The magnificent and ancient Tirupati Balaji Temple at Tirumala in Andhra Pradesh is believed by devout Hindus to be  the Bhuloka Vaikuntam, i.e., the abode of Bhagwan Vishnu on earth. It is believed that Bhagwan Vishnu manifested himself here during this Kali Yuga to direct his devotees towards salvation. The idol at Sri Venkateswaraswamy Balaji Temple is revered by Hindus as a very unique and powerful. The temple has pilgrims to the tune of 1,00,000 per day visiting it daily and on special occasions like Brahmotsavam nearly 5,00,000 devotees visit. It is also the richest temple in India in terms of the direct donations it receives from the devotees and the royal donations of ancient ornaments, gold, silver, diamond and rare gems donated by the Great King Krishnadevaraya and his family.

The Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam (TTD) formed and controlled by the Andhra Pradesh government under the Andhra Pradesh Charitable and Hindu Religious Institutions and Endowments Act, 1987 controls the administration of the Balaji temple and 11 other associated ancient temples under it. There have been many irregularities reported in the media about the maladministration and misappropriation of funds and jewellery of the temples by the administrators under the Devasthanam Board. It was alleged that many non-Hindu officers and employees are being employed at the revered temples by the Devasthanam Board who were diverting funds and properties of the temples for non-religious purpose.

It was even alleged that the Christian Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, Jaganmohan Reddy was promoting employment of non-Christians in the Board who are encouraging Christian missionary activities in and around the temple complex under the Board. It was also alleged that huge tracks of temple land were gifted away to many Christian converts by allowing them to squat on it.

In this background it was reported on Monday by India Ahead News that lighting arrangements at the ancient Tirumala Tirupati temple resembled a series of Christian Crosses interspersed with the Vaishnava motifs. Following this there was a huge uproar in the social media against the move as Hindu sentiments were hurt seeing motifs which resembled Cross being planted for lighting the holiest of temples which is Moksha Dayini and grants all its devotees success in their worldly and spiritual pursuits according to Dharma.

The Devasthanam Board then removed the controversial cast iron designs which when lighted appeared like “Crosses”. Although it was good that the administration removed the controversial lighting designs, it is a sheer waste of money and carelessness, deliberate or not, to invest in such designs which are bound to provoke and hurt the religious sensibilities of the Hindu community.

The administrators and employees of the Devasthanam responsible for taking these decisions, managing the day-to-day functioning and administration of the temple properties should be manned by practicing devout Hindus. Till that happens such episodes, misappropriation of temple wealth for non-Hindu purposes and encouraging evangelical missionary activities in and around the temple complex baiting vulnerable  Hindu devotees, either for amelioration of their poverty or very critical illness, would keep occurring.

The panacea for all these problems is freeing the temples from the government clutches and handing it over to a Board of sensitive eminent Hindu devotees famed for their personal integrity and financial probity as is petitioned for by the well-known activist and senior BJP leader Dr Subramanian Swamy before the High Court of Andhra Pradesh.

Hindu community should unitedly resist all forces inimical to it in society and administration, be it the Christian evangelists wanting to harvest Hindu souls through overt  or covert means aided and abetted by the secular non-practicing Hindus or communists within our administration and living among us.

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