Why should we support the temples instead of supporting the poor people?
A devotee (Name hidden) asked like this:
“Some doubts are burning in my mind, as we know many people don’t have food to eat clothes to wear in winter many are dying due to cold hunger even many people don’t have money to buy medicine. Then why people are encouraged are to donate in Temple instead of feeding to hungry people.
We should not escape by saying dat they are facing their karma. Ok, they are facing their karma but should be our duty as human being. Temple n gurdwaras gives feast to hundreds of people.
What is need of feeding to those people who can easily have their food n clothes without any struggle?”
The temples are there not for eradicating poverty; It is the function of the government by collecting taxes from the people.
Supporting the society are of two types:
(1) MATERIAL SUPPORT: To support the downtrodden people by feeding them, helping in their job, helping in the decent life style, etc. These are the functions of the governments.
(2) SPIRITUAL SUPPORT: To support the people to make their life perfect by leading a regulated life and to avoid such types of miseries permanently by detaching from the material world and attaching with the Lord. These are the functions of the temples.
Both these services should be done simultaneously.
The temples can do only a small amount of social service with their resources. The government too should support the temples to make the people good citizens.
Even every citizen can support atleast one person who is suffering n life. It is the human duty to be supportive to others as much as possible. Or, if everyone takes care of his own family properly, there will be no poverty in the society. Therefore, this is the collective responsibility.
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If we give spiritual support through the temples, the people can stop their miseries permanently and avoid further births also. But, when the devotee is in starvation and struggles today, we can’t speak to them about spirituality, God, etc. They will not show much interest in our preaching.
This is done by the Tamilnadu Government in India to some extent (till date, ie, year 2017). In all the big temples of Tamilnadu, the devotees are offered ‘full meal’ prasadam every day. 1000s of poor people get benefitted by this scheme every day.
Another good example is Tirumala Tirupati temple. They offer full meals free for all those who come to the prasada center every day. They have no limits for visitors. They also do some other supports to the people.
In some spiritual organisations, they have the system of feeding the visitors every day. In ISKCON movement, all the devotees are given full prasadam on Sundays. If they get more revenue, they may start on other days also. In some zones, they also have tie ups with the governments to offer free noon meal in many schools.
In Tamilnadu, the government is offering lunch food for just Rs.5 and breakfast for Rs.3 for all the people who come to the centers located in almost all the towns. This has almost stopped the death due to starvation in those areas. This scheme is now followed by some other state governments also.
However, I have to admit the fact that these feedings do not reach only the needy people. They are offered to the visitors only.
However, only regular visitors get benefitted with this prasadam. Most of the regular visitors are good earners and they already have the capacity to fulfil their food needs. Therefore, offering full meals to the same set of people every week can be modified. If the full meal system is changed as small servings of about 200-250 grams of serving in a cup, we can use that savings to prepare and distribute food to hundreds of people by going to slums or huts and then speak to them about God.
Every temple can allocate a certain percentage of their income to offer earning sources to the needy people like giving tailoring machines, iron boxes, utensils to prepare tiffin and sell them, computers to start service centers, etc. They can reduce the funds for prasadam distribution and do these long term beneficial supports.
The mindset of the devotees should also change. I have observed that only a few devotees donate to the temples with which all the expenses are met. If the temple has 200 regular visitors who can donate something, only 10-15 devotees donate in sizable qualtities. If all those affluent people donate, the temples can do more services to more people.
Not only the temples, but in all the devotional services, only about 1-2% of the devotees support financially. Others just get the benefits. This should change and more people should come forward to support the temples.
I like to write another side of this matter to be a balanced writer:
The temples have their main business to make the minds of people to be prepared to work keeping God as strength to work. They act as a place for the people to purify themselves by honouring the God. If they involve in social service excessively, they can’t manage their spiritual services properly.
You should keep an important advice of vedic scriptures. They do not recommend the sanyasis to invove in the administration activities. Their only business is to lead a simple life and preach the people to lead a regulated life keeping God as center. Nothing else. If they involve in poverty eradication, they will get attached to that work and hence they will face the threat to their pure status.
Therefore, the spiritual people should involve only in spiritual education to make the people lead a regulated life. All they can do is that they can offer some prasadam to those who come to the temples. Not more than that.
This society itself is like an administration of a company. In a company, the production department will take care of producing the product. The R & D department will atke care of ensuring the quality of the product. The marketing department will take care of taking the product to the right people.
The ccompany will allocate funds every year to every department. Then, that department will take care of the functions of that department.
The production department will not interfere in the activities of marketing department and vice versa. If every department performs their duties properly, the company will run well.
At the same time, if any department does not perform well, it affects the entire company. If the production department produces the product sufficiently, but the marketing department does not market it well, the company faces shut down of the production to avoid dumping and hence loss of revenue. Similarly, if the marketing department works well making plenty of orders, but, the production department does not produce the product to satisfy the demand, the company can’t stand in the market.
Similarly, the temples in a society take care of educating the people in realizing the real purpose of their life and in leading a regulated life as a responsible human. They can’t involve in poverty eradication. It is to be done by the governments by making the jobs available for the people.
Even the youth should change their mindset. Particularly in India, there is no deficit in job opportunities. Only problem is that the youth are not ready to do certain jobs and they expect only a certain type of jobs. For example, there are so many opportunities in construction, farming, crafts, catering, etc. There is a deficit of people in these sectors. But, what happens now in India? Every boy likes to do Information technology jobs and hence hundreds of Engineering colleges that have no sufficient infrastructure and efficiency. Excessive number of Engineering graduates and hence joblessness in this sector.
Thus, just feeding the people is not sufficient. The government should increase the opportunities to the people to work and earn. The people also should be ready to do any legal job.
Instead of telling the government to do this, if you expect the temples to do these social activities, the temples will become as business centers losing the spiritual value.
Therefore, the reality is that the temples can offer prasadam to the people and do some small support to the needy. They can’t be expected to eradicate poverty in society.
The government should collect sufficient taxes from the people peoperly without corruption, and spend the tax money to expand more opportunities for the people.
The temples should properly educate the people in proper way of living.
If the temples fail to do this, the society will not be disciplined. If the government does not function properly, the people will not come out of poverty.
Therefore, the purpose of the temples and governments are different. If every sector of the society functions properly, the society will be prospering in life.
Hope you understand my points.