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Money Talks: Power Play at Simhastha Kumbh in the ranks of Naga Sadhus

The post of Shri Mahant is a respected and a desirable one as it is important in the functioning of the akhara.

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Kumbh Mela. Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Last week in Ujjain, there was a violent clash between two groups of Naga sadhus for the top post in their akhara during the ongoing Simhastha Kumbh at Ujjain. The power play has prompted doubts and questions regarding spiritualism.

Rahul Puri, one of the Naga sadhus who received bullet injury as a result of the clash in Ujjain reflects upon the complexities and dangers of power play in the monastic orders. Important positions in akharas are bought for huge amounts of money and hence hierarchical equation is of great significance to the sadhus.

Avahan akhara is one of the seven militant ascetic orders of Shaiva persuasion and Rahul belongs to this group. Together with three Vaishnav akharas and another three akharas owing allegiance partly to Sikhism and partly to Shaivism, they control most of the ascetic space of Hinduism and its largest religious gathering is the Kumbh Mela.

Related article– Kumbh Mela: One of the greatest Pilgrimages in the World

On May 12 the incident happened in the Avahan akhara that proved the complexities of power play leaving about a dozen of Nagas injured.

The post of Shri Mahant is a respected and a desirable one as it is important in the functioning of the akhara. There are four Shri Mahants in total that represents four sets of marhis (ascetic lineages), who jointly take all the decisions related to akhara like dealing with real estate holdings and other assets.

Naga Sadhus. Image source: Wikimedia Commons
Naga Sadhus. Image source: Wikimedia Commons

A Shri Mahant is elected for a period of six years by a set of marhis in a democratic manner. The election is done based on a required set of skills, of which money and muscle power seems most crucial. Once the person gets elected, he influences the functioning of akhara even after he leaves his post.

In 2013, an incident took place during the Allahabad Kumbh, where the Mahanirvani and Juna akharas faced similar charges of having received huge amounts of money from Radhe Ma as well as Swami Nithyanand respectively for anointing them as Mahamandaleshwars.

These incidents clearly show that money talks and money matters to maintain the equation of power play. “Almost 90% cases in Ayodhya are of this very nature. Crimes being committed for mahantship is merely a reflection of what has been happening here for quite some time,” said Ranjit Lal Varma, an advocate in Faizabad.

In the nerve centre of Vaishnav akharas, in Ayodhya, incidents like allegations against disciples who killed their gurus to take over precious temple land and ashrams are nothing to be surprised of and one can tell that by looking at the pile of cases in the local courts.

(Inputs from Scroll.in)

 

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Usage of Unaccounted Cash Still Prevalent in Market: Report

Large cash transactions still present in resale realty market

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Unaccounted cash
Significant usage of unaccounted cash is still prevalent in the secondarly real estate market. Pixabay

It has been three years since demonetisation which was implemented with the aim to curb and eradicate black money. But according to a report released on Wednesday, significant usage of unaccounted cash is still prevalent in the secondarily real estate market.

The report prepared by Anarock Property Consultants said that up to 30 per cent of the total transaction value in the secondary or resale residential maket in India can still be paid in cash.

However, the primary sales market in tier-I cities offer the least scope for unaccounted wealth in property deals, it said.

“Demonetization in November 2016 sent Indian residential real estate — till then a preferred laundromat for unaccounted wealth — into an almost terminal tailspin. Even three years after DeMo, the battle is only half-won,” said Anuj Puri, Chairman Aof Anarock Property Consultants.

“The secondary or resale residential real estate market still accommodates black money; at least 30 per cent of the total cost of resale property can still be paid in cash. While more and more buyers and sellers prefer official payment routes as a matter of principle, many still use the resale property market to launder untaxed cash,” he added.

Cash in market
Many buyers use the resale property market to launder untaxed cash. Pixabay

As per the report, while the trend in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) and the National Capital Region (NCR), which are historically notorious for black money in real estate, has tamed considerably in primary sales, their resale property markets still see cash components.

As much as 20-25 per cent of the total resale property cost can still be “adjusted” with black money, it said, adding that in Bengaluru, Pune and Hyderabad, the prevalence of transparent payment routes, even on the resale market, is much higher.

“Unlike the primary sales market, the resale market still lacks strict regulations, making it easier for buyers and sellers to use cash components.

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Also, the primary sales market involves developers with a reputation to protect, while a resale property transaction involves two individuals. The pricing of resale properties also lacks transparency,” the report said.

In the case of direct sales by developers, there are readily-available pricing benchmarks, while in the secondary market, a seller can inflate the price of a property based on location, added features and so on without stating on the books. (IANS)