KOPPAL: A woman allegedly set herself ablaze and embraced a pontiff near here on Monday, killing herself in the process and leaving him battling for life.
Prabhavati Devi alias Sharanamma (30) died on the spot, while Shivananda Swami is critical.
The incident occurred at a temple in Marakatte village in Yelburga taluk.
Shivananda Swami is being treated at Kumareshwara Hospital in Bagalkot. Devi had allegedly demanded the transfer of the temple’s property to her name. Bevoor police have registered a suicide case.
The temple owns an acre and gets contributions from devotees who attend the swami’s discourses.
The swami would offer worship between 8 am and 10 am, when he would be all by himself. Devi locked the shrine from inside and allegedly set herself on fire. She is suspected to have embraced the pontiff as the flames engulfed her. After hearing their screams, neighbours broke open the door and tried to put out the flames.
The swami hails from Kenchanahalli in Davangere district. He set up a branch of the Gadag-based Shivananda temple in Marakatte a decade ago.
Devi, from Hanchali village near Sindagi, became a disciple some years ago, according to people in the village. The swami had recently written a will transferring the temple’s property to Basavaraja Swami of Shivananda Mutt in Gadag. Unhappy about this decision, she frequently argued with him.
As news of the incident spread, people from surrounding villages started thronging the temple.
Superintendent of Police R Raja, who visited the spot, told Express the swami was in no position to talk. Details will emerge during the investigation, he said.
Of late, an ageing Shivananda Swami had begun to depend on others for his routine.
Concerned about his deteriorating health, Devi was trying to gain control of the property, and the will had enraged her, some in the village said.