Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Puri, May 21:
Like last year, Jagadguru Shankaracharya of Govardhan Peeth Swami Nischalananda Saraswati will not climb atop the chariots for darshan of the deities during the Rath Yatra in Odisha’s holy town of Puri this year too unless the Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) modifies restrictions imposed on the number of disciples that can accompany the seer while climbing atop the chariots, informed Manoj Rath spokesperson of Govardhan Peeth.
“The seer won’t climb atop the chariots unless the SJTA withdraws the letter it issued to the Shankaracharya restricting number of disciples to accompany him to have darshan of the deities atop the chariots during last year’s Rath Yatra. The SJTA is yet to remove its restrictions,” said Rath.
Notably, the state government had imposed restrictions on the climbing chariots. In view of the status of the Shankaracharya, the Govardhan Peeth seer did not climb atop the chariots to have darshan of the deities and offer prayers as is the practice during last year’s Rath Yatra.
Contrary to last year, every year, on the day of the Rath Yatra, the Puri Sankaracharya climbed the chariots along with his disciples and offered prayers to the deities as a part of a time-honoured practice.
Before 2014, during the Rath Yatra, the SJTA used to specially invite the head of Govardhan Peeth along with seven of his disciples and followers to have darshan of the Lords atop chariots. The temple administration and police used to make special arrangements for the Shankaracharya’s visit.
However, in its invitation to the Shankaracharya during the Rath Yatra last year, the SJTA had asked him to come and have darshan of the deities atop the chariots accompanied either by two disciples or two followers. Later, another formal invitation was sent to the Shankaracharya inviting him alone.
Insulted by the administration’s action, the Shankaracharya had refrained from having darshan of the deities atop the chariots.
SJTA chief administrator Suresh Chandra Mohapatra on Monday said that during his meeting with the Chhattisha Nijog, it has been approved that the Shankaracharya of Gobardhan Peeth Swami Nischalananda Saraswati will have darshan of the Lords at the Snana Mandap.