The mysterious death of a seer at a Udupi Mutt last week is now being alleged a murder and things are getting murkier. Vishvesha Theertha Swamiji, the most senior and the most powerful pontiff at the Ashta Mathas or Eight Mutts in Udupi, has complicated the things by vehemently denying the murder theory. He has also denounced the deceased Seer Lakshmivara Theertha of Shiroor Mutt as someone who was unfit for the holy post.
Addressing the media, Pejawara Seer said that Lakshmivara Theertha had not been following the century old rules of the Udupi Mutts and he had many vices. “He was a womaniser. He had illicit relationships with the women. He had children. He was into drinking. We don’t consider him a seer at all,” he said.
Vishwesha Theertha also challenged that he would abdicate the Peetha if anyone proves that he has children or has anything to do with women. The deceased Seer had made an explosive revelation a few months ago that all Udupi Seers have children. It had led to a furore and he was asked to prove the charges.
Even almost a week after his death under mysterious circumstances there is no clarity on the cause of death. His followers and advocates allege that it was a planned murder and he was poisoned by an insider at the behest of some powerful people in Udupi Mutts.
But the rest of the Mutts deny such allegations and claim that the Shiroor Seer died due to food poisoning.
The 55-year-old controversial Seer died on last Thursday at the KMC hospital in Manipal near Udupi. Initially, it was treated as a death due to food poisoning. After his followers raised doubts, the police registered a case of suspicious death and launched a full probe.
The Karnataka Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy and deputy chief minister Dr G Parameshwara have assured the Mutt followers that the police would be impartial and that there would be a thorough probe.
The initial investigation is throwing up a lot of disturbing details. According to insiders, the police have found liquor bottles, aphrodisiacs, condoms, sanitary napkins, etc in the mutt.
They also claim that a woman in her 30s who allegedly had a relationship with the seer has been missing after his death and suspect her hand in the alleged murder. A staff member at the Mutt told News18 on condition of anonymity that a woman used to spend a lot of time at the Mutt and she wielded enormous influence over the Seer.
Some claim that the others who had issues with the Mutt may have used her to get rid of the controversial Seer.
Shiroor Mutt has over 500 acres of land in and around Udupi. The estimated value of the property is over Rs 500 crore in today’s market, say locals. They don’t rule out the possibility of some business deal gone sour for the death of the seer.
None of the remaining seven Seer had participated in his funeral and they had completely stayed away from all rituals on the day of his death.
Shiroor Seer had shared a stormy relationship with rest of the seers who head remaining seven mutts which practice and preach the Dwaitha philosophy of 12th century great Saint Madhvacharya.
Lakshmivara Theertha had hit the national headlines during the recent Karnataka Assembly polls by declaring that he would be contesting from Udupi as an Independent candidate if the BJP denied him the ticket.
He had told the state BJP leaders that he would withdraw his candidature only if Prime Minister Narendra Modi requests him. Later he decided not to contest and the BJP’s Raghupathi Bhat won from Udupi.
In an interview with News18 he had defended his decision to enter politics.
His carefree life and candid statements had made him a sensation in the state. He was loved and disliked in equal measure. By defying the 800-year-old convention he had travelled abroad by crossing the sea.
The temple town of Udupi has Lord Krishna temple and eight mutts around it. All of them were founded by the 12th century saint Madhvacharya and they follow Dwaitha philosophy as opposed to Advaitha philosophy of Shankaracharya.
Each Mutt has a seer and they are independent. Each Seer gets to preside over the Pooja and functioning of the Lord Krishna temple once in 14 years under a unique system called “Paryaya”.
The most senior Pejawara Vishwesha Theertha is a top leader of the VHP and one of the leaders of the Ram Janmabhumi movement. He is close to several top BJP leaders, including LK Advani and Uma Bharti.
The Karnataka BJP which normally wastes no opportunity to blame the government is surprisingly keeping quiet on the death of a seer who was also close to the party.