Chennai: Chief Priest Ramana Deekshithulu of the Lord Venkateswara shrine at Tirumala on Tuesday accused the Tirumala-Tirupati Board (TTD) of serious malpractices and demanded CBI probe into its administration, which he said should be taken over by an expert panel appointed by the Union Government “to ensure that the Agama Sastra and other Vedas are strictly followed and the Lord’s divine belongings are not squandered away”.
Addressing a select press conference at his son’s residence here, Ramana Deekshithulu said, “We are deeply anguished at what’s going on there. The TTD administered by IAS officers is dictated to by their political bosses. They are not even allowing the sevas (poojas) to be performed as per the Agama Sastra and are rushing us to finish them in quick time to please the visiting VIPs, including politicians and film stars”. Whereas earlier, the Board had only Hindu members on it, there were now complaints that even non-Hindus have been appointed.
The chief priest, known as Pradhana Archakulu and also the Agama Sastra adviser for the TTD, said until 1996, Lord Balaji and other deities in the shrine had been adored with the invaluable jewels gifted by kings and other wealthy devotees.
The Pradhana Archakulu was in charge of the jewels. “He kept a record of all the valuables and made sure they were safe. But now we do not know where all those old jewels have gone as we find only the jewels given by the devotees subsequently are being used for adorning the Lord”, he said, demanding a “comprehensive CBI probe into the hundial collections, the jewels as well as the mode of administration at the TTD”.
Ramana Deekshithulu said as per the Agama Sastra, all the offerings to the Lord should be used only for the purpose of his worship and the upkeep of his shrine whereas “now due to political pressure, the funds are being diverted to building structures such as marriage halls in the constituencies of various politicians”.
Lamenting that ‘serious improper administration’ was hampering the service of the Lord as per the Agama Sastra and to the satisfaction of the ‘true devotees’, the chief priest said, “There is now more politics and mis-administration and less of religion there; even the laddu has been made to appear more as commercial product than the holy prasadam it should be”.
“Because of all these bad things happening there, Lord Balaji is very angry and that’s why so many calamities and misfortunes have occurred. Unless things improve quickly and completely, worse will follow”, said Deekshithulu, prescribing a ‘total takeover’ of the shrine’s administration by an expert panel appointed by the Union Government and comprising of reputed people from the Archeological Survey of India, devoted Central service officials and experts in temple jewels and other valuables.
Deekshithulu also released copies of the letter he had written to the TTD executive officer, detailing his anguish and objections and seeking remedial measures. He had sent copies of this letter to various high dignitaries, including the President of India, Prime Minister and the Chief Justice of India.
Interestingly, some TN BJP functionaries were present at the press interaction, giving credence to the reports that the BJP has been keen on the Centre taking control of the TTD.