No temple entry for seer
The Deccan Chronicle
Chennai, July 14: In an incident that has angered his devotees, Kanchi Shankaracharya Sri Jayendra Saraswati was denied entry into the sanctum sanctorum of the historic Lord Ramanathaswamy temple at the pilgrim island town of Rameswaram. He had to perform his early morning puja on Thursday. According to eyewitnesses, Ramanathan, the chief priest of the temple, blocked the way when the acharya arrived at the temple to perform a puja in the sanctum sanctorum of Lord Ramanathaswamy (Shiva) after taking a bath at the holy agni theertham.
“The priest told the seer that he had orders from the commissioner of the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments department (which administers most of the temples in the State) not to allow him inside,” said Loganathan, a local journalist who was present when the incident took place.
Ramanathapuram district BJP secretary K. Muralidharan, who was among the devotees accompanying the pontiff, was livid, arguing with the priest that the Kanchi Shankaracharyas had enjoyed traditional rights over several centuries to offer prayers inside the sanctum sanctorum. Only two others have that privilege: the Sringeri Shankaracharya and the King of Nepal.
With the priests not budging, the BJP members and other devotees became restive. However, the situation was quickly brought under control by the Shankaracharya himself, who told his followers to remain calm. He then performed his puja from outside and left. In the audience was Kumarasethupathi, a descendant of the rulers of Ramanathapuram.
As the hereditary chairman of the temple trust, he was present there to welcome the pontiff and tried to reason with Ramanathan, but failed. “I was shocked at what happened. I spoke to the joint commissioner of HR&CE, R. Subramaniam, who is also the executive officer of the temple, but he said the swamiji could not be allowed entry because the Spatika Linga puja was to be performed at that time,” Kumarasethupathi said over the telephone.
The BJP’s Muralidharan was not impressed by the official explanation, pointing out that the temple authorities had been already informed about the pontiff coming and could have advised him about the puja’s timing. “They wanted to insult him, for whatever reason. The Kanchi Sankara Mutt has donated huge amounts of money for building the gopurams in this temple, and for centuries the Shankaracharyas were received with poorna khumba.