Is Temple Wealth Unsafe? Puri Jagannath Temple Ratna Bhandar Keys Go Missing
Organiser   06-Jun-2018

Samanwaya Nanda



Puri Shri Jagannath Temple is a classic example of how government and administration mismanage temple affairs. The keys of the 12-century Jagannath Temple"s treasury (Ratna Bhandar) have reportedly gone missing. After protests by Puri Govardhan Peeth Shankaracharya Swami Nischalananda Sarasvati and political and social organisations of Odisha, Chief Minister of Odisha Naveen Patnaik ordered judicial probe into the matter.
A retired Judge of Odisha High Court will inquire into the matter and will submit the report within three months. The probe will focus on the circumstances in which the Ratna Bhandar keys went missing.
It may be noted that Odisha High Court directed ASI to inspect its physical condition of Ratna Bhandar. Following the order of HC, a 16-member team entered the Ratna Bhandar after 34 years to inspect its physical conditions on April 4. However, they could not enter the inner chambers as they did not have the keys. They returned after completing the inspection of outer chambers. At a meeting of the Sri Jagannath Temple Managing Committee on the same day, it was recorded that the keys of the inner chambers of the treasury had gone missing.
What is Ratna Bhandar?
Ratna Bhandar is a place where the gold, jewellery, most precious gems, diamonds and other valuables belonging to Lord Jagannath have been preserved. Many kings in the past have donated gold and other precious ornaments to the Jagannath Temple. These precious things are preserved in Ratna Bhandar.
After local media reported the same on June 2, quoting the minutes of Sri Jagannath Temple Managing Committee, Shankaracharya of Govardhan Peeth Swami Nischalanada Sarasvati slammed the Odisha government for the incident.
“The episode showed that the state government, as well as the temple administration, have failed to discharge their responsibilities,” the Shankaracharya said.
Political parties including BJP and other social and cultural organisation slammed govt for this incident. Jagannath Sena held a demonstration in front of Singhadwar in Puri in this issue.
When pressure mounted on Govt, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik ordered Judicial inquiry.
State BJP criticised CM’s decision to order Judicial probe in this matter. Terming this order (judicial inquiry) as an eyewash BJP State Vice President Samir Mohanty said, the government should register a criminal case in the matter instead of ordering a judicial probe.
"Administration knew about it even on April 4 when the inspection team surveyed the Ratna Bhandar. If the keys went missing two months ago, why did the state officials remain silent on the matter?” he asked.