I read online reports about the Tirumala Venkateswaar Temple near Tirupati in Andhra Pradesh recently which told about the situation of the temple, about the devotees that go there and about the corruption that takes place there. It seems as though there is a lot going on that would normally annoy the general public but this temple is and remains India’s richest and probably most popular temple.
Every day there are about 65000 pilgrims who want to go inside the temple and ‘see God’ there. That is only an average number, it is up to 80000 pilgrims on the weekends and 100000 pilgrims and more on religious holidays. The numbers are amazing by themselves and obviously a lot of people think that this must be an amazing spiritual experience to go to a place where so many people worship. To be honest, I don’t think so.
The very first fact is that you have to deal with those huge crowds whenever you go there. Wherever you go, there are people and when you move through the gates and into the temple, you can be nearly sure to be in the middle of a crowd that moves on and so you have to keep on moving, too, in order to avoid being run over. Temple workers keep on pushing people onwards, driving them onwards so that as many people as possible can see the deities in the temple in one day.
You can imagine that with so many people walking through the temple you don’t really have time to sit down and say your prayers in peace while looking at the deities which you believe are God. No – the estimated time that the pilgrims get to see the statue of God is 0.80 milliseconds to 1.5 seconds! Do you still think that this is such a special experience? Are these one and a half seconds really worth everything that the pilgrim has to go through before?
Because there is a lot to endure before you get this special honour! There are so many people queuing outside the temple that it often takes 15 to 20 hours until they get to be inside the temple! There is a way however to get there more quickly – just pay a bit more! They have difference entry tickets and the more expensive ones are for queues that move faster. They are selling God. If you have money, you can buy the entrance to the fast lane towards God.
And if you have some more, you can even get to the bypass! You can directly go in if you have a VIP pass! Yes, that is right, this temple issues VIP passes. They are for governors, ministers, other important government officials – and of course for everyone who donates more than one crore Rupees, which is about 200000 US-Dollars. There are special hours in the morning and the evening when God is there only for them. An ordinary pilgrim will have to wait, for them the temple is closed in that time. So God is obviously happier about believers with much money – he lets them see his face more quickly and for longer. Temples and religious buildings are the centers of the business of religion where they see religious people as cows and milk them for money and donations, even by selling tickets.
Pilgrims don’t only have to face long waiting times, they also have to face the corruption which is obviously prevailing in the temple administration. For getting your entry ticket and accommodation, there is an official way, you can do it yourself and run from one office to the other. You will spend hours and maybe have no success. Or you can get close to God more quickly and take the help of an agent which will of course cost you the double amount of money. He has his ticket from the same place but he paid a bit more for it and now you have to pay him for his efforts, too. Is God creating jobs here or is it just a simple way of ripping off pilgrims?
To summarize this: if you are a normal person with an average amount of money, you can wait in a hot crowd in summer for 20 or more hours and then be pushed through the temple and maybe get a glimpse of God’s statue. If you are a VIP politician or officer or if you have lots of money to donate, God welcomes you right away. Isn’t religion a great business?
I have written about this temple before, too. I told about their wealth, wrote about big donations that they get and I have also mentioned other temples where similar things are going on. They get very big donations, they have tons of silver and gold and their priests and employees are often very wealthy. Millions of people go there every day and think they are doing something good for themselves, their Karma and the world. What they really do is contributing in corruption. Don’t you think God would be happier if you invested your time, money and energy in doing service for the needy and humanity?
Here are the Reports: