Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Puri, May 25:
Barely 24 hours after Shankaracharya of Govardhanpeeth Swami Nischalananda Saraswati openly challenged the Odisha government to spell out its limits with regard to the management of Shree Mandir within ten days and make it public at a press conference here on Saturday, the temple managing committee went down on its knees on Sunday deciding to invite the seer to come along with six of his disciples to climb atop the chariots and have darshan of the Lords during Rath Yatra this year.
The temple managing committee has also given its approval to the darshan of the deities on Debasnana Purnima on the snana mandap (bathing altar) by the Shankaracharya and six of his disciples before chhera pahanra.
“The decision to invite the Shankaracharya was taken at a meeting of the Shree Jagannath temple managing committee chaired by Gajapati Dibyasingha Deb held here on Sunday. A delegation of the temple managing committee, led by its chairman Gajapati Dibyasingha Deb, will call on the Shankaracharya at Govardhanpeeth to invite him to have darshan of the Lords atop chariots along with six of his disciples during Rath Yatra,” informed Suresh Chandra Mohapatra, chief administrator of the Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) to the media on Sunday.
Mohapatra, it may be noted, in his reaction to the Shankaracharya’s allegations on Saturday had said :“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.” His Sunday statement is a complete ‘U’ turn of his statement on Saturday.
Hopefully, with the temple management committee’s move, the tug of war between the Shankaracharya and the state government over the management of Shree Jagannath temple affairs will now come to an end, feel people in the know of the matter.
In a clear deviation from the earlier practice of specially inviting the head of Govardhan Peeth along with seven of his disciples and followers to have darshan of the Lords atop chariots, the SJTA, in its invitation to the Shankaracharya during the Rath Yatra last year, 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 restricting his disciples from accompanying him, the Shankaracharya had refrained from having darshan of the deities atop the chariots.
Aware of the religious sentiments attached to his institution and the politics that would follow his statement, the Shankaracharya, the Shankaracharya trained his guns at the state government on Saturday over poor management of temple affairs. The diatribe came three days after he had accused the state government of failure to protect ‘dharma’
“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. The government should stay away from conspiring and correct itself. Shankarachaya is not paramarshdata(adviser) but margadashak (guide/trail blazer). The government should spell out its limits with regard to the management of Shree Mandir within ten days and make it public,” the Shankaracharya had said at a press conference on Saturday.
The ‘government has corrected itself’ is how the about turn of the temple management is being seen in Puri.
In his reaction on the temple management committee’s decision, spokesperson of Govardhanpeeth Manoj Rath said; Guruji will take a decision on receipt of invitation from the SJTA. Before taking any steps, the government should first keep in mind protection of the status of Jagadguru Shankaracharya as a religious institution,” said Rath.
He demanded that the incident of insulting the seer during last year’s Rath Yatra be probed.
Daitapatis, however, have threatened to throw a spanner in the attempt to bring about a rapprochement between the Sshankaracharya dn the temple committee.
“The six disciples accompanying Shankaracharya cannot touch the Lords. Only Jagadguru Shankaracharya can touch the Lords and have darshan,” said Premananda Dasmohapatra, secretary of the Daitapati Nijog.
“If his disciples are allowed to touch the deities, we will be forced to make arrangements for darshan of the Lords by ordinary devotees,” added Mohapatra.