Disclaimer: This post isn’t about religion or religious conflicts and it has not been written under any intentions of hurting the religious sentiments of anyone.

TIRUPATI: The reluctance of the management of the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD) to readily disclose the gold and other precious items in its possession is reinforcing the theory that the irregularities detected at the hands of chief priest Venkatramana Dikshitulu of Sri Kodanda Ramaswamy temple last week is just the tip of the iceberg and that a mega scam may be staring at the richest temple in the country.(Complete article)

I feel extremely frustrated, agitated and embittered.

Every now and then, such temples make it to the news for all the wrong reasons. However, it doesn’t affect the blind faith people have in such institutions. People still throng in millions to offer their prayers in the temples giving donations amounting to crores or rupees.

Tirupati temple on a daily average gets about Rs. 2 crores through donations. It has jewelry worth 56,000 crore.

Do the people who continue to faithfully visit the temples ever give a thought to what the temples did with such tremendous amount of money.

No, they don’t.

Corruption is not only limited to the temple trust, it breeds and flourishes in all other forms too.

Hate the slow moving queues?

Pay a few thousand bucks and get direct access to the temple.

The politics and corruption involved in giving the contracts for running temple amenities like canteens and guesthouses is immense.

Even when they hear news about the rampant corruption in the temple trusts, it doesn’t bother them a bit, they comfortable forget it only to give more hefty donations in their following visit to the temple.

The religious organizations hold society within a tight framework of rits and rituals. Nobody dares to go against the tenets of religion. In home, we must be guided by religion and in daily life by religious practices. Even if you hate it, you must do so by copy-book maxims on religious morality.

Let me ask a very basic question: Why do we go to the temples?

In times of adversity, we go to the temples to pray for good things.

In times of prosperity, we go to thank the god for his benevolence.

Sometimes we go to the temples as remorse or to seek forgiveness for our mistakes and crimes.

Sometimes we go the temples for peace of mind.

So basically, we go to the temples to pray for ourselves and our loved ones. Nothing unnatural about it, after all we are all self motivated, right?

Praying doesn’t change the scheme of things, it just gives us an emotional support , solace to our souls that god is looking after us and a hope that things will soon change for good. So why is there a need to go to the temples to offer prayers?

Does the god recept our prayers better in temples?

Does the god do greater favors if we visit the temples?

Certainly not.

Some might say that temples give us peace of mind. Being in the company of god, gives us a feeling of being spiritually connected with him.

Right, very right.

But then how do you expect to find peace of mind in a place crowded by thousands of people.

How can one spiritually connect to god, when he can’t even stand and pray there for a few seconds?

( I have myself experienced this at the Shirdi Sai Baba temple, after waiting for hours in the queue, you just get a passing darshan of the deity and I’m pretty sure that the condition is no different in other such big temples.)

Whenever we make visit to any temple, we dutifully put some money in the donation boxes. (Has anyone ever seen a temple without a donation box? Be it a shoddy little temple under some tree or a huge, magnificent temple, they all have a donation box.) Some even give jewelry , gold and silver ware or coins.

Thanking god for his kindness and compassion is a rightful thing to do. But why does one have to do it through money or gold? In this materialistic and money driven world, we even measure god’s bounty in terms of money and hence thank him though money.

If at all, we need to thank god, thank him through love. Love your fellow beings, share your happiness by helping a needy person. In our pursuit of higher, bigger and faster we seldom give a thought to the plight of millions of people who are less fortunate than we are. Instead of donating money to a temple, give the same amount to an organization that helps the underprivileged people. A visit to a temple like tirupati etc or a pilgrimage costs a minimum 5-6 thousands for a family. That same amount if put to some good use can make a huge change is someone’s life.

If this proposition of contributing to a social cause isn’t entirely digestible to some, or if you’re too lazy to find and join such an organization, the least you can do is give money to the beggars sitting outside the temples. Now some narcissist will point that, sometimes these beggars earn a lot more. Still, it makes more sense giving money to a beggar than to a temple, which already has crores of rupees. Or buy flowers from the old ladies and children, it will help earn their daily living.

Have faith , but not blind faith.

PS : Just because I condemn giving donations to temples doesn’t mean that I’m an atheist. I do believe that religion, belief in God form an integral part of who we truly are.