MANGALORE: His attire and mannerism reflects asceticism.
But unlike other seers, 68 year-old Swami Bhaktiteertha has hit the road to apply brakes on the trend of naming beedi wrappers, wine shops, non-vegetarian restaurants among others after Hindu gods and goddesses.
Since June this year, the seer, travelling in a custombuilt Maruti van donated by actor Ashok, has been appealing to indifferent traders on dropping names of gods and respecting Hindu sentiments.
Camping at a modestbudget hotel in Mangalore, with just two disciples, the seer traces the roots of his unique mission in 1998.
It was advertisements showing a dancing Ganapathi with transistors in each hand, telecast on television during Ganesha Chaturthi celebrations, that pained him.
He wrote to the electronics firm and succeeded in getting the offensive advertisement removed.
It was an accidental meeting with an activist-cumentrepreneur, late Narayandas Samathani in Coimbatore that helped Swami Bhaktiteertha discover his calling.
The activist who could not devote himself to the task of making traders hold gods in reverence shared his printed propaganda material with the seer.
Having embraced asceticism in 1995, there was no looking back for Swami Bhaktiteertha.
Much of the violation happens due to ignorance, he said.
At every village he stops to create awareness on how naming of mutton shops and hair cutting salons after gods was illegal under Trade and Merchandise Marks Act (XLIII of 1958).
As charity begins from home, he had succeeded in motivating a trader in his village, Pachhapur in Belgaum district, to rename ‘Sri Renuka wines’ as ‘Aashique wines’.
He received good response from Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Uttarkhand governments.
“Recently Goa joined these states in preventing traders from hurting religious sentiments,” he stated.
But his letters to state BJP government to stop degrading gods has received no response.
It is groups and political parties who claim to champion the cause of Hindus who have not extended any support to the mission, he complained.
The seer preparing for his onward journey says support from Akhil Bharatiya Sant Samithi motivated him to relaunch Rashtriya Jana Jagruthi Jatha with renewed vigour this June.
The much needed money comes from selling stickers priced at Rs. 10, Rs. 15 and Rs. 20.
The unique fund drive too received no response in Karnataka and Kerala, he reveals.