Necessary Reforms in Hinduism



Hindu Religious Leaders and institutions need to reform to realise the aspirations of their people.  What may have worked 500 years ago, wont necessarily work now.


        1) Temples need to let the faithful in – regardless of caste, creed, gender or ethnicity. 

                a) Caste is a hot issue in India right now.  Legally, they can’t bar people on caste basis, but they make it obvious they don’t like it.

                b)Creed – Hindus no longer wear their sectarian marks any more and its difficult to decide who belongs to which sect. 
Thankfully, most temples do not discriminate on basis of creed, but there is still a lot of sectarian bias and tension between Hindu sects.

                c) Gender – is still an issue in some temples.  If indeed we espouse the feeling of “God resides in us all”, than gender has no meaning, as the soul and God have no gender.  Body is simply a vehical and being transient, it does not matter what gender or colour it is.

                d) Ethnicity – Our brothers and sisters from around the world are denied access to some temples, including the Jaggan-Nath temple of Puri simply because of their ethnicity.  How can God have the title of Jaggan-Nath and be refused darshan by His subjects from countries other than India ?  Many institutions harbour old prejudices and have not realised that many westerners have now converted to Hinduism and its many sects – from Advaita to ISKON.  Blind racial profiling potentially lets anyone with brown skin in – regardless of their religion and keeps out genuine believers.  This is also the case in several temples in Kerala aswell, were devoted pilgrims are kept out due to ethnic and racial prejudices of the temple trusts.

        2) Many temples are simply very dirty !  Sorry to say this, but it is unacceptable that a place of worship should be so unhygienic.  Floors are sticky with residue of Prasad, ghee, flowers and countless other libations.  Walls are often dark and covered with centuries of grime.  Why isn’t this being addressed by the temple authorities ?  Surely this is within their ambit of their “routine tasks”. 

        3) Many Indian temples have incomes that would put millionaires to shame.  Yet, they are unable to use this wealth for expansion, extension, charity or improving the facilities of their pilgrims.  This is partly due to the apathy of the trustees and partly due to the government restrictions on Hindu religious institutions.  Why aren’t the temples trying to address these issues ?

        4) Many temples are in desperate need of repair and restoration.  I appreciate government limits/a> the funds temples can use from their own treasury to do this.  But, what are the temples doing to fight this injustice ?  Why are they not voicing their pain to their devotees who can fight this cause for them at the ballot box ?

&        5) Many temples wont let cameras in, least you should take a photo of their deity.  What’s wrong with taking a photo ?  If temple authorities are happy to accept modern conveniences such as electricity in their lives and happily stand of photos of themselves, why not of the temple deity ?  What will temple loose if a person snaps a picture ?  It will only reaffirm the memories of the divine moment in the person’s mind every time they look at it.  What can possibly be wrong with that ?

        6) Many temples insist on archaic modes of paying the temple servants in terms of food (cooked and uncooked) and clothing.  This forces the temple servants to sell their portion of Prasad (incurring sin on buyer and seller) and beg for “daskhina /
sevki/a>” etc as TIPs from pilgrims to make their ends meet.  There is no other way for them to survive in today’s world where cash salaries are essential for everyday needs.  Temples must recognise the economic realities of today and pay fair remuneration to the temple servants for their work.  They must also organise proper distribution / sale of Prasad so that the pilgrims get the genuine product without undue hassle.

        7) Temples and religious leaders must organise educational and cultural programmes to educate the Hindu about their heritage.  Currently, most programmes are run as they have been run for centuries and are out of kilter with the modern youth.  Their education has to cater to the Hindus of today.

        8) Religious organisations have a lot of cultural heritage under their roof.  Most is stored away in mouldy rooms or lost in cluttered godowns.  There should be on-site exhibitions, with clear information, to engage the pilgrims and local population with their history and
heritage.  Many Indians find foreign museums keep Indian artefacts in much better condition than Indian temples / museums.  We need to get better at preserving and presenting our heritage to our own people.  Most Hindus have no clues about different art styles or stylistic representation of various divinities or mythologies.  It is incumbent on the religious institutions to perpetuate the heritage that is bequeathed to them by sharing it with the populace at large.

        9) On the whole, Temple towns in Indiast1:place> are a veritable mess.&n  There is no order, civic sense or proper infrastructure.  No one is asking them to knock things down and rebuild in the modern style, but atleast tidy up what’s already there.  Let streets be made one-way or pedestrianised to make them safe for pilgrims.  They should have clear, clean roads to stave off illnesses and contagious diseases which can spread rapidly amongst pilgrims.  Local architectural heritage should be preserved and modern craze of covering everything in marble tiles should be stopped.  Art and architectural heritage is being wiped out of our temple towns at rapid speed by our own desire to modernise them.  Infrastructure should be in place for the health and hygiene of the locals as well as the pilgrims. 

        10) Temple institutions, religious leaders and the great and the good of India should work together to strengthen our society.  They need to unitea> to make sure Hindus have a voice in India and abroad.  To this end, they need to use their phenomenal financial muscle to improve the health, education and housing of Hindu living and working in their area.  With self reliance will come self-confidence and self-determination - for the community and the country.




Our religious leaders and institutions need to do these things to make Hindus proud of their religious and cultural heritage.



Read other articles in this section and on the Pushti site to see how we need to unite.



© Bhagwat    [email protected]


Return to index of articles

Return to Bhagwat's main page

Return to ShriNathji's Haveli