The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
Email This Page
Focus on feud within Kanchi empire

Kancheepuram, Nov. 14: As Jayendra Saraswati spent his third day in jail on a murder charge, it appeared that infighting among a small group of people around the Kanchi sankaracharya was at the root of the scandal.

Police investigating the murder of temple manager Shankar Raman are quizzing Kanchi Mutt employees closest to him. One is Raghu, the cellphone-toting 30-something brother of the junior sankaracharya, Vijayendra Saraswati.

Kancheepuram police have also questioned mutt manager Sundaresa Iyer.

The residence of Pasupathi, the Kancheepuram district organiser of Jan Kalyan, an outfit modelled on Rotary Club and floated by the sankaracharya in the late 1980s, was searched today. Police said they seized three motorcycles and a van allegedly used by the suspected killers, adds PTI.

Pasupathi was in Vellore, where Jayendra Saraswati is being held after his arrest on Thursday as main accused in the September murder. The police have sought his custody for interrogation.

The story behind the scandal is beginning to unravel in the backdrop of a large cluster of institutions the sankaracharya helped to build.

The last sankaracharya, the late Chandrasekharendra Saraswathi, had stuck to the spiritual path and not bothered about finances. Although the mutt has extensive properties in Tamil Nadu and outside ' mostly gifts from kings and benefactors in the past ' his term was marked by a net negative income, a source said.

But Jayendra Saraswati turned around the finances in 15 years, sources said. Especially after 1994, when the 'mahaswami' died, the mutt took up big educational and medical projects.

The first was the Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswathi Vishwa Maha Vidyalaya (now a deemed university) at Enathur village, about 5 km from here. 'It offers courses in engineering, computer science and management along with compulsory courses in Indian culture and Sanskrit,' said a student from Bihar.

The Sankara College of Arts and Science came up opposite the university and a teachers' training institute is taking shape in its vicinity. The mutt made a foray into medical education with the Meenakshi Medical College Hospital and Research Institute near Kancheepuram.

The Jan Kalyan Trust has been promoting a housing project near the temple town.

Two private hospitals that had virtually turned sick were also acquired. One was the Child Trust Hospital in Chennai and the other was the NRI-promoted Tamil Nadu Hospitals on its outskirts.

Over the past decade, the Kanchi mutt's sphere of influence and 'cash flow position' saw a dramatic upswing, said a source at Kancheepuram. As the mutt's financial clout increased, ego problems and 'infighting' broke out in a small group around Jayendra Saraswati over who would control the funds, the source said. 'He has become a victim of this process,' a source said.

The stage is being set for Vijayendra Saraswati's eventual takeover of the mutt's administration after he returns from Hyderabad.

DMK chief M. Karunanidhi today called for a change of the mutt's leadership, saying: 'A ship cannot be toppled because of the undisciplined captain.'

PM denies role

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said in Hyderabad the Centre was not involved in the arrest. 'It is not correct to say that Government of India had any role in the arrest.'

Protests broke out in several parts of the country against the arrest, with Sangh parivar groups playing the lead role. The VHP has threatened a march to Parliament.

Kerala is bracing for a strike tomorrow.

Email This Page