose Arjuna. I don't see any value or relevance of their existence in today's world. There are every few temples that have retained this energy.
And corruption is just one of the few issues that you have noticed and brought up. This decay has happened over ages. I really have no idea how you can restore the lost energy from these temples? One may be successful in eradicating the systemic bugs, but what about the energy of the divine? We need something to again get all that back. And restore the holiness of the temples.

At September 21, 2005 4:34 PM, Blogger Saravana Kumar said...

Anand we need people who can realize what is happening in the society from the absolute point of view (without getting infatuated) ... truly I'm not irritated with anyone man ... they are only my thoughts on how people should ideally live.

At September 21, 2005 4:50 PM, Blogger Arjuna_Speaks said...

TJ - see the govt is handling the tiruvanamalai temple..and u can see how well it is handled..so where is the problem actually?

At September 21, 2005 4:50 PM, Blogger Arjuna_Speaks said...

Agni - eagerly waiting to read your thoughts on this :)

At September 21, 2005 4:52 PM, Blogger Arjuna_Speaks said...

"The Brahmin should be pure, renounced, happy with whatever he gets, should dedicate his life to the temple, dedicate life for the good of the society, never have any selffish desires."

But Saravana the problem is that we cant find anyone like this nowdays (apart from me even though I am not a brahmin ;) )..so we need to find out a different way of handling this mess..

At September 21, 2005 4:52 PM, Blogger Arjuna_Speaks said...

Kasthuri - thanks - yes that is an interesting idea as well..

At September 21, 2005 4:55 PM, Blogger Arjuna_Speaks said...

Sriram -

"I think we need some Anniyan kind of guy to set things right :-)"

Shall we grow some hair ? :))

At September 21, 2005 4:55 PM, Blogger Arjuna_Speaks said...

Ganesh - thanks :)

At September 21, 2005 4:57 PM, Blogger Arjuna_Speaks said...

Aatma -
" A priest should become a priest because he wants too, not because he has too. "

Well said my friend :)

At September 21, 2005 4:58 PM, Blogger Arjuna_Speaks said...

Krishna - yes I too agree - but can u find anyone like that? Its hard in this kali yuga..even saints have their own interests..so its hard for someone to renounce everything..

At September 21, 2005 4:59 PM, Blogger Arjuna_Speaks said...

WA -

"The last time I went there, a few months ago I kept my head down totally ignored all the dheekshadhars calling out"

That's what I do too :)

At September 21, 2005 5:01 PM, Blogger Arjuna_Speaks said...

Anand - unfortunately we dont even have the right ppl to teach the Bhagwat Gita - isnt it?

I completely agree with ur points :)

At September 21, 2005 5:01 PM, Blogger Arjuna_Speaks said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At September 21, 2005 5:02 PM, Blogger Arjuna_Speaks said...

jeevan - very true :)

At September 21, 2005 5:06 PM, Blogger Arjuna_Speaks said...

Adi - that was a good post :)..I completely agree with your points..but as u said there are quite a few temples that still maintain their charm..like the arunachala and the madurai meenakshi temple..Its also nice to see that the priests in these temples behaving properly compared to others..

But as u said - I also go to temples for peace..that is one reason y I dont go to tirupathi where u are put in a huge crowd who start pushing u like animals! No peace in there..I also dont go to temples when its a festival..cant stand the crowd in there..

At September 25, 2005 2:59 AM, Blogger krishna said...

@ arjuna

it is possible even in this kali yuga, if a brahmin develops bhakthi towards god. at least the temple archagars should have this kind of relationship with god..by being so, he can help the people to re-establish the faith in wat is the purpose behind our religion and it is not a pile of historic junk as lots of generation-y and people following other religions think

At September 25, 2005 1:55 PM, Blogger Arjuna_Speaks said...

krishna - well said :)


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