Globetrotting Monk Ban

The Scotsman (Edinburgh), January 16, 2008

CONSERVATIVE Hindu leaders in southern India are seeking to prevent a monk from heading one of the most popular temples, saying he had become “impure” because he had travelled overseas.

The debate has divided Brahmins, or the priestly class, in the pilgrim town of Udipi. Those opposed to the monk have asked a court to stall his anointment as the head of a temple dedicated to Lord Krishna.

Sugunendra Teertha, the monk, had travelled to the United States and Europe on what he says was a tour to propagate Hinduism.

But orthodox community leaders say that the monk had committed “sagarollanghana”, the Sanskrit term for crossing the seas.

Although hardly practised now, some conservative Hindu religious orders frown upon overseas travel because they claim that religious scriptures make “crossing the seas” a sin.

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