Shame at Kanchi

The recent events in Kanchi Mutt have left me both bewildered and angry. Having seen the functioning of the Mutt from close quarters, it wasn’t a surprise to read about the financial irregularities and the corruption in the Mutt’s dealings. But what left me stunned were the allegations of mafia style murder and physical assault .

Any organization, (never mind Kanchi Mutt with assets worth Rs 10 Billion) is asking for trouble if 95% of it “employees” are made up of school dropouts, unemployed youth or retired middle level govt officials who are neither capable nor trained in managing affairs of this magnitude. (BCCI with a list of “honorary” office bearers is another volcano waiting to erupt). Corruption, petty mindedness, whimsical decisions are only to be expected. But what is astonishing are the allegation of gruesome murder and physical assault that have been levelled against the Mutt and it’s Head. “No smoke without fire” is an old cliché but one cannot but help but think that there is more than a grain of truth in this old adage.

I am particularly disillusioned with Jayendra Saraswati and his way of running the Mutt . While I cannot bring myself to believe that he would have had a direct hand in this sordid affair , one expects a lot more from a spiritual leader. Kanchi Mutt, which was renowned for preserving Hindu tradition , encouraging study of Vedanta and promoting the concept of high thinking and simple living among common folk is now famous for playing “ the failed middle man” in the Ayodhya affair. With murder , assault and corruption added to its growing reputation – I wonder if it can sink to lower depths. Jayendra Saraswati should take singular blame for reducing the Mutt to it’s current state..

I hope that he emerges clean from this episode but I also believe that it will be hard to cleanse the stigma associated with this affair. Harder still, will be the process of reviving faith and devotion among millions of followers , a number of whom would have turned away from him and the Mutt (hopefully not from Hinduism) forever..

Look forward to your views and comments .


  1. Anonymous said November 16, 2004, 10:35 pm:

    You make a very profound observation on the staffing at the Kanchi Mutt. Jayendra Saraswati has definitely increased the overall profile of the Kanchi mutt by taking an active role in the society. I am sure under his regime, the amount of funds collected would have also been substantially higher. However, by trying to negotiate the highly politicised Babri Masjid issue, he led the Kanchi Mutt into uncharted waters – religion and politics being one deadly mixture. Probably, this is the price to pay for that. Hopefully, as you say, he will come out and clean.

  2. Anonymous said November 21, 2004, 7:30 pm:

    Well said Sridhar!!

    I for one was certainly not in favor of the seer mixing religion and politics, though I was hoping that his efforts to bring a resolution to the sordid Babri masjid affair would prove to be fruitful.

    As much as he politicised the mutt, I hear (not that I had first-hand knowledge) that he welcomed dalits to the fold, and a number of charitable organizations have benefited by having his name attached to their endeavor, and also by receiving grants from the mutt. As suku mentions, the donations received by the mutt during his time was significantly high. IMHO, his efforts to loosen the rigid standards of the mutt , and syncing the mutt with changing times is to be appreciated.

    Having said that I also believe that instead of rasing the profile of the mutt and dispersing the philosophy of hindu religion, he spent more time risng his own profile (instead of the mutt)., and got his head deeply buried into politics, and cultivating friendship with shady (politicians) folks. Anytime you do that, you are bound to gain enemies. And if some of the magazines, are to be believed, it is extremely disconcerting to hear of his nexus with some of the character’s who actually committed the murder.

    As Sridhar points out, I hope folks who are turned off by this, do not turn away from hinduism.

    As my father said, Hinduism has seen worse and survived, and will certainly survive this nightmare too

    The scars will take a long time to heal though.