The alleged suicide of Mahant Narendra Giri, the president of top religious body Akhil Bhartiya Akhada Parishad, has put the spotlight on the mysterious deaths of seers where property has seemingly emerged as the major motive.
Sudhir Giri of Mahanirvani Panchayati Akhada was murdered in 2012 after a sizeable chunk of the akhada land was sold at a throwaway price despite the seer opposing it. Two years later, the police arrested the culprits from Uttar Pradesh who confessed that they were hired by an akhada staff.
In another case in 2017, Mahant Mohan Das of Udasin Panchayati Bada Akhada went missing in mysterious circumstances after he boarded a train from Haridwar. So far, there has been no clue about his disappearance even after the UP police formed an SIT to find him.
Four seers were murdered in a property-related tiff in 2001. A year earlier, one Nagendra Brahmachari was jailed for the murder over a property dispute.
“It is high time that the government should form a regulatory body to keep an eye on properties of the various ashrams and akhadas,” said Swami Shivnand, head of Haridwar-based ashram – Matri Sadan.
Shankaracharya Raj Rajeshwaram, however, pointed out there was “no mad rush among a few seers for materialistic things. “There are a handful dubious individuals tarnishing the image of seers.”
The UP police has arrested Mahant’s closest disciple Anand Giri from Haridwar ashram and booked him for abetment of suicide under Section 306 after his name surfaced in the suicide note that purportedly mentions that the seer was upset with one of his disciples.
Narendra Giri headed the Akhil Bhartiya Akhada Parishad, which is a powerful and influential body consisting of thousands of seers associated with 13 akhadas. Later, he and his disciple belonged to Niranjani Akhada – one of the largest bodies among the 13 such institutions.
Ram Ratan Giri, secretary of the Niranjani Akhada claimed that Narendra Giri’s disciple Anand was earlier upset after a lease of a 1,15,200 square feet of prime land in Prayagraj was later cancelled.
“Maharaj ji (Narendra Giri) treated Anand as his successor but his actions were against the guru-sishya (teacher-disciple) tradition. Anand was suspended from the akhada though he patched up with Maharaji, his suspension was also revoked. But he was not welcomed at the akhada,” Ram Ratan Giri said.
(With inputs from Sunil Navprabhat and Pulkit Shukla in Haridwar)