On September 3, 2004, Sankararaman was murdered within the Varadharajaswamy temple complex in Kanchipuram. The murder was committed by five men who came on three motorcycles. Soon after, five men surrendered before the court and confessed to the crime.
On closer enquiry the police realised that the men were not the real culprits. They had been paid to confess. The police then arrested a man who had masterminded the surrender. This led them to the real murderers. Two men have been arrested and three are absconding.
The police have so far arrested 17 people. Only their first names have been given to the media. Except for one of the 17 -- the Shankaracharya of Kanchi, Jayendra Saraswati.
Sources within political circles say some Kanchi Kamkoti Peetham officials have been arrested. But the police have not released their names yet. The superintendent of police, Kanchipuram, has refused to speak to the media, citing the Chennai high court's restraining order.
When the murder occurred, the SP was Premkumar, a highly-regarded police officer. In the course of the investigation he first suspended and then arrested a police constable who was on duty inside the Kanchi Math. Overnight, the SP was transferred to Cudalore.
The pressure on the police was stepped by the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagham and the Dravid Kazagham. The DMK and DK are said to have persuaded the Arivu Valrchi Manram -- a social organisation that stages skits to educate the masses about social themes -- to put up posters asking 'Murder of Vardharajaswamy temple manager -- is the Sankara Math responsible?' Next, the Makkal Manram put up posters saying 'Wanted CBI Enquiry.'
Says DK leader Ashokan, "If we had put up posters in our name people would dismiss it as political vendetta. That is why we had to ask the help of non-political organisations."
In the many letters he wrote to the Math, Sankararaman raised queries about its financial transactions.
The police have questioned, but not arrested, Raghu, who was well-known in these parts for his belt. The belt always held five mobile phones. The records for four of these telephones have since been seized by the police.
Raghu is also the younger brother of the junior Shankaracharya of Kanchi, Vijayendra Saraswati.
On November 14, the police raided the home of non governmental organisation Jan Kalyan leader Pasupathi. They have not revealed what they found. More raids are expected on the Math's supporters.
The Tamil Nadu government is reported to have taken serious note of the allegations of financial irregularities made by Sankararaman. The Math is believed to control assets in excess of Rs 10 billion.
But a lot depends on what Raghu says. He is a key figure in the controversy. On his answers depends the future of both Shankaracharyas.