Speech at Public meeting,Kanadukathan (Sep 22,1927)
It is no doubt a good thing to build some temples but the building of temples could easily be overdone. It is a horrible superstition to think that, because we have built a building which we call a temple, God necessarily resides in it. I tell you I know many temples in India in which God no more resides than in a brothel.
Speech at Public meeting,Karaikudi (Sep 24,1927)
A lady doctor writing to me tells that I should remind you about the immoral custom that is prevalent in Chettinad and that prevents you from thinking of these things of public usefulness. She tells me that the rich people of Chettinad had a due share in perpetuating a hideous immoral custom of assigning girls of tender age to a life of shame under the name of religion. She tells me that there are many Devadasis in your midst. If this is true it is really a matter for hanging our heads in shame. Let not possession of wealth be synonymous with degradation, vice and profligacy. And is it not a tragic irony that, in spite of these vices, you are also spending money lavishly in erecting what you flatter yourselves to believe as temples for gods to reside. Not every structure made of brick and mortar labelled temple is necessarily a temple. There are, I am sorry to say, many temples in our midst in this country which are no better than brothels. Do you know that in our religion it is not possible to call any single place a temple unless elaborate ceremonial of purification has been made inside that building and unless the spirit of God has been invoked by men full of piety, so that God may reside in that? And so, I would urge you to restrain yourselves and not lavishly spend in building temples but in the first place dedicate your own bodies to the service of God and for that reason first of all purify by ridding yourselves of the evils to which I have drawn attention
Interview to Press Bombay (Oct 29,1927)
Answering the critism evoked by his statement that in some Hindu temples God was present only as much as He was in brothels, Gandhiji said :
I am not prepared to withdraw a single word of what I said. In a way, it is the truth. God in omnipresent. He is present in thieves’ dens, in toddy shops and in brothels. But to worship God we do not go to these places. For this purpose we look for a temple, trusting that the atmosphere there will be pure. I say that in this sense God does not dwell in some of the temples. Or if He does, it is only as much as in a brothel. If this statement of mine has hurt any Hindus I am sorry for it. But for the sake of truth and Hinduism I cannot either take away from or add to my statement.