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The final rituals for burying Jayendra Saraswathi's mortal remains in the premises of the Kanchi Sankara Mutt in Kanchipuram commenced on Thursday morning in the presence of his family members. Saraswathi, who served as the 69th Shankaracharya of the Sri Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam, passed away on Wednesday in Kanchipuram, following a cardiac arrest.
The last rites, described as 'Brindavana Pravesha Karyakramam', began with an 'abishekam' or bath. On Wednesday, the seer's body had been kept at the Kamakoti peetam for the public to pay their final respect. The devotees who visited the mutt were seen in tears and many described him as a 'jagathguru'.
Though revered, Saraswathi's life had not been without controversies. He had been arrested in the sensational Sankararaman murder case of 2004, during the J Jayalalithaa regime in Tamil Nadu. He was later cleared by a sessions court in 2013.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Vice-President M Venkaiah Naidu, Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, and Congress President Rahul Gandhi, among others, expressed their grief over the seer's passing away. Modi said he was "deeply anguished" by his demise.
Here are the top developments around Jayendra Saraswathi's demise and burial ceremony:
1) A bath of milk and honey: The final rituals for burying Jayendra Saraswathi's mortal remains, called 'Brindhavana Pravesam', began with an 'abishekam' or bath. Milk and honey were the ingredients used in the ritual.
Tamil Nadu: Last rites ceremony of Kanchi Sankara Mutt head #JayendraSaraswathi begins in Kanchipuram. He had passed away yesterday. His successor Vijayendra Saraswati Swamigal (on right) present. pic.twitter.com/1vngSFBJdV— ANI (@ANI) March 1, 2018
The 'abishekam' was held in the main hall of the mutt. It was followed by the recital of Vedic hymns by priests in the presence of Sri Vijayendra Saraswathi, the junior pontiff of the Mutt and some close family members.
2) Jayendra Saraswathi to be buried next to his predecessor: According to an official of the Mutt, Jayendra Saraswathi's remains will later be carried to the adjacent 'Brindavan Annexe', where the mortal remains of his predecessor, Chandrasekerendra Saraswathi, were also interred in 1993.
The rituals for lowering his body in the 7x7 ft burial pit in the Brindhavanam Annexe were completed by around 11 am.
Tamil Nadu Governor Banwarilal Purohit participated in the burial ceremony by offering flowers.
3) How the burial took place: According to agency reports, a big bamboo basket containing Jayendra Saraswathi's body in a seated posture was taken to the annexe and lowered into the burial pit. "The burial pit is ready and as soon as the body is lowered tomorrow, deities in a particular form called 'Saligrama' will be placed over it," a senior mutt official in charge of the burial arrangements had told news agencies on Wednesday.
The pit was also filled with herbs like 'Vasambu,' along with salt and sandalwood.
Later, rituals such as 'Kabaalamoksham', wherein a coconut is placed on the head and symbolically broken, will take place. Such rituals mark the completion of the burial.
4) A mausoleum will be built for the seer: According to mutt officials, two renowned 'sthapathis,' Nandakumar and Shiva, have been tasked with constructing the mausoleum for the seer.
A tulasi pot will be placed over the burial chamber, allowing sufficient place for devotees to go around it and pay their respects.
"More than 100,000 people have paid darshan since yesterday...," Sundareshan, the manager of the Kanchi Sankara Mutt, told news agency ANI.
6) Seer died of cardiac arrest; had been suffering from diabetes: Saraswathi, who had been unwell for the past few months, had complained of uneasiness on Wednesday morning and was rushed to a nearby medical facility sponsored by Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam. The seer died of cardiac arrest, said sources at the Adi Bhagavadpada Cardiac and Dialysis Centre.
Saraswathi, the Kanchi Mutt head, had been suffering from diabetes and collapsed at the mutt with shortness of breath. Earlier, he had been admitted to Chennai's Ramachandra hospital last month.
7) Vijayendra Saraswathi to be new Shankaracharya: The junior pontiff Vijayendra Saraswathi will succeed Jayendra Saraswathi.
The mutt was established by Adi Shankaracharya about 2520 years ago.
8) Tamil Nadu politicians pay their respect: Tamil Nadu Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam, state education minister K A Sengottaiyan, former AIADMK minister K P Munuswamy and senior government officials have also paid their respects to the departed seer.
9) Saraswathi had been accused of murder: Though revered as a seer, Saraswathi's life had not been without controversies. He had been arrested in the sensational Sankararaman murder case of 2004, during the Jayalalithaa regime in Tamil Nadu. He was later cleared by a sessions court in 2013.
A Sankararaman, the manager of Kancheepuram's Sri Varadarajaperumal temple, had been brutally murdered in his office room in the temple on September 3, 2004, by a sharp-edged weapon. He had levelled charges of financial misappropriation in the mutt administration against Jayendra Saraswathi and his junior Vijayendra Saraswathi, who will now succeed the late seer.
Jayendra Saraswathi was arrested on November 11, 2004, on Diwali eve on charges of conspiring to murder Sankararaman. Cases were registered against the two seers under Section 120-B (criminal conspiracy) and 302 (murder) of IPC in connection with the murder. Jayendra Saraswathi was granted bail by the Supreme Court on January 10, 2005, after spending two months in the Vellore jail.
Vijayendra Saraswathi, arrested from the mutt on January 10, 2005, got bail from the Madras High Court a month later.
In November 2013, the Puducherry Sessions Court acquitted Sankaracharya Jayendra Saraswathi and his Deputy Vijayendra Saraswathi of all charges.
10) PM Modi 'deeply anguished': On Wednesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi mourned the passing away of Saraswathi. Modi said he was "deeply anguished" by the passing away of the pontiff of the Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham. "He will live on in the hearts and minds of lakhs of devotees due to his exemplary service and noblest thoughts. Om Shanti to the departed soul," Modi tweeted along with his pictures with the pontiff.
Deeply anguished by the passing away of Acharya of Sri Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam Jagadguru Pujyashri Jayendra Saraswathi Shankaracharya. He will live on in the hearts and minds of lakhs of devotees due to his exemplary service and noblest thoughts. Om Shanti to the departed soul. pic.twitter.com/pXqDPxS1Ki— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) February 28, 2018
Jagadguru Pujyashri Jayendra Saraswathi Shankaracharya was at the forefront of innumerable community service initiatives. He nurtured institutions which transformed the lives of the poor and downtrodden. pic.twitter.com/s1vTpSxbbl— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) February 28, 2018
Bharatiya Janata Party President Amit Shah also condoled the demise of Saraswathi. "This feels very unfortunate to learn about the sad demise of Swami Shankaracharya Jayendra Saraswathi. He will always be remembered for his teachings, wisdom and impeccable work towards educating the poor," a message from Shah read.
Anguished to learn about the sad demise of Shankaracharya Sri Jayendra Saraswathi ji of Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham. Generations will remember him for his teachings, wisdom and exemplary work towards educating the poor. pic.twitter.com/XbZpMS2AGr— Amit Shah (@AmitShah) February 28, 2018
Shankaracharya Sri Jayendra Saraswathi ji was a spiritual beacon, who contributed immensely to the society and served mankind. My deepest condolences to his followers across the world. Om Shanti Shanti Shanti.— Amit Shah (@AmitShah) February 28, 2018
With agency inputs