August 26, 2016
Thanjavur: The junior pontiff of the 1000-year-old Veera Saiva Periya Mutt at Kumbakonam was sacked following the discovery that he had married a woman recently, in violation of the mutt rules.
The Veera Saiva Periya Mutt in Kumbakonam, one of the oldest Saivaite mutts in the country, has a large following among the Lingayats in Tamil Nadu and the Veera Saiva communities in Karnataka. Neelakanda Saranga Mahadesika Swamigal is its 97th pontiff, while 44-year-old Gangadaran, hailing from Bengaluru, was nominated as the 98th pontiff in December 2012.
The senior pontiff and the sacked junior pontiff are now accusing each other of being a married man.
It all began when the senior pontiff, Neelakanda Saranga Mahadesika Swamigal, alleged that Gangadaran had recently married Mamata, a woman hailing from Bengaluru, but had hidden the fact about the marriage. “As soon as I came to know about his marriage, the junior pontiff absconded from the mutt. Subsequently, he was sacked from the mutt,” the senior pontiff said.
He also claimed that the former junior pontiff had taken away with him some important documents belonging to the mutt.
Gangadharan however denied that he had married Mamata while he was the junior pontiff. “I married Mamata in Bengaluru only after I was sacked from the mutt,” Gangadaran said.
He, in turn, accused the senior pontiff as having married a woman in violation of the mutt rules. “The senior pontiff is not celibate either. He is a married man. I have evidence to prove it,” he said.
“In February this year, the senior pontiff asked for Rs.25 lakhs to buy a house for his wife. He became angry when I refused to give him the money citing financial constraints. Subsequently, he sacked me from the mutt on June 6. Then, I returned to my native, Bengaluru, and married Mamata, who is my relative, on July 11. I have done nothing wrong,” Gangadaran said.