April 11, 2012
Chaitra Krushna Panchami/Shashti, Kaliyug Varsha 5114
Tirupati (Andhra Pradesh, India) : When Pallava king Thondaiman sang in praise of Perumal (Lord Venkateswara) and built the temple 1,900 years ago, little did the world know that one of the most revered Hindu gods had a little mischief hidden in the ever flowing ‘Perumal jalam’ (Viraja nadi waters) on which the Moolavirat stands in the form of boundless wealth. That treasure now flows seamlessly and is worth over a mind-numbing Rs 1,00,000 crore and still counting. The coffers (read hundi offerings) of the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD) alone receive about Rs 600 crore of offerings from pilgrims every year.
The Lord is weighed down not only by the prayers and requests of lakhs of pilgrims, but also by more than 12,000 kg of gold, ornaments and other precious jewels and 11,000 kg of silver worth over Rs 50,000 crore. The 8-feet black-coloured main idol is loaded up with at least 65-70 kg of gold ornaments every day and it is estimated that in a single day offerings to the Lord ranges between Rs 80 lakh and Rs 1.5 crore. A single crown studded with diamonds and rubies weighs about 30 kg and worth lakhs. The dome of the shrine- called ‘Ananda Nilayam’ – is coated with gold by Vijayanagara king Sri Krishnadevaraya. The Lord also sits over cash deposits worth Rs 10,000 crore.
Not to forget, the Tirumala temple owns land valued at thousands of crores across the country. Following a directive from AP High Court in 2009, the TTD and the AP government did a survey on TTD land taking into account the cottages, choultries and other structures (not temples) and the land holding was found to be 4,200 acres. “The land was worth Rs 33,500 crore as per conservative government valuation. As per present market value, it could easily touch Rs 90,000 crore,” a senior TTD official points out. Apart from properties and wealth of the Tirumala temple, TTD controls over 40 temples which are in possession of over 100 kg of gold ornaments and 100 kg of silver. In many cases, the donations are unusually generous. Mining baron and former Karnataka minister Gali Janardhan Reddy, in Bangalore jail now, offered a diamond-studded crown worth Rs 42 crore to the Lord two years ago. Officials claim that the images of the jewels and golden utensils are stored along with their descriptions and information on the donors by maintaining 13 registers called `Thiruvabharanams.’ “The main deity and the processional deities are adorned with 1,100 varieties of jewels,” a temple official explains. TTD deposits over 4,000 kg of gold in nationalized banks and piece and ornamental gold in the Mumbai mint for converting them into dollars in various denominations for sale to the pilgrims.
The TTD treasury called ‘Bokkasam’ is where the precious gold and ornaments are stored. But it came under scanner in June 2006 after 300 gold dollars worth Rs 15.40 lakh went missing. Bokkasam clerk `Dollar’ Seshadri was nailed in a vigilance report but Seshadri is back and is seen with the high and mighty inside the temple portals. “TTD Board Rules of 1990 stipulate an annual verification and inventory taking of the jewellery. A physical verification by a senior officer must be conducted but this is not being strictly followed,” points out member of Tirumala Devalaya Parirakshana Samithi S Susheela. Gold necklaces as long as 15-18 ft, crowns studded with emeralds, rubies and diamonds — symbols of the Krishnadevaraya royalty — were taken stock of by a panel from the Mines and Minerals Trading Corporation of India, which submitted a valuation report to the High Court. The report said that the antique jewellery of the Lord was worth several thousands of crores.
“The value of the Lord’s properties and wealth is almost equal to the AP’s budget of Rs 1.4 lakh crore. But there is always a question mark on the TTD’s ability to protect the Lord’s properties,” auditor Lakshman Rao says. The TTD has also other sources of income through the sale of Arjitha seva tickets (Rs 300 crore a year), special entry tickets (Rs 300 crore), human hair (Rs 300 crore) and laddus (Rs 100 crore). “Without sevas and rituals also, pilgrims will continue to flock Tirumala and donate liberally. Such is the power of Lord Venkateswara,” Chakravarthy Raghavan of Rashtriya Sanskrit Vidya Peeth says.
Source : TOI