‘Use temple wealth to set up centre of learning’
Namskar! from the land of Pdmanabha and the Padmanabhadasa. There is a lot of discussion on the treasure uncovered and inventoried at behest of the Supreme court in the vaults of the legendary Padmanabha temple in Thiruananthpuram. Everyday there are numerous articles in the national newspapers. Everyone is giving expert recommendations . A broad consensus in the popular opinion seems to have been arrived at , that the treasure uncovered is not a trove found unclaimed but a legitimate belonging of the deity represented by the trust. Another concurrence in the intellectuals seems to be that the wealth belongs to the Hindus and should be put to use as per their considered decision. But Hinduism is not a monolithic edifice like some other modern religions. There is no central papal command or caliphate to hand out any fatwas type unchallenged orders. So everyone is entitled to an opinion. The OPEDs appearing in national dailies and editorial comments have suggest a range of possibilities. The spectrum of the suggestions offered is very wide. On one end the funds going into the state coffers to the other end of re-shutting the vaults and keeping the treasure as intact and buried as it has been for more than couple of centuries. Everyone has something to suggest. One wrote distribute it amongst the poor. Some suggested to build a museum.
It is no doubt a healthy debate possible only because it is a Hindu temple. The Hindu have been always open to debate. The faith does not bar a practical application of the Devotion. But proper understanding of Historical background, local sociocultural realities and sensitivities of the devotees is needed before arriving at any conclusions. As the matter is sub-judiced the legal angle also becomes very pertinent.
All are concerned. A Hindu awakening of sorts has taken place by the uncovering of the unimaginable wealth to the public domain. The extent of wealth was very well-known to the trustees of the Temple. The erstwhile rulers of Travancore had taken pride in calling themselves as Padmanabhadasa and have remained faithful till date. They have been visiting the vaults on the specific festival occasions. But it was a well guarded secrete. It has come out to the public knowledge ostensibly by the Supreme court intervention but faithful devotees strongly believe that this is the divine will of the Lord Padmanabha himself. There are private discussions all around expressing concern and interest. But Bharatiya Vichar kendram in Thiruananthpuram took a lead to organize public debate on the issue. Seminar titled “Unnecessary debate on the Pdmanabhaswamy Wealth : way forward” was organized on the 21st July 2011 at the Samkriti Bhavan. The speakers included well-known veteran historian M G S Narayanan, Legal expert Adv Shashibhushan and Vichar kendram director and eminent scholar P Parameswaran. There was discussion on all the different angles of the issue. It was well attended by more than 400 intellectuals of the city. The seminar has given a very constructive direction to the debate.
Here is the report published in The Hindu next day.
In keeping with the tradition of the ruling family of erstwhile Travancore and of Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple in preserving and perpetuating the ‘Sanatana Dharmam’, a portion of the assets found in the temple could be used to institute a university of international standards to propagate that ‘dharmam.’
This institution could be named ‘Sanathana Dharma Viswa Vidyapeedom’, director of Bharatheeya Vichara Kendram P. Parameswaran said here on Thursday. He was speaking at a discussion on the ‘Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple: Unnecessary Controversies and Undeniable Truths’ at the Kendram.
The temple has a history of supporting centres of learning. The ‘Kanthalloor Sala’, also known as the Nalanda of the south, was supported in its activities by the temple.
The temple and its recently discovered assets belong to Padmanabhaswamy. The rulers of Travancore had guarded these assets as trustees. As such, the ruling family should be an integral part of any future arrangement pertaining to the management of the temple.
The assets of the temple could also be used for the uplift of those sections of Hindu society that remain downtrodden, he added.
In his address, noted historian M.G.S. Narayanan said the riches found in the temple is the cumulative offerings of devotees down the ages. These riches should be kept in the temple itself. In fact, these riches may even catalyse a sense of unity in Hindu society. Former Union Minister O. Ragagopal pointed out that a consensus has emerged in Kerala society regarding the riches found in the temple.
Across political divides, the idea that these riches belong to the Temple itself and not to the government or even to society at large has found acceptance, he added.