Kancheepuram, Aug. 11: As the Union cabinet was making up its mind on cow-slaughter ban, Jayalalithaa bowed before a temple cow and sat through three yagnas with the Kanchi sankaracharya.
Today’s rituals at Kamakshi Amman temple were the culmination of the Atirudra and Rig Veda samhita homams on the eve of Jayendra Saraswati’s 69th birthday.
The celebration assumes significance as it coincides with the 50th year of the sankaracharya’s accession to the Kanchi Mutt’s pontifical seat.
Arriving to a “green carpet” traditional welcome at the temple with junior Sankaracharya Vijayendra Saraswati leading the way, Jayalalithaa — accompanied by her friend Sasikala — was in the mood to defend her spiritual odyssey.
The Tamil Nadu chief minister first paid obeisance to the cow at the temple’s entrance with arati (camphor lit on a brass receptacle) and showered it with flower petals, before she was ushered in near the agni kunda (sacrificial fire).
After a respectful bow to the sankaracharya, Jayalalithaa was offered a wooden chair that had been inspected thrice by security personnel before her arrival.
As Vijayendra sought to explain the significance of the yagnas and in between hand her a couple of petitions, Jayalalithaa watched the yagnas being performed amid Vedic chants.
Later, she moved to another enclosure in the temple where the sahasra chandi homam poornahuti was being performed.
A variety of offerings were thrust into the fire pit, including two red sarees, followed by bunches of coloured cloth and fruits.
Maharashtra chief minister Sushil Kumar Shinde, who had called on both the sankaracharyas in the morning, had to be content with a seat in the press enclosure to witness the event.
However, as soon as the rituals ended, Shinde and his wife exchanged greetings with Jayalalithaa. Shinde’s wife presented a shawl to the Tamil Nadu chief minister.
Around 1.10 pm, Jayalalithaa and Sasikala drove down to the mutt. They offered pranams at the samadhi of the late Mahaswami Chandrasekharendra Saraswati and were closeted with the sankaracharyas for nearly 40 minutes.
“Nothing here,” Jayalalithaa quipped to waiting reporters as she emerged from the meeting.
Asserting that he had neither discussed Ayodhya nor anything “political” with Jayalalithaa, the sankaracharya said, as chairman of a committee appointed by the government on temple renovation in Tamil Nadu, he had only apprised her about how some temples needed grants for repairs.
The sankaracharya said he hoped that the remaining 6,072 persons would be reinstated, when questioned on the plight of the sacked state government employees.
“Discharge of one’s duties and compassion go together and I told this to the chief minister also,” he added.
While the Kanchi seer welcomed the Centre’s announcement today to introduce a bill in Parliament on cow protection, he said personally “it is a matter of great satisfaction for me as I had even gone on a day’s fast over the issue”.
On Ayodhya, the Kanchi sankaracharya was sceptical about the demand to bring in a legislation to facilitate a Ram temple. There will not be a consensus on this issue among political parties and hence “such a law will be impossible”, he pointed out.
The Kanchi seer said he believed that only a negotiated settlement was the way out. “I am still at it (finding an acceptable formula) though I am lying low now,” the sankaracharya quipped.