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Life goes on in Kanchipuram

A Ganesh Nadar in Kanchipuram | February 04, 2005 18:06 IST

Time, they say, is the best healer. Over two-and-a-half months after the Kanchi Shankaracharya, Jayendra Saraswati, was arrested in connection with the murder of a temple priest, Kanchipuram is learning to live without the seer.

The Shankaracharya was arrested on November 12 in Mahboobnagar in Andhra Pradesh. Though he is out on bail, the Supreme Court has disallowed him from visiting Kanchipuram.

He stays at an ashram in Kalvai, around 40 km from Kanchipuram. The junior Shankaracharya's deputy, Vijayendra Saraswati, is also under arrest.

Also see: Who was Sankararaman?

The town, however, bustles with activity. It's late afternoon and children returning from schools have added to the crowd, colour and noise. There isn't a more happy picture than a group of students returning home from school.

The cops at the Kanchi Mutt's gate look bored. The man at the reception lets us in without uttering a word. Inside, the accountants are at work. Brahmins walk around briskly.

On a wall on the right, the names of all Shankaracharyas, starting with Adi Sankara, are written. That is a roster for 2,500 years!

The benign gaze of a life-size statue of the late Shankaracharya, Chandrasekharendra Saraswati, Jayendra Sarawati's guru, is unrelenting.

Also see: Kanchi seer's new abode

There is a temple dedicated to Chandrasekharendra Saraswati. Outside this temple is a huge mandapam. There sits an old man selling religious cassettes and books. The books are in English and Tamil, but the songs only in Tamil. When you ask for a Tamil book, the old man replies in Tamil. When you ask for an English book, he answers in English.

Nearby, there are 30 kids reciting the scriptures loudly. Some of them look clearly bored by the routine.

An old woman is taking pradakshinas (circumambulations) of the temple dedicated to Chandrasekharendra Saraswati.

As we step out, the receptionist does not even look at us.

Raghupati, a book seller in the town, is very happy that the Supreme Court has released the senior seer. He is hopeful the junior seer will be out soon too.

Also see: Faltering faith

No new matathipathi has been appointed to look after the Kanchi Mutt's affairs as reported in some newspapers. The mutt authorities say these rumours were started by forces inimical to the mutt.

Just a little distance away from the mutt, Sankararaman's house presents a quiet picture. His wife and daughter do not want to comment on the murder case. Sankararaman's son has gone back to the Sanskrit college in Chennai to study the scriptures.

Life goes on in Kanchipuram.


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Sub: 2500 years old?

What is the Kanchi Mutt trying to prove by claiming that it is 2500 years old? When Adi Shankara himself lived only 1200 years ago, ...


Posted by historybuff




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