By Sukant Deepak
New Delhi, Apr 13 (IANS): Even as #FreeTNTemples, part of ‘Peoples Manifesto, conceived by Jaggi Vasudev, popularly known as Sadhguru continues to take the social media by storm with more than 3.32 crore people supporting it, the founder of Isha Foundation feels that while before the polls, political parties put up manifestos and tell citizens what they will do -- it is a fundamental aspect that needs to change.
"In fact, before the election, every citizen must state what they want. Then we will decide who to elect based on which party says they can do it," he tells IANS.
The yogi and author feels that in Tamil Nadu, five things need to happen -- Cauvery must flow 12 months a year; education needs to improve; increased investments skill development for youth; improvement in farmers' situation; and temples freed from government control.
"This is what I articulated before the elections," he asserts.
Talk to him about the fact that it is the ‘Free Temples' point in the manifesto that everyone is talking about, and Vasudev says: "A temple is not a place of prayer, it is the soul of Tamil culture. Here, most towns were built holding the temple as the centre. The town evolved around it. This is why they are called temple towns.
"In a culture so steeped in devotion and spiritual process, unfortunately, temples are in various states of decline and dilapidation. This is why it is in people's hearts that they must be restored to devotees. Three crore and thirty two lakh people have supported this movement in an electorate of about five crores -- no government can ignore that. It is just a question of time before the temples are released from government control."
While churches, mosques and gurudwaras are not managed by the government, Vasudev says that some people ask him -- ‘Why can't the government take them over'.... "They should not be touched. Because there is one injustice, you don't have to multiply that. No one has any right to take anyone's place of worship."
He adds: "We call ourselves a secular nation. In my understanding, secular means religion does not mess with government and government does not mess with religion."
Stressing that devotees should manage temples as Indian temples were not created as places of prayer, he says: "There is no single person leading a prayer for a group of people. These are largely different types of energy centres where people can soak themselves in the energy, empowering themselves to blossom to their fullest potential."
Talk to him about the absolute mismanagement of temple wealth and he asserts that according to the Madras High Court says over 47,000 acres of temple lands have been encroached.
"What the government should do in the first six months is to appoint an external audit – not just about property and money, but also the condition of the temple, whether it is alive or not, is the pooja happening or not.
"After the audit, the first step is, if someone is sitting on temple land, either you pay the current market price of rent or price of sale. Otherwise vacate the premises. The government should pass this as legislation," he says.
Adding that the movement has been contained to Tamil Nadu as the issue there is far more serious than anywhere else, he says: "The law is far more draconian and temples are too many. And there was an election happening. Now that the election is over, inevitably this movement is spreading across the country.
"The Uttarakhand government has already released 51 temples that were recently mandated to be under government administration. It is truly wonderful that this step has been taken. In other states, it may not be as simple as Uttarakhand, but whatever the issue, it can be sorted out and we can find solutions if there is willingness."
Talk to him about the criticism being received by the ‘Free Temple' movement from some quarters, and he says that he has made himself in a way that outside situations do not influence how he is within. "This is the fundamental of Yoga. Whatever someone says or does not say about me, they cannot make me happy, angry, unhappy or miserable. I have not given the privilege to anyone that they can decide what should happen within me."
Countering the apprehension of some people who feel that if temples go back to the community, then those belonging to certain castes will not be allowed into the temples, he says: "That problem used to exist in our country. Professions and different aspects and activities of our social life were divided by caste. But it is very clear today that irrespective of your caste, you can be a teacher, soldier or anything you want if you get the necessary training. So you cannot talk today about some problem that existed 50 years ago.
"The barrier of caste was taken away by law a long time ago. In social practice unfortunately, it is still there. But this is one of the best ways to level this out. I am saying, irrespective of someone's caste, creed or religion, if you have devotion in your heart and are willing to train for what is needed, you can become a priest. Tomorrow when people see that anyone can come into the temple and also be part of running the temple, real levelling of the society will happen."
Vasudev, who has recently written the book ‘Karma: A Yogi's Guide to Crafting Your Destiny', says Karma is not about reward and punishment.
"It means action – your action. Whether awake or asleep, you are performing a variety of physical, mental, emotional and energy action. For most people, 99 per cent and more of this is unconscious action. This is why it looks like someone up in heaven is operating your life."
Stating that this is the only culture on the planet that teaches ‘your life is your karma', the yogi says: "This means your life is your making. This is the most dynamic way to exist. Karma essentially means I am not heaven-managed, I am self-managed."
Pleased with the book's response he says that he is not looking at it as just one more book.
"We can make a movement out of this, that we shift the controls from heaven to self."
Though several experts have pointed towards the need to introduce Yoga at the school level while many allege the move as a ‘Hindu conspiracy', he says: "Yoga is a technology for human well-being. It predates all religions and goes back 15,000 years. An outcome of a profound observation of the human mechanism, it is about how to bring this mechanism to its highest level. We are offering Yoga in many nations that are Islamic. They have no problem because they understand it is a science. But unfortunately, a few people in our country are trying to make political capital out of this."