A system akin to `paryaya' has been introduced at Kaginele Math
Kurubas are the third largest caste group in the State The Kanaka Gurupeetha was set up in the early 1990s
Bangalore: A new tradition has been set in Hindu religious maths in the State with the anointment of Niranjanananda Puri Swamiji, head of one of the branches of the Kanaka Gurupeetha of Kaginele in Haveri district as its peethadhipati.
It is noteworthy that political leaders of the Kuruba caste, which patronises the Kaginele Math, took the lead in selecting the swamiji.
The gurupeetha for Kurubas was established in the early 1990s with a view to creating a religious organisation to the people belonging to the third largest caste group in the State. Another tradition set by the political leaders and prominent followers of the math has been that they have introduced the system of rotation or "paryaya" similar to the one in practice at the Sri Krishna Math of Udupi.
According to the system evolved by those who arrived at the arrangement in the Kaginele Math, the new swamiji would not only be the peethadhipati of the math, but would also hold the position of chairman of Kaginele Trust running the organisations under it.
Thirty-one-old Niranjanananda Puri Swamiji headed one of the four branches of the math and he would have to relinquish the "gaddis" after five years. Had Beerendra Keshavanandapuri Swamiji declared his successor, sources said the new trend would not have been ushered in.
An interesting feature of the selection of the new swamiji was that this religious leader has been assigned a secular function of ensuring social justice to the Kurubas, triggering a debate among the other caste leaders and their religious heads. Some observe that it is an offshoot of the active involvement of his predecessor in the AHINDA movement for bringing about unity among the minorities, the backward classes and Dalits which got a fillip with the former Deputy Chief Minister Siddaramaiah leading it even while holding office.
Meanwhile, a debate has begun with a section of Kuruba leaders in north Karnataka demanding that the Kaginele Math follow Shaivite tenets and customs and not those of Vaishnavism just because Kanakadasa is the patron saint of the caste.
The section, which has demanded that the math should adopt Shaivism, says that originally Kurubas followed Revana Siddeshwara, a Veerashaiva saint in north Karnataka.
But another group of Kurubas, which owes its allegiance to Vaishnava school of philosophy, is not happy over transforming the math into a Shaivaite centre.
Kurubas have a good number of sects as in the case of other castes with some sporting "vibhuti" or "nama" or "tilaka" on their foreheads.
Mention may be made about how quite a few religiously awakened persons such as the former Congress MLC S.A. Jiddi, a Kuruba leader chant the famous "Keshava Nama" composed by Kanakadasa.
They have also expressed displeasure that not much representation has been given to people in north Karnataka in the affairs of the Gurupeetha. But the sources deny it saying that four important functionaries of the trust/math such as Basavaraja Devaru are from that region.