Karnataka’s seer dead, doctors suspect poisoning

Seer Lakshmivara Tirtha Swami

Bengaluru, July 19 (IANS) Karnataka’s Shiroor Mutt seer Lakshmivara Theertha Swami passed away on Thursday at a private hospital in Manipal, with doctors attributed the death to suspected poisoning. He was 55.

“The seer was brought to our hospital early on Wednesday from Udupi in a critical condition. Though medical care was provided, he was declared dead at 8.30 a.m. There is suspicion of poisoning and toxicological samples have been sent for tests,” the Kasturba Hospital said in a statement from Manipal.

Swami’s younger brother Purvasharma Acharya has filed a complaint with the police seeking an investigation.

“We have registered a case but will investigate it after we go through the autopsy report on the cause of death,” a police official told IANS on phone from Udupi, about 400 km from here.

Doctors treating the seer said he was suffering from breathlessness, severe hypertension and massive gastrointestinal bleeding. He had a history of diarrhoea.

“Though a team of doctors and specialists put Swami on a ventilator, blood transfusion and dialysis, his condition deteriorated rapidly, resulting in his death,” the statement said, quoting Hospital Superintendent Avinash Shetty.

The seer was in the news in the past for giving his mutt’s presiding deity (Hindu god Krishna) idol to Eshapriya Theertha, a junior seer of Admar mutt, as he was indisposed and could not conduct the daily rituals.

According to mutt sources, when Swami recovered and asked the junior seer to return the idol, the seers of the ashtanga mutts refused and instead asked him to appoint a junior to take care of the Shiroor mutt.

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The swami, however, declined to appoint a junior and threatened to file a case against the Admar mutt and the ashtanga seers.

Shiroor mutt and Admar mutt are part of the ashtanga mutts set up by 13th century Hindu philosopher Madhvacharya at Udupi, a pilgrim town in the state’s coastal district.

Swami ascended the Paryaya peetha for the third time in 2010, after two-year tenures during 1994-96 and 1978-80.

As the seer’s sudden demise raised doubt among his devotees, Deputy Chief Minister G. Parameshwara told reporters here that a probe would be ordered in the case after the police study the autopsy report and discuss it with doctors who examined the seer.

Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy expressed shock and mourned the seer’s death.