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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT:
Vikram Masson
navyashastra@shastras.org
Phone: 201-674-2065 (USA)
(www.shastras.org)

Global Hindu Group Criticizes Shankaracharya's Crowning of Lord Venkateshwara

Organization states that money should have been spent on social service. Questions the participation of the Andhra Chief Minister.

Troy, Michigan--October 14, 2004--Navya Shastra, a global Hindu organization dedicated to fostering the spiritual equality of all Hindus, has criticized the Kanchi Shankaracharya, Jayendra Saraswati, for his role in the recent crowning of Lord Venkateshwara at Tirupati, in Andhra Pradesh. The Kanchi Acharya, as part of the Hindu Kumbabhishekham ceremony, crowned Lord Venkateshwara with a two crore, diamond-studded crown donated by the Goenka family of Calcutta. Navya Shastra, while commending the Acharya's previous commitment to social service, noted that the money 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", said Gautham Rao, Navya Shastra Research Director, "we had hoped the Acharya would use his considerable influence to direct the funds to programs for the betterment of struggling Hindus and members of the lower castes, many of whom continue to live on the peripheries of Hindu society."

Navya Shastra also questioned the participation of the Christian Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, Dr. Rajasekhara Reddy, in the opulent Hindu ceremony. "While Navya Shastra is absolutely committed to freedom of religion, and respects the Shankaracharya's decision to participate in the ceremony with Dr. Reddy, we wonder whether the Shankaracharya and the Tirupati authorities would have considered bestowing such an honor upon a leader of the Hindu Dalit community", said Rakesh Vaidyanathan, a Navya Shastra advisor. Vaidyanathan noted that Dalits are still denied entry to Hindu temples in much of India.

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Letter to His Holiness PujyaSri Jayendra Saraswati can be accessed here