31 August 2007

Land Grab

I suspect that nowadays even Sri Ramana Maharshi's devotees wouldn't be allowed to construct Skandashram on Arunachala Hill. So its not really surprising that a certain controversy is currently underway at Tiruvannamalai regarding the development of new Swami Nithyananda facilities in the township of Tiruvannamalai. I reproduce below the following narrative which appeared in New India Press this day:

Godman’s attempt to grab land foiled
Friday August 31 2007 11:03 IST

By A.D. Balasubramaniyan

TIRUVANNAMALAI: Bangalore-based Godman Nithyanandha Swamigal’s attempt to grab vast tracts of land on the hill slopes of Tiruvannamalai was foiled by the public here on Wednesday.

According to sources, huge earth movers had suddenly appeared from nowhere and started removing boulders on the hill slopes for the construction of an ashram for Nithyanandha Swamigal.

The small hillock, where these fraudulent activities were being carried out, actually belonged to the State Revenue Department. Local residents tried to prevent the work.

Meanwhile, CPM cadres stepped in and informed the police, who in turn, informed the revenue department. CPM cadres joined local residents in their agitation against the land grabbers.

The workmen of the Godman initially defended their actions saying that they had patta for that land. Revenue officials, who reached the spot shortly after the agitation, negated their claim and stalled the work.

Rayar Krishnamurthy, a devotee of Nithyanandha Swamigal, who carried out the works, gave a letter to Revenue Department officials stating that he was constructing an ashram for Dhiyana Peetam of Nithyanandha and would not engage in such activities any more.

Police then seized the earth movers. The Godman’s workmen had also felled many trees, planted three years ago under an afforestation drive.

The CPM demanded that the police book a case against them and remove another ashram, set up by Nithayanandha on the hill slopes."

Its certainly interesting times. I will continue with updates on this situation as it unfolds.


Anonymous said...

Hmmm...Sure raises a question as to what and whom to believe in. I'm certain Nithyananda's camp would have their own version, but as a layman, how can we determine who is right? Just because someone can talk well and say the right things(which is a gift in itself), does that mean they are right? Ultimately, what can a person believe, other than one's own heart which gets confused easily?

Anonymous said...

Amazing and tragic!

One would expect him to have feelings for the trees, and the boulders, and to know that the hill IS Arunachala.

Bhagavan Ramana never liked anyone hurting those trees.

And those boulders .. they are Arunachala Ramana Himself.

One is relieved that this work was stopped. Tragic that some trees were killed, though.

Arunachala Living said...

What worked in the time of Ramana Maharshi and his devotee's development of Skanda Ashram just can't work now. The area is congested and although many undoubtedly 'worthy ones' come to Arunachala who may feel equally entitled to create an ashram on the Hill itself, isn't 3 acres just a little bit extreme?

A Supreme Court ruling set out several years ago that current illegal encroachments at Arunachala, need not be demolished. But that certainly doesn't mean people should come in, even for a noble purpose, and create huge complexes on the Hill.

Anonymous said...

Well, nothing is yet been confirmed. Nithyananda may also would have had the plans to revitalize the entire place. Mr.Krishnamurthy in his statement as in the newspaper seemed to have hinted on some unauthorised activities in that area and claims that it was planned just for a good cause(for meditation). We will have to wait and see.

Tattwabodhananda said...

I just visited Tiruvannamalai over the past two days (and also had the pleasure of meeting Meenakshi, of this blog, over tea!).

I visited the disputed site, and to be fair, no trees appear to have been removed; this was also the account given to me by Mr. Krishnamurthy, who pointed out that only some shrubs and low bushes were removed in clearing out the path.

I realize that at this point it is a case of "he said, she said", but the dispute appears to be politically motivated and instigated by the Communist Party, who are trying to get their own share of land nearby, I was told.

All said, Nithyananda feels as intimately connected with Arunachala as Ramana did, I have seen the immense love when he speaks of the manifestation of Siva. I doubt the proposed construction at the site, which will be more like a shrine, rather than an ashram as reported on this blog, is going to have an adverse impact on the beauty or ecology of the surrounding landscape.

-- Tattwabodhananda.

Meenakshi Ammal said...

Thanks Tattwabodhananda for the up-to-date information on the hillock land. Look forward to hearing what happens next.

divyakka said...

Interesting, indeed! So do many people think Arunachala is free for anyone to take and construct anything they want?

Arunachala Living said...

Well Divyakka, most of the current houses on Arunachala are in fact illegal constructions. If you walk up to the hillock on which Pavala Kunru is perched and look around you will be shocked at how many houses there are right on the Hill.

Well I don't know if its nice for us to get the Arunachala view spoilt - but its sure a nice, 'energetic' spot for the encroachers to have a house!