Kumbakonam (TN): Flaying the appointment of self-styled godman Nityananda as the 293rd pontiff of Madurai Aadheenam, a group of mutt heads on Wednesday decided to seek legal recourse if he is not removed from the post within 10 days.

The meeting held at Dharmapuram near here, attended by heads of 13 Shivaite mutts, passed a resolution urging Arunagirinatha Sri Gnanasambanda Desika Paramacharya Swamigal, the present pontiff, to immediately withdraw the appointment of Nityananda, who is facing criminal cases.

"If he (Nityananda) is not removed from the post within 10 days, Shaivaite Mutts will seek legal recourse against the decision," Dharmapuram Adheenam head Sri Shanmuga Desiga Paramarcharya Swamigal, who chaired the meeting, said here.

Nityananda's appointment as next pontiff was against the "Shaivaite customs and tradition", he said.

Hindu Makkal Katchi and Hindu Munnani had also earlier opposed the appointment.

The present pontiff, however, had on Tuesday claimed that it was his prerogative to choose his successor and none could interfere in that and Nityananda was the "most eligible" person to head the Mutt.

Nityananda had also alleged on Tuesday that those opposing his appointment and using "defamatory terms" against him were out to destroy him.

The Madurai Aadheenam has existed since time immemorial. However, it was revived around 1,500 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.

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 the Karnataka High Court.