Saturday, November 20, 2004

The Arrest of the Seer

Shocking,startling,incredible.Call it what you might,but this is what happened.The Pontiff of the Sankaracharya Mutt was arrested on charges of murder and collusion for murder.It happened on Deepavali night at Mehboobnagar in Andhra Pradesh.Jayendra Sarawati,the head of the Sankara Mutt was in his pooja when the team of police officials sent by the Jayalalitha government located where he was and tapped at his door,like the gestapo.Late night,under great secrecy,on a very auspicious night.Early next morning he was produced befor the Judicial Magistrate at Kancheepuram after travelling by helicopter,cessna jet and a suv.He was remanded to judicial custody.He is still hovering in jail as his bail plea has been rejected by the Madras High Court.He is now in police custody and fighting a slew of legal battles to free himself from this unholy mess into which he has landed himself.India's best criminal lawyer,Ram Jethmalani has been pressed into service.So far,the score card reads-advantage Jayalalitha.
Now what was the provocation for this high-profile arrest.One Sankararaman was working in the Mutt as an accountant.He crossed swords with the Pontiff on several issues.He alleged misuse of the Mutt's funds,he stopped the pontiff's visit to China by getting a judicial stay and alleged harassment and plans to eliminate him.Finally,he was sacked by the Mutt.But he did not give up.He took up a job in the nearby Varadaraja Perumal temple and continued his fight with JayendraSaraswathiswamigal.
one day in the month of september some scooterists went to his home and asked his wife about sankararaman's whereabouts.they were told he was in his office in the temple.they entered the temple and asked where the office was.then they got him.he was hacked to death,severely beaten with sticks and sharp knives and killed in cold blood.it was a professional job.then they disappeared from the scene.firs were filed,the police investigation began and the needle of suspicion indicated the Pontiff's involvement.then as they say all hell broke loose.
at one time jayalalitha and the pontiff were great pals.it was a mutual admiration society.after the last elections they fell off.the various political alliances broke off,the chemistry between people changed,and new equations were drawn.jayalalitha was routed and dmk karunanidhi's star was in the ascendant.she had to do something sensational,bold and courageous and identify herself with the non-brahmins,the dalits to recapture her vote base.she decided to play the masterstroke which she did with aplomb and great consummate skill.she outsmarted karunanidhi,and proved her sceptics wrong. she did the unthinkable,the undoable.she,a brahmin, had the holy shankaracharya arrested for murder.
jayendrasaraswathiswamigal,the pontiff,the shankaracharya,has not been above controversy,unlike his predecessor,the periyaswamigal.he began painting on a much broader canvas.he envisaged his role as not just the head of a sectarian religious mutt,but that of a religious and socialreformer,educationist,philanthroper,political conciliator,the rajguru of many monarchs,etc,etc.obviously,he attracted attention and enemies.the funds at the disposal of the mutt became a talking point.Rs5000-10000 crores.sankararaman became a pain in the neck.too many allegations of misappropriation and malfeasance were flying.something had to be done to stop this negative publicity.the rest is as they say history.now the battles are going on.the debates.the media publicity-good,bad and indifferent.jayendraswami's credentials are being questioned,he is being asked to step down,one hears the oft repeated cliche-no one is above the law.
it is a great irony of our democracy and judicial system.when thugs and goons who have an enviable record of murders are moving around freely as political netas,mps,chief ministers,etc, that sections of the intellegentsia are crying for the acharya's blood.politics and religion make a heady mixture.
if i am found guilty,i should be punished.this is what the acharya has said.let the courts decide and let us not pass any judgements.for the acharya anyway,it has been a bad fall.literally from the ivory tower to the allwomen's jail in kanchi.let us give him the benefit of doubt.he deserves that at least.

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