AIndian-origin businessman turned-priest has gone on a fast unto death in upstate New York to prevent a local bank from foreclosing his ashram.
72-year old Swami Madanji, a businessman who made a fortune in the garments fashion accessory business bought this property in 1999, in remote Catskill mountains of upstate New York, to begin vanaprastha (the final stage of life where one renounces material life).
The property was mortgaged to the The First Bank of Jeffersonville and a local court had on December 22, 2009, ruled that the ashram had 4 weeks to pay $ 98,500 or vacate the property. The bank set a deadline of January 26 for his moving out from the ashram and they can move to evict him soon.
The fast, a protest against the move to evict him from the 13-acre ashram, began on January 30. "I have started the amaran anshan(fast unto death).I will wait, watch and see if the help comes first or my death," the swami wrote to his followers.
The temple complex with two residential buildings was bought by Madan in 1999 using his own money. It took five more years to secure tax exemption status for the temple. Though the federal government has programs to help property owners in foreclosure crisis, Madan has not recieved any aid yet.
Image: Swami Madan with volunteers at the Panchvati ashram