Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Puri, May 23:
Three days after accusing the Odisha government for its failure to protect ‘dharma’, the Shankaracharya of Govardhan Peeth, Puri Swami Nischalananda Saraswati today raked up a fresh controversy by openly criticizing the government for its poor management of Shree Jagannath temple affairs.
“Intervention of the government in the management of the Shree Jagannath temple is unwarranted. The post of chief administrator for the management of Shree Jagannath temple is illegal. Shankarachaya is not paramarshdata (adviser) but margadashak (guide/trail blazer). The government should spell out its limits with regard to management of Shree Mandir within ten days and make it public,” said the Shankaracharya addressing a press conference in this holy town.
The Odisha government, however, sought to make light of the seer’s charges and create an impression that his role was peripheral in the Nabakalebara process.
“The Nabakalebara rituals are being conducted as per the Record of Rights (RoR). The opinion of the Shankaracharya will be taken whenever there is a religious dispute like it was done during the Rath Yatra last year.In the conduct of day-to-day rituals, the Shankaracharya’s opinion is not required. The day-to day rituals of the temple are running fine,” said Suresh Chandra Mohapatra, chief administrator of the SJTA in his reactions on the Sankaracharya’s allegations.
On Wednesday, the seer had expressed his deep anguish and pulled up the state government for the mismanagement in Jagannath temple administration and for not doing enough to protect ‘Dharma’ in the state.
“The state now has an ineffective government. The head of the government is controlled by IAS officers. The protection of Dharma is under threat in the reign of this government. The Chief Minister rules the state even though he doesn’t understand a thing. The country will be safe when the Dharma is safe and it is the job of those who rule to protect the dharma,” the highest Guru of Sanatan Dharma had said on Wednesday.
Spokesperson of Govardhan Peeth Manoj Rath had informed on Wednesday that the seer will not climb the chariots for darshan of the deities during the Rath Yatra in Odisha’s holy town of Puri this year too unless the SJTA withdraws the restrictions imposed on the number of disciples who can accompany the seer while climbing the chariots.
Notably, the Shankaracharya is miffed ever since the state government imposed restrictions on his climbing of chariots to have darshan of the Lords atop chariots last year during the 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 and infuriated 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 May 18 last 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.