Monday, November 15, 2004

Kanchi Swamiji arrest - what do I feel ?

This was my first Deepavali after nearly 8 years in the US. Of course, I celebrated Deepavali there but it is not a Deepavali if it is not with your people. Anyway, the arrest of the Kanchi Swamiji Sri Jayendra Saraswati came as a rude shock on Amavasya day of Deepavali.

I began reading more and more about it on the Internet and in the newspapers and I don't know what to feel at all. I am writing this just as a brain dump for future records.

First of all, I don't like the name Shankaracharya being used so frequently. As a child, I never heard of this appellation applied to the pontiffs of important smArta maThas (Mutt ? Isn't that the spelling for a dog?). Jagadguru is perhaps a better word. Anyway, this word kept irritating me because they were dragging the name of arguably India's foremost Philosopher-Saint into dirty politics.

Next, this question keeps bothering me. Why did the police arrest the Swamiji on a Deepavali day ? If the murder had been committed on Sept 3rd and the assuming that the Swamiji was really involved, even then the selection of this day caused a lot of heartburn to Hindus in general. I got an answer to the midnight arrest in Andhra pradesh. The answer was that the police wanted to avoid crowd violence if the Swamiji had been arrested in TNadu and in broad daylight. This seems reasonable. But why Deepavali ? It seems to break the Hindu community's heart and resolve by arresting one of its key personalities on a festival day.

Then there is the more important question - why did the police *have* to arrest him ? Could they not wait for his indictment and then arrest him ? It seems to be the case that the police have some incontrovertible evidence that implicates the Swamiji. But after having lived a strict life as a Sannyasin for so long, did the swamiji have the will to *kill* another soul ? Especially an Advaitic swamiji who treats the entire world as God ? Who knows though ? An eagle soaring high in the pure air still has its eyes only for carrion on the ground. I sincerely hope and pray that the Swamiji is not like this.

Look at what this arrest has done! It is sowing seeds of basic doubt into Hindus. At least, I can read and have a strong belief and understanding in and of sanAtana dharma. I can withstand and have withstood attacks against my Dharma before. What of simple unlettered uninformed folk ? If the government treats one of the more important people of one's faith in such a cavalier manner, what will simple people think ? Initially their belief in the Swamiji would be immense. They probably even regarded the swamiji as God. With this arrest, their God has been pulled away from the pedestals of their hearts. Isn't their simple faith shaken ? I can understand that our Dharma has been forever more important than a single personality. But what about others ?

The main issue here is of murder. Of course, if the swamiji is found guilty, the law must take its course. But does anyone think that such a person of power as the Swamiji could have conversations on the cell phone directing assailants to maim and kill Shankararaman ? Assuming the Swamiji is a criminal, didn't he have more intelligence than leave a trail of records for the police to follow ? And what is this hue and cry about 50 lakhs being paid to the killers ? Any local rowdy would have sufficed and at a far lesser sum of money. Also, would the money be extracted from the Matha account ? And would he be killed in a temple campus in such a gruesome manner ? Come one people, give them more credit ! I am sure the people in the Matha are capable of a better job - if they really wanted to murder somebody!

However, there is the DMK factor that is key here. Now why did they go about collecting clues and information about the murder ? What about the key transfers of police officials just before Sep 3 ? How could they be so meticulous about collecting clues - unless they managed the murder themselves ?!! Let's consider this possibility. We have known that the DMK is supremely capable of engineering something like this. Discredit Hindu Dharma - by implicating its head - Swamiji was almost the main Hindu leader in TN - and you wean several people away from a resurgent Hindu force in TN. It should be noted that the Swamiji had been calling for equal opportunities to Dalits and other lower castes. By doing this - he effectively caused the DMK vote bank to erode at an alarming rate. It is well known that Tamilians are generally more religious than their compatriots. Something had to be done to stem the rot. Shankararaman's dispute with the Swamiji probably gave them a foundation for a great smear campaign! The elections in TN are around the corner and something had to be done to get votes!

AIADMK got wind of this and promptly arrested the Swamiji - thereby taking the "wind out of the sails of the DMK campaign" (a newspaper statement). AIADMK also probably believed that arresting the Swamiji reinforced its 'secular' credentials and would bring the party more votes during the assembly elections.

But as Byron said, "Truth is stranger than fiction" and we should not be surprised if Swamiji's guilt is conclusively proved - though I fervently hope that it is not the case. The truth may be far murkier with the names of several Matha officials being thrown about. Raghu, the brother of the younger Swamiji, is one such name. Now, I ask, why on earth should blood-relatives of sannyasins follow them to the MaTha ? Should not a sannyasin be free of all such familial considerations ? Especially when he regards the world as his family ? This is not a good thing for maThas and sanAtana dharma in general. I have seen other maThas like this and the situation in such cases is indeed despicable.

This case is definitely interesting and I will follow it very closely. If something changes in my opinion, I will put it up here.

|| shubhaM bhUyAt ||

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