What is the difference between a temple and a Math? Distinguish between public and private endowments. What do you understand by illusory endowments?

Ans. Temple and Math—Difference—Public religious institutions may be broadly divided into two classes: (i) Idol Temple, and (ii) Maths Maths Idol Temples.—Idol Temples are intended primarily for the worship of the idol, either by the general public, or by some considerable section of it. Where property is given absolutely for the worship of an idol, it vests in the idol itself as a juristic person. But the position of the idol is not the same as that of the minor. 1K. Devi Santhan v. M.R. T, Nagpar, AIR 1970 SC 4391, Maths.—Maths are intended primarily for the maintenance and residence of Sanyasis, or Mahant, and diffusion of religious knowledge. It was at one time thought that there is a substantial difference between the legal position of `shebait ‘ of a temple or the mahant’ of a math. The Privy Council in Vidyavarti’s case (48 IA 302), spoke of the shebait and the mahant in these terms :— “Called by whatever name, he is only the manager or custodian of the idol or the institution. In almost every case he is given the right to a part of usufruct depending again on usage or custom. In no case was property conveyed to or vested in him, nor is he a trustee in the English sense of the term although in view of the obligation and the duties resting in him, is answerable as a trustee for mal-administration.”TheAllahabad High Court laid down that a Math is an institutional sanctum presided over by a superior who combines in himself the dual offices of being the religious fraternity and of the manager or the secular properties of the institutions of the Math [AIR 1972 All. 2371. That it appears that the legal status of both is the same. Distinction between public and private endowments.—The essential distinction between a public and a private religious trust has been well settled in the case of Mahan/ Ram Saroop Dasji v. S.P. Sahi, (AIR 1959 SC 1002). It has been laid down that in a public trust, the beneficial interest is vested in an uncertain and fluctuating body of persons, either the public at large or some considerable portion of it answering a particular description. In a private trust the beneficiaries are definite and ascertained individuals or whose within a definite time can be definitely ascertained. The fact that uncertain or fluctuating body of persons is a section of the public following a particular religious faith, or is only a sect of person of a certain religious persuasion would not make any difference and th e matter would not make the trust a private trust. In Radhakant Deo v. The Commissioner. Hindu Religions Endowments (AIR 1981 S.C. 563) the Supreme Court laid down the following tests for the determination of a trust as to whether it is public or pr ivate.— (1) Where the origin of endowment is not known the question arises whether members of public use it by way of right. (2) The fact whether it is controlled by a group of persons or by the founder of endowment. (3) Where the document with respect to its creation is available and it is clear from the language of th e deed that the control over the endowment is vested in the founder or in his family and greater part of the property of the founder is dedicated in the endowment to that temple so that it could be properly managed it would result in necessary conclusion that the endowment is private in nature. (4) Where there is no evidence that the founder has given any clarification with respect to the fact that the members of the public would contribute any share in it, there the endowment would carry an inner proof of its being private in nature.