Who Are The Havyakas?
- A small but influential Brahmin community in Karnataka, numbering some four lakh
- Identified by surnames like Bhat, Hegde and Shastri
- Mostly own arecanut plantations
- Speak a dialect called ‘Havigannada’
- Inhabit the Western Ghats and coastal region (Hosanagar, Sagar, Puttur, Madikeri, Kasargod, etc)
It’s Sunday, September 27, the penultimate day of Chaturmasya Vrata, a four-month period of prayer and fasting by name but a two-month abstinence in actual practice. In Bangalore’s middle-class Giri Nagar locality, there’s a large crowd listening to a discourse by Raghaveshwara Bharati, the pontiff of the Sri Ramachandrapura Math in Shimoga, 276 km away. Devotees describe the youthful swami as ‘Jagadguru Shankaracharya’, an incarnation of Lord Rama. But the piety and prayers seem incongruous with the 1,340-page chargesheet filed against the 39-year-old pontiff just the previous day, of repeatedly raping a disciple and colleague, a professional Carnatic singer nine years older to him, over three long years.