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Odisha chariot climbing row: SJTA now says it will meet Shankaracharya

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Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Puri, July 2:

Stung by the widespread condemnation across the state over the  restrictions imposed on Gobardhan Peeth Shankaracharya Swami Nischalalanda Saraswati’s customary visit to the chariots during this year’s Rath Yatra by the Sri Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA), the latter, in a press release today, said it will hold discussions with the seer to end the impasse.

Shankaracharya Swami Nischalanand Saraswati
Shankaracharya Swami Nischalanand Saraswati

“The temple Administration has the highest regards for the Jagadguru Shankaracharya and respects his authority. It will make sincere efforts to end the impasse by discussing the issue with him at the earliest possible”, the release said.

The release came in the wake of widespread criticism in the state. While a number of intellectuals and organisations had condemned the decision of the SJTA, the BJP had come down heavily on the state government for its audacious stance vis a vis the issue of Jagadguru’s chariot visit.

The Gajapati of Puri Sri Dibyasingha Deb had also strongly disapproved of the SJTA decision and advised the state government to resolve the matter keeping in mind the stature and religious authority of the institution of the Shankaracharya.

Senior minister Dr Damodar Rout too had said the SJTA had no business to tell the Shankaracharya about who all should or should not accompany him.

It may be recalled here that the Puri seer had refused to take part in this year’s Rath Yatra after he received a humiliating letter from the SJTA asking him to climb the chariots all alone without taking any of his assistants or disciples with him.

Earlier, the seer on his own had informed the SJTA that he will be accompanies by just two of his assistants while he visits the deities atop the chariots.

It is still unclear as to who took such an offensive stand against the seer and why.