SC DIRECTS ISSUES OF SRI JAGANNATH TEMPLE

-JAYA SINGH

BACKGROUND-

The legend regarding the Jagannath Temple says that Indradyumna was a king who worshipped Lord Vishnu. Once the king got to know that Lord Vishnu has come in the form of Nila Madhava so the king sent a priest named Vidyapati to search for him. On his way, he reached a place where Sabaras were residing. The local chief, Visvavasu invited to live with him and after some time he married Vishvavasu’s daughter. Visvavasu was a worshipper of Nila Madhava so he asked Visvavasu to take him there. Visvavasu blindfolded him and took him to the cave. He took with him seeds of mustard which he dropped on the way so as to remember the route to the cave. He informed the king so he came to the place but, to his disappointment, the deity disappeared. In order to see the deity, he observed fast unto death on Mount Neela. Once he heard a voice saying that he will see the deity so he sacrificed a horse and built a temple and Narad installed the idol of Sri Narsimha in the temple. The recent article is about the issues of Sri Jagannath temple.

 Jagannath Temple was constructed by King Chodaganga. The king started the construction and Jaga Mohan or the assembly hall and Vimana or chariot of the temple were constructed during his reign. Later Anangabhima Deva completed the Construction of the temple in 1174AD.     

The petition has been filed under Article 32 of the Indian Constitution to direct an investigation/enquiry into the disappearance of the keys to the Ratna Bhandar of the temple, Puri. It has been prayed that an inventory of the valuables stored at the Ratna Bhandar be taken and to direct appointment of an expert committee to submit a report to the Court for preservation and management of property and valuables. Prayer has also been made to provide express darshan to all the devotees.

SC DIRECTS ISSUES OF SRI JAGANNATH TEMPLE
Supreme Court of India

CURRENT ISSUE (Issues of Sri Jagannath Temple)-

The Supreme Court appointed Shri Ranjit Kumar, learned Senior Counsel as Amicus Curiae and Ms. Priya Hingorani, learned Senior Counsel was requested to assist him in the matter. They were requested to make a visit and submit a report in which it specified:

  • There is scope of improvement on various aspects with respect to visits of devotees inside the Temple complex. Suggestions have been made to have darshan in a systematic line. He has informed that the entire complex is about 10 acres and a very large number of smaller temples were there.
  • With respect of hygiene more specifically in Rosaghar, where all the cooking for the Mahaprasad takes place, it was found that there were a lot of activities being done on small chabutra open to the air and without proper manner of disposal of waste. Wood fired chullas are used in the main kitchen. 
  • With respect to hygiene requirement to Anand Bazar where the sale of Mahaprasad takes place, the steps require large scale in terms of hygiene, but Archeological Survey of India seems to be having some issues. 
  • Donation boxes should be placed at a strategic point both within, outside and at all other smaller Temples within the complex.
  • No accommodation is made available for any pilgrim by the Temple Administration. References have been made to the demands of Sevaks regarding Temple management to provide school, education, Government jobs, etc., for the families of Sevaks. They hardly get one turn in a month for performing Seva/Puja, for which they get Puraskar, which is not sufficient for their livelihood. 
  • He also pointed out that proper coordination is required between the Administration and the Sevaks. The criminal elements were required to be identified and removed and discipline was required to be brought. There was a requirement of four tiers of security within the Temple in such a manner that only one type of police is available so that the pilgrims are not harassed. Certain suggestions have been made for revenue generation of the Temple.

On a perusal of the report submitted by Amicus Curiae, suggestions given by Srimad Jagadguru Shankaracharya and Swami Nischalanand Saraswati and the response submitted by Temple Management Committee, the Court said:

  • The State Government, in coordination with the Temple Administration, to work out and prepare a plan for providing accommodation to the pilgrims who visit the Temple.
  • The Temple Administration Committee to consider setting up a dairy firm in coordination with the stakeholders.
  • The Temple Administration to set up proper effluent treatment plant and waste management system for the Temple; to set up separate toilets for males and females, establish clock room and maintain hygiene in Rosaghar, where Bhog for the deity is prepared and Anand Prasad Area where Prasad is sold.
  • The Local Administration to work out the proper place for motorcycle stand, for both servitors and devotees, within a period of 4 months.
  • The Temple Administration and the State Government to ensure that servitors are properly looked after, including remuneration and health welfare.
  • The Temple Management Committee to allot a suitable place for school for children of servitors for their proper education and also to ensure that proper training in traditional nitis and rituals is imparted to the servitors and that only qualified servitors perform seva, puja and nitis.
  • The Chief Administration of the Temple to take appropriate steps against servitors/incumbents, who create obstructions and are involved in misbehaviour against the employees.
  • The Temple Management Committee to invite Srimad Jagadguru Shankaracharya and other stakeholders to ensure that nitis, puja and rituals are performed regularly and punctually, as per the rituals, without any remiss and obstruction.
  • The Temple Management Committee to prepare an inventory of the immovable properties of the Temple, within and outside the State, with details of its utilization and to place on record the inventory of valuables of the Temple and details as to how it proposes to secure such valuables.
  • In order to ensure that pilgrims are not harassed for obtaining donations, strict control and discipline with a suitable and swift mechanism to punish the erring should be put in place. 

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SC DIRECTS ISSUES OF SRI JAGANNATH TEMPLE

Conclusion-

The order for the issues of Sri Jagannath temple has extended to all religious places in India with clarification that a devotee could approach the district judge of any area with complaint of any exploitative practice, deficiencies in the management, maintenance of hygiene, utilization of offerings and protection of assets at any shrine. The Temple Management Committee should consider other positive aspects for improvement and invite all the stakeholders including the State Government, to take care of the finance in various development activities.  

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