Saturday, October 26, 2013

Do we need to build any more Temples?

Recently I read an article about a plan for construction of some huge vedik temple by ISKON at Mayapur in India. This temple is supposed to cost around 75 million USD, it's a huge amount of money as far as country like India is concerned, to spend such a huge amount of money just for construction of a temple is like a cruel joke on all who could get benefited by all this money if it's spent for some relevant social cause. I also see lot of photos of many temples or churches or other religious centers which are constructed using very expensive materials, decorated with precious metals like gold and silver, lot of material and money is wasted to built and decorate them, they really look like grand and lavish display of wealth, very often thought comes to my mind why can't this money be used to build other things which can be more useful to people? After I started writing this post there was huge controversy in media when Mr. Modi said, "Pehle shouchalaya phir Devalay" (build toilets first then temples), similar statement was made by Mr. Jairam Ramesh few years back and then also it generated lot of controversy for some different reason. So the question is, do we need any more lavish temples (I am using this as a general term for all religious centers like Mosque, Church, etc.) when people don't have access to some basic facility like toilet?

I personally believe that we have enough religious monuments for all religions all over the world, one can find a temple, mosque, synagogue, church or something equivalent in almost all major cities of the world, we don't need to build any more of these, many people visit these places and some of them are big tourist attractions which attract millions of visitors every year. The question is, in a world or a country (like India) where there are many who are living without home, proper medical care, food or education should any organization spend such enormous amount of money to build religious monument which will be just a tourist attraction? Can't they use this money to do something better, more useful thing, something like to built hospital or a free school or college for underprivileged or even toilets? On one side we all say that God is everywhere but then keep on building huge, expensive and lavish structures just to host their images or for social gatherings (like prayers, etc.). Many religious institutions spend enormous amount of money to built and maintain these buildings, we all know that there are many people who are struggling in this world who might get benefited from all that money and I am sure their God would love them more, bless them more if they use this money for people's welfare instead of building another temple, Church, etc.

Religion is personal and social need for many and there are already many centers which can satisfy this need, if temple serves as a place for social gathering or to give shelter to homeless or provide food and education for underprivileged then it's good thing, some religious institutes even do these things but to do all this work I don't think we need any fancy structures with expensive decorations, one can use all that extra money for some better social activity. Country like India needs more toilets than temples or churches, even though this thought was expressed by major political leaders from two big national parties of India, there are very few takers for this idea, still construction of temple or Mosque is considered more important than construction of basic facility like toilet. Isn't it ironical that in a country which hosts one of the richest temples in the world many people still don't have access to basic facility like toilet? Some of these religious institutes are so rich that if they want they can do wonders to society with all the money they have, but they behave just like big corporates, exclusively protecting their own interest without any real real social agenda. I think with all the problems our society is facing these institutes should put all their plans of construction of Mosque, Church or temple, etc. on hold, rather they should spend all that money on some social causes like building more medical care facilities, distribute medicines to poor, offer free education to needy (already there are many good catholic schools but we need many more), sanitation facilities (like toilets, specially for women), etc. there is tremendous need of funds in all these areas and these institutes can play very big role in this. I hope they all think about this idea and give it a serious consideration. One more temple, mosque or church may not change anyone's life but one more school or hospital might change and save lives of millions of people, even a toilet can make life easy for many and I believe doing this is no less than offering prayer to any god.

Thanks for reading and please share your views on this topic.

[Copyright : Vinay Thakur. Please contact the author for re-posting or publishing]



  1. You are right to point out that the focus should shift on to providing more basic facilities of which there is a glaringly sharp dearth. If a developing country like ours has USD 75 million to spare then it ought rather to be spent on the primary needs of the villages: roads, water supply, sanitation, electric supply, schools, hospitals. The money could also aid the impoverished, the blind, the handicapped. The list can go on an on. But spending it all on constructing just another temple - of which we already have more than we can afford - is utter folly. We lack the money to maintain even the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. So much of our rich heritage lies in an utter state of neglect, without any repair or maintenance for years together. In such a case, building another temple is, in a way, a gross misuse of money.

    1. Your point about maintenance of world heritage sites is very important, thanks for mentioning it. Even situation of our own heritage sites like many forts, buildings of historical importance, rivers, lakes is not very good, they either very poorly maintained or even not maintained at all, govt can generate lot of revinue by developing them in tourist sites but they lack vision. We don't have public library system in India which I think can be very helpful to kids, it can help to spread awareness and you said list can go on and on..