Bhopal, June 3: Wanted, a credit card for Gods sake.
Temple priests in BJP-ruled Madhya Pradesh want the Shivraj Singh Chauhan regime to issue them credit cards so that they can serve their deities better.
They also want the government to amend laws to equate desecration of temples with murder.
Dandiswami Mohanand, who heads the states temple advisory panel, said a credit card on the lines of the kisan credit card for farmers should be issued to the states 12,000-odd temples which are dependent on the government.
Such cards, he added, would help priests make offerings to temple deities and fund related expenses.
If the government wanted to be more generous, he went on, it could even consider giving credit for cultivating crops on temple land.
The kisan credit cards, issued to farmers to meet short-term expenses like purchase of seeds during cropping season, have become popular among farmers with small holdings as they have simplified the disbursement process. The cards ensure farmers dont have to apply for loans for every crop. Plus, it offers credit any time, reducing the interest burden on cultivators.
B.L. Tiwari, a spokesman for the states mutt-mandir samiti, said successive regimes had stopped giving funds for the upkeep of deities.
He said the former nawabs of Bhopal used to sanction special funds but the practice was stopped in 1977. We have been pleading with successive regimes to restart the practice but it has not been done.
At a meeting between the administration and representatives of temples and mutts across the state, the priests also asked the government to sponsor a visit to Sri Lanka to trace evidence of Rams existence.
The priests also sought the status of a state-run board or commission for the temple advisory panel, which is an informal body.
The demands have come at a time the BJP is preparing for state polls in November, and six months after the state unit of the VHP asked the government to consider transferring temple management to the outfit and others championing the cause of Hindutva.
The VHP said the bureaucracy should have nothing to do with temple management.
Swami Mohanand said priests want death for all those who vandalise temples because all deities have pran (life).
The puja leading to installing deities is pran pratistha. The pran viddhi allow establishment of all the vibrations of existence into our being, and then the establishment of the divine mother as the embodiment of all that energy, he explained. So any attempt to harm deities physically amounted to murder.
The administration Ś represented by Prabha Chaudhary, secretary in the department of religious endowment, and other officials Ś accepted the charter of demands handed over by the priests but remained non-committal.
Later, speaking off the record, the government representatives said the demands would be sent to their political masters for necessary action.
Swami Mohanand said time was running out and he wanted Chauhan to translate some of their demands into action.