In a dramatic development, the head of the Madurai Adheenam removed Nithyananda from the position of junior pontiff of the centuries-old Hindu religious institution on Friday night. The controversial godman was appointed as the 293 pontiff of the 1500-year-old mutt in April this year.

In a hurriedly convened press conference on the mutt premises, the senior pontiff, Arunagirinatha Gurugnanasambanda Desika Paramacharya said, “I appointed Swami Nithyananda as my successor. Today, I have removed him from the position. By doing so, I have restored the glory of the ancient mutt.” Asked for the reason for the sudden decision, he said, “He has been removed. It needs no more explanation. You all know better.”

Devotees could visit the mutt as usual, the senior pontiff said.

The development came a day after the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Department moved a civil court in Madurai to remove the head of the Mutt.

Arunagirinathar said a complaint was lodged with the city police seeking protection to the mutt. He explained that as there were some supporters of Nithyananda still inside the mutt he had sought police protection for the lives of its inmates and its property.

When contacted, Police Commissioner Sanjay Mathur said they received a complaint and the police would ensure that there were no untoward incidents.

Though the junior pontiff, during his visits here in the past, maintained that there was no problem in his continuing with the Madurai Adheenam and that he had the blessings of the senior pontiff, recent developments did not seem to be working in his favour.

Nithyananda, who had considerable following as a young exponent of Hindu religion and philosophy, fell into disgrace a few years ago when video footage depicted him in an intimate situation with an actress. ,

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