Reported by Santosh Jagdev
Bhubaneswar, June 14:
The office bearers of Shankaracharya’s Gobardhan Pith (SGP) of Puri today demanded that the Odisha Government should accept decision of Jagadguru Shankaracharya of Govardhan Peeth Swami Nischalananda Saraswati on the issue of devotees climbing the chariots during the annual Rath Yatra in Odisha’s holy town.
“The Shankaracharya of Puri had unambiguously suggested that devotees should be banned from climbing the chariots and touching the deities during Rath Yatra. But the June 11 decision of the state government on this issue is not clear and is grossly disrespectful towards the Jagadaguru’s decision,” said Manoj Kumar Rath, spokesman of Govardhan Peeth in Puri at a press meet here today.
Rath said the government should accept the decision of the Jagadaguru well before the Rath Yatra to avoid the ugly scenes witnessed during the Rath Yatra for the last two years.
The Jagadaguru could not attend the press meet due to his visit to Raipur in Chhattisgarh.
The members of SGP also appealed to all devotees to file a PIL against the government order for its ambiguous decision of not allowing devotees to climb the chariot only on three specific days during the Rath Yatra.
Citing the verdict of the Supreme Court in the 1955 case of Bira Kishore Deb vs Odisha Government, the spokesperson said the apex court had clearly stated that the state government had no right to take any decision on the religious affairs of the temple. Religious decision thus is under the sole jurisdiction of the temple and the government had no business interfering in it, he pointed out.
Rath said the ‘daitapati nijog’, a body representing the daitapati servitors which has opposed the temple administration’s decision ratifying the Puri Shankaracharya’s suggestion, was just one of the 36 nijogs and cannot be allowed to hold the Rath Yatra to ransom.
Nither Law Minister Arun Sahoo nor office bearers of the daitapati nijog were available for comments on the Gobardhan Peeth’s demand.
After a meeting on the issue with the Daitapatis (servitors) in Bhubaneswar on Wednesday, Sahoo had said that devotees would not be allowed to climb the chariots on Rath Yatra, Bahuda Yatra and Suna Besha this year.
Barely moments later, the spokesperson for the ‘daitapati nijog’ had all but repudiated the minister saying the devotees would be prevented from climbing the chariots only when they were on the move. They can climb the chariots after they reach their destination or halt midway, he had asserted.