The former priest of Tirupati temple, Dr. AV Ramana Dikshitulu, has made a series of stunning corruption & mis-governance allegations against the Govt. controlled body TTD (Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams), which manages the world-famous 2000-year old temple, and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu.
In an interview with Republic TV and as reported by other outlets like Swarajya & OpIndia, the ex-head priest has made the following allegations –
- Priceless ornaments and precious diamonds which were donated by devotees to Lord Venkateshwara have disappeared. Some of the ornaments and jewels in question were donated to the temple during the Sri Krishnadevaraya era (renowned King of Vijaynagar empire). The governing body, however, has refused to make the information public. They (hereditary priests) have become helpless after 1996 when the Andhra Pradesh Government took over the reins of the temple’s administration. These days only new jewellery was being handed over by the administrators to adorn the presiding deity of the temple.
- Till ‘96, we had detailed records the priest said. We still have them. In processions, we see some of the old ornaments, but most of the old ornaments are not seen, only new ornaments. We use whatever they (TTD officers) give. Most of the time they give new ornaments.
- The administrators failed to uphold the ethos and sanctity of the temple, indulging in impropriety and corruption. These officials think they know everything – arrogance born out of ignorance. Out of this arrogance they have interfered in the pujas and rituals beyond a limit. They in order to support their VIPs, film stars, rich visitors ask us to reduce the aradhana and also interfere in timings.
- He said the temple authorities, appointed by the state government office, stole the jewels and money hidden away in Temple’s sacred kitchen. This kitchen is used to prepare prasadams to be offered to the deity since last one thousand years and was was never closed. But last year, it was closed and a lot of brcikware/flooring was removed in violation of Agama Shastras and without informing the priest (who is the Vaikanasa agama advisor) as protocol requires.
- The priest also said that the ancient structure and priceless heritage of the temple was being destroyed – the mantapa, a 1000-pillared beautiful, ornate hall built in the 10thcentury was pulled down mercilessly by one IAS officer, appointed by the current CM in his earlier tenure. The ratha mantapa, a beautiful old mantapa is also gone. This old heritage destroyed was depriving devotees and future generation of such treasures. Every time a new officer comes they change and go on drilling new holes on the floor, in the name of installing tube lights, air conditioners – the priest has asked for an ASI examination to assess what are the damages done to the ancient structure.
- He claimed that approximately a sum of Rs 100 crore have been looted to run government schemes in the state and Naidu was responsible for every irregularity in the temple as every issue in the temple “has a consent from him.” For eg., a ruling party MLA wanted Rs. 10 crore for building a marriage hall in his constituency. There are already three halls built by TTD, sparingly used. Where is the need to build a new one with funds from TTD?
- He demanded that there should be a code of conduct for officials appointed as employees. There should be minimal training in adhyatmika, dharmika tradition.
- Demanding an open audit of the jewels and maintenance of digital records, he said only a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation will reveal the truth on how temple funds were being utilised.
This comes after the temple administration courted a controversy last month when a Christian lady was appointed on the Board of trustees for the temple. The trustee opted out of the board after questions were raised over her faith. An audit conducted after that controversy found that a whopping 44 non-Hindus were employed in various temple services by TTD in violation of guidelines barring non-Hindus from working in the temple or educational institutions run by it.
News Minute reports that a few Hindu organisations held protests and staged a demonstration against the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam (TTD) on Saturday, questioning its decision to shunt out chief priest AV Ramana Deekshitulu after he made major allegations against the governing board of the temple.
Demanding a probe into the allegations made by Ramana, Hindu Chaitanya Samithi president T. Omkar told reporters that an inquiry must also be conducted to make the details of the presiding deity’s ornaments public. The Rayalaseema Porata Samithi (RPS) also expressed doubts about the safety of the jewels, telling a media outlet that a report about a missing diamond by the Chief Vigilance & Security Officer from 2001, should be made public.
As lawyer J Sai Deepak, who is part of several campaigns to free Hindu temples from corrosive Government control, tweeted – “#Tirupati controversy is just the tip of the iceberg. Massive loot of temple assets and properties is pervasive in TN, AP, Telangana, Karnataka and Kerala.”
Did you find this article useful? We’re a non-profit. Make a donation and help pay for our journalism.