Reforming Temple Administration in India Part III – Judicial Successes of Chidambaram and Kamakhya

In the first two parts of the series, we examined the Akali Movement to understand the key political and legislative lessons that can be explored and incorporated to some extent in administering Hindu temples. However, that is not to say that there are not any ongoing efforts to free as well as reform the administration of key temples. In this part, we shall examine two key judgments in this regard that led to outcomes in favour of the petitioners – the Chidambaram temple case and the Kamakya shrine case. We shall derive the key arguments that caused the Supreme Court to overturn government attempts at taking over the temples, and understand their implications for other bigger temples across the country. We shall also examine why the arguments against this freeing do not have any merit to them, and need to be dismissed altogether as they do not have any credibility to them. The Chidambaram Natarajar Case in Tamil Nadu Chidambaram Natarajar Temple in Tamil Nadu In January 2014,

Reforming Temple Administration in India Part II - Learning from the Management of Sikh Gurdwaras

Gurdwara Sisganj Sahib in Delhi (Courtesy: Wikipedia) In the first part, we had a brief glimpse of the history of the Akali movement to wrest gurdwaras in Punjab out of government control. In this part, we shall have a look at the administrative models arising from the movement, which have seen several amendments over time, but have remain pretty much the same in principle and spirit since 1925. We shall elaborate particularly on two aspects of gurdwara management and administration set up, namely the constitution of the Boards as well as the management of the properties and finances of the gurdwaras. We shall also examine the criticisms obviated by such models, and explore the key takeaways for Hindu religious institutions in order to propose alternatives to the current governance model that we see with temples. The Administrative Models of Gurdwaras in India - Observed Differences There are gurdwaras across all parts of India, and that has meant that the way many of them ru

Reforming Temple Administration in India Part I - Lessons from the Akali Movement

Akali Jatha (Courtesy: There is a lot of discussion these days with respect to the way Hindu temples are being administered across the country. While there is a lot of debate on how the temples are being managed in the current form, and there are efforts going on through legal means to create greater accountability and transparency in the systems, it is important to also propose alternatives to the current administration frameworks, which completely leave out local communities from the well-being and care-take of the temple management affairs, leaving them to be open fields that breed rampant corruption and avenues for belittling the Dharmic faith. In this regard, efforts are now needed to explore possible alternatives to the status quo. In this multi part series, I shall try to examine the merits and demerits of models of administration that are visible across India among different communities, in order to obtain positive lessons that Hindus need

Of Childhood Memories, Mangoes and Brinjals

It is indeed weird how we remember the strangest of things from our childhood that others have completely forgotten, all because it is linked to food. That could the case particularly for people obsessed with food like me. Perhaps it is this aspect of my memories that influenced why we engage in certain behaviors and have certain skills too. One strange memory that I always carry, while all my other family members have no reminiscence of, was our first cook. She was a puny Bengali girl who was a servant at a neighbor's house, and started cooking and cleaning at our place to earn more and help her family back home. She was a fantastic cook, and introduced our Punjabi palate to several interesting experiments from her own cuisine. One of those was a fantastic raw mango chutney that she would cook. It is so ironic that no one remembered anything about it, though I searched for its reviews for years, and she had since long gone. Today, I found out the recipe, and as I cooked and tast

Ramjas Fracas - Key Takeaways

Saurabh Mukherjee who was peddled as an ABVP Activist by the Hindu (Postcard News) Just because I am silent does not mean I do not observe. Over the past week and a half, we have been celebrating another drama of ABVP ‘goons’ protesting violently against an event that was scheduled to have Mr Umar Khaled and Ms Shehla Rashid of the JNU fame in attendance and even as speakers. Needless to say, when the event was canceled by the college principal at the protest of ABVP, a whole bunch of left affiliated All India Students Association (AISA) and Students Federation of India (SFI) started protesting without any permission within the college premises, and within a few minutes, led by the members of the leftist dominated Delhi University Teachers Association (DUTA), decided to call for azadi of Bastar, Kashmir, Manipur and every other part of the country (god knows if they realize if we could do with some azadi from their daily regurgitation of nonsense, and there is evidence that cann

The Economy of the Marathas Part II: Rise and Fall of the Peshwai

Peshwa Baji Rao I (Wikipedia Commons) With the death of Chhatrapati Shivaji, a period of uncertainty had hit the Maratha kingdom. The Mughals under Aurangzeb’s leadership had left no stone unturned in hitting the Marathas hard. Shivaji’s son Sambhaji was taken captive, and the torture leading to his death eventually has been well documented. His brother Rajaram ascended the throne in order to stabilize the sinking confidence of the Maratha power, though for all practical purposes it was Rani Tarabai who held the reigns of the throne, given how ill Rajaram was. Sambhaji’s son Shahu ji was still a prisoner of Aurangzeb at the time when Rajaram passed away, and Tarabai officially took over the regency. To keep the jagirdars loyal to the throne in this delicate political time, Shahu ji scrapped the key provision of not making jagirdari and other offices hereditary. When Shahu declared himself the king of the Marathas at Satara in 1708, he had to recognize these Maratha chiefta