God moves in mysterious ways. So do Godmen.

It’s not often that the long arm of the law manages to shake hands with India’s powerful godmen and women. But on Sunday, 25 May 2008, as the political vacuum in Karnataka was being filled, Ganapati Sachchidananda Swamiji, the postman turned pontiff considered to be an avatar of Lord Dattatreya, got a rare look at the pokey insides of a police station in the midst of celebrations of his 66th birthday.

According to news reports, the swamiji was arrested and summoned to the Vidyaranyapuram police station in Mysore “much to the consternation of his devotees”, for interrogation in connection with a land dispute with Dr Anil Kumar, who runs the Village Palate restaurant next to the swamiji‘s sprawling ashram on the Mysore-Ooty highway. The swamji’s attorney, however, says he was only summoned, not arrested.

Dr Anil Kumar had filed a criminal complaint alleging encroachment of his land, and a part of government land, by the trust headed by the swamiji, whose USP is the use of music as a healing agent. The 120,000 square feet plot (survey No. 106/2&3) that the doctor is fighting for, is now under the custody of the ashram which is running a hospital there.

Although he has been around for over three decades, the Telugu-speaking swamiji‘s star rose during the reign of P.V. Narasimha Rao as prime minister.

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

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