By P.T. Bopanna
Vivekananda Sharana Swamiji (Palanganda) of the iconic Kaveri Ashrama, Virajpet in Kodagu district of Karnataka is celebrating his birth centenary on January 12. The Swamiji (in picture), is the son of Sadguru Appaiah Swami who founded the Kaveri Ashrama in 1941.
The senior Appaiah Swami was born as Palanganda Appaiah in 1885 at Kadangamurur in Virajpet taluk. He was in government service. Though he was married and had children, he was inspired by Ramakrishna Paramhansa and Swami Vivekananda. He became a spiritual teacher and founded a monastery in Virajpet which had several members of Kodava community who had renounced their worldly lives and pursued the path of spiritualism and service. Appaiah Swami passed away in 1956 at the age of 71.
Appaiah’s son who is known as Gappu Annaiah in family circles, became a monk and took the name of Vivekananda Sharana Swami. He was a pious man who later took the responsibility of running the Kaveri Ashrama at Virajpet. Presently, he heads the Sri Kaveri Bhaktajana Sangha which is involved in running the affairs of the Ashrama and other properties attached to the Ashrama.
There have been speculative reports on social media that a Bengaluru-based Ashrama was taking over Kaveri Ashrama as Vivekananda Sharana Swami was too old to carry on the affairs of the Ashrama. There were also reports that vested interests were trying to grab the properties of the Ashrama spread across Kodagu.
A spokesman for the Ashrama clarified that the Ashrama was being run by a trust of 15 members. All the trustees are Kodavas except a member of the Omkar Ashram in Bengaluru who has been included in the trust to offer spiritual guidance.
It is a fact that the Ashrama which was buzzing with activity in the past, has become inactive because the aging Swami is not in a position to shoulder heavy responsibility. It is time for the Swamiji to shed his responsibilities in favour of other trustees.
Since vested interests are spreading misinformation, the Kodagu district administration should keep an eye on the developments to safeguard the interests of the Ashrama.
The spokesperson claimed the Ashrama belongs to Kodavas and will remain in the control of Kodavas.