MANGALORE: It is like a drama out of the Middle Ages. A high flying swami—Sugunendrateertha Swamiji of Puthige mutt—banned from participating in pujas because of his carbon footprint on one side and the heads of seven mutts on the other.
Last week, the temple town of Udupi—home to the eight 500-year-old astha mutts founded by revered 13th century saint Sri Madhvacharya—was tense. The 245th Paryaya event marking the transition of priests at the Shri Krishna mutt was held under police security. Sugunendrateertha Swamiji’s supporters had flown in from all over the country and threatened to storm the ‘Rajdurbar’ and forcibly seat the seer amongst the invitees.
The travel-loving swamiji was barred from attending all public celebrations for having violated the unwritten tenets laid down by Sri Madhvacharya by travelling frequently to foreign countries. There were public fasts to ensure the swamy his place among the other seers at the paryaya ceremony. The respected and elderly Vishweshateertha Swamiji of Pejavar mutt tried to mediate and failed and he too went on fast. But the other mutts stuck to their guns. In the end, 22-year-old Vishwavallabhateertha Swamiji, the 36th pontiff of the Sode mutt, took over the rights to worship Lord Sri Krishna for the next two years, the core issues threatening the unity of Ashta mutts remained unaddressed.
Advertisements appeared in various Kannada newspapers stating that denying Swamiji his rightful place was equal to contempt of Indian Constitution and the mutt’s unwritten constitution. In the end Sugunendrateertha relented and gave in.
With the senior pontiff of Pejawar mutt too calling off his fast and joining the Paryaya celebrations, the colourful public ceremony passed off peacefully. The young Sodhe Mutt Swamiji took charge for the first time and the devotees heaved a big sigh of relief.
Sources say Chief Minister D V Sadananda Gowda intervened and the swamiji gave into his requests for a peaceful Paryaya. Gowda was the President of the 2012 celebration committee.