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October 27, 2004

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Archives Dated: 15 October 2004

Hindu group criticises Kanchi Shankaracharya
Friday October 15 2004 18:31 IST

IANS

NEW YORK: A US-based organisation has criticised India's leading Hindu seer, Kanchi Shankaracharya Jayendra Saraswati, for having been part of a ceremony where a Rs.20 million ($425,000) diamond-studded crown was placed on a deity, saying the money could have been spent on social service instead.

The Navya Shastra, a Hindu organisation, said the seer was part of the Oct 2 "kumbhabhishekam" ceremony in Andhra Pradesh state's Tirupati temple where the deity, Lord Venkateswara, was adorned with the crown.

The crown, encrusted with two marble sized emeralds and rare Burmese rubies besides diamonds, has been donated by the Goenka business family of Kolkata, India.

Navya Shastra research director Gautham Rao, said money for the crown had come through donations and it could have been put to better use. "Clearly at this time in Indian history, when the majority of Indian citizens continue to live at or near poverty levels, we felt the money should have been spent on social service," he said.

"We had hoped the Acharya would use his considerable influence to direct the funds for programmes for the betterment of struggling Hindus and members of the lower castes, many of whom continue to live on the peripheries of Hindu society," he added.

Navya Shastra also questioned the participation of Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy in the "opulent" ceremony.

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