Top court orders govt not to tamper with Pashupati`s treasury

Last Updated: Monday, January 31, 2011 - 20:40

Kathmandu: Nepal`s top court Monday
ordered the government not to tamper with the ancient treasury
of Nepal`s famous Pashupatinath Temple, which Hindus believe
has remained padlocked for centuries.

Bharat Jangam, a Hindu activist and writer, had filed
a PIL in the Supreme Court on Thursday, pleading to strike
down a decision taken by the caretaker government to open
the main treasury of the fifth century Hindu shrine.

Justice Girish Chandra Lal of the Supreme Court Monday
issued a stay order against the government decision to open
the main treasury of the Pashupatinath Temple. It fixed the
next hearing in the case for February 10, The Himalayan Times
online said Monday.

Jangam has argued that the caretaker government has no
right to open the more than 2000-year-old treasury of the
Hindu shrine.

Jangam, who had earlier dragged the Maoists to court
over its decision to dismiss Indian Brahmins from the holy
Hindu shrine, has argued that in a secular state the
government has no rights to interfere in religious matters.
If the government cannot open the treasury of a
Buddhist monastery or a Christian church how can it interfere
with the valuable assets of the Pashupatinath temple, he
asked.

However, a legitimate government can do the same by
enacting a separate act after holding consultations with Hindu
scholars and priests and othe prestigious people, he
underlined.

Located on the banks of the Bagmati river,
Pashupatinath is regarded as the most sacred temple of Shiva
(Pashupati) and the oldest Hindu shrine in Nepal. It is also
listed in UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site list.
The main treasury ? `mul dhukuti` ? of Pashupatinath
is believed to contain priceless items, including Nagmani
(snake jewel), Gajamani (elephant jewel), Nilmani, (blue
precious stone).

Last month, the government decided to open the
treasury to maintain a record of the valuables and to ensure
their safety, said officials at Pashupati Area Development
Trust (PADT), that manages the affairs of the temple.

According to PADT officials, they are planning to open
the treasury and list the valuable items in order to properly
manage them and to make the affairs transparent.
Earlier this month, the government set up a top panel
to make the functioning of Pashupatinath Temple more
transparent, following a Supreme Court directive to streamline
the management of the Hindu shrine.

The temple had been at the centre of a row when the
Prachanda-led Maoist coalition government in 2008 sacked the
chief priest and other Brahmins from South India, and
appointed Nepalese priests to replace them.

It had triggered widespread protests across the
country as it was a break with centuries-old tradition where
Brahmins from South India have led the worship at one of the
holiest Hindu shrine.

Later, Nepal`s Supreme Court had stayed the government
regulation aimed at ending the 300-year old monopoly of Indian
priests at the famed Pashupatinath.

PTI



First Published: Monday, January 31, 2011 - 20:40

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