What role should swamijis, religious gurus play?


NIKHIL MORO writes from Mount Pleasant, Michigan: The alleged use of “mine power” by the Bharatiya Janata Party to lure newly elected legislators from the Congress and Janata Dal (Secular) in Karnataka is passé.

The real story is elsewhere.

Star of Mysore reports that swamis “of Veerashaiva mutts” are in an “operation to woo” Siddaramaiah into the BJP. No matter that Lal Krishna Advani continues to condemn “vote-bank politics”.  Or that Pandit Deendayal Upadhyay rejected politics which impeded “integral humanism.”

Without commenting on what might, or might not, make Siddaramaiah politically eligible, the real story is how the BJP has given a new meaning to Swami and Friends: Should swamis, who are presumably living vows of renunciation, associate with particular castes?

Should they be playing such an avowedly political role?

Further, is communal advocacy consistent with Basava’s teachings?  Might it create disaffected communities, cynicism, bitterness; even lead away from the constitutional egalitarian ideal?

Specifically, should Shivarathri Desikendra Swamiji (of Suttur) and Shivamurthy Shivacharya Swamiji (of Taralabalu) visibly advocate for Veerashaivas? Should Balagangadharanath Swamiji (of Adichunchunagiri) bat for Vokkaligas?

These questions are not new. But they gain importance in the context of the Election Commission’s proposals for electoral reform and continuing reports of Vidhana Sabha candidates abusing caste.

But most interestingly, the swamis’ political activism exposes a severe disconnect between theory and practice.

Vedanta, the system of philosophy which forms “the foundation of the spiritual culture of India” (Swami Nikhilananda) lays an unequivocal emphasis on vairagya—a renunciation of temporal objects and of ego. 

Swami Vivekananda in Raja Yoga declares renunciation as the “real heart of all spiritual culture,” central to the four yogas of religious practice—Karma, Bhakti, Raja and Gnyana.

The goal of religious practice, Vivekananda writes, is to manifest the

“Divinity [which is] within by controlling nature, external and internal. Do this either by work, or worship, or psychic control, or philosophy—by one, or more, or all of these—and be free. This is the whole of religion. Doctrines, or dogmas, or rituals, or books, or temples, or forms, are but secondary details.”

Separating religion and politics may not come easy in Hindu cultures because Vedanta prescribes merging of the temporal life with spiritual.  That’s why Hindu dharma is sometimes described as a pan-religious “way of living”. Still, that’s little threat to Western-style democracy or secularism, given that Hindu religious practice is inclusive and personal (non-proselytizing).

Karnataka has more than 50 large mutts which, together, possess real estate worth numerous billions, manage vast business and philanthropic empires in education or healthcare, and seem to be treated with kid gloves by reverential tax authorities.

The mutts are led by swamis who command the reverence of millions. Many swamis are renowned less for spiritual accomplishment, or for intellectual wherewithal, than for social service.

Which begs the question: What sort of religious gurus do we want?

Should they resemble spiritual giants such as Vivekananda or Ramana? Economic titans like Ratan Tata or Anil Ambani? Storytelling maestros like Morari Bapu or Bhadragiri Achyut Das? Intellectual hulks such as Rajneesh or Rajaji?

The “Veerashaiva swamis”, acting as BJP agents, are recruiting a six-time legislator whose persona is underwritten less by statesmanship than by an abiding frustration. From being part of a 1980s’ “dream team of second-line leaders” Siddaramaiah today seems clueless to confront Deve Gowda’s Machiavellian politics. 

So why is the BJP recruiting him other than to access the substantial Kuruba vote which he controls?

What should be swamis’ social role, if any?

Should they indulge in scholarly pursuits—explications of philosophy, tradition and ritual? Give us new interpretations of text? Prescribe tests for dharmic hypotheses? Or run schools and hospitals?

Or act as agents of political parties?

They should know best who own the least.

Photographs: (Left to right) Shivamurthy Shivacharya swamiji of the Taralabalu mutt, Visvesateertha swamiji of the Pejawar mutt, Deshikendra swamiji of the Suttur mutt, Balagangadharnath swamiji of the Adichunchunagiri mutt

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76 Responses to “What role should swamijis, religious gurus play?”

  1. Govind Says:

    The self proclaimed Godmen and Ammajees are even more dangerous. With no traditional supporters, they have do poaching. They are answerable to none & indulge in many dirty tricks. The question should have included them too.

  2. N Says:

    What role should the Ulema and Imams play? What role are they playing? Which is more dangerous? Are they less guilty or more?

  3. kc001 Says:

    Swamis by the classical Hindu definition should be as you have described. But as the Dharmic principles of Hinduism lay out when adharma is raising its heads then it is a persons dharma to do what ever it takes (even going to battle against ones own family) to root out evil.

    In today’s world Hinduism is facing enormous dangers by proselytizing padres and terror spewing imams. When such is the case, it is the duty of these swamis to come to the rescue of the religion and do what ever it takes to protect it.

    Shankaracharya also went on a country wide trip in order to protect Hindu dharma. he established mutts in all corners of the country.
    He could also have been asked the same question as to what is a sanyasi doing traveling all over the country when he should be sitting in his ashram meditating.

    When ever there has been a threat to Hindu Dharma, people have come forward to protect it. These Swamis are doing the same.

    Dealing in dirty politics is definitely not correct. The MLAs they are working with are some of the lowest kinds seen. But I guess this is what is necessary.

  4. Vikrama Says:

    When Hindu religious leaders of different communities come underone umbrella it is called commnalism. It is a very strange accusation. Essentially the Mullah-Marxist-Missionary harp on the separate caste identity and dis-unity of hindus. They are happy as long as Hindus are disunited. It is fodder to their propoganda machinery. The fact of the matter is all the heads of the Mathas be they Lingayaths, Gowdas or Brahmins or Kurubas are part of the VHP. The heads of the Mathas are not mystics or sages but more administrative leaders of certain factions. To compare them with Vivekanada or Ramana is needless. As many here mentioned these are people who are helping to keep Hinduism away from the proselytizing Missionaries and Mullahs. Hence these Mathas are working towards helping BJP and decimating the other parties. The Mullah-Marxist and Missionaries can start shouting and screaming now.

  5. Gaby Says:

    The impression I get from these comments is that the Imams and the Ulema are dangerous- therefore the Swamis should become even more dangerous and play at petty politics!!

  6. King of Hill Says:

    BJP is now more a[b] Brahmin -Lingayat party(BLP)[/b] just like its north counter part of [b]Brahmin -Bania Party (BBP)[/b]. The only difference is BJP here is exclusively identified with Lingayats, -Swamis with their involvement are only making matters worse.

  7. suri Says:

    We have seen some Priests from the Church as well as some Moulvi’s from the Mosque issue statements during elections stating the obvious and requesting thier flock note to vote for a Particulala party.So why this hue and cry now ??

    Not that these guys were inactive earlier.The earlier dispensations were favored by the GOWDRU’s and we all have seen the so called GOD MEN availed of pecuniary benefits.Some largesee was also thrown at leaders of the minority communty.

    So Why should we restrict this discussion to post to Lingayats or Swami’s or Guru’s or HINDUS only.

    And why after the BJP has captured power.

    The Janata Dal and the Congress used to blackmail leaders of other parties and foist false cases to get the things done.Mulayam , Mayawati , Laloo , Rane and host of such leaders have all been blackmailed into supporting the CONGRESS.

    Was there no morality then ?? or is it that those dealings were conducted by MEN and these by GOD MEN.For me both are the same.

  8. Prasad Says:

    What credible evidence do you or the star of mysore have to say that mutts are trying to woo some leaders or MLA’s to one party? It seems to be a fashion to throw allegation at mutts. Can you imagine karnataka without the educational institutes these mutts run. If he had to depend on govt to provide us with these schools and colleges then karnataka wouldn’t have had the edge with the intelluctual capital that it has today. They got little monetary help from govt when they set up all schools and colleges.

  9. D P SATISH Says:

    @King of Hills,

    BJP is a Brahmin, Jangama Party! Lingayats are basically Jangamas. You can still call it BJP, not BLP.

  10. Kishor Cariappa Says:

    One side “gani” lobby, other side “kaavi” lobby….what a heady concoction for BJP!

  11. Simply Stupid Says:

    For sure countdown has started for BJP. ‘Vinasha Kale Vipareeta Buddhi’

  12. NaanuNaane Says:

    For the pseudo seculars, its a fashion to always blame whatever is Hindu, whatever is BJP/VHP.
    Just because, BJP in Karnataka is doing what congress and jds thought of doing to it, is irritating the pseudos. If that would have happened and bjp govt came on the brinks of power, pseudos like ‘sumkirla in English’ would have “arachlaa in (shouted happily) in Kannada or some other language.

  13. Rama Says:

    Did our great sages play great roles in redifing kingdoms in Mahabharatha and Ramayan era?

  14. Curry Hurry Says:

    >Karnataka has more than 50 large mutts which, together, possess real >estate worth numerous billions, manage vast business and philanthropic >empires in education or healthcare, and seem to be treated with kid gloves >by reverential tax authorities.

    Haven’t heard of the tax authorities using latex gloves either for the NGO fronts of the soul harvesting minority ? What is the the worth of the land holdings of that group in Urban India ?

  15. tatvika Says:

    ah! should we believe Star of Mysore?

  16. anonymous Says:

    Leave out present day happenings – there was talk of legislation to separate “Religion & Politics” (or was it Chandraswamy – P V Narsimha Rao)? While journalists have selectively quoted Swami Vivekananda to point why religion and politics should not be mixed – opponents have intelligently pointed at relationships between Samartha Ramadasa/ Shivaji or Vidyaranya/Hakka-Bukka. Since you mentioned about Nikhilananda, l just wanted to point out that “Swami Prabhavanandaji not only enjoyed talking about American politics, but also happily went and voted for the candidates” (Six Lighted Windows – Swami Yogeshananda. Words rephrased by me from memory). Unfortunately I was too young at that time to read and understand all news columns on ‘current affairs’.

    When u compare Bala Gangadharanatha Swamiji and Ramana – you seem to forget difference between matha-adhipatis and bidi-sanyasis. The matha-adhipatis – whether heads of Buddhist monasteries or Jain monks – have played active role in state affairs in historic times. These people play a dual role of community heads as well as religious heads. If not the influence of Ramanujacharya, it is doubtful if Vishnuvardhana would have commissioned construction of Vaishnava temple at Belur. So this is not a new phenomenon.

    The role played by religious institutions (be it Sutturu matha or SDM society) in the social sector (be it educational institutes or hospitals) in karnataka, if documented will run into thousands of pages. Hundreds of pages in print media are regularly dedicated to show how Christian institutions have done yeoman service in the field of education (not to mention how much harm they have done to ‘mother tongue’/ local customs, bringing in donation culture, denigration of Hinduism in the name of educational services, active proselytizing or even ‘apartheid’ as seen openly in case of St. Stephen’s issue) – while they have harped on ‘money making business’ of some veerashiava mathas which run engineering and medical colleges. If it were not for too much of government interference into their social institutions, there is hardly any reason why religious organisations such as RKM approached a legal institution for a ‘religious minority’ status. So why this govt / bureaucracy interference in day-today working of religious institutions is not discussed by the media

    You ask ‘which role the gurus should take ?’. Those aware of the move of previous govt. ministers to overtake Krishna Matha at Udupi would ask ‘why not this role?’. (The role of ulemas and churches is one more thing). When modern day gurus like Sri Sri who certainly deosn’t belong to any caste-matha talks about “Naxal manace” and “reservation in higher education” – you hear ‘intellectual’ Jawed Akhtar ridiculing ‘breathing in and breathing out’ exercises!! Yet he continues to be darling of news TV channels.

    At the same time, it is certainly saddening to see many of advaitic mathas be it Sringeri or swarnavalli/Ramachandrapur maths (of havyaka sub-caste – nevertheless advaitic maths) having been reduced to ‘caste mathas’. [again, not that it is ok for veerashiva/vokkaliga/madhwa mathas J].

    While I don’t approve current developments of Karnataka politics, I would certainly say they are perfectly ‘legal’ and moves aren’t ‘un-precedented’. I am told – re-election in some constituencies with predictable results is much better than re-election for the entire state with un-predictable results !!

  17. Gaby Says:

    That the converting padres and the terrorising imams do it is no reason for SAnyasis to do it. That is how these religions are organised for God’s sake.The very definition of a sanyasi is one who has abandoned the world and that abandonment is what in the world’s eyes gives him/her that moral authority to critique social processes. Adi Shankara,The Buddha, Meera were sanyasis. Remember what that Bili Batte sanyasi of legend Bheeshma said- Athmarthe Vishwam Thyajeth. That is tough for ordinary folk like us but is the norm for all sanyasis.

    The people being described in the post are simply MUTT heads on par with the scheming bishops and the raving mullahs.

  18. Curry Hurry Says:

    I believe these men are all Matadhipathis. All the Mutts are running educational institutions as well as hospitals. Where would the funds for running these come from ? They have to be raised from within the country.
    They don’t have the benefit of unaudited flood of soul harvesting tithes raised elsewhere. Why, even Tehelka :shock: ran a piece about this FDI (if we can call it ) beneficiaries in the recent past.
    The Kanchi Matadhipathi was for reform of Hindu social practices that are aiding the soul harvesters. This didn’t sit pretty with the vested interests. He was reduced to a criminal. Ramdev was hogging lot of media time and his fan following was not in the interests of the secular gang. So they tried to stick a bone up him in vain. They would love to have the Hindus fight amongst themselves or wander around like headless chicken so the people of the book can rescue them.

  19. Not A Witty Nick Says:

    Churumuri <3 Mutts!
    Maneka Gandhi is happy!

  20. Desi Homosapien Says:

    Though I don’t agree with the author raising questions over Math heads running schools and hospitals, there is no justifiable reason for them to align with a particular political party.

    Running schools and hospitals is helping the general public and the needy in most cases (except for hospitals like BGS, which caters to the elite), but helping rope in MLAs for BJP will help only one party.

    But, are they actually helping BJP lure MLAs into its fold is questionable. The source attributed by the author is also not exactly credible.

    Most Math heads (except Vishwesha Thirtha of Pejawar Math, who is VHP Vice President) appear to be equal to all political parties and frequently receive politicians from all political parties.

    If they are favouring one political party, let them be prepared for a backlash from the political parties. Political leaders will not think twice before replacing their reverence with vendetta. Adichunchanagiri Swamiji has already tasted it at the hands of Gowda.

  21. Sandesh Says:

    “The impression I get from these comments is that the Imams and the Ulema are dangerous- therefore the Swamis should become even more dangerous and play at petty politics”

    For once you got it right!…. I hope the day comes sooner than you think it will :)

  22. Sandesh Says:

    @Simply Stupid
    Your comment mirrors your name.

  23. mayura Says:


    For gods sake it is not “MUTT”…. it is Matha. Please stop imitating the ELM.

  24. Bhamy V Shenoy Says:

    The article brings out in the open the mystic role played by the mutts in all fields other than spiritual. They are playing a very fundamental role in education which is the driving force behind political changes of the future.

    It is clear from the article that there is no well reserached data on the role played by Hindu mutts on various non spiritual sectors like education, politics, and social service.

    There is also wrong conclusion drawn on Vivekananda’s teachings. Of course others may have different opinion than mine. Vivekananda was exhoting all the time to get involved in bringing out reforms based on ethical values. Thus he would have been very happy if these mutts had actually taken up the value based politics rather than communal oriented politics.

    There is nothing wrong in mutts taking interest in politics if they hold up the high ethical principles and not blindly support candidates because of caste and religious affiliations only. They are as much part of the society as all of us are. Just like industry has responsibility of getting involved in reforms through responsible Coporate Social Responsibility, Mutts also have the responsibility of upholidng the political ethics.

  25. Sathya Says:

    Many people in Mysore city have defined the so-called newspaper TAR OF MYSORE> It is a piece of stale news. If the editor starts supporting a person/institution he does it even without verifying the credentials. No need to give much importance to these news items. In any community/ religion religious heads have a limited role to play. The educated will not be carried away at all. It is unfair on the part of Churumuri to bring these Swamiji’s into picture. No purpose will be served by this.

  26. progledaj1 Says:

    more dangerous is Uloma role for sure.

  27. tarlesubba Says:

    beautiful posts sir/madam anonymous and BVS sir.
    i will nevertheless post what i have taken some time to type…

    just the other day when somebody was batting for vedic basis for hinduism, many here threw googlies that there was no such basis. manifestly, lingayata dharma denounced the vedas. it is thus outside the preview of vedic injunctions, right?
    veerashaivism like sikhism has been very clear about politics and rightly so and not a day too soon IMHO.

    what politics is to civic life, religion is to spirituality.
    religion is actually the politics of spirituality.

    then again, irrespective of currently fashionable political theories, these are not mututally exclusive categories. what happens in politics has impact on civic life and that has impact on spirituality and that solicits a reaction from religion. religion is needed to safeguard the interests of latent spirituality.

    as the ahamediyas recently discovered, forget saudi arabia, even in the gullies of hyderabad, nobody can talk about the indic spiritual ideas and theories. and to their horrors nobody will come to their support not even those who swear by secular credentials. if only the the ahmediyas had the glamour and the star power of the rest of the religions. too nice and too much in their own bedrooms, for their own good.

    there was no politics to bat for sankhya and charuvaka streams – purely intellectual activities with no jaatre, no samaradhne, no pooje, no heros, no stars, or star power or glamour – they died. even the communists understand this and they have grand shows and cult personalities.

    that sankhya and charuvaka streams even barely survive today is thanks to some other indic ideas whuch are slightly more deeper than tolerance which basically is a noble face of condescension – pity and compassion. paapa, auLoo aaDili biDO… which really means, you have the first right to play but be noble enough to let her play too. the boy is trading toy-time to get a massage for the soul. all the while he remains in focus and attended to. there is no respect. non-western/middle eastern ideas of secularism arrive from a much higher rung in the hierarchy of being, even if many of these positions donot come with a worded thesis, as the new age educated amongst us would like them to arrive from. they derive from respect.

    whether we like it or not, the magical pool of beautiful isolated lotuses that we would love to imagine has been poisoned by western and middle eastern ideas rooted in patriarchy, including secularism and rationalism which are mere non-theological mask for western theology and depends heavily on it for its own survival even if on surface they appear to opposed to theology.

    entire edifice of moral and ethics that govern what can and cannot be done in science or other activities in civic life is dictated by western theology, even when the arguments are made in the garb of rationality. the only question is how true to the biblical word has any sanctioned action got to be. there are no drastically different basis for these debates.

    that religion is primitive and unscientific and irrational is itself is a western idea and derives primarily from a power struggle.

    bottom line is this, unless secularism can come up with its own jaathres and samaradhanes and poojes that on a consistent and universal basis (even if not transparent) are seen to uphold their thesis, and fight for any and every transgression into their domain, symbolically or effectively, in spirit or in word, they will not win any converts in the larger crowd. there are only so many academic positions and careers in journalism that one can handout. at some time there has to be something real and substantial to show for it.

  28. tarlesubba Says:

    i hate mod q. my other post is out.

    gaby and nikhil arbit theology.
    first of all true spiritual vairaaga has to arise and cannot be not adopted much less instituted. second, a true vairaagi who has seen ‘it’, would not even differentiate ‘it’ from the other aspects of being. so just as one does not go about announcing one’s bowel movements, one would not go about announcing their recent rendezvous with ‘it’. i.e., for such a person, experience of ‘it’ is same as that of bowel movements. you can check behaviour patterns of many a people from our history to verify what i have said. in that sense, vivekananda himself was about as much a charlatan as you would like to the make the rest of them to be. (all this ofcourse presupposes that there is an it to be experienced. but we are talking about people who believe that there is such a thing as ‘it’.)

    now just like there could be doctors who study and theorize bowel movements, there could be people who study and theorize ‘it’. of these this type too there are many, vivevekananda himself included even if not the best. but then again, once you have started studying ‘it’ you are useless for having any experience of ‘it’. (bcoz according to major indic ideas you have differentiated between ‘it’ and you. either you embody ‘it’ and are ‘it’ or you lose it or at best be a salesman for ‘it’)

    you folks make the cardinal mistake of quoting scriptures and appealing to your interpretation of higher principles, even if based on study. just a like a professor in hindu-ism with a thesis on its liturgy is useless for actual liturgy, (nobody will call you to bless and solemnize their houses for example), even if you folks might know a lot, you lack the jingchak, even if not the authenticity, to make any contact.

  29. kaangeya Says:


    When the votaries of religions (India has no religions, and Hinduism is not a religion) are on the rampage – think Paul Dinakaran, Ezra Sargunam, Shahi Imam, Deobandis, and Vason Thampu – using tax exemptions to denigrate Hindus, reduce them to caste, the Mathathipathis cannot but come forward to defend Hinduism. The Church in India is the 2nd largest property owner after the government. And both the Catholic and non-Catholic churches have made a killing building and renting commercial property on their estates, many of which were grabbed for a pittance courtesy the British Colonial overlords. Have we forgotten the cover up by the Church of South India that built a commercial property on the grounds of the Trinity Church on MG Road in Bangalore, when this property was on long-term lease from the Cantonment?

    It is a good thing that all Swamis cutting across Mathams are coming together. Tha Acharya Sabha already meets once a year, and more such groups shd be formed in every state so that minorityism is rendered a dud.

    Let’s not forget this is a country where Hindu pilgrims to Amarnath cannot shout Har, har Mahadev while trekking their way up to the mandir, and must proceed in silence.

    I do not see any demarche to the Malaysian High Commissioner when the Malaysian government destroys temples in Malaysia or acts like a grave robber, burying a Hindu as a Muslim. But I do see the government flying hte flag at half mast for the death of a Pope and threatening to recall its Ambassador from Denmark.

  30. Vitlan Potli Says:

    Was wondering is “Kanneshwara Rama” being aired on the tube?

  31. Agastya Says:

    Renunciation was never meant to be escapism. It is a state of mind which does not crave for material things in life. But at the same time Gurus – right through history have played a major role in upholding dharmic values. Nothing wrong with either Sants,Maulvis or Parish Priests or whoever to espouse political beliefs. But to criticize only the Hindu sants and interview Muslim religious leaders for their views on say the Nuclear Deal, war on terrorism etc, and viewing Indian foreign policy through the prism of Muslim mindset for votes, amounts to playing the secular card in a rather perverse way. People are seeing through such sham and are not talking about it anymore. But are voting and the lotus is blooming.

  32. krishna Says:

    Its an unholy nexus, I have personally watched karnatakas politics go down south since devegowda initial cm days , he really pally pallied the adichunchunagiri mutt.

    The religious leaders should show leadership towards all communities but I see they are only concerned about their communities, this has resulted in degradation of the moral fabric of the state.If you are a corrupt bwssb official its ok as long as you know one of these saffaron clad swamis to bail you out.

    Its sad that a spiritually rich country as ours has come to this state and I hope at least the gen next realise this and work to improve the overall condition of the citizens for we are competing in a very big world which for limited resources.

    The BJP if its serious with governance should keep away from such petty politics.

  33. Gaby Says:

    All I am saying is these mathadhipathis are no diffrent from maulvis, diocese members etc- scheming, grasping and manipulative. They are trying to defend their turf and in that sense their hinduism is no diffrent from the csi’s christianity or the deobandi’s islam ( the use of lower case is intentional).

    If you are talking of the Hinduism which isnt a religion then the machinations of these mathadipathis have no role in that Hinduism.

    I wonder why these mathadhipathis never really fought against the evils of hinduism- but then possibly I havent heard.

    Ts agree Vairaagya is inborn and not inherited- havent heard of vairragya in these Mathadhipathis.

  34. Bangalore Boy Says:

    @ Agastya

    Well said

  35. kaangeya Says:


    There is a big difference. The Mathathipathis are setting the record straight. The sundry mullahs and reverends are twisting the record and playing fast and loose. There’s heck of a lot you haven’t heard of it seems.

  36. Anonymous Guy Says:

    Looking at the bloated faces of three of the swamijis in the pics – most dont seem to practise vairagya, especially when it comes to food. In other matters, where it is difficult to tell from a photo, wonder if these dudes conduct themselves as religious leaders should. I mean matters related to shringara rasa etc.

  37. Pulikeshi the Last Says:

    I have for a long time wondered why Chandrashekharanatha Swamiji let Deve Gowda manipulate him into establishing Vokkaligara Mahasamsthaana. The swami was insignificant before and then he became utterly marginal.

    In other cases mathadhipathis control the politicians. Mayura, thanks for insisting that we say “Matha” instead of “mutt” although quite a few of these charlatans deserve the latter appellation.

    Many have raised important questions here. If the mullas can issue fatwas and tell their followers who to vote for, if padres can enforce papal encyclicals and pimp for Catholic votes, and if ministers can tell their congregations who to vote for, why do we obsess over the Hindu motley crew alone?

    Does anyone know if Basavaraja Kattimani’s groundbreaking “Jarathaari Jagadguru” is still in print?

  38. Avva Madesa Says:

    Im not concerned with the definitions of ‘sanyasis’ but the need of the hour is for the Indic religions to Unite against the jihadis and crusaders and revolutionists. I would be happy to see some jaina and baudhdha munis along with the other swamigalu.
    Im surprised that this article escaped the secular censors at TOI. Must read

  39. Gaby Says:

    Wow Kaangeya you make the mathadhipathis sound like Yaagnavalkya correcticting the scholars of Kuru Panchaala when you say they are setting the record right. Why dont you enlighten me on what I havent been reading – the glorious achievemnets of these ‘ jarathaari jagadgurus’ other than running colleges of professional courses ( medical colleges with pathetic hospitals !) and their poilitical nexus. As Protectors of the Sanathana Dharma, Veerashaiva traditions etc what are their spiritual contributions to the temporal world ( That does sound christian enuf to make the cheddis here howl in anguish :)). But this concept of uniting against the ‘foreigner’ is adopted from the stupid idea of the Crusades isnt it.

    I am sorry but a doctor is primarily expected to heal sick people and not be content with paying Income tax and be a good driver on the roads. Similarly these swamis are expected to look at preserving the spiritual need and social service and political power mongering is secondary.

    Well now go and call me a naive, foolish and silly girl !

  40. Anonymous Guy Says:


    What you write has always been more interesting than Kongayya’s condescending tone and bombast.


    Neatly summed up!

  41. tarlesubba Says:

    not necessarily gaby. in the abscence of any new personal insights, as long as they can rehash what is already known it is enough. or as is said in schools, syllabus revise maaDidre saaku.

    that is the norm of every single maThaadipathi of every religion and dharma of the world. some where in between come one or two scholars with some major thesis. the rest are mostly doing revisions for unit tests. in some religions, ofcourse, there can be no new syllabus or additions to it.

    meanwhile their most important task is to see that ‘school’ runs well. ‘numbers’ are high, ‘student’ ‘teacher’ morale is high, ‘students’ do well in ‘entrance exams’ and get ‘ranks’ in ‘board exams’, many if not all medals in ‘intra-school competitions’ and its kids participate events organized by ‘rotary’ such as ‘clean the road’.

    as long as they can hold fort, they have done their job.

    my question is this. why do you take the ‘walmart’ and ‘union carbides’ of ‘spirituality’ lightly?
    is it bcoz you are not interested, or is it because you donot see them taking over mom and pop stores (which are often allegedly characterized by lack of ‘quality control’ and ‘scruples’):
    just yet

    ps: the Hinduism that you talk of is best practised in solitude. in the public square hinduism is perhaps what the doctor would order currently.

  42. Basavamandi Says:

    A wonderful piece! People are hardly found discussing the issues that might be sketching the future. I bet most of the comments posted are by people living outside India.
    I am not taking anyone’s side. Just vocalizing a few passing thoughts.
    Swamis should NOT influence political parties. When upset about not finding any good translations of Basavanna’s vachanas, I have asked similar questions. But now I am trying to answer the following questions?
    •Other than swamis who has been able to draw huge some of money to build institutions and hospitals?
    •Who has the ability to influence thousands like they do?
    • I am aware of the fact that Kannada film actors and politicians can and have raised money. What have they done with their charisma? Film actors are busy launching their children in the field whereas politicians are actively redistributing the money raised to get vote.
    •What number of the reading community has been reading the Upanishads, the Veda and the Geeta to their kids?
    •What is our effort in spreading the message in the sacred-texts?
    •How many of us discuss this issue outside this discussion board?
    •Are swamis not doing more than just interpreting religious texts?

  43. Gaby Says:

    TS the sophistry you use is extremely beguiling but what are you trying to say in essence- all the mathadhipathis of the world -Pejawara, CSI and Deobandis under one common title? Religion equal to high pressure academia? I am afraid I dont understand. Sorry but the cheddiwalas seem to say the same things but in an infinitely less elegant way.

    BTW Agree my idea of Hinduism is the way of the Parivrajaka or mendicant. I ve always liked kashyapa more than the Buddha.

  44. Akkamahadevi Says:

    Yella sari adre adhikarada vyamoha yake?
    Swamigalu tammalliruva soujanyateyinda anagarikarannu nagarikarannagi mattu avidyavantarannu vidyavantaraagi maduvudakiddare annuva bhavane samanya janaralli ide. Rajakaraniyaagalu athava rajakaraniya para vahisidare janaru mechuvudilla anta avarigella gotaagabekalla..
    Avarugala sthana bere. Avarugalu viveka ullavaru. Avivekarige dari torisa beku.

  45. Prasad Says:


    I dont know much about other religion but in lingayat religion there is no much sigificance to your so called “spiritual contributions”. Only two significant thing in lingayat religion is kayaka and dasoha(gnyana and anna). Infact kayaka is more important than pooja in this religion.

    You go to any of these mutts and I am sure you will get anna dasoha and if you are needy, you will get gnyana dasoha also.

    I myself has seen siddaganga mutt seer personally working in community kitchen and cooking raagi mudde to students, preparing kadbus and obbattu during ganesha festival and ugadi. I know that there are more than 4000 students who get free primary education and also if they excel in their education they get the free professional education.

  46. Pulikeshi the last Says:

    “Mutt” alla, “Matha.” We need some basic rules for transliteration here.

  47. Pulikeshi the last Says:

    Not “Seers”, but “Abbots” and “Abbesses,” if we must use English. Many of them have seen nothing but money and power.

    We don’t have enough Anna and Jnaana in Karnataka, Prasad. In that respect, these religious outfits are to be commended, when casteist indoctrination is not part of their agenda. Listen to all the talk about the importance of chappali haaras.

  48. Kalburgi pora Says:

    @ D.P.Satish – Jangama’s are basically Lingayat’s not all Lingayat’s are Janagama’s. Please correct your sentence.

  49. Vitlan Potli Says:

    The heading is tricky. This is not so much as Hindu vs other religions. The debate has totally deviated from main fact that the manouevring is purely to manage the “Caste Equation” to hold on to power. It is only a coincidence that the party happens to be BJP and brings us to the allusion that it is to uphold Hindu ideals & religion.

    Matas are first and foremost to cater to the needs and empower members of the caste. If it is ultimately serving a larger context being religion is purely incidental.

    It is not rocket science why siddhu is being wooed he is alleged to hold sway to almost all the kuruba votes. Right now the BJP is a predominantly lingayath based party it is in their interest to keep power within them. Hence the rallying of the Lingayath MataDhipathis to bait him.

    Power has always vacillated between the two major communities vokkaliga (14% of population) and lingayath (17%) now the strong lingayath community is wooing the kurubas(9%) to stall the Congress.

    How else can one justify JDS doing very well in the old mysore region inspite of its shenanigans?

    what are the OBCs to do just because they do not have the numbers what about the idigas, devangas, gollas, tigalas etc? arbitrating endlessly only about religion is clearly missing the trees for the woods. These are the times the absence of a personality like Devraj Urs is severely missed.

  50. mayura Says:

    Of all the swamis in the photos above, only Pejawar Sree looks undernourished and poorly fed.

    All others look very healthy, in fact obese with high calorie diet :)

  51. Sumkirla in english Says:

    Vitlan Potli

    but do you think Kurubas will keep changing the loyalty from JDs to congress and then congress to BJP.Siddhu is definatly a big personality in politics.

    But he need to be patient.He will get same treatment in BJP also.I do not think that siddhu will get CM chance in BJP either.Its in intrest of sidhu to rema

  52. Sumkirla in english Says:

    in with congress.

    Siddhu have patience.

  53. Sumkirla in english Says:

    Vitlan Potli

    Almost every one seem to forget a powerfull caste naiks pr nayaks.After kurubas they are the most strong community

  54. Vitlan Potli Says:


    of course not; how can one forget the naiks, right now they are very powerful what with Sriramulu firing on all cylinders.

  55. Vitlan Potli Says:

    The most pathetic irony of them all are the Dalits they constitute 24% of the population and cannot throw up one strong leader. Blame it on the differences between the right and left factions within themselves.

  56. Vitlan Potli Says:

    It is in full swing now:checkout tarle nan maga’s current tarle and avasthe

  57. Vitlan Potli Says:

    Also would like to add that Yeddy might be heading the ranch but it is the three gunslingers( reddy bros & sriramulu) who are herding and adding more to the cattle.

  58. tarlesubba Says:

    Not “Seers”, but “Abbots” and “Abbesses,” if we must use English. Many of them have seen nothing but money and power.

    rofl!!! exactly. exactly.

    my only argument here is they dont have to see anything to be useful or to do good.

    ofcourse some say all this is itself nonsense, bcoz for example ‘buddha’ never became ‘buddha’ by doing what he told others to do. but i argue, that there could be a ‘buddha’ is itself a unique idea that in practice and real world requires some jingchak around to have an environment where such ideas can roam around, here and there, now and then – say thrice in a century.

    the environment should be free enough that if somebody says that they dont risk getting their heads chopped off figuratively and/or literally.

  59. Pulikeshi the last Says:


    You could teach these fake mendicants a lesson or two in mystic parlance. Long live Jagadguru Subba.

  60. Anonymous Guy Says:

    Yes. And a lesson on adding the words like ‘jingchak’ to abstruse sophistry.

  61. Gaby Says:

    Yes TS what is this Jingchak- sounds right out of a Hindi remix or a wannabe Rajneesh’s talk!

    While it’s a very good thing for the Siddaganga MUTT head to cook and serve it’s more redolent of a Christ than a Yaagnavalkya or Allama Prabhu. Also isnt the job of caring for the poor and needy the job of the Government and Civil Society while seers look at issues of greater permanence:) Wow I am sounding more and more naive.

  62. Anonymous Guy Says:

    Yeah gaby, looks like you are throwing around random names just to keep this thread going.

  63. Gaby Says:

    There AG now do you see why need these seers to keep us focussed on things of greater permanence. Anyway I am a mere mortal so I am calling it quits here. No more comments from me on this post even if provoked!

  64. tarlesubba Says:

    jingchak is shine and glamour all that is not essential but useful. for example, p thousand 8 vajra studded kiritas for the various idols of deities, deities themselves and puranas around them and so on …

    i like jingchak bcoz as lingo leela says that it is an onomatopoeia and in my mind, the word has a lot of jingchak itself. i love the word.

    as i said before religion is the politics of spirituality. it is very important to sustain spirituality.

    rajaneesh and all only for foreigners and kids.

  65. Pulikeshi the Last Says:

    Jingchak, jingchak, jagadguru jingchak Subba.
    Idanodi namage habba.

    Swamigala koota,
    Rajakiya dasyugala oota.

    Saaku ivarellara kaata.
    Naavu kaliyalla paata.

  66. Doddi Buddi Says:

    Agree with the comment which said these godmen look well fed and in rude health, except one. I think these godmen should stay out of politics.

  67. Dr. Sree Reddy Says:

    Religion has always played major role in Indian politics.
    Karntaka is no exception.

  68. Pulikeshi the last Says:

    Nobody disagrees with you, Dr. Reddy. How positive has that role been?

  69. bengaluru raja Says:

    Except that these swamis ( most of them ) cannot drink,eat & enjoy publically they are like normal politicians

  70. sanjay Says:

    i think we all should permote & follow the path & for this we must watch religious gurus lessons for community

  71. Robyn Says:

    Dear All,

    I am not Indian, I am American, so my opinion might not matter. I met His Holiness of Suttur Mutt, in 1999. I have visted with him 9 times since. He is one of the most decent people I have ever met. He is of good heart and seems to support those politically who do the right thing and who are there to help the people. He does not have one greedy bone in his body. I feel that if we had more people here in America we would do a lot better. But, in America religion is not supposed to have any hand in politics and in my religion we are bound to not show support or help any candidate get elected or help to push through any laws that we would favor. If we do this we loose our IRS status. Our country suffers from those who are greedy and want the power and who do not always take into account what is the greatest good for the people. You are lucky that you have a man in India who helps the poor with medical care, Education, food, and many other things.

  72. Shivasharanappa Says:

    Dear All,

    Generally people identify all veerashaiva matha’s with Basavanna.
    Let us understand here there are 2 types of Veerashaiva Mathas. (i) Guru Matha and (ii) Virakta Mathas. Guru mathas example Rambhapur, Ujjaini, kedar etc openly oppose Basava Tatva. Some Virakta Mathas like Brihanmatha-Chitradurga have again started following Basava Tatva. Siddaganga Matha is also a Virakta Matha. But some virakta Mathas don’t have the knowledge that they should follow the Basava Tatva.

    Basavanna was not a Veerashaiva. He definitely born in Brahmin Family, but he left the Brahmin Caste rituals and became castless. He studied all the knowledge existant during his period. He got enlightenment at Kudala Sangama, and discovered the Ishta-Linga. He used Ishta-Linga as a one weapon to fight against castism, superstitiousness, plurality of Gods. Ishta-Linga does not represent any of the trimurtys: Brahma-Vishnu-Rudra. Ishta-Linga neither male nor female. It is the miniaturization of the whole cosmos. He developed and practiced a Yoga with this Ishta-Linga called Basava Yoga or Trataka Yoga or Shiva yoga. In the process he invented and established new Religion called Lingayata or Basava Dharma which is Democratic, Rational, Progressive, Scientific.
    Basavanna single handedly brought revolutions in Social system, spiritual field, economics, politics, Statesmanship etc. Veerashaiva and Lingayath are different. Basavanna never was a Veerashaiva. He is the founder prophet of Lingayata Religion which is non Hindu and non vedic. Veerashaiva is a branch of so called Hinduism. So, Many Lingayat mathas in the illusion, or lack of knowledge of Vachana Sahitya, think themselves as Veerashaiva’s. Neither they follow Hinduism nor Lingayatism. These Veerashaiva mathas and pancha-acharyas have reduced the universal religion called Lingayatism to the level of a Caste in Hinduism. Had Basava born in western country, Lingayatism would have been one of the leading religions of the world and would have established peace and prosperity all over the world.

  73. Gaby Says:

    Just read in the Republic day 2010 honors list that Sri Balagangadaranatha Swami has been given a Padma Bhushana for social work .

  74. Pulikeshi the Last Says:

    What can be better than a certificate from an American, Robyn, to make us genuflect before the swami in question?

    As usual, a Kannadiga has been short changed by New Delhi. BGS should have been awarded the Bharatha Rathna. Let’s have URA call him Mahatma as Tagore did in Gandhi’s honor.

  75. sunthosh Says:

    It is high time for swamis and god men to propagate the higher truth and free everyone from inherited belief system, which is the cause of unrest in the world in the name of religion and god.

    The time one spends in glorifying gods and gurus there is wasted, because the time and effort spent on them could have used that time moving forward towards Self-knowledge, which is the human goal. In the world of gods and gurus one cannot do that, and thus you go deeper and deeper into ignorance. The scriptures declare that godly business is for the mass mindset and not for those who are capable of thinking deeply and verifying the facts through deeper inquiry, analysis and reasoning. The religion, god and guru glorification, and the scriptural studies are not the means to self-knowledge. Thus it is high time for the people to know the fact that ultimate truth lies beyond religion and its concept of god. Only the ultimate truth has to be accepted as god not the individualized god. Thus, the universal brotherhood is possible only when the universal truth is discovered by everyone

    People are not aware of the fact that there is no God can exist, apart from self/Ataman. If there is no self/Ataman, then there is no body, world and their belief of god. They think that there must be a creator of this universe. If one thinks body /’I’ as self, then there is a creator, but if one thinks the soul as the true Self, then there is nothing exists other then the soul.

    If one objectifies and sees a universe, then he is bound to see many things beside himself and postulate a God, the creator. Body, God and world rise and set together from, and into, the Self/soul. If God is apart from the Self/soul, then He would be Self-less, that is, outside existence, that is, non-existent.

    In Isa Upanishad says:
    MANTRA 10

    Scholars say that the path of Avidya [performing Aganihotra and other sacrifices] and the path of vidya [worshipping gods and goddesses] produce different results. Wise men confirm this. [X]

    Vidya and Avidya both are hindrances to Self-knowledge, but Vidya is even worse than Avidya. The word Vidya is used here in a special sense; here it means worshipping gods and goddesses. By worshipping gods and goddesses you will go after death to the world of gods and goddesses. But will that help you? The time you spend there is wasted, because if you were not there you could have spent that time moving forward towards Self-knowledge, which is your goal. In the world of gods and goddesses you cannot do that, and thus you go deeper and deeper into darkness.

    Avidya is Karama and therefore a hindrance. You perform Avidya – i.e., you perform Agnihotra and other sacrifices. This is a roundabout way of purifying the mind, and it is also groping in the dark. But it may not have as heavy a toll on your time and energy as the other.
    The final advice by sankara is: combine both work and worship. Together they may quicken your pace towards Self-knowledge, because it will lead to Chitt shuddhi, purification of the mind. When this happens your desire for enjoyments will become less and your sense of “I’ and “mine’ will subside. This is the way to Karama-Mukthi, gradual, or progressive, liberation, according to Sankara.

    MANTRA 11
    He who worships gods and goddesses [Vidya] and also performs sacrifices [Avidya] attains immortality by sacrifices [Avidya] and attains bliss by worshipping gods and goddesses [Vidya]. [XI]
    The condition in both cases worshipping gods and goddesses and performing sacrifices is that the person should have no motive for personal gain. He should not desire the fruits of his actions, such as going to the heaven of gods and goddesses.
    As earlier explained, the word Vidya ¸ has a special meaning here. It means worship of gods and goddesses. Similarly, Avidya ¸ also has a special meaning. It is Karma that is, performing Aganihotra and other sacrifices. Such karamas are obligatory, but if they are done without any attachment to their fruits, they help purify the mind. Combining karama and worship is a path to gradual liberation. Sankara approves this for those who are not yet ready to renounce.
    But suppose you follow the two paths separately. If you perform Avidya ¸ you will go to Pitra loka (the world of your ancestors). This is a dark region, because it is far removed from Self-knowledge. In fact, you will have to wait a long time to attain Self-knowledge. But if you worship Vidya ¸ – that is, gods and goddesses you go into still darker regions, and your attainment of Self-knowledge is even further delayed.
    True, you go to Dev loka (the heaven of gods and goddesses), but you are caught in the pleasures there, and you remain there until the fruits of your worship are fully exhausted. You are then reborn as a human being, and your struggle resumes from where you left off. This is why Vidya ¸ is considered worse. But if you combine the two that is, perform the obligatory karmas without any attachment to the fruits and at the same time worship gods and goddesses, again without any desire to go to heaven – then you can get the benefit of both, liberation and bliss. For those who are not yet ready to renounce, this path is recommended.
    It proves that the concept of god, karma, heaven and hell are ideas created by religion, to help for those who are incapable of grasping. The concept of god and goddesses and karma are part of the ignorance. By worshiping god and goddesses one accepts the false self as true self, thus he is unfit for self-knowledge. Therefore concept of god is not the means to acquire the self knowledge. That is why Buddha rejected concept of God.
    Katha Upanishad says:
    [Upanishads Nikhilananda]
    Fools dwelling in darkness, but thinking themselves wise and erudite, go round and round, by various tortuous paths, like the blind led by the blind. [Ch II-5 P-14]
    It indicates that the one who is ignorant [darkness] of the true self [formless witness/Ataman] searches truth by accumulating knowledge of every path and practice and uncertain about the truth, and thinks every path leads towards reality. The ignorance of the true self leads one towards unreality or hallucination.
    This Ataman cannot be attained by the study of the Vedas, or by intelligence, or by much hearing of sacred books. It is attained by him alone whom It chooses. To such a one Ataman reveals Its own form. [Katha Upanishad Ch-II -23-P-20]

    This Ataman cannot be attained through study of the Vedas, nor through intelligence, nor through much learning. He who chooses Ataman—by him alone is Ataman attained. It is Ataman that reveals to the seeker Its true nature. [ 3 –page-70 Mundaka Upanishad Upanishads by Nikilanada]
    The above passages further proves that: self-knowledge cannot be attained by study of the Vedas and intellectual understanding or by bookish knowledge. Therefore there is no use of studying the Vedas and other scriptures in order to acquire the non-dual wisdom. That is why Buddha rejected the scriptures, and even Sri, Sankara indicated that, the truth lies beyond religion, concept of god and scriptures.
    For the same reason Raman Maharshi said fortunate are the one who do not lose themselves in the labyrinths of philosophy. Bhagwan says: Take Vedanta, for instance: it speaks of 15 pranas the names and functions of it which the student is asked to commit memory. Will it not be sufficient if he thought only one prana does the whole work of maintaining the body? Again the antakaran is said to think, to desire, to will, to reason etc. Why all these details? Has anyone seen antakarana, or all these pranas? Do they really exist? They are conceptual divisions invented by teachers of philosophy by their excessive analysis. Where do all these concepts end? Why should confusion created and then explained away? Fortunate is the man who does not lose him self in the labyrinths of philosophy, but goes straight to the source from which they all arise. (GURU RAMANA .By S.S Cohen -vii Danger of philosophy-Page -58-59)
    Raman Mahrshi further explains [in page 111/112- practical guide to know your self]:-
    Q: D: Is it not necessary to study the Vedas or at least Prastnatraya[Bagvad gita.Dasoponishad and Brahma Sutra all with commentaries] to ensure firm reazation?
    A: Bhagvan: – No. Do you need all that to see yourself? All that is intellectual wealth, useful in explain doubts and difficulties if others rise them if you yourself encounter them in course of thinking. But to attain realization, all that is not necessary. You want fresh water to drink, but you do not require all the water of the river Ganges to quench your quest.

    They alone in this world are endowed with the highest wisdom who are firm in their conviction of the sameness and birthlessness of Ataman. The ordinary man does not understand their way. [Chapter IV — Alatasanti Prakarana 95-P-188 in Upanishads by Nikilanada]
    This passage indicates the fact that everything is Ataman/spirit. The one who views and judges the worldview on the base of his birth /body will not realize the fact that, the man including the world is created sustained and finally dissolves as Ataman. Thus Ataman alone is, and all else is mirage.
    Thus self-knowledge is the aim of every human being. Since everyone thinks the physical body is the self their aim is misdirected and they focus their attention on materiality which makes one feel the duality [waking] as reality.
    Nisagadutta said: Millions are in search of the ultimate truth, and only one in million will be able to grasp and realize it. By focusing more attention on Ataman by talking, writing, discussing only of Ataman, the conviction grows and becomes firmer and the duality will fade away as reality. Ataman/sprit which is one’s true identity will prevail as birth-less and deathless, eternal substance and witness of the mirage called duality.
    Therefore there is no need to study scriptures, or indulge in god and guru glorification or performing religious rituals. Since, they are not the means to acquire non-dual wisdom. It is only waste of time and effort to indulge in those things.

  76. twistleton Says:

    Why should godmen not be allowed a piece of the pie? They are humans after all. They share the universal need to control and rule.

    Religion is a political tool, it is not neccesarily a bad thing.

    In a country like India, it would be easier to make people compliant using religion than by any democratic secular legislation. The state and religion will not separate as long as the people respect religion more than the state.

    But i certainly hope that the day will come when love of people will override the love of nebulous banks of faith.

    TS has a point here, he/she sees the world for what it is, and does not wait for Utopia.

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