Raghunath Temple Takeover Takes Political Turn
Himachal This Week
The state government’s decision to undertake the Raghunath Temple in Kullu has intensified the political heat in the state with Himachal Lokhit MLA from Kullu Maheshwar Singh terming it as a political maneuver of the Congress government. The BJP is also opposing the move. The decision to take over the affairs of temple was taken at Cabinet meeting recently held in Shimla. The temple will be taken over under the Himachal Pradesh Public Religious Institutions and Charitable Endowments Act, 1984 with an aim of providing better administration, protection and preservation of its properties. Though the government is terming this move as an action of public clamour following the theft of three main idols in December 2014, the political experts feel the move as a politically motivated one. The BJP has termed the state government’s decision a politically motivated one to browbeat Maheshwar Singh at a time when he was thinking of coming back to the BJP fold. Interestingly Karan Singh, younger brother of Maheshwar Singh, who is Ayurveda Minister, was part of the Cabinet which took the decision of undertaking Raghunath temple. The two are pitted against each other and are on opposite sides of the political spectrum. With both Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh and charibardar of Raghunath Temple determined in their actions, the stage seems to be set for a legal battle between Maheshwar Singh and the government over the Cabinet’s decision to take over the Raghunath temple in Kullu.
How Things Unfolded
* July 25: Decision to undertake the Raghunath temple in Kullu under the Himachal Pradesh Public Religious Institutions and Charitable Endowments Act, 1984 was taken in Cabinet
* July 26: The notification regarding the same issued
* July 27: Deputy Commissioner, Kullu, HR Chauhan issued notices to Maheshwar Singh and his son Danvinder Singh, who are ‘charibardar’ of Lord Raghunath asking them to submit records of the Lord Raghunath Temple within seven days
* July 27: Traders and residents of Kullu observes a bandh in Kullu against takeover of Raghunath Temple by the state government
* July 28: Scion of royal family of Kullu Maheshwar Singh prepares for a legal battle on the takeover of the RaghunathTemple
Raghunath Temple not a Private Property of Maheshwar Singh: CM
While charibardar of Raghunath Temple Maheshwar Singh prepares for a legal battle on the take over of Raghunath temple, the state government seems to be determined to go ahead with its decision. Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh said that the move was taken on the repeated demand of public. Virbhadra refuted claims of Maheshwar Singh that Raghunath Temple was a private temple located on the premises of a private property. “It is a public temple as the entire Dussehra festivity revolves around Lord Raghunath, so it is wrong to claim that it is a private temple,” said Virbhadra. He refuted allegations that the takeover decision was prompted by political considerations as Maheshwar, who, till now had been supporting the Congress, had reportedly made up his mind to return to the BJP. He said an earlier court judgment that it was a public temple was more relevant than the ruling by a Punjab court during the undivided Punjab about the temple being a private chapel.
“Hypothetically even if claims of Maheshwar that it is a private temple are found to be true by the court, the Himachal Government will consider constructing another beautiful temple elsewhere in Kullu,” he remarked. Chief Minister said though the demand for government takeover was being made for the last few years, it had escalated after the theft of three main idols in December 2014. He said the only objective behind the takeover move was to ensure proper maintenance and security and except for the management, nothing would change, including the religious ceremony and prayers.
*I will fight for my right in the court of law as nobody has the right to take over a private property. The temple is part of my house.
*Maheshwar Singh,Charibardar of Raghunath temple and HLP MLA from Kullu
From Editor-in-chief’s Desk
Strict directions from the state government no doubt seem to be undertaking Raghunath Temple of Kullu, but these are aimed for conservation of historical heritage. However there are various reasons of looking at pros and cons of this action and the first effect will be like snatching cultural property of royal family of Kullu. But despite that this step will add new dimension to the glory of Raghunath ji all across the world. Despite writing whole Ramayana in the inscriptions of this temple, we will find administrative condition of this temple in present situations to be very weak, as it has become royal platform of faith. There could be discussions for the fact that how much government should meddle in traditions of dev samaj, but one cannot keep the door of secrecy closed where rates of offerings are fixed. Honour of royal family is still maintained on the faith of historical background of Raghunath Temple that guides the society. But this does not mean that we should ignore the management shortcomings for centuries. We should immediately accept some needed administrative reforms for Kullu Dussehra and religious fragrance of valley, otherwise we cannot constitute a new community of temples by creating cages of faith. We need to break the present shackles if we want to worship Raghunath Temple as an international premise. It is obvious that the government is working in this direction, but achieving it on ground is a difficult challenge. The government will have to prove that it endeavours to work for the development of temple premises and will not hurt dev traditions. It is it is widely known that Maheshwar Singh has a strong influence being a charibardar of Lord Raghunath and finds himself acceptable in various roles. Therefore it is one such property that endows the king with a supremacy of religion besides making him relevant and famous. Hmaheshwar Singh is known in the organisation of societies for his dominance on Raghunath temple, no matter how much steps he has scaled in political life. And for that he receives profit directly or indirectly. Therefore such an undertaking will be viewed under the lens of political loss and profit, while the government has the basis of security measures. The public entree is needed in the present perspective of conditions of temple premises. Things will improve from temple entrance to circumambulation spot only by a big and brave public intervention, otherwise political posters of Maheshwar Singh on walls will keep growing large. Changes in the whole management are indispensable to strengthen the honour of Raghunath temple which it draws all across the globe. Development in Raghunath temple is also needed on the lines of other temples as they witnessed after being undertaken by state government. This work should be viewed with an angle of society rather than focused on a family. It should be hoped that a strong unit of Ram rajya will become active in Raghunath Temple premises after it is undertaken by state government.