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Nityananda's Appointment: IT Team Raids Madurai Mutt


Madurai, May 5 (PTI): Income tax officials today conducted a raid at the Madurai Adheenam (mutt) which has been in the limelight following the appointment of the controversial self-styled godman Nityananda as head of the 1500-year-old Saivaite Mutt.

Officials, who entered the mutt early this morning, sealed all exit points and started checking the strong room.

Officials said they were conducting the raid on orders from their Delhi counterparts and they had seized some documents and cash but declined to give details.

They assessed the value of the "golden" crown and "golden" throne, which was brought to the mutt before anointment of Nityananda as the 293rd mutt head besides the jewellery in the mutt premises, IT officials said.

Nityananda had claimed recently that he would be spending Rs.five crore,and send five management students to manage the affairs of the mutt which has properties worth Rs.1200 Crore.

The officials also made inquiries with the Adheenam Arunagirinatha Gnanasambandha Desiga Paramacharya Swami.

Mutt officials said rent collected from various shopping complex buildings was nominal,and their accounts were audited both by the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments department and their own auditors.  They said the Adheenam (mutt head) would be offered "Padakanikai"  (money given by devotees),which was exempted from Income Tax.

Nityananda's appointment as Mutt head on April 27 has triggered a controversy with many religious leaders and political outfits protesting against it.

Nityananda, who is the first person outside the Saiva Velalar community to be appointed as Mutt chief, had landed in a controversy after a video footage showing him in a compromising position with an actress was telecast by local TV channels in March 2010.  He was arrested on Apr 21, 2010 from Solan in Himachal Pradesh and granted bail on June 11, 2010 by the Karnataka High Court.

The Madurai Aadheenam has reportedly existed since time immemorial.However, it was revived around 1500 years ago by Tirujnana Sambandar, one of the four visionary saints of South Indian Shaiva Siddhanta philosophy.

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