Charukeerti Bhattaraka Panditacharyavarya Swami of Jain Math in Moodbidri is a dejected man after the theft of idols from Siddhanta Darshana Block attached to Guru Basadi on Saturday. “It is a very sad development. The idols mean a lot to us, more than our lives. I feel very sad that such an event has occurred in my period. I have not been able to sleep for the past three days,” he said. This is one of the 16 basadis under the administrative control of the math. As many as 15 idols were stolen early on Saturday.

The swami told presspersons on Monday, who met him after he cut short his visit in the U.S. after the theft, that the 40 important idols placed in the Darshana Block were from an ancient period. “Our poorvacharyas have performed puja to them. You cannot attach value to idols that have come from our ancestors,” he said.

Spoken to PMO

He said the Basadi was a place where people “come, brake coconuts and offer puja”. There have been small thefts of offerings made at the basadi before. But Saturday’s theft was different. He suspected that someone staying within a 40-km radius of the math could be involved. Similar thefts have been reported from basadis in Indore and Jaipur. “I have also spoken to the Prime Minister’s Office and the Karnataka Chief Minister,” he said.

He said as security measures, an iron gate was installed at the Siddhanta Block. “Before going on tour, I had also ordered for closure of grills of the window through which the thief entered,” he said.

Calling upon disciples to come forward to protect their heritage, he said, “You can have safety gadgets installed, but it will be effective only if there is a human element involved.” He said two members each from 365 families staying at the basadi should take turns to guard the area. “This is what I dream of and this is what is needed.”