AV Ramana Deekshitulu
AV Ramana Deekshitulu

The conflagration atop Tirumala hills refuses to die.  Former chief priest of the shrine AV Ramana Deekshitulu is visiting and meeting everyone, to narrate how the temple’s image is being sullied by the present administration.

His latest port of call was Lotus Pond in Hyderabad where he was closeted with YSRC chief YS Jaganmohan Reddy. Emerging from the meeting, Deekskhitulu said that he only explained to him the raw deal meted out to him by the TTD administration by way of an unceremonious sacking. Thus, he laid the ground for more fireworks.

Deekshitulu earlier called on Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Amit Shah at Delhi, providing ammo to the TDP that the former chief priest was acting at the instance of the BJP to malign the image of the TDP government and the TTD.  

With Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu pummeling Deekshitulu at a public meeting in Madanapalle for calling on Jaganmohan Reddy, the battle-lines are drawn clearly between Deekshitulu and the TTD administration for a full-blown no-holds-barred fight. The TTD, at its recent meeting, decided to initiate defamation proceedings against the former chief priest for bringing dishonour to the administration.

In the background, the YSRC and BJP honchos take positions in defence of Ramana Deekshitulu while the TDP leaders flex their muscles, in support of the TTD administration.

Trouble started when Deekshitulu washed dirty linen in public at Chennai, lashing out at the administration for its various sacrilegious acts and how the officials were conspiring against him. He made the accusations after he had seen the writing on the wall that he was on the chopping block.

His fears came true when the TTD Board adopted a resolution retiring all archakas, who are over 65 years which showed the gate to Deekshitulu, thus axing the hereditary practice of continuation of archaka service to the Lord.

Now Deekshitulu’s is taking out on the TTD, pointing out certain acts of omissions and commissions that had taken place in the temple, which he argues are sacrilegious in nature. Deekshitulu feels humiliated and since Tirumala’s doors are closed to him, he is trying to tar the TTD's image with a coloured brush. Now that he has fallen from grace, he probably wants to discredit the TTD.  

At the same time, he is trying to make thorn-free his way back to priesthood of Tirumala temple by being friends with Jagan and BJP top leaders to cash in any possible situation whereupon he may get a re-look. Jaganmohan Reddy might come to power after next elections and out of spite for TDP, he might reinstate him. This ambition is powering Deekshitulu to make peregrinations across the length and breadth of the country, since losing priesthood and the power that goes with it is something more like a calamity rather than a mere setback.

Deekshitulu has said on more than one occasion that even before he was out of his mother’s womb, he has been dedicated to the service of the Lord and that he would be in His service till death and that no one could separate him from the Lord. But the TTD did it, and that is what is making him seethe with rage against TTD and the Chief Minister.

Deekshitulu, while fighting his battle, refers to mainly two developments which he says should not have happened. One is the disappearance of the pink diamond from the necklace of the Lord, digging up of Potu, the kitchen of the Tirumala temple for treasure.  

As regards the diamond, a timeless and priceless shard of heaven, he says he suspects it had come up for auction in Switzerland, suggesting that it had been stolen and smuggled out. He describes as a cock and bull story the explanation of the TTD that there was no diamond in the first place and that it was the ruby that Deekshitulu was talking about.

As regards the second development, Deekshitulu says in Potu, in last December, the entire area was dug up by some persons looking for priceless and timeless treasure, thought to have been hidden underground. The treasure is believed to have been donated by Pallava and Chola rulers in the 10th century.

The TTD also hit back at Deekshitulu, denying that there was a pink diamond in the necklace of the Lord and that it was a ruby, which broke when coins were thrown.

The EO of the TTD has even shown the pieces of the broken ruby and showed it media persons. The TTD said while the Lord was being taken on Garudavahanam in 2001 Brahmotsvam,  the ruby broke into pieces and fell when devotees from Maharashtra threw coins at the utsva vigraha, as a mark of their reverence for the Lord.  The TTD flatly denied that excavations were done for treasure.  It, however, admitted that repairs had  taken place in Potu.

But the spar between the two has now shifted to a political bullring.  TDP trying to spew venom on Deekshitulu, Jagan and the BJP while the BJP is hitting back at the TDP for blaming it for what has gone wrong in the temple. 

The debate over who is right and who is wrong at times witnessed a descent to the deepest level of depravity.  The TDP has gone to town, alleging that the BJP was trying to meddle in the affairs of the TTD and warned the party that whoever would cross the path of Lord Venkateswara would be doing so at his own peril.

Exploiting God for deriving political benefit is causing consternation among the devotees and it would be better if the entire controversy is laid to rest by ordering a CBI inquiry as demanded by Deekshitulu, for the truth to come out.