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Oct 20, 2012 at 12:08pm IST

Nithyananda sacked as Madurai Mutt successor

Chennai: Swami Nithyananda has been sacked as the successor to a 1500-year-old Mutt in Madurai. Nithyananda was sacked by a senior pontiff and is facing criminal charges including rape after a US-based woman and others alleged sexual exploitation.

Nithyananda was appointed as the successor at the Madurai Mutt in April but his appointment had received widespread criticism, including from the Tamil Nadu government. Nithyananda's own ashram is located in Bangalore, where it was alleged that he sexually harassed a few women.

Nithyananda is not new to controversies. There was massive uproar when a video of him frolicking with Kannada actress Ranjitha appeared in 2010. The incident led to a public outrage and Nithyananda had to cool his heels in jail for 53 days before he was granted bail. A CID probe into his alleged sex acts and other misdeeds is still on in Karnataka.

The Madras High Court had also issued notices against him recently after he was anointed the 293rd pontiff of one of the most ancient mutts in south India - the Madurai adeenam. The mutt weilds considerable influence over some of the wealthiest temples in Tamil Nadu. The appointment generated a huge controversy and many groups in and outside Tamil Nadu have been trying to get him removed from the mutt.