Following a prolonged period of illness, Jayendra Saraswathi, the senior seer of Kanchi Mutt, passed away on Wednesday. Reports suggest that he was rushed to the hospital following breathing difficulties in the morning and had suffered a cardiac arrest. He was 83.
According to police sources, he was taken to the ABC Hospital in Kanchipuram. Sources from the Kanchi Mutt and the hospital have confirmed his death. A tweet by the Kanchi Mutt Twitter handle confirmed his demise.
The 69th Acharya of Sri Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam Jagadguru Pujyashri Jayendra Saraswathi Shankaracharya Swamigal attained Siddhi at 9.00 am today - Shukla Trayodashi - 28 Feb. 2018 at Sri Kanchi Kamakotii Peetam Sankara Matam, Kanchipuram.â€” KanchiMutt (@KanchiMatham) February 28, 2018
According to sources in the Mutt, he had been unwell for a long time now and was receiving medical care.
The Kanchi Shankaracharya lead a high profile life compared to his predecessor Parmacharya Chandrasekharendra Saraswathi. Much of the discourse around him has revolved around the 2004 Sankararaman murder case, for which he was arrested and faced a prolonged legal trial. He was acquitted in the case in 2013. He was also alleged to have been linked to an assault on an auditor in 2002, and was acquitted in that case in 2016. There were also allegations of harassment by a woman, but no charges were pressed against him.
Born in Irulneeki village in Thiruvarur district, Jayendra was in 1954 named the successor to the senior pontiff -- and the 69th head of the Kanchi mutt -- when he was 19 years old. However, in 1987, he suddenly decided to leave the mutt. Three days after he left, he was traced to Talacauvery in Karnataka. Meanwhile, Vijayendra Saraswati -- who had been chosen as his successor by Jayendra -- was anointed the 70th head of the mutt while Jayendra had gone missing, in order to continue the daily rituals and traditions of the mutt.
His successor, Vijayendra Saraswathi, is now expected to take over the Mutt from him.
RSS ideologue and BJP leader Ram Madhav, Union Ministers Suresh Prabhu and Sushma Swaraj took to Twitter to pay tribute.
Sad news of the Mahasamadhi of Kanchi Acharya Pujya Jayendra Saraswati maharaj. He was a reformist saint, kept himself engaged in nation-building initiatives. Reverential pranams to d departed holy soul.â€” Ram Madhav (@rammadhavbjp) February 28, 2018
Shocking& saddening news of Mahasamadhi of Kanchi Acharya Pujya Jayendra Saraswati ji,revered saint, worshipped by millions.â€” Suresh Prabhu (@sureshpprabhu) February 28, 2018
My respectful homage to Param Pujya Swami Jayendra Saraswati Ji who has attained mahasamadhi this morning. I was fortunate to have his blessings always.â€” Sushma Swaraj (@SushmaSwaraj) February 28, 2018