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Shankaracharya says he won’t take part in Odisha Rath Yatra

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Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Puri, June 28:

The Jagadguru Shankaracharya of Gobardhan Peeth Swami Nischalananda Saraswati today said he would not take part in the Rath Yatra festival because he was deeply hurt and disturbed over the manner in which the Odisha government had mishandled certain sensitive issues and interfered with religious matters.

Swami Nischalananda Saraswati
Swami Nischalananda Saraswati

“Has the government, which is interfering with the religious matters, the right to stay in power?”, he asked while expressing displeasure over decision of the Sri Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) which, in its letter, has asked him to visit the chariots alone and not carry any of his disciples with him.

“I have been told to climb the chariots alone and not with my disciples who have been debarred from accompanying me. I strongly protest the decision of the government and have therefore decided not to climb the chariots”, the seer said.

“Who (the administration) cannot provide justice to Lord Jagannath how can it provide justice to me. I want justice,” Sankaracharya said while expressing his displeasure over the decision of the temple administration which, in a letter, has asked him to visit chariots alone.

Taking a dig at the temple administration and the state government, Shankaracharya said there is gross mismanagement in the temple rituals.

“The prasad is not served to the Lords in time while their rituals are not being performed properly”, he observed.

The seer also accused the state government and temple administration of promoting lawlessness and playing into the hands of disruptive forces.

Expressing his anger and anguish over the harsh and intemperate language used against him in the course of the debate on the chariot climbing issue, the seer made it clear that the Aditya Bahini (his disciples) will not participate in the Rath Yatra this year.

Every year, on the day of the Rath Yatra, the Puri Sankaracharya climbs the chariots along with his disciples and offer prayers to the deities as a part of a customary practice.