A middle-aged priest of a Shiva temple killed four persons three sadhus and a youth and then hanged himself early on Sunday at Iyava village in Sanand taluka,some 20 km from Ahmedabad city.
Three other persons,including the main priest of the temple,sustained serious head injuries,police said.
According to reports,there were eight persons,including five priests,sleeping in the Nilkanth Mahadev temple premises that belongs to Nath sect.
At 5 am,priest Dharamnath started attacking everyone sleeping in the temple with a heavy iron rod,including the main priest of the temple Somdnath Bapu.
One of the villagers,Mahavirsinh Vaghela,managed to escape and informed fellow villagers about the incident, said R K Patel,deputy superintendent of police,Ahmedabad district.
Soon,a group of villagers reached the spot and found that Dharamnath,who had already poured kerosene on the injured persons,was trying to set them on fire. Seeing the villagers,he fled. But soon he was found hanging from the dome of the temple,Patel said.
The villagers called the emergency ambulance service (108) to rush them to the hospital but four of them succumbed to their injuries,including three priest (yet to be identified),who had come from somewhere else on Saturday night,and a villager,Prithvirajsinh Vaghela, Patel said.
The injured have been admitted to the VS Hospital in Ahmedabad while one of them is being treated at a private nursing home.
According to the villagers,on Saturday night,several people had gone to the temple to prepare prasad for the Sunday puja,which the temple has been organising for years. The preparation of prasad starts at midnight.
This Saturday too,the same ritual was being followed. Villagers said the preparation got over at 3 am and everyone left the temple except three villagers and four priests,who went to sleep in the temple premises. Around 5 am,Dharamnath started hitting everyone with an iron rod in the head.
Dharamnath had been living in the temple for the last 15 years and was serving the main priest. He was responsible for taking care of the temple as well as preparing food for the visitors. For the last couple of years,Dharamnath had become irritated and started bashing up the visitors, said a villager.
According to police,Dharamnath was reportedly mentally disturbed. He had,on many occasions,beaten up some villagers. But since he was a priest,no one took his act seriously.
Dharamnath would reportedly get angry on seeing visitors,mostly priests,who used to come to the temple at odd hours. Villagers said he had to feed the visitors and while doing so he used to abuse many people.