Sri. M.V.R.Sastry, the then editor of Andhrabhoomi had informed that both Kanchi Acharyas are to be arrested tonight.
An evening of 11th November 2004. Diwali Eve, Celebrated as Naraka Chaturdasi in South. There was immense joy in the sky. Sounds of firecrackers bursting filled the air, Diyas were out glowing in the courtyard, Children rushed out into the streets to enjoy the fireworks, with their adults in tow exhibiting a childlike enthusiasm.
The ring of the telephone was subdued only by the sound of the crackers. It was around 6 P.M. when Sri. M.V.R.Sastry, the then Editor of Andhra Bhoomi (Deccan Chronicle group), Hyderabad called me. What he told me drove away all the happiness of celebrating the biggest festival of the Hindus.
I reproduce from memory the telephonic conversation:
“Badri garu, Are you aware of what is happening in Mahabubnagar”?
“ Both the Kanchi Sankaracharyas are likely to get arrested. My man in Mahbubnagar just called me”
Did I hear it right? Sankaracharyas getting arrested. Both? I asked him to repeat what he said and he did.
“Something needs to be done”
I asked him if it was Y.S.Rajasekhara Reddy who is doing this. He told me that it is not YSR but the Tamil Nadu Police under J.Jayalalithaa!
Why would someone like J.J. think of arresting the Acharyas? There was no time to think of all that.
I told him that I will immediately bring this to the notice of H.H. Pujya Swamy Dayananda Saraswathi, convenor of The Hindu Dharma Acharya Sabha and seek His guidance.
I hung the phone and immediately tried to reach Pujya Swamiji on the mobile number that I usually contact Him. I could not establish contact as the mobile was switched off.
My next step was to reach someone who could help me reach Pujya Swamiji. Instantly, Dr.Padma Subrahmanyam came to my mind. I rushed to her house in Adyar, my driving occasionally interrupted by a flowerpot going off on the road.
Dr.Padma Subrahmanyam and her nephew Sri Kannan Balakrishnan were at home. She received me warmly thinking that I had come to wish them all a Happy Diwali. But when she noticed the concern on my face, she asked: “Anything wrong?”
“Everything is wrong,” I blurted out with tears in my eyes.
I told her what I heard from Sri M.V.R.Sastry and said that Pujya Swamiji’s mobile is switched off and I could not reach Him.
“Pujya Swamiji is in Australia. I have the number where He currently is.”
She made the call.
“Swamiji, Badriji has brought a devastating news. I will give the phone to him to explain”
“Swamiji, I have received news from Sri M.V.R. Sastry, Editor of Andhrabhoomi that both Kanchi Acharyas are to be arrested tonight. Sastry ji has a very high credibility and I trust his news”
Pujya Swamiji was shocked… Aiyayo… Ennappa Sollara? (What are you saying?)
“Swamiji, as of now we do not know the reason. Sastry ji said it was not YSR. It was T.N.Police under Jayalalithaa. But we need to somehow stop this”
Pujya Swamiji said: “Yes. But I am in Australia right now. What is it that I can do from here?”
I looked at Dr. Padma Subrahmanyam who was also hearing this conversation on the speaker. Just behind her was the magnificent picture of Kanchi Mahaswami and my eyes were fixed on him for just a moment.
Then it struck me like a thunderbolt.
“Swamyji, Jayalalithaa would never undertake to arrest the Acharyas without performing a Devaprasnam. Her go to man in these matters is Parappanamgadi Unnikrishna Panikkar. If Swamiji can talk to him and put this off so you could come and talk to Jayalalithaa on return from Australia, that would be the best thing to do now. At any cost, the uninterrupted tradition of Chandramouleeswarar Puja cannot be broken Swamiji”.
“Nee Angaye Iruppa… Naan Pesittu solrane” (You remain there, I will talk to him and get back)
The arrest still had not taken place. We desperately started switching News Channels to check if there is any Breaking News or Scroll. There was none.
Pujya Swamiji called back and said: “You are right. They approached Panikkar and performed a Devaprasnam to check if the arrest would harm her Chief Ministership. He told them that no harm would come to their power. Prasnam revealed both Acharyas have KarAgruha Vasam. I asked him to talk to the CM and put it off until I return to meet her in person. Unnikrishna Panikkar said that she has made up her mind and will not listen”
At that moment Swamiji told Unnikrishna Panikkar that “We don’t know why she is doing such a heinous thing. But is it possible that you convince her that ONE of the Acharyas should remain to continue the hoary tradition of the puja?”
Pujya Swamiji told me that Panikkar had promised him to talk to Jayalalithaa on this and do as ordained by Him.
And twenty minutes later, we had the scroll on the TV, breaking the news.
H.H. Sri Vijayendra Saraswathi Sankaracharya Swamiji was not arrested along with His guru, H.H, Sri. Jayendra Saraswathi Sankaracharya Swamiji.
The hoary tradition of the Puja continued.
(I brought my Historic telephone conversation with Pujya Swamy Dayananda Saraswathi and His subsequent actions to the notice of both the Acharyas long after they were absolved by the Court. Sri. Jayendra Saraswathi Swamiji confirmed that He heard about it from Pujya Dayananda Saraswathi Swamiji Himself. I received Their Paripoorna Anugraham.)
1. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of PGurus.
- Can we do it, please? - August 21, 2023
- Coaching Beyond – My days with Indian Cricket Team - June 28, 2023
- Who Killed SSR? – A book review (SSR-Sandeep Singh Rajput) - April 5, 2023