The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Poser to Kalam on mutt invite

Chennai, Oct. 3: President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam may soon face a dilemma.

A rationalist forum in Tamil Nadu has expressed shock at the Kanchi Mutt’s announcement that the President would head a committee to celebrate the 50th year of ascension of Sri Jayendra Saraswathi as the Shankaracharya of the Mutt, scheduled next year.

Although there is no confirmation of Kalam agreeing to chair this panel, the forum in Karur has urged the President to disassociate himself from such activity.

In a message to the President, veteran DMK functionary Paramathi Shanmugham, who is the chief patron of the Karur Rationalist Forum, has stressed that the Kanchi Mutt’s logic of inviting Kalam to head the anniversary celebration committee was untenable.

The Rationalist Forum has pointed out that as the President of a secular country, it would “go against the spirit of secularism enshrined in the Constitution” for Kalam to participate in any function associated with the pontifical head of a particular religion.

The Kanchi Mutt symbolised the values of Varnashrama Dharma, which are contrary to modern secular values, the forum argued.

Even among the Sankarite monastic institutions, there was a controversy over how many Mutts had been established by Adi Shankara, the founder of the Advaita system of philosophy, and whether Kancheepuram was one of them.

Recently, the Kanchi Shankaracharya had reportedly taken objection to performing the consecration of a temple near Karur in Tamil, saying it violated the Agama Shastras and should be performed only in Sanskrit, the forum pointed out.

This had hurt Tamil sentiments deeply, the forum said, urging Kalam to reconsider his decision if he had made up his mind to head the golden jubilee celebration committee.

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