Karnataka

Vishwesha Tirtha Swami: A Hindutva ideologue and a spiritual guru

Though he never participated in electoral politics, Vishwesha Tirtha Swami was closely associated with politics of the Hindu right in the country.

Though he never participated in electoral politics, Vishwesha Tirtha Swami was closely associated with politics of the Hindu right in the country.   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Vishwesha Tirtha Swami was probably the most political of the State’s seers. Though he never participated in electoral politics, he was closely associated with politics of the Hindu right in the country and played a key role in the Ram Janmabhoomi movement of the 1990s. Closely associated with many BJP members, he was the spiritual guru of senior leaders such as L.K. Advani and Uma Bharti.

However, his association with the Vishwa Hindu Parishad dates back to the late 1960s, much before the Ram Janmabhoomi movement began. “Our relationship dates back to the 1960s when I met him at VHP programmes, where he was taking an active lead,” said Veerendra Heggade, Dharmadhikari of Dharmasthala, on Sunday. Incidentally, it was in Udupi that the BJP’s predecessor, the Jan Sangh, came to power in the municipality, for the first time ever in south India, in 1968.

“Vishwesha Tirtha was always a beacon for the parishad and Hindu society,” said Alok Kumar, working president of VHP.

He was a vocal proponent for the construction of a Ram temple at Ayodhya. This was a major engagement that took him beyond the affairs of the mutt and established his links with religious heads across India.

He was present at the disputed site when Kar Sevaks brought down Babri mosque on December 6, 1992. The seer was one of the trustees of the Ram Janmabhoomi Trust, which operates under VHP. He had lauded the recent Supreme Court verdict, saying it would strengthen the harmony between Hindus and Muslims. In his condolence message on Sunday, Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa said, “It is sad that he did not live to witness the construction of Ram Mandir in Ayodhya.”

The late U.R. Ananthamurthy, who had supported the seer’s visits to Dalit colonies, later criticised him for his Hindutva stance, lamenting how the seer who initiated reform had turned political. But writer Chandrashekhar Patil did not see a contradiction here. “[The seer] was for reform within the Hindu community, but it was aimed to create a larger Hindu religious identity. It was a conscious political agenda,” he said.

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Printable version | Feb 23, 2020 11:34:09 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/vishwesha-tirtha-swami-a-hindutva-ideologue-and-a-spiritual-guru/article30428318.ece

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