The war of words between Tamil Nadu’s newly minted Finance Minister P Thiaga Rajan and Isha Foundation escalated on Monday. The heated exchanges between the two have been going on for the past few days which began with Thiaga Rajan calling Jaggi Vasudev, the Founder of Isha Foundation, a ‘commercial operator’ and a ‘publicity hound’.
It all began with an interview of P Thiaga Rajan with The Hindu, in which he called Jaggi Vasudev a charlatan and a publicity hound. “In the case of Jaggi, he is a publicity hound who is trying to find another angle to make more money. Those making the demand have contended that temples should be run by “bhaktas” (devotees). Will a godman, who is focused on god, be selling Sivarathiri tickets for ₹5,00,000, ₹50,000 and ₹5,000? Is that a sign of a man of god? Is that the identifying mark of a spiritual man? He is a commercial operator pretending to use god and religion to get help,” he questioned.
He was answering a question posed to him on the demand made by several parties, including Jaggi Vasudev’s Isha Foundation, to free Tamil Nadu’s temples and hand over their control to temple managements and devotees. Currently, many big Hindu temples in the state are overseen by the state government under the auspices of the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Department.
In response to the interview, Isha volunteers slammed PTR, as the Finance Minister is popularily known. “We regret the deterioration of this culture and the poor standard of public discourse. This is certainly unbecoming of an elected representative and an honorable member of the State’s Cabinet,” the response letter said.
"We are appalled that a man of his [Jaggi Vasudev] stature has been subject to the Minister’s unparliamentary and uncalled for personal attack in a recent media interview [to The Hindu], calling him a ‘publicity hound’ and a ‘commercial operator’. It is deeply unfortunate that a person holding high public office should resort to name-calling of a highly respected public figure.This unseemly attack trivialises the efforts and dedication of millions of Isha volunteers worldwide who are working tirelessly in service of humanity," the letter said.
The letter further gave instances of several initiatives taken up by Isha Foundation and claimed that the foundation has been working closely with elected governments in the spirit of cooperation and support through the years. “In true democratic spirit, Sadhguru and Isha Foundation have worked with various elected governments from across the political spectrum and will continue to do so for the welfare of the people of Tamil Nadu. Cooperation and support have been the nature of our relationship with every government. We regret the deterioration of this culture and the poor standard of public discourse. This is certainly unbecoming of an elected representative and an honorable member of the State’s Cabinet."
On Monday, Thiaga Rajan reiterated his stance that Jaggi Vasudev is a ‘violator of law’ and will ‘pay sooner or later’. He was responding to a tweet by Malini Parthasarathy, the Chairperson of the The Hindu Publishing group. Malini had tweeted the open letter by Isha volunteers.
N Ram, the Director of The Hindu Publishing group said:
PTR is the grandson of PT Rajan, former Chief Minister of the erstwhile-Madras Presidency in 1936, who was instrumental in passing the Madras Hindu Religious Endowments Act, 1926. In an earlier interview to TNM, PTR had said that the government, which by Constitution is a secular government, allocates hundreds of crores to the HR & CE Department, as a cost of preserving our cultural heritage left to us by our forefathers. Read here.
Meanwhile in Karnataka, the High Court is still listening to a case on the 'Cauvery Calling' project. has directed the state government to clarify if it would be willing to issue a public notice stating that the 'Cauvery Calling' project, started by Isha Foundation and Isha Outreach, has nothing to do with it. A division bench headed by Chief Justice Abhay Sreeniwas Oka and Justice Vishwajith Shetty asked the state government to clarify whether Isha raised money by claiming that the state government was part of the project. The state meanwhile told the court that they were not associated with the project.