HYDERABAD, INDIA, May 28, 2021 (India Today): On May 23, Tamil Nadu’s Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments (HR&CE) commissioner J. Kumaragurubaran asked the 44,227 temples under his control to come clean on their finances. A circular was sent out mandating that audited accounts will have to be updated on the HR&CE website from this year. “Several provisions of the HR&CE Act emphasize transparency and inform the public about the expenditure. It is in the interests of improving the administration of the temples,” he explained. The move is a follow-up to a pre-poll promise by chief minister M.K. Stalin after doubts (and demands) were raised about temple management in the state. By digitizing documents regarding properties and assets owned by temples, the government aims to make them available in the public domain. The move comes at the end of a bitter war of words between finance minister P.N.T. Palanivel Thiagarajan (PTR) and the Coimbatore-headquartered Isha Foundation whose head SadhguruJaggi Vasudev has, in recent months, steered a public campaign demanding “the freeing of temples from government control”.

The digitization plan, sources in the government say, will squelch Sadhguru’s campaign as well as that of the BJP and RSS to whip up Hindu sentiments over the issue. Temple administrations will now be transparent “leaving no room for certain groups to appropriate assets in the name of religion”, they say. Indeed, the government’s plan is to register all temple assets and land records in the name of the Deities to prevent individuals and other entities from usurping the assets. This is also expected to bring to an end the numerous cases pending in different courts regarding mismanagement in some of the state’s temples. The argument of those who want temples freed is that India, as a secular country, shouldn’t be controlling religious institutions. They also contend that places of worship of other religions like mosques and churches are not under government control, so why the temples? “

Much more on this issue at source: https://www.indiatoday.in/magazine/nation/story/20210607-a-battle-for-the-temples-1807673-2021-05-28