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Arrest of Shankacharya

Arrest of Shankacharya

Publication: HSC Official Press Release
Date: December 5, 2004

The Hindu Students Council (HSC) strongly condemns the manner in which His Holiness Sri Jayendra Saraswati Swamiji, the Shankaracharya of the Sri Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham, was arrested on November 12, 2004.  The arrest was carried out by a police detachment from the state of Tamil Nadu at midnight on the night of Divali, the most important day in the Hindu calendar, in the city of Mehboobnagar, located in the neighboring state of Andhra Pradesh.

His Holiness Sri Jayendra Saraswati Swamiji is the most visible, progressive, and revered leader of the worldwide community of over one billion Hindus. He is the head of one of the most ancient religious centers in India, the Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham, which can trace its lineage back more than 2500 years. He also carries the legacy of Adi Shankaracharya, the most revered saint and reformer of the Hindu religion, who established one of four authoritative seats of Hinduism (known as mutts or peethams) at Kanchi Kamakoti.

HSC feels that the tactics used by the police in this case demonstrated a complete disregard for the sensibilities of the Hindu community. The police arrested His Holiness at midnight on the day of Diwali, which is the most sacred day of the year for Hindus. Furthermore, he was arrested in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh by a detachment of police from the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, without being given any notice of the charges filed against him by the Tamil Nadu government. Finally, despite being an extremely well respected member of the Hindu community, His Holiness was treated like any ordinary criminal and immediately shifted to the Vellore jail; it would have been more appropriate if the police were to interrogate him on all matters in the Sri Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham itself.

For the Indian police to treat His Holiness in this matter is tantamount to the Italian police arresting the Pope on Christmas Eve. While we certainly do not endorse the notion that His Holiness is above the law, his stature as the most visible and influential leader of the Hindu religion should have been taken into consideration by the authorities, and greater care should have been taken to respect the religious beliefs of the world's Hindu community.   We hope that this disgraceful event ends very soon and the honor of our institutions and spiritual heads such as the Kanchi Mutt and the revered Shankacharya is restored as soon as possible.

Samir Y  Rawal
Hindu Students Council

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