While the whole country’s attention was on the on-going farmers' stir at Delhi borders, in Ponnadi village, 50kms from the temple city of Tirupati, a conclave of important Hindu seers from southern states was underway, to finalise an action plan to protect and preserve Hindu dharma, its temples and the 'sampradaya'. The conclave assumes significance in light of the fact that there were many incidents of vandalisation of Hindu temples and deities being reported in the recent past in Andhra Pradesh.
The Hindu seers' conclave stated that the immediate concern was the consistent and concerted attacks on Hindu temples for over a year in Andhra Pradesh. There has been desecration and destruction of sacred idols, burning of temple chariots and daylight robbery of temple properties and ornaments. “There seems to be a sinister method in the madness. Viewed along with the apathy of the state government, the callous attitude of the ruling establishment from top to bottom, the blatantly partisan and insensitive approach of police, the undue pampering of minorities, the disgusting sway of non-Hindus and anti-Hindus in the administration of Hindu temples, the illegal propagation of other creeds in the holy precincts of Hindu temples, high-handed attempts of proselytisation and rampant conversions by undue inducements and coercions with the connivance of authorities, the scenario is indeed alarming,” the seers said.
'Dharma in peril'
They were particularly upset with the Andhra Pradesh government and came out openly against it in the strongest of words. The seers said when dharma was in peril, the dharmacharyas could not remain silent and indifferent. “When unscrupulous political parties jumped in the fray and messed up the situation with their dirty tricks and bickering, when the media, intelligentsia and civil society failed to counter the adharmic and 'asuric' forces and when people are perplexed and desperately seeking guidance, the saints and seers should move and respond.”
The seers have decided to give a stern warning to the state government and its leaders, a wake-up message to Hindu society. They have decided to draw up effective short- term and long-term action plans, to mobilise aggrieved people and safeguard Hindu religion and Sanatan Dharma from attacks. The conclave also expressed its support and solidarity to 'dharmic' forces and decided to launch a peaceful and lawful and comprehensive dharmic movement, keeping politics and politicians at bay.
The meeting was conducted amidst the backdrop of several Hindu temples being vandalised in Andhra Pradesh, leading to severe backlash from the Hindu community in the state. In response, the AP state government had set up a Special Investigative Team (SIT), which in its report stated that the vandalism was done by goons at the behest of the opposition TDP and BJP parties. Not satisfied with the response, the Hindu seers have decided to meet, to finalise an action plan not only for AP but also for all the southern states.
Rise in attacks
The seers at the conclave concluded that the attacks on Hinduism, its faith, rituals, practices and deities have been on the increase in the southern states of Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Telangana. The conclave expressed deep shock and concern over the breaking of the Sri Ram idol at an ancient temple in North Andhra, at a time when the entire Hindu community in the country has come forward to construct the Ram temple at Ayodhya. The conclave also took serious objection to people from other religions propagating their religion at Hindu temples and congregations.
The conclave passed several resolutions, urging the Centre and states to enact laws to protect Hindu religion. Most important among them was the demand that the funds, donations and revenue collected by Hindu temples and organisations should be spent for only Hindu religious and philanthropic programmes and not on other government welfare and development programmes. The conclave also demanded that governments appoint people with immense faith in Hinduism at temples, to their the governing boards and councils.
The conclave was attended by several important Hindu seers, the present seer of the Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham Sri Vijayendra Saraswathi Swamy, the Sringeri Mutt head Sri Bharathi Thirtha Swamy, representative Sri Gowrishankar, Pejawar Mutt Seer Viswa Prasanna Thirtha Swamy, Humpi Vidyaranya Maha Sansthan Peeth head Sri Vidyaranya Bharathi Swamy, Pushpa Giri Mutt Seer Sri Vidya Sankar Bharathi Swamy, Tuni Satchindananda Tapovan head Sri Satchidananda Saraswathi, Ahobila Mutt Seer Sri Ranganatha Yatindra Maha Desikan’s representative, Bhuvaneswari Maha Peeth head Sri Kamalananda Bharathi, Sri Mamukshujana Peetham head Sri Sitaram and Senior Editor MVR Sastry.
Letter to President Kovind
In a related development, a former judge of the Telangana High Court and the current judge, Judicial Preview for the State of Andhra Pradesh at Amaravathi, Justice Dr Bulusu Siva Sankara Rao, wrote a letter, in his individual capacity, to President Ramanath Kovind to take appropriate action with regard to the rights of Hindu temples and deities as per the spirit and principles of the Indian Constitution and constitutional morality, which is part of 'raj dharma'.
Justice Rao observed that even one law-maker, one book, one pen, one teacher could change society. “I hope the erudite pen of Your Excellency being the Hon’ble President of India can do this covered by this present appeal for restorative justice to Hindu deities as per Raja Dharma - which is part of the Spirit of Constitution covered by the Constitutional Morality,” Justice Rao urged.
The conclave and Justice Rao’s letter to the President are not mutually exclusive events but a steady movement that is silently taking place in the southern states. What impact it will have, one has to wait and watch.
The writer is a senior journalist.