Nityananda back again with controversy

The controversial Bidadi-based godman Swami Nithyananda being formally anointed the pontiff of one of the oldest Saiva Siddantha Mutts in South India situated in the temple city of Madurai on Sunday has evoked widespread protests from keepers of the faith.

Nithyananda, who faces a sex slur in the wake of the sensational video expose with his disciple-actress Ranjita at his Bidadi Ashram some time back, was made the 293rd pontiff of the “Madurai Aadheenam”, a monastic institution promoting the cause of “Saiva Siddantha” in the Tamil tradition for nearly 1,500 years now.

At a colourful function on the Mutt’s premises in Madurai on Sunday, the present “Madurai Aadheenam” (pontiff), anointed Nithyananda as his successor, offering him a golden crown and a garland of Tulsi leaves to symbolically mark the occasion. Nithyananda, apart from overseeing his hundreds of “Dhyana Peethams” in Bangalore and other parts of the country, will henceforth officiate as the “Ilaya Madurai Aadheenam” (Junior Pontiff of the Madurai Aadheenam) also.

The present “Madurai Aadhenam” also formally announced that Nityhananda will succeed him as the pontiff of the Madurai Mutt. A few days back, the present “Madurai Aadheenam” stunned the spiritual followers of the Mutt by going over to Nithyananda’s Ashram in Bidadi in Bangalore and quietly solemnised the latter’s succession to the “Madurai Aadheenam” as well.

The “Madurai Aadhenam” has vast landed properties and at least four temples in Tamil Nadu under its control. Though Nithyanadna on Sunday vowed to take the message of “Saiva Siddantha” world-wide in his new role as the head of the “Aadheenam”, ardent devotees of the Mutt were shell-shocked over the “arbitrary” manner in which the present pontiff had formalised his successor.