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August 1st, 2009:
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Developments in Sosale Vyasaraja matha
Updated: 29 May 2012
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SVM devotees and other SVSS members may be anxiously scanning the Information being doled out by press reports [Deccan Herald & Times of India],  quoting the members of the new administration appointed by the Honourable Government of Karnataka, which is taking over the Secular management of the Matha to stop the illegal plundering and misuse of Matha incomes and assets by the Pontiff’s henchmen and outsiders who have acquired controlling authority in lucrative establishments like Benne Govindappa and Vidyapayonidhi Chutras in Bangalore and Mysore as well as the Matha assets in Tirupati, SriRangam etc with the active connivance of the Pontiff. To set their minds at rest, we would like to furnish some information as known to us:

1.  Any one who has followed the previous history of these developments and attended the meetings of SVSS would already know that the Manohara Tirtha and his predecessors have already pledged away properties to the tune of 7/8 crores of Rupees and the Matha is under debt to outsiders to the extent of at least 2 crores of Rupees, without legal necessity or justification. This has happened despite a regular permanent income of Rs.  3 to 4 crore rupees per year from Hundis/rents on assets as well as gifts received from the devotees in cash and kind for the Pujas performed.  Large sums have also been collected in the name of projects like the establishment of the Srinivasa temple in Basavanagudi, new Matha building in Tirupati, etc, some of which have been pocketed away by the family members of the pontiffs and their lackeys.

2. SVSS came across many items of evidence of these frauds and misuse of assets right from the beginning, when it was formed in 2005.  Attempts made to persuade the aging pontiff Sri Vachaspathi Tirtha to establish suitable control procedures and avoid such misuse, repeatedly failed, even after so called agreements were reached after long discussions, as the family whose private, unearned and tax free income was being affected would never allow such checks to come in. We found that the whole institution was being managed as the personal property of the pontiff’s family, with no accounting of even of cash receipts from sources like Hundis.

3. The misuse and reckless alienation of properties was unfortunately already in vogue even at the time of Sri Vidyapayonidhi Tirtha earlier, who had entrusted his authority to a poorvashrama son. Thus, landed properties in Kandakur, Madurai etc have been pledged away or even sold for very low declared amounts in his time. An enquiry ordered by the Government of Karnataka was in progress in this regard and the matter had also reached the Karnataka High Court a decade earlier.  Based on their directions, the Government ordered a fresh enquiry on various allegations of alienations and misuse of funds in the SVM Matha. SVSS submitted the records and information available with them to the committee for their review. This enquiry took several years (2002 – 2011) and a final report was submitted by the Endowment commissioner to the Government confirming the truth of the allegations and recommending the appointment of a secular administrator to take immediate charge to avoid complete collapse of the financial strength of the institution.

4.  It is understood that the report submitted has been carefully considered at various levels in the Government and a final decision taken at the highest level that a competent  Administrator assisted by a high level committee should be appointed to take over the entire administration for a short period of 2 years. All the financial matters will be completely supervised by the Administrator removing all possibilities of mischief by the corrupt persons in charge earlier. The transactions entered into by the Pontiffs earlier will also be reviewed and corrective actions taken in the overall interest of the matha.       

5. The religious and traditional functions will be outside the purview of the secular administrator, who will cooperate in the normal functioning of the matha in this regard. The financial appropriations for the purpose will be decided by the Administrator based on the resources available and past commitments and tradition.

6.  The committee of eminent persons headed by a retired chief justice well known for his vast judicial experience and participation in activities for the Pulbic good contains other persons known for their probity, experience and knowledge about different aspects of management of such assets. Thus, they are expected to give a good account of themselves in setting right the various known problems and to introduce appropriate procedures where necessary to ensure that the resources of the Matha are used to the best interests of the Matha.

7. SVSS is optimistic about this development and will offer their constructive cooperation in getting the Matha affairs straightened out as soon as possible to enable its functioning as appropriate to its real; status and resources to the satisfaction of its devotees.  It will also continue to act as a Watchdog to report transgressions or errors to the concerned authorities and to its members.

8. All SVM devotees and wellwishers should support this effort to make the well-meant effort by the Government of Karnataka, headed by an enlightened leader,  a great success. However, normal methods of administration and control as in the hoary historic past of the Matha should be reintroduced, as soon as the unsuitable and unworthy persons who have brought our Glorious Matha to a near state of ruin are replaced by persons of ability, integrity and real devotion to the causes so well laid down by the great Vyasaraja, whose honoured name we bear.   

Sri Vyasaraja Seva Samithi was constituted by renowned scholars, administrators, and public personalities, to fight against this gross misuse of the sacred trust and responsibility and took action on several grounds immediately.

  • First, it was repeatedly requested to Sri Vachaspathi that he should correct the situation by nominating a suitable scholar for the Peetha, allowing Sri Sharath to be properly ordained and complete the traditional Shasthra education under the guidance of senior scholars of the Mutt. Though agreed to in discussions, this could never be implemented till now, as Sri Sharath was completely uninterested in the difficult task of educating himself and did not want to allow some one else to take even temporary control of the Mutt after Sri Vachaspathi tirtha. It became clear with the passage of a couple pf years of repeated discussions and complete inaction that none of the persons involved headed by the Mathadhipati himself were prepared to let go the lucrative family authority. Four years have passed thus without any progress in improving the eligibility of Sri Sharath for the revered Peetha, traditionally associated with great scholarship. His repeated failures in performing his prescribed duties and worldly escapades are well known and have also been reported in papers.
  • In addition, specific cases came to public knowledge where the GPA holder Shukachar was involved in leasing out Mutt property to outsiders without legal or moral justification to enrich private wealth of family members. Important Idols and Saligramas also were reported to have been exchanged for cash. The traditional respect for the spiritual head of a Mutt gave way to contempt with hardly any one offering Bhikshas or Pada pujes even to the senior Swamiji. As Sri Vachaspathi was totally deaf to all complaints against his family, the Samithi had to approach the civil courts in Bangalore in 2006 and 2007 and obtained injunctions against any alienation of jewelry or landed property of the Mutt, which are still valid. The courts have also been requested to appoint a secular administrator to avoid further property loss.
  • Unfortunately, this also has not deterred Sharath and the family coterie from converting Mutt property into large sums of cash for profligate family living. Some of the large transactions conducted with great secrecy have however been exposed to the samithi, which has obtained official transcripts and has also moved contempt petitions in the court. Stay orders have also been obtained in Tiruchi and a plea is also being filed in Madras High Court.

The following cases of clear fraud and misuse are mentioned as shown in the available documents:  
Srirangam (Tamilnadu)  
CHANDRIKA MANTAPAM at No. 60, TS No. 1520/3A/2B1, Ward No. 1 Amma Mandapam Road, Srirangam. , First leased on 25 Oct 2006 for construction of multi-storey buildings. Duplicate “Tenancy Agreement”/Lease Deeds dated 21-8-2007 for same property for constructing marriage halls, guest houses, initially for 5 years, extendable by the two lessees.  
Deed of cancellation dated 22-1-2008 canceling the first Lease deed. Revised Lease for 29 years with an option of renewal to the Lessee with modified conditions was signed by Sri S N Prakash, the GPA Holder, with a GPA issued by Sri Sharath/Manohara Tirtha, in November 2007, with the same Lessees who have obtained possession of the Mutt property. .  
The above-noted instances of alienations are violations of the order of the Government of Karnataka; Injunction orders of the City Civil Court, Bangalore; and laws of the Government of Tamil Nadu. Large sums of money amounting to Rs. 19 Lakhs (inclusive of cash of Rs. 9.5 lakhs on 23 January 2008) were received on record. It is understood that there were private agreements about the payments also. The age old Chandrika mantapam, a stone structure where important ceremonies of the Matha were being held traditionally over the centuries was demolished for rebuilding commercial complexes inspite of the Court Injunction and Government orders with the active connivance of the Matha against the protests of all devotees. Contempt proceedings have been initiated in the Civil court.  
Housing/Building property at Survey number TS1050/1, block number 22, Ward 2, Door number 204, East Uttara street, Srirangam (Kalyana Mantapa of 5000 sqft, vacant land and housing units) and at Survey number 1518, block number 45, Ward number 1 in south Rayagopura extension, Srirangam are being leased to outsiders for 30 years. The tenants in the houses were being evicted. Following serious protests by Samiti members and others, an Injunction was secured from the court of District Munsiff, Tiruchirapalli, (O.S No.501/2008). Though the leases could not be registered, the structures are being modified by the intended Lessees, claiming to act on behalf of the Mutt, which has already received large sums of money with private unregistered agreements. All the above illegal transactions have taken place with Sharath alias Manohara tirtha as the head and will be proceeded with legally by the Samithi.

Latest news: (as on 22 nd August 2009) - The Chandrika mantapam is now a memory and history as it has been totally razed to the ground by Mr. G V K Raju, the present Lease holder with the active connivance of the Sri Vyasaraja Mutt. The Lessee is trying to locate a Petro/Diesel depot here, inspite of the orders of the Bangalore Civil Court that the properties are under protection of an Injunction granted for Status-quo.  The Oil company has also been served with a notice. Further action for the contempt of court orders will be taken. COD are also enquiring into the matter and records of financial transactions are already found out.

Huge property of 79,000 square feet situated in Rajamill main road, Raja mill compound, Kanagavel colony main road Madurai town (survey ward No. 5, T.S.No/ 1208/22/2) (under unauthorized occupation by outsiders). Sri Sharath/Manohara Tirtha, and his secretary-cum-GPA holder have initiated a novel scheme for alienating this land permanently to get additional cash as follows. First GPA for K. Ramalingam, S/O Mr. R. Kandaswamy, residing at No. 34, Karagavel colony, Raja Mill main road, Madurai – 625001 on 17 April 2008, for alienating the full property given at Bommasandra Registration Office. Sri Sharath’s address shown as: No/ 63, 3 rd Cross, 4 th main, Koramangala, Deed cancelled on 22 May 2008 in Koramangala Registration Office. The house address given is obviously misleading Further GPAs issued as follows:

  • GPA in favour of Sri Ramalingam given on 31 st may 2008 (after a week of the last cancellation) for the same property numbers except for the size of only 35,000 sq ft in the Bommanahalli registration office.
  • GPA in favour of Smt. Umamaheswari w/o Sri Umamamheswaran in Royapettah, Chennai 600014 dated 23 March 2008 for the same property, but to an extent of 55000 square feet. The address of Sri Manohara tirtha in this document was shown as No. 1, East tank square street, Triplicane, Chennai.
  • GPA in favour of Sri P. Pandi S/O K.Paralu, residing at No. 6A, Rajamill road, Maninagar, Madurai 625001, dated 31-5-2008, for dealing with 40,000 square feet of property registered in Bommanahalli Registration Office. . The total extent of all the GPAs is 1, 30,000 square feet, which appears to be in excess of the total land available.

There are reports that the GPA holders have paid substantial sums of money (exceeding Rs. 30 lakhs) in advance. The Registration Office at Arasaradi, Madurai town has been apprised of the Court Injunction. The financial agreements with the GPA holders involve private agreements for receiving payments and “gifting” the lands to the unauthorized occupants. It is clear that a Leasing/alienation transaction has been attempted by devious methods inspite of the court orders by Sri Manohara Tirtha.

Latest position as on 22 nd August 2009: Inspite of the specific notices being served on Manohara Tirtha, the GPA holders have “Gifted” 14 sites worth about Rs. 70 lakhs to different persons (as if they were Free gifts). (Copies of the registration documents have been obtained by SVSS and sent to COD as well as Civil Courts).It is alleged that Rs. 40 lakhs was received by Sri Manohara Tirtha, the documents of which have been handed over to COD – the rest being pocketed by the GPA holders themselves. After receiving the money, the Pontiff has issued a letter to the GPA holders and to the registration office not to take up further registration of sites, to esacpe the consequnces of the contempt charge. As he has authorised personally all the transactions earlier and allegedly received a share of money also, this plea appears to be not viable. 

It is common knowledge that land at Tirumala newly allotted by TTD had been handed over to a builder Sri Hari who has constructed a multi-storied lodge. The Math has not made any endeavor to get back possession of the building.  
There was a report in the Times of India, Bangalore edition, dated 10-6-2008, as follows: “Following complaints that Moths were charging exorbitant rents from pilgrims, the TTD officials raided some of them. On Friday last, the TTD vigilance officials seized three registers and a receipt book from Vyasaraja mutt.”  
A delegation of Sri Vyasaraja Seva Samithi met the Executive Officer of the TTD on 19 th June 2008, in his office to voice serious apprehension about the gross abuse of the premises by persons who are acting in contravention of the interest of the devotees of the mutt.  
It emerged during the discussions that after the raid, when the records were also inspected, TTD had advised all Matha heads to ensure that the Dharmashalas, Choultries etc do not indulge in commercial activities like running of private lodges at exorbitant rentals and on the other hand, traditional facilities like resting space for the poor and middle class pilgrims and regular arrangements for offering food etc should also be maintained.  
On this occasion also, the Matha was found to be in the custody of totally unauthorized persons and all sorts of people, none of them Shishyas of the mutt were lodged in the various room of the mutt who resorted to smoking, and other activities which were wholly inconsistent with the sanctity of the place. The basement of the place had been converted into 12 rooms and let out to persons on exorbitant rents. Even the Ground floor where the Brindavanam and idols are kept, were littered with cigarette butts and the whole place was absolutely untidy, militating against the sanctity of the place. During the enquiry conducted, the persons in occupation of the counter at the entrance claimed to be independent of the mutt. It is clear that there is a secret agreement for siphoning off the huge rents that were being collected from all and sundry. This is in gross violation of the purpose for which the premises were given by the TTD and the religious purposes of the mutt. This is one more instance of the management of Vyasaraja mutt throwing to winds the obligation of running the mutt for the spiritual advancement of the devotees of the mutt.  
A final notice has been given to the Sharath/Manohara tirtha to restore sanctity and normalcy to the Choultry failing which action will be taken in conjunction with TTD, which may involve revocation of the allotment to the Mutt.

Position as on 22 August 2009 – As is only to be expected, even after a year of the notice being given, there is no change in the ground situation in Tirupati – and the Matha is still being managed by one Sri Hari as a lodge. The Basement and Ground floor have also been hired out and there is no religious sanctity attached to the place where Sri Vysaraja Vrindavana is located on the ground floor. Sri Manohara Tirtha had obtained a stay from Karnataka High Court, on some flimsy grounds which has since been vacated enabling COD to fully enquire into the matter.

It is expected that several crores of Rupees have been swallowed by some persons defrauding the Matha and also bringing a bad name to the very institution. Our Matha in Tirupati does stand in very poor light compared to UM and Pejawara matha etc who are serving Madhva devotees as should be done. 

The reported cases may not be the only ones of such fraud and misuse. With our very meager resources, we have been able to locate only this limited data, against the attempts at secrecy and deception being practiced by the Mutt. The intentions of the Mutt administration are also seen in their not taking the devotees into confidence and publishing any explanation or even replies to the charges.

More cases are constantly coming into light, such as understating the amount of donations collected for Tirupati Matha, construction of shops instead of a matha in Udupi, non-accountal of huge amounts running to crores of Rupees collected as rental from users for Kalyana mantapas in Mysore, Chennai etc.

We will continue to follow up all the cases to their logical conclusions and try to ensure that the Matha’s interests are protected and the gulity persons who ever they may be, are punished severely without any false sense of pity for the crooks. 

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