Should the gold in temples be used for social development?
Transcription by– Ambuj Gupta & Keshavgopal das
Question– Should the gold in temples be used for social development?
Answer– The important point here is there are false parallels that are drawn to emotionally manipulate people. False parallels means- two situations are not really related. For example there are atheists who argue that nature is so beautiful. Why can’t you be satisfied with the beauty of the garden without imagining that there is a fairy at its bottom? The idea of God is like fairy at the bottom of a garden. Now, what is he saying over here? I am giving this just as an example to illustrate the point of emotional manipulation. God is not a fairy at the bottom of the garden. God is the owner of the garden. There is a garden and there is owner of the garden. And owner of the garden is also real. When you say that oh, there is a beautiful garden, nature is so beautiful and God is like a fairy, then anyone who is believer in God become like a believer in fairies. This is not a true contrast. If we want to use an analogy the analogy should be used based on true contrast, not on false contrast.
Similarly when we want to talk about economic development, why do we always compare the wealth that could be used for economic development with the wealth which is used for worshipping, glorifying God. No, why not compare it with the wealth that is used for so many other things. Now in India we have this IPL. In India we have these two giant money wasters – one is Bollywood and other is cricket. Few years ago these two money wasters got married and produced a super-giant money waster that is IPL. The money that is spent on just one year IPL competition, it is so much. I have written a book called “Oh My God”, there I quote according to UNESCO statistics the amount of money that is required for feeding all the hungry people in the world. That money is less than the amount of money the European Union and America spend each year on perfumes. So we see what is happening, that because of the desire for mental entertainment or for desire of physical glamorization (mental entertainment means things like IPL and physical glamorization means beautification of the body), people are spending such amounts of money. I am not saying that the body should not be decorated or there should not be entertainment, that is not the point, the point is that if you want to compare there is such extravagant spending over there. If you are really concerned about economic development why not compare this and why not talk about decreasing this.
Now the argument will be that we are a democracy. If I like IPL and want to spend my money on IPL then who are you to stop me. Ok even at the democratic level then if I want to spend my money on God who are you to stop me. In India, the religious power and political power, although they were related, the religious authority never had political power. So it is not that the gold that was there in the temple was extorted forcibly from the people. It is over millennia the kings and other people have voluntarily given that gold. So what was given to God, we have no right to take it back. That has been given to God, that is for His glorification. It is not that we are against social development, and we need money for social development, but that money can come from austerity measures from various sources.
If we want to talk only from the economical point of view, still India has the potential to become the world leader in spiritual tourism. All over the world people know that India is the spiritual center of the world. People come here from all over. If India would market its spiritual resources properly then even from the material point of view we will have so much wealth coming here. And India can have economic development through that. We do not have to offer example if it is known that in a particular temple there is so much gold is stored. Now that can become attraction to so many people all over the world to come to that temple and that can lead to development of that area also. It is not that our spiritual resources are divorced from our material resources. Or they are at the cost of our material development. If properly understood the spiritual resources can also lead to our material development. And material development can further contribute to the development of material resources.
If we talk about temples having so much gold or anything like that but there are so many temples which also run so many charitable programs. They feed so many hungry people. Give free meals, that is such a wide spread tradition. Temples are also doing in literal financial sense of the word, social development also. Beyond that we also understand that the real social development happens not just through allocation of more finances. Our development does not happen because of how much money we have but it is based on what we do with the money we have. Most of you probably know that India have more money in the swiss banks than not just America but than all the other countries in the world combined together. What is happening? It is because of greed. If there is a spiritual culture which leads to a culture of charity, culture of compassion, that purifies and transforms people and that enables people to more equitably redistribute resources.
That is why we have to respond to such allegations, what we need to do, first we need to talk about, as I said, it’s a false contrast, we are spending money on many things. Second is its democracy and we have a right where to spend money and third is somebody may say you are spending money on such frivolous things it is not frivolous. It is also contributing to India’s all round development. And then we ultimately talk about glorification of God. If we start in beginning, hey you are envious of God, then people can’t make sense out of it. So we do not have to bring that initially. When people have a devotional understanding then people can understand that actually why can’t we spend money on glorifying God also and this leads to our purification, and our own good in the long run. As Prahalada maharaja says that yatha mikha sri, if the person decorates the mirror the person does not get decorated. When the body is decorated the reflection of the body in the mirror automatically gets decorated. Same is the relationship between us and the lord. When we use our wealth to glorify Krishna then what happens is that we get true satisfaction.
People say that khaali pet hari ka bhajan nahin hota hai. Theek hai par bhare pet bhi kahan bhajan hota hai. There are so many people whose stomach is filled but are they doing any hari bhajan? No. Duniya mein bhojan ki kami nahin hai bhajan ki kami hai. So if we do devotion then the material resources, it will not be that they will be taken away but they will be more equitably distributed and things will be taken care off.
If people become religiously minded people will become vegetarian and if you become vegetarian then so much of the land which is used to raise fodder for animals that can be used to raise grains for humans. According to food and agricultural organization just with the land resources we have if we use it the best agricultural practices and we use it to grow grains only for human beings then we can satisfy the food requirements of anywhere between 3-10 times of earth’s current population. It is not that religion is eating up resources meant for social development, actually it is selfishness that is eating up the resources and religion removes selfishness. Religion brings about selflessness and that leads to proper equitable redistribution of the resources. Thank you very much.