SADGURU JAGGI VASUDEV’S CALL FOR FREEING TEMPLES FROM GOVERNMENT CONTROL LEADS TO CALLS FOR THE TAKEOVER OF ISHA FOUNDATION AND PROTECTING TAMIL CULTURE.
Sadguru Jaggi Vasudev’s call for freeing Tamil temples from government control and administration has led to a counter move to save Tamil temples from Jaggi Vasudev.
On 4th March, 2 days before the voting for general elections in Tamil Nadu elections, Sadguru Jaggi Vasudev had said :
“the pride of Tamil Nadu, the pride of Dravidian culture, the core and the centre of Tamil philosophy, literature, music and dance in the temple. But now temples have been decimated into lifeless places, thousands of them are falling apart and those dependent upon temples for their livelihood, their lives have been affected. Temples are being run by government diktat. My vote is only for those who will revive this Dravidian pride and liberating these temples from government clutches and hand them back to the hands of Tamil devotees. The soul of Dravidian culture must come back into the hands of Tamil devotees so that once again temples can become centres of the vibrant, transformative process for the people here. I beseech every citizen of Tamil Nadu to stand up for this. Without devotion, without the heart of the devotee, there is no temple. On this day over 3 crore Tamils have spoken. I beseech all political parties to make this commitment.”
In the run-up to the free temples campaign launched by Sadguru Jaggi Vasudev, devotees interested in freeing temples from government control were asked to give a miss call to 83000-83000 to register their support. As per Sadguru’s statement, over 3 crores of missed calls were made to this number. Such a huge response has clearly rattled a number of groups that have now launched a counter-attack on Sadguru. These ranged from a Twitter campaign “#TNTemplesSave_From_Jakki” to demanding take over by the state government of Isha Foundation set up by Sadguru Jaggi Vasudev and confiscate its assets.
In response to the call for Free Temples, personal attacks were launched on Sadguru and his Isha Foundation. Accusations repeated many times in the past – murdering his wife, being a drug peddler, a drug addict was repeated. In addition, he was charged with insulting Tamil Saiva traditions by naming the giant figure at Isha Foundation as “Adi Yogi” instead of “Siva”. Sadguru’s Isha Foundation was accused of destroying forests, the environment, elephant corridor and land grabbing. The “Cauvery Calling” movement launched by Sadguru came under attack as a major scam. A petition was filed earlier in Karnatka HC on this project. The petition claimed that the foundation is planning to plant 253 crore tree saplings across the 639 kilometre stretch of the Cauvery river bank from its birthplace Talacauvery to Thiruvarur. The Foundation is said to be collecting Rs 42 per sapling from the public. All in all, the Foundation would be collecting Rs 10, 626 crores, which the petition described as a “major scam”. The association of the then Tamil Nadu government Sri Bhanwarlal Purohit and several TN government ministers in this movement also came under criticism as an “attempt to mislead people to portray this as a government project”.
A Tamil Nadu based group Deiva Tamil Peravai which name translates in to Divine Tamil Assembly has held a press conference on 13th April 2021. It accused Jaggi Vasudev a Karnakata native of meddling in the affairs of Tamil ways of worship. He was accused as a mouthpiece of BJP-RSS. Isha Foundation was accused of being dominated by Aryan-Brahmins and the Free Temples movement, BJP’s declared objectives of abolishing government control over Hindu temples are nothing but bringing back Arya-Brahmana domination over temples and worship. Citing various violations of law and distortion of Tamil Hindu ways of worship by Sadguru Jaggi Vasudev’s Isha Foundation, the group has passed a resolution calling for the takeover of Isha Foundation by the Endowments Department of Tamil Nadu. The group called for action against Sadguru for conducting a Free Temple campaign inside the temple premises. In another resolution, it opposed the abolition of government control over Hindu temples stating that with several distinct ways of philosophy and worship, control of temples cannot be handed over to a single group. The group has said that since most temples were built by erstwhile kings of Tamil Nadu, governments as successors of princely states, are well within their rights to take over and administer Hindu temples. It cited that temples were administered well by the Endowments Department. The group has accused Sadguru as the front of Kanchi Shankaracharyas who have given a call for abolishing government control over Hindu temples and asked Tamil people to be aware of these conspiracies.It also passed a resolution for conducting Temple rituals and pooja only in the Tamil language. It has announced a one-day agitation and hunger strike on May 8th at Tanjavur, Tamil Nadu.
Another campaign focussed on the narrative that temples in Tamil Nadu do not belong a religion. In tweets by handles with Christian and Muslim sounding names, temples were sought to be delinked from the Hindu religion itself.
A tweet by Caroline Mahendra Singh ( @carolkrish) asked Hindutwa Sanghies to stay off.
In another move, a new term “Tamizham” denoting a separate religion of Tamils was coined. The attempt was to portray Tamil Saiva- Vaishnava worship as a non-Hindu way of worship and by extension, all Tamils, irrespective of religion followed are entitled to worship and manage Tamil temples.
An article published in Trionine.org not only attacked Isha Foundation but went on to accuse Saibaba and Iskcon organisations as facilitating the growth of Abrahamic religions in Tamil Nadu. The article accused modern-day North Indian marauders of being no different from the devastation unleashed on Tamil Nadu temples by Malik Kafur of the Delhi Sultanate.
“ As one of the developed states that is confronting the advent of fundamentalism in the subcontinent, Tamils and their religion are currently facing a cultural threat due to the radical redefinition of Indian Union’s welfare as North Indian Marauders prosperity by Delhi’s ruling class.
TAMIL TEMPLES FACE AN IMMINENT THREAT FROM NORTH INDIAN MARAUDERS. Tamil civilization has endured numerous conquests from outside powers throughout its lasting history. The cultural siege of Buddhism and Jainism, despite its failure, has been the most devastating of all and the imminent threat of North Indian Marauders exploitation of temple wealth in Tamil Nadu is an undesirable recurrence of that which should be neutralized resolutely.”
The attacks on the Free Temples campaign, support for the continuation of government control over Hindu temples brought sharp reactions from citizens of Tamil Nadu. Several posts in social media accused those running this campaign as agents of foreign-funded break India, anti-Hindu forces who want to see a weak debilitated Hindu temple ecosystem that will enable politicians and bureaucrats to siphon off temple income and assets. They accused organisations like Deiva Tamil Peravai of invoking Tamil pride, Tamil culture to incite the masses in Tamil Nadu while working at the behest of the abovementioned forces.