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Shankaracharya's arrest tape shows he was treated well

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November 23, 2004 18:40 IST

The arrest of Kanchi Shankaracharya Jayendra Saraswathi on the night of November 11 was video-taped and the 40-minute tape shows that the seer was treated with utmost respect, according to K T S Tulsi, the lawyer who heads the Tamil Nadu government's prosecution team.

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Speaking exclusively to rediff.com, Tulsi said the video shows that the Tamil Nadu police entered barefoot the premises in Mehboobnagar in Andhra Pradesh where the Shankaracharya was staying. They then stood hands folded before the seer as the arrest warrant was produced, he added.

Several Hindu organisations, including the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and Bharatiya Janata Party, have accused the Tamil Nadu government of treating the seer shabbily.

Tulsi said when the Shankaracharya was arrested, his deputy, Vijayendra Saraswathi, was present in the same room.

The video, Tulsi said, shows the junior seer trying to take the dandak (holy staff) away from the Shankaracharya and the Shankaracharya taking it back swiftly.

Many devotees believe that by leaving the dandak behind, the Shankaracharya could have saved the Kanchi Kaamkoti Peetham a lot of embarrassment.

The holy staff is of great religious significance -- a symbol of the power, both religious and moral, -- that the Shankaracharya wields in his capacity as the head of the Peetham.

The staff comprises of  three sticks -- two made of  branches of  the holy Banyan tree and the third almost a century old, passed down from one Shankaracharya to the other.

Once when Jayendra Saraswathi had left the Peetham in a huff following differences with his guru, he had left the holy staff behind -- a symbolic renunciation of power.

Tulsi said the Madras high court has viewed the video tape of the seer's arrest.

According to sources in the Tamil Nadu police, Jayendra Saraswathi is a broken man today, in deep anguish because of the groupism within the mutt. He is reported to have told some policemen that the "mutt will go into wrong hands in his absence."

There are also reports that the Shankaracharya's confidantes have advised him to go on a fast-unto-death if he is denied bail again.

Sheela Bhatt in New Delhi
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