Shiroor seer was controversy’s child

UDUPI: Lakshmivara Teertha swamiji of Shiroor Math, who passed away at a private hospital under mysterious circumstances, was a controversy's child, lurching from one row to another, till he breathed his last.    Though he was known for his kindness, for reaching out to victims of floods, and often extended a helping hand to the poor, the 55 year-old-seer was in the eye of one controversy or another right from the day he occupied the holy seat as 'Peetathipathi' of Shiroor Math at the age of seven. He was chosen in haste to succeed his brother Laxmimanojna Teertha when the latter renounced the holy seat. Four seers out of the eight Maths in this pilgrim town had objected to his elevation two days after his parents performed his thread ceremony or “Brahmopadesha”.

He was also known for giving a modern touch to the traditional Vittalapindi (the celebration a day after Astami) and cultural programme by inviting celebrities like drummer Shivamani. Though not known for his scholarly skills, the seer was famous for 'Alankara,' (decorating Lord Krishna idol). He used to drape the idol of Lord Krishna in different attire everyday during  'Parayaya,' the most famous being  'Geethopadesha Alankara.'  He also courted controversy thanks to his craze for racing on motorbikes and driving cars at break-neck speed.

He came in for criticism following his involvement with some Hindu outfits and participation in protests organized by them. The most recent controversy involving the seer was his decision to contest elections to the Legislative Assembly earlier this year. He was an aspirant for ticket of BJP and even submitted his nominal papers as an independent when he was denied the ticket. He, however, withdrew his papers and announced that he would support Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The mother of all controversies was his statement that he agreed he fathered a child and also made an allegation that other seers too had fathered children. When a television channel aired the video clip of these controversial statements, he announced that the video was fake and threatened legal action against the news channel. 

In view of  health problems, he had handed the 'Pattada Devaru,' (presiding deity) to Krishna Math for daily pooja. However, the other six seer of Asta Maths declined to return it to him as he had confessed that he fathered children. They assured to handover the presiding deity only after the appointment of a new Peetadhipathi. 

Undeterred, the seer approached the court and got caveat from a local court and was also planning to file a criminal case against these six seers. Meanwhile, his health deteriorated he was admitted to hospital and died on Thursday morning. Many who spoke to him couple of days ago suspect that his death was not natural and suspected that he was poisoned. In a statement to the media, Kasturba Hopsital stated that "there is suspicion of poisoning and toxicological samples have been sent (for further tests).”


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