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Understanding Mandir Economics (Diwali Special)

Apart from being the abode of faith, the Temples have been driving economy and helping sustain cities through ages. Author Sandeep Singh puts across a new perspective to look at temples…

In the month of April 2020 and May 2020 when lakhs and lakhs of migrants started walking back home because of forced lockdown due to COVID -19, suddenly a chorus of seculars (like many times in the past) started about taking money from mandirs. It was surprising, because neither the central government nor any state government had said that they do not have the money.

The above scenario raised following two questions in my mind

1. From where did the migrant labor get the confidence to walk hundreds of kilometers with his family and luggage?

2. Why always money is asked from mandirs?

Let’s explore each of them.

1. From where did the migrant labor get the confidence to walk hundreds of kilometers with his family and luggage?

Tirthyatra is an integral part of Hindu Dharma. Think of rough terrain of Amarnath Yatra to Shabrimala, Vaishno Devi to Ganga Sagar, Kanwar Yatra to Pandharpur Wari, a Hindu walks all the way, carrying some weight, sometime with family and sometime without family. Hindus have been doing it since time immemorial. Hindu does not fear in walking in his own country. It is his own country and that is why he does not destroy government or private property unlike followers of religion, to show anger or frustration on the lack of support from the government. Hindu just walks and he knows fellow Hindus will help him. And it happened this time also. All the way on the road side, several Hindus got together, in many places under the aegis of a Mandir, to provide food to the migrant labor who was walking home. So the source of confidence of the migrant worker was his dharma.

2. Why always money is asked from mandirs?

It is always claimed that Bharat has at least one oldest Church and a Mosque in the world. There are lakhs of Church and Mosques in Bharat. New ones are being constructed at a frantic pace all over Bharat.  I wonder why no one asks money from those religious places. Why money is always asked from Dharmic places i.e. Mandirs.

Last, I calculated more than 100 Cr have been donated by the Mandirs for relief of people effected by COVID-19. But I couldn’t find a single instance of money being donated by any religious place. (There is a big difference between Dharma and Religion, but more on that some other time. What I have noted here is just one of the differences).

Mandirs have always been the center of Economic activities. Economics revolves around the Mandirs since the formation of mandirs. Apart from religious bigotry it was the wealth in the Mandirs which always attracted invaders towards it.

The economic impact of the mandir can be best understood by the following example:

The oldest living cities of the world are Varanasi, Ujjain, Puskar, Rameshwaram. None of them have any industry. They all are Dharmic places. While when one searches for “Rust Belt”, the internet throws up the name of Detroit. Once, a city of modern industry, the hub of car manufacturing in the world is today part of rust belt of USA. Once it was cheaper to produce car in Asia, the production shifted to Asian countries and Detroit converted into a ghost town and became part of rust belt of USA.

Every time there is a man-made calamity like war or nature made calamity like flood or cyclone, Mandirs have always stood up and supported the Hindus and non-Hindus alike.  Its time Mandir and Mandir Economics gets its due place in the Hindu mind to begin with.

(Sandeep Singh is an author. He is writing a book on Temple Economics and is crowd funding for the same. He can be reached at templeeconomics@gmail.com or @Sandeep_author)

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