The previous part of the article can be accessed here. This is the second part.
Mahant Matham and the Government’s designs:
From 1843 to 1933 when TTD was formed, six generations of Mahants by discipleship exercised authority as the Vicharanakartas of the Mandir. They are
1) Mahant Sevadasa
2) Mahant Dharmadasa
3) Mahant Bhagavandasa
4) Mahant Mahabirudasa
5) Mahant Ramakisoradasa
6) Mahant Prayagadasa.
The Commissioner of Endowments concluded that he was the only available claimant and had performed religious functions as Interim Mahant creditably, passed proceedings dated 6-7-2000 permitting Mahant Sri Arjun Dass to succeed as Mathadipathi under Section 53 (1) of the Act.
Mahant Pragyadasa varu expired on 29th October 1947. There were differences between his five disciples as to who will succeed the Mahant. Finally, it was amicably resolved amongst them (without government interference) and an agreement dated 29th October 1947 was made and was registered with the Sub-Registrar of Madras, Chengalpet on 31st October 1947 as Document No. 3481 of 1947. In the said Agreement, it was acknowledged and confirmed that Sree Swamy Hathiramji Mutt has several properties in the presidencies of Madras and Bombay, Bangalore City, Andhra, Tirupati, Adoni, Tanjore, Vellore and elsewhere in India which were being managed from the main Mutt at Tirupati. The mode of succession of the Mahantship of Sree Swamy Hathiramji Mutt has also been provided for, confirmed and acknowledged by the signatories to the said Agreement, in total conformity with the customs, usage, and precepts founded by Sri Swamy Hathiramji. The Akhada Panchayat was to be controlling the activities of the Mutt. By virtue of the said agreement, Narayandosji Varu was appointed as the Mahant of Sri Swamy Hathiramji Mutt at Tirupati. On 9th December 1958, Mahant Narayandossji Varu attained Samadhi, and Sri Devenderdass succeeded as Mahant. However, subsequently, he resigned from the Mahantship and Sri Sarjudass, who was a disciple of Sri Devenderdass, succeeded as Mahant. (All this has been duly recorded in the Judgement given by justice G. Rohini of the Andhra Pradesh (AP) High Court, which is dealt with later in the article).
In 1983 he was removed by the Government as Mahant on certain allegations of mismanagement and misappropriation of mutt properties. (The first instance of Government using the allegations of mismanagement etc). Since Mahant Sarjudass didn’t nominate his successor, the Government invoked powers under Section 8 read with Section 47 of the Act of 1966, and the Commissioner of Endowments vide proceedings dated 27-12-1983 appointed the Assistant Commissioner of Endowments as the Custodian of the Mutt to administer and maintain the affairs of the Mutt till Mathadhipathi succeeds according to the provisions of Act 17 of 1966.
Sri Arjun Doss who is one of the disciples of Mahant Sri Devendardass Ji was appointed as the Interim Mahant of the Mutt by Govt of AP vide proceedings dated Sep 7, 1990. The appointment confined him to religious activities only of the Mutt and the officer of the Endowment Department will continue to look after secular and administrative matters pertaining to the Mutt. Mahant Sri Devenderdass gave a written declaration of no objection to the nomination of Sri Arjun Doss as Mahant. A resolution to this effect was also passed by the renovation committee of the Mutt to appoint a temporary Mahant. Sri Sarjudass passed away on 20th October 1999. Upon which Sri Arjun Doss made a representation claiming he was a fit person to hold the permanent Mahantship of the Mutt as laid down by Section 53 of A. P. Charitable and Hindu Religious Institutions and Endowments Act 1987. The Commissioner of Endowments concluded that he was the only available claimant and had performed religious functions as Interim Mahant creditably, passed proceedings dated July 6, 2000, permitting Mahant Sri Arjun Doss to succeed as Mathadipathi under Section 53 (1) of the Act.
Look at what the Government did on the same day. They issued separate proceedings on Juil 6, 2000 appointing a Special Grade Deputy Collector as the custodian of the Mutt for managing the secular affairs and for safeguarding the Mutt and its properties. Sri Arjun Doss agreed to this arrangement to buy temporary peace with the government.
The Government went on appeal W.A.No.1135 of 2002, which was allowed by a Division Bench of A.P. High Court by judgment dated 24-07-2002, thereby setting aside the order dated 5-07-2002 and directing that the Writ Petition itself be heard and decided.
Sri Arjun Doss assumed charge as Mahant on Jul 18, 2000. His Pattabhishekam was performed on Aug 8, 2000. The Government permitted his Pattabhishekam expenses from the Mutt to vide proceedings dated Sep 6, 2000.
While the Mahant was performing the religious duties of the Matham, the administration, property, etc was all under the control of the Government through the custodian appointed by it. (Now they are blaming the Mahant for the lands that vanished!)
Mahant Sri Arjun Doss filed a Writ Petition in A. P. High Court (W. P. No. 4362 of 2002) seeking removal of the custodian and directing the Government to hand over the charge of the Mutt including administration of the properties of the Mutt. In the said writ petition, it was also alleged that the custodian (appointed by the Government) was mismanaging the properties of the Mutt and that he was unable to administer the affairs of the mutt properly, maintaining the sanctity of the mutt.
On Jul 5, 2002, the High Court ordered the government to hand over the management of the Mutt and transferring power to Sri Arjun Doss. The Government went on appeal W.A.No.1135 of 2002, which was allowed by a Division Bench of A. P. High Court by judgment dated Jul 24, 2002, thereby setting aside the order dated Jul 5, 2002, and directing that the Writ Petition itself be heard and decided.
When the petition was pending before the High Court, the Government sent a show-cause notice to Mahant Sri Arjun Doss vide proceedings dated Oct 10, 2002, as to why his appointment as permanent Mahant should not be canceled.
Mahant Sri Arjun Doss moved W. P. M. P. No.29492 of 2002 in W.P.No.4326 of 2002 seeking suspension of the operation of the notice date, Oct 10, 2002. Since it was only a show-cause notice, the court by order dated 25-11-2002 allowed the Mahant to submit his explanation and gave the government 8 weeks’ time to dispose of the matter. The Court directed the Government that till such time it should not disturb the Mahant.
Sri Arjun Doss submitted his explanations dated Oct 28, 2001, and Dec 7, 2002. However, the Government by order dated Jul 10, 2003, held that the appointment of Sri Arjun Doss as permanent Mahant was in gross violation of the statutory provisions and accordingly set aside the appointment order of Jul 6, 2000, and directed the Commissioner to fill up the office of the Mahant and make interim arrangement in accordance with the law.
This order was taken to court by Mahant Sri Arjun Doss vide W. P. 14856 of 2003.
On 27th January 2006, Justice G. Rohini of the AP High Court gave a historic judgment. The High Court held that the succession of Sri Arjun Doss Ji as Mahant was as per the set customs laid down by the Mutt. The Court directed the Government to hand over the management of secular affairs of the mutt including its properties to Mahant Sri Arjun Doss.
The TDP, Congress under YSR and the YSRC have all had politicians belonging to this district who have created havoc with the documents.
While the properties of the Bhagawan Venkateshwara has been systematically stripped and used for secular purposes of roads, bus stations, etc. without a paisa spent by the Government, the politicians cutting across parties have always had an eye on the properties under control of the Hathiramji Matham. The TDP, Congress under YSR and the YSRC have all had politicians belonging to this district who have created havoc with the documents. The Government always had an official in-charge of the properties of the Matham, despite the Court order. And conveniently invokes the same sections under which they sought removal of the Mahant and failed miserably in the High Court, which not only reinstated the Mahant but also wanted the Government to vacate and handover the administration and the property to the Mahant.
Chandrababu Naidu started the game. He knew that in the long run, if Courts were to order Mandirs to be returned to the Hindu Society, the Government should eliminate the potential receivers. In the case of Tirupati Mandir, he ensured it in the following phases:
- Compulsorily Retired the Hereditary Kainkaryakarthas – the Kainkaryakartha Archakas from the four families that have served the Bhagawan for 40 generations.
- Ensured that the Jeeyar who comes in succession of Jeeyars ordained by Bhagawad Ramanuja was powerless. The Tirupati Jeeyar today has been rendered a rubberstamp Yati by the TTD and the Government. His role is limited to the external world with the traditional Jeeyar Darshanam of the morning Sathumurai and during Utsavams. Dollar Seshadri has more say in the affairs of the Mandir than H H Jeeyar. Incidentally Dollar is a Naidu chela, more so of his wife Bhuvaneshwari.
- Abolishing the Archaka Mirasidars, the Gamekars and the Dhittam, the precursor to Naidu’s adventure.
- Takeover of the Hathiramjee Matham, first by Naidu government in the recent times and now by the Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy government, so there will not be a repeat of the Sabhanayagar verdict of the Supreme Court, thanks only due to Dr. Swamy, where the Mandir was restored to the Podu Dikshitars from whom it was originally taken away by the Government. Incidentally, the Mahants of the Sri Hatheeramji Matham is North Indian Bairagis, a denomination, sampradaya by itself like the Podu Dikshitars.
Every unscrupulous politician, every political party has greedy eyes on the Bhagawan’s riches. The control on this Mandir gives them power. They come together cutting across party lines to retain it. Come together to make dubious Pattas of its land and buildings. If the Government can stall the return of the Tirupati Mandir, they can stall the return of any or every Mandir to Hindus. They won’t let go easily. Unless, we have a concrete system, a shadow Board. A Hindu Dharmakartha Sabha (The Hindu Dharma Acharya Sabha after the sadgati of H.H. Dayananda Saraswathi Swamiji does not show signs that it is up to the task). I had pleaded with late Sri Ashok Singhal Ji on the need for alternate structures over 15 years ago. It has always been a work in slow progress. Taking Tirupati as the target and doing the groundwork in terms of an alternate structure has not been realised. I have my ideas for this, which I shall share in a detailed article.
The AP High Court judgment is listed below:
1. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of PGurus.
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