Ramanagara: Self-styled godman Nityananda, who is facing criminal cases, was declared 293rd pontiff of "Madurai Aadheenam", an ancient Hindu religious organisation, at Nithyananda Dhyanapeetam in Bidadi in the district.
He was declared the 293rd pontiff by Arunagirinatha Sri Gnanasambanda Desika Paramacharya Swamigal, the 292nd pontiff of the Aadheenam.
"We hereby coronate him with the title His Holiness the 293rd Guru Maha Sannidhanam Srila Sri Paramahamsa Nithyananda Sri Gnanasambanda Desika Paramacharya Swamigal", he told reporters.
He also declared Nithyananda as his lawful successfor to deal with all movable and immovable properties of the Adheenam, which includes over 1250 acres of land, several temples and properties in India and abroad.
The Madurai Aadheenam has existed since time immemorial. However, it was revived around 1500 years ago by Tirujnana Sambandar, one of the four visionary saints of South Indian Shaiva Siddhanta philosophy.
The Aadheenam`s history dates to the Tamil Sangam period. The presiding deities of Madurai are Shiva and Devi in their incarnations as Chokkanathar and Meenakshi, enshrined in the famous Madurai Meenakshi-Sundareshwara temple.
Nithyananda vowed to fulfil all responsibilities of the Aadheenam, revive the Shaiva tradition and also make the Aadheenam an international religious organisation.
Nityananda had landed in controversy after a video footage showing him in a compromising position with an actress was telecast by local TV channels in March 2010.
He was arrested on April 21, 2010 from Solan in Himachal Pradesh. He was granted bail on June 11, 2010 by Karnataka High Court.