Monday, November 22, 2004

The Real Shankaracharya

November 23

A beautifully written piece by Shobha Vasudevan

On Diwali, the Kanchi Shankaracharya, Jayendra Saraswathi, was arrested on charges of murder. On the next day, the title of an article in a national daily read 'Seer heads 5,000 crore empire. Another article in a leading national newspaper read, 'Of high priests and their lust for more power.' He has been variously described as high profile, influential and the seventh most powerful man in India.

The Shankaracharya is in custody, the police are on a wild evidence hunt, and the media is marauding a large cut of the spoils. The seer's high profile status has somehow been conveniently used to imply that he is a goon-wielding, power kooky tycoon. The assets of the Kanchi Math are being referred to as if they were the acharya's personal possessions, and every one of his past actions is being interpreted according to the revised image that the press has decided to give him.

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