Today, the Madras High Court has granted conditional bail to the Junior Acharya of Kanchi Mutt, Sri Vijayendra Saraswati, on the Sankararaman murder case. Since the arrest of Sri Jayendra Saraswati on November 11, the reputation of the 2500 year old mutt has gone to the dogs. There are three main reasons, why I am taking up this serious reflection on the turn of events in the last three months. For one, I belong to a family that has been an ardent follower of the Kanchi mutt for years now, second for the fact that I am training in a field that affects the lives of people in more ways than one, "the media" and thirdly, I personally view the whole affair as a serious damage done to my religious faiths.
My friend's father once asked me to comment on the arrest issue, as a "journalist". I said that being a journalist in the making and hence being objective, I would take the stand that what is happening to the mutt and the seers is clearly a matter of shame to the country, especially with the way, the media is handling the whole affair. While, it goes beyond saying that the law has to take its own course, it is disheartening to find all the yellow journalism and gossip that is running high in the 'culture honouring' Indian society.
The arrest followed by the PP's (Public Prosecuter) rash comments on the senior Acharya sent tempers running high amidst the followers of the mutt, the Tam Bram community. The political parties have been up with appreciations, followed by complaints, careful enough to set in balance, the required rivalry.
The senior Acharya was linked with women and all sorts of demeaning statements were made about his conduct in many regional newspapers and magazines and all unsubstantiated. It surprises me that a profession that needs to hold up truth and honest reporting, has literally failed in every aspect. It has almost been feeding gossip into mouths of those who love talking (deliberately a mild word) about others.
Catchy headlines infact became selling points of many mags as ads went on and on saying that their reportage was the best. While print is on one side, the broadcast is busy showing the same footage again and again and there have been reports claiming that the junior pontiff ran towards the 'Kanchi Periyavaal's sannidhi' to hide, when the police came to arrest him. And who is there to substantiate it? atleast till now, no one.
How would it feel, if devotees were told by unaccountable reports that the junior pontiff actually fell at the feet of the police and told them not to arrest him? Clearly, I am shocked at what is happening to the religious values in this country. By making such statements, people don't realise that they hurt the sentiments of so many followers. To me, I know how sacred, we hold the mutt to be and whatever be the case, I still remember the reverence with which I fell at the feet of Sri Chandrasekara Swamigal, the predecessor to Sri Jayendra Saraswati, when i visited the mutt some years back. He did possess the 'Godliness' about himself and there is no denying the fact.
And thinking about what has been happening now, I wonder where the country is heading to. There are only the devotees who are terribly upset and feel pained about it, for the rest of the crowd - the political leaders, it is a weapon of propaganda, for most of the media, it means business and for certain people, it is a celebrated insult to the much envied Tam Bram community. Well, it is a shame to brand India as an epitome of culture, following this murder of religious sentiments.