Saturday, July 29, 2006

Tirupati Hindu zone

I read with great alarm and dismay in today's The Telegraph (Calcutta) about the "Hindu-only" zone that is going to be enforced around Tirupati, the place in south India where the Venkateswara (Balaji) temple is located. Tirupati is one of the most important pilgrimage sites for Hindus.

As an Indian, and as someone born in a Hindu family, whose family deity is the one in whose name this is purportedly being done - I am shocked and shamed. This also violates everything that I have understood the sacred deity (whose name my family bears) to signify.

In the Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna tells Arjuna: “... whenever a decline of dharma occurs, and an uprising of adharma, I then manifest My Self. To deliver the saintly and vanquish the evil-doers, to re-establish dharma, I appear in every age.”

Tirupati Hindu zone
G.S. Radhakrishna

Hyderabad, July 28: The constitutional guarantee of free religious expression will now be suspended across a 322.68-sq-km (80,628-acre) area around Tirupati's Balaji temple.

No other religion can be preached - and no mosques or churches built - in this area spread across seven hills, the Tirumala Tirupati Dewasthanam said yesterday. The Dewasthanam till now controlled a 6,600-acre area that includes Tirumala - the small temple town housing 10,000-15,000 people, mostly temple workers - and the ban applied there. The Andhra government has now handedover to the Dewasthanam the rights to an additional 74,000 acres of surrounding hilly land, mostly a reserved forest. The move followed a report by a panel of religious heads and retired judges that Christian missionaries were distributing pamphlets and cassettes in and around Tirumala.

A.P.V.N. Sharma, temple executive officer, said the entire area will be declared a religious and autonomous township. "Non-Hindus will no longer be employed in the service of Balaji," he added. The committee reported that 42 non-Hindus, living just outside Tirumala, were now engaged in peripheral temple-related services, such as transport and accommodation.

Non-Hindu visitors will virtually be barred from the temple. "Even VIPs of other religions will have to sign a declaration that they have faith in Hinduism to gain entry," a spokesman said. The Dewasthanam took control of the earlier 6,600 acres six years ago by getting the state to forcibly resettle Tirumala town's 2,000 hereditary residents. Their properties have been converted into lease land for the temple.


Asma said...

You just came tomy blog I guess,

Welcome to Paksitani blogging fraternity too ... :)

Havent read the article syet ... but reshma really sings a well.... the feelings in her voice are just un-matchable ... would go through it definitely ...!

Have a nice day!

San Nakji said...

I am glad you are talking about this. I think this sets a dangerous precedent and I really hope it is rethought. However it seems to me that hardline Hindus generally get their way in India...

Yves said...

This seems very counter to the inclusive and tolerant approach to life that I understood to be characteristic of Hinduism. Hard-line attitudes breed more hard-line attitudes. It is hard for people who don't know any history to know how generous, tolerant and inclusive Islam was in past centuries. I think religions generally are in their death-throes. It is absurd that Jews and Muslims who both think God is on their side fight in such a vicious manner. The whole world can see it and judge for themselves. So now some Hindus want to join the idiocy! What's behind this, do you think?

Salam Dhaka said...


Thanks for coming by my blog. We may be in 2 different countries but we are both fighting communalism.

Best wishes from Bangladesh.

dr.alistair said...

gamerules of a bureaucracy at work. once the lawmakers take over the joy and spirit diminishes. it is sad to see limits on freedoms of any sort at any time. it does mean things are escalating. in north america the same thing is happening in so many ways. there are rules and laws about more and more things, to the point where there is nothing but chaos......which is the highest form of spiritual bankrupcy.........or is that international diplomacy?

Alina said...

I do believe religious isollation is no better than religious discrimination. Another way of segregation

Although it is a limited area, once such a way is chosen, the area can only be increased.

universalhindu said...

in 'indian express' daily serial reports have come about christian missioneries and preachers spreading the converting fever through freedom of religious propaganda in tirumala holy area. kindly read buses containing pilgrims to the temple they distribute bible and other christian literature. one guide who is a christian, after the usual guide's narration asks the pilgrims: "why you are going to worship a black stone?" r u suggesting that such things be allowed?
imagine in the vatican city or in mecca hindu religious literatue being distributed to the pilgrims! how fantastic it will be to watch their and your reaction! hope you will show same consideration at that time also.