Udupi: On Thursday, President Ram Nath Kovind participated in celebrations that mark the completion of 80 years of Sri Viswesha Teertha Swamiji's initiation into asceticism.
In his 80-year-long journey as an ascetic, the swamiji proved his commitment to Sanyasa Deeksha while upholding Dwaita philosophy, simultaneously working to restore the lost glory of the matha.
While his association with the Ram mandir movement, Vishwa Hindu Parishad and his links with Sangh Parivar and BJP attracted opposition from progressive thinkers, other moves such as the eradication of untouchability and organising Iftar were opposed by orthodox circles. Most lauded have been measures to eradicate untouchability which made him hugely popular, his refusal to appoint a relative as the junior swamiji, and appoint three Muslims as his drivers who served for over 15 years and still continue to assist him! He also toiled to bring unity among the Asta Mathas of Udupi.
As there were objections to Addapallakki Utsav of some Swamijis in North Karnataka, Pejawar seer voluntarily stopped the practice of people carrying palanquins with Swamijis sitting in them during Paryaya celebration! When there was opposition to 'Madey Snana,' the seer brought 'Yede Snana ' into practice.
He organised Iftar at Krishna Matha for the Muslims and also allowed them to pray in the Dining hall of the matha. Though it was opposed by orthodox and Hindu outfits attracting a major controversy, the seer stood by his decision.
He lead the movement against illegal stone mining at Pajakakshetra- the birth place of Sri Madhwacharya apart from participating in movements against land acquisitions and projects harmful to ecology.
He is instrumental in helping the villagers retain their land by denotifying about 2000 acres marked for SEZ in Mangaluru.
Says scholar Mr Lakshmisha Tolpadi: " Even today at the age of 88 years he preaches and studies for over 4 hours (apart from Pooja and worship)".
Born on April 27, 1931 Venkatramana became Sri Vishwesha Teertha Swamiji after being appointed as the seer on December 3, 1938.
The Swamiji has set a record by sitting in the Paryaya seat for 5 times! Now devotees are celebrating completion of 80 years of his ascetic life....