Govt takes over Vyasaraja Mutt, appoints admin officer

Present pontiff accused of irregularities

The Muzrai department took over the administration of the Vyasaraja Mutt (Sosale) on Sunday, with additional chief secretary K Jairaj being appointed the administrative officer for two years.

The government had constituted three teams to conduct raids on the premises of the Mutt at several places. While one team raided the Krishnamurthypuram premises in the city, another raided the premises at Sosale in T Narsipur taluk simultaneously. Raids were also conducted at other places.

The move follows allegations of irregularities by the present pontiff, Vidyamanoharateertha, who is also accused of acting against the beliefs of the mutt devotees. 

A team of six officers led by Satish, additional chief secretary of the Muzrai department, raided the mutt in the city around 10.30 am. 

Muzrai officers B S Jayateertha, D K Koppar, Kulkarni, Muzrai department tahsildar Yatiraj and Srirangapatna tahsildar Arul Kumar were also part of the team. There was heavy police bandobust during the raid.

Jayateertha told reporters that the functioning of the mutt would, henceforth, be conducted as per the directions of the administrative officer.  

The day-to-day poojas and the activities at the choultry would go on unhindered, he said. 

In an operation that lasted four hours, the officers searched for documents in the office of the choultry belonging to the mutt. Crucial documents were seized during the raid.

Barring the marriage hall and the room where the pontiff stays, the team of officers sealed other buildings on the premises. 

The seer is learnt to be on a tour of Tamil Nadu. The erstwhile administrative officer B R Nataraj Jois was not present at the time of the raid.

The officials collected information from families residing behind the mutt. A few devotees came to the mutt during the raid, but went away without obstructing the search. 

Sources said, the mutt has a history spanning several centuries with its devotees spread over Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. Having 54 branches, including one at Gandhi Bazaar in Bangalore, the properties of the mutt include jewellery (both inherited and donated by devotees) and immovable properties like guest houses in popular shrines like Dharmasthala, Tirupati and Mantralaya.

When the officers raided the mutt, the parents of the pontiff were at the house on the premises of the mutt. The choultry has been exempted from sealing as it has been booked by three parties to conduct marriages, starting Sunday. 

Trouble began for the seer right from the time of his anointment, following the death of the previous seer Vidyavachaspatiteertha. 

The present pontiff happens to be the grandson of his predecessor.  A section of devotees was opposed to Vidyamanoharateertha taking over the reins. 

Several months ago, the seer and three others - including his mother and administrative officer - were booked by the Lakshmipuram police here for pledging two gold plates with a pawn broker for Rs five lakh. 

A devotee of the mutt had lodged a complaint in this regard. After playing hide and seek for some days, the accused succeeded in securing anticipatory bail and appeared before the police, only to be released subsequently.

The mutt was in the news again when a private builder lodged a complaint against the mutt for not paying the due amount of Rs 25 lakh towards renovation of the marriage hall. It is alleged that the other buildings adjacent to the marriage hall have also been pledged for Rs 40 lakh.

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