A monk in the world

Nobody is above the law of our country. Let the truth prevail and the guilty be punished.” said HH Jagadguru Shankaracharaya Shri Jayendra Saraswati Swamigal. As an obituary, it is enough to say that nine years of doubt, while he waited for a court decree, in his favour is a very long time.

Sankararaman, writing under the name of Somasekhara Ganapadigal had alleged immoral activities in the Kanchipuram Mutt, had accused Jayendra Swami of relationships with women, and issued  him a “last warning” when he was murdered by six men, on three motorcycles, when he was at official duties at his temple. He also had alleged that when the Senior Pontiff went to Thalakaveri, Kaveri river dried, when he went to the Hindu kingdom of Nepal, the entire royal family was wiped out, and when he went to Kumbakonam, there was a fire tragedy, and “many innocent lives were lost.” (page 42 of Kanchi Case: All Facts, No Fiction, 2004-2013… excerpt from the Supreme Court Judgement granting bail to HH Sri Jayendra Saraswati on January 10, 2005)

Sankaraman had died a terrible death while the Senior Pontiff and the Junior Pontiff had to undergo media trials, the ire and double talk of two chief ministers of Tamil Nadu and wait for the courts to decide their fate. It could not have been easy.

The terrible nature of the murder was reported in detail, and the description of the wounds too horrible to imagine. The family of Sankaraman submitted to the police the plastic file in which were all the copies of the letters sent by their family member. We have no idea, why the son of a former functionary of the ancient Kanchipuram mutt felt as he did. Was it that he knew of things that others did not? Whatever the allegations, it caused his untimely end. The Puducherry court  in 2013,provided for Rs 5 lakh as compensation money to the family for their personal loss, but the memory of that devouring rage will accompany them all their lives.


On November 27, the principal sessions judge CS Murugan pronounced the innocence of Swamis Jayendra and Vijayendra, (who had been implicated as accomplice) saying that 17 of 149 witnesses had turned hostile. They did not recognise the weapons that committed the murder, there was no proof of the payments of gratification to witnesses and alleged killers, the six men on three motorcycles had not been seen by the shopkeepers surrounding the mutt, and the case was closed (Full Judgement of the Principal Sessions Judge, Puducherry, Crime 914/2004 delivered on 27.11.13 excerpted on pg 133-227 of Kanchi Case: All Facts, No Fiction, Mumbai, 2013)

What did the Senior Pontiff and Junior Pontiff do, while waiting nine years for verdict? Jayendra Swami travelled one million miles, opening hospitals, children’s welfare centres, and eye hospitals, Vijayendra stayed in the home mutt, conducting poojas and meeting visitors from all faiths, who visited. Institutions have long histories, this particular one has an 1,100-year history, and represents that  moment of non dualism where Kamakshi appears as  Adi Shankara in the iconography. What is truth and falsehood only the doers may know... Meanwhile the 5th mutt, legendary in the musical tradition of verse composed by Adi Shankara waits in a chronological moment for the integration of Chandalas into its dispensation.

 (The writer is professor at JNU, and is the author of Adi Sankara and Other Stories)

Susan Visvanathan