Govardhan, 2018.01.16 (VT) Vishvendra Singh, arrived at Govardhan with hundreds of supporters on Sunday. Singh is the son of the last ruler of the princely state of Bharatpur and is currently MLA for Deeg-Kumher Constituency in Bharatpur district, Rajasthan. Speaking to media, Singh said that the Supreme Court has ruled that the temple’s rightful managers are the Bharatpur Royal Family Religious and Ceremonial Trust. He said that the Supreme Court has verified that the Mukharavind temple belonged his ancestors and now it belongs to the Trust. He said that the government does not have higher authority than the Supreme Court, so they cannot lawfully acquire it.
Braj’s Brahmins are fighting what they see as an attack on the Brahmin caste, whose role has traditionally been to guide society onto the right path.
At a meeting on Monday, Brahmins affected by the Government’s acquisition bid decided that they will do whatever is necessary to stop the acquisition, even going as far as deliberately courting arrest to fill the jails and paralyze the legal system.
The Braj Tirtha Vikas Parishad (BTVP) has been accused of acting without consulting the families involved. If the BTVP manages to acquires the three temples it is seeking – Mukharavind, Danghati and Mansi Ganga– almost 3000 people will lose their income. There are over 400,000 Brahmins in Braj and it is estimated that over half of them rely on temples and related activities as their main source of income.
Some locals have welcomed the BTVP’s announcement that they plan to use temple income for development, cleaning and greening of Goverdhan, however, many others (who are not directly involved in temple management) feel that it is a break with tradition that will erode the tradition of giving ‘daan’ (temple donations). Priya Joshi said, “If Government organizations take the money from temples and use it to install garbage bins and what not, it makes giving donations at the temple seem like voluntarily paid taxes.”
Another issue that needs to be worked out is that the temples already have court appointed receivers who have been regulating the distribution of temple income. The receivers distribute temple income between the Goswami families and charitable causes. Dalchand Chaudhary, the receiver at Danghati temple said, the temples charitable activities provide scholarships for children from 350 families; supports widows, and provides funds for the marriage ceremonies of girls from poor families. Chaudhary said that the existing system should not be interfered with.
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