A senior Government officer working for the Government controlled TTD (Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams) trust was found to be in gross violation of her service rules by daily going to a Christian Lutheran Church in an official car.
Ms. Snehalatha, Deputy Executive Officer in TTD’s Welfare Department, is reported to never take ‘Prasadam’ (food blessed after it is first offered to Bhagwan), but uses her official car to go to Church and also accepts gifts during Brahmotsavam, an annual festival conducted over 9 days in which the Utsava-murti of Sri Venkateswara, along with his consorts Sridevi and Bhudevi is taken on a procession around the temple town.
The news has been widely reported in some new Telugu news outlets like Bharaat Today –
If not for twitter, the news would have remained confined to few pockets in Andhra, but started going viral as Hindus from other states picked up on it-
#Tirupati-Church .Now see the TTD officer who used official car to visit Church. Telugu TV Channel found She is Snehalatha , Deputy Executive officer,in Welfare Department of Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams .So religious that she never touches Prasadam. https://t.co/SDLKS6p3CG
— MVR Sastry (@mvrsastry) December 5, 2017
Another side-effect of govt management of temples is that evangelicals have come to believe temples are their property as well. When Trivandrum temple treasure was disclosed, Christian extremists promptly claimed a share in it. https://t.co/zqvGh3fJDS
— Oldtimer (@auldtimer) December 7, 2017
This news resonated with Hindus across the country as infiltration of non-Hindus into Hindu temples and other religious institutions controlled by the Government is a common occurrence. Most Hindu temples in the country are controlled by State governments under respective HRCE (Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowment) Acts. Religious institutions of other ‘minority’ religions such as Christianity, Islam etc are outside Government control.
TTD trust is governed by A.P. Charitable & Hindu Religious Institutions & Endowments Act (1987), which states in Chatper 3, Section 29 (4) –
(4) The Executive Officer appointed and exercising the powers and discharging the duties shall be a person professing Hindu religion and shall cease to exercise those powers and discharge those duties when he ceased to profess that religion.
This is not the first time when such reports of non-Hindu TTD employees denigrating Hindu Dharma, and of Christian proselytization, has come to light from the sacred 7 hills of Tirumala-Tirupati.
As part of a fact finding committee established in 2006 after reports of such undesirable activities first emerged, Sri R. Sivananda Kishore (AV&SO, Sector-III, TTD, Tirumala), had recommended:
- As per Rule 197 of APCHR and E Act 1987 the population living in Tirumala shall adhere to the norms and shall follow the sentiments of Hindu Religion. As such thorough probe has to be taken up to verify the antecedents of Non-Hindu Employees who are working in TTD as well as Government departments i.e., Police, Fire Services, Commercial Taxes and etc., who are staying in Tirumala. The identified employees and their families shall be shifted from Tirumala
- Some of the family members of the TTD employees such as wife, children are practicing Christian ideology and inviting the Pastors to conduct prayers in their houses at Tirumala. The above aspect may be carefully examined and steps taken to prevent the above activities in Tirumala.
- In the Rule 198 of APCHR & E Act 1987 the following activities shall be prohibited at Tirumala :-
- Carrying and possession of Holy books of other religions like BIBLE, QURAN etc.
- Any kind of propagation of other than Hindu religion by way of distribution of pamphlets, Literature, Brochures, Stickers, Banners, Flags, including prayers and speeches etc.”
Other findings of the Committee included Christian proselytization in educational institutions at Tirupathi established on TTD land and with TTD funds, diversion of funds earlier being used for Hindu Dharmic activities for other purposes, irregularities in sale of tickes and missing antique jewellery offered to Sri Venkateshwara.
In 2014, there was a huge uproar when a video showing Sudhir Mondithoka, Director, Immanuel Baptist Ministries of India, Hyderabad openly demeaning Hindu Dharma and trying to convert Hindus near the main temple in Tirumala.
Subsequently, all employees of Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD) took a pledge to protect the sanctity of the Seven Hills and uphold Hindu Dharma.
It seems that the pledge has not had much affect, seeing how a Christian has managed to become a senior officer in the TTD hierarchy.
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