By K.P. Vasudeva Rao, Advocate Mangalore
Mangalore, May 1, 2012: Day in and day out, when we open the newspapers, we cannot miss at least one function showing the Photograph/News item of a Matadhipathi, either inaugurating or opening a new building, or laying a foundation stone, followed by sermons on sacrifice, self-discipline, virtues of life, simplicity etc. Sometimes it borders on hypocrisy also.
Right from childhood, we are all made to believe that there is a concept called GOD, who is Omnipotent and Omnipresent. The Matadhipathis behave as if they are representatives of that unseen gods. The simple meaning of a Mutt according to Hon’ble Justice B.K.Mukherjee is “a religious institution established to propagate ancient knowledge, by teaching and practicing”. The Mutts have to transmit education and culture. The concept of Mutts are historically more or less a carbon copy of Monastery of Buddhist origin. There was no such concept of Mutt before the advent of Sri Adi Shankaracharya. All people could not afford to go to rishis for learning in the forest. Therefore a few centres of learning were established under the Patronage of the then Rulers. That is how they got the nomenclature as MATHADHIPATHIS. The word Adhipathi means the head of an institution. It also gave an air of superiority to these Adhipathis. If we correctly examine over the years, there are several Mutts growing like mushrooms. Sometimes they act like parasites on the community. Whether they have knowledge of scriptures or not is a big question.
People forget that these Mathadhipathis are also human beings with the same passion for money, fame, indulge in game of spoils, show favoritism, susceptible to flattery and above all love for business. Most of them are involved in the business of running donation colleges, running film theatres, Malls and Automobile Agencies. These things are anything but religious. The Matadhipathis are also adaptable in politics, often playing favour to certain classes of politicians. While there are no saints in Indian Politics it is beyond religious logic for the Matadhipathis to dance to the tunes of politicians, based on caste or community feeling. Politics is the art of possible and cunning persons rule the political set up. That gives sad commentary on equation between Politicians and Mathadipathis.
Next aspect which requires a thorough censure is the life style of a Matadhipathi. While a few avoid wearing silk dress and gold ornaments, rest all love to wear the costly silk and gold ornaments, travel in air conditioned cars, live in posh bungalows acquire lands and centrally air-conditioned buildings. In the process a small coterie is formed around them to provide these luxuries, and also mange them. One more deplorable practice is they sit in a palanquin being carried by devotees. The ancient scriptures have banned this on a very simple reasoning that the living beings cannot and shall not carry another living being. With these things in the forefront, the religious discipline goes to the back seat. The Allahabad High Court in its famous judgment UMA DUTH PANDE VERSUS MANNU SINGH commented that the Mathadhipathis are religious frauds. Some even write WILLS as if they have earned some assets like ordinary individuals who have wife and children. The original concept is vow of poverty and no attachment to things that cause worldly miseries.. practice simple living and high thinking – all the exalted ideals are just forgotten in the pursuit of wealth and power.
As Karl Marx in frustration said “Religion is the opium of the masses”. This statement is true of all religions. Most of us are not able to think independent of religious beliefs, and with a long pracitce, there is an undue influence on our thinking by the Matadhipathis. At some level, it goes to the level of exploitation also. The other danger if a Matadhipathi is endowed with an air of superiority, it will lead us to believe that their position is akin to God. What we criticize as Taliban of Af-Pak region is in effect forced on commoners by Matadhipathis. The ordinary mortals that is the flock look like religious slaves before them. The biggest outcome of this is religious intolerance. However all religious leaders do practice religious intolerance. Anybody in the community who opposes a Matadhipathi or religious head will be treated as an outcaste. His life may become miserable. He will be termed as reactionary. A group of men will untiringly work to hamper his progress. His intelligence will be snuffed. He will suffer social boycott. Sound reason and logic will be thrown to winds. Even if a million people hammer a point of untruth by despotism still it is UNTRUTH only. Here I am reminded of the famous saying of EARNEST HEMINGWAY “ THE MAN CAN BE DESTROYED BUT NOT DEFEATED”. The women folk who believe in reserving a better place, at heavens or next life are easily lured to the concept of superiority of a MATADHIPATHI and treat them as human gods.
There will be no place for reason or intellectual criticisms.. It spreads like MASS HYSTERIA. The voice of reason against the MATHADHIPATHI will die down. If one goes through the Bhagvathgitha or Upanishads there are question and answer sessions. What actually takes place around a Matadhipathi is diametrically opposite to the concept of Githa and Upanishads. What a Matadhipathi says is treated as eternal truth.
In early sixties a Udupi Dramatist wrote a play exposing the misdeeds of a Swamy in Udupi. His drama house was torched by religious fanatics. Many Swamis indulge in court battles, invest in real estate and often accused of homosexuality. They lend money to the fanatics which is purely a commercial activity. There are occasions when women folk of borrowers’ family are exploited by Matadhipathis. It is common knowledge that a Matadhipathi while accepting the office performs SWA SHRADHA. It simply means to his earlier family he is dead. A new birth with new name he assumes. If that is so it is beyond any reason, to celebrate 60th, 70th, 80th, birthdays of a swami. When a man is born he is not a swami. The worst aspect is huge waste of money, pomp, splendor and undue flattery, with which these functions are arranged. There is neither food for thought nor benefit for a common cause. If KARL MARX were alive today he would have commented in his inimitable style that these incidents are hallmarks of INTELLECTUAL BANKRUPTCY.
There have been instances of huge amounts spent in court battles to unseat a Matadhipathi by other Matadhipathis. It proves a fact, each likes to cling to a seat or position. In a democratic country like ours, it is futile to adorn any human being with a title “His Highness” etc. We are constrained to think that the erstwhile undemocratic and despotic rulers are gone. In their place the MATADHIPATHIS are ruling us. The sad part is the democratically elected representatives fall at the feet of these unelected Matadhipathis.
The MARXIST thinker from Goa late DHARMANAND D.KOSAMBI opined that- “ In monastic order the common good should be sole principle and not individual superiority or feudal order. The State cannot recognize the self styled religious leaders.”. If the correct analysis is made of Upanishads, the Hindu Religion stands on a Thesis, Antithesis and outcome is Synthesis. The freedom of thought is embedded in Hindu Philosophy with a Polytheistic concept. There is no set dogma of religious way of life. It is righteousness. A non believer in religion is also acclaimed as a respectable Hindu so long as he practices discipline without hurting anybody. He may embrace only knowledge based on study and research. The best example is CHANAKYA of the past. In the recent history nearer home the best example is Dr Shivarama Karanth and Prof. A.N. Moorthy Rao. This is universally accepted phenomenon by thinkers, jurists, celebrated authors. . Therefore it is puerile to think that the religious wisdom is vested with a Matadhipathi only.
It can encompass a wide spectrum of knowledge. One more idea recognized in Hindu religion is importance of a seat. The man with the knowledge is to be recognized and not a man with a seat who lacks knowledge. In the light of that Vidura is more venerated than princes of Kuru dynasty. The simple theory is KNOWLEDGHE IS POWER and NOT PWER IS KNOWLEDGE. The most deplorable conduct of a Matadhipathi is treatment of Hindu widows. A Hindu widow cannot and should not come to forefront. She is denied PRASAD. It is the most inhuman conduct. There is a smell of Feudalism in the same.
We will now come back to the original thought of the life in Monastic Order as propagated by Buddhist Monks or practiced at Sri Ramakrishna Mutt and also at Sri chinmaya Mission. There is some discipline in taking to ascetic order. They are introduced to all ancient knowledge, with religious discipline. Further in times of national calamities, they descend down from their monasteries to serve the community. They monitor hospitals, sanatoriums, rehabilitation centres with no advertisements or propaganda. At the same time, they do hold Sessions on Retreats, hold discourses, Publish Books, Translate Old Texts, Run Orphanages, School for Mentally Challenged and Physically Disabled. That is an evidence, that spirit of Swami Vivekananda is still guiding all of them. In these monastic orders there is no grandeur and splendor of Matadhipathis. They show the same respect to Widows and Unfortunate Women as Swami Vivekananda showed to Sri Sharada Devi. Such Swamies are not attached to luxuries of life. There is no unwanted propaganda.
Another sad part of history is that none of the Matadhipathis took part in India’s freedom struggle nor opposed to foreign invasions. That is a type of escapism and not patriotism. This is evidenced in the essays written by the famous MAHARSHI DAYANAN DA SARASWATHI. Some of them supported the British Rule. None of the Matadhipathis have tried to share the trifles of soldiers nor wiped the tears of their widows. Most of them own landed properties but no experience of a penury of an agriculturist.
The last angle is, we Hindus are treated as captive audience by the Matadhipathis. Now we come to the level of their learning. There have been many glaring evidences that they have scant respect for learning, acquisition of knowledge, often no time for reading. They have no respect for university education or knowledge of scriptures. They often express some fossilized theories which have no sanction of reason or logic. In Indian Philosophy there is no such a thing as comfort zone. All have been assigned some hard work under the principle of Githa- YOGAH KARMASU KAUSHALAM (IN EVERY WORK THERE SHALL BE EFFECIENCY AND EFFICACY WITH HEART BEHIND) In the case of ascetics it is to be construed with mental and physical austerity. A common man who looks to a Matadhipathi definitely searches for that utopian concept called as Inner Peace. If the preacher does not practice discipline, nor expresses depth in thinking it means the said Matadhipathi has let down his followers. He cheats them royally. A leader is known by the company he keeps and also by the company he avoids. If this is the yardstick, then most of the Matadhipathis are surrounded by disputable characters. That itself causes suffocation in the atmosphere around a Matadhipathi. In the process, a fair minded person can conclude that our Matadhipathis have failed in all fronts. All the right thinking people have to alert the Matadhipathis i.e., “The New Kings”, to remind their duties lest the so called Hindu way of Life will extinguish sooner into history.
By K.P. Vasudeva Rao, Advocate Mangalore