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

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Kathmandu, Jan 31 (PTI) Nepal''s top court todayordered the government not to tamper with the ancient treasuryof world famous Pashupatinath Temple, which Hindus believe hasremained padlocked for centuries.

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

Justice Girish Chandra Lal of the Supreme Court todayissued a stay order against the government decision to openthe main treasury of the Pashupatinath Temple. It fixed thenext hearing in the case for February 10, The Himalayan Timesonline said today.

Jangam has argued that the caretaker government has noright to open the more than 2000-year-old treasury of theHindu shrine.

Jangam, who had earlier dragged the Maoists to courtover its decision to dismiss Indian Brahmins from the holyHindu shrine, has argued that in a secular state thegovernment has no rights to interfere in religious matters.

If the government cannot open the treasury of aBuddhist monastery or a Christian church how can it interferewith the valuable assets of the Pashupatinath temple, heasked.

However, a legitimate government can do the same byenacting a separate act after holding consultations with Hinduscholars and priests and othe prestigious people, heunderlined.

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 alsolisted in UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site list.

The main treasury � ''mul dhukuti'' � of Pashupatinathis believed to contain priceless items, including Nagmani(snake jewel), Gajamani (elephant jewel), Nilmani, (blueprecious stone).

Last month, the government decided to open thetreasury to maintain a record of the valuables and to ensuretheir safety, said officials at Pashupati Area DevelopmentTrust (PADT), that manages the affairs of the temple.

According to PADT officials, they are planning to openthe treasury and list the valuable items in order to properlymanage them and to make the affairs transparent.

Earlier this month, the government set up a top panelto make the functioning of Pashupatinath Temple moretransparent, following a Supreme Court directive to streamlinethe management of the Hindu shrine.

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

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

Later, Nepal''s Supreme Court had stayed the governmentregulation aimed at ending the 300-year old monopoly of Indianpriests at the famed Pashupatinath. PTI

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