UDUPI : Shiroor mutt seer Lakshmivara Theertha surprised the conservative temple town of Udupi with his lively and colourful personality. As pontiff of one of the eight Madhwa mutts in Udupi, established by the Dvaita philosopher Sri Madhwacharya about 800 years ago, Lakshmivara Theertha engaged in activities unusual for an ascetic — like playing drums, swimming in the rough Malpe sea — and won the hearts of devotees. He did not believe that playing drums, keyboards and swimming were against traditions and customs for religious heads.
Lakshmivara Theertha was born Harish Acharya in 1964 to Vittala Acharya and Kusuma in Madamakki village near Hebri. He took ‘sanyas’ in 1971 at the age of seven. During his first paryaya (1978-80), he renovated the main entrance of the Sri Krishna mutt and during his second paryaya, the attractive decorations done by him to the idol of Sri Krishna was appreciated by lakhs of devotees.
The seer was also known to be close to popular drummer Shivamani. He had invited the latter to Udupi during his paryaya term and a programme was arranged at the Rajangana where the pontiff himself played the drums and surprised many. Every year during the Krishna Janmastami celebrations in Udupi, he would also spend heavily on the tiger dance troupes, in an effort to motivate them, by garlanding them with currency notes. The seer was a good swimmer too. He used to train many youths in swimming at the Madhwa Sarovara (pond) of Sri Krishna Mutt. And because of his unusual ways, he was also seen as a rebel.