TIRUPATI: Following reports of misappropriation or abuse of temple jewelry in the State, the latest being pawning of the jewels of TTD-run Sri Kodandarama Swamy temple at Tirupati by its priest, rumours are now rife that the jewelry of even mutts has gone missing.
Rumours are making rounds in Tirupati that the jewelry of Sri Hathiramji Mutt, the once custodian of Sri Venkateswara temple at Tirumala, is missing from the bank and that there are irregularities pertaining to them.
When contacted by Express, Mutt officials including Mahanth of the Mutt Arjun Doss Ji, clarified that the rumors were baseless and the entire jewelry of the mutt is safe and secure. It is only fear psychosis that is prompting such rumors, one of the officials said.
The jewelry, which was appraised last in 1975 during the Pattabhishekam (coronation) of Mahant Devendra Dasji, has not been taken out of the bank lockers ever since. Even for the coronation of the present Mahant in 2006, the jewelry was not taken out in the absence of court’s permission.
“The list of the jewels is with us and is being submitted to the endowments department which is aware of the position since its officials act as custodians of Hathiramji Mutt in the intervening period between a mahant’s relinquishing charge and another taking over,’’ VP Mishra, who looks after the affairs of Mahant Arjun Doss Ji, said.
According to the inventory, some 155 items of gold and precious stones were kept with two branches of State Bank of India, one at Chittoor and the at Tirupati. Mutt officials, however, refuse to divulge the value of the ornaments, saying as they are in the custody of the court and also endowment department.
Only the jewelry verification officer is empowered to speak on the issue.
Hathiramji Mutt, established by Hathiramji, a great devotee of Lord Venkateswara, was given the custody of the Venkateswara and Govindrajaswamy temples and others in 1843. In 1933 the temple and its properties were taken over by the commissioner of endowments when Sri Prayagdasji was the mahant. After the formation of the TTD, the custody of the temple and properties went to it.
The mutt has had a possession of a large number properties in Tirupati and other parts of Andhra Pradesh, in Tamil Nadu including Chennai, Maharashtra and Karnataka. The succession of the mahants was in accordance with `Guru-Sishya Parampara’.
After the demise of Prayagdasji, differences cropped up between the disciples as to who was to succeed. Court receivers appointed by the district court at the direction of the Madras High Court (Tirupati was in Madras Presidency at that time) to ensure that the affairs of the mutt were not affected and its properties, especially jewelry, were safe.
Narayana Doss Ji became mahant and Chaitanya Doss incharge of the Tirupati Mutt affairs. He was followed by Rajaram Doss ji. The latter’s succession was contested in the court and Devendra Doss ji became the mahant in 1975.
At that time, one key of the safety lockers and receipts were handed over to Mahant Devendra Das Ji who refused to hand them back when he was removed from the office. When contacted, he said that he would not hand them over unless the court asked him to do so. He too assures that the jewels of the mutt were safe in the banks.