URA – a thoughtful obit

Last rites of U. R. Ananthamurthy were conducted as per Sampradaya of Jaati he belonged. It is reported that his children took the decision as per their understanding of the wishes of URA. U. R. Ananthamurthy had explicitly expressed his reluctance to use electric crematorium. That means he had preference towards cremation using wood. There was one more reason for the children to take the decision. U. R. Ananthamurthy had performed the Shraddha rituals of his parents in accordance with the tradition. He had gone to Gaya for this purpose. The last rites were performed by his son Sharath Ananthamurthy. The rituals were performed in accordance with the Madhwa Brahmin sect. A team of 15 priests led by Suryanarayana Shastri led the rituals as per Vedic tradition, which lasted for almost an hour. Rituals were also conducted as per Madhwa traditions earlier in the day at his residence at Dollars Colony. Two trucks of firewood, 50 kg of sandalwood pieces, 75 kg of ghee and five kg of camphor were used for the final rites.  Christian and Muslim prayers were also held as he was known for upholding secular values.  One media report recalled an incident at a simple function at Suchitra, an organization that he supported,  he was the only one the dais who took off his shoes to light the inaugural, ceremonial lamp. Commonly he was perceived as the Hindu-basher, the iconoclast, the blasphemer. In 2013, he was part of another controversy when he made a statement that there is a reference in the Mahabharata to Brahmins consuming beef. This drew flak from Hindu religious leaders.

So, what was he criticizing? Rituals or aachaara of Brahmanas.? Brahmins? Hinduism? RSS/BJP? Was he seen as a critic of rituals based on his novels, especially samskaara? Or was he practicing Brahminism at home and opposing it outside? Was Brahmin bashing a convenient tool for URA for gaining favors in an anti Brahmin political environment? Was he a reformer? It is true that some of his followers were unhappy that a mud pot was broken as part of rituals before his cremation conducted by traditional Brahmins. Were they fooled by a Brahmin in disguise?

Or was URA a creative genius with incoherent stance on philosophy and tradition? Or was he opposing traditional discipline because of his personal experiences during his love marriage with a Christian girl? Was he constantly making attempts trying to justify his actions? Or was he sympathetic to Christians? Was he afraid of violent backlash from Muslims, Christians or Hindus? He never criticized Jihadis, conversions and changed his stance on Modi when agitators were vocal.

Whom was he engaging through his controversies? Anonymous common people on ground who are accused of celebrating his death? Or the famous and well known political leaders like Narendra Modi?

So what should his followers do? follow rituals? or abandon them? Should they follow Hinduism? or Not follow Hinduism? Chief Minister Siddaramaiah called the reported celebration of death of URA as macabre. According to him and many others it amounted to showing disrespect to a titan as URA. Health minister U. T. Khader described the mindset of people who burst crackers as having vicious mindset. The FIR has been filed under Section 143 (unlawful assembly), Section 147 (rioting) and Section 290 (public nuisance).

On a philosophical plane, Hinduism teaches that ‘enmity ends with death’. Is it a universal principle? Is it a good principle? How can one say that it is a principle to be followed? Those who are criticize URA after his death, are they non-Hindus? Those who are criticizing those who fired crackers after URA’s death, are they following Hindu principles?

Very confusing!

URA, the modern thinker,  is not available to provide clarity!!!

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