TNM had reported in January 2020 that Nithyananda cult’s bank account may be based out of the Republic of Vanuatu.

Nithyananda file image
news Controversy Tuesday, August 24, 2021 - 11:58

Declining the claims of fugitive and rape-accused Nithyananda, the centuries-old Madurai Aadheenam on Monday, August 23 declared Harihara Desika Gnanasambantha Paramacharya as the 293rd chief of the mutt. Earlier on August 18, Nithyananda declared through social media that he had taken charge as the 293rd chief and will succeed Arunagirinatha Sri Gnanasambanda Desika Paramacharya Swamigal, the 292th head of the Madurai Aadheenam who passed away on August 13. However, the Madurai Aadheenam categorically said that there was no controversy at all in the appointment as Nithyananda was not even a member of the Aadheenam.

This isn’t the first time that Nithyananda has staked a claim to the Aadheenam post. In April 2012, Arunagirinathar had declared that Nithyananda would be his successor. Though Nithyananda was mired in many controversies, Arunagirinathar supported him and said that these were all conspiracies. Nithyananda was made in charge of the entire property of the Adheenam, which included several temples and acres of land. This was short-lived as a few months later, in October 2012, Arunagirinathar called a press meet again and removed Nithyananda as the Adheenam head, merely saying, “You all know better.”

Nithyananda, however, continued to claim that he was associated with the Madurai Aadheenam and sought to name himself as Arunagirinathar's successor after the latter's passing away. But since he is a fugitive and his location remains undisclosed, Nithyananda could not mount pressure on the Aadheenam. TNM had reported in January 2020 that an email sent by a confidante of Nithyananda to a person who sought details regarding payment for a puja asked disciples to deposit money in a bank account based out of the Republic of Vanuatu.

Read: Rape accused godman Nithyananda running his account from tax haven Vanuatu?

The new pontiff took his chair at the Madurai Aadheenam on Monday in the presence of pontiffs from various aadheenams across Tamil Nadu. "The coronation ceremony went off peacefully. As per the tradition, Harihara Desika Gnanasambantha Paramacharya, who was declared as junior pontiff by Arunagirinathar, took charge in a simple ceremony," the mutt said.

The fugitive godman, who is wanted in several cases, sparked a controversy after Arunagirinatha Gnanasambantha Desika Paramacharya Swamigal, the last pontiff of the mutt, died on August 13 due to respiratory illness.

Madurai Aadheenam is the oldest Shaivite monastery, and Arunagirinathar headed it for over 40 years. He was considered a living example of communal harmony, and used to invite clerics and priests from other faiths to the mutt often and quote from the Quran and the Bible quite often. Formerly a journalist, Arunagirinatha Swamigal served as chief pontiff of the mutt since 1980.

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