God and gold

by Tuesday, May 12, 2015 1 comments

I don’t know how many of us actually remember the whole concept of OMG or P.K. but certainly it is an everyday story to see people following nasty rituals to please god. It’s ok if you do it too. But at least we should see that god remains god and everyone else take a backseat. God men are not at my aim today but those who “control” temples. I don’t aim here to make a rebel out of you, but to tickle your thoughts and give your actions some momentum. Because had offerings made gods and disciples, the world would have never come out of despair.



While reading the Ramayan and Geeta we encounter numerous occasions which define that disciples define god not their offerings. But surely they were just tales as such things don’t exist in todays “kalyug”. It is not just the absence of a special incarnation on earth but even the simplest of disciples. Then one could donate even a hand full of rice or even tasted fruits. But these days these things don’t match the standards and hence people feel donating valuables such as precious stones, silver, gold etc. makes them better followers and entitles them for extra luck or “barkat”, health, more money or family. In a nut shell, people often donate in order to get something in return from god (which obviously I don’t understand).

Out of everything else I’ll today focus on gold. The Indian Central government is all set to launch a new scheme somewhere in this quarter to monetize the gold deposited with the gods. Well! Not exactly god but the trusts or “owners “(in some cases). They will be offered interests against the gold they deposit with the government. An estimate says that temples in India have about 3000 tonnes of gold amassed, more than 2/3 of the total gold with USA.

What caught my eye was not only these figures but a few statements made by some devotees and trustees. Some said that the investment would depend on the interest rate provided and another one said it is a breach of trust as he made offerings to god not to some trust. They may seem somewhat right but actually, they are not.
Temple trusts should make sure that devotees make god, not riches.
Certainly not all donate gold bars in temples but as we know, these offerings range from small gold coins to jewellery, crowns to thrones and what not. You may find many who offer jewellery to god in order to decorate their idols. These are later stored in customized vaults owned by temple trusts and committees. Once these offerings make to these vaults they hardly ever see the sunlight. Even if they do, they remain in a cycle while new offerings are added to the stock suffering the same fate. Only if they ever get damaged they may be melted and restored in different forms.

For me all these precious offerings are a waste. It’s not that I am an atheist but I rather trust my rationale. Even if I agree to those who say they do it for no reason other than devotion, such offerings are dead investments. They can neither be used by the trust on “as per will” basis nor do they provide any return by remaining in the temple’s vault. Hence all the wealth remains locked, no one can see it and no one can use it. Not even for the welfare of those who believe in god. In most of the cases no one exactly knows how much wealth is amassed by such temples. The examples of Padmanabhaswamy Temple, Tirupati Balaji, Sai Baba Temple at Shirdi and Siddhivinayak Temple are known world over. Many temples actually deny disclosing their income.

Indians typically have a tendency of investing in gold in form of jewellery that is passed through generations or as an easy liquidation option when a crisis occurs. Decades ago that was a good idea but in today’s economic world India is one of the biggest importer of gold and gold is the second biggest factor that makes India miss its fiscal deficit targets after crude oil. In simpler words the more we spend on gold, the government has to spend dollars to buy gold at expensive rates which in turn reduces its ability to spend on public facilities and development projects. This is when majority of this gold is not recirculated. Imagine if 3000 tonnes of gold could become part of the open market. Won’t that have power to change the life of a common man?
After all if there is a god he won’t need all that gold and if there is a true devotee he would be loyal to his god no matter how rich and beautiful his god is.
Everyone is free to buy and donate as per their wish but even a small of fraction of rationale can do miracles. Why unnecessarily invest in gold when you can donate cash and help people in need? Why not ask big temples and trusts to invest their gold with the government? They already have enough cash reserves and donations to meet their day to day expenditures plus this scheme would be paying interests. I am not asking for all but at least that fraction of gold that remains unused should be invested.

Let’s hope that this scheme does not meet the same end of the scheme SBI launched in 1999. May these 15 years have added to the understanding of both the people and their temples. After all if there is a god he won’t need all that gold and if there is a true devotee he would be loyal to his god no matter how rich and beautiful his god is. What do you think?