A gold Karadige weighing 32 grams belonging to Bhagwan Shiva atop the Male Mahadeshwara Hills, missing since the 18th of this month was found on the 23rd, desecrated, and abandoned in a garbage dump, just outside the temple.
Lakhs of devotees head into these hills from all over South Bharat, mostly the Kannadigas and the Tamilians. Surrounded by seventy peaks in seven circles, deep inside reserve forests, the temple sits at a height of 3000 feet, around 200 kms from Bengaluru, in Karnataka.
Sri Mahadeshwara is an incarnation of Bhagwan Shiva and is a ‘Swayambhu Linga”, i.e. created on its own. Later on, mankind established temples around them. Karadige is a casket-shaped ornament wherein (Shiva reveals himself at the central part of the linga when it opens up after Vishnu and Brahma return, failing to see the end of the infinite pillar of light) the linga is placed.
That a police complaint was not filed as soon as the Karadige went missing has now created an unnecessary controversy. Concerns regarding the safety of the temple apart, the temple administration with all and sundry involved are now under suspicion.
News trickling in even suggested attempts by the temple priests to pay from their pockets to arrange a new one! If this is a sample of how things are run in huge temples under government control, then Bhagwan Shiva himself might have to reincarnate to save Hindu Temples. What the devotee donates to the temple goes to the state while thefts or valuables missing have to be covered by the priests!
As per tradition, the priests all belonging to the same community called Bedagampana take turns performing poojas. They change at the end of each month and a new team takes charge after ornaments, puja materials, and other valuables are checked and handed over.
The Karadige was last seen on the 18th, adorning Maa Parvathi when she was taken out in a procession and was confirmed missing when it went unaccounted for at the end of the ritual. Why it went unreported is exactly where the misgiving lies. The temple authorities, instead of informing the police, immediately tried to hush up the incident by issuing a show-cause notice to three priests who had signed the document while taking custody of the ornaments. The temple authorities and priests then searched, in vain.
Had they reported back then itself, the suspected thief would have done exactly what he or she did when news reports started flashing the news of the ornament missing/ theft. Fear of the law probably made the thief throw it in a garbage bin and scoot in the nick of time. Police are investigating and devotees believe the wrath of Shiva will have its own consequences on the thief.
Rumors also suggest that it was ‘accidentally’ removed when the flowers on the Goddess were removed but even that does not add up when one considers something called responsibility, especially while handling public property inside our temples. All community workers need not be as pious as Sunil Kumar who found it and informed the temple authorities.
Questions also need to be asked why a garbage dump near the temple was being cleared only after 5 days? Would the authorities have done the same if it was their own abode? The ornament is now in police custody and will be handed over to the temple after the usual formalities are concluded.
The state temple authorities are claiming the case has come to a happy end. “The police will investigate negligence and irresponsibility,” said Jayawabhaswamy, secretary of the Temple authority. This comes at a time when the cries of free Hindu temples rings loud all over Bharat and it is exactly this attitude of temple authorities that is prompting the calls for freedom, in the first place.
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