Swami Kesavananda Bharati, officially named as Srimad Jagadguru Sri Sri Sankaracharya Thotakacharya Keshavananda Bharathi Sripadangalavaru, who is one among the most significant contemporary seers in the Advaita Vedanta lineage died early on Sunday at his ashram in north Kerala’s Kasaragod. He had been suffering for a few days due to shortness of breath. He was 79.
Kesavananda Bharati belongs to Edneer Mutt renowned as a seat of art and learning located in the Kasaragod district of Kerala State. The Mutt belongs to the parampara of Sri Thotakacharya, one of the first four disciples of Sri Adi Shankaracharya and follows the unique Smartha Bhagawatha tradition of Advaitha Tradition which has more than 1200 years of glorious history of religion, culture, art, music and social service.
However, Swami Keasavananda Bharati is rather famed as a revolutionary leader who fought against Indira Gandhi in the Supreme Court whose property rights case in the Supreme Court in 1973 helped define basic rights under the Constitution. Bharati had filed a case challenging the Constitution (29th Amendment) Act, 1972, questioning the Kerala government move to take over the mutt property.
It came at a time when the Indira Gandhi-led government had made changes to the the 24th, 25th, 26th and 29th amendments of the Constitution to get the court to rule in favour of the government in bank nationalisation and privy purses cases. Kesavananda Bharati’s case is known as a landmark case and many legal luminaries hailed him as the saviour of the Constitution.
Senior lawyer Nani Palkhivala fought the case for Bharati, an ardent follower of Advaita philosophy, in which the then chief justice of India Sarv Mitra Sikri formed a 12-judge panel to preside over the case. The Constitution bench ruled a wafer-thin 7-6 verdict that Parliament cannot alter the basic structure of the Constitution.
Swami Kesavananda Bharathi has been spreading Hindu religion and culture in equal earnest. He also rendered all possible support to literature, culture and art. He is a Carnatic and Hindusthani vocalist and master of all sections of Yakshagana, the renowned art form and also has penned many devotional songs and dramas.
The funeral of Swami Kesavananda Bharati will be held at the Mutt on Sunday morning.