Should Tirupati return only Reddy’s gold crown?

PALINI R. SWAMY writes from Bangalore: Hypocrisy is a trait that afflicts not just humans, but the gods who are at the mercy of humans, too. And Tirupati, which proudly flaunts the title of “World’s Richest Hindu Temple” in a country where three-quarters of its billion citizens are among the world’s poorest is proof.

News reports have it that the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam (TTD) board, which runs the Venkateshwara temple atop the seven hills, has asked its officials to verify with tax authorities if the Rs 42 crore crown presented to the Lord by the disgraced Bellary mining don G. Janardhana Reddy in June 2009 was purchased using “ill-gotten money”.

“If the ornament was bought form his official earnings and it was shown in the income-tax documents, we will retain it. If it is not a legal offering, the TTD board will decide whether to return it to the actual donor or to hand it over to the IT department or to the CBI which is probing the mining scam,” board member R. Surya Prakash Rao was quoted as saying.

An earlier report said that devotees had taken out a rally in Tirumala to protest against the “tainted” crown being used to adorn the idol of the good Lord every second Friday. But in that report, the TTD executive officer L.V. Subramanyam was quoted as saying:

“We have no way to ascertain whether the gifts are from legally earned money or black money.”

To be sure, the 30 kg, 2.5 feet tall crown, which is studded with 800 diamonds and a green emerald, isn’t the only magnanimous offering made by Reddy and his family. A Deccan Herald report says he had donated nearly 32 gold crowns to nearly 29 dieties in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu for various favours rendered.

(The controversial gold crown (in picture) was donated when the Andhra Pradesh government of Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy allocated land for his Brahmani steels project, in which YSR was alleged to have had more than passing interest till his son Y. Jagan Mohan Reddy divested his stake.)

A report in Bangalore Mirror, that the TTD board is under pressure from ruling Congress party cadres in Andhra Pradesh, should surprise nobody. There is no love lost between the Congress and YSR’s son, especially after the recent CBI raids on Jagan Mohan Reddy’s premises and the allegations of his close ties with Janardhana Reddy.

As a churumuri poll remarked when the donation was made:

“For the son of a former police constable to make the second-highest offering to Lord Venkateshwara at Tirumala after the kings of Vijayanagar is quite an achievement indeed.”

But what should surprise devotees and non-devotees is that the highly political TTD should suddenly consider only Janardhana Reddy’s donations to be suspect and worthy of investigation. And that too only after Janardhana Reddy was arrested by the CBI.

Is it TTD’s case that all the other  donations that are made to the temple at Tirupati are squeaky clean?

More to the point, if Reddy’s donation turns out to be not so clean, will TTD reopen all the other donations made by shady individuals and institutions under the cloak of anonymity? And if all the tainted donations are returned will Tirupati still retain its reputation of being the “World’s Richest Hindu Temple”?

TTD board member L.V. Subramanyam has now clarified that there is no question of returning Reddy’s crown “under any circumstances”. In effect, it means there is no question of investigating or returning any other donation. Now, what does that say about Tirupati and the large-heartedness of Lord Balaji, corruption or no corruption?

Also read: CHURUMURI POLL: Reddy brothers and Lord Balaji 


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22 Responses to “Should Tirupati return only Reddy’s gold crown?”

  1. bala Says:

    TTD need not return 42 Cr gold to the donor nor to IT Department, since TTD is a public institution, it is as good as paying IT. Atleast TTD is richer by 42 Cr. Whether it is ill gotten or lawful earning, it is for CBI or/and IT Department.
    Reddys have blackmailed in connivance with officers and amassed ill gotten wealth. It was Justice Santhosh Hegde unearthed the scandal and made CM to quit. Though CM may not directly have involved, his was collusive silence with Reddy. reddys instigated mr Sriramulu to resign and Sriramulu resigned and tendered resignation before Speaker after meeting him in Kodagu. Next day Mr Janardhan Reddy was arrested, now there is no voice of Mr Sriramulu, there is a talk of withdrawal of resignation. Mockery of democracy. CBI has taught Reddys a lesson. Like Raja, Kanimozi, Kalmadi, Katta, Mr Janardhan Reddy also to have Jail food atleast till he is chargesheeted. They should be punished for having destroyed mineral resources of the state.

  2. mysore peshva Says:

    Excellent post with great questions. Kudos to Palini R. Swamy.

    Shame on TTD board member L.V. Subrahmanyam! — he makes the board appear a bit avaricious.

    I ask the TTD board to please do the following immediately:

    1. Publicly announce all the gold/money was given in the last ten years by every donor that was a public servant AND was later arrested under corruption laws.

    2. Poll devotees as to what should be done with those donations

    3. Take a principled decision to ALL those donations from tainted individuals, regardless of whether the donors were convicted in court. Surely, the Lord does not need suspect donations.

    4. Finally, the board may consider diverting the tainted donations for non-temple activities, such as annadanam, Vedic patashala, rural drinking water projects, afforestation, etc.

  3. Kulkarni Says:

    Tirupati should be raided since the diamond donated is ‘blood diamond’.

    Natural resources of country of Karnataka are sovereign property of its people. but were sold and made barren to the excitement of INDIANS and fancy of religious place called tirupati. we are not dealing with religions here.

    In the Kimberely judgement to Solomon Vandy which involved uninhibited stealing of diamonds from whites ( first world) from third world for amusement and consumerism, it was – well listen to this great judgement with strong words.

    We should be ashamed that we still bark about losses to mining industry who were exporting iron ore and don’t have a court or a judge who judges independently and protects its resources with such strong words.

    Down with Indian supreme court and its rulings. Will it ever learn to be passing judgement being a third world nation’s court or will it fantasize being in first world just like these richest GODS! ?

  4. Objectivist Mantra Says:

    Perhaps this is indeed a Kaliyuga, and that is why people continue to believe that they can bribe God with money, crowns or artifacts.

    We believe that God is as corrupt as we are and that after receiving some monetary benefits and some obsequies buttering, he would change the laws of the universe and shower his bounty on the foolish devotees.

    Let the Reddy’s and others like him keep donating and praying, nothing is going to come out in the end.

    People who pray too much have something to hide and they always end up as abject failures.

    there is no difference between communism and religion.

  5. Ramesh Raghuvanshi Says:

    No need to return Raddy`s gold crown because all money offered to temple is black money is offer to temple as a bribe. Every devotee who came to Tirupati offer to bribe to God,please do my this work Twill offer you so and so bribe.

  6. karihaida Says:

    Ridiculous.. If people were honest and with no ill gotten wealth there would be no organized religion. If Tirupati, Vatican, Mecca etc try to find out if each of the offerings they get is legitimate or not and return illegitimate offerings, they might as well shut shop.

  7. Not A Witty Nick Says:

    Subbirami Reddy and et al., TTD Board has always been monopolised by unscrupulous characters since independence, paapa thimmappa yenthanthavara hatra gifts isko bEku! sumne kuberange adanna kOTTu haayagiru antha hELbEku! :P

  8. Shrinidhi Hande Says:

    Govt should confiscate it…

  9. Objectivist Mantra Says:

    @Shrinidhi Hande, yeah, right. Govt. should confiscate it so that the statue ends up in some high profile UPA minister’s Swiss bank vault. The Swiss govt. Indian politicians.

    It is unnerving to see the kind of faith that some citizens continue to have in govt. despite all the evidence that the govt. is the most corrupt entity in the world.

    Faith in govt. is worse than faith in religion. India is a dirt poor country because majority of Indians are faithful to religions and to political leaders.

    We are yet to develop a healthy sense of contempt for the mythical and the material elite.

  10. Ramanna S Says:

    Need not.
    CBI or IT may send a notice to Timmappa, the God
    I pray the God to ask CBI to send notice to media persons/editor who taken ill gotten money from Reddys as BRIBE.

  11. Pulikeshi the Last Says:

    Prompted by Thimmappa Himself, the temple troglodytes have said that the crown will not be returned. We must remember that the diadem is designer made. Tim needs what is current in fashion.

    What are we to make of the reluctance to declare the wealth of Padmanabha public property?

  12. twistleton Says:


    Don’t understand the connection between communism and religion?? Technically speaking, communists are blasphemous atheists right? :D

    The problem with labels is we begin to expect a certain kind of behaviour from the labelled (including God), and are disappointed when that doesn’t happen. However, we never question our own understanding of the world. Funny, right?

  13. harkol Says:

    If temples were to return the money to govts, then they should close down all temples and return the money to govt. Over centuries, no one knows the exact source of funds offered to these temples. Especially during the times of kings, the big gifts that were offered to temples were either public money (tax) or monies looted by the Feudatories by the areas they raided.

    The question is that of law. If law doesn’t require temples to ascertain source of funds by donors, there is no way temples can be required to repay funds to govt. if source was found fraudulent. By the same token all folks who were paid by Reddy’s may have to pay back too. Each hotels they stayed, each worker they paid, each donation they made etc.?

  14. Objectivist Mantra Says:

    @twistleton, the communists have blind faith in the General Secretary, who is their Supreme God. He can do no wrong. The communists also have their dogmas like “dialectical materialism”, “fight against imperialism”, “dictatorship of the proletariat”, “marxism”, etc.

    Same is the case with religion. Instead of a having an evil “human” dictator at the top, the religions have an “evil” God at the top. This God needs to be appeased through obsequious chanting of hymns and such rituals everyday, or he will get angry.

    The leftists and the religiously deluded pray to the “evil dictator” or the “evil God” for the same reason – they want “undeserved” wealth, power, health or some other fanciful thing. At the core of every communist ideology or religious faith, there lies the human lust for the “undeserved.”

    Why did the REddy’s offer the crown worth millions of dollars to God? Why did top leaders from all over the world used to flock to Moscow and prostrate before Lord Josef Stalin? The communist ideology is totally inspired by religious faith. They just removed the evil God from the top and replaced him with an evil dictator.

  15. balasubrahmanyan Says:

    pointless exercise cum discussion.what is the great benefit in returning it to I Tax dept or Govt?.Someone else will swindle it.TTD officials themselves are not above Board.They will receive the same individuals with honours , if they come after getting bail ! bala

  16. M K Vidyaranya Says:

    Let the TTD authorities, under the supervisio of the Supreme ourt
    sell the Rs 42 crore crown presented to the Lord by the disgraced Bellary mining don G. Janardhana Reddy in June 2009 which was purchased using allegedly “ill-gotten money”., should auction it and use the proceeds (also under the Supreme Court supervision) to help the poor mining workers who have lost their jobs due to closure of illegal mining in Karnataka and not in Andhra Pradesh.

  17. virgopal Says:

    TTD policy:” Items/Money once dropped into Hundi as Kaanike cannot be returned”.In this connection,there was an instance of a mother accidentally dropping a baby into the Hundi while offering money .Though the parents appealed for the baby’s return,they refused.Matter went to court..I forget what happened finally.Any one throw some light on this? Is this incident true or concocted by temple guys?

    …it appears the temple chaps explained that anything goes into Hundi becomes Lord’s properety and hence non returnable.

  18. Doddi Buddi Says:

    These expensive contributions should stop! This is getting meaningless with every passing day!

  19. Nastika Says:

    What is the plan of Tirupathi?

    1) Give receipt for all “offering” to Venkateshwara?
    2) Investigate the source for funds these “offerings”?
    3) Return all “offerings” for which income tax is not paid?
    4) And go bankrupt in 5 years?


  20. Dr. Subramanian Says:

    God has long decided not to interfere in human wranglings. He is a simple person. He created man to be simple. But He made a mistake while assembling him. He mistakenly introduced a new gene coding for greed. It started exploding and is now out of his control. He has given up and gone into deep slumber.

  21. Nastika Says:

    @Dr. Subramanian,
    How do you happen to know the intention God? Did God tell you? Or did you read God’s mind?


  22. Deepak Says:

    A liquor baron who makes money by making people drunkards is the head of this temple. So what else can one expect? If anyone concerned with the temple administration has any decency they will stop this money laundering and keep the place as a place of worship, not a commercial establishment.

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