A religious mutt in northern India is usually known as asthal, a monastic institution founded for the maintenance and spread of a particular sampradaya or cult. The distinction between dedication to a temple and a mutt is that in the former case it is to a particular deity, while in the latter, it is to a superior or a mahant. But just as in the case of the debutter endowment, there is both a private and a public endowment, so too there can be the same distinction between a private and a public mutt. A mutt can be dedicated for the use of ascetics generally or for the ascetics of a particular sect or cult, in which case it would be a public institution. Mutts have generally sadavrats, i.e. arrangements for giving food and shelter to wayfarers and ascetics attached to them. They may have temples to which the public is allowed access. Such circumstances might indicate the public character of the institution. But it is not impossible to have a private mutt, where the endowment is not intended to confer benefit upon the public generally or even upon the member of a particular religious sect or order. Examples do occur where the founder may grant property to his spiritual preceptor and his disciples in succession with a view to maintain one particular spiritual family and for perpetuation of certain rights and ceremonies which are deemed to be conducive to the spiritual welfare of the founder and his family. In such cases it would be the grantor and his descendants who are the only persons interested in seeing that the institution is kept up for their benefit. Even if a few ascetics are fed and given shelter, such a purpose is not to be deemed an independent charity in which the public or a section of it has an interest. Such charities as already stated earlier, appertain to a private debuttor also. (see B.K. Mukherjea, Hindu Law of Religious and Charitable Trusts, (3rd ed.) 303, 304) .
The existence of a private mutt, where the property was given to the head of the mutt for his personal benefit only, has in the past been recognised. (see Matam Nadipudi v. Board of Commissoners for Hindiu Religious Endowments, Madras, AIR 1938 Mad 810 and Missir v. Das, (1949) ILR 28 Pat 890. In such cases there is no intention on the part of the grantor to fetter the grantee with any obligation in dealing with the property granted. In each case the court has to come to its conclusion either from the grant itself or from the circumstances of the case whether the grant was for the benefit of the public or a section of it, i.e., an unascertained class, or for the benefit of the grantee himself or for a class of ascertained individuals. An inference can also be drawn from the usage and custom of the institution or from the mode in which its properties have been dealt with as also other established circumstances.