You are here: Sri Vaishnava Home Page : Bhakti List : Archives : January 1997

Burglary in vaishnavite temples

From: P.B.Anand (
Date: Thu Jan 23 1997 - 05:04:22 PST

Dear Bhagavathas,

Ever since I read about the incident in Mylapore Vedanta Desikar's temple 
I was thinking of this. Sri sudarshan's anguish further encourages me to 
write this.

Apparently, all the main cases of burglary of temple jewellery have taken 
place in vaishavaite temples. In all the cases, the modus operandi seems 
to be similar. The task of catching the culprits and bringing them to 
book is the responsibility of the police and regulatory system. But is 
there something we as vaishnavites and bhaktas can do to sublimate our 
anguish into some permanent action? I raise a few points for discussion :

(a) Are there written records and photographic documents of all the various 
    jewels in all important temples?
(b) Is there a public audit system of these jewellery? The concept of 
displaying the jewellery to public during Brahmotsavam, looks to me like 
a form of public audit. But with increased rush in many kshetrams during 
Brahmotsavam,  one hardly gets a glimpse of the lord leave alone getting 
time to 'audit' the jewellery. Without a public audit system, we would 
not know if over a period of time some jewels are written off the records 
as broken etc. and siphoned off in a systematic manner.

(c) Is it necessary that the valuable jewellery be adored on all 365 days 
(increasing the risk of their being damaged due to continuous wear and 
tear, besides the rsik of getting stolen) ?

(d) The lord, by his kalyana gunams, is a gem by himself. Why is the need 
for additional decorations. (May be only to divert people's wicked eyes 
away from the lord to more earthly riches-- a la Periyalwar's pallandu).

(e) Even small takeaway shops in the west have small and tiny video 
cameras hidden in wall clocks and tooth paste cartons. IS it not possible 
to install security video cameras in some of the important temples. 

(f) A person like bhattachar who is working everyday in the sanctum 
sanctorum may hardly notice if the ornaments are absent or not when the 
temple is reopened in the after noon. (All the cases reported have a 
modus operandi of the person hiding in the sanctum sanctorum during 
afternoon break, steal the things and then when the temple is reopened, 
mingle with the crowd and get away). Is it possible to introduce a check 
at that stage before the curtain is removed for public. (By this process, 
if it is noticed that some thing is missing, the thief would still be 
around along with of course a few more innocent persons).

(g) Lastly, is it possible to develop a model code of conduct to prevent 
such incidents from happening?

I have only framed these issues so that erudite members of this group 
could please contribute their ideas and hopefully we may come out with 
some suggestions to protect our invaluable heritage.