'We are not getting any Godly benefit by taking the wealth out'
Around Rs 90,000 crore worth treasure has been found in the secret cellars of the Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple in Trivandrum. The treasure from the cellars of the famous temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu has triggered a debate -- should the wealth be used for public purpose or should it be kept a secret?.
R Vaidyanathan, a professor of finance at Indian Institute of Management-Bengaluru, believes that the time is just not right to reveal details of the temple's treasures.
Professor Vaidyanathan talks to rediff.com's Vicky Nanjappa
What do you suggest we should do with all this wealth? Let it lie idle?
It has been lying idle all these years. Why should we take it out now? We are not getting any Godly benefit by taking it out of the coffers at the moment.
When one talks about temple wealth, which has been accumulated from the days of our maharajas, this present generation cannot assume that it belongs only to us.
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'Lord Vishnu is the true owner of this wealth'
It (the treaure) has inter-generational equity and hence my great grand children too have a right over this wealth. How can we pull it out and say let us build roads with this money?
But don't you think that wealth cannot lie idle all the time?
I am not saying that. Going by the present situation in the entire world, all I am saying is that the time is just not right to make such revealations.
Moreover this wealth does not belong only to this generation. The previous generation did not get its benefit, so how can we claim a right over it? As of now it would be best if that wealth is left alone.
These treasures were donated to the temple by devotees over centuries, and rightfully belong to Lord Vishnu, who cannot even be fully seen from any angle by devotees. He is the true owner of this wealth and this truth should be internalised.
'The treasures may fall pray to political greed'
So, who should handle this wealth?
Let it just remain there and be handled by the trust, as was being done all these years.
The time now is most inappropriate to try to list the billions of rupees worth of diamonds and rubies and sapphires owned by our temples. We all know that a significant portion of our politicians have a criminal background and even parts of the judiciary are corrupt.
The bureaucracy is also compromised. Hence where government finances are completely out of alignment with revenue realities, the temptation will be to use these invaluable treasures to fulfill the insatiable personal and political greed of our politicians to fund populist schemes like "food security" for all with resources belonging to Lord Vishnu.
Already more than 80 per cent of the incomes of major temples is used for 'secular' causes rather than for 'sacred' purposes.
'Other countries in distress will have their eyes on it'
Sorry to sound repetitive, but I would once again like to ask, what use is this wealth if it will lie idle?
During the days of the rajas, such money was in the reserve fund. It was used only at a time of natural calamity when the rest of the coffers went dry. The money belonging to the Lord should be used only when the Lord creates a calamity.
We must appreciate our kings who had kept this wealth safe for us. In the past, the kings have used this wealth to wriggle the society out of a crisis. We must keep the wealth for the same.
Do you mean that we have gained nothing by revealing the details of this wealth?
Absolutely nothing. Anti-State elements will eye our temples more. Other countries in distress will have their eyes on it.
As a result of all this we will have to pray in temples in the presence of gun-trotting security guards. The entire atmosphere in temples will be vitiated.
Could you explain further?
'Temples are targets of terrorists'
Given the economic depression in Europe and the acute unemployment situation in the United States, such news items could tempt such countries. Let us take note of the fact that the US had invaded Iraq on the ground that there were some weapons, which were ultimately not there.
If we open up the vaults of our temples then such factors could only tempt such countries.
So are you saying that the US like the British invade our temple wealth?
I am not saying they would, I am just saying they could. Moreover this is not just about them. Temples are targets of terrorists and they could invade them too.
Giving out such details to those terrorists could only attract them into our temples in order to loot our wealth. The Middle East too is under crisis and they could also prove dangerous to our temple wealth. Under such a situation we need to be cautious.
'For God's sake, stop digging up temple treasures'
So what do you suppose be done now?
For the sake of dharma and for God's sake, our courts and government should stop digging for treasures in our temples.
We need to have a temple protection force and the responsibility should be shared between the central and state government.
We are speaking in terms of trillions over here and there is a need to protect this wealth from prying eyes. This is national treasure and hence the protection ought to be very high.